The Weirding got Frisky Dingo co-creator, 70-30's Matt Thompson, to truly open up and talk candidly about the new [Adult Swim] show.
In a hard-hitting piece of news journalism that would make Bawbwa Wa-Wa cwy, Matt discussed life, death, and the burgeoning sexuality that accosts all young people when they first smell the signs of [wo]manhood. He laughed and cried and told us what he thought he had learned about life, love, and The Universe.
But then we cut all that shit.
The Weirding: How y'all durn? How's your mom and them?
70-30: Aren't you sweet! Thanks for asking. My "mom and them" are "durn" well, thank you. Currently they are attending night school to work on their grammar and diction. As we all know, people misusing the English language is a rampant epidemic in our country right now.
The Weirding: I once dated a girl what had a diction. Awesome X vs. Brock Sampson. Where's your money?
70-30: I think Brock might give Mr. Crews a serious curbing; Xander is not the toughest kid on the billionaire block. However, I defy Brock to beat him at managing a worldwide conglomerate! It simply cannot be done.
The Weirding: Who would win in a rage in the cage match: you or Matt Maiellaro?
70-30: I am pretty sure I could take him as long as there were no weapons in said cage. Matt has a dark side - full of metal and guns and blood. You give him access to his stash of weaponry and it is over faster than you can spell Maiellaro. Which, come to think of it, might take a while - but you get the idea.
The Weirding: Were you a comic book kid and do you read comics now? What did you read then, and what do you read now?
70-30: I am a comic book kid. Thanks for asking! I grew up reading X-Men, Fantastic Four, and the Hulk. I recently started reading comics again as the guys at 70-30 populate the bathroom with comic books. Since they buy them, I don't feel the shame of being 37 years old and walking into the comic book store while my kids wait for me out in the car.
I am reading Green Lantern, Justice, New Avengers, Ultimate Spiderman, and Civil War. Also, our head animator, Mack Williams, recently brought in a comic book he wrote in the 9th grade called Super Spheres. That's lumped right in the ol' reading rack with the other books. I know he was in 9th grade when he wrote it, but it is really, really bad. We were thinking of firing him, but are now afraid that he might come back later and shoot us all.
The Weirding: I know some of the LARPers in the last few episodes. Do any of y'all game and if so, what do you play?
70-30: We do not LARP, although we look forward to seeing LARPers in the park and pointing at them and laughing.
The Weirding: What is the group's main creative focus in general (script, voice talent, art, etc.)? Does it change depending on the series and idea(s), or do you try to keep it consistent - or later find a certain style dominates most of your work (whether or not you intended for it to be present at all)?
70-30: The most important thing is the script. Because of budget limitations, the other aspects of the show just won't be the best in the world. However, we try and do the most with what we can in those aspects. For our new show, I think our art is amazing for the amount of time and money that goes into it. I am not saying that we don't spend time on it, just that there are only five guys to draw all of that stuff and they only get three weeks to do it! So, their efforts must be limited. They can't spend three days making the most kickass robot you have ever seen in your life; they are forced to kick out stuff as fast as possible. But still, I think the end result looks pretty great.
The style that mostly dominates our work is what makes us laugh at the time. More specifically, what makes my partner Adam laugh as he does the overwhelming majority of the writing. When we began thinking about this show, our jumping off thought was Arrested Development. We loved the serialized soap-opera/comedy angle. Also, we had just finished working on Sealab for five years, where there was really no character development or consequences to actions. The idea of going in a completely opposite direction from the extreme absurdity of Sealab , to a real world, with real consequences, was very appealing. Now we find that we keep having to tie-up all of the loose ends in an episode.
For example, in one 11 minute episode, we need to resolve or further a plot line for Xander, Stan, Grace, Killface, Simon, Sinn, Phil, and the Xtacles. To not just make this a drama can be challenging from the stand point of what is going on with the plot. Although, we are enjoying this problem rather than having a world of no character development.
The Weirding: Are all the episodes for this season already "in the can," or are you doing it on a continuing schedule?
70-30: We are currently animating #11 and writing/recording #12.
The Weirding: Do you prefer doing it this way or would you rather do it the other way?
70-30: We love making the show and we love how we are able to do it. It is really unique to have a crew of eight people doing this job. That is the entire staff: illustrators, animators, writers. There are a couple more when you add in VO [voice-over] people, but they don't live with the show day in and day out. I know no one watching cares, but eight people making a TV show is incredible. I can't even begin to think how many people make the Simpsons. At it's core, that is what I feel [Adult Swim] is about: the vision of mom and pop comedy shops that don't get bogged down with some giant structure. This creates a truly unique voice in the comedy. No one is focus-grouping these things to death or having some Vice-President of Vice-Presidents trying to insert ham-fisted jokes.
The Weirding: I absolutely love the artwork. How did you achieve that effect? Were computers used and how?
70-30: The majority of the art is produced by using photographs as a base. For characters, we draw over the photographs in Illustrator. For the backgrounds, we treat the photos in Photoshop with some line filters and then add our own color. However, some stuff you just can't find a photograph of and we have to do it from scratch. When this happens, our head designer will make something in Lightwave (3D) and kick out some stills to be worked on further in Photoshop.
Originally, we went this way for speed. Now, we just love the look of it.
The Weirding: Did you choose the 15-minute format or would you have preferred a 30-minute slot?
70-30: 15 minutes is what we were given. I go back and forth on 15 vs. 30. I think the plot-y nature of our show would lend itself well to a 30-minute slot. However, we haven't done that before, so I really can't say how we would do at it. Things are often left out of our show due to time constraints. Sometimes that makes things better, sometimes you feel bad about it.
We know it is a good show when after we watch the finished episode, you can't believe 11 minutes just went by.
The Weirding: Does Killface believe in Bigfoot? What does he think it is -- man-ape, giant gorilla, hoax?
70-30: I think Killface would not believe in Bigfoot. Unless it was the monster truck "Bigfoot." And then I think he'd just be bemused that monster trucking even existed, and that people pay to go see it. That, actually, would probably be one of the reasons he wants to destroy the planet. That and the parents who get their baby girls' ears pierced at nine months of age... and then take them to monster truck events.
The Weirding: Last question (first one doesn't count - merely a courtesy). What is 70-30 most proud of as a company and what's in the future?
70-30: I am most proud that we are still in business! A stationery company sent us a 10-year anniversary commemorative pen the other day in the hopes that we would buy 1000. Of course I didn't, but I kept the pen. (It is exactly this kind of quick thinking that has kept us alive!) Love us or hate us, we are still making TV after almost 10 years. That beats sitting in a cubicle, crunching numbers on where the best strip mall location is to put the new Dress Barn.