Where it all began...
Many of you are probably familiar with the webcomic Brawl in the Family.
Written and illustrated by Matthew Taranto, it is one of the most light-hearted and fun strips I've seen on the internet. Dealing with all sorts of Nintendo characters, comics can range from simple gags
to character-based installments
based upon the unique personalities that each cast member has developed over the course of the strip. After reading many of Lawofthermaldynamics's Interviews,
I decided to get in on the action and sent Matthew an email asking for an interview. Obviously, he said yes, and here we are now! Enjoy!
First, give us a rundown on the history of Brawl in the Family. When did you start drawing what would become the comic and why? What made you decide to take your comics to the internet?
I would doodle pretty much constantly throughout the many art history courses I took in college. It was probably no coincidence that these were my worst classes, come to think of it. Nevertheless, one day I was in the mood to sketch up a bunch of quick, weird little gags of Kirby and Dedede doing various silly things. Several months later while bored one night, I decided to pick from a few of these, quickly draw them up in PhotoShop, and post them on an IGN Nintendo message board. (These turned out to be the first six comics of Brawl in the Family)
At the time, I thought the reaction would be mixed, with maybe a third of the viewers actually liking the somewhat obtuse humor. But to my surprise, people pretty much loved it, so I uploaded them to a few more boards and eventually felt it could probably hold its own on its own site.
As an odd aside, while these first 30 comics were very popular at the time, sometimes I see people linking to the comic that will say “This is a good comic—just ignore the first batch, because they’re terrible!” Funny how that works!
What is it about Nintendo that you love so much?
I should probably keep this one fairly short. Basically, they’re the best game developer in the world! True, following a lifetime of Nintendo (from 1985 onward) lets one view a ton of bone-headed decisions first-hand, but when push comes to shove, they still make great, creative games. It’s a company that marches to the beat of its own drum, yet constantly challenges itself to deliver originality and creativity.
If the strip is anything to go by, this is a fairly easy question, but what is your favorite series and why? Favorite game in that series?
Surprisingly, it’s not Kirby! I mainly picked Kirby as the subject of the comic because he’s fat and funny-looking. Oh, and his eating powers led to a pretty varied running gag. My favorite series is actually The Legend of Zelda, where the best games in the series have drawn me in like no other games have. Mario is very close, though, especially with strong recent offerings like the Super Mario Galaxy games. My favorite Zelda game (and favorite game overall) is a pretty standard choice by this point: Ocarina of Time.
Do you have a favorite individual comic or storyline that you have created?
Individual comic would probably be comic 200 – Ode to Minions.
I’m also very happy with how comic 260 (The Captive Princess
) turned out. My favorite storyline is A Mushroom Kingdom Carol
(201 – 208).
Finish this sentence: I owe my success to...
Nintendo, and the early readers kind enough to encourage me to keep making comics!
Speaking of success, how have you reacted to the popularity of your comic?
It’s certainly taken me by surprise. Of course, I’m ecstatic so many people seem to share my weird sense of humor, and love of Nintendo games!
In the year 2011, what are you anticipating the most?
At the risk of sounding predictable, I gotta go with the 3DS on this one. And Skyward Sword.
Is there anything in 2011 that we should be anticipating from Brawl in the Family?
I’m just about to start a story arc that I’m pretty excited about. Brawl in the Family has always been a crossover strip, but this story is the first to sort of run with that idea in a way that’s central to the plot. If it’s not up by the time you read this, it definitely will be in a matter of a day or two.
If you could become a Nintendo character for a day, who would it be and why?
Ness! That kid’s got the good life—using psychic powers, finding free burgers in garbage cans, fighting sentient piles of vomit. Plus, he goes toe-to-tendril with the most diabolical villain in Nintendo history.
Do you have a favorite quote that you would like to share with us?
I’ve always been a fan of this one by C.S. Lewis:
“Critics who treat ‘adult’ as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty, I read them openly. When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”
Absolutely relevant today.
The answer to life, the universe, and everything is...
Who would you consider the greatest influence on your sense of humor?
Interesting question. I might attribute it to a couple of my lifelong favorite TV shows: The Simpsons and King of the Hill. The former does a great deal of layered humor, with a lot of jokes working on multiple layers, while the latter is great with character-driven humor. Futurama probably also falls under that same style of humor that The Simpsons does.
Is there a game that has touched you emotionally more than any other? If so, what and why?
Mother 3. I don’t want to get into deep spoiler territory, but the game’s tagline “Strange, funny, and heartrending” certainly rings true at more than one point in the game. It’s a fairly simple story, but told with a great deal of heart and emotion.
Why is Waluigi such an unpleasant person?
I like to think that he does exactly what he feels like, with no pretense. He’s less concerned about social norms and manners than about expressing himself freely…like any great artist, in fact! Waluigi, any comment?
“WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT ART. YOU ARE A TERRIBLE ARTIST. WAAAAAA!”
There you have it, straight from the horse’s long-toothed mouth.
Where did you get the idea for the store? The Dededolls are aD'AWWWable, and as the recipient of one of your mugs, I must say that it is the best mug that I've ever had!
Thanks a bunch! I think once Chris and I took notice of the sizable fanbase BitF had, we realized that, hey, a lot of people like this comic. And they likely enjoyed it enough to want to buy T-shirts with various BitF-style jokes and references on them as well, judging from other popular webcomics out there. So we took a risk and it ended up being a good move, particularly with the Dededolls.
If you could only have one gaming system, what would it be?
The SNES! EarthBound, Super Metroid, Final Fantasy III, Lufia II, Zelda: A Link to the Past, Final Fantasy II, the DKC series, Chrono Trigger, Mario Paint, Mario Kart, Mario World, and Yoshi’s Island make this the greatest system ever, in my eyes.
Are there any characters in the Nintendo universe that you feel are just misunderstood?
Waluigi and Daisy! They’re great characters that don’t get the respect they deserve since they “feel” like clones. Nintendo could probably be better at bringing these characters’ personalities to the forefront (or at least giving them a larger role in a Mario game), but I’ve always liked these two a lot.
Finally, ask yourself a question!
Well, I always like to give credit to games I love, so…
What are your favorite games not published/developed by Nintendo?
Ah, excellent question, Matthew! Here’s a list of quality titles that all Nintendo fans should try out: Final Fantasy 3 (6), Chrono Trigger, Resident Evil 4, Viewtiful Joe, Skies of Arcadia, the Ace Attorney series, Harvest Moon 64, Lufia II, and an underrated Wii gem, Little King’s Story!
Thanks to all the fans for their support over the years!
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