Scott Campbell (aka Scott C) is a maker of paintings, illustrations, comics, kids books and video games.
Campbell studied illustration at the Academy of Art in San Francisco, focusing on comic and children’s book illustration. Soon after graduating, Mr. Scott C began at Lucas Learning as concept artist on children’s video games. Four years later, he joined Double Fine Productions as Art Director on such games as the critically acclaimed Psychonauts and Brutal Legend.
Alongside this career in games, he has published numerous comics and created paintings that have appeared in galleries and publications around the world. Some of his most notable projects include the GREAT SHOWDOWNS series, Igloo Head and Tree Head series, Double Fine Action Comics, Hickee Comics, the children’s book’s Zombie in Love and East Dragon, West Dragon, and Psychonauts and Brutal Legend with Double Fine Productions. The book Amazing Everything: The Art of Scott C collects many of his paintings over the past few years. Scott lives in New York City.
TSJ had ourselves a little chin-wag with the maker of all things awesome. We wanted to know more about his brand new book, Great Showdowns: The Return, his thoughts on epic battles, and also who his fave alien is. Scott C filled us in on that and so much more.
The Smoking Jacket: How’d you get into the drawing business?
Scott Campbell: My first job out of art school was background painter for Star Wars video games for kids. I went to school to do comics and children’s book illustration, but ended up in the game industry, but I was down with it. I loved making games. I worked at Double Fine productions for many years, on games like Psychonauts and Brutal Legend. I made many comics throughout those years and have only recently begun making picture books. I’ve been all over the drawing business.
TSJ: Tell me a bit about your new book, Great Showdowns.
SC: Great Showdowns is an online series that I have been doing for the last few years; Great Showdowns: The Return is the second collection from that series. It’s a simple concept. Some of the most intense confrontations in film history as little, bite-sized paintings. The characters or objects from those moments are just standing there in front of each other, always fairly pumped about it. Moments like Wendy versus Jack from The Shining or Peter and his bros versus the printer from Office Space. Everyone is smiling, even the printer. The printer is just happy to be there.
TSJ: Why was this project something you wanted to do? An evolution of funny ideas? A great world takeover masterplan?
SC: I did the first 10 of these paintings for an art show in LA called Crazy 4 Cult. I just started drawing my favorite characters standing there looking at each other and realized that those intense showdown moments are kind of nice just chilling together like that. They were little baby-sized paintings so people could just put them in their pockets like trading cards. I started the Tumblr for them, so I would have a reason to make them regularly rather than just wait for these art shows to create them.
“I used to really like imagining what the Stormtroopers would do in their down time when hanging about on the Death Star. The down time that they didn’t have time to show in the movie because a movie is just two hours long. Stormtroopers took breaks just like the rest of us. Maybe they watched some TV or surfed around the Internet.”
TSJ: How come their showdowns are good-natured? Are they like, Aw shucks, I didn’t really mean it Imma nuzzle your brawny face now? Or do they get to the showdown point and then realize they’re not so into violence?
SC: Oh, they are all super down with what they are up to. I think they are all equally happy because they are just pleased to be invited to the Great Showdown party. I think after hours, all these moments party together and exchange stories. It’s a real fun bunch.
TSJ: There’s definitely a trend with doing some cultural winks, some re-appropriation of iconic pop culture characters going on these days in books of illustrations. I’m thinking of people like Olly Moss or Juan Ortiz. What do you think is the fun in digging around your childhood heroes and making them get up to new tricks (or fights)?
SC: I love nostalgia. I mean sometimes it bums me out in a melancholy way, but for the most part I love looking back at the things that have shaped my life. I used to really like imagining what the Stormtroopers would do in their down time when hanging about on the Death Star. The down time that they didn’t have time to show in the movie because a movie is just two hours long. Stormtroopers took breaks just like the rest of us. Maybe they watched some TV or surfed around the Internet.
TSJ: Is this type of work similar to fan fiction, would you say? Fan comics? Fan illustration? Except glossier, more pro? Is there a word for what you’re doing? Or is this really more of just a nod, a Hey there, pop culture, I see you, and I raise you this nod/picture/book.
SC: It’s just paying homage to the things I love. Pop culture and I hang out all the time. We are really great pals. So sometimes I paint sweet little things to show the love that I have for it. Then I go and paint something brand new that my good times with pop culture has inspired me to do.
TSJ: You’re also setting objects against each other. Whattup with that absurdity? I haven’t seen the book yet, so I’m picturing that Ikea commercial with the sad lamp in the rain, and Magritte, and wondering if what you’ve done falls someplace in the middle? Tell me.
SC: I don’t know that commercial, but it sounds dope. I like the idea of objects having faces and strolling around and sometimes sitting. I like the idea of having tea with them or chatting about the coffee I am about to make with it or nail I am about to hammer with it. Sometimes characters are pitted against objects in films. Bruce Willis had a real intense moment going up against that glass in Die Hard. So I just put faces on the little shards of glass. Everyone is having a blast.
TSJ: What else are you doing today?
SC: I’m making a picture book about a kid that hugs everything and is real good at it. It is called HUG MACHINE. It will be out in Fall 2014. It is the absolute best.
TSJ: Favorite anti-hero?
SC: Walter White from that smash hit series Breaking Bad.
TSJ: Favorite alien?
SC: The one that pops out of the dude’s belly in the first Alien movie and goes scooting across the floor all cute like.
TSJ: Favorite time traveler?
SC: The Time Bandits gang.
TSJ: Favorite video game lady?
SC: Princess Peach.
TSJ: Favorite fruit?
SC: Mangoes. But almost peaches.
TSJ: Favorite illustrators?
TSJ: Fave comics?
TSJ: Okay! That’s all I got! Thanks so much for answering some Qs!
SC: My crazy pleasure!
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