If you are a fan of cartoons then you have probably already seen a few episodes of the international animated hit Supa Pirate Booty Hunt (you can watch the entire series on the official SPBH website supapiratebootyhunt.com). Steve Sievers, creator and voice of Daniel the Turtle, talks to us about cartoons, being a guest panelist at San Diego Comic-Con, his work with Music Saves Lives, and how his current project offers folks to become a part of animation history.
EV: Welcome to Entertainment Vine, Steve. Thank you for taking the time to discuss Music Saves Lives and Supa Pirate Booty Hunt with us.
SS: Thank you so much!
EV: To begin, would you share a little about how you became involved with animation? Were there any specific cartoons that inspired you as a child?
SS: Wow, so many cartoons I loved growing up including all the Disney classics movies, Disney Afternoon including Darkwing Duck (that’s why Cpt Zack Stevers wears a purple cape), Looney Tunes, Woody Wood Pecker, Transformers, GI Joe, and Robotech. Of course, the biggest influence on me was The Simpsons.
Supa Pirate Booty Hunt started as a skit on my internet college radio show at WVAU American University in Washington, DC. I was the general manager of the radio station and wanted to inspire my fellow students to try and take their shows seriously. So I started this skit called “Storytime with Steve Sievers” where I did these voices of a pirate and turtle going on different adventures each week on my show. The skit became such a hit but I didn’t realize it until the summer of 2004. I used to own a clothing line called Level 27 Clothing with my best friend Billy Martin from the band Good Charlotte. I went on the whole Vans Warped Tour in 2004 having a booth for Level 27. I was so surprised that so many people came up to me in cities all across North America telling me how much they loved the skit. It was in Vancouver Canada, on a Vans Warped Tour date, that a girl asked me to record her cell phone voicemail greeting in the Daniel the Turtle voice that I was like struck by lighting, I have to do something with this silly skit! When it came for me to decide on what to do my grad school thesis project on, I thought to myself “well I plan my day around on when The Simpsons comes on and still love animation, why not turn my radio skit into a cartoon show?” My journey into animation began!
EV: And what a journey it has been! How did you begin collaborating on Supa Pirate Booty Hunt with Dahveed Kolodny-Nagy?
SS: After I graduated college in August 2005, I moved to North Hollywood to try and find some animator/artist to team up with and help bring my cartoon to life. I went through four different animators and was about to give up on the whole thing. My friend Jason from college told me his friend Jeff worked with this animator/artist named Dahveed that was going through similar experiences as me and I thought this would be my last chance. So we were set up like a blind date and at first we both didn’t really trust each other because we went over our contract so many times. But the funny thing is that we became really good friends from it. We both share the same vision and passion for the project. We have been working together since 2007 and it’s been a great time.
EV: You and Dahveed have been guest panelists at a few conventions, what advice do you give aspiring animators?
SS: When I first moved to the Los Angeles area, everyone told me to pitch your concept right away. You don’t need any artwork or animation, just make some calls and get in there and pitch. Of course you can do that, but Hollywood gets pitches everyday, how can you stand yourself out from the crowd? My goal was always to build up the animation, self produce them, and create a following online. I’ve been in bands before and I have always treated the cartoon as one. To build a following you need to play live shows, right? Well, for cartoons you do conventions. So Dahveed and I have had a lot of booths at conventions and we have built up a following where we have been asked to do panels at conventions. Last summer I was a guest speaker on the cartoon workshop panel at San Diego Comic-Con. You can’t just create something and except people to find it on their own. You have to get out there and tell people about it. My advice is to produce some animation yourself. Even if nothing happens with it, like getting a TV deal, it is still an amazing feeling to see your characters come to life!
EV: I’ve noticed a lot of your fans wear a Daniel the Turtle necklace. How did Daniel find his way into the fashion industry?
SS: So when I had Level 27 Clothing, we made this necklace with Rusty from the band H2O’s company called Pnut Jewelry. Early this year I was at a Todd McFarlane signing at Golden Apple Comics and wearing my Level 27 Necklace. This guy said “nice necklace” and I replied “thanks, I helped designed it”. Then he replied “cool, I sculpted it”. Turned out his name was Oscar Ayotzintli and he used to work at Pnut Jewelry in New York City and just moved to Hollywood to get his own company Tlakuilo Kalli going. So I had Oscar sculpt and produce Daniel the Turtle necklaces. We have been selling them at conventions this year and now have them for sale online (you can buy them here). They make a great X-mas gift.
EV: Those would make the perfect gift! Captain Zack and Daniel the Turtle have set sail across the globe. Where is the most remote location you have been surprised to find fans from?
SS: That’s hard because we have fans all around the world including Australia, El Salvador, UK, Brazil, and Sweden. We were actually in a documentary from there called Kree-ey-tiv-i-tee which means “creativity.” However the most surprised I’ve been is Kristin Miller from Maryland who got Cpt Zack Stevers and Daniel the Turtle tattoos on her leg.
EV: That is incredible how supportive your fans are. You support a non-profit organization called Music Saves Lives. Would you explain their outreach and how you became involved with them?
SS: Music Saves Lives is a non-profit that encourages young adults to donate blood and get rewarded with free music tracks, back stage passes, and more. Each blood donation can save up to three lives! They wanted to produce some PSA’s and go after the adult swim crowd. Music Saves Lives director Russel Hornbeck thought Supa Pirate Booty Hunt was the perfect fit. You can get involved in Music Saves Lives by finding a blood donation event near you or you can organize one yourself. Find out all the info at musicsaveslives.org.
EV: Your recent PSA for Music Saves Lives guest stars the band 3OH!3 leading to the introduction of your comic book on the Vans Warped Tour. Have you found that you are able to reach a different audience blending your animation into both the music and comic worlds?
SS: Well since Music Saves Lives works with tons of bands, we wanted each animated PSA episode to include a guest star from a band. We asked 3OH!3 to be apart of our first animation because they were headlining the Vans Warped Tour 2011 and were big supporters of Music Saves Lives. Turns out it was an easy sell for them because they loved Supa Pirate Booty Hunt. The animated episode was featured on WarpedTour.com and 3oh3music.com with a lot of people commenting on how the cartoon made them decide to donate blood, which is amazing! Dahveed and I were guest at 4 Colors Fantasies comic shop for Free Comic Book Day festival and I thought to myself “why don’t we turn our animated PSA into a free comic book that Music Saves Lives can give out at events?’. Russel loved the idea and a month later we had our launch party for the comic book at Golden Apple Comics and also 10,000 comics were given out at every date of the Vans Warped Tour, San Diego Comic-Con, Anime Expo, Chicago Comic-Con, and Mid-Ohio Comic-Con.
EV: While folks were taking home your comic book you ended up taking home some very impressive awards. Congratulations on your recent six wins at the Burbank International Film Festival. Which categories did you win? Were you able to actually keep any of the awards?
SS: Thank you. I was so shocked. I would of been happy with one award but we ended taking home six awards for the following:
- Best Voice Acting
- Best Original Writing
- Best Art Direction
- Best Character Design
- Best Production Design
- Best Sound Editing
The best part is that the judges were Al Jean and Mark Kirkland of The Simpsons. I even told them at the film festival how The Simpsons made me decide to turn my radio skit into a cartoon show. How neat is that!? I did keep two of the awards but I am ordering more so I can have one of each.
EV: You currently have a kick-starter campaign for a new Music Saves Lives PSA starring Dave Mustaine of Megadeth. Will you tell the readers how they can become involved with this project and the amazing rewards you are offering?
SS: We feel so inspired after winning six awards at the Burbank Film Festival for our animated episode MSL PSA “Nurse Boobies Please” that we want our next episode “Metal in my Shell” with Dave Mustaine to be amazing! So we have decided to open it up to fans to help this life saving message and be rewarded with concert tickets, monster energy case, and even star in the animation along side Dave, Cpt Zack Stevers, and Daniel the Turtle. Find out all the details here (ends on December 1st).
EV: Are there any additional upcoming Music Saves Lives or Supa Pirate Booty Hunt celebrity collaborations you’re able to share with us?
SS: After we finish our Dave Mustaine episode, we will have future ones with Steve-O from Jackass and Chuck Billy from Testament. Hopefully, we’ll have time to finish some other Supa Pirate Booty Hunt episodes we have yet to complete.
EV: If Supa Pirate Booty Hunt were to become a live action film who would you want to play Daniel the Turtle and Captain Zack?
SS: Great question! Jason Mewes would make a great Cpt Zack Stevers and Danny DeVito would make a great Daniel the Turtle.
EV: Thank you so much for sharing with us today, Steve. We wish you luck on your kick-starter campaign and can’t wait to see who gets animated.
SS: Thank you!