l33t Interview

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Stephan, formerly at WTFiml33t.com, interviewed Mike Chapman to find out more about Homestar Runner and The Brothers Chaps.

[edit] Transcript

Offensive content Warning: Language that may be considered offensive by some readers follows.
To view a censored version of this page, see l33t Interview (censored).

STEPHAN: State your name for the record, please.

MIKE CHAPMAN: Mike Chapman!

STEPHAN: How long has homestarrunner.com been up?

MIKE CHAPMAN: Since January of 2000. A nice clean starting point.

STEPHAN: Yes, nicely planned. I think I stumbled on the site in the fall of 2000. For somebody that has never heard of the site, how would you describe it?

MIKE CHAPMAN: Tough question... um, a site with lots of cartoons and games and characters and no banner ads or pop-up ads or crap like that. It is aimed at twenty-somethings and college type kids but can be enjoyed by little tykes as well.

STEPHAN: Hmm, why would you say its aimed at twenty-somethings? I didn't find anything particularly adult in content. Unless I'm missing something.

MIKE CHAPMAN: A lot of references to things in the eighties, not a lot, but some. Most of our audience is either college-aged kids or people that are out of college, judging by the emails we get.

STEPHAN: I see, so do you get a lot of visitors and fan mail?

MIKE CHAPMAN: We get about a thousand viewers a day. We get five or ten mails a day.

STEPHAN: I don't get any fan mail. I feel so unloved.

MIKE CHAPMAN: So are things busy over at wtfiml33t?

STEPHAN: Yeah. Quite busy.

MIKE CHAPMAN: Where are you?

STEPHAN: NYC.

MIKE CHAPMAN: I see. That's where my brother Matt is. He does all the voices for Homestar.

STEPHAN: Aha. I love the voices. He does every characters' voices?

MIKE CHAPMAN: Yeah. Except Marzipan which my girlfriend Missy does.

STEPHAN: I was going to say he does a damn good girl impression.

MIKE CHAPMAN: That would be impressive.

STEPHAN: Impressive, and slightly scary I would say.

MIKE CHAPMAN: Yes.

STEPHAN: You said your brother Matt does the voices, what do you do?

MIKE CHAPMAN: I do most everything else: graphics, animation, programming. He does some of that too, but he has a real job and I freelance, so I have way more free time than he.

STEPHAN: Do you guys work on the stories together, or is that mainly yours?

MIKE CHAPMAN: Yeah, that writing is pretty much 50/50.

STEPHAN: I think the jumping jack competition has to be one of my favorites.

MIKE CHAPMAN: Good. I'm glad you like it. I sometimes wonder if it is too long.

STEPHAN: Oh no, I think they are a good length.

MIKE CHAPMAN: Good. I wonder no more.

STEPHAN: They are funny stuff, so it's not like I get bored while watching it. You don't really see that many online comics that do 'episodes' per se, so I think its a good change to see a slightly longer style cartoon, although I could imagine that is due to the amount of work that goes into each episode. How long would you say, on average, it takes you to put out a new cartoon?

MIKE CHAPMAN: Yeah. Cartoon Network online and such don't do a very good job of creating a character and having several episodes about him/her. They have lots of cartoons about lots of different characters.

STEPHAN: They don't really develop the characters, so you can't get attached to them. I think that is part of the attraction of cartoons, watching them every Saturday morning and following the character's next adventure.

MIKE CHAPMAN: Exactly. A full episode probably takes between one and two months, mostly because it is a spare-time affair. If we both worked fulltime, we could probably do an episode every two weeks or so.

STEPHAN: Wow, I wouldn't mind that at all!

MIKE CHAPMAN: Hopefully, someday. I'm glad you mentioned the Saturday morning thing.

STEPHAN: Why's that?

MIKE CHAPMAN: This is another reason I feel it's aimed at twenty-somethings. I like to think it has that Saturday morning cartoon feel that we all grew up with. And then sometime in the late '80s Saturday morning cartoons started sucking.

STEPHAN: Yeah, they pretty much suck now, not to mention cartoons are on, like, all day now. Morning, afternoon, weekend...

MIKE CHAPMAN: Yeah, it's hard to find the good amidst all the bad.

STEPHAN: I agree, and I also think its due to the same thing we talked about before, the characters aren't developed in a way that you can associate with them.

MIKE CHAPMAN: When we talked to Cartoon Network... they said they were not looking for character-based humor, and more towards situational humor where any character could be plugged into a given scenario.

STEPHAN: Hmm, I didn't know that. I personally get enough with the sitcoms on TV, I don't need cartoon sitcoms too.

MIKE CHAPMAN: Strong Bad and Homestar could sit and talk about anything and it would be funny because they are funny characters, I think.

STEPHAN: I agree. Just listening to them talk is funny.

MIKE CHAPMAN: We are hoping to make Cartoon Network kick themselves in the ass for passing on us.

STEPHAN: Did you have a deal in the works with them?

MIKE CHAPMAN: They contacted us and we had a couple meetings with them, but they ultimately said "no thanks."

STEPHAN: That's unfortunate. I'm amazed that they would even go that far. With all that stuff out there on the Internet, it can be pretty hard to get deals with larger companies.

MIKE CHAPMAN: Yeah. Since I'm in Atlanta, there were some friends of friends that turned them on to the site. This was in its infancy, April of 2000. The site and characters have developed a lot since then.

STEPHAN: I'm sure somewhere down the road you could get another deal if you wanted to. Speaking of other sites, what other sites or comics do you read or use for inspiration?

MIKE CHAPMAN: Hmmmmm, there's a good online cartoon called Joe Paradise at wildbrain.com. I think its my favorite. Looks cool and is not trying to be funny, which is nice sometimes. Most cartoons go for the lowest brow humor possible. This one is actually telling a story. It's twelve episodes all connected.

STEPHAN: I'm not familiar with that site, looks pretty neat. I think the art of storytelling is dying off, and it's MTV and the Internet that is partially to blame for shorter attention spans.

MIKE CHAPMAN: Indeed. If an Internet cartoon doesn't have me interested in the first 20 seconds, I'm gone. So I'm part of the problem.

STEPHAN: Is that why you have so many different homepages on the site? To seize those twenty seconds that you get?

MIKE CHAPMAN: Yeah. New stuff. Changing stuff.

STEPHAN: I love the secret Strong Bad homepage.

MIKE CHAPMAN: Good job on finding it. We keep meaning to add more secret phrases to the Homestar Talker that would have all sorts of secret stuff.

STEPHAN: I love the Talker, I can't get enough of the voices.

MIKE CHAPMAN: We've been tempted to just make a Talker for everyone.

STEPHAN: Homestar's "all right" is too much.

MIKE CHAPMAN: Aw-wight!

STEPHAN: That and "Pom Pom, you so cwaaazy". I always wondered why he had no hands, though.

MIKE CHAPMAN: Oh, the no hands thing. I don't know. That's just the way I drew him. We're doing "DVD versions" of King of Town and Yello Dello toons, with deleted scenes, Strong Bad commentary, storyboards, etc.

STEPHAN: Wow, that sounds great. That pretty much answers my "What are your future plans?" question. Is that the next thing you will be adding? Or are we going to see a few new cartoons first?

MIKE CHAPMAN: Yeah, those two things and a new menu page next week.

STEPHAN: Awesome, I'm looking forward to that. Do you really storyboard out all your cartoons?

MIKE CHAPMAN: Yeah. Most of 'em.

STEPHAN: Then do you use a tablet to drawn them? What is the usual process for creating one?

MIKE CHAPMAN: Either scanning in drawings and vectorizing them, drawing in Illustrator, or drawing in Flash. A little of each.

STEPHAN: Ah, cool. I'm experimenting with vector art myself right now.

MIKE CHAPMAN: I love vectors! Oh yes. Marzipan just got here.

STEPHAN: Oh yeah, speaking of Marzipan, the question I know everyone wants to know: When are Homestar and Marzipan going to get it on?

MIKE CHAPMAN: Lemme ask her. "It's gonna be awhile," says Marzipan. "A looooong time" she says.

STEPHAN: So, in other words, don't hold my breath.

MIKE CHAPMAN: Wight...

STEPHAN: Have you ever had a Bronco Trolley?

MIKE CHAPMAN: Yes! And they are good!

STEPHAN: I never would have thought. I must try one, then.

MIKE CHAPMAN: I had a dream with them right when the site started. So that's why I made the game, but never ate one until about a month ago. I was missing out! Thems are good!

STEPHAN: So you came up with them in a dream?

MIKE CHAPMAN: Yeah.

STEPHAN: Wow, that's pretty nutty. The other day I made the Poopsmith's super deluxe you-know-what cookies and they taste like shit. What gives?

MIKE CHAPMAN: Oh. Sorry 'bout that. Strong Bad's little joke on the rest of us. I made some, too.

STEPHAN: Yes, quite the adventure, I must say.

MIKE CHAPMAN: I found out yesterday that someone has registered strongbad.com. A future goal was for him to have his own site.

STEPHAN: Whoa. Do you think they are a fan of the site?

MIKE CHAPMAN: I dunno, but coachz.com is taken too.

STEPHAN: That's a bummer.

MIKE CHAPMAN: Bastards.

STEPHAN: I would love to see a Strong Bad site. It's a toss up between him and Homestar, I can't decide who's funnier.

MIKE CHAPMAN: I know. It was gonna have a different feel. More Strong Bad-dy. Most people seem to like Strong Bad best. As Homestar gets dumber, people seem to like him more. Originally he wasn't that dumb.

STEPHAN: Yes I was just going to say that Strong Bad is smarter in his insults, whereas Homestar just kind of runs around doing his thing.

MIKE CHAPMAN: Yeah. He's oblivious.

STEPHAN: But that's what makes him so funny.

MIKE CHAPMAN: Oh. Did you ever see the wrestling cartoon?

STEPHAN: Don't think so.

MIKE CHAPMAN: It's been off the site for a while now. You can see it at www.robofilms.com in the archives section. It's called Marshmallow's Last Stand. It was the first cartoon we did for the site.

STEPHAN: Oh yeah, the art is really different in those. You can tell it's older.

MIKE CHAPMAN: Yeah, that's why we took it off the site. The characters are completely different. Saying and doing things they'd never do now.

STEPHAN: I didn't even notice it changed so much. They are growing as characters now, so I guess that's a good thing.

MIKE CHAPMAN: Yeah, definitely. As we do new cartoons, little personality traits just sort of emerge. Like, Coach Z has made several old school rap references.

STEPHAN: I think you should have more of the older stuff on the site. It's fun to follow along the growth of the characters and to see them change. For example I really like the older intros, they had more of a song feel to it.

MIKE CHAPMAN: That's pretty much the only old thing that's not in the museum. I guess I should go ahead and put it in. Interesting about the intros. You don't like the "everybody" song better?

STEPHAN: Oh, I think its great too. Especially with Homestar singing at the end.

MIKE CHAPMAN: Okay. Good. Everybody, la-dee-daw-dee-daw.

STEPHAN: Did you do that music yourself?

MIKE CHAPMAN: Yeah. There's a Fatboy Slim song on the bowling page, and Frampton in Strong Bad's menu page. But the rest is ours. We gotta get rid of those eventually.

STEPHAN: Very cool. I love the songs. I think I'm going to wrap it up now, it was great chatting with you. Thanks for your time.

MIKE CHAPMAN: No problem. Thanks a lot.

STEPHAN: I love the site, keep up the good work.

MIKE CHAPMAN: Thanks a bunch.

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