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 Sandra C. Ruckdeschel/Ellen DeGeneres comic writer

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T O P I C    R E V I E W
Allen Posted - 12/12/2009 : 01:24:53 AM

Interview with: Sandra C. Ruckdeschel:
Job: Writer
Comic book: Female Force: Ellen DeGeneres
Company: Bluewater Productions
Interviewed by: Allen Klingelhoets

Allen: How did you manage to get job as writer for “Female Force: Ellen DeGeneres” comic book?

Sandra: I have known Darren for quite a few years now, we used to play softball together. We were just on the phone one day talking and out of the blue he asked me if I wanted to write a comic book on Ellen. He knows I love Ellen and knows I enjoy writing so it was an easy answer. And the rest was history.

Allen: Do you have any formal comic book writing training?

Sandra: This was actually my first experience writing a comic book. I have a young adult novel still in the works that is based on a comic book character Darren created but this was quite different. Going into it I did not think it would be all that challenging of a format, but there is a lot you have to consider, not just the research. You have to create in your mind and convey onto paper the image you want to associate with your dialogue as well as thinking about the overall layout of the comic. It is like putting a puzzle together.

Allen: What got you first into writing?

Sandra: I have loved writing since I was a little kid. I remember first writing a short story in 3rd grade that won a prize. I think that was the impetus for me. I think back to that sometimes and say to myself that was where it all started, I knew at that point I had a gift – ha! All it took was a prize in 3rd grade. I think also I have always been more on the shy side so I find that writing is a good way to express myself and what goes on in my mind.

Allen: Did you read many comic books as child? What were some series that you liked to read?

Sandra: I would read some Scooby Doo and Archie comics. I think I had a couple of Superman ones too. I wasn’t a huge comic book reader as a kid.

Allen: Have you had much work in comic book industry?

Sandra: This is my first real foray into the industry. Other than the young adult novel that is still in the works with Darren’s company.

Allen: Have you ever in past had any personal contact with “Ellen DeGeneres”?

Sandra: I met Ellen back when she had her first sitcom “Ellen”. By “met” I mean got a picture with her at a television show panel discussion at the DGA. I also did a project back in graduate school where I interviewed a few of the writers from “Ellen” and got be on set watching the show – at one point standing right next to Ellen while she watched a scene was being filmed. I eventually got a job at another sit-com that filmed on the same lot and during a hiatus had a chance to work as a production assistant on “Ellen” for a couple of weeks filling in for someone else.

Allen: What is it that impressed you about Female Force series?

Sandra: The empowerment of it all. Women are powerful people that are not always heard or seen next to their male counterparts. We all have stories to tell, interesting stories that we would love to share to empower other women who follow in our footsteps. I think Darren has a great thing going with this series. It is a wonderfully unbiased way for young girls to learn about these powerful women who are making a difference.

Allen: Who came up with concept for Ellen DeGeneres story?

Sandra: Darren came up with the idea to do an Ellen comic but from there the rest was all me. I did all the research and came up with the concept for the book as well as the ideas for the drawings.

Allen: What kinds of things will you attempt to tell story wise in “Female Force: Ellen DeGeneres”?

Sandra: How Ellen’s road to the top was not always a smooth ride. She had to work very hard to get where she is at. She had some big speed bumps along the way. When she chose to come out it seemed her career might be over. But she persevered and became what she is today – America’s unlikely sweetheart!

Allen: How did you research non-fiction story of Ellen DeGeneres?

Sandra: I am a huge fan of Ellen so it was not too difficult to get excited about this project. Being a fan, I had already been familiar with her background through various readings and interviews I had seen with her. I also read her mother’s book “Love, Ellen” to get a view of her life growing up. With that as a guide I hit the internet running and researched and fact checked various websites devoted to Ellen. It is a long process but a lot of fun along the way.

Allen: Through whose eyes will you tell Ellen DeGeneres story?

Sandra: I guess it is kind of through my eyes as a biographer looking back on her life’s progress to where get where she is now.

Allen: What impresses you most about Ellen DeGeneres? Why do you feel she is a Female Force candidate?

Sandra: I think she is hilarious without having to be crude. She uses observational humor so smartly. She is one of the most impressive commedianes to me. Not to mention I laugh my behind off whenever I watch her. I think she is a good candidate for Female Force because she really had to dig deep and overcome adversity throughout her life, especially after she came out of the closet. She put it all out there and put her career on the line. At first it didn’t all go to well then she found the strength in herself to surpass all of it and keep fighting to become the powerhouse that she is today. She is an inspiration in many ways. And now her sexuality is not even an issue. She also had dreams of hosting the Oscars one day which she did. She has made great strides with her career and is now a very powerful woman.

Allen: Was it really difficult for you not write about real person? How did you know how to write story in finite comic book pages?

Sandra: It took some guidance from Darren to get the whole comic book format down. I just wrote the story as a story at first then took the format and filled in the blanks. It all kind of flowed from there. Once you get the format down it is easier to fill in the blanks and see where things work and don’t work so you can re-adjust it if needed. It is all very interesting. Writing about a real person was not all that difficult. You just have to fact check a lot whereas if you write a fictional character you can do whatever you want for the most part.

Allen: How long did it take you to come up with script? How many pages will this story contain?

Sandra: This was a 3 month process for me. Darren gave me a deadline and I met it. Researching is definitely the most tedious part of it all. It should be 23 pages long.

Allen: What are you feelings about Ellen art pages drawn by Pedro Ponzo? Do you know little bit about Pedro’s comic book history? Have you ever met or worked with Pedro on past projects?

Sandra: It is a little scary turning over your ideas and concepts to a total stranger. I have never met Pedro and knew very little of his comic book history. Darren paired us together for a reason and it worked! Pedro’s designs fully captured what was in my head. I tried to be as descriptive as possible and attach photos of Ellen in certain situations as a guide. I was blown away when I saw his first sketches! I could never do what he does – it is quite amazing!

Allen: What is your ultimate hope that readers gain from your Ellen DeGeneres story?

Sandra: An even greater appreciation of her through her various struggles and battles she has conquered to become who she is today. And her drive, she makes things happen. She has that Oprah effect about her – the Ellen effect – people care about what she says. She is a very powerful woman.

Allen: Would you be shocked if Ellen DeGeneres called you? What would you like to say to her about Female Force story?

Sandra: I would probably fall off the couch then jump up and start dancing! That would be a dream come true. I do hope she enjoys this telling of her story and is satisfied with it. There is always that fear going into something like this that the person you feature will not be happy with it. I think she will be, I hope she will be. I would want to say to her that she is an inspiration to so many people without a voice.

Allen: Tell me about yourself Sandra. What are some of past projects you worked on? I noticed you have worked in other fields. Tell me a little bit about other works. I think this will help give readers more fulfilling interview.

Sandra: I am from Seattle, Washington and have lived in Los Angeles almost 14 years. I have been working in the television industry for the past 13, almost 14 years. I’ve worked on everything from movies to sit-coms to game shows to my current area – reality tv. I am currently a producer for reality shows and am in the process of developing my own show with a friend of mine. I have always wanted to work in the television industry. My heart was always in sit-coms but jobs led me elsewhere. I remember sitting at home when I still lived in Seattle, watching “Ellen” (the original sit-com) saying to myself that I will be on that set one day. Low and behold not more than a year later I was on that set standing next to Ellen DeGeneres watching a scene be filmed. Some of my more recent shows I have worked on are “Win Ben Stein’s Money”, “Platinum Weddings” and “First Time Design” for HGTV. Writing is something I have always done on the side as a hobby. Other than selling a couple of ideas to a game show and getting an article published in a magazine, this is my first big foray into the writing world.

Allen: Thank you for those insights. Would you like to write more Female Force stories?

Sandra: I would love to! I had a lot of fun and learned a lot. I actually have one in the works right now – I can’t say who it is yet, but let’s just say I am very happy about it!

Allen: What are some other comic book projects you have in works?

Sandra: I have a project in the works with Darren but I cannot discuss it at this time.

Allen: If you could have any super powers which types would you like and why?

Sandra: I don’t know that flying is a super power but that is one power I would love to have – it seems so peaceful. I would also like to be able to read people’s minds – I am already paranoid so it won’t make it any worse. I guess having the Wonder Twins’ power to be the form of…anything would be fantastic too.

Allen: What kinds of hobbies do you have?

Sandra: I love books, love to read – actually a dream to own a book store one day (if they still exist). I love to play music – I play drums and guitar. I enjoy exercising (usually) especially my Krav Maga classes – great workout! And hanging out with my friends – I am a pretty lucky girl!

Allen: What’s your family life like? Also, do you come from family working on different comic books in industry?

Sandra: My family still lives in Seattle. I go visit a few times a year. I might relocate up there somewhere down the road. No one in my family has done anything industry related. My mom worked in bank loans, my dad was an engineer for Boeing and my sister currently does web design for Boeing. She does creative stuff on the side like photography and creates vintage dog collars for little dogs. None of them are in the comic book world.

Allen: Do you read many comic books at present time? Who are some of your comic book creative influences?

Sandra: I can’t honestly say that I do. I am more of a novel reader. I have read comics Darren’s company has done so I am familiar with the style. But I hope to get more active in comic books – it is such an art form.

Allen: Who are some of your favorite novel authors?

Sandra: I am in a book club so I have to read a lot of books. One of my favorite authors is Margaret Atwood. She is so descriptive to the finest details that it is hard not to be able to envision everything. “Cat’s Eye” is one of my favorite books. Oh and also Charles M. Schultz – I am a huge Snoopy fan!

Allen: What kinds of movies do you look forward to seeing?

Sandra: I am a horror movie buff! One of my favorite movies is Halloween (the original of course). But my other favorite movies are Purple Rain, Xanadu and Picnic at Hanging Rock. I am all over the place with my movies. I want to be entertained at the movies and not have to think too much. I also really like character movies with solid acting – usually independent films.

Allen: What stimulates your creativity?

Sandra: Other people’s creativity. When I go see a good movie or read a good book I get inspired and get all sorts of ideas.

Allen: What is best way for some one to contact you? Also, do you have website?

Sandra: Through Darren :O) I do not currently have a website but will get one in the works in the near future.

Allen: What is best way for readers to get “Female Force: Ellen Degeneres” comic book?

Sandra: is a consistent seller of the Female Force comic books. I believe major book stores are in the works too.

Allen: Do Pedro Ponzo or you have any book signings or convention appearances planned in conjunction with March 2010 publication?

Sandra: Not at this time but things are changing by the minute so stand by!

Allen: How many covers are there going to be? Who will be artist for cover or covers?

Sandra: As far as I know there will only be one cover.

Allen: What comic book besides “Female Force: Ellen DeGeneres” would you like to write?

Sandra: Actually a couple of the Female Force comics that have already been done – like Hillary Clinton and Oprah. I think Tina Fey could be an interesting one down the road or Meryl Streep – not sure if either are in the works but you never know. A Jodie Foster Female Force comic book would be an absolute dream of mine – I have idolized her since I was a little kid.

Allen: Thank you for hard work on this interview. Do you have any closing thoughts about “Female Force: Ellen DeGeneres” comic book?

Sandra: Buy it! Love it! Learn what female empowerment is all about! Everyone loves Ellen so everyone will love this comic book. I do want to say that it was such a pleasure to write this comic book and finish it. It was a great experience for me and I thank Darren Davis and Bluewater Productions for that!

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