Real Interviews: Rusty Shackles

Silent Hill Alternate Cover By Matt Buck
Silent Hill Alternate Cover By Matt Buck - Looks Better Than The Real Cover

N: Greetings Rusty Shackles of the websites Palette Swap and TableTop Fetus who is also the former artist of War Rocket Ajax!
RS: Hey Luke! I am those things you state, this is true.
N: How is it going Rusty?
RS: Fantastic, I just finished up my piece for the Sega Art Jam which will be my final art piece for 2011. Taking a new-dad break, and I am looking forward to coming back in 01/2012 with some art for musicians.
N: Nice! Now your current project is Palette Swap. What is the deal with that?
RS: Much like Nicole Bradford, PaletteSwap has 2 dads – The first being the Covered sites. I had done a large number of pieces that ran on Robert Goodin’s brilliant Covered blog, and a few for other sites like Repaneled and Repulped. Meanwhile, the other father who is *not* Paul Reiser came into play, the old Twitter Art Jam feed. I had artists participate in an open art jam where everyone had to do that month’s subject to participate. The most successful of them was DLC-4 where people did their takes on their favorite video games. So with those two sources, it seemed natural to create the blog.
N: So basically you were like “these other people are doing this cool cover thing, I can too?”
RS: Essentially yeah! I wear my influences on my sleeve and got the blessing of those blogs before I even started. Plus, video games are out of their respective turfs so I don’t come across as a competitor.
N: Now are you much of a gamer?
RS: I used to be WAY more into it, but nowadays I’m pretty well down to only owning a PSP. It’s too expensive for me nowadays, and besides, if you don’t buy a game when it’s $60 new the internet community who would be playing is LONG GONE by the time it’s $20.
N: Do you think that the glut of constant shooting games will make doing Palette Swaps for current gen systems any harder?
RS: I think for the most part people are going to be drawn more to the older generation of games so it won’t be too apparent for a bit. There will be a shooters themed month coming up in the near future so it’s a great time for those who want to do that though. But I can’t complain about a genre, my favorite is 2D fighting which people once complained about being too superfluous as well
N: I would say though that with fighting games you get a lot more variation in looks and themes.
RS: Oh I agree, and the parallels with first-person-shooter genre is there with the level of maniacal fans, and the homebrew scene as well. It’s bizarre to see some of the Mugen or Doujinshi stuff out there, but it’s kinda like the mod scene was back in the day for Unreal.
N: So what, you have an issue with Kirby fighting and beating Apocalypse and Darkseid?
RS: Ha! No I think it’s awesome. I’ll gladly point to the Mugen THOR by Loganir to justify that whole scene. That creation in particular is on par or if not better than Capcom’s 2d staff’s work.
N: What is you favorite video game generic enemy, as in not a boss?
RS: I have to say the myriad of guys and gals you pound on in Final Fight. It says alot when your grunt characters become playable in your later franchises the way they did with Andore/Hugo and Poison.
N: It is interesting how a community can latch onto a character like that.
RS: True! and they’ve spent 20+ years trying to explain Poison’s gender but like…mid-boss, I gotta go with Allen O’Neil. The big guy with the machine gun in the Metal Slug series. He has some of the best taunts in all of videogames, and in one of the games, is inexplicably eaten by a killer whale for NO REASON WHATSOEVER.

Rusty Shackles' Cover For Trap Gunner
Rusty Shackles' Cover For Trap Gunner

N: So getting back to Palette Swap, you mentioned theme weeks? How do these work?
RS: well, the site originally was open format, meaning whatever game, whatever console, era, etc. But I was getting like one submission every 2-3 weeks. I think with the massive library of games that have ever existed, that may have been *too* much freedom. When I announced the Halloween art jam, I got like 14 entries in 2 weeks, so it was definitely a sign of what the direction should be. So from here on out, I think we’ll do ONLY theme months. We’ll still allow those who want to draw whatever they darn well please as “Bonus Rounds” and post them during the theme months. But I do want to keep it as loose as possible, and give as few restrictions as possible. With the current one, Sega, there’s 30 years of games to choose from for example.
N: Now have there been any issues with interpretations of certain games in one way or another? Like one interpretation of a character over another?
RS: Nah I don’t think so. I haven’t had to reject anything just yet. I think though that there’s a concern with people about not wanting to draw a game because someone else may do that game. I encourage people to do whatever the heck they want, since their version will look TOTALLY different from another artist’s. I’ve already had a few Super Mario Bros. (NES) for the site, but they’re all unique so it’s not an issue.
N: Awesome. Well is there anything you want to pimp before you go?
RS: Sure! as always you can find my work at, plus as always I’m doing work for Adam Warrock ( as well as The ThoughtCriminals. In 2012 I’ll be doing art for Tribe One, My Parent’s Favorite Music and other nerdcore musicians to be announced.
N: Well thank you for doing the interview Rusty.

Luke Herr

Luke is a writer and an aspiring professional comic writer who is also the editor in chief of Nerdcenaries. He currently is working on a graphic novel called Prison Spaceship.