Richard Sirgiovanni: Cartoonist and Creator of The Grimps
Jessica Gilbert: Richard, I’m delighted to have you in TSM, and thank you for doing an interview for the magazine.
Richard Sirgiovanni: It’s really all my pleasure. Thanks for the opportunity to tell you about myself and The Grimps.
Jessica Gilbert: What inspired you to get into cartooning? Tell us a little bit about your background as a cartoonist.
Richard Sirgiovanni: All kids draw at an early age, but I remember when I was ten I fell in love with drawing, especially cartoons. It was a little after my mother had passed, and I think I needed an escape and fell heavily into this magical world of imagination and cartoons. I was a big comic book reader and began drawing and copying my favorite super heroes. I went on to starting to create my own characters at an early age and started creating my own comic strips. I continued through grammar and high school as the cartoonist for the school newspaper. In my teens I started having my own comic strips published in local newspapers. I went on to college at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan and studied cartooning with Harvey Kurtzman who is the creator of Mad Magazine. From there I have continued freelancing in newspapers, book covers and advertisements.
Richard Sirgiovanni: I am also a musician, drummer, and three years ago I was getting out a musical project that did not work out very well. I was in need of a new creative project. I knew I wanted to do something for kids, but wanted to combine my two passions which is cartooning and rock n roll music, but didn’t want to do just a cartoon about a rock n roll band. So, I started developing the thought about making the story something magical and fun for kids. I came up with the idea about these minstrels that lived 500 years ago. They were wonderful musicians and local celebrities. The evil wizard (Spectar) was jealous of them and cursed and banished them for eternity in the Forest of Dingle. Until 500 years later ,their friend and wizard, who was also cursed named magic Alex finds a reverse spell that turns them back to humans. But only from sunset to sunrise. So now they can resurface as this pop rock group called The Grimps. The other part of the inspiration was to be able to present The Grimps to the public as a legitimate rock n roll band by creating original music. The similar concept that was used in the 1960’s with The Monkees TV show.
Jessica Gilbert: How did you go about creating the characters on the show? And how long did it take you to create The Grimps?
Richard Sirgiovanni: When I started thinking of the main characters as rock n roll musicians I wanted to make subtle references to my heroes in rock n roll history. Being a tremendous Beatles fan, I started to design them somewhat and create their personalities from The Beatles and others in Rock history. I also wanted to use names that referred to these people. Winston- John lennon’s middle name, MAC-short for Paul McCartney, Monnie – Keith Moon of The Who , Emerson- Keith Emerson of ELP and on and on. The kids won’t get it , but it doesn’t matter, as the grandparents will.The initial idea for The Grimps came pretty quickly, but the fine tuning and evolution of the show’s idea and character’s took about six months to sort out until I was happy with it.
Jessica Gilbert: Who are some of your favorite cartoonists?
Richard Sirgiovanni: Too many to mention, but here’s a short list. Walt Disney, Harvey Kurtzman, Charles Schultz, Stan lee, Will Eisner, Neil Adams, Bill Watterson, Bob Kane and R.Crumb.
Jessica Gilbert: I know you’re also a musician. What is your musical background?
Richard Sirgiovanni: I started playing drums and singing at fourteen. Like most, I played in bands as a teen at high school dances and parties. Later I was in a original band playing in the NYC club circuit. At one point, we were playing the circuit that Cyndi Lauper, Madonna and Bon Jovi were as they were all coming up.
Richard Sirgiovanni: I have several other ideas ready to go and be developed, but my focus now is only on The Grimps. After I get it going I will look into new ideas.
Jessica Gilbert: If you had the power to do something in the world today, what would it be and why?
Richard Sirgiovanni: I would love to be able to be the difference in someone’s life, and help bring a smile to their face, and make them feel good. I hope that my work with The Grimps, both with the stories that promote positive messages and happy music, will make people feel good and have an escape from the pressures of life even if it’s for a few minutes. I like the idea that my work may make a difference in someone’s day and make them smile. I think that’s what it’s all about. Recently, I had the pleasure to meet Paul McCartney; I always thought about what it would be like, or what I would say to my music idol if I ever met him? So, here was my chance, and all I said was “Thanks for the music, it made a difference in my life.” With all his fame and celebrity, it comes down that he is a guy whose work touched people and made them feel good…that’s what I would like to do.
Richard Sirgiovanni: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” – John Lennon
Jessica Gilbert: Anything else you’d like to share? And where can our readers find out more about you and your work?
Richard Sirgiovanni: Facebook: The Grimps musician/band
Official web site: www.thegrimps.com
Jessica Gilbert: Thanks again for doing an interview for TSM and all the best with all you do in the future. Hope to get a chance to see The Grimps, but being in Spain I may not be able to do so.
Richard Sirgiovanni: Thank you Jessica for the opportunity. You will certainly be able to see The Grimps in Spain as I believe the show will be accepted international….Cheers !