Rebecca Sugar has been building new worlds for as long as she can remember. As a kid growing up in Baltimore, Maryland, she and her younger brother Steven would draw out fantasy stories.
Inspired by Zelda games and Yoshi’s Island, as well as hours spent on the household Nintendo 64, the two nascent artists drew “fairies and forest adventures and glowing ethereal beings”. For Rebecca, it felt like an escape from normality.
“I think, back then, I did feel like that was all more interesting and exciting than my regular life,” she says over the phone from her studio in Los Angeles, lingering on every vowel, sounding awe-struck by the sentence as it forms.
“Fantasy worlds seemed so exciting to me when I was younger. But as I’ve gotten older, reality is so much more complex and interesting.”
After studying at New York’s School of Visual Arts, Rebecca’s self-published comics helped land her a job as a storyboard artist and writer on Adventure Time.
Then Cartoon Network made her its first female showrunner with the launch of Steven Universe – a groundbreaking, coming-of-age animation series that deals with gender, sexuality and human interaction with rare subtlety and humour.