The Evolution of BIGBITE
In the not too distant past, BIGBITE was nothing more than a lightbulb above the head of James Perret. Today, it is a fully-fledged community with its own animated series and a growing presence on the official Rooster Teeth website.
So, as BB shifts its focus away from magazine making and further towards creating website-based content, I’m asking a very important question; how the hell did all of this happen?
To find the answer, I’ve delved deep into the magazines’ history, dissecting every issue and speaking to the writers, editors, artists and fans whom – out of their sheer love for Rooster Teeth – made BIGBITE possible.
Issue 1 – How It All Started
As Perrett says himself, BIGBITE was more of a happy accident than a planned project. I mean, blooming hell, one minute you’re enjoying making some fan art and then suddenly you find out your pregnant with a fully-blown community project:
JP – BIGBITE was born from a single magazine cover I designed for fun around a year ago. I was testing out some mockup magazine assets for work and quickly put together a cover entitled ‘Achieve’. It had Geoff’s face on the front with some titles and articles hinting at features inside. I stuck the design on the Rooster Teeth Subreddit and the community expressed interest in an actual RT community magazine. So I guess that point was when BIGBITE was born!
The first magazine released in summer 2015, featuring articles on Community Cosplay, Funhaus and Achievement Hunter. There was also a rather fitting tribute to Ray – I’m not dying – Narvaez Jr.
BIGBITE was finding its feet and – because of how amazing all you guys in the RT Community are – Perrett admits that getting the magazine off the ground was much easier than expected:
JP – After I’d posted that I wanted to make a whole magazine and needed help, a whole group of people messaged me saying they’d like to contribute. This community has tonnes of awesome writers, designers and artists, so we were never short of content and talent. We quickly pieced together a first issue, and then started creating a more consistent template format from issue two.
Issue 2 – RTX! RTX! RTX!
This RTX-centric issue saw BIGBITE writer Kelly Escalante chat all about his time at the Austin-based event. Escalante offers a tremendous insight and I’d recommend checking out his article on page 21 if you’re unsure about what kind of shenanigans occur down in Texas.
For those of you planning on going this year – particularly first-timers – Escalante was more than happy to offer a few words of advice:
KE – First of all, have fun. That’s the whole point of the event. I’ve heard of people going for other reasons – like to meet specific cast and crew members – but don’t set yourself up for disappointment from the start.
Second, be very realistic in terms of your time restrictions. Unless you have a V.I.P. ticket, you will, more than likely, only be able to attend three panels per day, maximum. That would mean essentially only doing panels the whole day. A good number is two. Along with that, even though Rooster Teeth tries its hardest to establish concrete times when lines start to prevent crowding, there will always be people who won’t listen. In fact, by the end of the event, it is more than likely that those times will be basically thrown out the window. So, if you want to make it into the more popular panels, plan accordingly. You have been warned.
Third, do everything you can, but don’t push yourself too hard. RTX can be an incredibly rewarding experience, especially if you’re an active member of the community. Go to panels. Try Sidequest. Walk the floor and check out the booths. Nevertheless, it’s okay to pace yourself. It’s hot down there in Austin, especially during the summer, so be safe in all aspects.
Kelly will be attending RTX once again this year and, along with Matt VanDeZande, officially representing BIGBITE – so make sure you go and say hi!
Other articles in this issue: ‘RWBY Remnants to Come’, ‘Why HD Remakes Are Important’, and ‘Your Favourite RT Personality’.
Issue 3 – Everybody Loves Ray
The most brilliant thing about Rooster Teeth is that it allows you to connect with everybody involved. Whether you’re a brand-new member or a long-term fanatic, we’re all brought together by a love for the content that this community creates.
In Issue 3, BIGBITE editor Joe Dalton had the chance to interview a community member you may well have heard of; the BrownMan and ex-Achievement Hunter himself, Mr. Ray Narvaez Jr:
JD – Not going to lie, interviewing Ray was crazy. That was actually the first interview I wrote for the mag. I was really nervous, but he was really chill, super easy to talk to. Fortunately, I kept myself composed, and made it through the interview without sounding too much like a schmuck. It is still a little weird seeing Ray in my Skype contacts, though. I’ll never forget, at the end of the interview, Ray gave us some great words of encouragement that didn’t make it into the mag. Ray and Tina have always been big supporters of the mag, so shout-out to them!
Other articles in this issue: ‘Games Your Grandma Shouldn’t Play’, ‘How Foul Is Michael’s Mouth?’, and ‘What Is Your Favourite RT Animation Show?’
Issue 4 – A Multitude of Interviews
If you’re in the mood to see how some of your favourite RT Community members cope with a good old-fashioned BIGBITE grilling, look no further than issue 4. It’s a 50-pager jam-packed with chit-chat from the likes of Franco Scarcello (Achievement Hunter’s Five Facts Editor) and Grady Bailey (RT SideQuest).
The highlight, however, has to be the interview with Multi-Purpose Gaming, which sees Kelly Escalante ask Kdin and his crew all about their favourite games. Despite it being a quite lovely article, Escalante says he would love the chance to speak to the gang again – only this time, maybe not over email:
KE – It was really a wonderful experience speaking to MPG and, as an opportunity to talk with the whole team, the interview was an invaluable collaborative moment. That being said, I’d love to interview them again! Up until recently, I had done all of my interviews via email correspondence. It’s a fairly common practice for us – as we do BIGBITE in our spare time and coordinating can be difficult. But, as we progress and move forward, I’ve decided to take my interviews to the next level.
Other articles in this issue: ‘Artist Profile: Roger P. Brunke’, ESports Evolved: The Future of Competitive Halo’, and ‘Alisarocks Top RT Fashion Tips’.
Issue 5 – Jiminy Christmas
This festive issue opened with an angry Matt VanDeZande writing about the lack of holiday-themed DLC in video games. Strangely enough, his rage seemed to muster up some kind of Christmas miracle:
MVDZ – I remember that article being published – I loved the layout that Monica did for it – and then the exact next week a bunch of different games announced holiday-themed downloadable content.
The only conclusion I can draw from this is that elves read BIGBITE.
If you head to page 44, you can also find the very first iteration of BIGBITE’s comic strip ‘Goeff’s Drink and Mercantile’.
Other articles in this issue: ‘The Strangerhood’, ‘Gaming Accessories Under $100’, and ‘An Interview with DJ Blue’.
Issue 6 – Smells like Arts in Here
This issue was an almighty treat for the eyes. A 26-page-bonanza featuring nothing but art and interviews from talented RT community members such as Naomi Chicoine and Lewis Manuel.
You can find my favourite piece – a quite heroic painting of Gavin Free as Vav – on page 22. I asked its illustrator, Monica Kani, what it’s like to be involved in such an imaginative community:
MK – The entire community is so creative and so supportive of everyone and their ideas and contributions. I’m just glad to be along for the ride!
Issue 7 – Keeping Up With the Denecours
Matt VanDeZande was back again in issue 7, this time to interview the Denecour lads, Caleb and Jordan, about their YouTube channel ‘Game Kids’. It’s a hilarious little segment and something which Matt took much pride in creating:
MVDZ – You would not believe how crazy that morning was! I was so hyped up on coffee, I had stressed so much about what I could do as a backdrop for the Skype call – I ended up moving a second desk parallel to my work desk and then using my computer, posters, and assorted figures/plushies as a setting – and my Achievement Hunter sweatshirt was still damp from not being dried all the way, but I was determined to wear it. We start the Skype call, and there’s Jordan and Caleb just chilling on the couch. It was incredible being able to talk to them. After The interview, we actually chatted for another half-hour about all sorts of things ranging from Grifball, to BIGBITE, to RWBY, and to my own work on RetroGrade Productions. It was really cool to see their interest in what we at BIGBITE are doing and I hope they’ve continued to stay tuned.
Other articles in this issue: ‘An Interview with Marcus Laporte’, ‘Ask the Community: Keep Moving Forward’, ‘Top 10 Let’s Plays’.
Issue 8 – A Wild Griffon Appears
Ultra-talented Griffon Ramsey was the next Rooster Teeth star to get the BIGBITE treatment. Flanked by his artists Monica Kani and Mikhail Manuel, it was James Perret who quizzed Griffon about her quite unbelievable artwork and, let’s be honest, any interview which includes the question – ‘How was it competing in the Chainsaw Carving Championship?’ – is going to be good.
This issue also incorporated an excerpt from the brilliant BIGBITE RWBY fanfic ‘Aquamarine’. Created by Matt VanDeZande and illustrated by Monica Kani, the piece – entitled ‘Coral: The Master Processor’ – is poignant to say the least. I spoke to the pair about the project, and about the pressures of collaboration:
MVDZ – That piece was actually the most challenging in terms of artwork, because the concept for Coral had been so spot-on but there had been a lot of difficulties in getting the final artwork to be in-keeping with the tone of the passage as a whole. There even ended up being an illustration that we just did not use because it would have clashed with the emotional tone of that particular scene. There was some miscommunication in terms of what I wanted for the character and in what Monica was crafting and in the end we ran out of time to make corrections. In the piece for last month, “Viridia: Wolf Spider’s Creed,” we had much more time to hammer out the artwork, and then of course Monica nailed it on the first draft. I cannot wait to see what she does with the next one.
MK – Taking somebody else’s words and ideas and putting them down on paper can be nerve-wracking, but it’s a challenge that I like to have. I’ve been fortunate that the people I work with are helpful and kind about their criticisms when I get it wrong. The best advice I can give for illustrating someone else’s ideas is to just do your best! Make art that you’re satisfied with, and trust that the writer chose you because they like your work, and that they’ll work with you to get the best results! It’s okay to make mistakes, you can always fix them!
Other articles in this issue: ‘Hand of Fate’, ‘RWBY: In Memoriam’, ‘Top 10 Lazer Team Videos’.
Issue 9 – Steffie Hardy, Grant Voegtle & The Birth of Fan Art Friday
The lovely John Byrne interviewed Achievement Hunter’s Production Manager, Steffie Hardy, for this iteration of the mag. John is one the most passionate RT fans I have ever spoken to, and he was delighted about his involvement with the magazine:
JB – I’ve been a fan of Rooster Teeth for a while now, and I was ecstatic just to hear that I was getting a chance to interview Steffie. After I sent the email with the questions, I just sat back and waited, trying not to get to excited. But when she responded, I was on cloud nine. It may have not been much, and it may have been just over email, but I was actually talking to and had a correspondence with an actual Rooster Teeth employee. I’ve always wanted to meet and talk to everyone over at RT, but I’ve never had the money to actually go to RTX and get a chance to do that; being a broke college kid and all. So when I was talking to one while sitting at my own desk at home, it was kind of surreal. Steffie, by the way, is a super nice person, and she deserves most of the credit for that interview. She was very quick to get good, thorough answers back to me, and I really appreciate that. But, yeah, for something that may not seem like much from an outside perspective, it was a pretty awesome experience.
I was also lucky enough to play a role in this mag; interviewing Naughty Dog’s Grant Voegtle about his creation of a cinematic ‘The Last Of Us’ playthrough.
The next stage of BIGBITE’s evolution was always going to be gaining an official partnership with Rooster Teeth itself and – as underlined within issue 9 – that has now indeed happened with Fan Art Friday; a weekly art competition for RT members worldwide. Joe Dalton explains how it all came about:
JD – A few months ago, RT brought on Becca Frasier to help create non-video content on the site, as part of their aim to rebuild the site’s community. One of her first posts was about looking for ideas for content to publish. At the time, we were kicking around the idea of a fan art contest, so, it seemed like a perfect fit. We discussed how little art was being published on the site, and how 3 of the “Top 5 Trending” posts had 0 recent posts. I told her about how, at the time, the RT website was the last place we went to find fan art. We agreed that building a contest on the RT forum would bring people into the forums, not only posting content, but getting their friends in there to vote. Long story short, after about a week and a half of discussion, we’d hammered out all the details and began running a fan art contest on RT’s website! As it stands today, it is currently the only official way to submit fan art directly to RT in an effort to have it featured by the company! So, really, it’s a no-brainer. We get to work directly in partnership with RT, RT gets both more activity and content on their forum, and fans get a clear-cut way to get their art featured. It’s a win-win-win, and it’s going over quite well!
Other articles in this issue: ‘Cosplay’, ‘Hightower’, and ‘Kriss’ Korner’.
Shout-Out to the Spin-Offs
Like any production worth its salt, BIGBITE has also spawned a few of spin-off projects.
First of all, we have the AHxRWBY comic book. Designed and created by Mikhail Manuel, it’s a beautiful yet hilarious mishmash of AH meets RWBY themed antics; if you don’t believe me, then perhaps Joe Dalton’s opinion will change your mind:
JD – My magazines are my children and, like any parent, I have to say I love all of my children equally. Like most parents, however, I secretly have a favorite. It’s the special edition; AHxRWBY, volume 1. I feel that this issue embodies the spirit of BIGBITE, when we were trying to come up with a comic artist, we were kind of stumped. One night, I was opening my browser, and noticed an old bookmark for the strip, which originally ran as a web-comic on Tumblr. I reached out to the artist, and started developing Goeff’s Drink and Mercantile. Mikhail is such a talented artist, and we wanted to really feature his work. So, as a Christmas present to both Mikhail and our fans, we took his original comic that drew me to his work, and published it in comic book form!
Next up it’s another eye-pleaser. Simply entitled The Art of BIGBITE, this 60 page behemoth is an amalgamation of all the wonderful art featured in the magazine during 2015. There’s more masterpieces than you can shake a stick at in here but I’ve got to say my favourite is the Achievement Hunter Poster on page 24.
Issue 10 – Oh, Wait… That’s This One.
So, here we are, issue 10, the final – for now – BIGBITE magazine. However, before you get all down in the dumps about it, I’m told there’s more content than ever coming over on the website, in fact, Joe and James were even kind enough to tell me a little bit about BIGBITE’s future:
JD – I’m so excited. We’ve been growing our fan base at an exponential rate, and the timing couldn’t be better. We have so much cool stuff planned out, much of it unannounced! We’ve got Nihilo coming soon, which is an awesome animated show from our talented writing staff. We’ve also got some audio projects that we’re working on too. Most importantly, we’ve got an entirely new way for people to interact with BIGBITE coming down the tubes, and starting June 1st, your reading experience will change for the better!
JP – We’re hoping that BIGBITE can go as far as joining the big leagues! That’s what we’re aiming for anyway. For now our plans involve developing our brand new website and building up a following on said site. We’ve got shows in development that we’ll be releasing soon and new features on the site. Our main plan is to provide awesome content for the community!
If you’re interested in the ultra-cool new stuff those two are talking about, I’d advise you to check out the recent BIGBITE animated series Super Best Friends. James tells me it’s heavily influenced by cartoon shows like Wacky Races, Zap, Ed, Ed and Eddy, Adventure Time and Bravest Warriors – in other words, you’ll love it.
I’ve been Jay Michael, you can find me on Twitter @Jayswriting and on the RT Website at Jay Michael Writing. It’s been a delight working with all of the staff at the magazine and, if you’ve stuck with me this far, thanks so much for reading my BIGBITE Timeline. I’ll leave the final word with James Perrett:
JP – I’m super, super proud that we managed to create a monthly magazine for 10 months – never missing an issue might I say! I’m even more proud of our little team of writers and artists at BIGBITE! They spend days and days writing and designing their best work for the next issue and never cease to amaze me with all their hard work.