WOOOOOOOOOOOOOH!Debuting back in September of 2010, Cartoon Network's Regular Show has thrived and garnered numerous awards nominations, while also winning an Emmy and Annie Award. It became an instant hit across the board with kids and parents alike with its off-beat scenarios and subtle innuendos.
Created by J. G. Quintel, the series features two best friends who work at the city park, Mordecai (voiced by Quintel himself) and Rigby, who just happen to be a bluejay and a hyperactive raccoon. The supporting characters are their boss, the temperamental Benson (an anthropomorphic gumball machine) and Pops, a humanoid lollipop whose family owns the park.
Newsarama sat down with Quintel and dicussed the upcoming Christmas episode and DVD release, the thrill of winning a Primtetime Emmy, and what it was like going from a Creative Director on The Misadventures of Flapjack, to running his own show.
Newsarama: Mordecai had a cameo in one of your student films, so from that point, what was the creative process from there?
J. G. Quintel: Well from the short, I was working at Cartoon Network at the time and when they come up with a Cartoonstitute to look for new projects they asked me to pitch something. I had really liked that character in that film and a couple other characters from films I had done in the past and I just decided to put them all together in one world. And I kind of wanted to have something that felt like college because that's where I was at the time. Just like two guys just hanging out all the time, working crappy jobs, and being lazy about it and the results of what would happen of being too lazy.
Nrama: What went into choosing the animals for each character? It took me a while to figure out Eileen was a mole.
Quintel: [laughs] Well I think originally the main characters were animals, but Benson was a gumball machine and Pops was a lollipop and I was going to put them all together, but I needed other characters. So, well, I had this sketch of Rigby, who at the time was a raccoon hoola-hooping and I was like ah, he should be in it and I wanted a bigger guy so Skips became this almost, white Yeti character. And Muscle Man is kind of like a troll, I guess. And yeah, some of the characters, like Eileen, it can be confusing at first to see what she is, but yeah we think she's a mole. [chuckles]
What I wanted from the show is to be like "with your friends". You know your friends really well to the point you know who they are and everything, and so everybody in the background is just faceless people. That's why all the people in the background of Regular Show tend to be humans. You don't really know them and they're sort of generic. The main characters, you know about them and they look more specific.Quintel Nrama: Well, plus, if the main characters were human, that would just be boring.
Quintel: True. Humans are very boring to draw.
Nrama: Were you surprised for the Emmy nomination for "Eggscellent"?
Quintel: I was actually. I mean, we've been nominated the year before, we didn't win, but it was still shocking back then. Flash-forward another year and we get it again and we were like "oh my God!". And then when we were there I was totally set up for "there's no way we're going to win" and be ready for another name to be called. When Regular Show was called, it was funny because Robot Chicken was up for it as well this year in the same category and Tom Kenney read the card, he rolled that "rrrrrrr" for a really long time. When he finally got to "Rrrrregular Show" we couldn't believe it.
Nrama: Your second Halloween special recently just aired, is a Christmas or holiday special on the way?
Quintel: It is actually. We're kind of in the middle of taking care of the sound on that and it's very close to being delivered. I'm really excited about the episode, it's going to be awesome. We've got Thomas Haden Church in it and Ed Asner. It's just going to be epic.
Nrama: Do you ever hear from parents thanking you for making a children's show that doesn't want to make them jump off their roof?
Quintel: [laughs] Not in those specific words, but a lot of different versions of what you just said. We try and make it so parents can enjoy it. Well we're making it for ourselves, and the fact that it is technically for 6 to 11 year olds, we work it into that space, but then try with all the regular voices to not be super graining like a lot of cartoons nowadays. Making sure the story makes sense is important and making sure the parents can enjoy it with their kids.
I've seen a lot of things on the internet with kids walking in on their parents watching an episode.Nrama: You're really big into 80's and 90's pop culture as evidence by the John Kimball (Arnold Schwarzenegger's role in Kindergarten Cop) character in "Egggscellent". Was that intentional?
Quintel: You know what's hilarious about that? I wrote that board and was not thinking that when I wrote it. It was just after the fact that I realized it. It must have been so burned into my brain. I wasn't even trying for the reference.
Nrama: Well in the video game episode, "Video Game Wizards" you make an obvious homage to The Wizard.
Quintel: Yeah I probably watched that a hundred times growing up as I'm sure many people have. We try to work it in whenever we can. But that's another thing why I think parents are okay watching the show because we do have things like that that they grew up with. And I think it's funny because I don't think kids understand what those references are and I hope it's still working for them even without knowing it.
Nrama: Any chance we'll see the full seasons instead just choice episodes on DVD?
Quintel: Right now we have our next DVD release coming up called "The Best DVD In The World* *At This Moment In Time" and it's another episodic one. We tried to get as many as we could on there, but I really do want to make, like, a full nice set. We still just have to wait and see if those are going to come along or not. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
[Cartoon Network] did it for Adventure Time and I hope they follow suit with Regular Show. I'm sure it'll come though. It just takes a little time.Nrama: How did you manage to get Donald Glover in the rap battle episode "Rap It Up"? Also, who approaches who when you're looking for a guest voice?
Quintel: Well in that instance, it's typically us asking people if they want to do it and one of my boarders at the time had written all those songs and he suggested Donald and Tyler the Creator as possible people to do it. So he contacted them and they said yeah, and they actually watch the show. So they were totally down to come in and nailed those raps. Total pros.
And then we'll have other times when we'll hear back from people who say they're too busy or nothing works out in their schedule, and then recently we've had people come to us like Thomas Haden Church.
Perfect example is the Christmas special and Thomas Haden Church had contacted us and told us he was a fan and if there was anything he could do he'd totally be down to come out and do it. And we just happen to have an episode that really fit his voice.
Nrama: What was it like going from the Creative Director on The Misadventures of Flapjack to being the creator of your own show?Quintel: Well when I was the Creative Director on Flapjack it was interesting because I had to come in and try to match somebody else's sensibilities and try to figure out what they wanted to see as well as what I wanted to see. Thurop [Van Orman, creator of Flapjack] and I are cool together and I think we had similar sensibilities and we both wanted to try and make it funny as possible.
But then going into Regular Show it just feels a lot more natural because I'm just going off on what feels right and I have this control over it when giving notes and when you have somebody making you laugh you just go "that's it, it's funny, keep going" and if it doesn't make me laugh, just find something else. It's a little easier because you're not the person showing somebody something and then they're "ehhh, I don't like it". Because I've been there and it's just trying to figure out what they like.
Nrama: How hands-on are you?
Quintel: I'm pretty much involved in every part of the process. From the writer's room though giving notes on storyboard pictures. We're a storyboard-driven show so we come up with an outline from our boarders, they write the dialogue and draw the episodes and then anything we want to change once the board artists are done, Mike [Roth, Supervising Director] and I we go over the boards. We all draw so we change stuff, write stuff, we're in the recordings so we direct how it's read. It's pretty much the whole way through.
Nrama: Do you know who really enjoys Regular Show?
Quintel: MY MOM!