Calling All Strange Kids: An Interview with StrangeKidsClub.com creator Rondal Scott!
Here at Lunchmeat, we’re nuts about nostalgia. Indeed, we want you Videovores out there to use our zine and website as a sort of time machine that can take you back to times when life was cooler, simpler and abounding with toys, comics and monster cereal (for dinner). I recently came across an amazingly groovy website called StrangeKidsClub.com that features all of these wildy awesome things and then some. Editor-in-Chief Rondal Scott was cool enough to give us some insight on what being a Strange Kid is all about… Now where did I put my six-pack of Candy Corn flavored soda?
LM: Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do, Rondal. What's a day in the life of a leader of Strange Kids everywhere?
RS: Hmm... Let’s see… I am a graphic/web designer by day who also happens to moonlight as Editor-in-Chief of Strange Kids Club in addition to writing for several other sites including Fuel Your Illustration (http://fuelyourillustration.
My days are typically pretty long, most of the time spent plugged in front of a computer, but I've recently started getting back into the gym to break up the monotony. I start my day at 5am when I roll into the showers and grab a bagel on my way to work. I like to get to work early so I can check all my personal email to see if there's anything newsworthy that needs to go on SKC that same day and respond to a few more before my day job starts. After that it' the 8 to 5 grind of web design with a short break at lunch for a run. After I get off it's straight back Strange Kids Club from the time I get home to about 9 or 10pm when I finally take a break before crashing into bed. In between there's often lots of Sugar Free Red Bull involved.
LM: What possessed you to start a groovy site like StrangeKidsClub.com?
RS: I've been told it was the spirit of some carnival barker from back in the 1920s... oh, wait, you didn't mean "possessed" in the literal sense did you? (laughs) Honestly it started off as a selfish endeavor, a way for me to document all the cool "stuff" I was finding online. After graduating college I found myself in a hard place, with no place to live and no job, so I starting investing more time on the site. Before I knew it I was getting a few comments from complete strangers who really enjoyed remembering some of their favorite comics, cartoons and TV shows.It was then that I decided to really dedicate myself to the site, changed the name to Strange Kids Club and created our first mascot (which looked nothing like he does today). It was a fun and exciting time and really I've never looked back since. Of course, the site has continued to grow thanks to my fellow "members" as well as some really talented individuals believing in what I do, including those who have contributed to our Strange Kid Comix Magazine.
LM: Your site covers all things weird and wonderful (and strange, of course), but for me the visuals and essential focus seem to gravitate toward comics and toys (which is killer). Is this a reflection of your personal tastes, or did this landscape form more on its own, with the help of your cadre of writers?
RS: I have to admit that some of the content is a little biased towards my own personal tastes, simply because I tend to write the most. However, the hope has always been that I can get enough contributors for the site that it will balance out a bit more. For instance, one of our recurring contributors, Mark Newell, is really into the Magic card game which he's got plans to start integrating into the site here soon.
Aside from that I try to recruit artists and creators who can bring their unique talents to the clubhouse in the form of webcomics, interviews and/or collaborative projects like our recent "Hellraiser" t-shirt by Glen Brogan (http://albinoraven7.blogspot.
LM: What were some of your favorite toys as a kid? What other kinds of awesomeness amused you in your younger days? Did you cling onto these treasures, or did they fall into oblivion / get tragically chucked into the yard sale after one of those infamous parent sweeps?
RS: I think the toys I treasured most as a kid were ironically those that my parents wouldn't get me like My Pet Monster or Boglins. It's funny to say that these were my favorite since I never had them, but I can still remember how bad I wanted them back then which made their purchase all the more worthwhile as an adult. Otherwise, I was a HUGE Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan due to the cartoon and action figures. I'd have these amazingly narrated match-ups between my TMNT figures and WWF characters like Hulk Hogan and Hacksaw Jim Duggan.Boglins O' Plenty!
Unfortunately, most of my toys and childhood possessions were either sold or given away at one point or another. I don't think either I or my parents realized how priceless these pop culture artifacts would end up being.
LM: What's your favorite cartoon... dunt, dunt, duhhhh.... OF ALLLLL TIME?
RS: Wow... you're not pulling any punches. My favorite, huh? I'd have to say, beyond Thundarcats, He-Man and TMNT, that my ALL TIME FAVORITE toon would have to be The Real Ghostbusters. I loved the hell out of that show, still do, for its great mix of humor and "spookiness." It wouldn't be until a few years later that I discovered the actual films that the show was based one, so the cartoon was my official induction into the world of ghost-busting... and boy did it "make me feel good."
LM: Whenever I turn on cable it seems like most of the cartoons kids watch nowadays are not as visually stimulating and kind of uninventive. Any new cartoons you can turn me (and other Videovores out there) on to?
RS: It's a two handed mix that keeps me glued to the tube. Cartoon Network, despite wandering from the path into reality TV, has recently had a good run with Adventure Time and The Regular Show. Both shows are crammed full of obscure pop culture references (heck, the first episode of The Regular Show has wrestling buddies in it!) and the characters are actually funny. Outside of that, I've found that Nelvana typically releases some good cartoons like Rotting Hills and Moville Mysteries, though they're mostly limited to Canada.
LM: What comics have you been reading lately? Have you read the Walking Dead yet? I think that's one of the better comics to come out in recent times...
RS: I tend to only read titles for the first few issues of any title these days, but there are a few exceptions like The Goon. I am a HUGE Eric Powell fan and The Goon is hands down one of the most entertaining comics out there today. The are a few miniseries that I've gotten into lately, though, including Locke & Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez and Witch Doctor by Brandon Seifert and Lukas Ketner. I'm really drawn to anything with good art, great storytelling, all done with a touch of the supernatural.
I haven't read much of The Walking Dead, but I have tried the first few issues after seeing the TV adaptation. I can't really whether I liked it or not since I stopped reading it after issue #5. The characters and post-apocalyptic world they live in are amazingly fleshed out, but the story is a bit slow for my tastes... at least for the time that I read it. I'll probably revisit it again sometime, though.
LM: You also have a portion of your site dedicated to video game reviews. Are you a gamer? I'm definitely a nostalgist in this regard, so of course I yearn for the video games of yesterday. Do you have a favorite era of gaming or a particular system or title that tickles your fancy?
RS: I guess you could consider me a casual gamer. I tend to play in phases where I'll get really caught up in them for a few months (especially in the Fall) and then take a few weeks off. When I say off, though, I really only mean from console games. Online games are like my crack, it's hard to ever let go over them (laughs). Currently I've been playing Gears of War 3 and Left for Dead 2 a lot with my daughter. She can frag a grub/zombie like nobody's business!
As far as my favorite era/system goes, I'd have to say that there's been nothing quite as cool as when the SNES first came out. I missed out on the NES when I was a kid because my parents thought it was too expensive. By the time the Super Nintendo was released, however, I had finally worn them down enough that they conceded to buy one for my birthday. First game I got to play on it was Super Castlevania IV and it was legendary.
LM: What do you think of the VHS resurgence that's happening recently? Do you collect VHS yourself?
RS: I think it's pretty awesome to be honest. Even though I'm not an avid collector myself it's nice to see people, especially those from this generation, taking such an interest in the media format. The biggest bonus of the resurgence is the chance to see all of the wickedly cool cover artwork from obscure films like Slugs, Elves and Stanley. That's not to say all of these films are "good," just that the cover art was amazing enough to make you want to watch them anyway. These days all the DVD covers and movie posters look the same, they're all digitally composed Photoshop "one and done" sort of pieces... nothing you'd ever want to collect or hang on your wall.
LM: Do you collect anything else in particular? A certain toy line or form of media?
RS: I'm a terrible collector because I hate clutter, so once my collection reaches anything noteworthy I tend to consolidate it or sell it off. I have started collecting a few toys from my childhood like the ones I mentioned before (My Pet Monster, Boglins) for my studio, but aside from that there's nothing special.
LM: Gak or Squand?RS: Now I can see we're getting to the meat and potatoes of this interview! I never have really understood Squand so I'd have to say I'm a Gak man all the way. There was always something about the texture and smell of Gak that appealed to me as a kid... or maybe it was the fact that you could make farting noises with it.
LM: Who would win in a fight: TMNT or Street Sharks? Why do you think this is so?
RS: I'm assuming we're talking the cartoon versions here, so given that I'd have to say the Street Sharks would mop the floor with the Turtles. I love me some TMNT, but the Sharks are like twice their size plus they're a natural predator. Now, if you throw some Battle Toads in that mix? Then we have ourselves a party!
LM: Any shout-outs, celebrations, lamentations or quirky one liners you'd like to share with all the Videovores out there?
RS: I'd like to quote Jim Henson... “The most sophisticated people I know - inside they are all children.” Learn it, love it, live it!
Be sure to mosey on over to StrangeKidsClub.com to immerse yourself in all things nostalgic, weird and groovy. Lunchmeat Approved!