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It was an interesting day on Friday at New York Comic Con. I did a lot of running around and hyperventilating. The only food I could find quickly was a flatbread "sammy" from Dunkin Donuts, I missed several interviews, and had to eat aforementioned "sammy" surreptitiously during the Venture Bros. press panel. Unlike a lot of press junkets I've been at, this one seemed to be fashioned more like a press conference, the kind I normally only have to put up with for Ohio State athletic events.
Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick aren't your typical show creators (or, maybe they are,) in that they have these sorts of publicity events at conventions mainly to talk about their hopes, their dreams, their fist-fucking obsessions. They rarely have anything from the show to promote, or actually take questions. Instead they like going off on tangents and philosophizing. This was pretty much the case at the press conference before their regularly scheduled panel, as well. Below you'll find a transcript, and several photos from the event at this year's NYCC.
Jackson: Sorry we're late, we got in to a small fight.
Hammer: By "a small fight," I mean we fought ten men.
[At this point a small, mostly unintelligible conversation with a documentary crew goes on. They're doing a doc about cosplaying.]
Hammer: We're cosplaying as jetsetters.
Jackson: How do we do this, are we taking questions like a press conference? Jackson! Jackson! Mr, President, Highlights magazine, SIR!
Question: I wanted to ask you about the Nightstalker syndrome. The idea that producers presume, because of what happened to the Nightstalker, that if they come up with something unusual and different --
Jackson: Are you talking about the original Nightstalker, or the remake?
Hammer: When we speak of the Nightstalker, we're talking about Seersucker suits and giant tape recorders.
Jackson: What was the question?
Question: The idea that once you get to the second season, you go "holy shit, now there's continuity." What is your reaction initially to that? How did you grow in to it?
Hammer: If we got canceled, than someone would rip us off like the X Files. It'd be a much better Venture show.
Jackson: You'd be watching Orlando Bloom as Doc Venture.
Hammer: You really should've prayed we got cancelled, because someone would have taken the idea and done something much better with it.
Jackson: And with a much bigger budget. We care about continuity. [The rest was unintelligible, sorry. There will be a lot of that, there weren't microphones.]
Question: What's the craziest premise so far for the fifth season?
Hammer: Oh my God, they're all terrible. They're all crazy stupid. The premise for the next season is...
Jackson: Whatever we've made up on the spot for the last press conference.
Hammer: The craziest premise we've come up with is, Jackson and I have written an entire Liam Neeson action picture in our head.
Jackson: Along the lines of the movies he's making now where he's fighting wolves with bottles taped to his hands. It's exactly that. Except he's ex-special forces. And vampires ride wolves. And his plane crashes, like in the middle of --
Hammer: He's going to pick up his child bride in Russia. You're not supposed to ever like him. He bought a 14 year old online.
Jackson: You don't know that at first. So you're just like "Oh, this guy, he's got a picture, and he's like 'I just want to see her one more time!'"
Hammer: He's in the back of the plane...
Jackson: "She's the best thing that ever happened to me!"
Hammer: The plane crashes, and he doesn't get out of the plane for the whole first act.
Jackson: Fortunately everyone else on the plane was also ex-special forces.
Hammer: And they're being picked off by Dracula. And he starts taking the corpses and eating them, and makes a suit out of bones.
Jackson: He makes a suit of armor to fight Dracula.
Hammer: Old Liam Neeson, with his suit made out of bones, comes in dripping--
Jackson: He makes weapons out of commemorative shot glasses he buys at every airport for his child bride. "She's always wanted to see Madison!"
Hammer: And again we don't know... Liam Neeson finds out his child bride is a vampire.
Jackson: That's probably a good twist ending.
Hammer: Right across the border there's a terrible mattress in a room with armed guards. "I just wanna make love to my child bride!" And she can be a Dracula, OR, there's just a terrible sex scene of an old Liam Neeson driving in to a 14 year old. "BONE UP!" ...because of the suit--
Jackson: So we're going to write that for the next year.
Hammer: I'm so interested in the Liam Neeson movies. He's a great action star.
Jackson: We could have a spinoff sequel thing with the girl.
Hammer: Right. "I was raped by Liam Neeson." That could be the tagline. "I was sold to Liam Neeson, who drove in to me for half an hour, but I have to pick up his work where he left off." Liam Neeson is signed on to just do the flashback scenes. Killing his own battalion and making a suit out of bones from them.
Jackson: "YOU CAN'T DO THAT, SARGEANT!" [These impressions are all in Sgt. Hatred's voice, by the way.]
Question: What is your opinion on Venture Bros. being dubbed for other countries?
Hammer: What's my opinion on that? It's fucking awesome. I saw a Venture Bros. that was dubbed in Spanish, and --
Jackson: It was awesome!
Hammer: --And, they shanked Dr. Girlfriend, which I thought was an easy voice to do. But they got a guy who sounds just like Doc Venture, but speaks Spanish. It's a voice you can't do! It's James Urbaniak's speaking voice! So I was amazed by it.
Question: In the spirit of your Helen Keller vs Anne Frank fight, who would you pit against John Merrick [actually Joseph Merrick], the Elephant Man?
Hammer: A beautiful woman. He'd be crippled by it. The way I understand it is --
Jackson: Beauty contained the beast.
Hammer: The way I understand it from the David Lynch movie is that he's a emotionally crippled, too, and that if you just bring in a beautiful woman that says "I love you the way you are," then she can slit his fucking throat, with all that grisly mass of skin ---
Jackson: No, who would win in a fight, though? You're saying what's his weakness, how you would kill the Elephant Man.
Hammer: Oh, we're picking guys to fight John Merrick? Oh, a child. A child could defeat him. He's a cripple.
Question: Did the Sovereign kill Brock’s brother?
Hammer: I'm thinking for a second: "Who’s Brock?"
Jackson: Is your question did that ever happen in our show? No.
Question: Have you ever thought about it?
Hammer: I just did when you said that.
Question: Do you have character story arcs planned from early on in the show?
Hammer: We had some larger arcs, we had some smaller arcs. We had some arcs that didn’t exist that don't fit in current scripts that we have to retrofit in the arc.
Jackson: We kind of go season by season. We definitely start a season thinking "Where do we want to go next?"
Hammer: And we have a big giant arc that we don’t speak of. Usually because we scrap it in the middle of a season and re-write. We do have a master plan, it's just not uhm... We have a master plan! Think about it like that, that'll make you feel better.
Question: How has your production changed over the years?
Jackson: We're just now getting enough seasons and enough mishaps behind us to go "Wouldn't it be great if we had an extra guy for this department?" It's pretty much the same thing: We design for two weeks, we storyboard for four weeks, record the thing -- everything stays the same, it's just like "Who do we get for the job?" and getting good enough co-directors and stuff.
Hammer: We got a lot of boxes in the AstroBase. We've got all these boxes of leftover t-shirts and layout drawings and you can't see the Big Board, which is where we put all our information. It's really, it's frozen, our ability to write the season. Do you want to clean the AstroBase, is the question.
Jackson: Do you want 15 boxes of layout drawings? From every episode in every season so far?
Question: How do you decide who works on the show?
Jackson: Availability, how much work of theirs did you have to fix. We're looking around at other people, other shows, and we go "That's what I'm looking for! Who worked on that? Get that guy!" Sometimes we get rid of people because they're not working out, sometimes we just lose really good people because someone offers them a real job, where they don't have to wait six months for us to write scripts. They get to go work for Disney for a few years.
Hammer: Or Pixar! Where they massage your shoulders and pay you tons of money.
Question: Last year you had Kevin Conroy on the show, do you have anyone for this year that--
Jackson: We don't know yet. We're just writing. We'll have somebody if the character calls for it. I’m trying to figure out who to cast for one or two characters.
Hammer: We'll find somebody cool that wants to be on our show. And makes us look cool.
[Doc Hammer starts to fiddle with his fingers while someone asks a really long personal question about Jackson's boyhood, because her boyfriend grew up with him and BLAH BLAH BLAH OH MY GOD.]
Hammer: I HAVE A QUESTION: Does this looks like it's floating? Don't scream, don't run. I'm not a magician, I'm just doing this: [He separates his fingers.] That's all I'm doing. Were you panicking? Do I have the powers in my hand? It looks pretty good.
Question (finally): What are your motivations for writing?
Hammer: Funny. We want to be funny. I'm not as worried about the spelling as I should be.
Jackson: Well, because I proof your stuff.
Hammer: He does proof my scripts, after I've proofed them. I'm massively dyslexic. So they're a mess.
Jackson: I was super in to comic books as a kid. My brother would make his own comic books. It never seemed like not a thing to do.
Hammer: I just like talking to more than one person at once, and writing's the best way to do that. This way, we can write it down and have people read that.
Jackson: Now it's a place to spill out temporary obsessions. I kind of have to be obsessed with a script or a story or a location, something like that. "I gotta put that in the show!" And then I have to make all the reasons for that to be in the show.
Hammer: I made a hasty purchase of a large boat.
[I am not sure what the question was, but the answer:]
Hammer: I've never seen a vagina!
Hammer: Oh, not a vagina, I'm sorry! I thought we were talking about something else. I've seen many of those. What was the question? We pushed the Questian dynasty in to this brave new... what?
Jackson: I'm jazzed to bring that back. That's what bummed me out about Johnny Quest was like a genre that never caught on. But for us, it overlapped all the other genres. I miss that enthusiastic "Yay, Science!"
Hammer: Is there a question, or do you just want to applaud us?
Question: Are there things that you want to include from that genre for a new audience?
Hammer: We'll keep throwing in stuff that we remember, and is funny. We don't have this agenda of stuff we forgot to put in. We have jokes we forget to put in. We still haven't had Hank say "Stop wasting my time."
Jackson: It really does take about two seasons after saying "Oh, I really want to put this in the show," like you say "Oh, I want to do an Iron Man type guy" and then you just never get...
Hammer: Two years later he becomes non-topical, and then you don't care anymore. Or we put an Iron Man in as a callback to the Iron Man movie.
Jackson: Because we want to do it, and then someone makes a movie out of it, and we don't want people to think "Well, now are you just goofin' on new Iron Man and Thor?" Or, are we being topical?
Hammer: Yeah! We were playing around with a Thor thing and then they made a Thor movie. Now we don't know if we can do Thor because now are we just parodying?
Jackson: Maybe our Thor parody is current!
Hammer: Nobody thought they'd make a fucking Iron Man movie. It's the craziest thing, like we can make Aquaman jokes --
Jackson: Entourage already did that. Entourage did a whole season.
Hammer: How do you know what Entourage did?!
Jackson: I watched a season.
Hammer: YOU WATCHED ENTOURAGE?!
Jackson: It was like tonguing a canker sore. Because I was like "I HATE THIS GODDAMNED SHOW! YOU PEOPLE ARE HORRIBLE!"
Hammer: Did you watch Sex and the City?
Jackson: NO! I did see the movie, though. But. I have HBO, you don't.
Jackson: It just happened. You just see stuff. You just don't put it on all the time.
Hammer: If I wake up and there's an America's Next Top Model marathon on, I don't leave until they crown a winner. I saw Tyra Banks in real life, and she doesn't even look like a real human being. I can't even describe it. She's bigger than she should be, and more beautiful than any human being has a right to be. Not even in a way I can describe. I wanted to run screaming AND get on top of her. It was like looking at a fucking unicorn.
Jackson: You pick the next question.
Hammer: Guy in the surgical mask. [He was.] You played keyboards in Prince's band, the Revolution, right?
Question: You've seen the rebooted stuff, like Batman --
Hammer: They're rebooting stuff they've already rebooted!
Question: --would you reboot the Venture Bros.?
Hammer: Well, every reboot, basically... We'd do it slightly darker, we'd take out all the musical numbers. Doc would be oiled and muscular.
Jackson: He'd be handsome.
Hammer: He'd be super fuckin' handsome.
Jackson: We would have old original Doc Venture. Not Jonas, but Doctor Venture for this generation.
Hammer: Docture Venture has to fight a mechanised Doctor Venture. That's how they do these things. They have to fight a version of themselves. That will be the reboot. And it won't be funny at all.
Jackson: And he'll be a race car driver instead of a scientist.
[This was 1/3rd of the press conference. I'm tired of typing. You'll get the rest later. P.S. It's my birthday.]