Jackson Publick & Doc Hammer on ‘The Venture Bros.’
Ever since “The Venture Bros.” debuted as weekly show in 2004 on Adult Swim, Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer have consistently turned their animated cartoon into one of the funniest and most subversive comedies on TV. From the large and eclectic supporting cast to the title characters themselves, Hammer and Publick (pictured above courtesy of The Venture Bros. Blog) have created an entire world to support their sometimes bizarre sense of humor.
Recently, Crave Online spoke with Publick and Hammer about the new “Venture Bros.” season 4 DVDs, the upcoming 11 minute short and a “Venture Bros.” 60 to 90 minute special as well as few hints about what’s coming up in season 5 next year.
Crave Online: The word went out that you have a renewal for at least two more seasons of “The Venture Bros.” Do you know how many episodes each season will be?
Jackson Publick: Right now what we're talking about is doing each season would be 10 episodes instead of the 13 that have killed us in the past and the 8 that disappointed everybody last season.
Doc Hammer: But we're pretty fluid once we get into these things. We'll see what happens. But 10, 10 per season.
Crave Online: And that's separate from the 60 to 90 minute “Venture Bros.” special coming up later this year?
Jackson Publick: Yes.
Crave Online: How did the “Venture Bros.” special even come up with Adult Swim?
Doc Hammer: We wanted to make a 60 to 90 minute special, so we asked if we could make a 60 to 90 minute special, and they said 'You can make a 60 to 90 minute special.' [laughs] It came up because, well doesn't it sound cool? Doesn’t it sound like a cool thing to have?
Crave Online: Absolutely! Well, but I also want a “Venture Bros.” movie…
Jackson Publick: Yeah, so do we, and I think this is the closest we can get to it. And actually talk people into it. So, we don't know what it will be yet or when we'll make it. Whether it will be between 60 and 90 minutes or what. We just wanted to know we could do it and our hour-long finale won't give us that satisfaction.
Doc Hammer: And it helps that the juice flowing in our particular writer's veins that the long form is ripe for.
Crave Online: Well I got to tell you, I laughed my ass off at the wasp women in the fourth season finale.
Jackson Publick: Thank you. The fly women?
Crave Online: The fly women, yes.
Doc Hammer: Spanish wasp! The Spanish Wasp is twice as deadly. [laughs]
Crave Online: Yeah, that was classic. So, looking back at season 4, what are some of your favorite moments in there?
Jackson Publick: The finale! [laughs] The finale is probably the only thing we can remember.
Doc Hammer: It went on for so long. And we have memories like cats.
Jackson Publick: The things that we like are usually things that are really fetishized personal triumphs? Like I particularly loved a 3-minute dialog between the moppets just because they never get to speak. And nobody will care, and nobody will think about it as a great moment from the show. But for me it was nice to hear the moppets have a conversation.
Doc Hammer: I liked Doc finding a new friend in a talking teddy bear.
Crave Online: [laughs] You mean when Doc propositioned the Teddy Ruxpin stand-in to do anything to get out of that chair?
Jackson Publick: Yes. Well, even more at the end, when he's just kind of rappin' with him.
Doc Hammer: Yeah, when the teddy bears pour in, that can pretty much satisfy everything Doc has to say. That's how much attention he has for the conversation.
Crave Online: In the process of creating the show, which characters surprised you by coming to the forefront?
Jackson Publick: Every f***ing character but the Venture Brothers. [laughs]
Doc Hammer: Yeah. Certainly the henchmen.
Jackson Publick: Right, really?! I never expected it to come to the front. Purely by showing up in more than one…
Doc Hammer: …episode. Purely by not just being a workplace joke on a bad song. [laughs]
Crave Online: For Henchman 21, do you think he'll be taking on a different identity in season 5?
Jackson Publick: We know he'll continue to grow. The rise of the super geek character is one that we're not going to walk away from, regardless of what happens to 21. Because we make a show, and because we just started talking about it this week. [laughs]
Crave Online: Have you guys taken some time off from “The Venture Bros.”?
Doc Hammer: No.
Crave Online: No?
Doc Hammer: I mean, it's certainly a much lighter schedule. But the special, you know we've been cooking up the special for a little while, so that's kept us busy. The planing and all the production stuff of getting a new season planned. It's been taking some time. But there’s been a lot more free time than say, 6 months ago when we were just hip deep in making the show.
Jackson Publick: It's not like we have breaks.
Doc Hammer: No. Cause we have to make all the DVD stuff…
Jackson Publick: Yeah, and we've got Rachel working the special… I didn't feel we got a break.
Crave Online: Now, when you say the special do you mean the 11-minute special that you're doing with Titmouse?
Jackson Publick: Correct.
Doc Hammer: Yes sir.
Crave Online: And that's going to be coming out this summer, right?
Doc Hammer: I don't think we have an airdate yet, but yeah. We're going to finish it in the beginning of the summer, I think around Comic-Con or something.
Crave Online: Who normally does the animation for “The Venture Bros.”?
Doc Hammer: Well, the animation's done overseas in Korea in a studio called Digital Animation and all of the American pre-production was done at World Leaders Entertainment.
Crave Online: Will World Leaders still be in involved with the next two seasons?
Doc Hammer: No, actually we're moving to Titmouse for pre-production also. But the special is different from the series in that it will be in house, we’re not shipping it [out]. It'll be made the same exact way, just in a new building.
Crave Online: Tell us about your experience working with Titmouse directly on the special.
Jackson Publick: It's been great so far. We've only just started layouts and stuff like that. We're still designing it, really. But I've known [a few people] and Shannon [Prynoski] I’ve known since the mid '90s. So they're old friends. And I've been working on “Superjail!,” this video collab with them. Every things going swimmingly, everything's fine. And there are still a lot of people who are at World Leaders who are still on the show. We need our production dude, the designers and stuff like that.
Crave Online: Now regarding your new 20 episode order, how long will it take you to produce all of those episodes?
Jackson Publick: We don't know yet. Because we both do just so many things on the show, it always kicks the crap out of us. You know, when we do 13 episodes or something we're just bent. And we're on the show all the way through post-production. It takes forever. The hope is that we'll get a little bit more help, we'll have a little bit more of a relaxed burden on us, and then hopefully not as full time post-production, so we might be able to tighten up at a time between seasons… unless we go and do other things, like a Fox special in between or something.
So I don't know. I mean, the first ten will take until, I guess… probably spring of next year? And then it remains to be seen when we'll start the rest.
Crave Online: Do you guys have any stories in mind yet for the fifth season?
Jackson Publick: Absolutely.
Doc Hammer: Oh yeah, my god. We have stories in mind for the sixth season. [laughs]
Jackson Publick: I think we're okay for writing right now. You [might] want to ask us again in a few months when we're [in the middle of it]. Yeah, its bulls***, but we're not really worried.
Doc Hammer: We’ll burn through what we think is a dozen stories and it turns out it's really only three.
Jackson Publick: Yeah. And our hottest and best ideas just don't work at all. And then we start fantasizing something else, falling back in love with that stupid paper doll.
Crave Online: Will we meet Secret President at some point?
Jackson Publick: We're not planning on it but nothing is out of the question.
Crave Online: I love that line from the finale.
Doc Hammer: We like to keep some mysteries in the world. We like to keep everybody in a world where there's more mystery than they'll ever know.
Jackson Publick: Or we'll just throw around Secret President and then walk away from it.
Crave Online: Are there any characters in particular that you're looking forward to get back to more than the rest?
Doc Hammer: Well, a lot of what we're trying to do right now is get back to the characters that we've forgotten about that are important to the show. You know, every year we start falling in love with and deeply fetishizing the tangential characters. But when we start up again, we like to get back to the core idea of the show and that gives us room to fetishize again and start writing for the other people. But right now we're thinking about the core people in our show.
Jackson Publick: Which is a larger cast than you're assuming. [laughs] A lot of core members to our show.
Doc Hammer: And to that I would add that I would like to see the original team Venture again. Really of all the tangential characters…
Jackson Publick: We didn't do much with them in the last season.
Doc Hammer: Yeah.
Jackson Publick: Every year we kind of forget about somebody and we need to bring them in. Like we didn't do Phantom Limb at all in season 3. So we made sure we addressed him in season 4.
Doc Hammer: I was more thinking about the Triad, we didn't address them at all in the last season.
Jackson Publick: Yeah, they need some work.
Doc Hammer: Well there are two of us, and between us we'll try to hit everybody we give a s*** about. And we both like different guys and hate different guys, so everybody gets covered eventually.
Crave Online: I’m curious, why did Phantom Limb disappear for most of the 3rd season?
Doc Hammer: Because he had been beaten and run underground, he was sought by the Guild that he worked for; he had been just trounced by everybody. He had to go.
Jackson Publick: Yeah, he had to go underground, he had to disappear for a while. And that kind of made him crazy. And we didn't really know what to do with him, I think his story had gotten a little to heavy and a little too much like a regular action show, or something like that? So we had to find some fresh way of approaching him.
Doc Hammer: Yeah, the characters are kind of real in our heads and when they disappear from our heads, [they disappear] in this world as somebody would. You know, there are people in life’s stories, they disappear for periods of time so they can come back and become necessary again, you know what I mean? Friends that disappear and then they come back. We don’t want to write for these guys until they have something to say to us.
Crave Online: Now that Hank and Dean are technically grown up, are we going to see them in college or out and away from the Venture compound?
Jackson Publick: You'll see them growing up. I mean they're still Ventures, so…
Doc Hammer: Yeah, Doc's grown up but he's still stuck in that crappy compound. I'd hope that we could take everybody out of that compound this season, frankly. They spent a lot of time there last year.
Crave Online: Is S.P.H.I.N.X. still going to be around or are they going to fold that into the larger O.S.I. organization?
Jackson Publick: You know what you need to do? You have to watch our television show and then all these questions will be answered! [laughs]
Crave Online: I would love to watch your television show. Unfortunately, we're going to have to wait for almost a year, right?
Doc Hammer: Yeah that's correct. We will not forget about S.P.H.I.N.X. We will answer your questions with the television.
Crave Online: I think we're probably near the end of our time, so if you guys have any other thoughts you want to get out there, lay ‘em on us!
Jackson Publick: Buy the DVD! Watch the Special! [laughs]
Doc Hammer: Yeah, don't forget about us because it takes us awhile to finish the seasons!