Burger Boys and Video Game Dudes: Interview with Illustrator Mitch Loidolt
Although we took a bit of a break the past two weeks that doesn’t mean we weren’t busy here at the clubhouse. After all, the trap door is always open and wouldn’t you know it we made a few new friends over the holidays who shared their stories for us to pass along.
As our first guest of 2012, Mitch Loidolt hails from sunny California with a uniquely cartoonish art style that seems to celebrate the silly, wonderful world of fine dining, intellectual mind puzzles and high art… okay, so it’s more like fast food, video games and fantasy. Just keep reading, smarty pants.
Glad you could make it up to the clubhouse. Can you reveal a bit of the mystery behind the man known as “Mitch?”
I grew up in a pretty eclectic Minnesota household as an only child and spent a lot of time with cousins and friends inside and outside, doing what kids do, watching tv, movies and playing games. [I] did high school and college and stuff, don’t really remember much of that. Now I put on pants in the morning and drive to work like a real adult.
I think I’m just another product of the 80s and 90s trying to find a way to stay relevant in a new era without losing who I am.
Before we get to the good stuff I gotta know… how did you discover the not-so secret formula of the “Frito Burrito Burrito?” Are you some kind of food wizard?
I’ve been making “cheesaritos” (a legendary Taco Bell item that you can still obtain, but rarely) ever since I was a kid, and over the years I’ve added to its basic formula. Unwrapping grocer’s freezer burritos and making their insides better, and folding them into cheesaritos with Fritos was something I was finally able to do now that I have a job with ample kitchen counterspace and an hour of time to kill.
You, sir, are an inspiration to us all.
You’ll notice that at the time of this interview, Taco Bell has now produced their own Frito-filled burrito. It’s not as good as mine but then again, I am a wizard.
Between that masterpiece and your “Burgers” art series, is it safe to say that you’re a bit of a “fast foodie?”
I actually love a massive range of food, but fast food is the most fun and universal for which to create art. I won’t lie, I have a penchant for being lazy and eating In-N-Out and Taco Bell, but my favorite foods are Korean and Japanese.
Aside from the obvious (burgers), what inspired you to create the Burgers portraits?
I wanted another short series of things to draw and it just sort of happened. I don’t often know really what I’m going to draw until it’s done.
It also appears that you’re influenced by video games (Dudes from Games). What are a few of your all time favorite titles?
Double Dragon II, Legacy of the Wizard, Final Fantasy VI, VII and IX, Super Mario Bros, Dragon Quest VIII and IX are a few.
If you could have the keys to completely recreate any gaming franchise (past or present) in your own vision, what would it be and how would you change it?
I’d love to make a Final Fantasy type game. I have a bin of drawings I make after I have post-apocalyptic dreams (which are frequent) that all fit in a unique vein that need a viable venue. I’d really enjoy redoing Final Fantasy VII, but it’s so perfect in a lot of people’s minds that to touch it would be blasphemous.
Your work has adorned quite a many tshirts over the years. How did the transition from illustrator to tshirt designer take place?
It happened out of necessity. At my old job I had to draw in a lot of styles that weren’t very natural for me, so when I got home I would draw just to be myself again. I had to wonder if I was marketable on my own, using my own ideas and letting my brain and hands work together completely without outside interference.
After several months of submitting shirt designs, the community at Threadless liked me enough to have a few things print there. It was as much satisfying and enjoyable as it was personally important and validating.
I’d have to say that my favorite shirt design was “There’s Something in Those Leaves.” There’s gotta be a good story behind there somewhere, right?
It’s unavoidable that while growing up you make different associations between things than when you were a kid. One unfortunate one is that mushrooms have the ability to actually mess you up, forever altering how I see Mario’s adventures.
Adding leaves to it all just makes me think Mario has gone into some bloodrage for out of reach coins, and skinning and wearing the magical Tanooki’s hide is the only reasonable solution.
Being the food connoisseur that you are, what do you think Tanooki tastes like?
You’ve also worked in animation on shorts like Philip the Safety Egg with Puny. Are there any standout shorts that you’re especially proud of?
One that I thought came together the best is called World of Bob, done at Puny with the guys from Olde English.
I’ve been doing flash animations since junior high, so it was cool to get a job doing some of that shortly after college.
Any exciting new projects already lined for this year?
I’m fully invested at my new job, making South Park: The Game at Obsidian Entertainment. It’s really great so far so I’m just focusing on that, and adjusting to life in CA (it’s a big change from MN) for the most part. As far as personal projects, I’m trying to work the previously mentioned bin of post-apocalyptic dream drawings into a graphic novel of some kind. But I don’t expect that to be completed this year.
Say what?! You’re working on the new South Park RPG game? That’s awesome! Can you fill us in on anything about the game?
I can’t talk about the game in detail. Matt, Trey and some of the leads and owners from here did an interview for GameInformer and covers pretty much the entirety of what we’re able to say at the moment.
Before we take off the handcuffs, tell us… what’s the strangest thing you can remember doing as a kid?
Calling late night infomercial phone numbers with both facts and questions relating to Pokemon and whatever else our Mountain Dew-fueled brains would come up with.