All hail Neil Cicierega

The creator of the Web-animation hit "Hyakugojyuuichi" is a home-schooled aspiring screenwriter -- and he's only 14!

Published April 26, 2001 7:26PM (EDT)

Neil "Trapezoid" Cicierega, who has at times described his occupation as "Youthful Dipwad," may not be a household name yet (he is, after all, only 14), but judging by his emerging track record, he's destined for great things.

He's the creator of the animated movie Hyakugojyuuichi! which stars, among others, PeeWee Herman, Hello Kitty, Harry Potter, Elton John and Jay the Jetplane, all set to the lively tune of a Pokémon anthem. His movies may be just bizarre amalgamations of randomly chosen objects (a Budweiser logo, a thumping pacemaker, Justin Timberlake's head), but they can easily be viewed as biting satires of the American media, trenchant observations about consumer culture -- or, at the very least, clues to unlocking some of the universe's deepest mysteries.

What seemed at first to be just another baffling Web phenomenon turns out to have come from a real-life, Lucky Charms-eating, home-schooled kid from Massachusetts. And here he is.

Where do you find the music for your animations?

Last summer Jules, a friend of mine, used to bring over CDs he got from Japan featuring several Pokémon songs. I liked them so much they stuck with me. Finally, one day I cracked and had to find some MP3s to make music videos out of.

What other kinds of music do you like?

I have a wide spread of musical interest, including They Might Be Giants, Oingo Boingo/Danny Elfman, several artists, etc.

How did you learn to do this stuff?

In Flash? Well, by the time I made the infamous Japanese Pokerap video I had owned Flash for about seven or eight months. I learned to use a lot of programs just by tinkering around with them.

How long does it take do one of these movies -- like "Hyakugojyuuichi!" for instance?

It varies. Hyakugojyuuichi only took me one day, but I had just finished the Japanese Pokerap and was on a roll. My two latest Animutations took longer, but they were spread out over a week or two each. Sometimes I just can't be insane enough; other times I can't do anything else.

Is it true you're only 15 years old?

I'm actually 14, but I'll be 15 in August.

What are grade are you in?

I'm home-schooled, which explains all this free time. I finish the school year after I do the California Achievement Test, which I just completed a week ago. So, I'm in ninth grade now, although I always have the choice to skip a grade if I think I can do it.

What do you do when you aren't animating?

On the computer I make all sorts of things, from music to games, etc. I'm also the drummer for a band and an aspiring screenwriter.

Do your parents know about your animations? What do they think of them?

They love them. They're always bugging me to see the feedback.

What are these movies about?

They're kind of a parody of insane Japanese commercials. Remember the episode of "The Simpsons" with Mr. Sparkle? Like that.

What is "Team Rocket's Journey" about?

In that one Team Rocket are just trying to destroy stuff with a giant Colin Mochrie robot and a giant Bonzi Buddy robot. Saddam Hussein sort of runs around. David Letterman joins Team Rocket. Justin Timberlake sort of gets in the way and is shot into space at the end. In other words it's just the usual random imagery.

Why do you use Japanese songs?

Because they're fun, and they leave a lot up to the imagination. I'm working on a new video that features a song in English, although it's done by a Japanese band, I believe. It's fun.

What other animation do you like?

I'm not really an animation fan, but I do have a soft spot for Claymation. Geddit? Soft spot? Clay? Bah.

What's a recent movie you've liked?

We've had a lot of dumb movies lately, so I can't say. Someday I'll change this with the creation of "Animutations: The Movie." Maybe.

What did you eat for breakfast this morning?

I skipped breakfast this morning. If I did have breakfast it would've been some Lucky Charms.

By Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

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By Amy Standen

Amy Standen is a writer living in Oakland, Calif.

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