[Each week, Complex columnist Percy Carey a.k.a. MF Grimm dives into the world of comic books with industry interviews, reviews and more. All MF Grimm music can now be purchased on Itunes]
What's up Complex readers? Today I have the honor of introducing extended family named The Madtwiinz. The Madtwiinz are incredible animators who haveÂ mastered the ability to combine hip-hop music and animation and bring it to life the way it should be.
To me, they're Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks for the hip-hop generation and deserve the respect and support of the Complex readers. The comic book and animation world who knows about them will tell you it's only a matter of time before the Madtwiinz take over the industry. Well, the time is now. EnjoyÂ the interview...
Percy Carey: Please tell the readers your names, where you're from, and when you knew you wanted to be in both comics and animation.
Mike: Mark Davis and Mike Davis or Madtwiinz. We are from Boston area—Cambridge. The "port," to be specific. We lived out in ATL for five and six years respectively and moved out to L.A. around 2000.
Mark: Our career just naturally evolved into for us. We were always bouncing stories and characters back and forth to each other, since we were both in the womb.
Mike: It was never really like, "Yo, i want to do comics and animation." I just knew that I liked the idea of being able to create stories and images that people could relate to. Stories and characters that me and dudes around my way could look at and be like "I feel that," that was the most important part. To capture the detail and nuances from the culture we was raised in.
Percy Carey: Are you both illustrators?
Mike: Yea we are both illustrators. Mark is the creator of the Blokhedz style though. For the comic, he illustrated most of the panels and I was responsible for the color and all the other aspects like the slang glossary and the look of the inspiration pages.
Percy Carey: Name four of your favorite animations that Complex.com readers should watch?
1.Â Â Â Ninja Scroll (of course)
2.Â Â Â Akira
3.Â Â Â Toppa Tengen Gurren Lagan
4.Â Â Â Samurai champloo
Mike: Thats a tough question, always difficult to narrow favorites down. The joints that i think are timeless are, and in no specific order:
1. Ninja Scroll
2. Princess Mononoke
4. Spirited Away
Percy Carey: Favorite animated televison show?
Mark: Naruto is probably my favorite. The Japanese version though, I can't stand the English dubbed voices.
Mike: Naruto season 1 (Japanese version only!) and Samurai Champloo. Back in the day it was Transformers, GI Joe, Thundercats, Robotech, Voltron, Fat Albert, Tom and Jerry, Galaxy Rangers, Dragon Warrior...I know you said "show," but I can't help it, my dude.
Percy Carey: What's the name of your company?
Mark: Me and Mike are collectively known as the Madtwiinz. The company is Imajimation Studios.
Mike: And Street Legends Ink is the publishing branch.
Percy Carey: What are some of the past projects you have worked on?
Mark: We've freelanced for a few of the major studios out here [L.A.]. Sony, Fox, Disney. We've worked on The Boondocks on down to GI Joe.
Mike: The first job that got us in the game was a promotional piece/album cover we did for the Wu-Tang affiliated group called Killa Army. Did some work for music videos for Toni Braxton, and an R. Kelly animated short for his tour (before all the dramas) and things of that nature, but we always were more passionate about doing our own thing, nah'mean?
Percy Carey: Can you discuss any current projects?
Mike: Current projects as it stands now, we are mostly concentrating on Blokhedz animation, so y'all please check out www.missionG.com and help support the movement. We are talking to a few different companies about various projects and keeping busy.
Mark: Right, our main thing right now is the Blokhedz animated episodes that you shouted out in your interview with Tyrese... so big ups for that. We're also working on a collab project with RZA that should be in stores soon, so stay tuned for that.
Percy Carey: Please tell the readers the name of your comic book and a little about the concept.
Mike: The name of the comic book is called BLOKHEDZ and it is basically about a young aspiring rapper who has the super power of turning his lyrics into reality. Also in this world are all sorts of characters and super natural being who are intertwined in a battle for the mythical Empire City.
Percy Carey: Are you self published?
Mike: We put out our first 4 comics independently and then we caught the eye of a German publisher who compiled the issues into our first graphic novel. That was love, 'cause they flew us out to Germany for their "Comic Salon" and they just had so much appreciation for what dudes was doing. Then after that, we were picked up by Simon and Schuster.
Mark: We've just finished up our contract with Simon and Schuster as of yesterday! So I guess we're self-publishing again. Personally, I think independent is the way to go these days. There are so many outlets to get your work out there, and once you completed the work, then you charge a licensing fees to these publishing companies. [Laughs.]
Percy Carey: Are you focused on toys and collectibles? Video games? And sound track?
Mike: These are all things in the works. The animation is the priority as of now, being that we are a small team we need all hands on deck. But we are still designing toys, we just did a collab with Marka27 for his toy Killa Instinct which came out dope. Check for that at www.marka27.com, dude is talented beyond belief. Big up Marka!
Percy Carey: Are you involved with the marketing of your creations?
Mark: Yeah. We're definitely hands on with the marketing. Being that our studio is so small, a lot of the times we have to wear several different hats.
Mike: Definitely! Being that we are independent, we have to get our hands dirty and just grind the marketing out. It's so important and a tough job to spread the word! I'm sure you know what I mean, dealing with the independence of the music industry. But it's like once we get it into people's hands, the product speaks for itself. So we just hit everywhere we can, schools, barber shops, teen centers, libraries—all that...
Percy Carey: I'm aware you just returned from a trip to Korea. Can you tell us about your trip? And what's your opinion about animation in Korea?
Mike: Aww man, yo, Korea was ill! I loved it out there, man. The animation industry out there is bubbling! There are a lot of really talented artists over there making Korea, Seoul specifically, a global animation hub. Mad shows come out of there. They showed us so much love! They made the impossible happen. We really didn't have enough time in our schedule to pull it off, but eMation really stepped it up for us and held us down. So big up everyone over there at eMation!
Mark: I loved Korea, dude. I'm looking forward to going back. It was a total cultural shock, but they definitely get it poppin' over there. Animation is a whole industry over there, they have specific schools dedicated just to animation.
Percy Carey: Do you see room for improvement in both the comic book and animation industry here in the United States?
Mark: I think we're on point with our comic book game over here in the States. I would like to see more variety in the industry though. I would like to see stories from other perspectives. In animation, I would like to see more of it geared towards adults in the U.S.
Mike: I agree. In any art form there is always room for evolution. Things are always progressing day to day. I think it is an artist's job to reflect what is going on in his/her environment and use the gift to improve upon the conditions we all share. I would like to see more diversity in entertainment also. Not the same old images we have been seeing ever since...
Percy Carey: What's your view about companies like PIXAR? And Dreamworks?
Mike: PIXAR and Dreamworks produce amazing projects. I can't front, their quality and stories are top notch. Brad Bird is Ill. And it don't hurt to have the type of budgets them cats be working with! If we had budgets like that [laughs], yo, we'd be outta here! Blokhedz is just the tip of the iceberg, we got mad more shit that will be hitting the masses.
Mark: They get it in, no doubt. The work they create is amazing. It shows you what's possible with endless amount of time and resources.
Percy Carey: Are there any independent companies that you feel should get more exposure that you would like to bring to the readers' attention?
Mark: Studio 4c do some sick work. They did a movie called Tekkon Kinkreet which is ridiculous. The amount of detail they put into that film is crazy! Production I.G. is ill too.
Percy Carey: What can we expect from you in the future?
Mark: We're going to keep pushing our brand of animation, strive to bring something new to the table, and give another perspective that you are not use to seeing. Definitely look out for the RZA collab late this year early next year. And also keep your eyes peeled for some other high profile projects coming in the near future!
Mike: Definitely got more Blokhedz popping off on missionG.com, we going to continue to build the brand as we have been. As we expand, we will continue to bring y'all more fire from the Madtwiinz. We got much more in store. Check for us at Blokhedz.tv to stay up on what we dealing with...
Percy Carey: How can the complex.com readers get in contact with you?
Mike: Complex readers can check us out on all the social networks like myspace.com/blokhedz or on facebook, twitter and all that. Also, email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Yo, good looking out on the interview, Grimm, it's always a pleasure building with you man. Peace.
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