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The Laughing Man - Ghost In The Shell: Standalone Complex's Hacker Logo

Date: 2004 November 29 11:08

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The hit series Ghost In The Shell: Standalone Complex, features a logo for hacker and cyberterrorist "The Laughing Man", in the show he is only identified by his logo which forms a distinct part of the Standalone Complex imagery. I discovered that Paul Nicholson of Terratag designed the logo for Production I.G.

Join us as Otaku News interview Paul about creating an icon in anime!

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Paul, please introduce yourself:
I guess some would say I am a Japaholic. My addiction started at the age of 16 with the release of Sigue Sigue Sputnik's ‘Flaunt it', its sleeve emblazoned with Japanese text and dominated by a giant robot. Once hooked it was all too easy to get sucked in... Japanese comics, magazines, films and pop... The imagination, the style, the imagery blowing my mind.

Born in 1970 and I was brought up in Yorkshire, moving to London in 1989, to study graphic design and illustration at Kingston University. Within a few months of leaving University I started Prototype 21. At Prototype 21 I was responsible for the creative output, which included graphic design and illustration contracts and creating the T-shirt brand Prototype 21, the forerunner to Terratag . Most of the contract work was music related and past clients include Andrew Weatherall, Aphex Twin, Global Communication, Orbital, Warp Records and more recently Wagamama, Harvey Nichols and Production I.G. animation studios in Japan.

Since 2002 I have concentrated my efforts on Terratag. This year saw me working more on art projects including the creation of canvases, photographic prints and the exhibiting thereof.

The Laughing Man Logo as the Laughing Man makes his first appearance

With your graphic design who / what are your influences?
There is so much stuff out there that fires me up it would become a tiresome list if I were to write it all down. Suffice to say, my strongest influence is Japanese culture.

What's the strangest place you've seen one of your t-shirts? Were you surprised to see it there?
On Home and Away and more recently, an adult movie.

How did you get involved with Ghost In the Shell: Standalone Complex?
About 4 years ago I was doing some design work for a Japan based game developer and record label, Frognation. I sent over a pile of Prototype 21 stickers, one of the guys plastering his lap top. That guy also happened to be a script editor at Production I.G. Whilst working on early drafts for the first TV series the director, Kenji Kamiyama saw the laptop, liked the sticker designs and, as they say, the rest is history.

What brief were you given for the design you produced?
The brief was very interesting in that I was simply asked to read a short story by J D Salinger 'The Laughing Man' and base a logo around that.

Where did you get the design ideas from?
Being the laughing man I wanted the icon to feature a smiling face. I read the story which centres around a minor league baseball team, so I picked up on the idea of using a baseball cap.

The Original Laughing Man Logo as submitted by Paul

What about the text?
The text was given to me by Production I.G. and reads: "I thought what I'd do was, I'd pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes". It's an excerpt from The Catcher in the Rye also J D Salinger. In the book the complete paragraph says: "I thought what I'd do was, I'd pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes. That way I wouldn't have to have any goddamn stupid useless conversations with anybody. If anybody wanted to tell me something they'd have to write it on a piece of paper and shove it over to me. They'd get bored as hell doing that after a while, and then I'd be through with having conversations for the rest of my life". At first this text made no sense but now, having seen the whole series, I can understand the relevance to the character.

What was Production I.G's thoughts on your work?
In May 2003 I met Kenji, the production staff and animators at the Production I.G. studios in Tokyo. Through an interpreter I was very pleased to hear that they loved the logo and that they felt the submissions from Japanese designers didn't quite come up to scratch. I also got to see a whole load of merchandise that featured the logo, even getting given a very rare staff only jacket with the logo on the back. They also gave me a brief to design a logo for a terrorist organisation that is central to the second series. Cannot wait to see that series.

Paul with Production I.G.

What did you think about the use of the logo in Stand-Alone Complex?
The first time I saw it I could have cried I was so happy. I have seen all the episodes and love the story and cannot under exaggerate what a great honour and privilege it was.

What is your reaction to being mentioned by name in episode 9 of the Ghost In the Shell Standalone Complex?
Totally and utterly stoked. They never told me about that so when I watched the episode I had to rewind just to check I had heard correctly. I leapt around my room for about 15 minutes laughing my head off. Not only that, later on there is also an episode set in London where they dropped a Prototype 21 logo on the side of a Routemaster bus. I was so happy.

What plans do you have for the future?
To continue drawing, designing and creating.

Chief Writer Kenji Kamiyama's 'hacked' poster which can be found by his desk

Paul, thank you for your time! It's been a pleasure, really.
Please do not hack into my cyberbrain! ^_-

Source: Otaku News
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