FINAL FANTASY Trading Card Game NA Champion Crowned

Posted by Justin D Williams

This past weekend, fans of the FINAL FANTASY® Trading Card Game witnessed the crowning of the game’s first ever North American Champion. SQUARE ENIX® congratulates Joseph Leszczyski from Milwaukee, WI, the winner of the inaugural FINAL FANTASY Trading Card Game (“FFTCG”) Opus Series North American Championship tournament 2017.
 
Leszczyski and the rest of the Top 4 finalists are invited to participate in the World Championship Finals in Japan this November.

FFTCG North American Championship Tournament 2017 Top 4 Winners

  • Champion: Joseph Leszczyski
  • Finalist: Nathan Perez
  • Semi-Finalist: Arvin Bernardo
  • Semi-Finalist: Devin Welzbacher
  • Pictured below: Leszczyski and FINAL FANTASY Trading Card Game Producer, Taro Kageyama.
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Interview with Jim Rugg (Co-Creator of Street Angel)

Interviewed by Justin D Williams

Otakus & Geeks had a chat with illustrator and co creator of the comic Street Angel Jim Rugg. We talk about his comic book origins, his comic Street Angel and many more. Jim Rugg is an Eisner and Ignatz Award-winning cartoonist based in Pittsburgh. His books include STREET ANGEL, The PLAIN Janes, The Guild, Afrodisiac, and Notebook Drawings. His studio is pencils, paper, ballpoint pens, ink, Photoshop, cats, and comics.

Otakus & Geeks: Let’s talk about your origins. How did you get into comic books and who were some of your influences to the medium?

RUGG: I started reading comics when I was 11 or 12. This was the late 80s/early 90s. Early influences were Frank Miller, Jack Kirby, and the Image Comics artists like Todd McFarlane and Rob Liefeld. When I grew bored of superhero comics, I found alternative cartoonists like Julie Doucet, Chris Ware, Dan Clowes, Chester Brown, and the Hernandez Bros. I started making comics in 2000 and found mini-comics, manga, and newspaper strip reprints, influences like John Porcellino, Fort Thunder, Kevin Huizenga, Kramers Ergot, Picturebox, Mai the Psychic Girl, Akira, Krazy Kat, Dick Tracy... Today I look at so much, I feel like I'm influenced by everyone - recent favorites include Eleanor Davis, Isabelle Arsenault, Jamie Hewlett, Taiyō Matsumoto...

As soon as I bought my first comic book, I knew I wanted to make comics. I loved to draw figures and comic books kinda looked like what I drew. So when I saw credits for art, I just had to learn how to do this. Wizard magazine started publishing around this time, and it featured articles about artists and showed their artwork in progress. All of this just fueled my dreams. I studied graphic design at school, and when I graduated, I started making my own comics. I would self-publish them and trade them with other cartoonists and I've been making comics ever since.

Otakus & Geeks: Do you have any favorite comic books as child?

RUGG: As a child I loved Frank Miller's Daredevil and Sin City. I also like Rob Liefeld's X-Force, Chris Claremont's X-Men, and Todd McFarlane's Spawn and Spider-Man. Hulk and Punisher were my favorite characters. 

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Otakus & Geeks: How did the concept of Street Angel start? What inspire you to this story?

RUGG: Street Angel developed because I was tired of what I saw at the comic book shop. I wanted something different. Street Angel was like the opposite of most of the new comic books that I saw at that time. They featured middle-aged, affluent men. So Street Angel was a poor, homeless kid. They seemed polished and she was rough around the edges. They were a fantasy that readers aspired to and she was a trainwreck that no one would want to switch places with. Decompressed storytelling was popular at the time and I hated it. So every Street Angel book or comic stood on its own and could be read in any order. That is still my approach. A lot of superhero comics were "realistic" and grim and gritty. Street Angel was fun and dynamic!  I grew up reading superhero comics and there is a lot I like about them. Street Angel was a chance to create an exciting superhero comic and to celebrate some of the qualities that I liked about the genre.

The other major ingredient in Street Angel was alternative comics. There used to be a big divide in comics culture between superhero (Marvel/DC/Image) and alternative comics. I enjoyed both so I combined the genres in Street Angel. Part of the comic was superhero fun and part of it was slice-of-life drama that I saw in books like Nowhere by Debbie Dreschler or I Never Liked You by Chester Brown. I think the combination of these different styles and genres makes Street Angel unique. In these new Street Angel stories, I've added manga and picture books to my influences.  

Street Angel Super Hero For A Day Will Be Avaliable on October 25th 

Street Angel Super Hero For A Day Will Be Avaliable on October 25th 

Otakus & Geeks: One thing I love about Jesse is her origin is different from anything that is out there. Here you have a homeless girl with nothing and she is out there fighting crime? How did you come up with Jesse arc?

RUGG: It's exactly like you describe -- different from anything that is out there. I grew up in a poor community but economic class has no bearing on whether someone is good or evil. There were a lot of positive influences in my community, a lot of people who made a difference and were positive examples for me. So despite Jesse's socio-economic hardship, it doesn't mean she can't be heroic and help others.

We wanted to create a well-rounded character. On one hand, she's an unstoppable ninja on a skateboard - the Deadliest Girl Alive. On the other hand, she's homeless, hungry, and alone. I think she has qualities that most readers can identify with - good and bad. I remember Todd McFarlane talking about how a hero is defined by the obstacles they overcome. Making Jesse's life hard is a way to make her a stronger hero. Making her a kid without a family puts her in the toughest spot of any superhero I can think of. Compared to her, Batman or Spider-Man are clowns. 

Otakus & Geeks: How important was making Jesse a female character with a unique backstory?

RUGG: We started making Street Angel in 2002. At the time, there were very few female lead characters in superhero books. I wanted something different and having a strong female protagonist was different at the time. Part of the reason we made Jesse female was in response to another aspect of comics that I hated - the boys club mentality that surrounded the culture. I grew up very isolated. Comics were something that helped me a lot - comics were somewhere I could go to escape the day-to-day grind I felt at the time. That's a quality that I value as a fan and creator. I want everyone to have comics that speak to them and that give them a safe place to enjoy, to explore, and to be happy. Besides the human consideration and positive role comics can have on readers, the idea of limiting the readership or creators to some exclusive group is catastrophic for an art form. Different points of view, values, interests, and ideas are essential to growing the medium. In the last 15 years, I think comics have improved in terms of diversity. I think in that regard it is better than its ever been and I think there is momentum to continue to make comics more accessible for everyone, by everyone. I love comics and making them more inclusive is something I believe in and hopefully contribute to improving.  

Otakus & Geeks: I love the banter between Jesse and Stuart. Will we see more of that connection explored?

RUGG: I'm not sure when we'll see Stuart next, but you can expect more banter (and bickering) with almost everyone in Jesse's life. She does not censor her opinions and never learned to compromise very well. I suppose that's a side effect of being so alone.  

Otakus & Geeks: What is next for the Street Angel Series?

RUGG: Probably a trip to juvie. That has to happen sooner or later, right? 

For more on Jim Rugg:

PATREON: streetangel
INSTAGRAM: jimruggart
TWITTER: @jimruggart
FACEBOOK: StreetAngelComic
eNEWSLETTER: SUBSCRIBE
EMAIL: jamesrugg@gmail.com

 

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*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review

Hamal works at a flower shop but the owner and customers think he's crazy because he can hear, see, and speak to ghosts. This ability is bitter sweet as the ghost, Blue is his best friend and Blue is in love with Hamal. But lately, Blue has been unexpectedly vanishing and all the ghosts are afraid of what's going on.

I am such a fan of all these calm, multi-cultural, creative, and beautiful graphic novels I'm seeing these days. The cool, soft color palette and relaxed writing make this story about an accidental necromancer an amazing and wonderful read. Even when dealing with death, reapers, and ghosts, Taproot never takes itself too seriously; remaining sweet and grounded the entire time. I was a little confused because the terms 'necromancer' and 'ghost hunter' are used interchangeably when I'd always believed them to be very different things. Perhaps if given more time to develop, we could get Hamal's powers clearly defined, learn where they came from, and get some backstory on the other ghosts around him. As it stands, this book was an overall pleasure. 4 out of 5.

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review

When she finds an injured tea dragon in the marketplace, young Greta - who is a blacksmith's apprentice - returns the magical creature to its owner and learns the nearly forgotten art of crafting tea from the delicate leaves growing from the tea dragon's bodies.

I found this to be the most refreshing fantasy comic I have read in a long time. The story Greta through 4 seasons as she meets Minette; a seer who has lost her memory, Hesekiel; one of the last remaining tea masters, and his partner Erik; a former adventurer who is now a paraplegic.

There are no grand adventures, no epic battles; just a little girl who finds a dragon and makes some friends. A delightfully progressive slice of life story with simple and beautiful art, about the only thing I can legitimately complain about is there isn't enough of this. If this was a webcomic or a series, I would be reading it all the time. It's very rare for me to find something so lighthearted yet well done and I find it perfect. 5 out of 5.

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