Venture Bros. cocreators Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick
We chat with the duo behind The Venture Bros., Adult Swim’s absurdist animated comedy about boy adventurers and failed superscientists.
Tue Oct 8 2013
"This is like Christmas, my first BMX bike and meeting the cast of Firefly all in one!” The words of excitable minion Henchman 21 ring true for any Venture Bros. devotee given the chance to speak with the two men responsible for their favorite television show. Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick, cocreators of Adult Swim’s absurdist action-comedy animated series, are no strangers to superfans nor to the convention circuit. They’re holding a panel at New York Comic Con for followers of socially inept brothers Hank and Dean Venture, failed superscientist Dr. Rusty Venture, secret government agent Brock “Swedish Murder Machine” Samson and the rest of the series’s motley crew (Main Stage 1-D; Oct 11 4–4:45pm).
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With season five under their belt and season six in the pipeline, we spoke to Hammer and Publick about their across-the-board attention to detail, trying out new character voices on unsuspecting supermarket cashiers and whether or not Henchman 24 is really dead. (Just kidding. He’s dead. Stop asking them that question.)
Venture Bros. noob? Fan who wants to know more about the Council of 13? Click here for more with Hammer and Publick, plus videos galore.
Time Out New York: What’s your favorite thing about NYCC?
Doc Hammer: New York Comic Con is excellent, because [the organizers] can’t get it through their heads that we’re New Yorkers, so they keep getting us a hotel. So we get this free, weird vacation inside of our actual town.
Jackson Publick: They booked us that fancy one in the Meatpacking District that looks like it’s from the space age. But I was just like, “I wanna go home.”
Doc Hammer: I went home. I used the tub, because I don’t have a functioning tub in my apartment. Then I realized that I’m a grown man in a tub. So I just left.
Time Out New York: How do you feel about people who cosplay The Venture Bros.?
Jackson Publick: They got crazy at [Atlanta sci-fi and fantasy convention] Dragon Con; they always have the most elaborate cosplay for the show.
Doc Hammer: There’s one guy who dresses up as me.
Jackson Publick: Yeah, we’ve been cosplayed.
Time Out New York: As yourselves?
Doc Hammer: Many times.
Jackson Publick: They creep our shit out. Because we hate ourselves, is the thing, so… You don’t want to see that. It is fun to pose with them, though, for photos.
Time Out New York: The show started out as an homage to Jonny Quest, but it’s evolved into something more complex. Did the directional change happen organically, or did you choose to move away from parody?
Jackson Publick: It was pretty natural. We were always pulling for more than that anyway—like, superheroes started showing up immediately, and James Bond crap and everything else. We were just dressing it up as this Jonny Quest realm, but we were already pushing the limits of that by the middle of season one, I think.
Doc Hammer: You can only plumb those depths for so long; if you want to stay interested, you have to start falling in love with the world you’ve created, and start taking it seriously.
Time Out New York: The animation has evolved too. At the season five premiere at Nitehawk Cinema, you expressed how proud you were of the attention to detail this season.
Jackson Publick: Our budgets have gone up a little every year, [and now] we finally have the look that I’ve really always wanted.
Doc Hammer: Jackson is a very diligent, technical director. He’s not looking only at the storyboard; he watches every frame, and goes to the point of redrawing frames. This season looks good because Jackson cares about every tiny portion of the direction.
Time Out New York: You voice the majority of the characters on the show. Is it difficult to come up with unique voices?
Doc Hammer: Yeah, sometimes. It’s very Jim Henson and Frank Oz. We are not pro voice guys. You can just kind of get away with stuff. It has so much to do with the performance and so little to do with the actual voice. I can’t see how everybody isn’t screaming, “They all sound the same!”
Jackson Publick: We generally don’t want to cast ourselves first, unless it’s a voice that we’ve been riffing on for while.
Time Out New York: Do you guys ever find yourselves having an internal monologue in one of your character’s voices?
Doc Hammer: We do something more annoying, which is when we’re writing for or creating a character, we talk to each other in that voice. And then when we walk out into the real world, we’ll keep using it. So it’s us going through the checkout counter and going…
Jackson Publick: [In Sergeant Hatred voice] Give me a couple of these Cherry Coke Zeros!
Time Out New York: Is there anybody that you’d really like to have guest-voice in the future?
Both: David Bowie.
Jackson Publick: We tried to get Jon Hamm a few times.
Time Out New York: What can attendees expect at this year’s panel?
Jackson Publick: Us winging it with absolutely nothing to show or tell you. We’re writing right now, so we can’t show footage of scripts on the big screen.
Doc Hammer: They’re gonna have to deal with my sass, and in a panic, I’ll talk about my genitals. We’re just going to tell them that season six is going to be great, and have nothing to prove it.
Jackson Publick: Also, the New York debut of our stunning new speedsuits. They can look at two grown men in onesies, with a rainbow stripe running from collar to cuff, all the way down to our foot. It’s something to see. It’s beautiful.
NEXT: Hammer and Publick on the fate of Henchman 24, working with SNL’s Kate McKinnon and “Operation: P.R.O.M.”
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