Left to right: Lev, Ronald McDonald, Aric and Stein hanging out on Halloween '98.
Lev was born to humble parents of modest means in a gulag in the deepest reaches of Siberia in the then-Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Lev was born in a time of massive political and international tension, at the height of Cold War. His parents, liberal-minded proponents of glastnost and perestroika, were sentenced to hard labor for their "subversive ideas dangerous to the well-being of the Republic." They led demonstrations in opposition of collective farming until they were seized off a Moscow picket line in 1972. The Babievs were sent to the difficult life of work-camp labor, forced to try and coax vegetation from the unyielding tundra.
In 1976, the Babiev's struggle was rewarded with the birth of their son, Lev. Much to their dismay, Lev was born with full mutton chop sideburns, and gulag officials confiscated the child, calling him "defective" and summarily sentencing him to exposure on the side of a snowy hill. Luckily, the infant Lev was rescued by a pack of Russian brown bears, who raised him of a diet of permafrost and prison camp escapees.
Lev left his ursine family at the age of thirteen, saying he had nothing left to learn from them, having mastered the art of hibernation. Lev hopped the first train to Moscow out of Vladivistok, wearing a coat made from one of his adopted brothers, who had an unfortunate run-in with a bear-trap a year earlier. He arrived to Moscow with a vocabulary consisting of grunts and roars, making it difficult for him to land a job. One fateful day in Red Square, Lev met a street musician who landed him a roadie job with Russian heavy metal powerhouse Gorky Park. He toured with The Park for two years, picking up enough Russian to communicate with the Soviet brethren without scaring them. He parlayed the prestigious Gorky gig into a crowd control slot on the fabled Iron Maiden/Scorpions/Krokus/Quiet Riot Eastern European "Rock the Iron Curtain" tour. On the 56 city, 235 show tour, he earned enough money to send himself to college and for the leather-and-spikes outfit he wears so gracefully now.
Lev touched down at Dulles International Airport in August of 1995, mastering English as taught by his Pakistani cabbie on the the long ride to Georgetown University. Savage in the past, a misfit today, he was destined to end up a H.O.S.E.R.
It all began a very, very long time ago, when a young boy first picked up a crayon and began to draw. It was a magical experience. The colors, the textures, the taste of the colored wax... it was all so enticing. And the work of art he created still hangs in the Louvre today. but that was only the beginning.
Greatly influenced by the greats through my childhood, I gained a greater appreciation for cartooning. Jim Davis, Gary Larson, Bill Watterson, and Berkeley Breathed would inspire this young man to cartoon. My primary beginnings lay in mass amounts of paper and pencil use up in never-ending attempts to copy the characters seen in Garfield, followed by Bill the Cat from Bloom County. But eventually, enough was enough. It was time to strike off on my own.
At the tender age of 16, I started to draw my own strip. The characters were based on real people. The situations were based on real situations. It lasted for one stip. It was too boring. And it was really hard to draw so much and still keep fresh ideas rolling around my head. I then came up with an idea for a panel cartoon. It sucked. I won't even divulge what it was supposed to be about. Let's say it was so bad, the dog wouldn't even eat it. With cheese wrapped around it.
That was it. Cartooning fell by the wayside. I grew up, graduated from Haddonfield Memorial High School. I went to Georgetown University, as a Nursing major. This is where I met Lev.
I'll admit, Lev scared me at first. He wore all black leather, had giant sideburns, and his spikes glittered in the moonlight whenever he stood on the Healy Lawn to howl at the full moon. Which in and of itself, was pretty scary, too. He always smiled and waved "hi" to me, which only made me suspicious. Then I saw a picture of him devouring a live squirrel in a newspaper called The GONZO. I was officially terrified.
Until a fateful day, when a mutual friend I met in the Mask and Bauble Dramatic Society (yes, I'm a thespian and a technician) asked me if I'd like to see his "awesome computer setup and a really cool game called Duke Nukem 3-D." I love violent video games, so I couldn't say no. I followed Matt back to his dorm room in 803 Village C west. The door opened.
And Lev waved "hi" to me.
And thus began a strong friendship I'm glad I overcame my fright for. Lev and Matt would soon become characters in a comic strip. Tales From the Dark Side of Hell was about two Georgetown Students, self-made superheroes, vigilantes for justice, Saviours of Georgetown. I almost completed a whole series for The GONZO when the paper folded and not only went underground, but six feet under. I sent the series to "Strip Search" in an effort to win a contest. I still haven't heard back. They must have poor taste. Tales From the Dark Side of Hell met a sad fate. I stopped drawing it. But the ideas I had may still be used in the future.
"HOSERS" was born early in 1999, after reading the inspirational comics at Goats: the Comic Strip and User Friendly. I decided to give a last try at a comic, and this time, I'd publish on-line to get easy access to an audience.
During a few of our traditional, weekly trips across the Key Bridge to the Rosslyn, VA McDonald's, Lev and I spent time developing charcaters and situations in which to develop them. After scrawling a list of plot ideas on the back of a McDonald's placemat, we were ready to go into full production.
So, here we are, HOSERS is up and running, generating material on a weekly basis until I graduate. And from there, who knows. The sky is the limit.
And NO, I did NOT eat paste as a baby.
© 1999-present by Aric S. Campling and Lev Babiev. Produced by The KillerFrog Group Productions; all rights reserved. Use of all materials on this page and this site subject to US and international copyright law. If you wish to use any of these materials, please see this page or e-mail Aric.
In addition, express permission is given by the author for anyone to draw horns and mustaches on any characters in this strip. Thank you.