Thursday, 28 July 2011

One Question Interview #26: Ben Newman

Picture of The Bento Bestiary nabbed from our friends at Nobrow

As even the most casual ATF reader knows, the way to my heart is through a momentous amount of kaiju references. With that it mind, it shouldn't be hard to figure out why Ben Newman - illustrator behind Nobrow's fantastic yokai-inspired compendium The Bento Bestiary - has forced us out of our hiatus with this volume-length and video-packed answer to our long-standing question about his favourite monsters. This one's got it all, folks: Mattel, Ultraman, late 80s anime, more Ultraman, and the mighty Garamon; so sit back, relax, and enjoy what just might be my favourite One Question Interview yet:

Q: Our favourite monsters in The Bento Bestiary are Taimatsu Maru, Nue and Wanyudo. Whom are your favourite monsters?

I was thinking about this question as I was falling asleep last night and as I desperately tried to enter Slumberland I started to think back to what my earliest experiences with monsters were in my childhood. I was born in January 1982 which was the year Return of the Jedi came out into cinemas and although I was mere weeks old when it was released, I believe this was a point in time where movie and television merchandise was starting to hit an all time peak. When I think of all the difficulty my parents would have at Christmas trying desperately to buy the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle or Thunder-tank or Optimus Prime or whatever the relentlessly new cartoon phenomenon was governing the brains of children everywhere, I feel awful that I would cause them so much stress and money year after year. Especially now, as an adult, when I understand that excess money is not easy to come by and, with the gift of hindsight, can look back and see how my parents struggled to make ends meet while trying to please their children. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that, as a child, I loved toys especially Monster toys and this is the basis of my fascination with them as a grown up. So to answer the question (rather than write a dull mini autobiography about presents I have received at Christmas over the past 30 years), I have decided to compile a top ten of favourite monsters (in no particular order) that I feel have influenced me a great deal growing up and within my work.

10. Hordak (from The Evil Horde featured in the He-man and She-re cartoons)
Crazy evil Mohawk skull with a up-turned collar? Check. Bat encrusted battle chest plate in BLACK? Double check. Deemed to be far more bad ass than Skeletor (was skeletor much of a bad ass? His high-pitch-maiden-like-screeching voice makes me think otherwise), Hordak really knew how to turn heads in his little furry black pants and knee-high, steel toed boots. For me though, the very graphical, symmetrical look of his face pulls the right optical nerves and has done since I was a wee nipper, just watch the grainy video below to believe me.