Time to fork your fingers and salute! The Venture Bros are back! It’s been one year since The Venture Bros.: All This And Gargantua-2, but the gang is returning for a new sixth season beginning Sunday, January 31 on Adult Swim.
In the All This And Gargantua-2 hour-long special, the longtime leader of the Council of 13, the Sovereign, was revealed to be a shapeshifter and later killed by hunters as he was in the shape of an eagle, leaving the Council without leadership or direction. Also, Jonas died, leaving Rusty his multi-billion dollar industry and his new headquarters in New York, which causes Dr. Venture to faint.
Newsarama recently spoke with Team Venture themselves, Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick about the upcoming season, the change in the relationship of the Monarch and Dr. Mrs. The Monarch, how the boys are growing up and what they want to be, and how this year’s Shirt Club is shaping up.
Newsarama: Doc, Jackson, you’re moving the Ventures to New York this season. Having seen the first episode, I love that it's a bit of a love letter to Marvel Comics. When you’re creating these analog characters like this, what do you strive most for?
Jackson Publick: Huh.
Doc Hammer: You know, I’ll be honest, I probably give less thought into those guys than other analog characters, so it’s a different thing. Usually I’m just enjoying my own upbringing with reading comics, but I’m trying to find some sort of tragic essence of the character or some like real-life twist that like “if four family members were thrown into space, that would be a horrible thing”. These guys were like more iconic and cleaner in terms of their conception.
Warriana was a little more important just because we use her a little later in the season. Presenting a different type of woman that Brock Samson has traditionally run into. Otherwise we were just using different tropes and everything like that. I think Fallen Archer was kicking our ass for a long time actually before he finally got used.
Nrama: And the Captain America guy is Stars and Garters, right?
Hammer: Yup. You can just see a picture of him and that’s pretty much how you handle that.
Publick: We were trying to think of a patriotic hero name that hasn’t been taken yet. It gets harder in general each time because whenever I try to name a character with a stupid name, I get on Wikipedia and find out there’s three DC characters or 8 G.I. Joes. The tragic thing about the Internet is that you can find out way too much, way too quickly.
Hammer: Yeah you can find out way sooner when you have to change a name in a script. [Laughs]
Publick: Yeah, finding out before you turn it in before you get it back from the legal department.
Nrama: Okay, so let’s talk about Sheila's ascension to the Council. I think this is a really big thing because it’s been building for a while. How important is this for the season?
Hammer: I still think it’s funny you’re on first-name basis with Dr. Mrs. The Monarch.
You guys just kicking it around.
Nrama: Well, it’s a nice strong Jewish name. I think it suits her, so that’s what she is in my head.
Hammer: Right, Right.
Publick: As for the importance of that though, very important.
Publick: That comes back a lot. You’ll see the Council has sort of rebuilt itself and as soon as problems arise, it becomes her responsibility to deal with that kind of stuff. You’ll get to see her day-to-day bureaucratic stuff this season. Not as much we would like, but you’ll see where it plays into the arcs going later on.
Hammer: The big arc with the Monarch this year is a major driving factor in most of the things he does. He has a lot to prove to himself and the world. It changes their relationship because she’s now higher on the hierarchy. It’s like being married to a more successful executive and changes the power dynamic of their relationship. It changes how much she’s around to be a partner to him and so him and 21 start bonding more because of it. He looks like a schmuck on paper…
Hammer: ...to himself, though, he can never be a schmuck.
Nrama: Right, that’s what I was going to ask next is how does Malcolm, er, the Monarch, feel about this power shift and being left out in the fold of things?
Publick: [Laughs] Yeah, he’s the center of his own world so of course he hates anything that makes him lesser. Or anything that he’s not a part of, as he lives to arch Dr. Venture, so he becomes frustrated and he makes some weird decisions on how to deal with it. That’s all we can say about that.
Hammer: Anything else will be a spoiler, but that’s his main arc this season in that in his own head, he’s the shit.
Nrama: It seems we have Brock back in the fold, how will that affect things later on, especially with the Sgt. Venture still with the family?
Hammer: Well, Brock’s there for the fans, mostly. He’s there so we don’t have to deal with another season without Brock.
Publick: [Laughs] Yeah, that’s mainly us just giving our fans what they want. “There you go! Remember him?” A couple of years ago, we got rid of Brock and thought we were going to bring him back in two episodes...well...much like anything with Venture Bros, it takes us about five years to accomplish it.
Nrama: I know you guys are very hands-on with how you handle your licenses, so would you ever consider doing a comic book down the line? Maybe to ease the void of when it’s not on the air. There are a few comic book based on shows like Rick and Morty over at Oni Press and BOOM! having several Cartoon Network books. Have you ever thought about going into that?
Publick: We have a few times, but because of the show’s demands, we really wouldn’t have time to give that any kind of love and attention, or to be involved. I think it would kill me not to be involved.
Hammer: I think it would kill the comic if we weren’t involved. It just wouldn’t be something anybody would care about if it didn’t have the same things the show has. You know how long it takes us to get the show out. It would be amazingly irresponsible for us to deal with the comic while the show is coming out the way it comes out. It’s something I’m interested in and always been interested in, but we haven’t figured out how to do it.
Publick: There’s not one form of licensing though that we’re not interested in.
Hammer: Well I am!
Publick: Wait, there’s some sort of licensing you’re not interested in?
Hammer: Oh, I thought you said “it’s not something we’re interested in”!
Publick: No, every form of licensing!
Hammer: I understand that now! [Laughs] You know video games, everything!
Publick: Man, I wish somebody would make an amazing video game, but again, that’s something that we’d be deeply involved in the process. And also, nobody’s offered.
Nrama: Hank and Dean have kinda been polar opposites and watching the first episode, it seems that Dean is trying to become his father’s son with attending college, and Hank is being more and more reckless. How do the boy’s grow this season?
Hammer: I think Dean is looking more into what to “become” and Hank “became” a long time ago. Hank is more fully-formed to us, and Dean is looking to become something; to be anybody.
Publick: He wants to go to college to find himself and be a person. He’s also a good boy so he’s trying to do the right track of life things that he’s supposed to do while he figures himself out a bit. Hank already thinks he knows the answers, and for Hank he does know all the answers.
Hammer: Right, it doesn’t matter if Hank’s answers are wrong, it’s just that he knows the answers.
Nrama: This season Saturday Night Live’s Kate McKinnon is providing the voice of Warrina, right?
Nrama: Who else do we get to see this season as guest stars that you were excited to work with?
Publick: A couple of big ones! Jeffrey Wright plays a villain later in the season, so does Clancy Brown. Those are the ones that we’re really excited about.
Hammer: Remember when Clancy Brown was on Lost? Anybody remember that?
Publick: Was he in Lost?
Hammer: Yeah, I think he was a general.
Nrama: Well that is usually what Brown does, some sort of intimidating figure. It’s hard to imagine him being like a wacky neighbor. I mean, after you do the Kurgan, it’s hard to downgrade.
Hammer: I mean, yeah, he is the Kurgan forever, but I just remembered he was in Lost...oh, Cristin Milioti did a pretty important voice for that is a recurring character later in the season. She was hysterical to work with.
Publick: We get Fillion back!
Hammer: Yeah, we get Nathan Fillion back. Hal Lublin and Mark Gagliardi as well. They’re not huge names, but they’re friends of ours that are really talented a lot of fun. They’re both in the premiere with Mark did Stars and Garters and Howell did Wide Whale. In the realm of voice actors though, they are celebrities, so they count.
Nrama: How many episodes are going to get this season?
Publick: You’re going to get eight episodes. We produced this season as ten, but split off the first two a the Gargantuan special. We don’t get to finish our arc this season as there are still plenty of plates up in the air in the last episode. We ran out of episodes, but we had more to say.
Hopefully we get to say those things eventually.
Nrama: Whatever happened to the Dr. Venture becoming a super villain story that was hinted a while ago?
Hammer: I think we tinkered with the idea of him not knowing what a bad person he was with the episode where Killinger points out he’s a bit of a super villain.
Publick: We’ve never contemplated him actually turning evil [laughs], I mean our whole thing was all of our heroes are somewhat...tarnished.
Hammer: Yeah, the Monarch could be a good guy if he changed the color of his cape. There’s this huge gray area of our show. You had Jonas Venture, Sr. who was kind of a douche, and nobody’s hands are clean. Ever. I mean it’s like real life. I mean, if we never had Nazis, I doubt America would ever be looked as one of the “good guys”.
Hammer: I mean if there wasn’t that one thing we could hang our hat on many, many years ago, so the difference between good guy and bad guy here is where you’re standing.
Publick: So yeah, Rusty will never ever see himself as a villain, but to a lot of people, he probably is.
Nrama: Lastly, we’ve talked about hands-on you guys love to be with the show with it comes to merch, so your Shirt Club is something that you seem to really enjoy. Will this season has a Shirt Club as well?
Publick: Yeah! Hell yeah!
Hammer: It’s not only going to be a Shirt Club, but we have worked on these designs so hard that I think we have the best Shirt Club we’ve ever had. No clunkers. If I could advertise Shirt Club it would simply be “No Purple Shirts This Year”.
Publick: No brown ringers this year.
Hammer: Yeah, really good designs.
Nrama: I know he’s your favorite, Doc, so how many Quiz Boy shirts are we going to have?
Hammer: Of course there’s going to be a lot of Quiz Boy shirts! There are definitely more quieter, more subdued ones that, like, I think insiders will really like. The designs themselves are attractive. There’s a couple of bigger ones for the cheap seats that everybody will like. I don’t think that there any, if you subscribed, you would be disappointed with.
Publick: It’s not like we don’t have a bunch of insider “what the hell is that?” shirts, but that is part of what makes Shirt Club. Shirt Club isn’t just a series of shirts that say “I Love The Monarch” on them.
Hammer: Although, we should make a bunch of "I Love The Monarch" shirts, because we love the Monarch.
Publick: In the previous seasons though, there have been that were downright awful. It’s like a game of how long can we push your patience.
Hammer: When Shirt Club first started, our ideas were H.E.L.P.eR. panties and shirts that just said “Dean” on them, which we actually made.