Jolly Crouton and the Buswick

This month, Jolly Crouton Media is holding the third annual Buswick – a competition for independent game developers (or, according to the official Buswick website, “an independent game development party”). Every year has a different theme to inspire creators, and this year’s theme is Daffy Inventions.

Clayton Belcher, the man behind the bowler hat, took some time to answer a few questions about the competition and the company behind it.

Me: In a word (seriously, just one), how would you describe what Jolly Crouton Media does?

Clayton Belcher: Whimsy.

Me: Jolly Crouton Media wears a lot of hats (in the puniest sense of the phrase). Games, elephant-pun t-shirts, an annual competition – which came first? What comes next?

Courtesy JCM

Clayton Belcher: Jolly Crouton Media was formally started as a game development outfit, but as I’ve loved all manner of creative work my whole life, it’s not limited just to games! There’s a certain sort of eccentric fun I love to embody in my work, and many of those formats fit well under a media company’s banner. Video games are the primary medium (for now) because they’re fun, inspire imagination, combine the beauty of art and music and action, and serve as a great way to make and spend time with friends.

Courtesy JCM

As far as what’s next, it depends on whether you mean what project is next, or what avenue of creation! Right now we’re porting our puzzle game Splotches to iPad and brainstorming on an action adventure game called Gran, Gramps, ‘n Beansie, but beyond video games, there are a number of directions we could take. We’ve always got something simmering in the backs of our creative thinkybrains and octopus tentacles reaching into many invention pies. Sometimes I have to stop and write project details down to keep my brain from exploding. Right now we’re weaving together the universe for a webcomic based on cartoon characters my siblings and I created when we were little. It’s called Dilly-Dallying! One of my many dreams for JCM, though perhaps not a reality for some time, is to branch out into animation, perhaps based on the comic world, or the adventure game world. Oh great, now I’m all excited about projects.

Me: How did The Buswick come together? Was the experience more similar to sandwich-building or salad-tossing? Which simile would, in your opinion, make for a better Olympic sport?

Magnus von Buswick, courtesy JCM

Clayton Belcher: The Buswick name (like that of the company) has an interesting history. Several years ago, before the inordinately apt JCM name popped into existence (based on one of my personal nicknames, Croutons), I labeled my work with the faux-French Le Crouton Belchiere Studios (I now know the grammar is questionable and it just didn’t fit like JCM). I was to host a game development competition (which the community calls compos), that I would entitle the Annual Le Crouton Belchiere Studios Winter Competition, or “alcuhbuswick”. It had a theme song with lyrics and everything. That competition never happened, but years later, with a bit more experience and an LLC to put to use, I had found the werewithal to bring all the necessary pieces together, and chose a much pithier name: The Buswick. I love inspiring creativity through the competition, and as you can see, I have a soft spot for daffy Victorian themes. I think melding old aesthetic sensibilities with the modern technology of game development is quirky and fun. Just like the mascot, Magnus von Buswick.

Courtesy JCM

The Buswick happens because of a great group of people. Sierra Reep and Brynnae Belcher have done illustrations, Johan Hargne over in Sweden composed some great music, Phil Didion has done some stellar camerawork, Jon Lambert helped with site coding, Chris Carson from Clickteam helped furnish prizes–it’s been a concerted effort. The process is definitely more like sandwich-building, because everyone loves sandwiches. (Actually that might not be true. One of my friends said otherwise the other day. I’m not convinced he’s real.) Salad-tossing would perhaps be a better spectacle for the Olympics, but it depends on the equipment involved. For example, a hockey rink full of lettuce and players skating around with giant tongs could be great. I guess forklifts in sandwich-building would be cool too, though.

Me: Imagine you had unlimited funds and the power to stretch time. Under these conditions, Cincinnati would wake tomorrow and find…?

Courtesy JCM

Clayton Belcher: Oh no, unlimited funds and time? Oh my, the options are far too many. Oh dearie goodness gracious me, how do I pick? I would probably have to use that stretched time to ponder the best use of this gift, but it would most assuredly be humanitarian in nature. (That’s another dream–a non-profit called The Good Cheer Foundation. One day!) Maybe it would be an automated sandwich delivery service that sent free sandwiches around the world and healed hurting people with magic. (Magic is just really expensive technology, right? Money can buy that, I’m sure.)

A more whimsical answer would be a giant waterslide around the Scripps Center. Building permits permitting, of course. SAFETY, CHILDREN!

Me: What do our readers need to know? Right this second?

Clayton Belcher: Your readers need to know this instant that life is full of adventures, both grand and tiny. Don’t forget to gawp at the wonder of it all now and then. Quest forth, friends!

You can participate in the Buswick here, check out everything else Jolly Crouton Media is up to, or follow JCM on Facebook and Twitter.

Courtesy JCM

M. Leigh Hood is a rare beast of the Cincinnati wilderness typically preoccupied with writing, nerding, and filming The Spittoon List. For more articles and stories by M. Leigh Hood, look HERE.


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