If you've never seen Kyle Platts' work before, I feel truly for you. Kyle draws complicated death-rods, grotesquely mutilated hamsters and shockingly revealing portraits of Adele, then puts them all in comics together. Oh, and zits – he’s great at drawing zits. One of his comic book secrets (that I probably shouldn't be divulging) is to take an everyday theme and set it in space.
All things considered, he’s quite a strange guy. But as an illustrator myself, I can confidently state that Megaskull, Kyle’s debut book for the Nobrow gallery, contains some of the best cartoons ever of all time. Another fun fact: he also recently got really healthy, which is great because that means he’ll live longer and create more stuff for us to gawp at. And if you want to gawp at any of that stuff IRL, some of his work is currently being shown at the VICE illustration exhibition.
Kyle’s work has recently become more computerised, but that shouldn't worry any diehard fans of the disgusting – the zits and pubes are still hanging around, they're just tidied up, smoothened out and coloured more uniformly. I spoke to Kyle about all of that stuff, as well as one of my favourite characters of his, Dicknose Van Boobenchin.
Dicknose Van Boobenchin.
VICE: Hey Kyle, can you explain Dicknose Van Boobenchin to everybody? He was a seminal creation.
Kyle Platts: First of all, this character only exists in a few comics I did at college. Even though he's been met with a positive response from those who have seen him, I didn’t think he was accessible enough a character to place in Megaskull. To describe his appearance, I'd say that he consistently has Tudor-esque hair, but always wears a hat of some sort. He has a broken dick for a nose and huge bosoms for a chin.
He was one of my favourite characters. Is there any chance he'll come back for one last show?
Actually, yeah, I'd like to make him a regular character, but I need to find the appropriate narrative to introduce him. Maybe he'll infiltrate al-Qaeda sleeper cells, or maybe he'll jump 17 school buses on a Turbo Segway. I might save him for a comic that has a macabre tone and needs the life-affirming zest of a giant pair of tits wearing a Tudor wig, wheezing through a broken dick nose.
One of my favourite comics you’ve ever done was “Insane Hamster Deaths”, where various hamsters died in various insane ways. What inspired that one?
I only ever had one hamster when I was young, and one morning I found him floating in a bucket of water, dead. I deduced that in the night he had broken out of his cage, run along the kitchen worktop and fallen into the mop bucket. Around the house, the feeling was that it was a freak accident, but some said suicide. Later in life, I found that many of my friend’s hamsters had also died in amusing circumstances, so I collated them all and put them in the book. All the "Insane Hamster Deaths" scenarios are based on true events.
Do you think it's only pet hamsters that die in weird ways?
I think it’s only hamsters, yeah. Unlike a hamster, no one would put a cat in a freezer to cool it down on a hot day, to then find it frozen and put it in a microwave to revive it, only for it to explode.
Yeah, good point. I never had any pets and now I’m glad. What have you been working on since you finished Megaskull?
Editorial briefs, mostly. I had my illustrated biographies column in Computer Arts, which ran for a good while.
The T-shirt you did for 1ina100 was nuts – why did you want to print the graphic on the inside of the shirt?
Well, that decision was reached after a long creative process, but if I had the chance to do it again I'd just print the fucker on the outside.
How often are you asked to change something by the people who commissioned you?
I got asked to change a magazine cover once because a character’s chin looked like huge hairy balls, which isn't always appropriate.
True. Your work has been changing a fair bit recently, can you explain why that is?
I took a trip to Berlin last year and I was really inspired by the graphic style of work people were doing there. I became interested in the idea of setting certain restraints and rules within the composition to give it more of a uniformity. Also, I found that a graphic style lends itself well to humour.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently working on another project with Nobrow, and I can’t really say any more about that at the moment. Alongside that, there are a couple of other things. I had some work in the Pick Me Up illustration show, and there's a great new skate company called Blast, which is going to launch this year. It’s going to be super well art directed and there are some illustration heavyweights involved with it. I was asked by them to create comics that are to be given away with each board. I'm stoked on that project.
That sounds great. Thanks, Kyle!
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