Thursday, June 17, 2010

Interview: Dean Fraser- Creator of Springfield Punx

The other day I tweeted a link to some awesome art entitled “Star Wars: Empire of the Bat.” It was a mash-up of Star Wars and Batman characters and it was AWESOME. The response to it was really great. It was created by the extremely talented Dean Fraser. I discovered his work through his blogspot page, Springfield Punx. On that site, Fraser takes some of his favorite pop-culture characters and “Simpsonizes” them. He’s taken characters from G.I. Joe, Lost, DC Comics, Ghostbusters and Karate Kid (just to name a few) and worked his magic on them. Fraser was cool enough to answer a few questions about his process and even gives us a little preview of what’s to come on the site.

What started this awesome madness?

Well it started when, as a pretty big Batman fan, I started drawing characters from the 60's Batman show in the Simpsons style, having seen Adam West appear as Batman on the Simpsons (fighting Krusty the clown) and really liking it. I did up Batman, Robin, Batgirl, and some villains, and put them up on my website. Finding it pretty fun to visualize what different characters might look like on the Simpsons, I did a few other characters and personalities I liked to go along with the Batman ones. I got some good feedback from friends and soon had a small collection up there on my website.

Then one day I found that my site had gone down due to a huge amount of traffic within a couple of days. I was able to trace it back to someone linking to my Simpsons characters. It was at that point that I decided to put up a dedicated blog, Springfield Punx, just for these characters. I started receiving suggestions on different characters and personalities to 'Simpsonize' and whenever I thought "Yeah, that really would be a fun one to do!" I tried to do it.

The whole thing has just sort of snowballed from there. It's been enjoyable to also have a place to share my thoughts about a character, sometimes a good memory of that personality or superhero from my childhood, things like that. I've really enjoyed the feedback as well, and if one of the drawings can give people a little smile for the day, that definitely gives me a lot of satisfaction.

Can you walk us through your process from beginning to end?

Usually what will happen is this; I collect a good amount of reference images and then do a sketch of the character/celeb/whatever. I concentrate most particularly on the head, then the body after that, though sometimes I decide not to sketch out the whole body and plan to just finish that part on the computer. I scan my sketch and then trace the lines on the computer, usually in some type of vector graphics program, and with the help of a pen and tablet (definitely worth it). I then color it, export, and post it on the blog.

What's the most challenging part of the process?

The hardest part is probably in the translation to Simpsons style. You want to make it look like whoever the person/character is, but you have to do it within the style. Simpsons characters have no chins (which is a pretty defining feature on someone) and always an overbite to one degree or another. That really means that you have to get the other features, colors, clothes and accessories done well enough that you can easily tell who it is. That especially applies to a caricature of a real person. I don't know that I've had the best success at doing it every single time, but that's what you have to try to do.

The other difficult thing can be staying interested - If I somebody were to do this as a 9 to 5, 7 days a week thing, you could easily imagine growing tired of it and even losing a bit of your sanity. I don't know how professional animators do what they do. Drawing characters and personalities I enjoy and have a connection to is really important in keeping it interesting for me. Springfield Punx is a fun side project where I can explore this style, but I enjoy not having to be stuck with it in everything I do.

Do you have a favorite piece?
I have a real affection for some of the Batman villains I did, the characters are really well suited for the bright, colorful, 'loud' look of Simpsons characters. I'm also pretty pleased with the way Buster (from Arrested Development) and Daniel Faraday (from Lost) came out.

Can you tell us a little bit about your other site, has been around for quite a while and is a place where I like to have fun and express myself artistically in a lot of different styles. I like to share work I've done (new and old) and fun little ideas I've had. I've enjoyed the feedback I've had from a lot of the stuff there.

Can you give us a little hint on future characters we'll see on Springfield Punx? On a personal note, will we ever see some Doctor Who or Silver Hawks Punx?

Going forward - if they're not up already, you'll soon see a couple of Goonies characters and some more Batman villains, among other things. I plan to get to some movies I have in mind as well (eventually). You asked about Doctor Who and Silver Hawks... I will confirm that characters from one of those are ready to go and should be posted in the near future.

Goonies Preview


  1. I missed the link, so I'm glad you blogged about it. The drawings are really funny; great interview!

  2. Awesome interview and some great art! XD