Interview No. 114
Interview By: @The-Great-One
Today's guest is one who should is probably most recognized around Pico Day, with entries Picoday-Penillian Battle, which won 3rd Place for Pico Day 2006, Uberkid's Revenge, which won 3rd Place for Pico Day 2007, House of 1000 Cats, which won 1st Place for Pico Day 2008, Pico's Portal Party, which won 3rd Place for Pico Day 2009, and Picoday Pinata Party, which won 3rd Place for Pico Day 2011.
Besides these works, Zombie-Pimp has also done works on Cadaver, which won him 5th Place for Halloween 2012 and has contributed to Aladdin 3150 and Street Fighter Collab. He is a very talented artist, writer, and animator. He is none other than @Zombie-Pimp.
Q: How did you find Newgrounds and why did you join?
A: Mindchamber first started showing us newgrounds from his forum. He linked to the website a bunch of times and we all started getting curious, and we eventually migrated there. I'm one of the only animators from the Mindchamber forums who is still 'active' on newgrounds.
Q: When and how did you get into art and animation?
A: I was always interested in art since a young age. I saw art as a means of storytelling. I loved making comics and inventing my own characters. I didn't start trying to animate until I was introduced to flash by the Mindchamber forums. It gave me way more storytelling freedom and I found myself extremely motivated to spend hours upon hours animating.
Q: What are the MindChamber Forums?
A: Our family started getting internet a bit later than most households. I was around 13, I believe. I immediately started looking for artists and artist communities. The first artwork I found that really captivated me was an illustration of a boy and a robot looking curiously at each other, drawn by Mindchamber. I immediately started exploring Mindchamber's website inside and out, and I eventually found his 'forum' section. I didn't know what a forum was at the time. Mindchamber was holding a 'robot art contest' when i got there, where entrants would design robots to be used in a game that Mindchamber was making called "Botz Attack". I was still terrible at drawing and I submitted 2 or 3 entries and they all got rejected, of course. I think I was a bitter little brat about it, but Mindchamber was nice to me even when I flamed on his forum, so I decided I would stay and try to improve my skills rather than whine. Basically the Mindchamber forums were a huge turning point in my life which have taken me in the direction I am, as an animator/artist. We were a tight-knit community of about 20 artists who all knew each other really well.
I also learned a very important lesson on Mindchamber Forums one time, which I should confess to right here. One time I posted artwork that I had heavily referenced from another artist, but I didn't give any credit to the other artist. The similarity was pointed out, and I felt humiliated for not having mentioned that a reference was used. I was ridiculed by the other artists for a bit, but they understood that I'd made a mistake and that I'd learned my lesson. It was definitely an important lesson and I was lucky to have learned it at such a young age in the supportive environment of the Mindchamber Forums.
Q: Your first movie is one that I find funny yet disturbing. The Sinister Truth. Who is Sinister Mentor and what did he do to have this coming to him?
A: LOL Ok, to explain that monstrosity, I'll have to first tell you who Julius is. Julius was an artist on Mindchamber forums, him and I teamed up to make the "Zombie-Pimp" account. Julius is gone now but the earlier flashes under my account were all collaborations between the two of us. Julius and I made The Sinister Truth in one night over msn messenger, and we were laughing hysterically the entire time as we sent back and forth voice recordings and animation clips. Basically, Sinister Mentor was another artist on Mindchamber Forums, but he was more of a 'troll' artist, like you would find on TheBackAlleys or KittyKrew. The cartoon was made in good spirits and with playful, teasing intention, as a friendly way to poke some fun. The inspiration for the cartoon was that Sinister Mentor collected transformers action figures, and regularly posted pictures of his collection on the forum.
We decided to base the cartoon on the premise that Sinister Mentor was sexually attracted to transformers (ignoring how it must have made us look that we were the ones who searched for and even created pornographic material for the cartoon). We honestly thought he would find it funny himself, but he ended up finding it a bit offensive, from what I could tell. I would regret making it if I found out that it really hurt his feelings or anything, and if he wanted me to take it down today I would be fine with that. If you pay attention, the cartoon itself is kind of clever though. The 'bad review' that we had Sinister Mentor write in the cartoon was a compilation of flame-posts that he'd posted on the forum over the months. Also, during the scene where Optimus Prime is screwing Ultra-Magnus, we used actual audio clips from the original Transformers cartoon that sounded somewhat sexual. Like when Ultra Magnus says "This doesn't feel right, Prime" and Optimus says "I feel the power of the matrix flowing through me", those were actual sound clips from Transformers episodes.
Q: Francis the Dragon is a delightfully awkward funny movie. Where did this idea spawn from?
A: That idea was all Julius. It was based on a classmate of his. I had very little if anything to do with it. I think it's really funny too, and it reminds me that I miss Julius, since we've unfortunately lost touch over the years. The Zombie Pimp account has been all me for years now.
Q: Limiter Removal: Prelude is quite the action packed start to a potential series. Sinister Mentor was the artist of a sketch that started all of this, what was the sketch and what about it inspired you to make this movie? Why haven't we seen more of Limiter Removal?
A: Yes, originally Sinister Mentor and I wanted to make Limiter Removal together. A sketch he posted on Mindchamber forums inspired the idea, and I contacted him to tell him my idea for the series. Despite Sinister Mentor being a troll, he was quite a talented artist, and a great story-writer. We had quite a story set up, but it was just way too ambitious. Our art styles were also very different, and he was a bit ahead of me in terms of his ability to create clean lineart (something I still struggle with today), so that probably frustrated him as well. He eventually abandoned the series, so I was left to do the series on my own, which I could never have done, given how big it was. I'm glad I didn't go on with Limiter Removal, because later on I watched the anime Scryed, which was basically more or less the exact same idea as Limiter Removal, so I'm sure everyone would have just thought I was copying Scryed anyways. I have rewritten Sable, the main character of Limiter Removal, into another series, which I still plan to make one day, maybe when I'm finished school but hopefully sooner.
Q: Looking at your Pico Day animations one really caught my eye and that was House of 1000 Cats. Taking a shot at the spam group The Kitty Krew, you also give sympathy towards their leader in some way. For your past Pico Day movies you had them fighting just one entity. Why the Kitty Krew for this one?
A: Kitty Krew was 'ruining' newgrounds in the eyes of many, but in my opinion their presence was welcome. I found their spam delightfully amusing, and their comraderie and their synchronized ability to work together, even if it wasn't for the most productive cause, was something I found very commendable. My goal for House of 1000 Cats was to make something that everybody would like, I wanted the haters of the Kitty Krew to like it but I also wanted the Kitty Krew themselves to enjoy the cartoon. I just wanted something that would bring the whole community together, and to really capture the dynamics of the newgrounds community in 2008.
Q: The year 2009 would be strictly collaboration work for you. We'll start with Pico's Portal Party. It was your idea of exploring genres with the Pico characters. How did you come forming this team of animators and what was it like working with them?
A: I need to clear up any confusion about Pico Portal Party. Even though I was the main collab organizer, the idea of exploring genres with Pico was FleckoGold's. He told me the idea and I immediately wanted to be a part of it. FleckoGold was a bit more shy than myself so we both agreed that it might be best if I try to approach other artists for recruitment. I contacted all the artists through PM, and gloated that "We already have the amazing FleckoGold on board, the animator of Aladdin 3150". That attracted some of the best talent on newgrounds, because FleckoGold was the man of the hour after releasing his masterpiece of animation. So even though I personally recruited the members, it was only through name-dropping FleckoGold that I was able to attract any attention.
Q: You are one of the multitude of animators who participated in the Street Fighter Collab. How did you come across the Street Fighter Collab and what was your experience working with others who participated?
A: The collab didn't really involve any collaboration, since each animator acted on their own and simply sent their final products to Stamper, who somehow managed to compile them into a single flash. I read the front page post on Newgrounds and immediately wanted to contribute to the collab, but I honestly thought my idea of Zangief piledriving Sakura was kind of stupid. I explained the idea to FleckoGold, and he told me the idea wasn't that bad and that if I executed it right, it could be funny. He also offered the idea of showing the 'panty-shot' of sakura, which I think really improved the cartoon. I think if it weren't for FleckoGold's support in that instance, I probably would not have contributed to the Street Fighter Collab.
Q: You would take a break from animation for 2010. Where did you go?
A: Prior to 2010, my life really had no direction. I was in a bachelors of science, but I was just sort of drifting through life, without any idea of what I would do for a living after school. For a number of reasons, in 2010, I decided that I wanted to go to medical school. It was a tough year because I knew I needed to focus more on school, and I wouldn't have as much time to draw or animate. I did well in school, but not animating gives me this sick feeling in my stomach, like I want to hate myself. Now that I'm in medical school, I have even less spare time to animate, but I always make sure to manage my time, and set aside 'me-time' dedicated to making stuff for newgrounds.
Q: 2011 you would return giving us another Pico Day movie. Picoday Pinata Party. Not exactly what I was expecting the day I watched it on Pico Day. Where did the inspiration for this one?
A: The premise of Picoday Pinata Party, even if it didn't necessarily come through, was that friends of all the previous Pico Day villains had formed a team to get revenge on Pico. The lion was a friend of the fat kitten from House of 1000 Cats, the robot was an Uberkid, and the Penilian was friends with the first Penilian from "Penillian Battle". I really wish I had more time for that one. I had envisioned it to be much greater and more well-paced, and I feel like the final product fell short of my vision. Luckily, I had Hulalaoo helping me, and he did an incredible job with the final fight, which I think really saved the day.
Q: Looking at your Pico Day entires, I'm going to take a shot in the dark and say that you're a fan of anime. If so what animes do you enjoy and which ones did you draw upon when making your Pico Day entries?
A: Of course I like anime! I would say my favourite anime would have to be One Piece. It just has such a captivating, epic story, and some of the most confident character designs ever. I love some of the older 26ers like Cowboy Bebop, Champloo, Trigun, and some more recent stuff like Gurren Lagann, Death Note, and Code Geass, have been very moving and inspirational. I appreciate animes that have really compelling stories and expressive, smart animation. My Pico Day flashes are inescapably inspired by anime. House of 1000 Cats drew heavily from Gurren Lagann, and Uberkid's Revenge was heavily inspired by Afro Samurai.
Q: We now come to what I believe is your best work and that is Cadaver. For those who don't know a cadaver is a medical term for a corpse used for dissection. I won't spoil what happens in this movie for my readers. Could you shed some light on the inspiration of this piece? Also there was a certain horror turn that you could have taken, but you decided to take a different route. Why did you take the different route?
A: Thanks! It was one of my most expressive pieces, and I'm really glad you consider it to be my best. Cadaver was pretty much a representation of how I felt when we started dissections during medical school. At first, seeing a dead body can be quite scary. You're faced with some difficult feelings that most of the time we don't really think about. I wanted the cartoon to be scary at first, but in the end, I wanted the cartoon to reflect my respect for body donors, who want to contribute to medical training, and who if they could come to life, would surely be kind and caring.
Q: You are quite the talented animator, but you're an even talented artist. One piece by you that intrigues me is the realistic approach to Pico entitled High School Musical. It was an independent art design for your school where you were allowed to do any form of art you wanted to. Why digital art and why this interpretation on Pico?
A: Digital art is definitely my comfort zone. It really comes down to the flexibility and inexpensiveness of working in that medium, and also the muscle memory I've developed over the years. I just wanted to pump something out quickly for my art project for school, because I was fully devoted to working on House of 1000 Cats that April. Since I was animating that flash, I was already drawing Pico hundreds of times every week, so it seemed natural to make a Pico themed artwork. Our art professor loved 'provocative' and 'edgy' work, so I thought I would address school shootings, which is a twist on the premise of the original Pico's School game. The title "High School Musical", if I remember correctly, was from a joke that Mindchamber made about the illustration when I showed it to him.
Q: You have spoken highly about collaboration and how it has affected you as an artist and animator. What advice do you have to give to those looking to collaborate? What are your thoughts on the new Collabinator feature?
A: Collaboration is everything. Especially in my case, where I have other responsibilities as a student, the only option is to work with others, so that I can make most of my time and complete projects. I wrote a 2000-word blog on the importance of collaboration on my userpage, so I don't want to repeat myself too much here, but basically I think that Newgrounds at its core is founded on collaboration. I think the most important thing when collaborating is open-mindedness and making sure you work with people you can get along with on a personal level. For example, end meetings about projects with a bit of small talk, to get to know the person you're working with. The Collabinator is an amazing feature. I posted on it and I've already been contacted to make a game, which I'm very excited about working on.
Q: What can we expect from Zombie-Pimp in the future?
A: For now, I want to focus on games. Jungle Destruction, with Eviludy, was a great experience. Working with prorgammers has been particularly challenging because of the lazy and disorganized nature of SOME people out there who call themselves programmers. I've been burnt in the past but I'm really excited about the programmers I've met so far on through Collabinator, and I think that this time around I'll be able to come out with some nice flash games. Eventually, I want to come back to animation, and hopefully turn some of the ideas that are floating around in my head into actual series. I also want to one day make the greatest Pico Day cartoon ever. I already have the idea in my head, but I'll need some time to level up my skills first.
To be perfectly honest, I barely knew who Zombie-Pimp was. I rememberd seeing House of 1000 Cats and Picoday Pinata Party on their respective Pico Days, but I never thought about who made those. That is until FBIpolux suggested him for an interview. Once I started doing some digging around, I found a very talented artist and animator. He has amibtion and he most certainly has the drive. I am confident in saying that anything this man touches will surely turn to gold. He has one many animators wish to have whenever they pick up a pen or touch a mouse and that is the Midas touch.