Interview No. 88
Interview By: @The-Great-One
Today's guest is one with an underrated merit to him, but is known as a comic book artist and writer. His works include being a part of Creaturing : Begins. However he is most known for his works on 1976: Issue 1, which can be purchased in the Newgrounds Store as Issue 1 along with Issue 2 and Issue 3. He is none other than Robert Hays also known on Newgrounds as @deadspread83.
Q: How did you find Newgrounds and why did you join?
A: I found Newgrounds through a buddy of mine back in 2001. He wouldn't shut up about this cartoon he saw that he thought I think was hilarious, which turned out to be Stamper's Keeblur. I was hooked ever since.
Q: You have been here since 2005. An early time in Newgrounds life, what was Newgrounds like then compared to what it is now? Any changes for the better or worse?
A: Well, it was a little more raw I guess. It's tough to say, really. There were less game parodies, but a lot more Brittany Spear dress up sims... whatever is in pop culture makes its way into jokes, and people that animate put those jokes in their animation. I guess it's always been that way. The big difference I guess is that everything that came out was limited by the technology. Some of the stuff from that time and before looks dated, but it's amazing when you consider the limitations that the software had and the ways you had to work around it.
Q: Your first animation on Newgrounds would be entitled ~Cookies~. It involves the Cookie Monster from Sesame Street, my question is where did this idea come from and how did you come about choosing the song for this?
A: Oh man... it's tough to remember where the idea came from. I don't think I sat down and thought it out... I just kind of made it up as I went. I picked the song because at the time I was staying at my parents house, and they happened to have a Best of Three Dog Night album, and that song just seemed go along nicely. I had to change it actually, because the intro piano part wasn't long enough, so I cut it and added another couple of beats to the beginning so it would fit.
Q: ~PrintError~. Is an interestingly creepy short. The only question is, where did the idea come from and looking back on it, do you feel you could have expanded on it more?
A: When I made ~PrintError~ I was a Copy Center Manager at Office Depot, and I was making copies all the time. It always cracked me up when I saw people on TV or in the movies sit on these things, because the glass is so damn thin! I can't imagine why someone would risk getting their taint cut up just to get a copy of their hairy ass. So obviously, when people do fall in, they are sucked into the copier never to be heard from again. It just seemed the logical conclusion to me. In all of my animations to this point, I was really just playing around, finding out what my limits were. I'm sure it could have been expanded, if it had been done by someone who had the patience for it. I did the awful music too, in case anyone is interested.
Q: =aDarknessInApril= would be your entry for Pico Day. It is an interesting look into what possible trauma Pico would have gone through. What made you break this simple game into something a bit more serious? How did you come about seeing this serious tone?
A: Ever since I played the original game (which was awesome) I had loved Pico as a character. It seemed to me though that everything done about him for Pico Day so far was loosely based off of Mindchamber's Pico's Unloaded, and the original game, but I hadn't seen anything done about him as an adult. I guess I just wondered what happened afterwards... like if this story continued, what would the next chapter be. The tone of the flash is due in large part to snayk's dead good and cigarettes, which I stumbled on and loved. I'm not the world's best animator, I'm more of an illustrator if anything, so having a strong song like that one went a long way in setting the atmosphere for that flash.
Q: 1976: Issue 1 is one of your best works. A comic book series that is truly very interesting. What is the story behind the writing of this comic book series and for those still on the fence about it, what can you tell them about Issue #2 and Issue #3 to get them more interested in possibly buying them?
A: I had this idea a long time ago to do some paintings of local landmarks in my small town with strange stuff happening in the background, like the post office being eaten by giant bugs or zombies invading main street. I never did anything with the idea though, and it got shelved for other projects.
Then, in 2008, I got divorced. It was probably the worst time of my life, and I was really despondent and couldn't find a reason to get up and keep doing the same old shit every day. Then one night, I found this sketch I had done for one of the paintings, and the entire story came to me. I would write a fake history of my hometown. I would pick a date and a few landmarks and I would just make up what happened in Dickson Tennessee in 1976. I wrote the whole thing down, probably 30 pages or so of dialogue and events, just little pieces that would make up the whole story. I really wanted it to be a suspense or horror story, but not be about the "big reveal", like when they finally show the monster's face in a movie. I wanted it to be about people. People are terrible and kind and interesting creatures, and I think the best horror story, or any kind of story for that matter, is about our humanity.
It's been really slow going, but hopefully people with stick in there with me. I would finish it whether anyone else ever read it, because it's a part of me, but I really appreciate Tom giving me the opportunity to share it with everyone. I know the comic is more expensive than one you would buy at a comic shop, but I share a big chunk of that with Newgrounds, who deserve it by the way for being so damn awesome, and the other part goes to pay for printing.
"The purpose is to inspire children to create and to be inspired by them. It's come leaps and bounds, considering it started as a single seed of an idea."
We then come to the flash Creaturing: Begins. A beautiful concept taken to this kind of level is truly spectacular. How did you come across this project? Do you agree with RicePirate's statement? Whether you agree with it or not could you tell us in your own words what Creaturing is and why you decided to become a part of it?
A: Well, I met Rice Pirate at Pico Day last year, and he was a really nice guy. We both had backgrounds in graphic design, although I'd say he's probably miles ahead of me in that department. When he asked if I would be interested in re-imagining one of the kids pictures, I jumped at the chance. I think it's a great idea, and I agree with him about it being inspirational. I know that when I was a kid, if someone had taken the time to re-draw one of my sketches, I would have been thrilled. And as an adult, it's fun to look at this drawing a kid did and try to imagine what they would have drawn if they had more experience. Kids see the world in a really unique way, without any double meanings or hidden messages or bullshit. They have such unbridled imagination, before they get so full of other people's ideas, and it's inspiring to see that, especially in their art.
Q: What advice do you have to give to those wanting to get into the art and animation?
A: If drawing or painting or animating is what you want to do, than do it, and do it all the time. Don't worry if people don't like what you do, as long as at the end of the day, you like it. Some of my favorite art I've ever done has the lowest scores and fewest views of any of my stuff. That's just the way it goes sometimes.
Q: What can we expect from Robert Hays in the future?
A: I really like the idea of telling stories with a single picture and people filling in the rest of the story with their imagination. That's what most of the art I do is about. Expect more of that from me. Also, I will keep plugging along with my comic, and hopefully I won't die before it's done.
When it comes to Robert Hays, I must admit that like many others here I am surprised that I not only didn't know about him or his works, but I am also surprised by his story. Many Newgrounds members here have interesting stories to tell about their craft, hobbies, and how it affects them and the others around them. Robert Hays is no exception to this. His 1976 series is pretty damn cool and I look forward to one day purchasing Issues 2 and 3.