Interview No. 132
Interview By: The-Great-One
Today we come to the final regular interview for The Interviewer. I no longer have the time to dedicate to The Interviewer as I used to and I want to branch out with my other writing. There will be more interviews sure, this isn't the end though. So I figure for the last regular interview I would interview someone who has given me a great deal of advice for Newgrounds and is a bigger contributor to many well known artists, whether he wants to admit it or not. Ladies and gentlemen I would like to proudly welcome back ZekeySpaceyLizard.
Q: You were one of my first interviews here on Newgrounds. Back then I asked how you found Newgrounds and you told me your story of joining The Star Syndicate, your hatred of Foamy the Squirrel, and your passion for originality. You say that you have never changed your ways. Is this still true? If you have changed, what made you change and why?
A: This is all still very true. If there's one thing that's changed since then it's that I'm far more laid back. Newgrounds is the last place to look for inspiration and getting kicked out was the best thing to happen to me, psychologically. No longer was there a need to read the unending self-righteous stupidity. No longer was there a purpose to sharing good foreign media. And certainly no longer was there a reason to get upset. Being on a site full of angry stupid kids makes you angry and stupid. Now things are calm, I can count my blessings relatively peacefully, and I can do freelance to make ends meet instead of finding new ways of angering goths while painting and drawing my own little studies at home. It's been a massive improvement to my lifestyle.
I still speak to a few members of the StarSyndicate. Alot of them have moved on as well. Some work for animation studios, some became filmmakers, some became teachers. Life moves on and I think everyone is better for it. Getting away from that very dark, albeit hilarious, chapter of our lives.
Q: You have stated that you became interested in art at a young age through novels, cartoons, and old horror movies. Could you elaborate in which of each have fueled your artistic side?
A: I found cartoons fascinating from the moment I had any sort of cognitive awareness of my surroundings. I'm not sure why. I would get up every morning and watch Looney Toons reruns, old Hanna Barbera shows on cartoon network, and the slew of relatively new shows on Nickelodeon. The early years of Rugrats, Ren and Stimpy, Rocko and others. Somewhere around that same time period I saw the movie Jurassic Park for the first time. I won it at some Boy Scouts contest. I treasured that VHS tape because that movie was my favorite. I'd never seen a film that was SCARY before that point in my life. And that feeling of lightheaded terror the film brings when you see it for the first time....I had to have more! So I slowly managed to see everything I could that was available at the time at the local movie shop. Stargate, The Thing, Alien 1, 2 and 3.
Up until that point in my life the only monster films I had seen were Godzilla. And kaiju films, while endlessly entertaining, aren't that frightening (with the exception of Biollante perhaps). I had a hunger to feel unease and fear. And that hunger has only grown and become more refined since then. Horror and Science Fiction are my favorite genres and I am very picky about what I recommend, because I watch everything. While I am very much a supporter of original ideas, I am also a great fan of innovation. Taking an old concept and making it your own in such a way as to make it feel new and fresh again. In this day and age of remakes, a lot of directors try to do this and fail. But nothing makes me dance in my seat more than when they succeed. At the moment I am cautiously optimistic for Jurassic World, if only because the director of the film made Safety Not Guaranteed which, along with The Sound of My Voice, has been my favorite 'bait-and-switch' film in the last few years.
Q: When and how did you and TheWeebl meet?
A: I had been a fan of Weebl's work since the later years of my Jr. High school. Me and my friends would sit around a computer in the lab room and watch cartoons off of the 'omgwtf.superlime' website and another site that hosted .swf and .mp4 files called jenai or something. This was where I first saw Weebl and Bob, and some other cartoons that are now considered ancient like Blode and Kikkoman. I started following the Weebl and Bob official website and posting on the forums sometime around 2001. There I met Ray (Wolf Pupy to some) and W-P-S, creator of the infamous Anusboy cartoons. My friend BlueHippo (who used to be a moderator on Newgrounds and has since vanished from the internet) was very close to Weebl and had even helped him make a cartoon once or twice. Sometime around 2006 or 2007 just before he disappeared, BlueHippo let me know Weebl was looking for help. Considering I'd loved the man's work I immediately gathered up my crappy demoreel and crappy portfolio and sent them to him.
I was, and still am, exceedingly surprised he hired me in the first place. And even honored still when he told me he had considered hiring me before that point, which was a shock since I was sure he did not know I existed. I am still very honored he hired me and gives me work. It fills me with pride when I walk into a party and someone is watching 'Amazing Horse' or one of his other popular cartoons and I sit there silently thinking "I can't believe I work for that guy. Fuckin' awesome."
It also helps that he's a fantastic boss and forgives me for my multitudes of dumb decisions I sometimes make when producing animation for him. I've been working for him for about 7 years now I think and it has been a very cool experience.
Q: While following the Newgrounds Annual Tournament of Animation and the Tournament of Flash Artists (NATA and TOFA respectively) I tend to hear debate among animators to preferences of sites. You joined Newgrounds in 2003 and would later join Albino Blacksheep in 2005. What drew you to Albino Blacksheep and what would you say the pros and cons of it are to Newgrounds?
A: The pros of AlbinoBlackSheep are basically the fact its run by 1 person, and the people who run TOFA are all animators and artists. Another pro is that AlbinoBlackSheep never tried to bill itself as rebellious or cool or dark. It was simply another media site filled with odd funny bits of media. This meant it never attracted the rather grotesque community or staff Newgrounds would over the years. AlbinoBlackSheep was another site I visited in my younger years. Back then the administrator went by the username Sners and he was very kind. And still is! I don't talk to him as much as I once did simply because I am so busy producing work for other people these days. So what can I really say? ABS is full of mostly nice animators and artists, nurtures the idea of constructive criticism, and doesn't run on a business model designed around being as edgy as possible. It's just a nice neutral place. I am frequently asked to be more involved with TOFA in general but my busy schedule plus fear of fucking up the contest somehow, keep me from agreeing to say yes. I am more than happy to watch from afar while my friend AvidLebon fills me in on any interesting bits I might have missed.
Q: What was it about Foamy the Squirrel that you don't like?
A: It's shit. It is derivative in every sense of the word. It is the most whittled down, washed out, half-formed attempt at being a Jhonen Vasquez product ever produced. It is nearly parody in its wretchedness. It's like when you got to DeviantArt and you see ugly generic furry art that looks exactly like Disney's Robin Hood or Lion King except drawn with 1/100th of the talent.
Worse still was people gobbled it up because of the vapid buxom female lead of the show. It does amuse me that, ever since its fall from grace, the entire cartoon has basically been reduced to a cheap poorly drawn hentai. Constant unashamed badly drawn nudity, cumshots, and unsubtle sexual gags from a cartoon that once was so VERY proud to claim it was above that sort of thing. Good riddance.
Q: When I first started The Interviewer my earlier works were a bit crap. I wasn't as hardcore as I am now. So now that I have a second chance to speak with you I would like to talk about your movie -Created-. This is a beautiful piece of animation. Where did the spark for this movie come from?
A: I haven't watched Created in a long time. I'm actually rather scared to watch it again, as I'm sure it probably has aged like milk and I will cringe so hard my lower jaw will fall off my face and bite my crotch. As for inspiration, it should be fairly obvious. Fantasia! Fantasia, Allegro non Troppo, and Fantasia 2000 are near and dear to my heart for their wide array of styles and marriage of sound with animation. Created, like alot of my musical shorts, was simply my pitiable attempts at aping the masters. Plus I had a particular fondness for that Mozart composition.
Every time I listened to it, little pictures would dance in my head. So I made an attempt to replicate those pictures. I might have succeeded, but I'm not sure. As I said I'm afraid to watch it again since it might actually be horrid and horrible like a lot of my old cartoons.
Q: What can you tell us about the cartoon show The Dust Bunnies and how that culminated to your movie entitled Sliver?
A: The Dust Bunnies was a comic I drew while I was in High School and absolutely fucking miserable. Florida Public Education is shit. I am dumber than fuck and didn't learn a thing from it sadly. And I had to channel my misery somehow. So when I had spare time I would make comics about little dustbunnies that were mostly based on arguments and observations of people I knew. Later ones would be based on chatroom conversations I had read. The dustbunnies were basically just tiny moth-rabbits to me and they lived in a microscopic world of fleas, ticks, bedbugs, and other harmless monstrosities. When I was making Sliver, I figured since the characters were so wee and simplistic, I could sneak a Dustbunny into it and it wouldn't look out of place. I haven't made a new Dustbunny comic in about a year. The last one I did took a stab at "Bronies" and how poorly they treat the creators of the cartoon show they love so much. I really should update it again. It's hard for me to be funny when I'm not angry. And I'm rarely angry anymore, outside of being angry at russian kids in Dota2. Meaning I haven't had too much inspiration to update the comic lately. People who read it (probably less than 20 humans in the world) possibly think I have forgotten it. But I have not. I think about it every day, pondering what to make the next comic about. But the idea never comes.
Q: There seems to be story behind your movie Joey's Bright Idea. Where did you get the idea for it from and what did you decide to enter it in?
A: OH BOY ARE YOU IN FOR A STORY. Okay so, years and years ago, I learned of a Flash Animation contest on a website. I don't remember the website's name but at the time it was closely affiliated with the canadian flash cartoon Yam Roll which is very cute. The prize was like 10,000 dollars and I wanted that money. At around that same time period my friend Joey (who is a bit of a loose cannon entrepreneur) had the idea of making money off bees. He wasn't sure how but he was determined to do it. So me and my friends ragged on him for this for weeks. So I decided to make that into a cartoon. A very bad cartoon. Amusingly, the contest was fixed anyway. The winner of the contest was actually an employee of the website that was hosting the contest. So it was all a sham. After that I was very VERY upset (because I got like 3rd place and didn't win shit) and just stuck Joey's Bright Idea on newgrounds and ABS because at least then people would see it. I don't enjoy watching that film, although my friends all do, because it reminds me of one of my great failures.
Q: When you were last here you spoke adamantly about the Newgrounds BBS, stating that we need to delete it and start with a clean slate. This was back in 2009. Now the Internet has grown and the forums aren't as received as they used to be. Have your thoughts about the BBS changed or do you still feel the same about it?
A: I wouldn't know. I visit Newgrounds only maybe once a year, usually only if a friend links me to something there. For all I know maybe the BBS has grown into a nice mature forum where people discuss philosophy and animation techniques. But I really fucking doubt that. If I'm wrong, and by some miracle it's actually good now, then I must give major kudos to the moderation staff for remolding that cesspool. But again, I wouldn't really know. Were the spirit to seize me and make me visit Newgrounds willingly, the last place I'd be interested in clicking is the BBS, since that is not where the content of games and cartoons are kept and thus there's little reason to really go there!
Q: When AlmightyHans (a.k.a. Hans Van Harken) was here we talked about his movie The Ballad of CrippleKane. You had quite a bit of influence and a little helping hand in that beautiful movie. When and how did you meet Hans and how did you help him during his time of animating The Ballad of CrippleKane?
A: First off, you need to know that Almighty Hans is a baller. The man is amazing. He has fantastic taste in movies, and understands WHY a movie is good in ways you will not find with many people. Every now and then he comes to me with these ideas he has for films and I always nearly shit my pants at his brilliance.
We both loved spaghetti westerns and for a time there we were going to make a trilogy of them. He was going to do a western cartoon, I was going to do a western cartoon, and then a 3rd friend of his (SexualLobster maybe? I don't remember now.) was going to make a 3rd cartoon. Each cartoon was going to have it's own characters and ideas. Each was going to use music from classic westerns as the soundtrack. Then we were going to collaborate on a 4th film where all the characters from these 3 separate films would meet up during a standoff.
Sometime around this point is when I got banned from Newgrounds and made the decision not to come back after the immense relief I felt of no longer feeling a need to go there anymore. But I still wanted to help Hans out. Honestly I didn't do much for Cripple Kane. I did some run cycles for some horses and that's about it. 99.9% of that cartoon is Hans own sweat and blood and I barely deserve a mention in the credits for my paltry contributions. Hans did basically all of it on his own. He is the real deal.
Q: On March 15th, 2010, you decided to stop posting as regularly as you did on Newgrounds. Why did you decide this and will we see a return on Newgrounds from you? Are you browsing the site incognito?
A: Basically what happened was, somehow some spammer folk got ahold of the password for one of the mods of Newgrounds. I don't remember which mod it was. All I know is I wanted to see what their private forum was like. For years and years I had been telling people the reason Newgrounds was so bad was because the staff were OPPOSED to improvement. Not only did I find the evidence in the "mod forum" that I wanted, I also took one of my favorite quotes and made it my page header banner. It felt fantastic, being proved right after 6 years of just being pretty sure of something. Then I got banned. It was like taking a giant fart. Instant immense relief and the satisfaction of a bad smell dissipating. When Tom Fulp sent some half-assed apology a few days later I realized I had stopped caring. So I closed my eyes, changed my password to some gibberish I typed at random, and gave all my accounts, alts, and credentials to Hans van Harken.
Since my leaving from the site, some people who were close to the staff (and some who WERE staff) have told me so many interesting things about how the place was run. Things what would make most people never want to touch the site.
Will I ever go back? No. Newgrounds is dying. The now-fired staff who used to work for Tom, mostly hated the animators and game creators and disliked the idea of giving them ad money (a system that even at the time of its implementation was considered archaic). Who would want to be a on a site like that? People who refused to modernize? To think ahead? To listen to their own community feedback? People who no longer work there.
The lax attitude and lack of competitive ideals has killed the site. It is bleeding money. It is a sick animal and the vultures known as Youtube, Vimeo, and Vine are flying over it's barely breathing corpse, going CAW CAW SKREEE SKREEE. Sometimes a fat pidgeon named Dailymotion shows up and pecks it a bit then flies away.
In some ways, it is a sad chapter to close on, for a website that was so influential and infamous for a brief period of time. But as I think back on it, I have almost no happy memories from my time there that didn't involve pissing off dumb kids. So why should I be sad?
Q: Any advice you have to give to the artists and animators of Newgrounds?
A: Don't be like me. I have been very lucky to get where I am today. I've been in the right place at the right time for most of the opportunities in my life and have gotten by mostly through chance instead of skill. But eventually this little charade will come crashing down and I WILL lose everything. I will be yet another person who maybe had potential once. Don't stick around places that are preventing you from getting better. Don't stick around people who are preventing you from getting better. You are hurting yourself. You are chaining yourself. Be free you great big dummy.
Q: What can we expect from ZekeySpaceyLizard in the future?
A: I don't know, to be sure. I really don't. For the last few years, outside of Weebl work and the occasional freelance job, I've done odds and ends for Studio Yotta, which is run by an old friend of mine. We've done work for Rubberninja of the Game Grumps, and Happy Harry and College Humor. Ross and Harry, by the way, are amazing and friendly people to work with.
But I never would have met them at all were it not for my friend Jake who runs Yotta.
He has treated me well and continues to give me work that I probably do not deserve. But I can't help him as much as I'd like. I've been saving up money, hopefully to get a Microsoft Surface Pro tablet in the future. I want to at least try to be as useful as he hopes I can be. And my old Toshiba m400 is holding me back pretty hard. But once I've upgraded, maybe that will be my more certain future, being more helpful for Yotta and Weebl. That's what I'd like, anyway. But as for the rest of my future I'm not sure. It's a very grey area. Studios I once wanted to work at either no longer seem appealing, no longer exist, or have rejected me based on my relatively low skill. I'm not sure where I'm going, or if I'm even going anywhere at all. For some people, that might be a scary thought. Not knowing what tomorrow will bring. But I find fear a bit pacifying, so for the time being I am quite content, even happy if I do say so myself. I will do as I always do. I will look for work. I will do what I can. I will try to help Weebl and Yotta to the best of my ability. All the while doing what I love.
ZekeySpaceyLizard was one of the people on Newgrounds that I did not get along with. To the point that he banned me from sending him PMs. Later on I contacted him through an alternate account in which case he figured out who I was and found it nice that someone would go through an alternate account to apologize, so he unblocked me. I followed his works and his news posts on old, obscure, and underrated cartoons. I later came to his site and found out that he left, with a message from AlmightyHans.
Later when I interviewed AlmightyHans I stayed in touch with him for a bit longer and found out Zekey's E-Mail address. Therefore here we are today. ZekeySpaceyLizard is a highly underrated artist, a person who is very passionate and very capable of performing his craft. He only needs more skill and more tools. He is not open to selling himself and he is not open to anything like Kickstarter. He is merely an artist here to share his works and help others. Only if they are just as passionate as he is.