Artists Jessicka Addams, Roman Dirge and More Talk Nostalgic Cartoons at Meltdown's Gag Me with a Toon 3
Read more from Gag Me with a Toon 3 in "Metalocalypse Director Jon Schnepp Celebrates the End of the Comics Code Authority at Meltdown Comics."
"Saturday morning cartoons and afterschool cartoons were super inspiring to me as a kid to be an artist as I got older," said Steven Daily, curator of Gag Me with a Toon, the cartoon-referencing group show that opened at Meltdown Comics Friday night. "All of the people in the show are either my friends-- really close friends-- or friends of friends. They all love these cartoons, so I thought that it would be a good idea to give homage to the cartoons that inspired us all to be artists and painters. We want the show to be fun, no pretentiousness."
Now in its third installment, Gag Me with a Toon brings together a wide variety of artists. Daily estimated that over sixty people participated in this year's show, but he didn't have an exact count. Some, like Dan Quintana and Metalocalypse director Jon Schnepp, have been involved in all three Gag Me with a Toon events. Others, like Carlos Ramos, are new to the show.
Liz Ohanesian "Out of Work the Blue Period" by Jeffrey J. Page
As the name implies, Gag Me with a Toon focuses on '80s cartoons, programs that the artists would have seen as children, although not all of the influences stem from that decade. Daily said that The Smurfs is often a common reference in the artwork.
Liz Ohanesian "Harvesting the Smurfberries of Nostalgia" by Jhonen Vasquez
"Every year, we have three or four Smurf pieces."
He added, "This year, it's Jem. There's a lot of Jem. I think it's probably because glam is on the rise again."
We also noticed quite a few references to G.I. Joe, Transformers and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.
"There are a lot of boys in this show," he explained. "The masculine stuff seems to pop up more than everything."
We talked to several artists who participated in Gag Me with a Toon, who shared the stories behind their animated picks.
Jessicka Addams, Strawberry Shortcake
"Strawberry Shortcake to me represents my childhood innocence and I wanted to do a little twist on that," said Jessicka Addams, who recently showed her collection What's Behind the Bunny at Dark Dark Science.
"After the '80s thing failed, the hat was no longer cute and it was a little bit dated. She decided to go into a different line of work. I'm not really sure what that line of work is, but that's my idea."
At first, Addams was going to show Strawberry Shortcake in her typical outfit, but she later decided to remove the costume to show "childhood innocence."
"The hat just didn't work," she said. "I thought about wearing it tonight, but it's a little too small."
Carlos Ramos, Secret Ninja Team Gatchaman/Battle of the Planets
Carlos Ramos, whose recent shows tackled the films of Stanley Kubrick and the many faces of David Bowie, handled one of first TV loves for Gag Me with a Toon, Secret Ninja Team Gatchaman, otherwise known in the U.S. as Battle of the Planets.
"It was the first anime I had ever seen," said Ramos. "You know, the first time you see an anime, your eyes get a little bit bigger and the world seems a little bit more technicolor. It has filmmaking and real emotions. Characters got angrier and they sweated a lot more. I just always loved the design and the content."
He added that he feels that the show aged better than many other cartoons of the era.
"You can't really sit through an episode of G.I. Joe," he said. "You remember it really well, but to sit and watch it is a real bummer."
Daniel Galvez, Danger Mouse
"Danger Mouse is funny," said Daniel Galvez. "You've got this blank background, he pops in and out. He comes out of nowhere. He's got this random villain, it's not even that big of a thing. He's so smooth. There's nothing really wrong with him."
Galvez aimed to give the British cartoon character " a rougher edge, a little bit more on the darker side."
"You see him smoking, where, in the cartoon, you would probably see him as a health fanatic, because he's in shape," he said. "For all we know, he could have gotten laid right before his picture was taken."
"I remember my parents taking me to a mall and they wanted to go shopping, so they dropped me off at a movie and they're like, 'Oh, a movie about bunnies.' So they shuffled me into the movie about bunnies," he said. "They came back to get me and I was all traumatized. It's a horrific movie about bunnies."
Dirge said that the film was a big influence on him. "I think it's one of the things that fucked me up and made me who I am. I am paying homage to it finally."