Strange Kids Doing Strange Things
Eighties retro-spoofers Strange Kids Club has real mutant turtles
By Richard Whittaker, 1:04PM, Fri. Jul. 25, 2014
Do you know your Snake Eyes from your Rock Lords? Then you're already a fully paid member of the Strange Kids Club.
Austin-based founder and art director Rondal Scott called it "a bonkers, fun hang-out for kids that grew up in the Eighties." He said, "If it came from the Eighties or Nineties, we like to take a retrospective, put a new spin on it for an adult perspective."
Strange Kids Club started "five years ago, almost to the day," he said, as a personal blog about things he enjoyed he enjoyed from his adolescence in Santa Monica, Calif. It wasn't just the big titles, the GI Joes and Street Sharks, but obscure gems, like the oft-forgotten Extreme Ghostbusters and Stupid Heroes trading cards. It began as just a hobby, but soon picked up traction and fans, so Scott re-launched it as a full site, recruited extra writers, and launched a Facebook page. That social media expansion was the real turning point. "People started interacting and posting our stories," he said. "Once we reached our first 1,000 followers on Facebook, that's when I woke up and realized, we can really do something here."
In 2011, he started releasing merchandise, including stickers. The following year he got the hard copy publishing itch, and so launched the Strange Kids Club magazine, which was really another extension of the blog. He said, "We got together all the comics artists, painters, all kinds of artists that we'd featured on the site." The aim was to highlight artists like gross-out kind James Groman and Mondo regular Jason Edmiston, sympatico thinkers like all-girl rockers Danger*Cakes, and pop culture meditations on retro-figures and lost shows, interspersed with Cracked/Mad-style lampoons. But Scott is careful to never let the jokes get too mean. "You don't want to totally trash these things, because we love them too."
Last year, the club got into apparel, with a Ghostbusters-aping design. Now, with the 30th anniversary of Eastman and Laird's staff-swinging, nunchuk-battering reptiles, the club is releasing a limited edition Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles T-shirt, or for real collectors there's the parody pizza box, complete with stickers, T-shirt, and ooze. "The timing was appropriate," said Scott, "but it's a property I grew up with as a kid." However, he still needed to add that STC twist, so he asked himself: What would a real teenage mutant ninja turtle look like? "With the turtle-king shirt, we went, well, these are turtles that are exposed to an irradiated mutagen. What would really happen?" Thus a giant-sized, quadruple-headed beast, with April O'Neil playing Fay Wray to its King Kong.
Scott isn't the only person who noticed that the turtles hit the big 3-0 this year. Kevin Eastman is creating new comics, and then there's the upcoming Michael Bay cinematic reboot (sans Vanilla Ice's "Ninja Rap".) But more broadly, there's an undeniable retro-chic about Eighties culture again, as kids who grew up then want to introduce their own kids to the joy of He-Man and Jem and the Holograms. Unfortunately, that sometimes means dealing with remakes, all the whole silently cursing Optimus Prime's lips. "I don't know anybody who likes the Transformers reboots, but the box office sales, you just can't argue with that," Scott said. However, he isn't instantly anti-remake. "It depends how the people rebooting the source material approach it. Not that the originals were all perfect. You look back and think, what was I thinking? But even as an adult, they've got some real charm."
The Strange Kids Club Turtle-Kong shirt and pizza box set is available for pre-order until 11pm Central July 25 via their webstore.
For more about the Strange Kids Club, visit www.strangekidsclub.com.