Zoinks! Magazine Interview

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In October 2006, Matt Chapman was interviewed by Jason Sigler for Zoinks! Magazine.

[edit] Transcript

Offensive content Warning: Language that may be considered offensive by some readers follows.
To view a censored version of this page, see Zoinks! Magazine Interview (censored).

Creator Q&A

Interview by Jason "The Midnight Cartooner" Sigler

Homestar Runner

A Q&A with one half of The Brothers Chaps, Matt Chapman

If you've heard of the Internet, chances are you've heard of the Brothers Chaps. The incredible duo that brought about an entire franchise built around a dimwit named Homestar Runner (Interesting trivia: Once known as "THE Homestar Runner") sat down with me for an intimate chat about the past, present, and future. By sat down, I mean, "replied to my e-mail", and by Brothers, I mean one. Yes, I discussed with Matt Chapman, the voice behind Homestar, Strong Bad, and the whole gang, whether, we would ever see a webcomic from he and brother Mike and just how long they think this great ride might last. Join me as the fun begins!

JASON: First off, I would be remiss in my duties as an interviewer if I didn't tell you of my teenaged sister's affections for you both. She thinks you both to be, and I'm quoting her, "teh hotness", and can't get enough of everything you do. Do you get this rockstar response everywhere you go or is it limited to teenage girls?

MATT: Absolutely not. Mike's 4 month old daughter seems to like us both pretty good though. Tell your sister thank you and that she roxxorz our soxxorz.

JASON: For the last couple of guys out there who haven't heard of the site, give us a brief synopsis of what the site's about and why is has endured in the hearts of the fans, old and young alike.

MATT: Homestar Runner is a cartoon about a bunch of dumb animal characters. Everyone likes poop jokes.

JASON: Who writes and who draws/animates? Is it a collaboration on both fronts or is there a clear distinction in your artistic talents?

MATT: It's pretty much 50/50. Though Mike usually ends up doing more animation because he'll be working while I'm recording all the sounds for a cartoon.

JASON: How does your creative process work for a typical short cartoon? Do you meet up daily to hash out story ideas and decide what will and won't work? Or does one just call the other when a good idea pops up in the ol' noggin?

MATT: We have an office/studio space that we go into every day. Early in the week we start tossing around ideas or looking for Strong Bad Emails. We have notebooks and white boards that we write little snippets of stuff down on. Jokes that could fit anywhere, stupid misspellings, bad product names, etc. Sometimes we work better sitting at laptops writing and other times we'll come up with better stuff just playing video games or throwing a frisbie or football around.

JASON: With the 'toon, "10 Years", Homestar Runner has come full circle, remaking the very first story that saw the birth of the now web-legend (The Homestar Runner Enters the Strongest Man in the World Contest), as well as Strong Bad and many other cast members. Does the quality of one over the other show you how far you've come in terms of ability and talent?

MATT: I think it shows more that we're always trying to do the best we can with the resources we've got. In 1996, it was pen, paper, and Kinko's. Now we have flash and the web and recording equipment. Hopefully in another 10 years we'll be doing the best we can with our 4-D holo-cameras and bluetooth wireless broadband GPS solar hybrid hi-def pods.

JASON: Would you say that your Flash skills (if that is indeed how you create the magic) are rudimentary at best or do you think you have the chops to whip up a feature-length Homestar epic someday?

MATT: I think given that we make a 3-5 minute cartoon pretty much every week the quality is pretty good. I would hope after 6 years we've surpassed rudimentary. Though the thought of animating a feature length anything by ourselves makes me want to throw up.

JASON: How long does it take to create your basic Strong Bad E-Mail? One of the short toons? Is the writing process a longer one than the visual or is it equal parts for both?

MATT: Emails and short toons are in the 18-35 hour category for animation and recording. Then there's a few days of writing on top of that. I'm not sure what the breakdown is on writing vs. animating since we tend to do the animation in one long marathon session. The writing we try to let happen more naturally.

JASON: You're humble creators, who do your work and ask for nothing in return, but has there ever been a moment when you just wanted to throw out your manners and humility and scream, "Look at us! Our creation is emblazoned across your chest! Love us!"?

MATT: No. It's been really cool the times we've seen our shirts or stickers out in public. We totally dork out and are too nervous to say anything to the people involved.

JASON: Alright, time for a loaded question! How would you define webcomics?

MATT: Webcomics: Comics that are distributed on the web and usually look cooler and are funnier than those found in print. I feel like webcomics just need time. Quality and patience. If it's good, and they can wait around, people will find it and dig it.

JASON: Have you considered doing a webcomic yourselves? The audience is already built up to the point where anything else you two decided to pursue creatively would be a ridiculous success. Is there any one particular reason you haven't dipped your toes into our waters yet?

MATT: We thought about having Strong Sad make one of those NES sprite comics using the sprites from our Stinkoman game but we haven't done that yet. It's mostly just a time issue. It's definitely something that would be cool to try someday. I hope you're right about that 'anything we decide to do would be a success' stuff.

JASON: Are there any webcomics you read regularly? If so, what is your favorite?

MATT: 'Copper' at boltcity.com is really gorgeous. And of course there's Dinosaur Comics (the cover for the book collection is amazing!). Other than that we just read the illustration blog, 'www.Drawn.ca' every day so we end up seeing a lot of what's out there.

JASON: If one of you decided to quit tomorrow, could the other carry on the Homestar Runner legacy with the same fun and wit or would the strip be forever lost? (i.e. Is this an equal partnership; do you both bring equal amounts of creativity to the table?)

MATT: Neither of us would want to do it without the other. (awwww) Plus I do almost all the voices.

JASON: Are there any other projects that you'd like to get to sometime after Homestar Runner runs its course (assuming that's possible)?

MATT: I went to film school and we have a lot of friends in film so it'd be fun to get back into some of that one day. We have a couple of unfinished screenplays lying around. There's an animated feature and a live action comedy that would be fun to finish writing and see if somebody wanted to make it, or maybe make it ourselves. We also always talk about getting into video games somehow. Like designing for them, not the coding doodoo. We're not cut out for that.

JASON: When this whole thing started, did you have any idea that Strong Bad, the star of his own weekly "Strong Bad E-Mails", would quickly take center stage and become the star?

MATT: Once we'd made a couple cartoons and his personality started to evolve, we figured people might like him best. Everybody loves an asshole. But no, we had no idea it would become what it has. It's been really cool.

JASON: Have you ever been approached about a possible optioning of Homestar for TV or movie possibilities? Do you think the fans would turn on you and brand you "sell-outs" were you to do anything other than Web-based Flash cartoons?

MATT: We've had some interest from TV and movie type people. We have always politely declined. We try and leave those doors open for future potential non-Homestar projects, though. I do think a large part of our existing fan base would not be psyched if we put Homestar on television. Especially this far into it. I think the quality of our stuff would suffer after being run through some mainstream outlet, that fans would give it a change.

JASON: What's on tap for the rest of 2006 and beyond? Anything new and/or exciting for Homestar and the gang?

MATT: We're just finishing up our first 2-part Strong Bad Email. We're also finishing up another dvd compilation of cartoons with bunches of bonus stuff we made for it including a playable Cheat Commandos DVD game a la Dragon's Lair. We also have our first large scale game in the works that involves the main characters. Other than that, just lots more cartoons until we get sick of making 'em!

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