Stumbling upon the magical world of David DeGrand (otherwise known as DeGrandland) is sorta like opening a can of expired SPAM, only instead of turning away in disgust you’re instantly transported to a wacky wonderland full of oozing, humanoid oddities… or maybe it’s just the fumes from the expired SPAM kicking in. Either way, DeGrand’s work seems captures that strange quality that we love so much here at the clubhouse and so I couldn’t resist inviting him over for a chat. As it turns out, there’s a bit more to DeGrandland than I first thought (it’s also chock full of toys!).
Thanks for being here, David. How are things in DeGrandLand these days?
Things are sweaty, goopy, anxiety-ridden and meaty. So perfectly normal, thanks for asking!
One thing that I absolutely dig about your work is the fact that it’s saturated in weird, gross-out humor. Where does the inspiration for all of these yack-inducing, mucus-covered masterpieces come from?
The main influences on my art are Mad Magazine and The Ren and Stimpy Show, both turning gross into an art form. I still can’t believe I’ve been in Mad, one of my lifelong dreams! I also of course love Garbage Pail Kids, early underground comix, old exploitation movies, pretty much anything that gets a strong reaction from people I would never want to associate with. Drawing weird and gross stuff is cathartic for me in a weird way, as it’s a chance to cut loose and retaliate in a way against a lot of things in our culture that I just find terrible.
I sense a little bit of Bob Camp, Gary Baseman and Everett Peck in your work. Have any of these artists been an influence on you?
Yeah I really love all those artists, and their influence on me can’t be denied. I really love how Gary Baseman is able to take that vintage animation aesthetic and totally reinvent it. I actually got to meet Bob Camp in the early 90’s when Ren and Stimpy was still on the air, which was a pretty life changing experience I gotta say. He told me all about how all the artists work together and just come up with gross jokes and crazy artwork, and it sounded like the most incredible way to earn a living.
[Camp] was really encouraging about my art and told me to keep drawing, which I did as he said he would hunt me down and beat me with a pillowcase full of shaken up soda cans if I didn’t. I think back to that meeting a lot and how much it meant to me, and how it played a huge part in me being a cartoonist.
Back in 2009 you teamed up with Nick Magazine cartoonists, Bob Flynn and Dan Moynihan to start Heeby Jeeby Comix. What’s the goal of Heeby Jeeby and how did you get involved?
Heeby Jeeby Comix is basically the four of us attempting to return to a form of comics that we feel has sadly been pushed to the side in favor of more adult-oriented comics that have become all the rage in the last decade. I’m certainly not putting those types of comics down, but we wanted to provide an all ages alternative to that kind of stuff. I mean, they’re called COMICS, right?! There’s really not that many comic books that are funny and that kids can really laugh at, so we just simply wanted to fill that gap a little bit.
I was fortunate enough to get involved with Heeby Jeeby by simply being asked by Bob and Chris Houghton if I would want to contribute to a new project they wanted to get going. Being a big fan of their work it was a no-brainer for me to say yes, and I’m so glad I did. It’s been one of the most rewarding projects I’ve ever worked on. Shameless plug, Issue 4 will be available soon at heebyjeebycomix.blogspot.com.
Your work wasn’t always so “all ages,” though. You mentioned in a previous interview that your early work was much more adult-oriented/taboo. What prompted the shift in tone?
I used to do a lot of gag cartoons and artwork that were really graphic and tasteless, and it got to a point where doing that type of material just wasn’t all that rewarding anymore. I have nothing against gross and tasteless of course, but there was a line I was crossing that I didn’t feel comfortable going over anymore, I did a lot of mean spirited stuff. Heeby Jeeby really focused my work away from that, it came along at just the right time as I now find it a lot more rewarding to get across funny ideas with actual funny writing than just relying on shock value, which is what I had been doing.
Lately I’ve been reverting back a little to some of the gross and violent imagery, but I try to use it in a more thoughtful way and not just to be sick for the sake of being sick. Plus, since I’ve been doing more kid friendly work lately, it’s fun every now and then to go a little crazy and draw something most normal people will look at you funny for even thinking of.
Speaking of risqué projects, you recently contributed a piece to a new trading card series, Randy Packs. What can you tell us about that project?
That project was something that I never thought I would bring myself to do, but once I saw the list of contributing artists I had to say yes. Plus, it’s just a really funny idea (to me anyway). Basically, it’s a series of trading cards, each one has the name of a weird sexual position and the artist illustrated the act without actually showing it. That was a fun thing to try and figure out, and I got to indulge in an adult-oriented project, so that was a welcome way to briefly switch creative gears.
Jumping back to the
sweeter sweatier side of things, you’ve also got your first full-color art book that just came out as well, Sweat Soda. What can fans expect from this anxiety-infused, laughter-filled tome?
Sweat Soda is a collection of my art that was published by the awesome James Andre at Milk Shadow Books. This is my personal art that I do to blow off steam and just enjoy the pure bliss of putting ink to paper and creating weird and gross artwork that I hope doesn’t land me in an institution one day. It also has an introduction by the amazing Kaz, whose work has inspired and influenced me for a long time as well.
How did your partnership with Milk Shadow Books come about? Did they approach you or did you pitch them the idea?
I contributed some cartoons to a few of the Yuck! collections that they publish, and one day I was asked by James if I would be interested in them publishing a collection of my work. James wanted to do a Yuck! Super Special that focused on just one artist, and he wanted me to be the first. Of course I said yes as that was such an awesome and generous offer! I’m super happy with how the book came out, and I really hope cartoon and art fans will dig it as well.
You’re a well-documented “toy junkie” and overall nostalgist. What are some of your most sacred possessions?
Oh man, I just love collecting toys, much to the great dismay of my incredibly patient wife. Of all the cartoon and movie related toys I’ve accumulated over the years, some of my favorites are: a vinyl Gizmo doll from the first Gremlins movie, my almost complete collection of Movie Maniacs and Tortured Souls from McFarlane, and a giant “Log” action figure from the Ren and Stimpy toyline that was out a few years ago. My absolute favorite things in my collection are my Basil Wolverton character statues, I just stare at them and wish I had the crazy talent that he had.
As a fan of giant monsters, who do you honestly think would win in a fight between Godzilla and King Kong AND what would their “finishing move” be?
Now, I love King Kong, but it’s no question that Godzilla would clearly win that battle. I’m assuming we’re going with a “King Kong vs Godzilla” movie scenario where they’re the same size and all?
Godzilla has the radioactive breath and the spiked tail, clearly giving him the advantage. His finishing move would be tossing Kong in the air, blasting him with some radioactive breath, and then impaling him on his spikes. Godzilla wouldn’t mess around in such a scenario.
Your fanboy tendencies go further than toys, right? You also dig old school video games and comics. In fact, you’ve been a guest several time on Fort Worth’s Fanboy Radio. Is that another side project of yours?
Yes, I’m a huge fan of 8 bit and 16 bit video games, I just love that low-tech look and style. Plus you have that strong nostalgia going on as well that can’t be denied. The main thing I find appealing about games like Super Mario Bros. 3 (in my opinion the greatest video game ever made) or Sonic the Hedgehog is that they’re really very surreal and weird, almost like modern Fleischer cartoons where you control the characters.
Fanboy Radio is the brainchild of Scott Hinze, a good friend of mine that’s been doing the show for almost 10 years. I appear occasionally as a guest host and we have a lot of fun talking about movies, comics, TV, pretty much all aspects of pop culture with a geek slant. Scott has also interviewed some amazing guests like Sergio Aragones, John Romita Jr., Zach Snyder, Kevin Smith, the list just goes on. Definitely check it out!
Before we let you go, there’s one last thing… what’s the “strangest” thing you can remember doing as a kid?
One time me and a friend built a device I was convinced would communicate with aliens (he wasn’t as convinced as I was). We left it in his driveway and the next day it was completely gone.