It almost defies explanation: a cartoon cat with a POP-Tart body, flying through a starry sky, leaving a rainbow trail, and meowing a happy tune. Simple enough, right? Then try and explain how in less than a month it has gotten more than a million views, spawned multiple imitators, and become part of the pop culture lexicon.
In what may be a surprise even to the image’s creator, the reaction across the web has been nothing short of amazing. It started out as “Pop Tart Cat” – but the internet world named it ‘Nyan Cat’ – (‘Nyan’ is the word Japanese culture uses for ‘meow.’) And it all started in early April with a doodle. Here’s my interview with 25 year old Christopher Torres from Dallas, Texas – the guy who created the original image – on how it all began.
When did you create it? What started it all?
This was either the end of March or very beginning of April. A few days later I randomly decided to do some pixel art, and Pop Tart Cat was the first thing that came to mind.
How long did it take to create? Did you also write and sing the song? It took about three to four hours to create. I’m really new at making pixel art so I had some difficulties in animation, but am very happy with the result. I did not have anything to do with the song. (In the background, a UTAU cover of the popular Nyanyanyanyanyanyanya song loops over and over again.) Credit for that goes to this person. (The song is) extremely popular in Japan right now for different reasons, but wasn’t really too popular in the US until Nyan Cat took over.
Tell me about the name. Originally, its name was Pop Tart Cat, and I will continue to call it so, but the Internet has reached a decision to name it Nyan Cat, and I’m happy with that choice, too.
The only inspiration behind Pop Tart / Nyan Cat is my own cat, Marty. I had no other ideas in mind other than fusing a cat and a pop tart together. It’s all original :)!
From your point of view, when did it take off? When did you notice this was taking on a life of its own? About three or four days after I initially posted it on my website, I got word that it was out on G4’s Attack of the show, a television show focusing on video game/Internet culture. Minutes later, I found the source on Youtube. A lady named Saraj00n decided to take my GIF and the song and put them together in a 3 minute song. I also found out on the same day that CollegeHumor picked it up, and that’s where things really got going.
(Editor’s note: there’s also a site called Non-Stop Nyan Cat… which tracks how many seconds you can watch and listen…)
Honestly, it was just going to be a cute little animation to post on my website. I had no big plans other than turning it into an animated avatar for myself so I could use it in some forums. I’m actually lucky to have saved all of the original files, because I don’t normally do that!
What is the most unique or strange response you’ve gotten from the video?
No joke, but someone yesterday asked me if they could draw porn of it! I really hope they are joking
What do your friends think of all this?
They all love it, and I’m glad they do. Nyan Cat has also introduced me to a bunch of new friends and hopefully things will keep getting better!
More than 1 million views!! Are you making money on it yet? What are your plans?
I’m so surprised it’s jumped up to 1 million views in such a short amount of time! Most of the reactions to the video have been positive, as well, which also blows my mind a bit. I really am happy that so many people are enjoying Nyan Cat. I keep hearing all of these stories saying they ran across it through different ways, and I love hearing that. I technically haven’t made any money from it yet, unfortunately, but I was contacted by LevelUpStudios to partner up and make T-Shirts. (Get em here!) Shirt sales are doing extremely well, and a nice portion of that will go to support me. I’m also currently working on an official Nyan Cat video game, which is like a dream come true for me. It’ll feature brand new art and characters and will stay true to the original while offering a fun style of gameplay. On a sad note, though, I’ve noticed people almost immediately creating their own apps or programs featuring my work without permission for their own financial gain. It’s been really tough fighting these issues but I’ve filed a Copyright for Nyan Cat and hopefully that will help. Wish me luck!
Has the phenomenon changed the way you look at your work or how you do what you do?
To be honest, it hasn’t really changed how I view my work. I plan on keeping up my same formula when it comes to making comics and I hope everybody enjoys them just the same. Pop Tart / Nyan Cat started off as a humble little cute animation and I’ll always view it that way. Hopefully this can open new opportunities in my life, and the other people behind the phenomenon that helped make it happen. I wish them luck and success on this, as well!
It’s great to read a success story from someone who seems like a genuinely nice guy! Congratulations Chris!!