By Todd Matthy
A couple of weeks ago I posted a report about the”Venture Brothers” panel from NYCC, featuring creators Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick. I enjoyed it so much I decided to follow up with a few questions of my own for the esteemed creators of one of the funniest shows on television. Click below to learn why they hate Jem and if more Shallow Gravy is in our future.
D= Doc Hammer
J= Jackson Publick
What mistakes over your career would you want to correct?
J: Just boring process stuff. Things like re-recording voices from a day when we had a cold or getting better storyboard artists. We have no regrets. I think it’s funny that was the reason we gave Hank a cold.
D: I don’t like that Hank had an off-model neck. I like how nobody talked about the cold. Probably because it was all he talked about over the preceding three days was how he was over the cold.
What characters over the course of the show have surprised you?
D: What character hasn’t is probably a better a question. White Billy and Henchman 21 are probably the biggest idiots that have stepped out of the shadows.
J: I was a little surprised when Shore Leave went from being a one-off Holy Diver joke into a major player. I was surprised that you were the one who started using him.
D: I love doing his voice. It’s an easy one to write for. I don’t like making up characters. I let you do that. I like making guys into characters. Just mention someone and I’ll do something for him.
Why did you switch studios?
J: The old studio went out of business. The new studio is run by some old friends of mine who I always wanted to work with who opened up a branch in New York and they do great work.
Have spinoffs been kicked around?
D: We kick them around but we don’t do anything about it because we want to kick around the actual show.
J: The immediate ones that come to mind are The Order of the Triad. O.S.I. is another.
D: The Henchmen. Anybody on our show can have a spinoff. Even Helper.
J: We always wanted to do an anthology episode. It would be an hour and there would be seven or eleven minute cartoons that would be fake spinoffs but some we actually could make as spinoffs. One of them would’ve been a silent-jazz music-Pink Panther style, short starring Helper.
Any plans for a WWII era Venture team?
J: Rusty’s father would’ve been a little young. I imagine he would’ve been a P.A. on the Manhattan Project because, as a boy, he impressed FDR by fixing his wheelchair. That’s just in my world. We never talked about World War II because Jonas is too young to be a hero and it’s a little late to spotlight his parents. I have no World War II ideas. I like when Nazis fight robots. I’ve got fifties and sixties and turn of the century ideas.
D: I have ideas from 1800-1919. I don’t have anything for World War II.
Who came up with the idea of a “rusty venture”?
D: I wrote all the “rusty venture” jokes but the idea (like most of our ideas) came from Jackson and I talking in character. We suddenly came upon the idea that Rusty Venture sounds like a sex act. Sort of like a “rusty trombone.” It was mutual. The filthiness came from me but that’s because I have mental problems.
J: The concept was ours.
D: I asked if you wanted a piece and you didn’t want to go near it.
Which of the twenty-two phrases you hate will you have Hank utter?
D: There’s more that I didn’t bother writing down.
J: You didn’t even bother with “talk to the hand,” or “too much information.”
D: Hank actually has better phrases. He says things like “oh my stars and garters.” He says things that are clichés because his language comes from a place nobody understands.
J: He has a lot of “almost clichés” from the eighties. So they become timeless when they come out of his mouth. Dr. Venture might try to sound cool and use some of those.
D: It’s a very tough thing to do that kind of joke through without it sounding like the character’s actually saying something it.
D: We’re brave enough to let our characters make bad jokes.
What would make Brock snap and kill Rusty?
D: I think if Rusty endangered more people then himself he’d kill him. Brock’s a soldier he wouldn’t do that unless Rusty was some sort of cybernetic duplicate. He would kill that Rusty.
J: Brock knows a lot of non-lethal takedowns. It probably doesn’t take too much to get him to knock Rusty’s lights out, but to kill him is a different story.
How about Dermott?
J: No women, no children.
J: He’d have to turn eighteen and have a bomb strapped to his chest.
D: I think Brock is aware of who Dermott actually is so I don’t think he would do anything. It’s also why Brock probably doesn’t like him. It’s a weird situation.
Speaking of Dermott, is a Shallow Gravy album in the works?
D: There’s no plans. I wouldn’t count any bad idea out because we’re filled with terrible ideas…
J: Self involved ideas.
D: No, we certainly won’t put anything into that on purpose. If we end up doing song after song it will probably happen.
Are there other songs?
J: We haven’t started working on it yet but there is another informative song.
D: That’s kind of their thing.
J: It’s inevitable that they’ll do another song even if it’s incidental so we can set a scene where they’re practicing the same way we’d set a scene at a breakfast table. It would be nice to have them playing something other than “Jacket” every time we see them.
Or they could play “Jacket” with new lyrics.
D: True, they could keep rewriting “Jacket.”
J: Now we have to record a Spanish version.
You make a lot of references to 80’s pop culture, like Voltron and O.I.S. being a GI Joe take off. Are there any plans to parody girl’s shows like Jem or the Care Bears?
D: If the moment hits. We don’t have a checklist. We’ve made many nineties and even 2000’s pop culture references so of course, the eighties are fair game. We can’t help that.
J: I certainly wouldn’t put it on a list. The only thing we really set out to parody I think are things we at least half love. Other things will just fall in as a joke somewhere. Sometimes we go, “oh here’s a way to make things dumber.” We don’t go, “we gotta do Jem.”
D: I do happen to like Jem.
J: You can write that one.
D: Jem’s father creating Synergy makes absolutely no sense. Also Jem hating a hardworking band like the Misfits doesn’t make sense. The Misfits are exactly like Jem but they wear their make up poorly. The music sounds pretty much the same except they have an “I want more” type of evilness. And the Misfits haven’t forgotten where they came from. Jem, she’s rich. She puts a band together with magic and wants to take down a hard working rock act. I guess we do have ideas. I have Jem ideas and I didn’t even know it.
You could have Triana form a band
D: That’s probably not going to happen.
D: We could have Dean start a Triana tribute band. He’ll compete against Shallow Gravy but wear his make up sideways. He’ll have Synergy behind him and call himself, “Triana’s Ashes” or “Triana’s Window.”
Have you ever thought of having Brock meet members of Led Zeppelin?
J: We have been working on Brock having a famous rock personage as a friend/mentor but that’s as much as we can say.
D: I just saw the one Jackson did with all the boy adventurers. “Self Medication” I believe it’s called. I loved it. It’s one of my favorite episodes.
J: I’m a big fan of the final one you wrote for last season with Monstroso, Billy, and Brock. That one came out real good. It’s better to ask us about a recent season rather than going over the whole series. I really liked our finale this year too.
When will we see a new batch of episodes?
D: We just started writing them so it’ll be, give or take, about a year. More give then take.
Thank you very much for Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick for taking time out of their schedule to speak with me. A big thanks as well to Cartoon Network’s P.R. department for setting the interview up.