Fart jokes and football. South Park meets John Madden. However you want to describe it, John Tayman has created a world high school dreams are made of – and people can’t get enough of it. Welcome to Bang Cartoons. What started out as an amusing hobby that was forced upon friends and family has quickly turned into one of the biggest hits on Al Gore’s Internet. Get to know him now, before he becomes too famous for the little people.
Tell me a little bit about yourself. How did you get into animation, how did Bang Cartoons come about?
Basically I’m a web developer by trade, and I learned how to do simple animation in conjunction with that. More importantly, I’m a born smartass and goofy things just kind of pop into my head. The Bang Cartoons kind of grew out of the fact that I love the NFL, plus this wise-ass streak in me, and I had the tools to do animation with. It started out with a couple jokes here and there, and by the time I began releasing some of them people started to pick up on them and it exploded before I knew what happened.
For those who have never seen one of your cartoons, tell them what Bang Cartoons are all about.
They’re really not about anything – except maybe the fact that people take sports way too seriously. So I try to lampoon them a little bit. I love the NFL – people might think that I don’t by the way I go after it – and I love sports, but I think this country takes sports too seriously. People base their whole human existence on whether their team wins or losses.
With some of these athletes – we put them up on pedestals, and make them all out to look like heroes, and things like that, when the fact is that they’re people just like you and me. I started to do the cartoons for fun, with little jokes here and there that I would pick up from watching the games on Sundays. But now it’s grown to the point where people are expecting me to make social commentaries with my 14-year-old fart jokes. It doesn’t quite work like that.
Is it just you putting the cartoons together each week, or do you have help?
As far as the cartoons go, I do 99 percent of it. I create the script. I come up with the ideas. I come up with the characters. I draw them. I animate them, and I do all of the voices. I have a guy named Tom that does the sound for me – if I need a song that I recorded cleaned up, he does that and makes it sound better. Plus, we do the Bang Cartoons Radio Hour going on right now. The podcast is going strong, and that’s his area of expertise. The cartoon is me, the podcast is Tom, and that’s pretty much how we get it done.
How many cartoons would you guess you’ve created, and how long does the process typically take to start with an idea all the way to the finished product?
I’ve done around 75 of them. Typically, each one takes about three days. Sometimes it’ll take a little bit longer if it’s a little heavier idea. Plus, I’ve got clients that I have to keep happy, so sometimes I have to stop working on a cartoon to take care of other stuff. If I was really pressed, I can do a cartoon in about 24 hours. The last two – “At the Half” and “Family Feud,” I knocked out in a day. We work fast. We prefer to work fast, because news changes pretty quickly.
Anyone who has ever seen one of your cartoons or listened to the podcast can tell you guys are big fans of the NFL. What is it about the league that drew you in?
In my household growing up, Sundays were reserved for the Redskins, and that was the end of that. [Editor’s note: This is the only acceptable answer.] So the Redskins and football in general, have always been a part of my life.
I don’t think, in terms of sports, that there’s anything more exciting out there than the NFL. And there’s so many soap opera type issue that go on in the background that I can make fun of. What you get on Sundays is probably one of the most exciting days that you can get.
When did the Bang Cartoons start to take off?
Bang cartoon's Poston brothers and Kellen Winslow
I put the first one out in September of 2003. It was called “Danny and the Jets,” and it was about (Washington Redskins owner) Dan Snyder raiding the New York Jets ‘chicken coup’ for all those players that he got back in ’03. About two or three cartoons after that I started to get some attention, and then three or four months down the road I did “Going Poston,” and that one really took off. That one got picked up by all sorts of major media, really got publicized, and I got some notoriety for it. I even managed to get called some nasty names for it – but it’s all good.
When did you start to think you were on to something?
I think it was right around the third cartoon I put out - it was called “Wonder Armor.” I made fun of the “We must protect this house” underwear ad, and people really picked up on that one. After that one, I did one called “When Jamal Calls.” I don’t know if you remember, but when (Baltimore Ravens running back) Jamal Lewis called the Cleveland Browns defenders up on the phone the night before the game and told them he was going to break the single-game rushing record, and then did it the next day.
That one got picked up and played on a couple websites, and got some attention from some radio stations I didn’t know where watching. That’s when I realized people were actually looking at these things. It’s more than just the few people I know about.
Which cartoon is your all-time favorite?
Probably “Justice Guys II.” I can’t say actual names because I don’t want to get sued, the Cleveland Steamer, who was the Browns quarterback at the time, caught a nuclear missile with a part of his body that missiles aren’t supposed to be touching. His super-secret hamster that was stuck up there defused the bomb, and they saved the world.
I like the Justice Guys series – most people do too. I take NFL characters and turn them into super heroes.
Along those same lines, who are your favorite characters?
The Postons are my favorites, because they’re so damned belligerent. I also like to do Bill Cowher. You really don’t have to do a very good impression – you just kind of make him sound like Sylvester the Cat and slobber over everything.
Sometimes NFL guys are begging me to work them into cartoons – not literally, but when Kellen Winslow gets on a motorcycle and wrecks it in a parking lot during the offseason, that’s practically begging me to make fun of him.
Do you ever hear feedback from the guys you’ve parodied?
Absolutely. Kellen Winslow, as a matter of fact. The first Poston brothers cartoon, when they went to do the negotiations for his contract, got a lot of press. They actually showed it to the Poston brothers on ESPN’s Outside the Lines while they were on camera. That was fun to watch. There were also several news articles in which it was referenced by Winslow himself. He saw it, and said it was funny. Terrell Owens has mentioned my cartoons on his personal website in the past – specifically the one from last year called “Blue Christmas.” He mentioned that one and enjoyed it. I’ve even got letters from players in the league and their associates – for the most part everyone enjoys them. Which is cool, because I don’t really want them coming after me.
One of the other regulars on your cartoons is John Madden. What is it about Madden that makes you love him so?
How can you go wrong with John Madden? He provides solid material every week. You don’t even have to manipulate what he says. I don’t think he’s as stupid as people make him out to be. I think he’s honestly much smarter than he appears on television. I think they dumb down his football knowledge because they want to attract as many people each week as possible. Sometimes he sounds dumb because he’s trying not to talk over people’s heads. That’s when he says something like, “When you’re talking about a Mike Shanahan offense, you’re talking about a Mike Shanahan offense.”
You mentioned the Bang Cartoons Radio Hour podcast earlier. How did that come about, and what makes you and Tom qualified to talk about the NFL anyway?
Bang cartoon's John Madden
Between the two of us, we’ve watched about 70 years worth of every NFL game we could. I’ve never played in the NFL, and neither has Tom, but I don’t think that makes a difference. Chris Berman has never played in the NFL, and neither has James Brown. I guarantee I know more about football than him. Go ahead and put that on there.
Tom is a Dallas Cowboy fan, and you’re a Washington Redskins fan. How in the world do you two get along? George Allen would never have allowed this friendship to happen.
Well it’s a good thing he’s dead, isn’t it? We understand that our favorite team losing is not the end of the world. That’s kind of the point – people take sports way too seriously. I read about podcasts this past summer, and it’s still relatively new to everyone. It must be, because people still ask me “what in the hell is a podcast?” Basically, it’s just an audio file that’s out there on the web that you can listen to.
Tom is in radio - he’s got a trained voice. I would like to one day be in radio. I think that is probably where all this is headed. When we get together, we love talking about the NFL. We try to avoid being an analysis show. You asked why are we qualified – we’re not qualified. But that doesn’t make any difference. We can still talk about it. We’re just like every other Tom, Dick and Harry standing around the water cooler.
We can only animate one humorous idea a week. So there used to be a lot of jokes that went by the wayside. The podcast is a way to bring in some of those other jokes or characters.
Do you think that’s the appeal to your podcast – that you two sound like a couple of buddies sitting around talking about football?
I think that’s part of the appeal, and that’s definitely how we want the podcast to come across. We don’t want to come across as overly authoritative – we don’t know any more than you. We’re watching the same TV show that everyone else is. We just try to make it sound like we’re a couple guys sitting around the TV, drinking beer and making fun of what John Madden just said or whatever we find funny. We’re trying to recreate that atmosphere.
And with that, John was off to plot the next great move for the Bang Cartoons Empire. It started with a cartoon, then the podcast and now he’s making T-shirts, DVDs and pulling in three million hits a month on the Bang Cartoons website. Who said being a smartass doesn’t pay?
[Disclaimer - we, here at HoboTrashcan.com have no idea what Bronco Billy is talking about when he says he listens to something on our website. For all we know, he's listening to the Muppets take Manhatten soundtrack while surfing our Hobo Hollywood updates. But it doesn't matter - we love him anyway.]
Written by Brian Murphy, November 2005. To see what the hype is all about, visit the Bang Cartoons website.