Nov 18, 2005
"TEQUILA REVEALED" PART 22
Can you believe it? Tequila has been on VP for 22 weeks and through it all, we have seen him develop from 2d illustrations to a finished vinyl toy. He is all ready to be unleashed upon us!!( my baby is all grown up sob..sob..) But before we get to adopt him, lets learn more about the people responsible for this madness. This week, we chat with 3 individuals who I consider the "fathers" of Tequila. Be sure you read all the way through the interview, you will get a glimpse of future Luchadores from Muttpop. The future looks REALLY promising!!!
The fun doesn't end here!! Muttpop is supporting VP's 100k milestone with a contest. Guess what you might win???? Amazing toys of course!!! Stay tuned for more details.
Do y’all collect toys? If so, which? Which other artists have influenced your work?
Jerry: In terms of influences, I’m trying to take them from outside the toy industry. I don’t really collect toys but I have some, mainly Japanese Kaiju. That said, even if I don’t have a lot of them, I love toys. I’m proud to be a part of this industry.
GOBI : I’m a HUGE toy fan. They have influenced my work as much as Japanese animation and comic books. I was a big fan of the Ghostbusters and Ninja Turtle action figures. I loved the Boglins and all that monstrous plastic crap. Since those kinds of toys don’t exist anymore, I find my pleasure with toys like Panda Z or the toys based on Akira Toriyama’s work. I like designer toys but I also like to get a better sense of history for the characters. We tried to do that with Tequila. We wanted to give him a light action figure touch to help the audience imagine him in all sorts of situations. I hope the results are as original as 80’s action figures.
Bob: As a man raised on Transformers (with METAL parts!), I STILL love my robots…but most of my old toys are either up in my parents attic or given to younger kids. Of my newer toys, I really love the first Playskool run of Star Wars toys. Also, the Mignola art style Hellboy figures by Mezco that came out a month or two ago are AMAZING. Of the designer toy stuff…I really dig Kozik’s Smorkin’ Labbits, the Ma.K. Kubricks, and the Ugly Dolls.
Jerry Frissen and Gobi are the co-creators of Tequila. Who are they? What other works beside Tequila have we seen from them?
Jerry: I’m both a writer and a graphic designer. I created the Lucha Libre universe that will become three different comics series. I also write The Zombies That Ate the World, illustrated by the amazing Guy Davis. As a graphic designer, I designed all the Humanoids Publishing comic books and graphic novels.
GOBI : I’m working with Bill (another artist in the Lucha Libre project) on a comic book series called the Zblucops. We are doing a lot of illustrations for magazines. We also work in animation as character designers. With Fabien (the third artist on Lucha Libre) we directed Catfish Hotel, an animated short that that got a bit of a buzz online.
How did Jerry and Gobi come up with the Tequila character? Can you give us a quick refresher on Tequila’s story?
Gobi : When I saw the first pages of the Luchadores 5 (created by Bill and Jerry), I was very excited and I wanted to be part of it. I sent a first version of Tequila to Jerry. We began to talk about the character. His life, his temper, etc… Jerry found the name and wrote the first graphic novel. It was really nice working with him because he always submits his ideas to me to see if I like them. I couldn’t do that myself and I thank him for that!
Jerry: Funny, I thought the name of Tequila was Gobi’s idea! I created the universe but the main cactus idea behind Tequila is coming from Gobi. He’s wanted to do a cactus guy for a while and this universe was the perfect fit. Working with him is a great experience, he takes my characters and makes them ten times more powerful.
Which came first, the toy or the comic? Either way, Tequila is a part of a story line in the world of Lucha Libre (Mexican Wrestling). Why Lucha Libre?
Gobi : The first project was the comics. Unfortunately, I’m not the fastest artist in the world. So, the toy is being released BEFORE the comic. From my point of view, the Lucha Libre project will be a brand that encapsulates a lot of different projects. As pop culture, with a little imagination, mexican wrestling allows for infinite reinterpretation of traditional ideas. We’re trying to give the audience something simple and entertaining based on this strong concept.
Jerry : The Lucha Libre universe is my vision of Los Angeles. L.A. is a city with people coming from all over the world. A lot of them brought with them their own heritage. So, the city is a juxtaposition of countries, races, etc. I walk a lot in the city and one day I had this idea of a bunch of wannabe heroes trying to save the city from a gang of werewolves. Since the city has a large Latino population and I’ve always been into Mexican wrestling, the rest was pretty obvious. I like the idea of reinterpreting culture. America does that a lot with other cultures. I thought it was my turn to do the same.
When and why did Muttpop decide to take the leap and create designer toys?
Jerry: When Bob saw the first comic pages, he immediately realized the potential. He was the one behind the toys. Without his energy, nothing would have happened.
Bob: I’ve been following the designer toy scene for several years now and I really felt that this bustling new community could embrace the Lucha Libre characters Jerry, Bill, Gobi, and Fabien had created. The designer toy community is one of the few industries that is looking for new ideas. As something new and exciting, I felt that we had the perfect fit.
It is also interesting seeing HOW the community has grown. Since it’s beginnings in Asia, the Designer Toy phenomenon has become an INTERNATIONAL movement. With an international team of creators (Jerry and I are in the United States, the artist are in France, and, by fate, our sculptor is in Japan)…I feel that Muttpop is an example of how Designer Toys can touch people all over the world despite cultural barriers.
What was the process like turning Tequila from a 2d character to a 3d toy?
Bob: SURREAL. It was like giving birth through e-mail attachments. We experienced the PROCESS of Tequila’s creation in much the same way that Vinyl Pulse fans had. We saw the photos, gave our comments…and saw the results. The “call and response” process was pretty fascinating since Monster5’s interpretation of our critiques often resulted in something better than we ever imagine.
Actually holding the prototype in our hands was crazy. No matter how much you THINK you know what the Tequila figure will look like from pictures, it never can touch actually being able to hold it in your hands.
You have chosen to document the whole process of making Tequila on VP. What was it like revealing all to the world? What were some of the advantages and disadvantages of doing so?
Bob: It was scary…but really cool. In this DIGITAL age of airbrushing and Photoshop, everyone wants to make their first impression PERFECT. We’re against all of that. For us it’s our inherent flaws that make us unique and special…the same goes with our characters and our toys. I felt that showing our toys from every stage of production would be like watching a child grow up. Yeah, you have some missteps, but at the end of the day the people that have EXPERIENCED the process of growth will have a far deeper connection than someone who has a PERFECT product shoved into their face and is demanded to buy the darn thing. To me that is a HUGE advantage.
The VP experience has been mostly successful. Why do you think fans are so interested in the making of a toy?
Bob: Because it so rarely happens. The designer toy community is incredibly sophisticated. Most of its fans are artists themselves or buyers that are eager for substantial information. I think that’s why the Vinyl Pulse Blog has THRIVED so well: you continue to give fans substance.
Monster5 is the sculptor of Tequila. Who is Monster5? What was it like working with him? What was it like for Monster5 to work with you? Will we see more collaborative work between Muttpop and Monster5?
Bob: Monster5 is an enigma. We’ve never seen him. I don’t have his e-mail address. The most PERSONAL thing I’ve received from him is a forwarded e-mail (with all contact information erased) with a picture of his son wearing a Mil Mascaras shirt Monster5 designed.
What I DO know is that Monster5 LOVES what we are doing and hopes to continue working with us. If it were up to us, Monster5 would work on ALL of our rotocast figures.
Through the process of making Tequila, what kind of problems did you have to face and what did you have to do to overcome them?
GOBI : I ‘m also a sculptor so I was familiar with the problems that can come from a bad interpretation of the turnaround or the turnaround itself. There’s always a loss of detail from sculpt to molding. I have to say that Monster5 did an INCREDIBLE job reinterpreting the turnaround and fixing my mistakes. I’d like to meet him some day.
Jerry: It was hard making suggestions from pictures and not from the actual sculpt or color tests. What you see on VP is what we got. We had to make our decisions based on poorly shot photos. It was not easy!
An attractive part of Tequila is the packaging he comes in. It is my understanding that Jerry was responsible for that. What was the creative process behind the design?
Bob: I gave Jerry the text I wanted to be on the box and let him work his MAGIC.
Jerry: I have that fetish fantasy about “old paper” so I wanted to do the entire design around that rough look of old boxes with stains, tape and damaged stickers. I think it fits the Tequila character perfectly. The box is the kind of place where he can sleep after a good day of… of fighting!
Gobi : Usually, I send everything I do to Jerry. To do the box, he used a lot of my illustrations but only the layer with the pencils. I love the results, the very brutal style fits the character perfectly .
Having gone through the toy making process yourself, what advice can you give to those who want to make their own toys?
Jerry: Just do it!
Gobi : If they’re not familar with the sculptor, they should spend most of their time making a perfect turnaround.
Bob: Put your own money into it. There’s no better way to demonstrate that your belief in what you are doing.
Currently you are releasing 3 colorways of Tequila, the Regular, the Extra Spicy and the very limited RAW. Do you have any future plans to release additional versions? Do you have plans of turning Tequila into a platform toy for other artists to customize?
Bob: Additional versions of Tequila will be determined by demand. We’re all for getting Tequila into AS MANY hands as possible, but we will NEVER do it at the expense of fans who have been with us from day one.
There are no plans to turn Tequila into a platform toy. Tequila has too strong a personality to be tinkered with by other artists. That DOESN’T mean we aren’t open to specific collaborations…but collaborations must make stylistic sense.
Let’s talk about the RAW version. I hear there is an interesting story behind the development of this limited version. Can you tell us? What are the plans for the RAW Tequila?
Bob: RAW was the PERFECT accident. Gaston, the Don of Pop, has acted as our manufacturer’s liaison. I requested that he send me 50 RAW, unprinted boxes that we could have Gobi do original art on for a super-exclusive version of ORIGINAL Tequila. Somehow, Gaston interpreted this as me wanting 50 unprinted boxes and 50 UNPAINTED TEQUILAS. It wasn’t until I RECEIVED the prototype for the RAW TEQUILA that I realized that Gaston COMPLETELY MISUNDERSTOOD my request.
Considering our Behind The Scenes coverage on Vinyl Pulse, I’m ASHAMED that I didn’t come up with this idea (IT’S GENIUS)…but I am eternally grateful that it all worked out.
Rumor has it that Frank Kozik is doing a design for Tequila. Can you tell us more about that? Are there any other artists in the pipeline?
Bob: KOZIK?! Really?
The release parties are coming up in early December. Why two? Tell us more about what people can expect. Gobi will be there signing for people?
Bob: There are two release parties because we can DRIVE from Los Angeles to San Francisco. TEN Raw Tequila’s will be sold at EACH release party. We’re also selling three limited edition giclee prints, t-shirts, a Tequila mini-zine, original art from our artists, and (of course) Original and Extra Spicy Tequilas. Jerry and Gobi will be at the event to happily sign anything that you purchase.
Gobi : Oh yeaaahhh! I’ll be there with my french accent and beret. Los Angeles and San Francisco’s toys stores better watch out ! ;-)
People are very eager to buy Tequila. Where will it be available?
Bob: Finer designer toy stores Worldwide. We’ve got orders for Tequila from the top twenty stores thus far. If you want to be in the loop on Tequila’s availability make sure you join our newsletter list at: firstname.lastname@example.org
What’s next? Care to share your plans for Muttpop’s eventual world domination? Are you going to be releasing additional figures?
Gobi : If it’s the ONLY way to dominate the world, I think we’ll have to!
Bob: We just got the wax casts for our SECOND figure and MONSTER 5 is hard at work sculpting our THIRD. You can see teaser pics of both figures with this interview. Bill, the artist that started this whole universe with Jerry, has stepped up to design figures 3 and 4 for us. Monster 5 is KILLING IT with his amazing sculpts. It’s hard to believe, but he’s STILL getting better!
We’re taking Muttpop and our Lucha Libre universe as FAR as we can. Thanks to EVERYONE for all the support! We hope you stay with us for the WHOLE ride…
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This is simply inspirational! Everyone on this team is super talented.
the idea of a mini-zine book is awesome and a must with this kind of reach process.
Hopefully I get my hands on it!! Can't wait to see more!
Thanks Muttpop, this has been a great series. I hope other companies will follow in your footsteps and show us the behind-the-scenes stuff. You see these wonderful toys everywhere and you forget how much hard work is put into them. Thanks again for series, looking forward to seeing you guys in LA. BTW, the teaser posters of the next two figures look awesome, can't wait for that series to start.
Thanks for the props! This is ESPECIALLY flattering coming from such a talent as yourself.
Thanks for following us from day one. We will continue to do coverage of the future figures in our series. You'll be seeing coverage of the -- ----- sculpt immediately following the release of Tequila.