Tim Goodyear is a comic artist, whose current major project is illustrating VHS box covers and collecting them in the multiple volumes of his zine, Video Tonfa. He is one of the founders and former proprietors of the movie/book store The Bad Apple, which closed at the end of summer 2012 after 3 1/2 years.
When did you start doing the VHS box covers? What is your fascination with that movie format?
I believe it’s been about four years now. At first it was an extension of my daily habits, which I was try’n to find a way of compressing. Shea and I were watching a lot of videos and I was sort of hitting a wall with my sketchbook so I turned it in to a diary of the videos we were watching. I love movies in all formats but VHS specifically has a lot of significance for culture and history. It brought the back catalogues of film history to folks’ fingertips where before it had to be caught on TV or collected on celluloid. It also let a lot of small-scale movies get wide distro, which had been controlled pretty tightly before. Similar to when the mass market paperback came into prominence, offering a lot of books to people who would otherwise not have known of or found easily. Plus, Shea has a collection of horror VHS that was very inspiring to me, partly because of the amazing art a lot of them have on their boxes. Now that I’ve done it for a while its interesting to see the small period of time that VHS existed, 20ish years as far as common availability goes. Now so many stores and people don’t value them much so I can get movies I love or am curious about for little or nothing. I’m reveling in the wake of technology.
How do you pick the movies you illustrate?
Originally it was every single video I watched, but after a year and a half I had a to do list of forty some odd boxes to catch up on and that was stressing my art and movie watching too much so I let them slide. I still try to keep up as much as possible but if a movie or box is bland and I don’t have much interest in the movie I tend to let it go. I have very little interest in ragging on movies so I tend to avoid “watering the weeds” with my art. I don’t enjoy art criticism and I don’t want to be a movie critic. I enjoy talking and thinking about movies, many movie descriptions are no help and often total bullshit advertising, my goal is honesty, though I do try to describe the movie accurately without ruining it.
How did your working relationship with Sean Aaberg and PORK magazine come about? Did he approach you about publishing the VHS covers as a column?
I had seen and own a few minis Sean had done, but never known him. Then I saw his piece in Papercutter #1 and looked him up. I invited him into a book, which is still not done, but he finished a beautiful piece, which is perfect. We had some mild Internet friendship. We both are huge fans of Bobby Madness and Sean asked me to help get Bobby’s work for PORK. After the first issue Sean and I were talking and he said he was looking to fill it out a bit more and I offered my Tonfas, I sent him a bunch and he picked 4 so that became my contribution. It’s really great to be a part of the PORK family, very inspiring.
I want to get you to talk about the Bad Apple store a little, but it’s hard to narrow down a question. I find myself looking out the window when I’m driving down the street and thinking, “we should re-open the Bad Apple there!” when I see an empty little storefront. What kinds of thoughts and memories can you share about those years?
Oh man, I go past the old storefront daily and it still stings a bit. Now it’s called “Fat Yoga” which is really cool to see it stay a positive place for folks in the neighborhood. Some times Shelley asks to go to the Bad Apple which blows me away, but I had her in there every weekend for years so its a big part of her life so far. When Dylan asked me to partner with him on a store it was something we both wanted to love and not have add stress to our lives. We avoided doing comics so we wound up focusing on movies and books. Dylan and I did the murals together there and that was the hardest part of losing the space for me. I think that’s the only art we collaborated on outside of publishing.
Also, you managed to get a lot of drawing done at Bad Apple - do you usually finish a lot of stuff at work?
The bad apple was my studio essentially; I got most of my art and book building done there. Without it I’m way less productive unfortunately. I can’t get shit for art done at my paying jobs.
Have the Bad Apple-style Monday night art nights resumed anywhere?
Nope, finding a place where we can be jackasses without bothering anyone is tough. I don’t like drawing in public. If we had to buy beers over and over again it would be too much of a drag.
You are co-publishing a comic yet again for Free Comic Book Day 2013, is this issue #6 that are now involved in? What or who got you started in co-publishing this originally?
It is the 6th one, what a treat, probably one of my fav projects. There’s nothing more depressing than try’n to get folks to pay for something you love. It feels fantastic to erase the commercial element from comix. Dylan was the spearhead, we were complaining to each other about how weak Free Comic Book Day was, at the time it was more like free catalogue day or half of a new mainstream comic day. So bad. It’s meant to draw in curious folks who feel unsure of what to read but it was just a load of garbage. Dylan and I had done a free comic for our friends’ store once so this seemed like a do-able thing. He brought in Tugboat Press too and that’s how it started.
Does working in two comics shops inspire you to do more work of your own, or does it ever get to be too much sometimes?
That’s hard for me to put my finger on. Long ago werkin at a comixshop kinda sapped my mind for comix out side of the store, but for the past 11 or 12 years it hasn’t been that way for me anymore. It does have a great deal of influence on me and what I tend to go towards but I can’t see it clearly in the moment, I have to trust myself to be honest with the art despite being blind to the source of my inspiration. That being said I am trying to aim myself in specific directions to match my interests. Too much? No.
How does your workday at Floating World differ from Cosmic Monkey?
Mainly in the customers. At the core most of them are getting similar comix but the personality types are fairly different. There’s more food choices downtown but it’s harder to get out to them because there’s more lookie-loo tourists and homeless there. The biggest obstacle for me is not to say the wrong store name when I answer the phone. I love them both. Out of my 3 fav shops in Portland I get to werk at two of them, that’s a true blessing.
Is there a book that you would want turned into a movie whose imaginary VHS box cover you would immortalize?
I spend a lot of time imagining unmade movies and comix, but I’ve recognized in myself a tendency to dislike movies that come from source material that I’m familiar with. I think The Concrete Island could be a great movie. As far as video boxes I’d like to make I think most would be enjoyable for me, the typical video box is so cookie cutter that I’m sure I’d come off as a pain in the ass to the studio or who ever runs that stuff. My art tends to fit the tastes of more musically minded people, which is strange to me because music is a full on mystery to me. There are movies that have never been released for whatever reasons and I think I’d like to do boxes for those, like Jeepers Creepers. At this point in time it seems like the advertising art for movies is in flux, with movies being run to our homes digitally. We have a Roku and the art on that is just tiny movie posters. Who knows what strange crap will grow out of this development in movie history. I would hope that the amortization of a movie would not be left in my hands.
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