If you grew up playing video games, then you grew up with the frustration of some well-meaning relative buying you a terrible game you didn’t want and not the one you did. But while that’s also the indignity that Dul suffers in the graphic novel Super Trash Clash (paperback, Kindle), Clash writer and artist Edgar Camacho says in the following email interview that you need not be a frustrated gamer to understand, and enjoy, this heart-wrenching story.
I’d like to start with the story. What is Super Trash Clash about, and when and where does it take place?
The story is set in Mexico in the ’90s. Dul, our protagonist is a girl who wants a video game for her birthday, the hottest video game at the time. Her mom, trying to please her, buys her a game, but it’s not the one she wanted. It’s one of the worst games in history: Super Trash Clash. So, Dul trades this game for the one she wanted all along, but then she regrets and tries to get it back. so, it’s a story about growing up and the relationship we have with our parents.
Where did you get the idea for Super Trash Clash, what inspired it?
This story was inspired by a true event. I grew up in the ’90s with my brothers, and we had a Super Nintendo with a couple of games. We had already played those games thousands of times, so we wanted a new one. I think we wanted Star Fox, with all the hype of 3D technology and the future of video games. My mom, instead of buying us that game, bought us a completely different one. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t what we wanted, so we went and changed it for Star Fox. We didn’t think of the effort she put into getting us that game, and to this day, it’s something I’m not proud of.
You kind of just answered this, but is there a reason it’s centered around a Super Nintendo game as opposed to an Atari 2600 game or a PlayStation 2 game? And did the fact that SNES games came on cartridges, not on discs, have anything to do with it?
It was the console I grew up with, and the console I played on with my brothers the most. And yes, the cartridge has its magic. Something that we all did, and that we did not know was wrong, was to blow the cartridge.
Did you ever consider making it about a game from another era? Like, say, an Atari 2600 game based on a movie about a loveable alien?
In the comic, the game Super Trash Clash is one of the worst games ever. It’s a mix of lots of bad games like Dr. Jekill And Mr. Hyde (NES), Dark Castle (Genesis), Link: The Faces Of Evil (Phillips CD-i), and all the urban legends that came from E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (some part of which turned out to be true).
Also, is there any significance to the game being called Super Trash Clash, which, given the era it came out, implies that there was a previous game called Trash Clash?
I hadn’t considered it that way, but I love the idea that there was a pre-game to this one. I liked the title Super Trash Clash because, at that time, the titles of the games used the word “super” or the number “64” of the Nintendo consoles as a way of branding. Something that they left behind with the GameCube. I would have loved to see a title like Gamecube Mario or a Star Fox GameCube.
Indeed, it is my second comic with Top Shelf. I have other titles published in Mexico and in France.
So then, are there any writers, or specific stories — be it in prose novels or comics — that had a particularly big influence on Super Trash Clash but not on anything else you’ve written?
I’m a huge fan of Stephen King. I think that the way he deals with stories in a daily way and then suddenly gives a twist, is what has marked my way of making stories. Each of my stories has its origin in everyday life. I start from some personal experience and develop a story from that. Super Trash Clash is developed from my childhood story of trading a game I could never recover. And in Acacia 22, the comic’s story stems from when I became independent and the difficulties I had when facing real life.
What about non-literary influences; was Super Trash Clash influenced by any movies or TV shows?
Of course. One of the main influences was the YouTube show Angry Video Game Nerd. I loved watching that show and learning about games that I had never played before. The way he expressed himself about them was hilarious to me.
Speaking of visual things, let’s talk about the art. Who do you see as being the biggest influence on the way you drew Super Trash Clash?
Every comic I do has a different style. Onion Skin‘s style is very different from Super Trash Clash‘s. I wanted to tackle a more nostalgic color palette and a more cartoonish style. Gravity Falls and Andrew MacLean’s Head Lopper influenced me a lot.
Did you ever consider illustrating this story with video game-looking visuals, like with an 8- or 16-bit graphics style?
It would have been interesting to see the art in the style of Super Nintendo graphics. But I think that in the end, it was not my intention with the story. I would have been distracted by the graphics and neglected the plot.
Hollywood has been big on movies about video game culture lately: Free Guy, Pixels, Ready Player One. Do you think Super Trash Clash could work as a movie, too?
It would be great to see a movie from this comic but not as a movie with a lot of effects and stuff. I imagine it more like a classic adventure retro movie, set in the ’90s, about a mother’s relationship with her daughter.
If someone wanted to make that movie, would you want it to be live action or animated, and who would you want to play Dul?
Either way, animation or live action, something interesting would remain. As for the voice cast, it could be the cast of Gravity Falls. I love how they sound (in English and Spanish). In live action, I imagined Paola Lara [Tigers Are Not Afraid], but because of the age range she no longer fits the character.
We’ve talked a lot, for obvious reasons, about Super Trash Clash and video games. But do you think someone who isn’t into video games would enjoy this comic? And, more importantly, understand it?
I think so. Video games are not the main theme. Video games dress the story, but the main idea is the mother-daughter relationship, and knowing how to value what we have.
Conversely, what do you think a gamer will get out of Super Trash Clash that a non-gamer won’t?
Gamers will get tons of references to video games and things from the era. That gives an extra flavor to the whole comic.
So, is there anything else you think people should know about Super Trash Clash?
Super Trash Clash is an endearing story, with a touch of adventure and lots of nostalgia. I hope you like it. Here in Mexico, the book was a finalist in a national Comic Contest in 2019, “Secuenciarte” from Pixelatl, but I didn’t win. Then I made a limited author’s edition, which came in a cardboard box (emulating a Super Nintendo game box) that included some stickers, instruction booklet and an expired promotion to win a kind of Nintendo 64 or Virtual Boy.
Finally, if someone enjoys Super Trash Clash, what graphic novel of someone else’s that has a similar feeling about it would you recommend they check out?
I recommend a work by José García called My 8 Bit Story. I think you can read some pages online. I love the art, the use of color and the narrative. I recommend it for the art, the use of color and the narrative that has no dialogue.