Georgia Tech - 26 Apr 2007

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"Georgia Tech" redirects here. For references made to the university in the Homestar Runner body of work, see Georgia.
Event poster

On April 26, 2007, The Brothers Chaps appeared at a talk at the Multimedia Studio of Georgia Tech. The event was scheduled to include Q&A, background info, a Flash demo and more. The Flash demo presented was a preview of the music video animated by The Brothers Chaps for the song Figure 8 by They Might Be Giants.

The event took place in the Library on the Georgia Tech campus. It was organized by Alison Valk and Joel Linderman. It took place in the multimedia studio that houses all of their high end multimedia software and equipment, as well as being "homebase" for the Georgia Tech iMovieFest. The studio is currently decked out as "Mario-land" and discussions have taken place regarding the possibility of doing a Homestar Runner theme for the summer months.

Due to various programs on campus and the high interest of many of the students there in Flash animation, Alison and Joel felt The Brothers Chaps would be ideal speakers. Alison focused on the idea of collaborating with her management to bring in some "nontraditional speakers" to the library, such as "the guys from Homestar Runner".


[edit] Transcript

Offensive content Warning: Language that may be considered offensive by some readers follows.
To view a censored version of this page, see Georgia Tech - 26 Apr 2007 (censored).
This transcript has been lightly edited for readability.

[edit] Part I: Demo

{The video fades in to a shot of the event poster, where it lingers for a few seconds before cross-fading to the Georgia Tech Multimedia Studio. Ryan, Matt and Mike are sitting near a row of computers, and Alison and Joel are standing behind them. Mike has his laptop in front of him, which is connected to a projector displaying his monitor on a screen to his left. The audience surrounds them on three sides.}

ALISON VALK: —he heads up the Multimedia Studio here, and we are really, really lucky to have the guys from Homestar Runner here. If you don't know what Homestar Runner is, it is one of the most popular Flash-animated cartoons on the web, and these guys have been written up in the New York Times, Wired, been interviewed for All Things Considered. You guys have worked with They Might Be Giants, is that right?


ALISON: And anyways, we're really, really lucky to have them here. They're going to do a Flash demo for us and answer a few questions that you guys might have. So, without further ado, Mike and Matt Chapman.

MIKE: Thanks, Alison.


MATT CHAPMAN: And this is Ryan Sterritt. {Points to Ryan on his right} He works with us and authors all our DVDs and does all our video stuff also.

MIKE: Matt?

MATT: Hi everybody.

MIKE: Thanks for having us by the way, guys. This place is pretty awesome. Alison was trying to get me to do it, and I am generally really nervous about doing this kind of stuff, but when she showed me pictures of how it's all decked out like Mario Land, I decided it would make me feel very comfortable, which it really hasn't because I'm still pretty nervous, but anyway...

{Some members of the audience let out a collective "Awwww..."}

MATT: It's good to be back in the Mushroom Kingdom.

MIKE: {Laughs} And the last time I was on the Georgia Tech campus was probably in like 1986 for the Science Olympiad, which was just kind of mathletes, kind of, but I had to do this event called Bottle Music where you filled up bottles with different amounts of water and make a song hitting them with a spoon and I didn't want to do it, so we pushed the kid that was holding our box of bottles so that they broke so that we didn't have to compete.


MATT: Good job!

MIKE: Yeah. {Laughs}

MATT: One time I went to Bobby Cremin's basketball camp in fourth grade. It was a stay-overnight camp.

MIKE: {Laughs}

MATT: It was awesome. And these kids trying to get me to cuss and I wasn't cussing yet.

MIKE: {Laughs}

MATT: {With Mike laughing throughout} And they were like, "Say a cuss." And they were like, "You never cuss, Chapman," and I was like, "You don't know, I cuss all the time. What are you talking about?" And they were like, "Well then, say a cuss word," and so that everything would be okay, and I would still go to heaven, I go, "Shet," and in my head it was S–H–E–T, but they totally bought it and thought I said "shit" and then I was cool.


MIKE: So anyway, we do a website called We've been doing it for over seven years now, and it's pretty much been our sole job for like the last five now. And it's just Flash-animated cartoons on the web. We make money by selling T-shirts. We don't have any ads on the site or anything like that. The only revenue is from people buying shirts and DVDs and the merchandise that we sell on the site. And so anyway, they asked us to just do a little demo about how we do stuff, and it's pretty funny because all these computers are decked out and much nicer than the computers that we make Homestar on. We use Flash 5, which, I think, they're on Flash 8 now, so the version of Flash we use is about four years outdated. For various lazy reasons, mostly, just not wanting to get used to the minor changes and interface and things like that.

MATT: Well, we definitely work faster. There's several things that we can do way faster in Flash 5 than we can in 8. We publish everything in Flash 8 because it compresses everything so much more. Like, we'll make a cartoon in Flash 5, and it'll be, like, one and a half megs, and then you put it in Flash 8, and it's 700k or something, so it really makes a difference, so to keep bandwidth under control, we do that sort of thing. But—

{Mike brings up Flash 5 on the screen. The animation window is blank except for an image of Homestar on the far right.}

MIKE: So there's beautiful Flash 5, and it was back before Adobe sued Macromedia, so they could have tabbed folders over here. {Starts clicking around the tabs in the right-hand menus in the Flash interface}

MATT: Yeah, that's another—

MIKE: {simultaneously} That's another thing we like.

MATT: Well, I guess now that they've merged, or that Adobe bought Macromedia, the next version of Flash supposedly is going to bring back the little tabs over there, but that was one of the biggest reasons why we kept using 5 was because it was so much easier to use from an organizational standpoint.

MIKE: So I was just going to show, what we generally do is we've got several hundred cartoons at this point, so obviously we don't need to redraw all the characters for every cartoon. We can reuse graphics, so I'll just open up this library. Something that has, say, the background in it. {peruses through library}

MATT: We never organize things in folders because that would make it too easy to find.

MIKE: Yeah, so there's just like 200 something items.

MATT and MIKE: {simultaneously} There it is, "Ground".

MIKE: So I'll make a thing down here and drag it in. {Drags an image of the Field onto the animation window. He clicks inside the library, specifically on a symbol that is Andy Griffith's head. He then continues to scroll through the library.} And sky is for some reason called "Sky2". {He chuckles as he says this} There's Andy Griffith!


MIKE: "Sky2". It's been called "Sky2", that symbol probably for six years for no reason. We've never changed it to just "Sky". {drags an image of the sky down and arranges it behind the Field} And then we also have a little border that we put over everything to give everything a nice rounded edge. {Places a black rectangular border with rounded corners over the animation window. } Because round things are nice.

MATT: Homestar's on top of the border.

MIKE: Well, I'll drag the border up in front of him. {Rearranges the border so that it's in front of Homestar} So, anyway, this is the magic of making Homestar walk. So we've got this "walk" clip. {Plays a looping clip of Homestar walking} It's its own ten-frame graphic that just loops, and so we'll just tween it from there to there, and then at that point I've already broken him apart into four layers, with each part being on a layer. And I'll flip that foot and make him so that he's sort of facing that way. And we animate everything at 12 frames a second—

MATT: —'cause that's what you did in 1999.

MIKE: In 1999 that's all—

MATT: —all the Internet could handle.

MIKE: And that's how we learned to animate, so we have rarely done a few things at 18 or 24 frames a second, and of course it takes us way longer, so we stick with 12. Um...

MATT: Its funny, for when we do DVDs, we do a fake FBI warning thing at the beginning, like the one from the '80s with that fading background, and then one of the characters will always come out over it, and in order for that fadey background to look good in Flash, we'd have to make it at 30 frames per second, and I think that was just easy, too, because all video's at 30 frames, obviously, or 29.97 {says as "twenty-nine nine seven"} or whatever. And so then we have to animate the characters at 30 frames per second, and that's a huge pain in the ass.

MIKE: Yeah.

MATT: It takes, like, The Cheat—

MIKE: {simultaneously} Yeah. It takes like three days.

MATT: —usually The Cheat, when he turns around, it's, like, two frames, and he just goes "doink" and flips around the other side, so this way we'd have to make some real frame of The Cheat turning. And, anyways we're glad that the things were the way they were in '99. So we—definitely makes it much quicker. Plus we're trying to make a three-to-five-minute cartoon pretty much every week, and so animating it at 12 frames per second definitely makes that possible. I feel like if we tried to animate quicker, at least for us, I'm sure there's people that do it, but for us, that's the way we can get something done.

{Mike, who has been modifying with the animation the entire time Matt's been talking, now plays it. Homestar walks in from the right and stops in the middle of the animation window.}

MIKE: {dryly} So, did you see that, guys? Look, he's stopped walking. Isn't that amazing?


MIKE: And this is a trick that Matt patented, it's called the "Doink", where it just kind of goes up and down when you're transitioning from one thing to another, just make him kind of pop up a little bit. For some reason, it makes it look better.

MATT: We learned that people call that in the cartooning industry, we met a guy that just graduated from SCAD, and it's called "squash and stretch" {Mike laughs} in the animation industry. But I was like, "No, that's doinking."


MIKE: And that's another thing, we—

MATT: "You can't fool me."

MIKE: —we're totally self-taught animators and illustrators. I was a photography major at University of Georgia, and Matt went to film school at Florida State, and then we both kind of realized we didn't want to do that as our careers and just started teaching ourselves Photoshop and Illustrator and Flash. And Homestar was originally just a tool, something to learn Flash with because we were going to try to get jobs making banner ads for, you know, {Matt laughs, followed by the audience for a short period of time} or whatever was the Flash-animated—

MATT: {interrupts} Yeah, I got one of those jobs.

MIKE: Yeah, Matt worked at MindSpring, which became EarthLink, for several years.

MATT: Made some sweet banner ads for EarthLink.

MIKE: Yeah, we just discovered, buried in some EarthLink pages, there's still some icons that you made like six years ago or something.

MATT: If you go to the EarthLink personal start page in the accounting section, or banking section, there's a few of my icons still up there. {Laughter} I was proud. My legacy lives on. {Laughter} I'm not going to show my kids Homestar Runner when they grow up. I'm going to be, like, {raises voice to higher pitch} "Hey, you know what your dad did? He made this market sign that has one graph going up and it's red, and the green graph is going down." Which is wrong, 'cause the green graph should probably be growing.

{Matt turns to Mike, who's still editing the Flash clip.}

MATT: So are you going to make him say a line?

MIKE: We're going to make him say a line of dialogue, and I will—

MATT: {Who had briefly interrupted} Sorry.

MIKE: No no no no.

MATT: I was just going to say why this is one of the things that we love about Flash 5, and again, there's probably several things. We've tried to have people tell us this, like, oh, you know, you can do that in Flash 8, we just didn't know how to do it. This is something that I don't think you can do, is that—

HOMESTAR RUNNER: {on screen} Oh, hello.

MATT: Like, show him, so like—

MIKE: So his head is here on frame two. Another thing that, you know, people know Flash, if you make everything a symbol and put every symbol on its own layer, it just makes things a lot easier from an organizational standpoint. So to make Homestar talk, he's got three faces: closed mouth, that mouth, and that mouth. The "O" mouth.

MATT: The roundy mouth.

MIKE: The roundy mouth, squarey mouth, and closed mouth. So it's really easy to animate. We accidentally made all these characters very easy to animate. Most of them don't have arms or legs. Several of them don't have mouths or anything like that. We created the characters in 1996 before we were ever going to animate them, so we totally lucked out. The characters that do have arms and elbows and things, we just tend not to put into cartoons very much.

MATT: {Laughs} That's why Bubs is always behind a concession stand.

MIKE: Yeah.

MATT: So you don't have to mess with his legs.

MIKE: Bubs's frickin' elbows. So anyway, it's three frames, and I've got it set to single frame at 1, so when he's not talking, it's just going to stay closed. If I put a—um, not on that frame—if I put a key frame and make it go to frame 3, that's his "O" mouth, and so I can just click on this frame. And this is one of the things that's different between Flash 8 and Flash 5. In Flash 5, I can just click on these frames, and I can still hear the sound. {Clicks in individual frames, producing a frame's worth of dialogue with each click.} So I know right there he's stopped saying "oh", and so I can put that, and he's starting to say "heh", so I can make that. And then I can just cut and paste. He's saying "oh". {Starts rapidly cutting and pasting frames.} Right now, I'm just cut-and-pasting frames rather than keep going back down here to type in frame 2 or 3. I know which ones are which.

MATT: We don't necessarily—most of you that do Flash animation can probably animate way better than we can, so we're not saying this is how you have to do it. But this is just our process.

MIKE: I don't even know what he's saying here, so it would help if I listened to the soundbyte {Laughter} so I knew what he was saying.

MATT: We recorded this right before we left.

{Mike plays the audio clip.}

HOMESTAR RUNNER: {on screen} Oh, hello guys. This is my talk and mouth move.

MIKE: "This is my talk and mouth move" is what it sounds like he's saying..."Hello guys." And do we have volume? {Turns up the volume and continues cutting and pasting mouth movements to the audio clips. Notably at a fast rate.}

MATT: There we go.

MIKE: So I can just sit here and click until he starts to say "my."

MATT: So yeah, in Flash—

MIKE: In Flash 8, I would have to sit here and do that. {drags the marker across the audio clip}

MATT: Yeah, if you drag it across, you'll hear the sound, but when you click on the frame, you don't hear that one little frame's worth of sound, which makes it so much easier when you're lip-syncing dialogue. And that alone is one of the reasons why we still use this five-year-old, six-year-old version of Flash.

MIKE: So he's saying "mouth," so I'll get the "m"— or the "o". "Mouth"... "Great times."

MATT: That's another thing with Homestar, in doing it at 12 frames per second, we could add a mouth, a half-closed mouth, or another in between the "o" and the square mouth or something like that, but at 12 frames per second you're not going to get that much more in between. You're not going to see that much more.

MIKE: Yeah, its already hard enough now. Sometimes you have to decide where he closes his mouth, because he sort of closes his mouth halfway in between two frames.

{Mike finishes syncing Homestar's mouth movements to the audio and now plays the entire clip.}

HOMESTAR RUNNER: {on screen} Oh, hello guys. This is my talk and mouth move. Great times.


MATT: There you go.

MIKE: {still modifying the animation} And so what I would do probably is go ahead and give him a little... So I can make him move around a little bit, maybe. For an interesting line, like...

{Mike plays the clip again.}

HOMESTAR RUNNER: {on screen} Oh, hello guys. {doinks} This is {leans forward} my {turns his upper body around} talk— {resumes his normal posture as the audience laughs}

MIKE: I might try a little harder to make that look better, but—actually, I probably wouldn't try. Matt's generally a better animator, so that anytime you see really, just like, "Hi, I'm Strong Bad" animation, that's me, and Matt will make him move around a little more. I'm just trying to plow through these things. {Laughs} Matt, generally, I do about, I don't know, 70%—

MATT: —75—

MIKE: —60 to 75% of the cartoon I do, and then Matt does any complicated scene with a lot of characters where there's actually some kind of action other than just characters talking Matt will spend, like, five days on them, and then I'll just plow through the rest of the cartoon.

MATT: And Mike also, while I'm recording stuff, Mike starts to do the rest of the cartoon, so I'll be—

MIKE: Yeah, I'll do—

MATT: —recording the dialogue and breaking apart and all that stuff, and then Mike's just getting busy on starting the cartoon or placing scenes.

MIKE: Doing new graphics, if there's any unique, new drawings, we try to reuse stuff as much as possible, but inevitably there's going to be some objects or backgrounds or something that we need to draw new.

MATT: We'll start out a week and be like, "All right, last week was rough. We did, like, three all-nighters to get this cartoon done, so this one will try and stick with just," you know, not to make it jokes we've done before, but just, "oh, all take place in Bubs' Concession Stand or places we've already established," and then inevitably we end up inventing a movie theater for this cartoon, or having some new thing happen that we have to make a bunch of new graphics, or... We're always shooting ourselves in the foot that way.

MIKE: What else, Matt?

MATT: Why don't you just show them the cartoon, so show them something in action a little more.

MIKE: Like "The Accent"?

MATT: {simultaneously} The accent one, yeah.

MIKE: So this is—

MATT: We have an HTML?

MIKE: I do. Why don't you tell them what this is?

MATT: So this is just—we're putting out another DVD—it's time, we've gotten another 30 Strong Bad Emails done, and so we've compiled them onto a DVD at that point, and add them with extra features and commentary and all that crap, and so, we try to put, you know, bonus stuff on it to make it worthwhile, and so this is a bonus email that's going on the new Strong Bad Email DVD.

MIKE: This is a question that Strong Bad gets asked a lot, and so we've finally just, as a bonus thing, we've decided we'd answer it.

{Plays the Strong Bad Email Accent.}

MIKE: So that's that. That's kind of a—

{Mike is interrupted as everybody applauds.}

MIKE: That's what we do. Strong Bad Emails are the cartoons we do probably, I don't know, two or three out of every four updates is one of those. We've done 170-something at this point? {Turns to Matt.}

MATT: Mmm hmm.

MIKE: Over the last five or six years. Making Strong Bad's head waggle around in front of the text and making the text animate, that's one of my specialties. That is really not fun to animate text being typed across the screen. But, anyway...

MATT: We've tried a couple of times to figure out a way to automate that, but Flash can't look at a WAV file and interpret what it is. We wanted to figure out a way where we could just bring in the sound file of Strong Bad and just have it be like, okay, when he gets loud, his head goes up.

MIKE: {laughs}

MATT: When he gets soft, his head waggles And then we could just plug it in and the ActionScript would do the rest, but nobody could figure that out for us.

MIKE: I found a few things laying around my file folder that we've never done anything with, and most of them, I don't even know why I made them.

{Mike plays a looping animation that shows Homestar leaping up into the air and then turning around and falling back to the ground head-first. He's wearing a yellow helmet covering his eyes and matching kneepads.}

MATT: What's this one?

MIKE: It's just Homestar with a helmet and kneepads on flying up in the air.


MATT: What is that from?

MIKE: I don't know. {Laughs}

MATT: That—a nice {inaudible}. That's from—

{Offscreen, an audience member suggests "monster truck."}

MATT: Monster truck one, yeah?

MIKE: Yeah.

MATT: Who said that? {Offscreen, an audience member behind The Brothers Chaps says "yeah" and raises his hand.} Nice.


MIKE: Impressive.

MATT: That's another thing, is there's a Wikipedia, a Home—it's its own thing, a Homestar Wiki online, that is amazing and ridiculous and kind of frightening.


MATT: And we use it anytime they have a drive—they'll have a drive because it's all just, whatever, just people volunteering to do it, and so that their cost of bandwidth and everything is just out of pocket, and so anytime they have a drive, we try and donate to it, because we use it probably more than—

{Stops and laughs along with the audience at another looping animation clip that Mike is playing. This one shows a squat, boxy Homestar falling headfirst into a line with three other identical Homestars and a similarly-shaped Strong Bad. He then bounces across the screen with the words "Going Away" in the background.}

MATT: It's going away!

MIKE: Another thing I made for no reason.


MATT: Yeah. But so we use that wiki all the time because we'll look—you know, start to make a cartoon and be like, "All right, what's the one where Bubs has a toilet brush, why he has a toilet brush in some cartoon?" so you just look up toilet brush on the—what is that?

{Mike and the audience laugh at a looping animation of a sketch of Homestar doing the Keep On Truckin' walk.}

MIKE: I'm not done animating that, though.

MATT: That's the Keep On Trucking guy. Yeah, isn't that from that sketchbook drawing?

MIKE: Yeah, there's a sketchbook drawing Matt made of that, and I just decided to—I haven't gotten very far, but I at least got the rough—

MATT: You're keeping all these secrets from me.

MIKE: Yeah, this is the one I found this this morning. I had no idea why I made it or what it is.

{Mike plays a looping animation of a squat, black-and-white shaded Strong Bad shaded in blue punching the air in a ready fighting position. The audience laughs}

MIKE: It's called "SB style".

MATT: Let's make a T-shirt of that.

MIKE: {Laughs}

MATT: I like that.

MIKE: Yeah, and then there's the—

{Mike tries to open up a file in Flash 5 but receives an error message.}

MATT: Oh, that's in Flash 8.

MIKE: Yeah. We're gonna do one where it looks like—it's kind of a rough animatic, you know, you see the pencil in-between drawings of, like, Disney cartoons and stuff before they—

{Mike plays a looping animation that shows a sketch of Strong Bad bobbing his head to the side.}

MATT: Is that all it does?

MIKE: That's all it does. {Laughs with audience.} I spent like, five minutes on that one. But I was just making sure it could work, and it looked okay.

MATT: How to draw Strong Bad the Marvel way.

MIKE: Yeah {Laughs.} By the way, anyone, if you've got questions during this, you can feel free to ask questions now.

MATT: Yeah, are we done showing other things we need to show?

MIKE: Um...

MATT: Show them the Atari game real quick.

MIKE: Oh yeah.

MATT: You have that?

MIKE: That's one of our lifelong dreams. We've got a friend who programs games for the 2600, and he actually makes cartridges and so we started talking to him three or four years ago, and we wanted to actually make an Atari game, you know, 2004 or whatever. Still hasn't come out yet, so it'll be even funnier when it comes out in 2012—

MATT: {Laughs with audience.}

MIKE: —producing the Atari 2600 game. {Staring at his computer.} How do I do this?

MATT: I guess try and drag it on top of it, try and drag "HS" onto that... {Windows error sound plays.} Ah, no.

MIKE: Can I just do this?

MATT: {inaudible} {Windows error sound plays} I don't know. Ah, you probably have to install it.

MIKE: Yeah.

MATT: You can't do it.

MIKE: All right. Sorry. False alarm. But anyway, it's really on a cartridge and so we, with the graphics, we're like, eight by eight grid of asterisks that you had to—

MATT: Yeah, so he sent us, he'd be like, "Here, make some graphics and send us the template," and it was just a text file that had—yeah, there was like 16 by 8 sideways grid of asterisks, and then you made the stuff you wanted to be pixels be dashes instead or something, and so you're making them sideways and stretched out, and then he'd put them in the game, and then it's like, "Oh, there's Strong Sad." That's pretty cool.

MIKE: This is the Georgia Tech reference on the site. We made a video game that's tried to be, like, the worst video game ever, {Audience laughs} and it was like track-and-field, one of those games where you have to mash buttons really fast, but it was a race-walking game, and—

{The camera pans out to reveal that the game in question is 50K Racewalker.}

MIKE: You have to press left and right alternately, but you can't go too fast or you foot fault, and literally, it would take like a day to win, to go 50K.

MATT: Oh, no, more than that!

MIKE: It's like several days—

MATT: —three weeks—

MIKE: —or something. But anyway, so we made it so, for no reason, you can totally customize the way the character looked. And—

MATT: The only fun part of the game.

MIKE: —and there's four or five people that we made where if you make it look a certain way, and I think it's yellow, black, yellow—

{Mike selects these colors for the runner's shirt, shorts and shoes respectively. The words "Luke Schenscher" appear on the bottom of the screen.}

MIKE: I think that's right. Yeah, it becomes Luke Schenscher, who was the—

{The audience laughs.}

MIKE: —center for Tech a few years ago.

MATT: There's a, what, there's—

MIKE: So then here's playing it. Oh wait.


{Mike faults. The audience lets out a collective "Awwwww".}

MATT: Awwwwww! You kick its ass.

MIKE: Now watch how long... {Faults and the audience laughs} Damn! I want to at least get to—yeah, this next hash mark—


MATT: Gooooo!

{Mike reaches the hash mark.}

MIKE: And that's point one {Faults and laughs} oh one, so that's a hundredth of one kilometer, so that's, like, one five-thousandth of the game or something.


MATT: We eventually made it to where if you actually do a whole kilometer, then the screen starts to black out, and he walks into blackness.

MIKE: Oh yeah.

MATT: It's like, oh, we didn't program this far. {Audience laughs.} We added that one when somebody emailed us a few days later and was like, "Hey, I got up to three kilometers," and we're like, "Wait! Really?"—

MIKE: {Laughs}

MATT: —"People are doing that?" {Mike gets to 0.02km, then faults.} So we figured we should add something.

MIKE: Anyway—

MATT: And that's—

MIKE: So you gotta factor in a few faults, too, 'cause it sits you there for like five seconds after you make a foot fault.

MATT: What else? What was the—oh yeah, there was some email where someone announces Strong Bad as "The Ramblin' Wreck of Email Check".

MIKE: Yeah.

MATT: Which is—that's the only other—we tried to figure out if there were any Georgia Tech references on the website.

MIKE: Which is pretty good because there's no, like, Georgia references or Florida State. I mean, it's not like we've got references to everything.

MATT: There's one where somebody, they're from Tallahassee, and he pronounces it "Gainesville".

{Mike and the audience laugh.}

MATT: ...just to piss off... So let's take questions.

MIKE: Questions.

MATT: We're out of things to show.

MIKE: Yeah, we're done.

[edit] Part II: Q & A

Q: Where did y'all come up with the idea for Trogdor?

MIKE: Trogdor. Um...

MATT: It's based on Ed Emberley drawing books, which is these things when we were kids, a series of drawing books where it's like "to draw an alligator, you draw a triangle and you draw a rectangle and a bunch of triangles on the back for the scales and two lines," and broke it all down. And so originally the email was gonna be mostly about like how to draw crappy drawings, and so it was Strong Bad's version of that doing this dragon. And we had somewhere—we tried to find it, actually, to bring it up here—just the sheet of Mike and I trying to draw worse dragons than the others, so it's just a sheet of terribly drawn dragons.


MIKE: You can see—

MATT: —And we just decided on that one.

MIKE: Yeah, you can see the sort of the evolution of like, "Oh, well we like the beefy arm sticking out of the back and we—" So it's sort of like 20 or 30 different variations, some of which are pretty hilarious. Some of them are just flat out alligators, like, crocodiles.

MATT: And then the—it's funny, though, because the song at the end of it was a complete afterthought, sort of. Like, we were making the email, and essentially it was an email about bad drawings. It was more like this illustration email, and then Mike was—

MIKE: We're—

MATT: —finishing up the email? We had worked all night, so it was, like, breakfast, and I was in the kitchen making eggs, I think, and just started singing that song, like, as a joke, just singing this Trogdor song, and Mike was like, "Well, now we have to make that."


MATT: And so then we made the end. You know—

MIKE: Here's something else I forgot to show. There's a fake heavy metal band that's Strong Bad's favorite band called Limozeen.

{Someone in the audience shouts "Woo!"}

MIKE: And so we made a real album and had to make some fake album covers, and one {laughs} one of the things I made was that I wanted to make Limozeen doing, like, gang symbols out of fingers, and so I tried to do it. And originally the idea was going to be, like, a hot woman—

MATT: —with like red—

MIKE: —with like red fingernails—

MATT: —Yeah—

MIKE: —and make spelling Limozeen with her fingers somehow, so I did a test to see how it would look, and...

MATT: It's the most obscene....

{Laughter washes out their speech. The camera pans to the screen to show an image of the word "LIMOZEEN" spelled out with cut-outs of photos of a person's fingers.}

MATT: It's so gross.

MIKE: And, like, the "e"s are all fat and stubby!

{More laughter.}

MIKE: It just looks—

MATT: —for the Saw movies.

MIKE: Yeah. I thought we might get arrested if we publish that.

MATT: That is pornographic. I don't know why.

MIKE: Yeah.

MATT: Obscene. Anybody else have a question? No?

Q: Who does the voices?

MATT: {raises his hand} I do.

Q: Guitar Hero II, you've got this song in there. So how did that come about?

MATT: The guy from Harmonix, Alex Rigopulos just emailed. He's a big fan, and emailed us and was like, "Hey, would you guys be willing to put a, you know, a track in as a bonus track?" He asked about one of the song Trogdor's on, Guitar Hero II for the Playstation 2 as an unlockable track. And so yeah, they were just fans and contacted us, which was pretty awesome. And what else happened with that? Oh, it's funny, 'cause I, wanted to repay the favor, and I was like, "Well, is there anything? You know, I'll send you whatever," and he was like, "Oh, I've already got everything," and I was like, "Oh, I'll send you some T-shirts and some DVDs," and he was like, "I've already gotten it all".


MATT: "Really? All of the T-shirts?" and he was like, "Well, kind of, pretty much." So that was pretty cool to find out that. Most of the stuff, we've rarely sought out any of the cool collaborations that we've been able to do over the years and have just lucked out that people were psyched and, and contacted us which was so... It's a nice, lazy, totally like, what do you call it, non-confrontational way to do it. Sit there and wait for cool people to come to you. {Mike laughs.} That's the moral. Anybody else? {Points.} Yes.

Q: I know a lot of Flash and webcomic sites now, it's becoming common for creators to have a news or a blog page where they just talk about pending projects, things going on in their personal lives, they answer questions from the fans, things like that. They have a comments section. Have you guys ever thought about adding a page like that to your site?

MATT: {Turning to Mike} We were just—

MIKE: Yeah, we just talked about that in the last week or two.

MATT: But what we wanted to make it was the Excuses Blog, and we would only update it when we don't update the website.


MATT: Because we always have a really good reason. We never just blow it off. It's always, like, we're working on some other project, or there's something going on in our lives like—

MIKE: —having a baby or something. {Laughs.}

MATT: {Smiling and pointing to Mike.} Yeah, and so we were just like, "We need to start the Excuses Blog section," and every time we don't update it, it's like, "Hey, look," you know, maybe show a little bit of the other thing we're working on, or something. Or like, "We need to take this week off to work on the DVD." Like the week when we made that "Accent" email, it just sucks, we made this awesome email, and then the next Monday we had to make another cartoon for it, and it was like, "No, we just made a cartoon—"

MIKE: So, yeah, we—

MATT: "Now we have to make two." So we're thinking about it. Because it's the sort of thing where we felt like it would sort of appease people if they knew that, so maybe hate mail wouldn't come in—


MATT: —when we don't update, and people wouldn't be pissed off, like, "Oh, I'm not going back to Homestar anymore, man, they don't update anymore," or something like that which... So, maybe. The Excuses Blog. Look for it in '07.

MIKE: {leaning over and pointing to his right} Question behind someone. I can't see— Yep?

Q: I know you guys have worked with They Might Be Giants several times in the past. Are you all going to keep collaborating?

MIKE: Yep.

MATT: {Turns to Mike} We're trying to, you don't have any—can we show a small clip of that? We can turn the audio down. Maybe they wouldn't care about that.

MIKE: Yeah.

MATT: We don't know. It's so cool working with them. It's another thing that they just came to us, which was amazing. Like, in the same day we got a package from Jim Mallon, who is one of the producers of Mystery Science Theater. He operated Gypsy—I don't know if anybody knows—and he sent us a Tom Servo, so in the same day, we got a Tom Servo puppet and then got an email from John Linnell from They Might Be Giants, and we could have died the next day and been happy.


MATT: But they're so cool! They're really laid back and we've never had any contacts or agreements in any of the stuff we've done. Like, we made a video for them. It was on MTV. It's on DVDs. Their song is on our DVD, and they've never made us sign any of those things, so it's funny, 'cause we're working on this thing for them now, and I have no idea, we haven't talked about whether we're getting paid for it. We haven't—there's been no discussion of contract, or we didn't have to sign a non-disclosure agreement or anything, so it's funny. I was like—I'd like to just sort of show—

MIKE: It's just—

MATT: {Simultaneously} You can let it play for a little bit.

MIKE: It's a k—

MATT: —the song might be—maybe they wouldn't want people to hear the song.

{The camera pans upward to reveal the music video being played. The first scene shows an overhead shot of cars racing down a figure-eight track (see They Might Be Giants). Cut to a boy in a red cap and blue coat and pants ice skating in a figure eight and moving toward the camera.}

MIKE: They've got some kid's DVDs. There's one called "Here Come the ABCs" and this is called "Here Come the 123s," and so—

{Someone in the audience lets out an "Awww." The scene cuts to an overhead shot of the skating boy.}

MIKE: —it's a video for that.

{The camera cuts to a wide overhead shot to show several small figures skating on a frozen pond, some of which are etching a figure eight into the ice.}

MATT: The number eight.

MIKE: And so, it's just lots of race car driving and kids ice skating—

{Cut to an overhead shot of race cars racing around a figure-eight racetrack in the middle of a desert as a bird flies overhead.}

MIKE: —things like that.

{Cut to a driver-side view of one of the race cars. As the car races along the track, a turn left sign springs up in his windshield. The screen then goes blank as Mike closes the music video.}

MIKE: This was actually something we animated at 18 frames—

MATT: —oh yeah—

MIKE: —kind of just to, 'cause we knew—

MATT: —the robot, show 'em the robot.

MIKE: Oh, the robot. Matt's proud of his robot.

{Matt laughs}

MIKE: Don't nobody talk about these robots on your blog now.

{Mike starts rapidly fast-forwarding through scenes in the music video.}

MATT: But so hopefully, yes, we're actively doing this for them right now, and hopefully, I mean, it's been cool 'cause they've treated us like, not just like some kids that at one time did something with these guys, they treat us like they want to collaborate with us, which has been hugely validating and awesome, so hopefully we'll continue to work with them.

MIKE: Hey Matt, here are your robots.

{The scene has frozen on an image of a spaceship following the path of a sideways rainbow figure eight in space.}

MATT: Oh, awesome. Thanks, Mike. I wanted them to see them.

{The scene shows four robots standing in a row on a glowing purple grid against a dark blue sky. One by one, the robots fold up into a shape, the first and third into a circle that's two-thirds complete and the second and fourth into small rectangles. The four then merge together to form the number eight, which then sprouts a robot head, two arms, and two legs. The robot then flies upward with its left fist raised. Laughter.}

MATT: Yeah. They're kind of Tron transformer robots. Any other questions? Yes.

Q: It's probably to be expected, but I know a lot of us probably want to hear some of the voices.

{Laughter as Matt grins humbly}

MATT: Sure, does somebody have a question for a character? That's always easier to do than to just start talking like them. Do you have a question for a character? {as several audience members start talking at once} Yeah, put your money where your mouth is. What?

Q: {Several members of the audience speak up at once} How do you type with boxing gloves on?

MATT: That's the last question you should ask.


Q: {The same student who asked Matt to do voices} How does the Cheat do voices for his own cartoons?

STRONG BAD: That's what I'd like to know, because from what I can tell, the guy's got two throats.


STRONG BAD: There's this one throat, it's, like, monkeys, you know, that can't talk, like, no matter what. Their vocal cords can't support human speech, you know, and I would, from what I, I've, you know, and I've had to pull stuff out of this throat several times, and he chokes on things and stuff, and it doesn't look like he could talk. And then all of a sudden, he starts making cartoons and he do—he goes into this secret room when he does the voices, so I never see how he does it. And he comes out, and he sounds just like this:

{Matt looks at Mike.}

PBTC HOMESTAR: Hi, Strong Bad. I can do it all the time.


STRONG BAD: It's amazing. I don't know how he does it.


MATT: {Points} Yeah.

Q: I have a question for Homestar.

MATT: Oh. {Laughs with audience} Does anybody have any more questions for human people?

MIKE: {raises his hand} 'Cause I'll leave if not.

Q: {Same audience member} Did he ever get a new cow lamp?

HOMESTAR RUNNER: I've been to every thrift store and vintage store and antique store in the country, {voice raises as if on the verge of tears} and I've not found another cow lamp. {voice returns to normal} So if anyone wants to make me a custom cow lamp, uh, that would be great. Uh, just so you know, it's made of out, like, dried, I don't know if it's animal skin or something, and it has the leather, like, binding around the top. It was three of those with, like, caveman drawings of cows. It was my favorite lamp.

MATT: {Pointing} Did you have a human question?

Q: Yeah. Speaking of voices, what do you do for recording voices?

MATT: We have a little sound room, a fairly—it's not soundproof by any means, but it's better than sitting in front of the computer in our old crappy apartment, which is what we used to do. And so we've run into—we just have a decent mike. We've got a low impedance one that after like three feet, it just stops recording sound. And we go to USB Preamp that M-Audio makes, which is great. It's got XLR and quarter-inch inputs, and that just goes USB into the computer, and we use {laughs} again, like, a five-year-old copy of Cool Edit Pro to do all the stuff. Now it's all Adobe Audition, and we also have new versions of that, but that's worked out for us, so... nothing fancy.

MIKE: It's good that it doesn't record sound after about three feet, because in old recordings, when we had an apartment together, you could hear me, like, doing the dishes. There's one sound—

MATT: —Find the worms. Squishiness.

MIKE: Oh, the worms... {starts looking for the file}

MATT: Do you have the main page or something? {turns to audience} There's a sound of this, like {makes squishing noises} of squishing that we've used forever, and you can hear, I think, {points to Mike} you recorded that sound, actually.

MIKE: Yeah.

MATT: And you can hear me whistling in the background. And we still use it, it's great. I've tried to sort of get the whistle out of it, but I kind of like that.

MIKE: Which one is that?

MATT: ...whistle. What's the...

{Audience member suggests the Halloween Main Page.}

MATT: Is there anyone from the Wiki here? {Turns toward screen, where Mike has the Wiki page "Main Pages" up} Yeah, see, main pages. Which is the Halloween one?

MIKE: Graveyard. Seven.

MATT: Seven! Okay, there you go.


MATT: See, that's what we do as we're making cartoons, we'll do that about a hundred times. There is worm, so crank it, crank it.

{The camera pans up to the screen as Mike turns up the volume.}

MATT: Listen at the end, you'll hear me whistling.

{Mike plays the squishy sound heard when the mouse passes over "Toons" or "Games" on Homestar Runner Main Page 7. At the end of the sound clip is a faint whistle. The audience laughs. Mike plays the sound again. More laughter.}

MATT: So that's—

{Mike closes the main page window, revealing another window with Strong Bad and The Cheat standing in Homestar's house. Homestar's broken cow lamp is on the floor, and Strong Bad's face is sticking out from the side of his head.}

MIKE: There's one working now—

MATT: —sound has improved.

MIKE: There's one where you can clearly hear a truck driving by because the window was open. We had this apartment that no air conditioning, I mean, it was just awful in the summertime, so you just had the window open, and you could hear dogs barking and trucks driving by and stuff.

MATT: {Gets out of his chair and points at the screen} Look, there's a goof. The—

MIKE: What?

MATT: —shadow of Homestar's little table is going over the cow lamp.

MIKE: Oh, yeah.

{Matt returns to his chair as Mike moves the image of the cow lamp slightly to the right.}

MIKE: {playfully} Not anymore...


MATT: Re-upload that. Any other questions?

Q: Is there any Easter eggs that we don't know about yet?

MATT: Probably not. I don't think, I think it, with, I know with the advent of the Wiki, there's nothing, we can't hide anything. It's funny, because people started watching it, like they watch it full screen, and so you can see all this other crap that we kind of don't want you to see on the side that's just the edges of graphics and things, and so like. When Homestar walks in, and he just disappears, you know, when he leaves the frame or whatever, and so if you watch it, and it's nice to watch it full screen, I understand, but you get all this extra crap that kinda makes the cartoon ugly, and so that's why for a while, we made that border huge, like, the symbol was gigantic so that even if you watched it all the way, it's still black on the edges if you watch it full screen. But so because people are, they just start poking around, they decompile our Flash files and look at stuff, and so we've started adding a few things here and there for the nerds that do that stuff.


MATT: And so there's one where these two Homestars appear, like, it appears that there's two Homestars, you can barely see the edge of his feet on that side of the frame, like, that's in the actual cartoon, so then to make it consistent in the universe, one of them has a mustache, but you only see it if you decompile the Flash thing and be like, "Oh, that's Homestar with a mustache." And then, what else? There's something where recently Strong Bad almost showed you a picture. People always ask about the characters' parents, and we just, that's something that we don't want to touch, We're just like, "Who cares what their parents look like?"

MIKE: {Turns to Matt} Is it this one? Which one is it?

MATT: No, it's the chair. He gets the new chair.

MIKE: Oh. Chair.

MATT: And so we decided we would—he acts like he's showing you his parents, but something's in the way, so you can't see this photograph, and so if you decompile it, though, and look at that symbol, it says "Nice try" or something like that on it, knowing that people were going to do that. The Easter eggs have had to go into this technical Flash level just to hide stuff. {points to an audience member} Yeah?

Q: Is that why you guys did the widescreen for the special email, I think it was, maybe it was the hundredth one?

MATT: Oh, the virus one.

MIKE: No, no, it was—

MATT: Yeah, it was—

MIKE: —hundred, hundredth—

Q: {Same audience member} Where he goes, "Whoa, where have you been?" and he said, "I'm always here."

MATT: Right.

Q: {Same audience member} "I think I live here."

MATT: {Laughs} Yeah, exactly.

MIKE: I don't have that email.

MATT: You don't have one hundred on here?

MIKE: No, one sixty-two. I was looking for the "Nice Try Dodongo."

MATT: Oh, oh.

{Audience member says "It's on the Wiki."}

MATT: It is?

{Same audience member says "Yeah." Mike laughs.}

MATT: If we don't have it here, look on the Wiki.


MATT: Anybody else? {Points} Yeah?

Q: Will there be more Peasant's Quest games?

MATT: We were just, we went on a big long walk yesterday and were talking about the future of Peasant's Quest. So it takes a long time to do that one. It took us, like, six months to make or something but yeah, hell yeah.

MIKE: Peasant's quest is a King's Quest-like graphic text adventure, and most of our video games and most of the games we make on the side are intentionally, like, 1985-to-1989-era graphics.

MATT: We try to make them fun, unlike the one we showed you.

MIKE: {Laughing} Yeah.

MATT: They look like old graphics. We're trying to actually make—

MIKE: They're more fun than that one, but anyway, yeah, so I was just lamenting the fact, I think it's been almost three years since the first one came out, and we just not gotten around. It was like a six month process to make the whole thing, so... We'll make another one.

MATT: When we have time.

MIKE: Yeah.

MATT: {Turns around and points behind him} Yeah, somebody else over here?

Q: Where's Stinkoman level 10?

{Mike laughs}

MATT: That's also coming. Now, it will probably will come before Peasant's Quest, actually. That's totally in the works, and what we're going to do is maybe add difficulty levels and midpoints to each of the levels too, because people were always complaining that it was too annoying and hard, so we're going to add midpoints to the level and maybe difficulty levels so maybe people will actually play it.

MIKE: Here's a Stinkoman theme song that we've never used. {Plays an audio file as the camera pans upward to the screen.}

DA VINCI's NOTEBOOK: {singing}
Stinkoman {A silhouette of Stinkoman posing is superimposed behind the "Stinkoman 20X6" title.}
Stinkoman {The scene pans left to a silhouette of Stinkoman running. The same title starts out small in front of the silhouette and grows increasingly larger.}
Fight fight fight fight fight {With each "fight," the scene switches to Stinkoman in a different running or fighting pose. The scene cuts to a blank white screen at the end.}
Challenge challenge challenge challenge challenge

MIKE: I didn't do any more animation.

...20X6 {Brief cut to Stinkoman in a fighting pose pulling out his knife, then back to the blank screen.}
All over the universe, the victims he has {inaudible}
Number one. Double deuce.

MIKE: {Stops the audio file} Anyway, some people—

MATT: The guys from Da Vinci's Notebook, who is this humorous a cappella band that's kind of broken up now?

MIKE: Yeah.

MATT: —did that a long time ago. They're the same guys who did this cartoon called the "Ballad of the Sneak" on the website. {Points} Yes?

Q: How do you all do the writing? Is it just, you look at the emails, and if one strikes you as really funny, you go with it? Or do you have to think in advance?

MATT: Both ways. We'll look through the emails. We have a "good ones" folder that when we find one we think is good, we'll just separate it and just be, like, not necessarily that right then it starts to write itself, but just like, "Oh, that has potential," and so we'll always go back and look at the good ones folder. Or sometimes there's time where it's like, we want to do an email about this, so let's search. Fortunately, he gets enough emails that you can usually just go—

MIKE: —we reverse engineer it.

MATT: Yeah, do a search for that word and see that they'll be five or six emails of that, pick the one that's the best. Like that "Accent" one, 'cause like I said, that was one that we wrote a long time ago 'cause we get that question all the time, so it's like, "Oh, that will be an easy one to find," so just looked up "Accent" in whatever, in Thunderbird, and it brought up, like, that one has like 30 results for things, so just pick the one that we like the best and, uh, so yeah. And then as far as just straight-up writing for cartoons and even for emails we usually, we're pretty tapped out by Monday or Tuesday, whenever we put up the cartoon, so we take it easy one of those days, and then starting on Wednesday, we just go for long walks and try and eat at weird places to make us think of funny stuff, or just trying to get inspiration from whatever, just trying. Where we work is pretty, you know, we work in a kind of a depressing strip mall which is always good.

MIKE: Kind of depressing?

MATT: No, in a good way.

MIKE: No, the other places of business are Piccadilly Cafeteria, a hearing-aid store—

MATT: —yeah—

MIKE: —a medical supply store—

MATT: —like canes and walkers—

MIKE: —yeah, an adult diaper store—

MATT: —adult diaper wholesaler—

MIKE: —yeah, scooters, and then there's a Family Dollar and Big Lots. I mean, everything is, like, for old people or—

MATT: That's right.

MIKE: Yeah, so it's pretty good. So we're in the basement there and nobody knows what we do. We just walk in there and lock the door and people always try to open the door. There's been a couple of times when we don't lock the door, and people just poke their head in, thinking we're, I don't know what they think we are, but they just come in and it's like, "Hey, leave, please." {Laughs}

MATT: Anybody else? {points behind him} Yes?

Q: How much time do you actually spend checking emails?

MATT: There will be, I mean, the days when we're looking for one if we're, like, don't have an idea to go for, we'll both sit there for an hour or more just reading emails. I mean, unfortunately they break down into, you know, five categories that are all the same, so it's having to find the ones that aren't that, and especially now that we're at 170, it's like even, if it's like, yeah, it's a different question, but it's kind of treading the same territory. We're trying to, you know, we gotta try and keep it fresh for us, too, in addition to trying to keep it for the viewer. I mean, people will just want him to draw Trogdor again. That's like 50% of the emails he gets.


MATT: "Draw another dragon" or "draw Trogdor again" or "draw a girlfriend for Trogdor."

MIKE: Yeah, a girlfriend for Trogdor.

MATT: So... {points in front of him} Yes?

{Audience member behind him says "Things for what not to email about."}

MATT: {Looks behind him} What?

{Same audience member says "These are hints for what not to email about." Matt laughs.}

MATT: Yeah, exactly.

MIKE: Yeah, did we ever do that?

MATT: {Simultaneously} We've been talking about making an email that's him doing that. Like here's the—

MIKE: —asking about his parents—

{Audience member says in a mock-Strong Bad voice, "Never email me these things"]

MATT: There you go. Yeah, get him to do the voices.


MATT: {Points in front of him} Yeah?

Q: I was just curious what kind of staff you guys have {inaudible—audience member continues to ask about the size and composition of the Homestar Runner staff}

{Matt leans back in his chair and puts one arm behind Mike and the other behind Ryan. Mike points both fingers between Ryan, Matt and himself.}

MATT: Our sister does all of the business. She runs the online store, and that's it. Four of us, basically. So not much on our staff.

MIKE: {points to his right} Yep.

Q: What's Homsar up to these days?

MATT: Homsar? {Mike laughs} You know, lurking in the shadows, floating around probably, somehow defying the laws of physics.


MATT: Those are some of his hobbies. He's doing pretty good.

HOMSAR: Don't touch my severance package.


MATT: That's a little more obscene than I wanted.

{Laughter. Matt points in front of him.}

Q: One of the things I admire about the site is that, I know you do voices for 95% of the characters, and each one is distinctive, different. Did you study voice acting in college?

{Mike laughs}

MATT: No, Mike always says it was just 'cause I was the youngest and wanted attention the most when I was a kid, so I had to invent some way to make people pay attention to me.

MIKE: We also just watched, like, Bugs Bunny cartoons, and he's got a very good memory, so he was just always talking, quoting Simpsons or old Bugs Bunny cartoons and doing the voices, and—

MATT: In Mr. Turnipseed's algebra class, they would have—I didn't even realize my voice was changing—

MIKE: —You had a teacher named Mr. Turnipseed?!

MATT: Yeah.

MIKE: Really?!


MATT: I could do, when my voice was changing, it was only this short window of opportunity, I could do a really good Marge, and Mr. Turnipseed would have me do it for the class, {Mike laughs} and I would just say, "Oh Bart" or something like that, and my voice was pubescent enough that I could squelch it out. So, no, I never got any formal training or anything like that. But I don't know, when we first started making the cartoon Mike was just like, "Well, I'm not doing these voices, so you make something up." {Mike laughs} And, like, "All right, well, what about Coach Z?" and he was like, "I'm not doing that either."

MIKE: Well, Coach Z was a char—he used to do this really depressing Midwestern guy or something. We'd just be hanging out or something, and Matt would just turn into this really depressing guy and like, {voice switches to an imitation of Coach Z} "Oh geez, I don't, things aren't going so good."


MIKE: And so he's actually, Coach Z's become pretty depressing. He'll just, like, get drunk instantaneously sometimes, and things like that, and this guy was even more depressing than Coach Z is. {Matt laughs}

MATT: Yeah. Anybody else? Questions? {Looks around the room}

MIKE: We've got 17 minutes left, guys. C'mon.

MATT: {points behind him} Yeah?

Q: Where did Teen Girl Squad come from?

MATT: That really came from an email, I mean, it was an email that somebody sent. Actually, I think that's the only Strong Bad Email that was not sent to Strong Bad. It was actually sent to Mike and I, so it didn't say, "Dear Strong Bad." That was something we changed. It was just an email, and what she meant was, "Will you make a cartoon of me and my friends?" is what I'm assuming, and so it's just this girl that was like, "Oh hey, will you make a cartoon of my friends? Here are their names." And so I was like, "Oh, I gotta forward this to Strong Bad."


MIKE: Did you actually do that?

MATT: No. No, I don't think I did forward it to him. I try to not treat the characters like they're real people, too.


MATT: And so that was just, you know, we just really did it, and then decided that this could be something that would be fun to keep doing. And actually, that's one of my favorite—that's another thing that we don't do as often, and it's much easier, obviously, to make, because there's no animation. There's just drawings. But we've tried, so we could crank those out like crazy, but we try to keep it, I don't know, so it feels like that's something we could have made, gotten, some people already think it's already gotten old, but we try, and I feel like the girls have taken on these much more in-depth lives than we ever thought possible.

{Laughter. An audience member remarks, "They're probably not teens anymore."}

MATT: Yeah. They wouldn't be if we were going by—

MIKE: Well, it's possible.

MATT: {Simultaneously} But see, Bart Simpson's been ten years old for, like, whatever, for 15 years or something. So...

MIKE: They're 18 now.

MATT: Was there another... {Points behind him} Yes.

Q: Yeah, the kind of style of humor that you guys have, has that developed over the years, or has it just always been innate as brothers, like, just kind of, you know, because I have a little brother, and we have a weird style of humor.

MATT: Right.

Q: It's just always how it's been, like, in that, ends up reflected in the way that you guys have favorite jokes, in a way, kinda quirky humor that you guys had background, and like...?

MATT: Yeah, I think it's definitely just, that's just the way we were, I mean, we've just been screwing around with each other and in our whole family, like—

MIKE: Hey now—

MATT: —there were all these dumb whole family inside jokes and stuff like that, and so we just started making the cartoons just sort of to amuse ourselves.

Q: {same audience member} And that's what I really found interesting about it was you were able to take that strange dynamic that is like, how do you express the weird family humor action so well and make it relate to other people. I thought that was really good.

MIKE: Yeah, I was always encouraged when people would say that exact thing. It's like, if there's just being shows and cartoons and being overwritten and written by ten people over a period of months, it sort of loses any sort of that, that was once there.

MATT: Yeah, I don't mean this in a derogatory way, but it's sort of a commentary, not to diss on the Happy Tree Friends, but there was one episode of Happy Tree Friends where the, I think it was the squirrel falls off of a cliff, and his guts just keep coming out, and it gets down to where it's his toe or something comes out of his mouth. And it's pretty, you know, very Itchy and Scratchy style, that whole cartoon is. And at the end there were 20 writers {Mike laughs} for this cartoon. There was, it was like a three-minute long cartoon, and it was mainly just a cat getting his, you know, a squirrel getting his guts ripped out, which is, you know, if that's your thing that's great, that's funny, whatever, but I was like, "Really? It took 20 people to be like, 'Oh wait, and then his stomach comes out'?"


MATT: "Oh, I never thought his stomach would come out. I stopped at his lungs. And then we keep going down to his toe." And it took this room full of 20 people writing that.

{Audience member says something inaudible. Mike laughs.}

MATT: Well, there you go. I'm not trying to diss on them. It was just surprising to me that it was, like Mike said, I feel like a lot of stuff gets overwritten, and maybe more—

MIKE: The other thing is, we do all our stuff, pretty much, we try to put out a new cartoon on Monday. Back in the day, it used to be written and produced all day Sunday, but these days it's a little more, usually, we're writing Thursday and Friday and Saturday we're sort of recording and getting stuff done, and then Sunday is a marathon session of animating. So everything's written and produced within 2 or 3 days of you seeing it, so it's sort of an immediacy to it that wouldn't be there. That's why we've always not been interested in doing TV where you've got to write episodes six months in advance, and it would lose some of the, I don't know, spontaneity of the writing. You'd overthink something and not put in there. Whereas now, we're just like, four in the morning, and like, yeah let's just do that and it's a double-edged sword. Sometimes that probably yields terrible results but sometimes its good.

MATT: {looking around the room} Is there anybody that hasn't asked a question? {points to an audience member with his hand raised who's asked a question before} Not to... Yes. {points behind him} Yes.

Q: Yeah, {inaudible} my question was since you don't have any financial sponsors or go into advertising, what kind of pressures do you put on yourself {inaudible}?

MIKE: Well, it's mostly the pressure, you know, we try and not to disappoint fans. I mean, I think that for me, anyways, is more incentive to do something, to stay up late, to just give the people that have supported us what they're expecting. So we're trying not to let any financial things influence what we do.

MATT: Yeah, 'cause remember, we got to this point by not caring. We didn't set out to start a business. We were just kind of amusing ourselves and so, it was like, that works to get it to where it is, so if we started to think about, like, "Oh well, we should bring this character back because it was a big seller," then that would change it and probably make it worse. So—

MIKE: Yeah, so it's definitely been a challenge going from it being a spare time, something we do for fun into our job. There is that sort of balance that you've got to deal with, but we try not to let the money side affect any of the creative side at all.

MATT: Our sister lives in Alpharetta and works out of there, so we rarely see her. She does all the business stuff, so— {Laughs} Keep her physically far away from us. {Mike laughs. Matt points in front of him} Yeah, and you had another question.

Q: Who made the puppets?

MATT: Our friend Lucky Yates. He is a local, he used to work at the Center for Puppetry Arts, and now he's an improviser in Dad's Garage, and him and this guy Chris Brown, who are both just local puppeteer guys, made all our puppets.

MIKE: Again, we were friends with them before, you know, we just had friends that were good puppeteers, so like, "Hey, make us some puppets", and if it wasn't for that, we would have never gotten puppets made.

MATT: Yeah. {Points in front of him} Yes?

Q: I know you guys—

MATT: {Pointing to the current audience member speaking to stop another member who was about to speak} —No—

Q: —show up at conventions sometimes. How's your relation—

MATT: —One time. {Mike laughs}

Q: —how's your relationship with other artists in the online comic community, and...

MATT: We don't talk to a lot of them. We have to be kind of heads down in trying to do something every week, you know, for us anyways. But—

MIKE: —we talked to the Red vs. Blue people.

MATT: Yeah, we met the guys from Red vs. Blue. They were all nice dudes. We met them, actually, we did meet them at a, where was that? At South by Southwest.

MIKE: {Simultaneously} At South by Southwest, yeah.

MATT: And the guy that does Dinosaur comics. Anybody know Dinosaur comics?

{A couple of audience members in the back shout "Yeah."}

MIKE: it's really good.

MATT: That's, I think is the website. Mike just bought me some stuff for Christmas from there and the guy saw his email address and was like, "Hey, Homestar Runner. That's awesome." And so we became just sort of email friends with that guy. But yeah, I don't really, it's the sort of thing where we're not trying to be antisocial, but if we sought support from the rest of the web comic, web cartoon community, we could hopefully find it, but we just haven't. We're just three dudes.

MIKE: We're trying to put all of them out of business anyways, so, it's best if we don't—

MATT: That's not—


MIKE: —know who they are.

MATT: {Points in front of him} There was a question over there?

Q: {inaudible}

MATT: {Cups his ears to hear better} Do we have new what?

Q: ...T-shirts here?

MATT: With us? Not, well, I can take... {pretends to take his T-shirt off}

{Laughter. A woman in the back yells "whoo".}

MATT: No, we didn't bring any merch. I'm sorry. {looks at Ryan} Will you run the merch table next time?

{Laughter. Ryan says something inaudible.}

MATT: {Turns around and points behind him} Yes?

Q: Do you find it hard not to wear your own T-shirts?

MATT: It's pretty easy. Most of the ones with the characters now, we've started making these shirts that aren't a character, it's like, there's one that says, "My baby got stole by a bear holding a shark." There's one that I saw {points to an audience member behind him with a Videlectrix shirt on} yeah, the one with the Videlectrix 500—

MIKE: —Yeah, I noticed.

MATT: —disk on it.


MATT: Like, we're now making shirts more that we would wear. I mean, not that we didn't want to wear the characters before, and we used to, back in the day, before anybody knew what we were doing, but now, not that people ever know who we are or recognize us, but it would be weird to be like, you're wearing your shirt, and someone's like, "Oh hey, are you one of the Homestar Runner guys?" and you're just like, "Yeah..." {Bows his head in mock embarrassment}


MIKE: I saw "Stone Cold" Steve Austin in the airport a few years ago, and he had a hat and jacket on, and I saw him from afar and thought, "Oh, he's trying to blend in," and then, until I noticed he was wearing a Stone Cold shirt and a WWF hat.


MIKE: It's like, "Oh wait, he's not trying to blend in at all." {Laughs}

MATT: Anybody else? {Points to his right} Yes.

Q: Okay, this is kind of a personal request. I don't know how familiar you guys are with Georgia Tech traditions or anything like that, but could you get Strong Bad to say, "What's the good word?"


MATT: Who, what is, can you explain briefly what the...?

Q: {same audience member} The tradition is, you say, "What's the good word?" and then the response will be "To hell with Georgia."

MATT: Oh, okay.

Q: You say, "What's the good word?" We say, "To hell with Georgia" again. You say "What's the good word," "To hell with Georgia." And then you say, "How bout them Dawgs?" and you'll find out what the response to that is.


MATT: Should I do it, Mike? Is this—

MIKE: I'm not comfortable with this, being a UGA alum.

MATT: Mike went to UGA. I don't know.

{An audience member says "Maybe we should submit, George P. Burdell send you guys an email."}

MATT: Who?

{Same audience member says "George P. Burdell." Another audience member says "Yeah, he's our fake student. We have a fake student at Georgia Tech." Matt laughs.}

MIKE: Nice.

{Another audience member says, "A long story." The previous member says, "He's better than anyone else at this school." Matt laughs.}

MATT: I don't know. Should I do this?

{An audience member says, "Yes."}

MIKE: Yeah, do it. Sure.

MATT: And so I say, "What's the good word?"

{An audience member says, "Yeah."}

STRONG BAD: What's the good word?!

{Audience cries out in unison, "To hell with Georgia!" After a second, someone in the audience says, "Say it again."}


MIKE: Say {inaudible} again.

STRONG BAD: {Simultaneously} Again?


STRONG BAD: What's the good, what is again the good word?!

{Audience cries out in unison, "To hell with Georgia!" }

STRONG BAD: I'm supposed to say it a third time?!

{An audience member says, "Yes."}


{Audience cries out in unison, "To hell with Georgia!" }

STRONG BAD: Then what's my next line?!

{An audience member replies, "How 'bout them Dawgs?"}

STRONG BAD: How 'bout them Dawgs?!

{Audience cries out in unison, "Piss on 'em."}

STRONG BAD: That was...

MIKE: That's it?

STRONG BAD: Is this—so am I supposed to envision a picture of a yellow jacket taking a leak on a bulldog?


STRONG BAD: That's the most disturbing thing ever.

{Continued laughter}

STRONG BAD: You should make those, like, they have the Calvin pissing on Hobbes, Calvin peeing on, you know, Dale Earnhardt, Sandra Bernhard. {Matt looks at Mike} I'm gonna settle that one. Young man's daughter, maybe.

{Continued laughter}

{The audience member who asked the original question says, "Thanks, though. That was awesome." Audience applauds.}

MATT: That'll be five hundred dollars.


MATT: Anything else? I think we're almost out of time here. {Points in front of him} Yes.

Q: You guys were talking about things {inaudible}. Outside of Homestar Runner cartoons, what do you guys do for fun?

MATT: What do we do for fun? We live in Decatur and all are homeowners, so we hang out at each other's—so Ryan's got an awesome porch. We grill out. Ryan's a home brewer, so we go to drink Ryan's beer at his house, which is good. {Ryan nods} I got a Nintendo Wii that I don't play as often as I'd like to.

{An audience member says, "Yeah."}

MATT: So we like video games. We, um...

MIKE: We play basketball sometimes.

MATT: Yeah, we can shoot hoops in the morning, sometimes. We try and do other dumb creative stuff on the side, like Mike just got this awesome—

MIKE: {Points to Ryan} —like Ryan's shirt.

MATT: Yeah. Ryan's shirt {Ryan pulls out the front of his shirt} that says, "Orange is shit." Mike made that. {Mike laughs} It's an orange that's smiling. It says, "Orange is shit." So we're always trying to do other dumb—you know, if we're not doing Homestar. It does sometimes, not necessarily tap you out, but it's a nice thing, like doing that They Might Be Giants, like, videos is actually fun sometimes to do something that's not on the website.

RYAN STERRITT: {Turns to Matt} {inaudible} made, made real quick.

MIKE: Yeah.

MATT: Yeah, we were daring each other to just make short films and edit them and the idea was that within two hours you had to make a movie and edit it and have a DVD that you could bring over to somebody's house, and called that "Made Real Quick". I don't know. What else? Where do we hang out? Do we hang out?

MIKE: Our houses, yeah.

MATT: {Laughs} We never leave Decatur.

MIKE: We're... becoming domesticated.

MATT: Yeah. Mike's got a baby. I've got one on the way. So you gotta come over, if you—


MATT: If you want to hang out with us.

MIKE: We're a load of fun.

MATT: At our house.

Q: What's the address?


MATT: Anything else?

{Laughter. Mike points to a student at a terminal behind him who's been working relentlessly on an architecture project since before the Brothers Chaps arrived.}

MIKE: This guy's a master of SketchUp over here.

{Ryan and Matt turn around to look at the student. Student says, "No, I'm not." Laughter.}

MIKE: Look at that.

{Joel says something inaudible and then stands up from behind the Brothers Chaps.}

JOEL LINDERMAN: Is there any more questions? Anybody else? Well, I have a poster over here, and you guys are welcome to sign it. I've got Sharpies, so you can show your appreciation for Homestar Runner. Write little notes, but don't write a book, 'cause there's a lot of people, so might need some room on there. And if you just want to give them a hand for coming, taking the time...

{Audience applauds}

MIKE: Thanks, guys.

{Matt waves and says something inaudible. Fade out.}

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