Drawing a line through the anorexic space between good and evil, MCA of Evil Design fame creates characters that soccer moms hate and free thinkers embrace. Working in a variety of mediums, including most prominently illustration and vinyl, many of MCAâ€™s characters are formed from a base that looks like a burnt-out, head swollen Chucky. Format sits down with MCA to discuss his recent trip to Taiwan, why his characters arenâ€™t actually evil, and his transition from gang fights to psychedelic journeys.
“I was bummed that a 7-11 near me wasnâ€™t turned into a Kwik-E-Mart.”
Format: You recently returned home from Taiwan. What were you doing out there, and what was your experience like?
MCA: Yes, yes, it was my second trip to Taiwan, first time to Taipei. I was there for the Taipei Toy Fest. Toy2R brought me over to meet with folks that dig my toys and to draw and sign stuff for them. It was wild, Joe Ledbetter was there for Toy2R too, so we both got all set up in the booth each day, it was a four day event, and we just drew drew drew until they said we were done. All in all we signed and drew on toys for a total of around 17 hours, nuts. The people were really cool and very nice. Itâ€™s great to fly for 20 plus hours to a place that has people in line to say hello and have you draw for them. Itâ€™s pretty nice. Other than the show, Taipei was cool. I had time in the mornings and nights to check stuff out â€“ great amazing Temples, wild Night Markets and just experience regular daily life of a person from Taiwan thanks to my great host Henry.
Format: There are a lot of pictures of food posted from your trip. What were some of the best and worst meals you tried, or saw?
MCA: There was lots of good food. I tried everything that was put in front of me. One of the best things I had this past trip was a shark and noodle breakfast. One plate of cold noodles and a plate of shark, it was great. I also enjoyed the ox tongue at the Korean BBQ we went to. There wasnâ€™t anything I really hated, but certain things I really donâ€™t think I need to try again, like the thousand year egg and the duck blood. But if you travel to distant places, you really need try all you can.
Format: What are some of the most significant similarities or differences you see between Eastern and Western vinyl?
MCA: It seems that the lines are blurring a lot more now where artists from all over are working with companies from all over, which is a good thing. One big thing is the special Japanese clear vinyl formula! All clear, no bubbles. I think only one place does it, thatâ€™s wild. I am a fan of the old Kaiju toys, the monsters and all the versions and variations coming out now. I love Bemon the Pollution Monster and Pigmon.
Format: You recently customized a Bart Simpson Qee for The Simpsons movie promotion. How did you approach this project?
MCA: I am a big fan of The Simpsons, which isnâ€™t that crazy of a statement seeing that most folks are, but yeah it was cool when Toy2R told me they were going to start doing Simpsons Qees. As far as my customization of Bart, I wanted to do him in the same design style and colors as my first Evil Ape made, which was the Evil Grape Ape. Why, I donâ€™t know, I just thought Iâ€™d be cool.
Format: What is your opinion of the heavy promo The Simpsons is doing in the urban art market for the movie?
MCA: Well, obviously most of the kids that are into all that â€œurban artâ€ are into The Simpsons, so it makes sense and if itâ€™s done right, it could be cool. The Vans project was a cool idea I guess, cool sneaks with The Simpsons on â€˜em. I wasnâ€™t into all the designs that came out of it, but who cares. The Mr. Cartoon one was a fave and Kawsâ€™s design was nice. I think The Simpsons is just one of those things that even the super over marketing of it doesnâ€™t matter cuz itâ€™s The Simpsons! I was bummed that a 7-11 near me wasnâ€™t turned into a Kwik-E-Mart. And what about that huge Homer in his undies chalk painting in the field in the UK near the Fertility God â€“ the ultimate â€˜street artâ€™ marketing? Or maybe field art? Pretty classic. But I know what youâ€™re saying, if this was all about a new X-Men movie or something I think maybe Iâ€™d be annoyed.
Format: Youâ€™ve mentioned before that your characters are not actually evil, but evil in the way suburban moms think heavy metal and other youth movements are evil. An argument could be made that many of these youth movements do have elements of evil embedded in them. How do you respond to that?
MCA: Well I donâ€™t know, I think itâ€™s more about a level of rebellion than actual evil. Like, what youth movements are you talking about? The David Duke camp for kids? Maybe. But what I use for my inspiration is what I can remember as a kid that kinda made neighborhood moms nervous, that stuff is great. A perfect example is Ozzy on the cover of Diary of a Madman, ya know, that freaked a mom or two out when it came out. But to answer your question, I personally donâ€™t think youth movements have elements of real evil in them, but that could be exactly what they want me to think!
Format: Why are your characters evil, and not good?
MCA: Well, thatâ€™s how I want ‘em to be I suppose, but like I said, not all real deal kitten killing evil rotten kids, but more the type that are free thinkers, open minded, question what is told to them. Thatâ€™s what I use as inspiration when I draw a new character or do a design; that is what I try to put in. Some may call that type of living and thinking â€˜evilâ€™ I guess, I donâ€™t know. I donâ€™t really have a whole background laid out when I draw a new character, but I do always try to keep that feel in there somehow.
Format: You mentioned to Magmo in a Wooster interview that you would like for your characters to have a gang fight with James Jarvisâ€™ characters. Who would win and why?
MCA: I think I might be over the whole gang fight thing. I think I said that around the time the Forever Sensible set came out and the thought of a rumble sounded good. Now I think itâ€™d be better to team up my WZRD Crew characters with Jamesâ€™ Magical Plastic Band guys and the new YOD and let them go on a fuzzed out psychedelic journey that could never be fully explained.
Format: Also on Wooster, you have a tip saying â€œEven when Michael Lau or Kaws puts out a new one, try your best not to spend rent on toys.â€ Is this something you personally struggle with?
MCA: Well, I have kinda got that under control now. For a while it was tough. Now I really donâ€™t buy any toys at all. I like to try and do trades, itâ€™s more fun and cheaper. Unless a really really cool toy comes out, I donâ€™t spend the cash anymore. Sometimes you need to put things in perspective and decide what is more important. But yea, sometimes a Kaws Dissected Companion is on top of that important list, even though I missed out snatching one when he released em on his site!
Format: Any upcoming projects you would like to discuss?
MCA: As far as upcoming stuff, one non-toy thing that I am looking forward to is a collab with Track+Field. We are doing some cool bags, they do great stuff. Search â€˜em on the web and check out their first collection out, now. Toy wise, I have some new stuff in the works with Toy2r, new characters – be on the lookout, should be nice. There also will be a few new versions of my EVIL APE figure that will come out through-out the year. I have a BUD in Jamungoâ€™s Blow Up Dolls Series #2, a GID WZRD crew member. I have another thing in the works w/Jamungo that should be cool. A SAM from Red Magic just came out â€“ Pentagram SAM, there should be a bigger version out soon too! I know there is other stuff I should be mentioning, but I am delirious at the moment. Oh, a show with with Abe Lincoln Jr & Ethos in Chicago at Rotofugi in Nov and a show with Magmo and Experibreed in Pittsburgh at the Digging Pitt Gallery in Sepember, they should be fun.
More Info: http://www.evildesign.com