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June 3, 2009

Greg Rucka: The Busiest Man in the Literary World?

Recently, Greg Rucka has been making quite the splash in, not only the publishing world, but in the realm of cultural change and progress. The release of the seventh installment to his highly successful series profiling the hard-knocks "bodyguard-turned-fugitive Atticus Kodiak" Walking Dead already has media outlets buzzing over the implicit and undeniable moral undertones present in Rucka's work. Known as a man of many talents and opinions, Rucka is insistent on maintaining a sense of moral culpability in writing his novels. Perhaps he says it best--simply, “I write about things that piss me off." This is best exemplified in the upcoming release of Walking that tackles the issues of modern-day slave trades--an issue that immediately plagued Rucka following his reading of Benjamin Skinner's 2008 book on the topic.

Though Walking has already begun to establish itself on bestseller lists nationwide, Rucka's work is not nearly done. The driving force behind much of Rucka's work has been to not necessarily provoke, but incite change. Oftentimes, this does not slip under the cultural radar--a fact that has been best exemplified in the much-hyped, impending release of DC comics' new take on Batwoman: namely, that she is now an openly queer woman. This fact of her personnae, however, does not serve as a principal lynchpin to any storylines--rather, Rucka emphasizes that:

“there was a choice made: You know, the time has come. We’re gonna take arguably the most recognizable symbol that we have — that’s the bat — and we’re going to associate it with a character that from the start is going to be known as gay. It’s not going to be an after-school special story, we’re not going to do a pull back the curtain and duh-duh-duh, it’s from the word go. What we want is a new member of the bat family: We want this character to be female, viable and strong and among all those things she is also gay. And that is part of the character-making, right, as opposed to an evolving self-discovery story.”

As the new Batwoman has begun to appear sporadically in recent comics, consumer demand has risen for her own series. Appropriately, "Batwoman's run in DC's flagship title Detective Comics begins Wed, June 10 with issue 854." Rucka goes on to emphasize that his agenda is nothing short of exposing the inescapably, wide-range of human characteristics. Indeed, something as simple as that has put Rucka at the forefront of a major change in the world of graphic novels--namely that "Batwoman is the highest profile queer character in mainstream, genre fiction ever."

Yet, Rucka's work continues. He has been instrumental in the challenging task of introducing new superheroes in DC's Action Comic series without the presence of the ever-iconic Superman. Rucka has worked intensely on constructing two entirely novel characters to the DC family: Nightwing and Flamebird--both of which he predicts will have a lasting appeal to readers. Rucka notes, I like the characters. I think they are compelling. I want to read their stories. That’s why I’m writing them." The first publication involving his new characters was available April 15 as "Action Comics" issue #876, while the next "Action Comics" Annual #12 will be available June 17.

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