Tromen and Tromettes, we are thrilled to share with you the TROMEMOIR OF BRIAN MYERS, aka TROMABOY, long time Troma collaborator who is currently working on the Poultrygeist Comic!
Guaranteed: you will laugh, you will cry, you will be TROMATIZED. Brian is not only a talented Comic Book artist, but as we learned here, he is a FABULOUS writer! Now enjoy…
THE BRIAN MYERS TROMEMORY
My Tromemoir starts in 1990 when I was but a mere lad of 14. Two big things happened that year, I met my best friend Mike and I discovered Troma.
I was not what you would call a popular fellow, in fact, from entering Junior High till the day I left I was the but of a consistant stream of ridicule and abuse for 7 hours a day 180 days a year. Yet somehow in my 8th grade year the popular folks decided that they needed to get me together with Mike, it was odd really, we both had varying stinks, and neither one of us had an once of cool. It was like they were hoping our artistic abilities would cancel out the negative, as if it was a weird science experiment. Of course once we got together my penchant for gore and violence and Mike’s for pornography and rap music didn’t make either one of us any cooler to anybody. Mike and I would later refelct on this time as the “Stink Buddies” phase of our lives.
It was during this time that I discovered Troma, it was in shop class, where a few classmates and I had a bet as to who could watch the most horror films in a single school year, (which I lost by one because I simply didn’t believe at that time that there was a film called Nail Gun Massacre). It was on a weekend trip to the Couch Club (where they did 5 movies for 5 days for 5 bucks before they were driven out of business by blockbuster moving within a block of all the mom and pop video rental shops in town) that I discovered THE TOXIC AVENGER.
Now up untill that time Horror films to me were standard blood gore afairs, that while overall silly in premise, took themselves somwhat seriously. I had never seen anything that mixed the blood and gore of a horror film with slapstick comedy, social commentary, plenty of boobs, and most of all just an overall sense of fun. To this 14 year old boy it was like giving a fat guy a mountain of smiley-pies. Here you had a story of a nerdy guy who was picked on, abused, and generally tormented, turning into the hero, sticking it to the bullies all the while saving the day, cleaning up the city of Tromaville and getting the girl, it was just what I needed to see at that time.
I began to seek out anything that had the names Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz on it. Class of Nuke Em High, Troma’s War, Mother’s Day, Squeeze Play, When Nature Calls, Redneck Zombies, if it said Troma I had it in hand for the weekend. Lloyd Kaufman quickly supplanted prior favorites in the world of film, goodbye Speilberg, Lucas, Craven and Carpenter, it was all about Uncle Lloydie. It began to influence my writing, the straight negativity and violence was being infused with comedy, sex, and an overall irreverance. Shortly after my discovery of Troma I discovered Frank Zappa and that kicked it all into overdrive. The work Mike and I would make would be very irreverant but personal to our shared point of view, although at that time we didn’t have the social commentary part down quite yet, that would come some years later.
As with many favorite things they fall by the way side. During the late nineties, we did less creating and more running around just pulling shenanigans and waisting time as young adults often do. So around the time Tromeo came out I wasn’t watching many films, and so I had fallen out of the loop with Troma.
In 1998 Mike moved to Spokane to live with his then girlfriend while she went to college and I stayed behind. However when things went south for them, Mike and I decided I would move over to Spokane where we could get a place together and work on projects together. It was right when DVD’s were really starting to hit the market, I had picked up my first DVD player and shortly after was wondering around a Borders when I saw The Toxic Avenger on DVD. I immediately purchased it and ran home and watched it, it was as if I was watching it for the first time, and I loved it just as much. Soon after I grabbed DVD’s of War, Class of Nuke Em High, and Tromeo and Juliet. I hadn’t seen Tromeo at that time and it was the best Troma film yet. Little did I know in a short ammount of time Mike and I would become part of the Troma Team.
It wasn’t long after I had moved to Spokane in Feb of 2000 that Mike and I did our first real animation entitled “M.C. Tons of Fun”. This was back when Flash was first getting started as tool to do character animation, there were only really two other people that were doing it full time, Joe Cartoon and Camp Chaos, and then Newgrounds where Tom Fulp effectively designed and built the proto-youtube. I was looking for work and had found a local gig working at a mall art gallery. As I continued looking for something better, I happened upon a listing for a graphic designer position for Troma. I emailed Lloyd directly and got a response that while the position had been filled they were looking for someone to do web cartoons for them. I went to Mike and asked if he felt it was something that we could do, we both agreed and sent along Tons of Fun as a sampling. Lloyd loved it and wanted us to get started as resident Flash Bitches for Troma.com.
Our first cartoon starred Sammy Capulet and was called “Random Acts of Violence” all it was was a hipster type talking about how happy he was daddy was paying for law school and then Sammy pops up from behind his seat hit’s him with his sock and begins to dissenbowel him. Lloyd liked it but didn’t want us to call Sammy, Sammy, he instead wanted us to change it to something with Troma in the name, and TROMABOY WAS BORN. The title of “Random Acts of Violence” was dropped and the cartoons became Tromaboy and whatever the title of the episode would be for the week. We then branched into two more series The Balls which followed the Penis Monster family, and Penis Monster Historical Society. From 2000 to 2001 we did over 60 animated shorts, written, drawn, voiced and animated by Mike and myself, with occasional help from our friend Jeff (who is featured in the cartoons as Tromaboy’s buddy). During that time we also did a major facelift to Troma.com and designed ToxicAvenger.com.
In January of 2001 we went with the Troma Team to Tromadance in Park City. This was the year that Doug got arrested and will always be a highlight of my life running around main street, causing a ruckuss and meeting a lot of really good and creative people. I have friends from this time that I still talk with to this day, Ramzi Abed, Doug Sakmann, Dan Martin, Dave Yarovesky, just to rattle off a few.
Between 2001 when our time as Troma’s Flash Bitches came to an end and 2006 not much happened. Mike and I had parted ways, as most people who’ve spent most time with each other for that long tend to butt heads and need that time apart. I went down to California to be with my then girlfriend (now wife) where I did some odd projects here and there. But I always made it a point to keep in touch with Lloyd, we’d stop and say hi at the San Diego Comic-Con booth, and I would do odd little jobs here and there, I edited the “Where in the World is Toxie” video for Peru and several times tried to get some ideas for Troma cartoons but never felt quite right.
In 2006 I had moved back to Seattle, and began hanging out with Mike again. It was during that time that we began discussing doing animation again. It was only natural that the talk turned to Troma. We wanted to do two things, one, go in and revamp some of the old cartoons adding in backgrounds and fixing errors in the animation itself, giving it a George Lucas if you will, and then go into new ideas and projects.
It was in these discussions our first new idea for a Troma cartoon emerged. We were discussing doing something in the background for our Ted Bundy Penismonster reinactment. We had settled on having the viewing room in the background, and the idea hit to have an animation of Lloyd walk in with a bucket of popcorn, a soda, plop into the chair begin munching. We thought it’d be funny to extend the cartoon a bit by having the execution delayed and having Penismonster Ted commenting on the delay.
In 2007 I got an ominous phone call from Mike, he was asking me some odd questions about a hernia I had had several years ago, but what he described wasn’t a hernia. I told him he needed to go to the doctor, and it was shortly there after that our worst fears were realized, Mike had Cancer. Mike went thoough 2 years of Cancer treatments from Chemo to Stem Cell Transplants, ultimately it would proove all for not, the treatments caused severe damage to his lungs and eventually on Feb 12 2009 Mike passed away.
Mike had been my friend and creative partner for nearly 20 years, it was as if someone had cut my drawing arm off. Over Mike’s illness I hadn’t really talked to Lloyd much, but towards the end I made a call to Lloyd to let him know what was going on, Lloyd sent Mike a care package with a nice letter and a copy of Poultrygeist. Mike never got to tell Lloyd himself how much he enjoyed Poultrygeist, it was the last Troma film he would ever see.
During the time of Mike’s Illness we came up with loads of ideas, both for Troma cartoons and our own personal stuff. Maybe one day I’ll get them done.
After Mike died I really didn’t know what to do with myself creatively, part of me thought about hanging it all up. It was then that Lloyd came to town for a convention, I was a new Dad and went to the convention to spend some time with Lloyd and help out at the booth.
We talked about a lot of things, but one thing we discussed was doing a comic book of Poultrygeist. I had been drawing my usual offensive fair of dead celebrities but it was a drawing of David Carradine that sparked Lloyd’s interest.
“Maybe we could do a Poultrygeist comic and work in the dead celebrities?” Lloyd asked, it was certainly something that peeked my interest. So that day myself and long time Troma Teammate Shane Swenson took to coming up with what the story would be. We bounced ideas and scripting back and forth for sometime, the project stagnated for awhile and then the unfathomable happened.
March of 2011 I got word that Shane had been killed in a car crash in Florida. It was a shock to the system, I couldn’t believe for the second time in as little time I had lost someone else I worked closely with creatively and while I didn’t know Shane as long as I had known Mike, it was extreamly hard to work after that. I had to rethink everything.
A few months later I had a phone call with Lloyd, we discussed the project, where it was, where it was going, and the fact that we were trying to rush to get something out by San Diego Comic-con a month away. We decided it best to take our time and give it the time and care it deserves. In that time I’ve added a whole new 25 page prologue, and am now moving into a whole new twist and take on the story that Shane and I formulated so long ago, it is better for it and is shaping up to be something truly special.
I will always continue to do projects with Lloyd, and the Troma asthetic will always be a primary influence on my work. Whenever I create I always have one of Lloyd’s favorite quotes in my head “To thine own self be true”. I couldn’t ask for a better mentor or friend than Lloyd Kaufman.