EXCLUSIVE: Interview With THE GREAT SHOWDOWNS Creator And Artist Scott Campbell

Scott C. (an American artist and production designer best known for his work for LucasArts and Double Fine Productions) talks to us about his fantastic new book The Great Showdowns. He also discusses Psychonauts, Brutal Legend, a desire to work for Marvel and a whole lot more!

Interviews Opinion

Scott Campbell (Scott C) is a maker of paintings, illustrations, comics, kid’s books and video games. He studied illustration at the Academy of Art in San Francisco, focusing on comic and children’s book illustration. Soon after graduating, he 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 Legendwith Double Fine Productions. The book Amazing Everything: The Art of Scott Ccollects many of his paintings over the past few years. Scott lives in New York City. [Pyramid Car]

Firstly, can you tell our readers about both you and your work?

Sure! My name is Scott Campbell, but I've been going by Scott C since first grade because there are so many Scott's in school and in real life. I have been making comics and showing in galleries for many years and I've worked in video games as Art Director at Double Fine productions on games like Psychonauts and Brutal Legend. My first children's picture books have come out recently entitled Zombie In Love and East Dragon, West Dragon. I like to paint in watercolors mostly and my paintings are often times on the cute tip. My first art book collection came out last year called Amazing Everything. Great Showdowns is an online series that began as a gallery show concept.

Take us through your process when it comes to creating your unique brand of artwork.

I start by thinking about the theme or idea behind the project or show. I make lots of lists of thoughts, words, objects, and people that the idea reminds me of and I doodle shapes and random things on pieces of paper. I also gather lot's and lot's of reference and artwork to inspire my creative mindwaves. The pieces of paper are covered with scribbles with a few sweet ideas scattered here and there, so i scan them all into the computer and cut and paste things to compose the finished work. Then I print them out, trace them onto watercolor paper and paint the heck out of them! Usually with dance music playing.

How did the idea of The Great Showdowns come to you?

The Great Showdowns began at the very first annual Crazy4Cult group exhibition at Gallery 1988 in 2008 or so. All the the artists created work inspired by cult films. I just started drawing my favorite films on those sheets of paper i mentioned earlier. Usually just people standing there with each other from films that I dug. I liked how they looked just standing there enjoying each other and I liked the idea of all these little moments of tension being seen as a group like a party. I was also into creating little candy sized paintings at the time, so I created 10 of these showdowns for that show and super enjoyed it, so I made 10 more for the show the following year. Then 10 more the next year. And eventually, I started the website as a way to motivate myself to make them on a more regular basis and have them easily accessible to people. And that's how it all went! An epic tale.

Do you enjoy putting readers to the test by not labelling where the "Showdowns" are actually from?

Oh, yes! I think that is part of the fun! You can work together with your friends to figure it out and if you do know the film, you can get that victorious feeling that we all love. And if it is one of your favorite films, you can parade around with it like an awesome flag of how awesome you are! I like laying out the pieces for people to put together themselves and feel satisfied for figuring out the puzzle. Because I myself like that feeling. I do puzzles with my Mom every Christmas.

And how exactly did you decide which confrontations to include?

I like to choose movies that I like and have some sort of iconic moments. Some showdowns are fairly obscure, but there has to be some kind of audience for them. Sometimes the memorable moments are not just the main protagonist versus the antagonist. Like in Die Hard, the obvious showdown would be Bruce Willis versus Hans, but the more memorable moment is Bruce Willis versus the glass shards that he had to walk over. I like opportunities to make objects come to life, like glass shards and tidal waves. Another example is the wave that showdowns with Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves in Point Break. Smiley faces on everybody and everything makes us all relax and enjoy each other. But then there is Han and Greedo. That's an obvious showdown that meeds to be included in the collection.

What is YOUR favourite showdown?

Ghost. It has always been my favorite because of how silly it is. It depicts that very sexy moment when Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze are massaging the clay and making out. That was groundbreaking sexy at the time, so I like the idea of making them showing down with the little happy clay dude on a pottery wheel. Because if that little pile of clay was alive, it surely would have enjoyed that sexy time as much as Demi and Patrick did.

You're also well known for your work with Double Fine Games on titles like Psychonauts and Brutal Legend. Can you tell us about that?

Yeah, I started in games at Lucas Learning, painting backgrounds for children's educational games in the Star Wars world. That's where I met Tim Schafer and we became bros. When he left to start Double Fine, he asked me to come on as Art Director on his new game Psychonauts. And I have been working for them in some capacity ever since! I love working with Tim. He has taught me so much about character development and story. I feel incredibly fortunate to have worked with him and Double Fine. Tim attracts very talented and funny people and that is the greatest environment to create games in, when the mutual respect is so high. And Tim is the funniest writer I know. I like to watch that magic happen.

Last week, you were at the New York Comic-Con. How did you find interacting with your fans in such an environment?

Comic Conventions are my favorite thing ever. I guess I have a lot of favorite things, but really comic shows are so great. I love meeting people and drawing for people. I like making people happy and that is the time that I feel it most. And in turn they make me super happy and tell me real nice things and I go home with renewed excitement and inspiration to create new stuff! I remember how it felt to meet someone that I looked up to and i want to give that back to people if I can. I love my fans so much.

You're no stranger to the world of comic books, but would you be interested in tackling mainstream Marvel and DC superheroes?

YES! HOLY MOLY YES! I collected comics with my brother in a hardcore way when I was younger and I went to college with the intentions to draw for X-Men. That was my dream. And Spider-Man and Incredible Hulk were my absolute favorites growing up. As a kid, my favroite color was green because that was the color of the Hulk. I have some ideas for Spider-Man and Hulk stories if Marvel wants to do something. It would be pretty silly though. Pretty silly.

Is there anything else you would like to work on that you've not yet had the opportunity to?

There are so many things I would like to do. I still would like to figure out some way to create stories with these puppets that i had made of my characters awhile ago. I have a mummy, caveman and a knight. I want to do live shows or videos. Or movies. or TV shows. I like performing and would like to figure out what exactly that means and come up with some concepts for that. When I have the time. Which will be who knows when.

Where else can our readers check out your work?

Well, my main website is PyramidCar.com and GreatShowdowns.com is where you can find all those Showdowns. I also have a webcomic that i need to start updating more at DoubleFine.com called Double Fine Action Comics, ONI Press is putting out Volume 1 and 2 of that next year! I also have a Livestream channel at livestream.com\scottlava where I paint Showdowns live for people sometimes. And I'm on twitter as @scottlava!

What's next for you?

My third children's picture book coming out next year. It is a Bob Dylan story about dogs running around crazy! I am very excited for that. And Double Fine's new Kickstarter adventure game is coming along nicely. Going to start working on my first children's book that I write and also illustrate as well. Need to get on that very very soon. Like maybe tomorrow.

Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions!

The Great Showdowns is now on sale from Titan Books and will be reviewed here on CBM later this week. To learn more about Scott and his work, be sure to click HERE to check out his site.

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