If there's one thing Nicholas Megalis' maddeningly catchy six-second looping Vine videos can teach us, it's that the mundane deserves a second look. "Wake up late on a Saturday, chillin' in the crib with a pocketful of pancakes," Megalis sings in a popular riff, face close-up as he shows off a pancake stuffed into his shirt pocket.
Luckily, the Internet star with 4.7 million followers is from Cleveland. So layered into a spazzy brain that produces art faster than a meme goes viral is a Midwestern guy who credits his parents for his success and wants everyone to be nice to one another.
"I used to sit for hours and watch the numbers and refresh and refresh: Oh my God, 500 people, 600 people, 2,000 people," says Megalis, who has created more than 500 videos for the smartphone app and now lives in New York City. "Now, I honestly just gotta make good work that I can fall asleep and feel like I did something today that was meaningful."
When he's not shooting videos, Megalis is a musician, artist and now a writer. His new book, Mega Weird, (Regan Arts, $22 paperback, $29.95 deluxe signed version) is a collection of short stories that chronicles his adolescence and young adulthood, with illustrations by his dad, artist Tom Megalis. We talked to Megalis about trolls, his dad and being weird.
On Internet trolls •¨ I'd rather be ripped apart than shrugged at. I think that means you've affected somebody in some way. Most of the time the people who hate you are actually the people who love you the most, because they're the ones who comment most frequently!
On weirdness •¨ My life is about making things I need to make. Insane people who make things are called artists. Insane people who don't make things are called insane. If you have anything that troubles you, if you find a way to channel it, you can save your life. ... When I say "insane," I don't mean covering yourself in tinfoil and robbing a bank. What I mean is not really being a "normal" person but functioning in a different way and being OK with that.
On his dad •¨ My dad is a burst of light that's hiding underneath a small layer of rubble. He took me to his studio and showed me all the paintings after the book had gone to be printed. I saw the paintings and I cried.
On the takeaway from Mega Weird •¨ I'm not a role model. I'm just saying there's hope for outsiders.