Most people probably didn’t expect Toothface to amount to much during his childhood and teenage years. As a massive head with disproportionately-sized limbs and no torso, his career options surely appeared quite dire. He never would have made it as an underwear model. His head is too huge to fit in a typical McDonald’s kitchen. Because his arms can’t reach a steering wheel, a future as a pizza delivery boy was also off the table.
Luckily, things fell into place. Toothface trumped the odds and achieved his dream of becoming one of the most well-recognized retail store mascots in New England — all while staying (reasonably) true to his D.I.Y., anti-corporate roots. He reps Newbury Comics — the monolithic dispenser of music, apparel, books, assorted knick-knacks and oh yeah, comics — which remains independently owned after more than 30 years, plus has nearly as many franchises scattered across five states. In addition to paper and plastic bags, Toothface appears on T-shirts, glasses, lunchboxes, countless other novelties, and even shares his namesake with a racing yacht once sailed by store co-founder Mike Dreese.
We chased down the emblem outside the recently-christened Newbury Comics outlet at the CambridgeSide Galleria. Toothface is incapable of speech, and communicates via hand signals and happy dances. It would have been nice if we had been aware of that before scheduling this interview, but, ultimately, we rose to the challenge. After all, we went to college to do stuff like this.
What’s it like being a mascot? (Toothface gives a thumbs-up, indicating that he enjoys being a mascot quite a bit.)
Do people hear your name and confuse it with Two-Face, the Batman villain? (Oscillates a flat hand, as if to say, “Occasionally, but not much.”)
Do you admire fellow mascot, Cap’n Crunch? (Thumbs-down)
What about Count Chocula? (Thumbs-up)
Oooooh, what about the GEICO Gecko? (Shrugs, indicating indifference or ignorance.)
What if you couldn’t be a mascot anymore? How would you feel? Do any other professions appeal to you? (Leans forward, as if to bow his head in deep, inconsolable sadness.)
People see you and think, “We should buy stuff at Newbury Comics.” Is there anything else you want the world to know? (Embarks on an epic, side-to-side shuffle dance, while waving his arms in a circular, joyful motion.)
Outstanding. Do you ever wish that you had a torso? (Nods repeatedly, to indicate an affirmative response.)