Steve Mindykowski has been the webmaster of his Unofficial Rugrats Online web site for many years now. When Klasky Csupo was just starting up their Cooltoons Sites back in 1998, Steve already had countless pages of Rugrats trivia up for web viewers to see. His devotion to our shows did not go unnoticed, and his summaries of the Rugrats episodes, quotes and factoids inspired the creation of our own guide on this site.
It is obvious to anyone who browses through the pages of rugratsonline.com how many hours Steve puts into the maintenance of his site, and so Cooltoons.com decided to contact him and ask him a few questions about how he came to be such a devoted fan.
COOLTOONS: How often do you work on your web site?
STEVE MINDYKOWSKI: Normally, I work on my site for an hour or two each night after work, and sometimes an hour or two before work. Of course, I have more time on weekends -- generally a few hours on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and public holidays. It should be known that I don't work the common 9-to-5 schedule -- I work second shift, about 10 hours a day, 4 days a week, until 2AM.
CT: Tell us some of the sources for your information.
SM: First of all, my primary sources are the websites of Nick -- not just Nick.Com, but all the foreign versions that have websites, such as Latin America (http://www.mundonick.com), Australia (http://www.nickelodeon.com.au/) and Britain (http://www.nickuk.com/). I also occasionally consult the website of YTV (http://www.ytv.com/), which broadcasts "Rugrats" and most Nicktoons in Canada. And of course, I shouldn't forget Klasky Csupo's own site at Cooltoons.Com.
In the fan web site category, there's not many, as most websites have either closed, been abandoned, or just carry the usual basics, such as pictures and an episode guide, usually purloined from Nick.Com or other websites (including mine!). The two fan sites I do regularly visit are: "Le meilleur site sur les Razmoket!" (http://www.razmoket.fr.st/ ; also at http://www.multimania.com/superyo/) -- this site has thorough information on the French version of "Rugrats", called "Les Razmoket".The site is based in France, but I take interest in it, as I regularly get "Les Razmoket" from Canada (where it's seen on VRAK.TV, not to mention, the French videos you can buy). I have a French-language version of my site, though revisions are few and far between, as my English site comes first. Hopefully, I'll include English details on "Les Razmoket" on my site someday -- believe me, the French version is a completely-different show (im my opinion).
Don Del Grande's "Hey Arnold" site (http://www.hey-arnold.com/ ; also at http://www.netvista.net/~del_grande/arnold.html) -- obviously, it has nothing to do with "Rugrats", but often has Nickelodeon news (and in some cases, "Hey Arnold" news) that is of interest to me and my site. He also has an "As Told By Ginger" episode guide on his site as well -- just go to his home page and follow the links.
While on the topic of websites, search engines also play an important part in getting the information I need -- great places include Yahoo, FAST Search (http://www.AllTheWeb.com/), and Nothern Light (http://www.northernlight.com/).
Newsgroups also play an important role in this information gathering -- most of the "Rugrats" information is at alt.tv.nickelodeon . I also frequent alt.tv.rugrats and rec.arts.animation , though there's not much "Rugrats" news in those areas. Whenever I find any hot news, I usually spread the word through those newsgroups. As for other newsgroups that have "Rugrats" information, I use "Google" (http://groups.google.com/).
Of course, there's also press releases, where the official information comes from; for these, I use Viacom's web site (http://www.viacom.com/), as well as PR Newswire (http://www.prnewswire.com/), which specialises in press releases.
And we shouldn't forget the "hard copy" -- magazines and newspapers. The morning papers that I read each day usually has an item or two about "Rugrats", its players or Nickelodeon. I also check "TV Guide" at the checkout each week. And of course, there's "Nickelodeon Magazine", which usually has some items on "Rugrats"; but as for TV schedule information, I'd take it with a grain of salt, as they're wrong most of the time.
And finally, don't forget the fans who write in, usually with stories, pictures, or vital "Rugrats" information. This, by the way, is how I found out that "A Rugrats Kwanzaa" was already televised in Britain (until then, I didn't even know it was ever made).
CT: What is your personal favorite Rugrats episode and why.
SM: I recently asked this same question to the visitors on my site, and in many cases, they give several, or say "they're all good". The moral is: "Polls are hard to conduct."
But personally, if I had to choose just one "Rugrats" story, I'd choose "The Word Of The Day", where Angelica cusses for the first time. The first time I saw it, I laughed loud and long, especially since I had to imagine what Angelica said.
CT: Tell us a little about yourself.
SM: I'm 31 years old (as of 2001) and still live with my family in Florida. I'm a CADD operator for a company that specialises in maps and graphics for utility companies and governments.
Each year, I visit Ontario and Quebec on vacation, and sometimes, Michigan (my home state). I love Canada, especially Quebec (both the city and the province).
Going back to "Rugrats", the first time I was aware of them was when they started in 1991 -- the only thing I significantly remember then was that the Target department store chain had a promotion surrounding the first 3 Nicktoons -- "Doug", "Ren & Stimpy" and of course, "Rugrats". I think I saw the first episode then, but didn't regularly started watching it until 1995, when it was all in reruns. At the time, a man named Billy D'Augustine had what was probably the first "Rugrats" fan site (no longer exists, unfortunately), which inspired me to start my own. To be honest, I started my site because I was afraid that Nick would take "Rugrats" off the air for good; of course, about 77 new episodes and 2 movies later, those fears went away.
CT: What are the things you would improve about Rugrats if you could?
SM: Firstly, more holiday episodes, such as Easter, St. Patrick's Day, Labor Day, and maybe a real "Father's Day" special (not like the ones Nick did by slapping 2 regular repeats together and calling it a "Father's Day Special").
Speaking of which, an episode on the whereabouts of Kimi's dad would also be nice; otherwise, fans will start asking about it the same way they asked about Chuckie's natural mom.
As for Chuckie, have him start speaking more words, other than "no".
Also, include more guest stars in the series; maybe have some play themselves, just like Chick Hearn and Pat Sajak in the early days.
Also, it'll be great to have the Rugrats appear as grown-ups; maybe have their parents imagine what their children will be doing in the future.
Finally, more crossovers. The crossover with "Real Monsters" was a great start; maybe you should have "Rocket Power" guest star in an episode, as well (they did cross-over in the comic book, however). And yes, I am already fully aware of the crossover with "The Wild Thornberrys", whether as a TV special or a movie. A crossover with "Hey Arnold" would be nice. My dream crossover would be with "The Simpsons", though there's probably no way that that would happen.
There's much more in the crossover and guest stars department, though it'll be too much to say for now.
CT: What are, to you, the most enjoyable parts of the show?
SM: The best parts of the show are the Rugrats little "adventures", which, for the most part, are very enjoyable and intriguing.
CT: Tell us about some of the interaction you've had with some fans online.
SM: All of it, of course, is in the form of e-mail. Most of this are just brief notes saying how they loved the show and the characters. Some of this, of course, is meant for Nickelodeon or K-C, though of course, I always stress that my site is "unofficial". Some also send pictures and stories of the Rugrats, which I include on my website. I even got e-mail from some of the behind-the-scenes people, telling me how they loved my site; people such as Michael Bell (the voice of Drew & Chazz), Larry Loebell (one of the writers of the show), and Scott Roberts (who pencils and writes the comic strips and the comic book stories).
The strangest interaction, however, was a couple of years ago, with a fan who lived in the Vancouver, BC area. He sent me a few stories, but got angry at me because I edited out the cusswords that he included, along with a paragraph that had Santa Claus and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer get very critical of Jesus. I told him that I edited them beause there are families viewing my website. He tells me that they would approve of them. Then, 6 fans, all of them aliases of him, wrote me, saying how they loved the show and they would rather like me to keep the cussing and the Jesus-slandering in the stories; I stood my ground, saying "no". Another "fan" wrote me, saying that he sent me a 144-page "Rugrats" story book by e-mail, saying that it's somewhere in my computer; I told him I didn't get it; he refused to give me any hints on its whereabouts. In my opinion, it was just a put-on. After a few months, he stopped writing me, though someone told me that he moved to Windsor, Ontario. Apart from that freak, I am very cordial with my fans, and they are usually very appreciative of my site.