22/01/2011 | by Uli Köhler
Published in Onboard Magazine Issue 119, January 2011
NITRO – PRO SERIES ‘GROSS OUT KIDS’
While most brands involve their riders a lot in their individual pro models or even let them create it from scratch (like travis Rice, whose board we featured on this page at the beginning of the season), Nitro this year has followed a different path by giving each rider an individual top sheet in a line of boards.
Looking for a theme that captures the personality of each member of the team and at the same time makes up for a cohesive story, Nitro team manger Tonino, Creative Director Mike Dawson and artist Paul Brown decided it was a fun idea to transform the riders into ‘Garbage Pail Kids’, a series of trading cards that was popular in the US and Australia in the 80’s.
Mimicking the originals by cartoonist Art Spiegelman, where all characters had funny names and some kind of peculiar abnormality, Nitro’s ‘Gross Out Kids’ are mainly based on word plays with the rider’s names. “Tonino and I came up with names that fi t either a personality trait, their physical appearance, or something in their name” explains Paul.
So without involving the snowboarders themselves but just based on his perception of each of them and stories he heard about them, Paul surprised them with their very special alter ego.
The best combination of word and character play is probably Cheryl Maas’ model. Nicknaming her Cheryl Massive is as obvious as it is brilliant: “I think Cheryl pulls lot of weight as a female snowboarder,” Paul explained. “While she is still very girly, she’s a lot more rugged and tougher than your average shred-girl and can get as gnarly, if not gnarlier, than any guy. And drawing her with arms ripped off was just to good not to do!”
Bryan Fox’s character is a similar play of name and character. As Bryan is an artist himself, the spray can immediately came to Paul’s mind. “He’s sly like a fox too, so putting him in a bloody fox pelt and let him sneak around was a good way to go.”
Also Jon Kooley’s alter ego kind of almost made up itself. With tattoos all over his body, giving him “the sailor/anchor thing just kind of came naturally.” And with a last name like this, you don’t even need to think of a funny nickname, let alone come up with a better situation for a character than an ice block.
A-Bomb Austin on the other hand is based on Austin Smith’s physical appearance. “He always has crazy hair that looks like he just woke up, so we thought the explosion messing up his hair would make a funny image,” Paul smirks. And based on his riding you could definitely call him a bomb.
While the character for Markus Keller is only a funny word play with ‘Messed Up’ at first glance, you get the deeper sense of the art when you know that he is sponsored by Red Bull and he is ‘hopped up on energy drinks”, fi guratively pierced on the bull’s horns.
The most loosely connected character is probably the one of Eero Ettala. “I just liked the name combo of ‘Eerie’ and ‘Eero’,” Paul remembers Paul. So he turned Eero into a Halloween-style Dracula, which is actually quite the opposite of the calm Finnish pro, who was even a bit surprised as he “didn’t think (he was) really that creepy”.
So instead of asking them for their input, Nitro decided to surprise their team with something completely unique: their very own comic character. And we think that whether it really fi ts them or not, in our world of mainstream individualism and copy-pasting it’s always refreshing to see a different approach to top sheets once in a while.