CHICKENHEAD PAST: CRAIG McCRACKEN
interview by tina wells

DURING OUR FIRST YEAR, FROM SEPTEMBER 1999 TO AUGUST 2000, WE WERE KNOWN UNDER THE MONIKER CHICKENHEAD. DURING THAT FIRST YEAR, WE INTERVIEWED A LOT OF PEOPLE. NOT ALL OF THEM WERE GREAT INTERVIEWS. YOU CAN TELL THAT WE WERE JUST STARTING TO FIGURE OUT OUR STYLE. BUT WE'VE PICKED TWELVE INTERVIEWS OUT FROM THAT FIRST YEAR THAT EPITOMIZED WHAT WE WERE TRYING TO DO. DURING JUNE, JULY, AND AUGUST WE WILL BE PLACING THESE OLD INTERVIEWS ONLINE FOR YOUR READING PLEASURE. THERE WILL BE FOUR NEW INTERVIEWS EACH MONTH. ENJOY THIS BLAST FROM TASTES LIKE CHICKEN'S PAST!

INTERVIEW: CRAIG McCRACKEN

ORIGINAL PRINT DATE: APRIL 2000


FASTER THAN A SPEEDING BULLET? NOPE. STRONGER THAN A LOCOMOTIVE? NOT BLOODY LIKELY. WILLING TO ANSWER THE EVER-SO-CURIOUS TINA WELLS' QUESTIONS ABOUT SUPER-POWERED PRE-TEENS, ANIMATION SOUND EFFECTS, AND THE LENGTHS ONE MIGHT GO FOR AN ICE CREAM TREAT? ABSOLUTELY. READ ON FOR THE WORDS, WIT, AND WISDOM OF CARTOON KINGPIN CRAIG McCRACKEN.

Tina: Where are you from originally, and where did you go to college?

Craig: My original hometown is Charleroi, Pennsylvania, but when I was seven I moved to Whittier, California. As far as schooling goes, I studied animation at CalArts in Valencia, California.

T: What cartoons have you worked on?

C: First, there was 2 Stupid Dogs. Then, Dexter's Laboratory. And now, Powerpuff Girls. There were a lot of little things in between, but those were the main ones.

T: You created No Neck Joe for the Spike & Mike Animation festivals. Where in the hell did the idea for No Neck Joe come from?

C: I actually did them as my first year student films, and Spike and Mike just bought 'em off me. Joe is actually based on my friend Nate from CalArts. We used to joke that he had no neck. Which he does, of course. And what a fine neck it is, I might add. It just stemmed from that.

T: What would you do if you had no neck?

C: I'd get on with my life, because I couldn't look back.

T: How did you get started with Cartoon Network?

C: Well, I was working at Hanna-Barbera, and they and Cartoon Network are all owned by Turner, so it's just one big happy family. When the call went out that Cartoon Network was looking for new shows, I jumped at the chance, and pitched them my ideas.

T: Powerpuff Girls are trendy in the retail environment right now. How do you feel about this, and how big do you think it will grow?

C: I'm very happy about it. I'm a geeky toy collector, and to have toys of your own characters is unbelievably cool. But the thing that made me realize the girls have really hit big just happened-- I just got Powerpuff Girl pinatas! They are beautifully bad, and I couldn't be prouder.

T: What was your inspiration for Powerpuff Girls?

C: You know those freaky, big-eyed girl paintings from the '60s? They're called Keane paintings. They were done by a husband and wife team named Margaret and Walter Keane. The story is that Margaret did all the work, while Walter took all the fame and money. When she took him to court to get her share, the court asked Walter to do a painting to prove he could. Lo and behold, he couldn't,.. because "his wrist hurt." So there's a piece of useless trivia for you. Here's another one: the girls' school teacher, Miss Keane, is named after-- you guessed it!

T: Where did you come up with character names like Mojo Jojo, Him, and Fuzzy Lumpkins?

C: I wish I knew. They just fell out of my brain and out of my mouth. Sorry. That sounded really gross. I will admit, though, that Him is supposed to be the Devil. But since we can't say "Devil", we just called him "Him"!

T: Would you ever create a special with the Powerpuff Girls, Dexter, and No Neck Joe?

C: Probably not. They don't get along very well. I even have to keep 'em separated in my brain. If they get near each other, all hell breaks loose, and I get a headache. I did think it would be funny if, after years of torment, No Neck Joe grew up to become an arch-villain the girls would have to stop. So, who knows.

T: Who is your favorite cartoon superhero?

C: Underdog.

T: What is your favorite superhero quarrel noise? Pow? Wham?

C: Well, I never liked Wham. I'm not a big George Michael fan.

T: Where do you get your cool sound effects?

C: Ancient Chinese secret!

T: Do you ever do voices for any of the characters?

C: No. But I did narrate my student film for Powerpuff Girls back when they we're called the "Whoopass Girls". I know, cooler name. But what are you gonna do? Cartoon Network didn't want some little girl saying, "Mommy! Buy me a Whoopass doll!" Although, it would be cool.

T: What type of music do you listen to?

C: Well, we're puttin' out a CD called Heroes and Villains: Music Inspired By The Powerpuff Girls, and a bunch of my favorite bands did tracks. Guys like Frank Black, David Byrne, and The Apples In Stereo, to name a few. Look for it this summer. It should be really good.

T: What was one of your favorite things to do as a child?

C: Duh,.. draw. What else?

T: What did you like to draw when you were little?

C: Batman, Superman, Underdog, and anything from Star Wars.

T: Did you ever have an imaginary friend or pet rock?

C: No. But I do have an imaginary rock.

T: Do dogs have lips?

C: No.

T: What is your favorite food?

C: Dog lips.

T: Do you eat chicken?

C: Yes. But I'll say "no", because it'll make the next answer funnier.

T: What would you do for a Klondike bar?

C: Ready for this? Here goes. I'd eat chicken!

T: Laverne or Shirley?

C: Pokemon.

T: Pokemon or Digimon?

C: Voltron.

T: Voltron or Dinobots?

C: Laverne.

T: What are your future plans?

C: To answer the next question.

T: Where do you see yourself in ten years?

C: If I were to see myself in ten years, I'd probably be 38 and looking in a mirror.

PURCHASE ITEMS BY CRAIG McCRACKEN