About Greg Rucka
Greg is a novelist, an author of comic books, and has written for animation and film.
To best meet the needs of our audience, we’ve provided a media-friendly (just the facts) and a fan-friendly (more personal tidbits) biography below.
Greg Rucka was born in San Francisco and raised on the Central Coast of California, in what is commonly referred to as ‘Steinbeck Country.’ He began his writing career in earnest at the age of 10 by winning a county-wide short-story contest, and hasn’t let up since. He graduated from Vassar College with an A.B. in English, and from the University of Southern California’s Master of Professional Writing program with an M.F.A.
He is the author of nearly a dozen novels, six featuring bodyguard Atticus Kodiak, and two featuring Tara Chace, the protagonist of his Queen & Country series. Additionally, he has penned several short-stories, countless comics, and the occasional non-fiction essay. In comics, he has had the opportunity to write stories featuring some of the world’s best-known characters—Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman—as well as penning several creator-owned properties himself, such as Whiteout and Queen & Country, both published by Oni Press. His work has been optioned several times over, and his services are in high-demand in a variety of creative fields as a story-doctor and creative consultant.
Greg resides in Portland, Oregon, with his wife, author Jennifer Van Meter, and his two children. He thinks the biggest problem with the world is that people aren’t paying enough attention.
Here are some things to know about the man who writes under the name Greg Rucka.
First of all, that’s not his name.
His real name is Gregory Rucka, which may not seem like that big a deal to you, but it is to him, and certainly to his mother, who had a roaring fight with her mother over picking that name. (Went something like this: ‘We’re going to name him Gregory.’ ‘You’re going to name him after a POPE!!!’ ‘Mother, please calm down. We’re thinking of naming the other one Nicholas.’ ‘You’re naming the other one after a TZAR!!!’ ‘Mother, please, you’re scaring the newborns…’).
This is why, when he signs books, you get a signature that says ‘Gregory Rucka’… or actually, something that’s barely legible as ‘Grmmlllml Rmllmla.’
Well, looks like that, anyway.
Here’s the story behind the name change, and trust me, this is all true. Those who own a copy of Rucka’s first novel, Keeper, can confirm this in their own time.
When Keeper was finished, and prepared to go into production, the art department at Bantam presented Greg’s editor with their mock-up of the cover. The cover was glossy black, with a safety-yellow strip running down its center, into which were cut the letters that formed the title. Then, at the base of the cover, on either side of the strip, was to be Greg’s name. Problem. ‘Gregory’ has seven letters. ‘Rucka’ has five. With ‘Gregory’ on the left-hand side of the strip, and ‘Rucka’ on the right, the cover was out of balance.
But ‘Greg’ only has four letters, and could be easily spaced to balance with ‘Rucka.’
Hence the name change.
Honest to God.
Now, of course, it’s too late to go back. Because now there are enough novels for two series (Atticus Kodiak and Tara Chace/Queen & Country), a few stand-alone novels, and countless comic books, and the whole thing has spiraled sadly, tragically out of control. But if you’re ever in Portland, and you’re bored, and it’s very late, and you’re really bored, you can walk the streets in the wee hours and hear the sounds of Gregory sobbing over those three little letters that seemed to make his life all worthwhile.
And now, some pertinent information, culled from various biographical sources and insider accounts:
Greg Rucka was born in San Francisco on a dark and stormy night (really, we checked), and then raised on the Monterey Peninsula of California, an area known to the locals as “Steinbeck Country.” He came to writing early, entering his first short-story contest at the age of nine and stunning both his parents and himself by winning first prize in the competition. Thus encouraged, he continued writing, and couldn’t win another contest of anything to save his life, at least until Whiteout: Melt won Best Limited Series at the Eisner Awards in 2000. He won another Eisner for Gotham Central: Half a Life in 2004 and now sleeps with his Eisners beside him, on their own pillow, much to the despair of his wife and children.
Greg attended Vassar College undergraduate. He had a splendid time, and thanks the institution for the education which he is now, gleefully, squandering. After Vassar, he attended USC for his Master’s Degree. He didn’t much like USC. The best thing about USC was that he and his wife got to live in a house that he could pretend Philip Marlowe had visited. Probably to beat someone up.
After USC, they moved to Oregon, and resided in Eugene for a time, and yes, that’s really the town’s name. Named after Eugene Skinner. But the town’s called Eugene. The butte, that’s called Skinner’s Butte.
They then left Eugene, and looked for a place to live that had a proper name. They found it in Portland (which, if you think about it, is really ideal—says what it is: Port. Land. Land o’ Ports.), and have happily resided there for the last several years.
Portland has other benefits as well. Portland has the highest per capita number of bookstores and music stores per person of any city in the USA. Portland has more parks that a pomegranate has pips. Portland has a lot of rain, which forces people who write for a living to stay at their desks and keep typing, or else they might go outside and drown. Portland has surprisingly good barbeque for being so far into the Pacific Northwest, but it’s just far enough south of Seattle to keep from being too trendy. Portland has a world-class ballet and symphony, really good theatres for both stage and screen, and a thriving arts community. Portland also has kick-ass public transportation, good schools, and nice people. And excellent coffee.
It also is the home of Oni Press, and since they seem willing to publish just about anything Greg writes, he’s inclined to stay close to them, in case they suddenly come to their senses.
While currently able to make a living solely from his writings, Greg has held, and been fired from, countless jobs in the past, including: house painter, the restaurant industry triple-threat (busboy-dishwasher-waiter), emergency medical technician, security guard, technical writer, beta tester, and fight choreographer.
Basically, he can’t do anything but write. It’s kind of sad, really.
There are some other things he’s interested in, however, and if you didn’t already think he was kind of a freak by now, this should push those of you on the fence right over the edge. He plays roleplaying games. He plays computer games. He plays guitar (badly). He collects action figures. He reads a lot of just about everything—cereal boxes, comic books, non-fiction analyses of late Cold War fissionable material dispersion. He likes staying up late, and he likes sleeping late, but he likes getting up before dawn—which obviously creates its own set of problems. He really likes sushi. He really likes a good cheeseburger. He is still searching for the perfect French fry, which would, ideally, be crispy and hot, but tender on the inside. He likes hot mustard, and good beer, and fresh bread. He enjoys the music of Dexter Gordon, Lester Bowie, Joe Jackson, Warren Zevon, and—here’s the spanner—Melissa Ferrick.
He has two tattoos, five earrings, and a motorcycle. He doesn’t ride the motorcycle anymore, but he has it, because the battery is now dead and it sits in the garage hoping, one day, to find a good home.