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  • Interview with jim Gilstrap

    For something a little different to our usual interviews we put our questions to Jim Gilstrap better known as Supervike - the man of a million posts. Jim is a moderator on both Wyrd and coolminiornot and is the man behind the infamous Iron Painter challenge. Jim hails from Iowa , U.s.a. and has a penchant for all things zombie or cake related.

    As a moderator on cmon you must have seen literally thousands of mini's over the years - have you noticed a big change in the hobby? Changing standards and styles or even the type of minis produced?
    The biggest thing for sure is the standard of quality. The bar constantly gets raised, and as it does even the average painter has to struggle to stay ‘average’. The techniques, quality, availability, and access to mini painting seems to be at an all time high. Style wise, there seems to be a growing tendancy to have more ‘realistically’ proportioned miniatures out there. I think that is a result of both refined casting techniques, and a push towards more realism in the hobby.

    Seeing all those cmon submissions do you ever still just go wow at a mini? and if so can you name some?
    Absolutely. Although I do feel I’ve become jaded by much of it. The thing about approving the pics over at CMoN, is that you wade through some ‘not so great entries’ to get one really fantastic one. I suppose it’s no different for a voter…Then there is the entries that are like twenty seven angles of the same generic space marine….oh god, please learn how to make a single collage picture!!!

    Also, and I think this is an unfortunate side effect of the voting system, is that the minis that get the attention are often ‘perfect’ in technique. The thing that really bothers me about it is that a lot of just plain ‘solid’ minis get overlooked so easily there. Sometimes, the perfect paint just doesn’t have the character or soul that I think lower voted items sometimes do.

    It’s a lot like looking at gorgeous supermodels all day, flawless, intriguing, beautiful. But at the end of the day, it may be that cute little assistant with the crooked smile, and goofy laugh that really steals your heart.

    I think if you look at my favourites you’ll see some of the ones that make me go ‘wow’.


    Of course, some are in there so I can steal ideas, or color schemes, but most are there, just because something struck me as ‘wow’.

    Do you think iron painter is the toughest online painting contest around?
    I haven’t seen one that is as grueling. It’s easy to forget that some of these painters are knocking out award winning quality miniatures, every two weeks, for months!! And, the way it is going, the entries get bigger and more complex. A single miniature rarely cuts it.

    Although, I’ve never participated, I’ve watched how those contestants do. It’s like a marathon race filled with intense sprinting. Quite often there is a real sense of relief when the painter is finally knocked out. You wouldn’t think contestants would be HAPPY to lose, yet they say as much. I think that shows how tough it is.

    So, sure, in my humble opinion, I think it is the toughest. I haven’t seen anything that could prove me wrong.

    What are your hobby interests?
    I can’t focus in on one thing. I actually am interested in gaming, but really haven’t done any of it. I do love painting, or I used to anyhow. Actually, my ultimate goal in miniature would be to create ‘scenes’.

    I’m just fascinated by dioramas, especially if you can read the 'story' of what is happening, just by the composition. I want to start scratchbuilding stuff. If I truly could geek out, my ultimate diorama would be something akin to a Toy Train collectors layout….except no stupid trains. Can you image a giant layout telling a whole story, but filled with little dioramas and vignettes? Maybe a futuristic city scene, that expands into the spaceport, and ‘outworlds’. Or a castle, and the surrounding countryside, mountains for the monsters…Or a modern city being overrun by brain munching zombies....I get a little excited just talking about it...

    Does cake soothe all ills?
    It’s not that simple. It depends on the ill and on the cake. For instance, Angel food cake ALWAYS makes a sore toe feel better, but cheesecake doesn’t help one’s impotence. I think you see where I’m going with this.

    In your history of being a moderator what are some of the best eFight's you've witnessed?
    There have been some real doozies. And I think I’ll name names….Reverend took on this fellow name RLobinkse. Rlobinske had an over inflated sense of his ‘work’, and after many of us tried to coddle him, Reverend stepped in and just let him have it. It was tense, overblown, and interesting, all at the same time.

    Eventually, Rlobinske pulled all his pics, and stormed away. But it was fun while it lasted.

    Reverend reared his head again during the ‘help the tsunami victims Paint-aid’ charity that Cool mini participated in. He really pushed things, and it created lots of bad feelings, both on the board and in private. But, he was dead on right from the get go. His point was that the victims would have been better served if the time and effort we put in to painting and selling an Army, was just donated directly to them. I’ll bet this still causes bad feelings. Of course, it was more about the community doing something as a whole to help. I understand that as well, but Reverends point still holds true.

    I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a few other good ones. Klute and Alexi Z had some real knock down fights. Actually, she got into it quite heavily with lots of folks on the board, but Klute especially. “Drink Poison” was a pretty good reply, however.

    Some of the fights nowadays just relate to politics or religion. I think they make for good discussion, because we are all more than just hobbyists, but it does tend to get old after a bit.

    Some of the behind the scenes stuff over at CMoN has been pretty interesting. Nothing for a while, but every so often ugliness reigns.

    The latest thing I can recall that caused an uproar (at least behind the scenes) was a certain fellow sent me a veiled death threat after I deleted some of his comments. I didn’t actually take it seriously, but it tended to pee me off a smidge. I realized I was getting too sucked into it, and had to have the other moderators help to stay objective.

    Name some people you're glad to have in the eCommunity
    I’d hate to leave anyone out, but that sounds like a chicken**** answer, so I’ll try my best to name some.

    Some names are obvious. Ritual, freakinacage, reverend, and Avelorn, immediately come to mind. Wiccanpony, airhead, NoSuchAgency, Dragonsreach, egads, I could go on for quite a while with those names. There are a bunch of people that somehow I still think of as ‘new’ but they have become the new base demographic. Matty, Darklord, Demonherald, Scott, uberdork, Lizcam, many many others. They seem like the heart and soul of CMoN nowadays. I feel much like the ‘old guard’.

    Basically, anyone who just seems to care as much about the community and other’s painting than they do about their own stuff. There are some members of the community that only use the boards to pimp their own stuff, and never offer an iota of input for others. That’s their prerogative, of course, but I try to stay away from giving comments on the board about their stuff. It’s a two way street…that’s the way it should work.

    That said, there are also some amazingly decent people in the community. In fact, that is the ‘hook’ that keeps me active on the forums.

    Heres a few names you might not recognize, but I find them important nevertheless, to the hobby overall…

    Matakishi, fatgoblin, pappa midnight, witchhunter…..

    There are lots more, and I’m truly sorry that I’ve left some of you out. The good ones know who they are anyhow….

    Name some people you're not sad to have lost over the years?
    I won’t take the easy way out here either, I’m naming names, dammit!

    BigMeanElf. Always a good guy to me, but a freaking jerk in the community. Stirred up controversy wherever he went. Was multiple banned from CMoN, has a horrible reputation on just about any board I’ve seen. But, damn, what a character!!!

    Sturmhalo. Again, I got along fine with him, but somedays I think he took an ‘ornery’ pill.

    Meg, whatever her name was. Sorry, I didn’t know her personally, and I don’t mean this to sound attackish. But, I got lots of complaints and issues about her, and some of her views on things absolutely horrified me. I probably took much of it out of context, I’m sure she’s a great person.

    Chrispy. I don’t know…I think he is in prison now. He was quite a contributing member of CMoN, but was came across as full of himself. I just never ‘clicked’ with him. He did have some great ideas, and wrote some very good tutorials, but if I’m being honest, I can’t say I miss him. Nothing personal, man, don’t shank me.

    Name some people you wish who would come back?
    This is a long list. I’d love to see more of some of those folks I just mentioned, even though I don’t miss them. Controversy is kind of fun at times….but here are some I really miss.

    Barkel. Just made me laugh.
    Finn17. I still see him over at his site, but he’s missed.
    vincegamer. Extremely underappreciated imho.
    Tammy Haye. Mostly out of curiosity.
    Dauber22. He just flat out disappeared. He and I were always accused of being the same guy. As far as I know, we weren’t.
    Freedroid. You probably don’t know him. He was the guy behind the Alpha Forge stuff. Really had a great enthusiasm and imagination with his product, then sold the company and moved on with life. I suppose that happens.

    Too bad you didn’t ask who I wish would leave…that may have been fun, and that list is longer than I’d care to admit.

    Youv'e lost your lovin' feeling for painting. As such an important member of the painting community how do you rationalize this lack of participation on your part? How do you sleep? Seriously, what do you miss/not miss about brushin' stuff?
    I’m not sure where this ‘important member’ bit comes in….Quite honestly, if I disappeared tomorrow, no one would notice. That doesn’t bother me. Actually, I think if I disappeared my family and friends wouldn’t notice either. That bothers me a little, but I’ll get over it.

    I’ve had a serious case of painter constipation for some time…I want to paint, I try to paint. Just nothing comes out of it. Part of it is frustration of knowing in my mind what I want it to look like, and then seeing what I have made of it. I have tons of half-painted miniatures because of this. I joined this site (WAMP) in hopes of rekindling that love I once had. I used to get that from CMoN, but I don’t anymore. Then for a while, I got it from Wyrd…but the focus of painting and hobbying has gone away there too. I’m hoping to find it here. Then again, maybe it’s just me.

    How do I sleep? I have one of those Comfort Select beds. My comfort number seems to be 35 or so…nice and soft…my wife however has her side cranked up to about 80. So if I want to ‘get some’ I have an uphill climb to her side of the bed. It’s just not worth the climb sometimes…

    I miss that feeling of finishing something and being so proud of it that I keep sneaking back into my painting room to get a peek at it. I’ve noticed this feeling lasts longer if I don’t take a picture, as that usually reveals the ugly truth.

    Name some times you've really enjoyed being a mod, and some times you wished you didn't have the responsibility.
    I pretty much always enjoy it. It’s like a backstage pass at times.

    Sometimes, when I can’t help with a problem, I regret being a moderator. I like to help, if it’s in my ability, I will.

    You've a strong enthusiasm for zombies. Name the top 5 zombie related products everyone needs to go buy right now.
    Last Night On Earth. Goofy boardgame that is simple enough to learn, and even your non-geek friends will enjoy it. Seriously, if you want to have a fun game, and not worry about getting the minis painted, check this out. Lots of the games end up right down to the wire, and are tense B-movie type contests.


    Studio Miniatures zombies. Best zombies currently on the market. Great sculpts.

    Left 4 Dead. PC, Xbox 360 game. Creepy to play alone, but a hoot online….

    The Zombie Survival Guide. Hilarious tongue in cheek guide to the coming zombie apocalypse.

    Shaun of the Dead….This movie got me loving the genre. There are a bunch of ‘must see’ zombie movies (and a bunch of ‘must never see’ ones too) but this one tops the list.


    If you died right now, what would you hope the eCommunity would remember you for? And no, you don't get to be a zombie sucka!

    I’m dying?
    Seriously, I just want to be remembered as a nice and generous guy. Who liked miniatures and the hobby. I don’t need a legacy.

    Favorite Super hero and Villain?
    Batman, Wolverine, and Capt. America.
    I can’t think of a comic book villain I like. Can I choose Cthulhu?

    How has YOUR painting progressed over the years? Care to share some early efforts vs. your most recent?
    I think I have a bit more control, but my issue has always been color and tone. My miniatures have a drabness to them that I cannot break out of. I want them to POP. They don’t do that. But, looking back over the years, I was much more productive back then, as I’d paint up lots of stuff. Now are fewer and further between…Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ve improved much at all.

    Here is the first submission I made to CMoN long ago…

    img3ee22a385a565.jpg

    Technically, it doesn’t look that far off from a recent pic of zombie hunters I did.

    zombie-hunters.jpg

    Oh well. At least I’m consistent.

    Do you find running forums is underappreciated by most?
    Heh. No not at all. Quite the opposite. I think folks think there is more to it than there really is.

    Do you think the internet has brought only positive things to the hobby or have negatives arisen from it too?
    The positives far outweigh the negatives. The internet has given this hobby it's legs. Without it, I seriously doubt it would be a shadow of what it is now. If anything, I would say the negatives are that there is TOO much exposure with miniatures nowadays. I think we are in kind of a golden age of minis right now…but for how long? I recall the comic book industry went through a similar thing years ago. New publishers and fans keep flooding in, but eventually, everything went south all at once. I think that industry is still reeling from it’s effects. I sure don’t want to see that happen to the miniatures world, but I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibilities.


    If you had to live on a deserted island for the rest of your life, what 3 items would you take you?
    Bottled water, a lighter, and Tom Hanks.

    If you could sleep with one celebrity, what would his name be?
    No contest, Daniel Craig. He’s so dreamy.

    If you could be a doughnut, what kind would you be. (this was an interview question in the job I'm currently working)
    I’m the doughnut that gets’ left in the box after everyone has chosen their favorite one. Then a few days later, someone finds me, stale and lonely, only a few errant sprinkles and chopped nuts left in the box for company. Since they are hoping to resolve a sugar fix, they try me, only to find out that I’m a cream filled goodness and most likely the best in the box. But unfortunately, I give them terrible Hershey squirts and gas pains….did I go too far with this one? Did I get the job?

    What's the best thread title you've ever seen. Worst?
    The worst thread was most likely that damn Word Association thread. It just kept growing, and got obscenely long. Or maybe that was the best?

    The PYP threads were fun, it was great to see most of those faces.

    Another thread I liked was one that someone started and said you could only use six words. So, as the moderator, I kept posting things saying that the thread is NOT a good idea. But, I kept doing it in 6 word phrases. It took them a while to catch on to what I was doing, but egads, that made me chuckle.

    Oh, but you are asking just about a thread title? When I was first announced as a 'moderator' over at CMoN, Finn posted the title as

    "All Hail supervike"

    I had him change it to

    "Oh Hell, supervike?"

    It seemed more apt.

    Your first choice of weapon when the Zombie outbreak starts?
    Aluminum baseball bat. Almost unbreakable, mostly silent, easy to carry, plus we may want to get a pick up ball game going.

    How did you get the reputation for showing up when someone say BOOBIES!?
    Most likely because I always showed up when Boobies are mentioned. Some may say it’s because I’m always around, I think it’s fate.

    How many boards do you moderate?
    Just three now. I did do a few more, but I’ve pared down. Cool Mini, where actually I’m kinda burnt out. Wyrd, where I actually don’t do anything as far as moderation goes. I run the Iron Painter, and help organize the contests, but there isn’t much really to do. Alpha Forge….the thing I do there the most is delete spam. Although I did upgrade the software for them, but no one goes there at all. Just me, 2300 spambots, and the occasion hobbyist asking if anyone comes on the site.

    Any tips for a first time moderator?
    Seriously, I’m no expert in the field, and most of it’s just common sense. My guidelines have to apply a very light touch. Most of the folks are decent and moderate themselves quite well. The community will tell folks when they get out of line. If a problem does crop up, try to deal with as much of it as you can ‘behind the scenes’, let people save face whenever possible.

    Thanks for choosing me as a interviewee....It was kind of fun. Plus, if folks are having a bout of insomnia, they can read this for instant relief!


    A big thanks to Jim for taking the time to answer these questions, right im off to stock up on aluminium baseball bats and donuts