We love “Stumptown” around these parts. I say that not just because I am currently sitting in a hotel in Portland, but because Dex Parios is amongst the greatest creations of Greg Rucka’s career, and because it’s a book that has so much fun with such clever and oh so Portland mysteries. Now that the book is returning as a traditional ongoing – it was ongoing before, just split into minis – with Justin Greenwood taking over on art for Matthew Southworth, we had to reach out to our friends at Oni Press to see if we could talk to Rucka about the book and premiere some art from the new book.
Thankfully, they’re a fine bunch over there, so below, you can find the first full pages of the new volume of “Stumptown”, complete with a couple colored pages and a couple pages of line art from the first and second issues, as well as a conversation with Greg about the return of the book, Greenwood’s arrival, Southworth’s departure, what makes Dex so special, and much more. Thanks to Greg for the time, and to Oni for the exclusive first look at the book, and please, don’t forget to pre-order this book. You’ll be happy you did.
Greg Rucka: Well, “Stumptown” was always meant to be an ongoing. The plan was always going to be to do one case, take one or two months off, and then come back with a new case. We just never managed to execute that properly, for a variety of reasons, dealing with Matthew Southworth’s schedule and my own. But that was always the intention for the beginning.
So, when the opportunity came around with Justin Greenwood, and to try to do it as it had been envisioned, I jumped at it. Whether or not that was a foolish decision remains to be seen, because it all comes down to timeliness and so on. But, thus far, Justin has just done such an outstanding job. It is a good time to make the transition – Matthew did volumes 1 and 2, which are very much stand-alone stories, so if you’re going to go into an ongoing model, it is probably the best time to switch artists.
Justin has just been killing it – he’s been working off of Matthew’s models, but if you know Justin’s style, you know it is incredibly different. It is his book; it looks very different.
Is Justin going to be the ongoing artist, or will each case have its own artist?
GR: Justin is ongoing right now. Matthew has talked about the potential of coming back and doing a story arc at some point, and that may happen, but he’s making a movie and is a busy guy. The door is always going to be open for Matthew, but yeah, Justin’s got the gig. This is his gig for as long as he would like it.
What’s the one thing that Justin has done, so far, to really claim the book as his own?
GR: He’s done a couple of things, actually. He does frumpy Dex, this frumpy, sexy Dex that I really adore. You get into that place where you are comparing apples and oranges, because he and Matthew are so stylistically different, and yet at the same time they are so very accomplished in their storytelling.
Justin, at least in this, has a much more open line than Matthew does. I love what [Justin] does with body language, and there is a bit he does at the start of the second issue, where it’s a silent sequence. It starts with no noise, and then it almost starts to fade into audio, and it is so elegantly done and so emotional. I love it. You will see; people will see.
GR: This was not acrimonious in any way. Matthew came to me and said “I’ve got other things I’ve got to do – I can’t maintain this in the way I want to.” It was perfectly amicable, which is the best way to do it, because that allows me to say “ok, well then we can continue,” and not is only continue but know that we have Matthew’s blessing, and Matthew’s continued involvement, if the opportunity is there.Continued below
It also helps Justin, in the sense that Justin can come in and not say “I’m not the ‘not-Matthew’” and instead can say “I am the artist on this book, and this is how I’m going to do it.”
How does the new schedule change your approach to the book? Because of the nature of doing cases as the arc, you can always pivot after each one closes, but will there be more thematic connectivity between cases now?
GR: Yes, I think so. We will also be able to build in a way that we haven’t been able to build before. There are elements of world building in volumes 1 and 2 that get forgotten because of the time between volumes. Now that we’re on a tighter schedule, I don’t have to be as precious about how I allot time in stories – I can introduce more ongoing elements.
So, for instance, we’re going to meet Dex’s family at some point – her extended family. We’re going to see a larger supporting cast, and a romance subplot start to manifest as well, because we can do it now, and we can play with the, for lack of a better term, soap opera elements.
Dex seems like something special to you – there is something about her character that seems to fit you like a glove. She seems like the ultimate Greg Rucka character.
GR: A lot of people read “Kodiak” and say “oh, that’s you.” But Atticus was never me – never. But there is a lot about Dex that is very much the part of me that wanted to be Jim Rockford as a kid. She and I share an awful lot. So, if you’re digging her, I take that as a good sign.