Radical Rick is the brainchild of multi-disciplinary artist Damian Fulton. Damian’s Radical Rick adventures appeared for decades in the iconic BMX magazine, BMX Plus and there is many an old dude out there who will fondly remember these cartoons at the back, often skipping straight to the Radical Rick cartoon because it was the best bit. What started off as a mention to a friend, who runs the awesome website Club of the Waves, that Damian does incredible surf art… As it turned out they had already interviewed him about his surf art, this was a lucky stroke for us. We ended up with a chance to ask Damian some question about himself and Radical Rick. For a certain old dude at Headset Press this was a true honour.
I grew up in Southern California mostly south of LA. A lot of bike riding in the open fields before all the track homes moved in. Now I make my home in a Los Angeles county seaside community called El Segundo.
I was always the kid in class that drew all over his books and homework. Kids paid me to draw pictures, doodle on T-shirts, and enter coloring contests on their behalf. I simply never stopped.
While I was still attending California State University at Fullerton, I drew the first Radical Rick. I figured I’d kill two birds with one stone, draw up this wild character to get a job at a cool magazine and turn it in to my professor to fulfil an illustration class assignment.
The art professors didn’t exactly understand comic art, BMX, or humor for that matter. But they appreciated me going beyond the class room and making a go of it. Rick may not have been a very attentive student because of his hyper awareness to extreme opportunities, but I certainly learned how to pass the class, in flying colors.
I started riding and racing before it was called BMX. Today I’m so proud to see 20 inchers in the X-games and Olympics, it feels like vindication. My wife and I have a standing date to ride the entire length of LA’s boardwalk when I turn 80.
Way more mileage on Motorcycles these days.
I came into the offices of BMX PLUS thinking they’d hire me as a fine artist illustrator. I thought I was pretty high and mighty after college and trying to distance myself from the kiddy cartoon world.
Ironically they asked me to come up with a cartoon character!!! And the rest is history.
Actually it was Darth Vader that inspired the look of the mysterious helmeted Radical Rick. I hoped people would wonder what was behind the mask.
Both. I knew the feeling of riding, jumping, racing with buddies. I always kept up with technology and technique through the magazine…it was changing all the time back in the early days.
It ran for 13 years. First issue came out at the end of 1979 and it ran until 1993. Then it ran again in reruns, if you can believe it, in the early 2000s. So technically you could say it ran in 4 different decades.
Staring at a blank page each month was pretty intimidating. Eventually I figured out if I had a longer storyline, I could extend it over multiple episodes and it could save me the fear of facing down a blank page every 30 days. I pretty much knew where Rick and his Rad Squad were going to be up to through the story arc and that dictated what I needed to write.
In ’93 I was interested in other things, directing TV commercials and putting food on the table for my growing family. It took a lot of time to complete an episode. Plus the BMX industry at that time was in a real slump. The mountain bike craze had completely overshadowed our world so both parties decided to call it quits.
Ha! I’m asked that all the time. Right now I’m so crazy busy with my painting career, don’t see it happening in the near further.
Never say never.
I tell artists to learn to draw by drawing, studying, and drawing. I tell artists who want to cartoon to write interesting stories that you’re passionate about, and you’d want to read yourself. That way you’ll never waste your time or your potential audiences’ time.
No matter what I do there’s something about comradery among friends, daring to push beyond your comfort zone, staying fit and competing. I hope to have this philosophy when I crawl across the finish line of life.
I guess you’d have to say I’m a multidiscipline artist. Fine artist-advertising creative director- filmmaker.
I have a gallery show in Milan this November… whoa – I better get painting!
Oh wow, what would Greg Hill, Stompin’ Stu, or Matt Hoffman say if I didn’t pick them. Keeping the theme of this piece I’ll do the politically correct thing and say, the greatest BMXer of all time is a certain iconic cartoon character with an over productive rad gland.