Hello! Oh hello. A normal start to the conversation? You’d think so. Sat in the evening sun at Somerset House we set up camp. Well not literally. Pencils at the ready and questions in hand we were about to start when a woman in a wedding dress runs out into the water fountains in the courtyard of Somerset House. Laughing hysterically at the camera that follows her we move our attention back to the interview. I’d like to welcome you to the humorous world of comic artist Sajan Rai, who is also known as Childish Butt Vomit.
So explain Childish Butt Vomit?
When I was a clown… no, joking. Back at university my old housemate Dan and I were producing our first magazines, with the files ready at the go and the tick of the clock hand getting closer to 5am, I realised I have no title for this ridiculous cover. Somehow we managed to get to Childish Butt Vomit, which led to fits of laughter for a good 10 minutes. The name has been kept since because it’s just something that stuck!
Clearly the 5am pointer wasn’t something to do with hysterical laughter… Explain how the collective you are a part of, Backwards Burd, came about and where this addictively odd name came from.
Backwards Burd started a student society, which began in my third year, not long after I’d completed my first few comics. I’d teamed up and formed a society at university because we wanted to publish our own and help promote other peoples comics. It seemed logical!
How many people are in Backwards Burd and how old is it turning this year?
There is myself, Dan and Casper who studied at university together. It’s been us three for a while, but the more we do the more friends come on board – especially with the marketing and merchandising malarkey. We’re now coming up to two years old!
You’ve got this far with the collective and you’re doing an amazing job at working as a team, forming your first publication and attending fairs to get your name out there. My ominous voice sets in now… Where do you see this in five years time? (That part was said with quite a lot of drama).
Five years? Fuck! A big name in comics publishing with my own and friends work showing not just in England but also internationally! Of course I want to be rolling in it with a rock star lifestyle on top.
Of course, don’t we all?!
Doing what I’m doing now is making me happy so I want to pass that on! Drawing silly pictures that people can appreciate and like.
What are the pros and cons of being in a collective?
Well let’s say team strengths! I’m good at drawing, when possibly falling down on the basic things in life like making food, being motivated… Sometimes I’m even needed to be carried up the stairs.
Jokes aside, and there were a lot of those.
We’re all helping each other out, which is a pro as people look at us as a group – seeing us as one. In the beginning, for a while at least, finance played a negative role. Being in a business with the two same people and living together can take it’s toll but more importantly it’s got a huge pro to it.
What is the focus behind your work – especially as you describe it as the painfully mundane and disgustingly surreal – it’s unappealingly great. It was actually at this point that the woman in the wedding dress dramatically sits down in the water, waving her hair around. We both hoped she was being paid for that – although she seemed happy!
SO, painfully mundane and disgustingly surreal!
For starters, according to my flat mates, I’m quite awful at explaining my own work. I guess a lot of the time you see work that is quite “surreal”. Dragon’s… pictures of dragons with dicks on their faces…that kind of thing. There’s nothing to relate to. I grew up watching sitcoms like ‘Seinfeld’ and they all deal with the banal things in life. I love that side that you can’t shrug off, and writing about those kinds of things, for example in my comic ‘Petty Beach.’
I was going to say it sounds like this is the main source of your inspiration… Visually who or what would be the inspiration for the spark in your comics?
I love the Peanuts comic strip! Petty Beach began by wanting to be Peanuts. From quick paced drawings to detailed it’s a great variety. Growing up – Gary Larson, who works with single panel comics, was a huge influence.
Talk us through Brocko and Friends, a zine of characters that you’ve designed and created.
Brocko is a dolphin. Or he could be a lizard. I’m not even sure. Taking it back to school, there were the bad kids and then the really bad kids. I remember speaking to them and finding out that they’re actually nice people. I guess Brocko is on of those kids. Barnabus Buggles the Bear, who carries the buck is Brocko’s closest friend, as well as baby seal who is extremely autistic, saying statements out of his own control and with no meaning. The first narrative follows Brocko and friends on a task to put a dildo inside a fish and slap someone with it. Super immature, but he realises his dreams! It’s a naïve tale of someone who wants to cause trouble.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a comic artist?
A doctor! Well who knows. It’s a trick question as I’ve been drawing for so long. I’d like to say quite possibly a writer, but I feel like that doesn’t count because it partly is what I am doing now.
Ultimate job title? A guitarist in a terrible band.
Most inspirational quote heard?
I really like this one by Picasso as it really is full of meaning and gives you something to ponder on – “Bad artists copy and great artists steal.”
Final question, steering away from this inspiration malarkey, what would be your ultimate topping on a pizza?
More pizza of course! Pizza on top of pizza.