On the eve of New York Comic Con, I’m doing a bit of catch-up on a piece that our good friend Jedd sent in several weeks back, during the Singapore Toy, Game & Comic Convention. It’s a great interview with designer toy icon Frank Kozik. Be sure to check out Jedd’s own site, The Movie and Me, for his full coverage of STGCC and much more.
Frank Kozik with Marvel Labbit Rocket Raccoon – Image Credit: Vinyl Pulse
Artist and designer Frank Kozik is known in collectible art circles as the creator of the Labbit, but it also famous as a poster designer who created artwork for bands such as The White Stripes, Pearl Jam, The Beastie Boys and Nirvana. The commercial artwork he has done includes work for Nike, Swatch and MTV. Kozik was in Singapore as a guest of the Singapore Toys, Games and Comics Convention (STGCC) and I got to sit down with him to discuss his work. He was somewhat intimidating and frank and off-the-cuff, giving a detailed description of how Labbit came to be (it involves booty calls) and offering a surprising, piece of advice to aspiring artists.
Jedd Jong: What was the genesis of Labbit; how did you conceptualise that?
Frank Kozik: That’s an interesting story. In the mid-90s, I was going to Japan quite a bit, I was working with the people there. When I went over there for the first time, I was really in Sanrio products, was really into like Hello Kitty and Keroppi and stuff, I thought it was very interesting, the stuff they were doing. I liked how they did the characters, it was like super-perfect. What’s interesting is in Japan then, it was just something for low-class people. These were are sort of like snotty Shinjuku fashion dudes, right? And they’re like “what do you want to do, do you want to do cocaine on top of a mountain?” and I’m like “no, I want to go to Kitty Land!” And they all just thought I was crazy, they were like “what?!” They couldn’t understand, it was such a low thing for them. And I tried to explain it, I said “look, there’s something really interesting here. It’s like super-perfect way to develop a character,” like you got to get beyond who buys it. In the US, it became a really big cult thing.
While I’ve got Hulk on my mind, I’d be remiss if I didn’t highlight the recent reveals by Hot Toys for their Avengers Bruce Banner figure. We first saw puny Banner in a shawarma diorama at SGTCC. At the time I thought Hot Toys was cruel for making a custom we could never get ourselves. Now I find myself in a quandary – I don’t have a Tony Stark figure. And Hot Toys hasn’t made a Steve Rogers figure. So do I get Banner? In fact, there’s two options. One is Banner by himself, while the other includes the really awesome Hulk figure, I think with some additional “set pieces” to liven up your display.
Here’s a wrap-up of Jedd’s STGCC coverage with an interview with Nathan Hamill, artist and toy designer, who coincidentally is one of Mark Hamill’s kids. He talks with Jedd about toys, art, comics, and, yes, a little bit about Star Wars.
Jedd: Welcome to Singapore!
Nathan: Thank you!
Are you having a good time so far?
Excellent. First time here and it’s stunning, it’s incredible. The weather was perfect yesterday; it’s great so far.
I had a look at your Twitter feed, really cool stuff. Beneath your handle, it says “I makes what I likes.” What do you think has been the most rewarding thing of living by that maxim?
Yeah, “I makes what I likes” is just… first of all, I think it’s funny because it’s using improper English, which makes me laugh. Like “I makes what I likes,” yeah… I try to keep it as simple as that. So yeah, my motto, “I makes what I likes,” at the end of the day it should come down to whether or not it’s something that you enjoy, not to be too convoluted about what your themes and what your concepts are. Yeah, that stuff is good and fine but I guess I’m trying to… you know, take things less seriously.
Here’s photos from Hot Toys of their booth with Action City at STGCC. And would you look at that – that Bruce Banner is actually a prototype of an upcoming Hot Toys release, so your very own shawarma scene could be in your future.
Hot Toys & Action City at STGCC 2013
STGCC has officially begun today and visitors were thrilled to take pictures with the life-size Midas and Hall of Armor Statues powered by Hot Toys!Fans were queuing up for the highly anticipated Hot Toys 1/6th scale Midas (Mark XXI), Silver Centurion (Mark XXXIII), Tony Stark (The Mechanic), and Eric Draven Collectible Figures.
New owners of the Midas Collectible Figure are excited when they received the special Mark XXI gift pack!
In addition to getting their hands on new Hot Toys products, Hot Toys’ booth is attracting lots of visitors too! One of the most popular showcases is the “Avengers Assembled at Shawarma” where the latest Hot Toys prototype – Bruce Banner is fully revealed and shown for the first time ever at an exhibition by joining the rest of The Avenger’s team in the diorama. Stay tuned on our Facebook Page for information on this highly-anticipated character!