With “Nostalgia,” I challenged myself to capture some of my favorite original Super Mario characters free-hand, using only Conte crayon and four basic colors: white, black, red-orange, and brown. This series, like the “Swagghammer” piece, is a tribute to, and a commentary on, the figures that I was obsessed with when I was younger.
Nintendo created these characters, but I spent hours and hours with them as a kid. And when you spend years with someone, you get to know their character intimately. You develop a true connection to their personalities, recognizing what makes Yoshi, “Yoshi,” not just a green dinosaur, the same way what makes my brother, my brother, not just some nigga. All the characters will be re-made or re-imagined over time, so this series conveys how my generation remembers Mario and crew.
It’s the kid in me that made Mario and his posse something I felt I had to draw, because I knew I would regret it when I got old if I didn’t have a giant Bowser hangin’ in my foyer.
Mario games in particular represent a certain innocence, I didn’t draw GTA or HALO or COD for a reason, even though I played those games as well. Nostalgia is all about fond memories and innocent pleasures crystallized. This connects to a common theme in my work as I examine the gradual loss of innocence in children, but specifically the young black male.
By Jason BYrdI remember when these men were boysAnd toys too easily took up all the space.Space that’s now been replaced With lace,and L’s,and Liquor.and Long deep thoughts About how damn dense this planet really is.
As kids we would sit there and stare shamelessly Into a square box, barely blinking,And we were in shock,thinking their world,Seemed more real than ours.
We wished we could just jump on heads To make problems dead.Now we wished we had gold,And shrooms,And x1000 lives so we could fuck aroundAnd never get down cause game over never came With the same stress that test And breasts did.A kid’s kingdom at the flip of a switch.
And King Koopa can’t quite conjure the same fear nowafter you hear your princess peach has disappeared.
And I’m many years older now,
Just a pit in my stomach.
Koopa and Paratroopa (2012)