How-to Draw the Animated Nexus (2021 Expanded Edition) – Steve Rude

4 out of 5

A spiral-bound kinda-sorta show bible for a proposed Nexus animated series (which I think has a place on TV now more than ever, given the primacy more adult-geared cartoons have gotten on streaming services), first published by Nexus artist Steve Rude in 2006, and updated here with colors and some new sketches and notes.

8 chapters, covering character poses and sets and animation guidelines (general figure notes; “rules” for how certain people / concepts would behave or function), “How-to” maybe isn’t exactly that – I can’t imagine this would serve as the totality of a sourcebook for a full series, nor is it detailed enough to function as a drawing guide for beginners – but for any appreciators of Rude’s work, Nexus-specific or not, it’s a wonderful glimpse at the way the artist “learned” his classic style from Alex Toth and others, and has translated that into a specific set of rules you can tell he himself works with, and is simplifying here for mass production hopes / purposes. Seeing Horatio and others take shape from simple line gestures and forms, as well as the little jotted-down ideas that inform Rude’s space-age designs and vibe is fascinating from a behind-the-scenes perspective, and then also just cool as an appreciator: Rude’s skills are apparent even from the loosest linework.

The spiral-bound format would be handy for using this as an actual guide (and despite my comment above, it’s not like it’s without use in that sense – anyone with some experience at comicing / cartooning could definitely use this as a lightbox source or outline for their own character’s poses and whatnot), but it also makes it easy to appreciate every page’s art in full. The printing is also very bright, very clear, mostly in b & w but with some color artwork scattered throughout.

So whether you’re using it as an animation guide, or in order to get a “what if” whiff of a Nexus series, or just to luxuriate in Rude’s slick artistry, the “How-to” book is a worthwhile shelf addition; though it’s probably most complete if viewed as a ‘nexus’ (hyuck) of all of those different purposes.