Few people look back on their adolescence and don't feel some kind of shame or embarrassment. (And if they don't, they're probably sociopaths.) The dawn of self-awareness just about always triggers desperate efforts by squeaky-voiced teens to attain social acceptance, which in hindsight always seem a bit ridiculous (or worse). Chris Prynoski's middle and high school years are definitely no different, though his regrets about the period are a bit different than most.
"Here's the embarrassing truth, and it's like the opposite thing that most human beings are embarrassed about," he admits — with a laugh — on a new episode of The Fandom Files. "I played Dungeons & Dragons every day after school from when I was in fourth grade to sixth grade, and then when I got into like seventh grade I started to see these paths that I could take. I was like, you know what? I'm gonna sell my comic books and stop playing D&D and learn how to ride a skateboard. That's the only way I'm gonna ever kiss a girl."
Don't worry; Prynoski retained some elements of his nerdiness throughout those awkward teenage years, as he wound up making friends with popular kids by drawing demons on their denim jackets (it was the late '80s). And he did wind up embracing his full geek once again, once he went to art school in New York. That nerdiness served him well during his early days working on cartoons for MTV, and going all-in on his specialty interests has become the key to his massive success, as the co-founder of Titmouse Animation Studio.
Titmouse is a production company that makes all kinds of animated TV shows, but specializes in the weird cartoons that your stoner friends love, like The Venture Bros., Big Mouth, Disjointed, and Black Dynamite. (They also helped make Marvel's Black Panther animated series). Running the studio has led him to meet and work with an array of performers and writers — T-Pain is a huge animation fan (especially Steven Universe) — and has also led to the re-igniting of his love for D&D.
Through his friends in animation, Prynoski now has weekly and monthly D&D games in L.A., and has gone on the ultimate tabletop pilgrimage: Last year, he went to Gary Con, the Dungeons & Dragons celebration that takes place in the home of Gary Gygax, the man who invented the game and is considered the father of role-playing games.
"We played a white box edition game that was written and playtested in the room that we were playing in," he said. "And we did a game out here in L.A. with Rob Kuntz, who's one of the guys who wrote a lot of the original rules and original books. I find they're much more like loose and much more likely to like make s*** up on the fly than to be super by-the-book rules guys."
Prynoski spoke more about D&D and his career in animation (watch the last few seasons of Netflix's Turbo if you want to see some of his weirdest work) during the interview, which you can listen to below:
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