I hadnt done one of these in quite a few months. I do intend to bring them back to a regularly scheduled basis and concept in 2009. For now, I had a chance to bounce off a couple questions to long-time NG-contributer, Edmund McMillen, aka BlueBaby. Incase you've been living under a rock the past week or so, you'd know that he's recently releasesd his CD This is a Cry for Help, in a nutshell its a 10-yr compilation of Edmund's career. That being said, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to have him reflect and also tell us about himself. I've condensed these interviews into really short format cause nobody likes to read a long line of text anyway.. so its a pretty quick read.
Onnn with the interview...
Hello, so the first question is pretty standard fare and maybe semi-redundant since I've already kinda introduced you above, but it might be the most fitting question for this particular interview since you've been part of newgrounds and the flash scene for so long. Tell us who you are and what got you into NG and flash in general?
I'm Edmund McMillen, like Tom I was making zines / comics in the late 90s and decided to take my work online in the form of flash animations. Back then Newgrounds was one of the only sites you could submit flash animations to. I submitted Destination Egg and I met Tom.
A few years later I moved on to making games, actually started my first game with tom that would later be finished by Rift (Cereus Peashy). I'd then go on to make Gish and a slew of flash games.
What had you been doing prior to entering the scene 10 years ago?
10 years ago I was writing, drawing, and publishing comics and zines independently, the series was called this is a Cry for Help, prior to that I was just in school drawing.
Ah ok so thats where the name originates from. So now that we covered beginning of your journey, lets quickly fast forward to 2008, what kept you motivated to stay in the scene for 10+ years, thats like unheard of in the web industry- to be around for so long?
I guess the scene is what motivated me. Seeing people make games and art in general is a big motivator for me to continue doing what I'm doing. Also the positive response to my work has motivated me to push myself more.
The core of my motivation is probably set around the fact that my career is basically an unknown adventure. I'm exploring art, game design and myself as I make stuff, it's very enjoyable and that's why I continue to do it.
Fair enough, so let me turn grim for a minute and ask you what you think the hardest lesson to learn has been in the past 10 years?
Probably that the more honest and personal my work is the less marketable it becomes, it sucks to think about, but I don't think ill ever be able to be truly honest with what I'm doing till I'm financially sound to the point of not caring at all about making any kind of profit from my work.
I hear that, I think thats a hard pill to swallow in general. You come out of college thinking you can hit the ground running and many times thats not the reality of it. So let me ask you this, being independent for so long, No doubt you've faced challenges in all that time but was there a particular low point in your career where you really had to pull it together. Reason I ask this is because its an inevitable hurdle one faces as a freelancer and its many times the straw that breaks the camel's back causing freelancers to throw the towel and go back to joining a work force so I ask in an effort to enlighten those who are either in a similar situation now or are perhaps unfamiliar with the challenges of the business?
Yeah, there have been MANY times where I've gone to 7/11 to get some cheap food and my card gets declined on 2 bucks worth of corn nuts. That shits hard, but for me it just gives me that much more to fight for. When I was working on Gish I was living in a tiny room with my wife and cat. I had to borrow money from Alex (Gish) to pay rent, we got by on Top Ramen and hot dogs. But honestly thinking back, those were some of the most memorable and fun moments of my life, there is something about being super poor that makes you really appreciate all the little stuff.
Truth be told I did throw in the towel once. Before I was making games and couldn't hack it with my web work and comics I got a "real job" as an animal control officer for over a year. If i didn't get fired I'm sure id still be doing it this day.
Doing art for a living is fucking hard, I'm not going to sugar coat it. Your not going to make much money as a freelance artist and your probably going to run into a few walls along the way, but you will have a lot of freedom and having a career is a very uplifting thing, especially if your totally independent.
Ah Ramen is the meal of champions! Well thats cool that you kept your morale up through the rollercoaster ride of the business. While we're on a high note, let me spin that question the other way. What is/was your proudest in the past 10?
Probably winning the grand prize with Gish at IGF 2005. The 2nd would be releasing this CD.
So now that we've danced around the release of your disc 'This is a Cry for Help', lets dive into some vague questions regarding that (obviously I dont want to cut too deeply into insight you might have already shared in the cd) but lets start at the beginning, what made you to take a break and devote time to making the compilation?
Alex and I were talking about the idea of releasing our next game on a physical CD for people to order from us. I looked into the cost and was surprised to see how cheap making professionally printed CDs actually is. The thought of putting all my flash games on CD instantly came to mind that day.
When I got home and told Florian about the idea he said, "Why not just put all your work on it".... I was like, yeah why the fuck not. I've been doing this for 10 years, it seemed appropriate.
Theres a quote on the product description of your CD where you said 'I don't censor my ideas even if they contradict my personal views' is there a particular project that it particularly applies to or maybe is there a particular project that managed to get you alot of harsh criticism for its content?
Yeah, going back and reading a lot of my comics now Im like.. wow, what the hell was going on with me then. One comic in particular was about an abortion that comes back and kills its mother... it came off very pro life, yet I'm very pro choice. I also had a few racist characters in my comics that contradicted my views as well, but I found it interesting to write about so I did.
Cunt is another one that definitely comes off as misogynistic and I got a lot of shit from feminists for it. I don't hate women, but that's not going to stop me from writing from that perspective. Hell, I once write a comic about religion that was actually pro religion... I tend to contradict myself in my work and it confuses and angers people, but any kind of emotional response is still an emotional response.
Whats next on your plate, where do you go from here, where do you see yourself 10 years from NOW?
Well im currently finishing up Meat Boy 1.5 with Jon. Then I'm moving on to a new, extremely awesome game with Tommy again, it's currently untitled. I'm also working on a secret game with Tyler Glaiel and Triachnid 2 with Florian, if he would just stop playing Team Fortris and Fallout it would done in a few weeks.
In the non flash world I'm working on a game called "No Quarter" with Alex (Gish) and Gish 2.
I also have a few small art projects I work on when I have extra time.
Ihave no idea what I'll be doing in 10 years.
Ok lets wrap this up with a final question, is there anything you feel like sharing that might motivate someone else attempting to follow in your footsteps?
Being independent is extremely rewarding emotionally and mentally. If you're a self motivated artist (and yes programmers are artists too) and you want to make art; stay independent, you will eventually get the respect and acknowledgment you're looking for.
If you're just looking to make a quick buck, go get a job.
You can view the winners and all the hilarity by going to the contest page
The top 3 winners will recieve any item from the store and a pink castle crasher figurine.
Honorable mentions will get a NG stickerpack.
Heres a quick rundown of the winners!
A+ for effort award lmao
TheJamoke: The Fulp Story
All winners should PM me with your mailing info, those who won the top 3 spots you'll need to also let me know which item from the store you'd like.
I'll have Bob credit you on your Gear page as well.
I'm pitching in and offering up prizes for the best 3 Photoshops of Tom and April that are posted no later than 11:59pm EST October 31st, 2008, yes thats a little less than 2 days from now.
I'll have Tom and April choose their favorites/most hilarious ones and they will win any item from the store and some Fab Pink Castle Crasher figurinesss
Back to the daily grind. I absolutely recommend that anyone who can possibly manage to make it out to Iceland to do so when the Airwaves Music Festival is going on. It can best be described as a Sundance Film Festival but for music. Theres like all these venues with acts going on simultaneously and it was so cool to just hop around and absorb all different types of sounds. On Saturday they had a performance going on at the Blue Lagoon which was unreal, it was cool to be soaking in some thermal spring or whatever it is... and have all this music going on and shit.
I'll throw together a mini-photo gallery thing and plug it on my next post for anyone who regularly likes to monitor my activities. I think my favorite part of the trip was turning off my phone, my computer and any other form of communication with the western world. I recommend people do that atleast quarterly.... its like refreshing to not be tied down by technology and peoples need to get a hold of you. fuck em... get back to shit in a few days. The world will somehow manage.
In other news, I'm going to pick up where I left off in the sketchbook tour, I also have some stuff i owe TheBoogley and get back to my other shit going on.
Ok thats all for now, heres sumthin.
I am taking a vacation from the NG wars. Lmao bbl
also check out this cat, I've decided to stop making flash games and just post videos of cats all day. That's how they do it in ICELAND
I was poking around peoples userpages earlier and I always run into userpages with heavy forum goers who basically make a list of people they like on the forum or some shit and I thought that I'd be non-original and post a list of artists I like. Yeah I could just tell you to look at my favorites list. But thats just a list and I rarely update it and you never really get a jist as to why the person actually enjoys that persons work. So yea heres my current list at the time i wrote this anyway. Maybe ill hate all these tmrw when i wake up. In no particular orderererrr..
Kol-Belov: I normally tend to lean towards artists who have more of a hand-quality aspect to their works because it always felt to me that it was more indicative of the actual artists hands at work. This guy is far from that but the things he is able to do with his sharp-as-a-razor style is unlike alot of the things i usually have run into in the site. Really has a profound understanding of Flash in the animation realm. Tweening and the non fbf aspects of Flash always have gotten a bad rap from animation purists and yet whenever I look at a Kol piece it always reminds me that you can make successful and highly artistic pieces without having to necessarily use purely the techniques laid out by the pre-computer age. His typography is usually spot on too :3
Marc M: Ehh you probably saw this one coming a mile away since I always seem to drape my userpage in stuff from his pieces so I wont go too deeply into him. But basically I enjoy the crudeness of his humor delivery and animation. It just 'works' as this perfect marrage that compliments each other.
ZSL: Kind of an unusual choice of my bunch. I guess I enjoy the uncertainty of what Zekey you are going to get. Anytime I view one of his pieces I feel like I'm going on a Flash blind date. Where I could get this blond bombshell or some cambodian whore (sorry to any Cambodians I've offended). The point is, that sense of uncertainty carries a sense of excitement and anticipation to what this motherfucker is going to come up with next.
I have poked around through alot of his blogposts and its cool to see an artist in tune with the animation as a medium. I think too often artists get stuck in this bubble where they are so concentrated on their own work that they never really grow or find stuff out there that could potentially inspire something huge in themselves or those around em.
Anselina Jolie: Probably the youngest of my roster in here, he's like the posterboy of the new wave newgrounds talent coming in. Its kind of exciting to see these younger folks coming in and mixing it up with veterans of the scene. Its like an optimistic view of the day when the Adam Phillipses, James Farrs, whomevers... die off, theres this new breed of pubeless animators coming in and carrying on the torch for the ng animation scene.
Chamber: I think what I like most about this artists work is the kind of 'street cred' it carries in its style.. the line quality is really expressive and rough. He may live in Philadelphia now but his work still has that NY attitude to it. Its somewhat of a nice contrast to artists like Kol who are in the total opposite end of the spectrum. Maybe it was lucky timing or something but I've always felt like he created the swagger and attitude that Pico is now synonymous (sp?) for. Kinda wish he were more active but ya.
Hans: I've been starting to get into his more recent stuff. I think that he may lack the chops of some of the other artists on my roster and the site in general, but there is something refreshing about that 1920's constructivist flair to his work.
Ok thats all I can think of right now. I took the liberty to scan this picture from an erotic art history book that i have as a prize for you making it this farrrr.
FIRSTLY, do your duty to support starving artists by clickin on the links below:
my friends have a black metal band called Kastigation, and they're trying to get sponsored by this energy drink mix company called Crave. they really need this sponsorship, and to help, it just takes a few clicks. there's one poll, but on two sites that, for some reason, display very different results. so please vote on them both:
1) http://www.myspace.com/craveed - just scroll down and vote for Kastigation - Oblique. they misspelled it, i know \:
2) http://eggsandkegsradio.com/ - click the purple image in the top left corner, scroll down, and vote for Kastigation - Oblique (again, i know, misspelled).
thanks for the help! :D
LASTLY, I was talking politics with Tom two days ago and we started showing each other links and our dicks. And I came across the clip below which I found humorous and worthy of sharing.
Im not really a Sara Silverman fan but it was pretty goodddd and expressed my frustration with Florida.
LAST LASTLY JONBRO IS A THIEF!
I had a small and rare get together last night with my designer friends and we were talking about halloween and shit. At some point someone brought up that they heard about an independent french animation/film called Fear(s) of the Dark that's supposed to be showing at a small theatre in the city on halloween. I was intruiged, so I secretly took a mental note and looked into it when everyone had left.
The concept of it is pretty cool, its basically 6 artists telling these scary stories... they arent really related in any way and the styles are all vastly different and it made me think of how cool it would be to do that sometime. It reminded me of Newgrounds Jam Series.
I'm always kind of frusterated at the very basic level of collaborative projects in NG, it'd be cool to create projects like this where rather than base it on a Linkin Park song you just let people loose around a very broad theme. I dont necessarily think you'd have to create a full fledged feature film out of it like the animators of FotD but even like making a collection of 6 scary trailers would be neat.
Anywho I just thought I'd share that. No blatant plug to my own projects for a change! Tom does that plenty on his own.
Last year at about this time of year, I ran a DIY Munny Competition, it was a ton of fun and I thought it'd be cool to do it again with a different kind of figurine.
So its back for another go. You can check out the freshly made thread HERE
Like last year, you can Buy Your Own or you can win one by proposing your design on the thread at the Art Forum.
More updates on that later.
I SHOULD be wrapping up the Sketchbook Tour, next month which is part of the reason I felt safe to kick this one off.
Lastly, I'll be back in London for London meet 4 on January 17th. This is shaping up to be a good one as Tom will actually make the trip over as well as long time staffie LilJim. If you're in the area you should come onnn out.
Last lastly, I'll be in Iceland next month for NG Iceland meet. I dont think anyone actually lives in Iceland so it means im just going on vacation for a change.
I was stuck indoors most of the weekend thanks to whatever hurricane that was. I suppose that was a blessing in disguise considering I managed to finish the photo hub for the London Meet that took place last weekend. I've linked to it below. I'll be adding some video and other photos to it as I get them but its at a good enough state where it can go live.
In other news, I'm working on the Sketchbook Tour this week, mostly scanning the 110 entries I've gotten back. fun times. I've also got a shit game I'm also working off and on, on. K, thats all.
***senseless photo swap***