Walter Parenton the Fourth AKA I Am the Fourth is an interdisciplinary creator, producing drawings, videos, toys and more… All imbued with a sense of nostalgia and rowdy playfulness.
(Picture below of some of the ‘Gachapon Goblins’, these ones painted by Jon Malmstedt)
So get to know Walter Parenton and ‘Bobby Beast and Friends’ by reading the interview below…
Basics/Getting to Know
Name + D.O.B?
Robert Walter Parenton IV.
Born November 29th, 1985.
(Picture below of Walter and his uhhh zombie dog, guarding some of his toy collection)
City, State n Country you’re Repping?
Euless, TX USA.
To be specific, I live right behind the DFWAirport.
Nevermind, just say I live in Dallas. People know where that is.
Describe – a memory from three stages of yr life ….basically trying to piece together Mr. Parenton’s pivotal moments. Concerts, art, action-figures, women, school, college… ANYTHING man.
* age 10 – pre pubes:
Ren & Stimpy, Super Nintendo, Mac N’ Cheese.
* age 15 – pube rage:
Beavis and Butthead, Sega Dreamcast, Chicken Nuggets.
* age 20 – acceptance of pubes:
Dragon Ball Z, Sony Playstation 2, Pizza.
(Picture below of Walter’s creation, Bobby Beast in rowdy mode)
Quote: “There is a certain amount of pain and stretching yourself to go through to produce better work.If it’s not painful or stressful, you are probably not making good work.” – Thomas Campbell.
Motto: “Stay Humble, Keep It On The Mumble.”
(Actually kind of butchered some lyrics of a JJ DOOM track, “Borin Convo” with this one. Misheard what he said, but I kind of like what I came away from it. So it’s my new motto.)
Lightning Bolt, Flying Lotus, Mr. Oizo, MF DOOM.
Favourite TV show(s)?
Regular Show, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, and Luther.
American Horror Story: Coven has been entertaining at the moment too.Love me some voodoo and witchcraft!
And don’t get me started with reality shows…I can fill half a page with those!
Favourite sport(s) + teams?
Hmmm, I don’t know much about sports or teams, but I know their mascots! I really like the Orioles Bird.
That guy just looks like a punk that wants to break stuff, along with this partner in crime, Mr. Redlegs.
(Picture below of Bobby Beast and Harry Demon enjoying some witches brew)
Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Dark Knight, Die Hard With A Vengeance, There Will Be Blood, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Big Trouble In Little China, Pacific Rim, Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring.
Favourite books and comics?
The few books I HAVE read, which have only been like 5, my favourite has been Breakfast of Champions.
As for comic books, my favourites are Batman Year One, The Sandman Vol. 1, Alan Moore’s The Swamp Thing Saga and Johnny Ryan’s Prison Pit.
Also have been getting into a lot of manga these days. Astro Boy, Gegege No Kitaro, and all the old weird stuff in between.
Specifics on Art
Do you consider what you are making to be ‘art’, ‘design’, re-hashed crap?
Hmm, how should I put this…
I guess I ‘re-hash crap’ into my ‘design’ that some may call “art”.
(Picture below of Walter’s work desk, covered in art)
When and why did you first start making ‘art’ (toys, drawings, paintings, anything)?
Well, it wasn’t till a couple of years ago I picked back up the pen and paper and got back into drawing.
After getting into the toy scene, and the art that comes with that, I felt inspired.I wanted to contribute.
Why + when did you decide to go in on the art hustle?
It’s something I kind of gravitated back to after leaving it behind for many years. Hands-on kind of art, specifically.
I was a huge art kid growing up, and throughout school. Then when I went to college, I pursued video, and then found ways to incorporate my arts and crafts side into that.
Now drawing and making toys have become my hobby/escape from the video grind, and I plan on really going to get my hands dirty and pursue the comic/art hustle with full force next year.
Wish me luck and watch me fail!
Any formal art training? Or pivotal moment/influence?
I went to The Art Institute of Dallas for Video Production. All hands-on with the camera. Running and gunning.
Then, semesters later, I took a Motion Graphics class, and was introduced to Adobe After Effects.
After learning how to make a ball bounce, it all “clicked” for me. I realized “This is a way I can still do art, and now make it move. Bring it to life!”
If I could have done it over again, I would have done animation.
I remember a colleague of mine always telling me that I should’ve been an animator.
So now I’m kind of experimenting with animation and trying to make dumb little cartoons.
(Picture below of some of Walter’s digital art, harking back to the good old days of HUGE pixels)
Um, hmmm, I don’t really have a “company”, but I guess my little personal work motto is “Destroy & Rebuild”.
If something’s is dumb, or just isn’t working, then destroy it and rebuild.
Even if it was good, just ruining it into whatever you have twirling inside your mind.
I’m very self-destructive with my work. As in, I’ve thrown away lots of good drawings, or completely chopped up a video to bits.
But sometimes the coolest stuff comes from when you just re-arrange or redo it completely.
I guess you could say I’m ADHD with my own work. I like it one minute, and then I change my mind, redo something and then print it. On to the next thing.
And in the end, my main mantra to work is to “Create & Entertain”.
Favourite other artist(s)?
Skinner, Bwana Spoons, Basquiat, Rodney Alan Greenblat, Brian Chimppendale, King Terry, Yukinori Dehara, Yusaku Hanakuma, Hellen Jo, Joseph Harmon, Mare Odomo, Alexis Ziritt, Alex Schubert, Jay Ward, Shigeru Mizuki and Roger Hargreaves.
Worst aspect of the contemporary art-hustle?
Someone, if not many, are NOT going to like what you do.
Best aspect of the contemporary art-hustle?
Someone, if not many, is going to like what you do.
Is the rise of ‘art’ toys an indication of the changing nature of ‘art’? OR just a bunch of nerds with too much $$$ and time?
It’s a changing nature of ‘art’.
Actually, I would just say it’s become more easier to make toys these days.
From garage kits, resin bootlegs, and 3D printing, I think there is an every growing rise in talent from young to old artist around contributing to the scene, and experimenting with new mediums of the sort.
(Picture below of the original Bobby Beast and Harry Demon resin figures)
Favourite toy/figure? (I’ll allow self promotion):
My favourite toy would have to be Misty Fog’s Wai Wai Guy.
He’s perfect for portability, fun to play with, and just all around the perfect toy.
Love him so much, I took him to Hawaii with me, and destroyed my phone trying to get a picture on the shore while a wave came crashing in…
And a little shoutout to the OG black resin Lurker from Skinner, the one that inspired it all for me!
(Picture below of the Wai Wai figure by ‘Misty Fog‘)
What are your thoughts of the toy forum scene as a way for fans and artists to communicate? Is it a real ‘community’ or just a virtual locker-room shit talk… I ask as we are both members of ‘Skullbrain’.
I think it’s a great way for fans and artist to communicate. And when I joined, I learned so much more. Form the hard way, and from nice board members. It’s all part of the scene.
I tell any person, with whatever hobby they are getting into, to dive deep into that scene. Whether it’s podcasting, video games, sneakers, music, TV or toys, you should join a message board. It’s like doing an internship for your favourite hobby.
I also wish more people would contribute on message boards than just gripe and critique.
Early on, I was the “fan-art header guy”. Its how I got to later do headers for Mishka Bootlegs, Skinners Bogs, and many of other little custom releases.
It annoyed some people, but for the most part lots of members enjoyed them and inspired me to do more.
What does your wife/girl/woman/family make of the whole perpetual adolescence/Peter-Pan/man-child aspect of toy art + toy collecting?
I think my wife knew what she was getting into when marrying me. Hell, she lured me by candy! I’m such a kid!
But she keeps me in check, and sometimes (actually most of the time) brings me down to Earth.
Remind you how dumb your ideas are, inspired you with others, or join along with the insanity.
What are your thoughts on the NagNagNag toy? – I ask as I know you have not only provided header art but also made a short tribute video.
I think NagNagNag toy is brilliant. It actually single-handedly inspired me to join Skullbrain back in 2010 and got me back into the whole toy/art scene in general.
I was so hypnotized. Mesmerized.
It’s like back in the day, when you found an obscure zine or artist underground. It’s hard these days to experience that with the Internet. But that’s what NagNagNag felt like back then. Still is, I guess.
Though the Sasquatch has made many public appearances now, there is still some mystery left.
This was back in there have been only like 5 releases so far. I joined in when Frankenruge release, along with Four Eyes Garamon COOP release were up. Back when they were appropriately priced.
It started my header art fascination. I just love how L’amour and COOP would add a “story” into the artwork they’d make on those headers. Like NagNagNag was a beast of some sort, getting into all of these antics.
I became obsessed with vintage toy headers, and Shigeru’s sculpt on the original NagNagNag totally had that mysterious vibe to me. Like a lost and forgotten toy of yesteryear.
So after the constant drama and bullcrap that happens on that thread, I decided to start making videos and headers for made-up releases to distract members and keep things positive. “Create and Entertain.”
After joining Skullbrain, I just got done doing some Wisdom of the Lurkers shorts with Skinner, and thought, “Hey, why don’t I take some of this NagNagNag art and mess with it!” So I did some animations, fake promos, and some bootleg toy headers.
I’d figure, why not use my talent and surprise others! No one really was doing it at the time, and it gave me a chance to experiment with some things that I’ve always wanted to try out.
It started to annoy some, but also spurred up a lot of more fan-art, fun conversation, and some nice feedback by the creator himself. That is all I wanted to do. To entertain and inspire. And the community became a pretty fun place for a while.
Then years later, well, I’ll spare you from the 300pgs of drama and nonsense that followed afterwards, but a lot has changed with the toy. And I have kind of moved on, though I still keep my eye on the little monstrosity.
(Picture below of Walt’s NagNagNag, cuddling Bobby Beast and Harry Demon)
Walter Parenton Art Questions
Describe the method of making a Walter Parenton piece? (dot point all o.k.)
– your digital still works
Do some Internet “crate” digging on Google for images and references.
Drink lots of coffee and eat tons of candy.
Make some art.
Save and export.
– your digital video works
Do some digging on Youtube for videos and references.
Drink lots of coffee and eat tons of candy.
Make a video.
Save and render.
– your cartoon work
Do some digging on Youtube/Netflix for cartoons and reference.
Drink lots of coffee and eat tons of candy.
Make some animations.
Save and render.
If there is something I forgot to do or wanted to try, but didn’t have time, I save it for the next one.
There are plenty of other ideas that I have stored away in a notebook that I want to do. Backup. Waiting for the next opportunity to use them. Maybe I never will, but they are always there!
What is the back-story of your Bobby Beast and His New Friends series? Also please describe the fictitious world in which they exist for those at home…
(Picture below of some Bobby Beast and Harry Demon cut-outs going walk-about)
Oh man, well, hmmm. I’m still learning about Bobby Beast myself. He’s a strange kid.
Looks like he has no responsibilities. No school to worry about. No chores or bills. It’s as if he’s on an eternal summer/winter vacation.
Meeting new friends in Doomsville, playing games, messing with black magic, killing goblins, dodging witches, watching old horror films on VHS and eating burritos with Harry Demon.
Making toys is but a small part of your artistic life… What do you get out of making toys that you don’t get through 2D art such as your paintings and digital work?
Making something come to life.I’ve always been a Toys R’ Us kid, and to just come full circle with that, making toys I would play with as a kid, it’s just a dream come true.
What was it like collaborating with ‘Rampage Toys’ (production) and Mr. Joseph Harmon (sculpting) on your Bobby Beast and Harry Demon mini figures?
JM Rampage is a pro guy knows his business better than anyone else around. Joseph is the nicest artist I know. Talk about someone who stays humble and keeps it on the mumble. That guy is a huge inspiration.
So combine those two, you have the best experience/collaboration I have ever had possible.
The way Joseph and I work together is just amazing. It’s like we were once Siamese twins, and are able to communicate on that weird spectrum level in the dimension in-between. And we help each other a lot.
Its one of those “Hey man, how does this look?”, or “What do you think of this?”, Or “Big Trouble and Little China is one of the best movies ever made!”.
I discovered Joseph Harmon from the work he did with Alex Schubert and the Blobby Boys toys. I love them and e-mailed him about making some Bobby Beast and Harry Demon Pocket Resin sets. We did a small run of that, and then started to work on other projects.
Jon Rampage randomly messaged me one day and asked about including Bobby and Harry as part of his new micro series, along with some of his creations and other artists.
I dialled Joseph on the Batphone and called upon his sculpting abilities. He sculpted a new Bobby and Harry for the series, and created some space villains to join the set. Boom! The Gachapon Goblins came to life!
And major thanks to Jon for making the process as painless as possible. Handling the wax himself, communicating personally with the factories, and handling the orders, we couldn’t do it without him. I really can’t thank him enough.
(Picture below of the whole series of Gachapon Goblins thus far, in cartoon and 3D form)
How and why did you develop your VHS-worn-in-video visual aesthetic for your digital work?
I love anything vintage. Old advertising art, from mascots to packaging design.
With video, one way to capture that aesthetic is to channel the old video formats.
VHS is a format that most of us have grown up on, and if you are a kid you’ve heard about it, so I’ve worked on perfecting that look. Still am.
I like making things look authentic, lost and forgotten. So with a lot of my bootleg promos for toys or cartoons, I like confusing the viewer. Like “Wait, was this a real thing? How old is this?” Gives it a bit of mystery. Also dates it to a time where it could have existed.
It’s something that takes me back as a kid. Like my old VHS copies of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom with all of the Mc Donald’s Happy Meal toy commercials in between recorded from TV. That weird fuzzy, static dub of the VHS. Like an old record.
Worst commission experience and why?
Freelance for corporate companies. Hahaha. Revisions, revisions, revisions! There is always a catch. The whole process makes you feel like death, but it pays well.
Best commission experience and why?
Hmmm, stuff I do for free. Which is a lot. It’s the best when someone contacts you and wants you to do YOU.
All the words they give me are “This is what I’m thinking” and then I just run with it. And you work together in more of a “collaboration” of art instead of work.
(Cartoon below showing Bobby Beast getting his pyro on)
How does your current employment at ‘Funimation’ impact on your artistic process?
I have tons of creative freedom here. I get to experiment here just as much as I would with any artistic work or commissioned piece.
It’s helped me form a process, know the audience, and strive for great quality. I always keep the audience in mind too.
With each project I start on, whether for work or personal, I always think about the viewer. How to surprise or entertain them this time, and create something they will like as much as I would.
And most importantly, stay true to the property or brand and do the best in representing it.
Any collaborations on the horizon?
Looking into doing some collaborations with Bobby Beast and some future toy releases. Get some artists spray some evil paint on the duo of disaster!
Any major projects you want to hype man?
Finishing up a music video with Joseph Harmon and a certain special musician. It’s freaking nuts. First time Harmon and I have collaborated on a video, and this one is a Beast!!! Like a Pee-Wee Playhouse on LSD! Other than that, I don’t know. I’m making this all up as I go!