CM MILLER continues his interview with Radical Rick creator Damian Fulton from last week's blog post.
It’s fun to read through Radical Rick and see all the time period cameos. Were you paying a lot attention to the news and pop culture?
DF: Anytime there was a big action movie, or an adventure story, I could get excited about that. Or if there was something really topical in the news… I wasn’t trying to be super political, but I could highlight celebrities, or politicians in the news and take advantage of their timeliness. Mr. T was huge, so he had a story. President Ronald Reagan even got a cameo. And of course there were the episodes with real life BMX heroes.
What kind of music were you into?
DF: You know, at the time I was really excited about the new music that was coming out of LA. We’d drive up to LA because people were saying: ‘hey, there were all these weird bands up there.’ As teenagers, we’d gone to the Forum to see classic rock bands. You know, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith… but later in the early 80s we would head to the seeder parts of LA, go to these little clubs that were really sketchy compared to where I came from, antiseptic Irvine, the largest planned community in the world. In LA we’d see bars on windows, bums in the streets, and incredible diversity everywhere versus the pristine lilly white experience I had growing up...so I’d say the music was a big influence as well, and that rebellious attitude ended up in the artwork.
Raditude Past and Future
Word is that there’s a Radical Rick collection in the works. Care to comment?
DF: Yes! And maybe I can even wrap this topic up by saying how thankful I am that there’s a hunger out there for a… compendium of all the Radical Rick episodes in one place.
It’s an actual book, right?
DF: Yep. It’s going to be tactile, where you can feel the pages. You know, just like when you were a kid and you were leafing through the bike magazines.
Who gets a shout for helping out with that project?
DF: Simon Cahill and Warren Earls helped me find the episodes. Those guys… I couldn’t have done this collection without their massive collection of all things BMX published…
“I’m surprised how many times over the years, that little character, that little dude, my little buddy… helped me. And I never expected to get anything more out of it than to tell a story about this kid and his BMX world.”
….and they went the extra yard. Anything I was missing, they tracked down the episodes and sent them to me overseas.
DF: So those guys get a huge shout out… And I should also give thanks to those who are making written contributions to the book by just sharing their memories. Guys like Matt Hofman, Greg Hill, and Bob Haro.
Some of your heroes.
DF: Yeah, they’re all classic BMXers. Important guys in the industry.
Can you elaborate on the role Radical Rick played in your own life journey? For starters, he helped you hone your craft.
DF: Well, here’s what I would say… I was spending my evenings, and weekends, and the cracks of time between my family and my work life doing Radical Rick… and for a while I thought it was something that had no relationship to my day-to-day job as an advertising and an entertainment guy. But I can’t tell you how many times I was able to make a connection, or cross a bridge, or sell a big idea… because someone was a fan of Radical Rick... you know, either they had memories of Radical Rick, or when I pulled out an example of what I thought was this unimportant, nonconsequential thing I did on the side… even people outside of BMX dug it. I was blown away they could appreciate it.
He became your calling card.
DF: Yeah, I’m surprised how many times over the years, that little character, that little dude, my little buddy… helped me. And I never expected to get anything more out of it than to tell a story about this kid and his BMX world.
So the Radster opened doors for you.
DF: You have no idea. I remember going from a little agency to an interview at Ogilvy and Mather, you know, this hoity-toity advertising agency, and I showed them traditional print advertising I’d done for little companies, sunglasses, bike components, and whatever other little products we were doing ads for. They were okay with that stuff in my portfolio, but they said ‘what we really need is someone who can draw.’
… And thankfully, in the back of my portfolio, I happened to have a laminated version of Radical Rick, when I introduced the Attackilac… and suddenly their eyes just lit up. And they called in the executive Creative Director, I remembered him taking my laminated drawing and running down the hallways saying ‘zoom! Look at this, boys!’ They were working on the Mattel Hot Wheels account, and in that little two page episode they saw I could tell a story, they saw the layout and design, and they saw this rad character with a cool rig…. so If I hadn’t had that comic strip with me then, I wouldn't have had that job. It’s a God thing, right? I somehow happened to have a wacky Radical Rick comic in the back of my serious portfolio… and that really launched my whole career in advertising.
DF: So I’m thankful for all the opportunities outside the BMX community that Radical Rick has given me. Another one is when Marvel reached out to me. It was the early days when animated cartoons were just exploding. I remember meeting with the Marvel executives… and when they found out that I wasn’t just an advertising guy, but that I was doing an ongoing comic strip, they thought ‘Ohhh… comics. We understand that!’ I don’t know if I would have ever gotten that Marvel job as head of development without Radical Rick.
All from drawing on the kitchen table after work…
DF: Yeah, pretty rad, huh?
What are you thankful for?
What do you think? What’s lurking in the shadows of your own day to day that deserves #radditude?
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