DOUGLAS TenNAPEL, 30, cartoon and video-game creator
Douglas TenNapel's four business cards give his title as, alternately, Grill Cook, Pinhead, Mayor or Loser. But the 6'8" California artist is none of these, including a loser, by any stretch of his elastic imagination. The creator of two Saturday morning cartoons (the WB's Earthworm Jim and CBS's Project G.eeK.eR) plus several hot-selling video games may be generation X's answer to Dr. Seuss. TenNapel's original video-game version of Earthworm Jim (for which he developed the concept, characters and plots) generated a reported $60 million in sales and attracted the attention of DreamWorks founders Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg. In 1995 they signed his fledgling game company, the Neverhood, to a multimillion-dollar deal. The firm's first creation, a quirky, humorous clay-animated CD-ROM game (also called the Neverhood), went on sale last fall.
First person: "Creativity is always associated with such dark images. I'm a white-bread, raised-on-TV conservative Christian, and I come up with some of the most bizarre stuff people have ever seen."
Vitals: Younger son of a construction supervisor and a teacher's aide, he grew up in rural Denair, Calif., drawing monsters and watching Gilligan's Island.
Report card: Art degree from San Diego's Point Loma Nazarene College, where he met wife Angie, now 29, at his senior-year art show, "Art Your 3-Year-Old Could Do."
First job: Muralist at San Diego's Sea World: "I can draw a dolphin like you can't believe."
Digs: A four-bedroom, art-cluttered house in Laguna Hills, Calif., shared with Angie, now office manager at the Neverhood, and three cats: Simon, Waffle and Mr. Black.
Least favorite icebreaker: "People say, 'You must have taken some real doozies to come up with this stuff.' Actually, I was so afraid of losing my edge that I was never even tempted to take drugs."
Up next: A "horror-comedy" children's book series entitled The Strange Kid Chronicles.
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