Weird Luke is a teenage looking kid with a mohawk who wears a painted leather jacket with studs. I met Luke after I saw him moshing at hardcore shows in Brooklyn and Manhattan a few times- and he told me that he makes his own action figures.
Luke is one of those rare ‘true punk’ kind of punks, a punk’s punk really. By that I mean, he’s super young, looks punk as fuck, and goes to shows by himself half the time because he likes the music, not because of some convoluted idea about belonging to an alternative social scene. Anyway, Weird Luke came by the Superchief Gallery this week with some of his figures and we talked about what the hell is going on with that.
You made an action figure for the hardcore band, Crazy Spirit. Tell me about that.
I saw the ‘bat boy’ character they did on a banner draped over the amps at one of their shows. And like, I had been thinking about that character for a long time, so I asked the guys in Crazy Spirit, “Can I sculpt this guy?”
The guys were like “Yeah, sure you don’t have to ask us about that.”
So for like 3 days, for 3 hours a day I sculpted it super fast and made a really shitty mold on my dorm room desk. It was really low budget shit because I didn’t have all the materials I usually do when making a mold. I did it in a cardboard box and just poured the mold around it all in one piece, and I cut it out all jagged.
I made a couple copies and showed the guys in Crazy Spirit and they were blown away by it. They loved it and wanted to take it on tour with them to Texas for Chaos in Tejas. They ended up taking them and selling them for like 12 bucks a piece as merch, and almost all of them sold. I think there’s just one or two left. There was a run of 20 for the Texas tour, and now I’m working on a run of 25 for their upcoming European tour. They’re going to be in all different colors and all that shit.
I love that you sculpted on the dick and balls. But, was it a concious decision to circumcise him?
You know, it wasn’t. I used to draw a lot of dicks and shit, but always with foreskins rolled back. Now that I think about it, it would look better with a little foreskin.
The action figures look amazing. That’s some of the most original punk merch I’ve ever seen. Did you design the packaging too?
Yeah I did, I was kinda like ripping off the Crazy Spirit style on the records, and kinda injecting my own style into it. But I was trying to keep the roots in their style.
How did you get started making action figures?
When I was younger I really liked toys and shit, and I guess the fascination lasted a little longer than with most kids. So I was like, I should do something with this, because I was sick of buying shit. So I started making my own toys and sculpting shit with wire and clay. I preferred that to buying someone else’s approximation of what I wanted.
How long have you been making toys?
Since about 8th grade. The early ones with wire and clay were really opposable but they also broke very easily. So I moved on to figures with less articulation, and now I do single piece figures because I don’t really care about articulation.
So, articulation means moveable parts?
Yeah, I’d still be interested in doing figures with articulation but it would be so much more in depth than I have time for. Maybe if I make some money off this shit I could experiment with that, but not right now.
Do you have plans to make more action figures for your favorite punk bands?
Yeah for sure. I definitely want to do that, I just have to find people down with the idea. I mean Crazy Spirit liked it, but they are all artists, so of course they did. The other bands I wanna ask are Hank Wood and the Hammerheads and Dawn of Humans.
I talked to the bassist from Hoax because he wanted me to do a Hoax action figure, but I haven’t heard back yet.
Hoax performing in Brooklyn, 2012
What do you think the Hoax action figure would look like?
I don’t know, they need to give me some art for it. That’s what’s nice about these other bands is they are all artists, so I just look at their illustrations and go from there. Whatever Hoax gives me, I’ll make. It’s up to them essentially.
What are some other characters you’ve done besides the Crazy Spirit action figure?
I’ve done an interpretation of Lord Humongous from the Road Warrior film, which is my favorite movie. I’m working on more Mad Max figures too.
I also did a space figure which is totally ripped off from Warhammer 40k. I used to play that, which is a big part of how I got started on this shit. That’s how I developed the skills to paint figures, and sculpt parts and glue them together.
I also do a lot of dead astronauts in a lot of different colors, and a Mexican luchador wrestler.
What’s with the half-grim-reaper-half cigarette?
That’s like a spinoff of another figure, which is a grim reaper style dude.. a death character. The idea was to make the figure a half cigarette, half death. So it’s painted to look like a ciagarette. It’s going to be marketed as 50% authentic New York City street trash and 50% handmade resin figure.
Street Trash, I love that.
Alright so I feel like I have to ask this one. Where are you from and how did you get into punk?
I’m from Gowanus, Brooklyn, NYC, and I’ve lived there my whole life. I got into punk obviously from listening to old punk bands and shit. My uncle gave me a Misfits CD when I was a kid. As for the kind of punk I like now, I volunteered at ABC No Rio for a year or two and saw Dawn of Humans there. That’s what got me into ‘raw punk’ and D-beat and crust and stuff like that. It just kind of developed from there. Through Dawn of Humans I got into Crazy Spirit and Hank Wood and the Hammerheads.. like that whole Toxic State scene.
That’s why I throw all my trash in the canal, to slow down the clean up process.
Gowanus is a crazy place to be from, what was it like growing up there?
Yeah I mean it was pretty cool. No one else realyl lives around there so it’s quiet and nice because the canal has toxic waste in it. So they can’t build many buildings or condos or anything like that. It’s just quiet and desolate with a lot of warehouses and stuff.
Now that the canal is a superfund site they are trying to clean it up, and supposedly build a Whole Foods, which is terrible because I hate Whole Foods. I’m sure they will slowly ruin my neighborhood with yuppies, Park Slope assholes, stroller moms, hipsters and shit, etc. The neighborhood used to be a lot worse. When I was a really little kid when it was terrible. My parents actually considered moving because they didn’t want to raise kids in the area. Even though it wasn’t good, I don’t think turning it into a trendy art gallery neighborhood is any better.. it’s worse.
That’s why I throw all my trash in the canal, to slow down the clean up process.
Who taught you how to do resin casting and all the technical skills of making action figures?
As a part of my senior year at school I had to do an internship. They told me to find anyone to work with. So I emailed this guy Sucklord who I met at Comic Con like, “Hey I’m really into what you do and I need an internship. You don’t have to pay me, do you think you could use an intern?”
He was like yeah sure that would be great, so I went in a week later and we hit it off. So I worked with him every Friday for a year, instead of going to school, just cleaning resin casts and shit. I was mostly just cleaning up the casts that he was going to sell. He taught me how to do everything in terms of molds and casting. He’s a really cool dude and he taught me a lot just by talking to him. Even though I stopped working for him, he still lets me use his facilities from time to time. Like he has a pressure chamber which you really need to make good molds.
What’s Sucklord’s work like?
He does a lot of satirical stuff. He’ll take old Star Wars toys and shit and chop them up, reconfigure them and have some assinine message. He’s really sarcastic and shit. Like, one of his characters is called “Galactic Jerkbag” and another one is “Gay Empire Homo-Trooper.” He’s not pushing an agenda or anything, he just pokes fun at shit and worships what he’s into.
What’s this movie by Sucklord that you’re in?
It’s an internet TV series he does called Toy Lords of Chinatown. It’s like 3 episodes in so far. It’s a whole universe he created that’s like the setting for all his art and figures.
Do you ever get shit for the huge Osama bin Laden patch on the back of your jacket?
People don’t really give me shit as much as they are just confused. They will be like, “Do you know who that is? Is that your cousin?” They just ask stupid questions and shit..
But I have it on my back because I’m working on this band called Osama bin Laden Fan Club. All our songs are about like Jihad, suicide bombing and knocking down the World Trade Center. We only have six songs so far, and we’re looking for a drummer. It’s like raw, pogo-ey style punk rock. It’s simple stuff and we’re going to try to make it catchy too. We’re hoping to play some shows by the end of the summer.
What’s up with your zine?
The zine is called Evil Rules. It’s a compilation of art I did with my friends from college. We’re all just like artists and shit, so I wanted to do something. I was just like “Hey, can I get some art from all you guys?” So I curated it and put it together. I’m not trying to sell them or anything. It’s just if someone wants it when they meet me they can have it. It’s not like I’m going to ship it out or anything.
What does the future hold for Weird Luke’s line of action figures?
Like I said I’m working on the Mad Max figures, and I’m trying to prepare more Crazy Spirit figures because people seem really into those. After the run for the European tour I’ll try to do more for my online store. I’m going to keep generally making shit that I’m interested in and keep going to punk shows and shit.
Interview by Bill Dunleavy at the Superchief Gallery in Williamsburg, BrooklynTweet