Give Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer credit, when they ended the third season of “The Venture Brothers,” they left their fans in a panic.
“We did do a lot,” Publick admits. “We broke Helper. We blew up the Monarch-mobile, Brock quit, killed 24, all the clone boys died. A lot of stuff happened in those last 24 minutes.”
And the thing is, Hammer and Publick planned it that way. Things like this happen when you have a contract for two whole seasons of their series. It allows the show’s co-creators to plan such cliffhangers.
“We knew by the end. We didn’t know when we started season three what season four was going to be,” says Publick.
“We had certain major shifts we wanted to feed a lot of stuff into,” Hammer chimes in.
“When we did season one, we didn’t know if there was going to be a season two,” continues Publick. “So we were fully prepared to have dead boys. We were saying ‘Look! We killed our main characters!’”
“We figured win/win,” continues Hammer.
“With season three, we knew there was going to be a season four, so we were more prepared,” add Publick. “I mean what will the world be like without the Monarch-mobile? I mean, Jesus!”
As one can see, the two have this almost psychic ability to work off of each other. This even carries into the way they right their scripts.
“It’s more like one of us will go ‘Hey! I did this! Deal with it,’” says Publick. “If it’s something major, we will call or text each other first and discuss if we want it to happen. If it’s minor, we spring it on each other. If it’s something we’ve both then talked about, it’s something we put on a list of things we want to happen. Then one of us will make it happen eventually. The time is always crazy, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t aware it’s going to happen.”
“The writing is very quick. Everything happens really fast. We even surprise each other,” says Hammer. “We work very much like a married couple. Sometimes we discuss things. Other times we just take the money out of the bank account then let the other person deal with it.”
And with the debut of the fourth season last Sunday, fans will have a lot more to deal with.
“We changed a bunch of stuff, and while we’ve been writing for this new season, but it’s still the same show,” says Hammer. “Some of what we did made it easier for us to write, some made it a little harder. The show doesn’t feel different to me.”
“Every time we hand in a script, the show is changed anyway,” says Publick. “We’ve gotten so used to this constant flux, it doesn’t seem that hard for us to handle.”
That doesn’t mean the co-creators are going to spill the beans about this upcoming season. They will openly admit there are 16 episodes to season four. The season is also split into two even sets of eight episodes. The second half won’t air until 2010, with Publick figuring it ending in late spring/early summer.
But getting back to the season premiere, even more came down, from Nazi madmen attempting to clone Hitler to Brock being replaced by Hatred.
“Hatred’s a more talkative character than Brock, and a less effective one,” says Hammer. “We write more bodyguard comedy than we used to because Brock wouldn’t have put up with it. It’s actually a lot of fun to write for a guy who is eager to please, and has bad ideas with anything you tell him to do.”
“I tell ya, for a guy who name is Hatred, he is a very loving character,” says Publick. “He’s kind of an interesting bodyguard. I think the biggest thing is Hatred, unlike Brock, does not have a no guns policy.”
And for those who are think it’s the last time they’ve seen Brock Sampson, Hammer sends out these reassuring thoughts, “Don’t worry, Brock will kill again. There’s a lot of not Brock in these episodes. You got 39 episodes with a lot of him in them, so you still get to love those. Absence also makes the heart grow fonder.”
As for the Venture boys themselves, they’re definitely feeling the loss of Brock, especially Hank.
“Totally,” says Hammer. “Because there are no longer any clones, we’re going to start writing the boys a little older and more singular. Hank is going through some early adult issues. Dean is going through some of the same things. With this season they are no longer cookie cutter boys because they can not be regenerated. They’re going to have to grow up.
“Hank clearly misses Brock,” says Publick. “Brock was clearly the only guy who really gave a s*** about him. He’s also going through a bit of a defiant phase. He’s like your average teenager whose father just got remarried and his stepfather is Sergeant Hatred. If you notice, he’s wearing the jacket of his ‘real’ dad. Just let me make clear that Brock was never Hank’s real dad.”
Then there’s Dean, who is growing up to be a mommy’s boy.
“Yeah, if you want to call Doc a mommy, yeah,” says Hammer.
“Even if you don’t, Dean is such a mommy’s boy! He’s the dad’s mommy’s boy,” Publick chimes in.
In the meantime, Hammer and Publick are introducing some new characters with the second episode, “Handsome Ransom.” They are Captain Sunshine and his Action News Team. The comic book connection gets interesting here.
“He will be talked about as much as if he appeared through the entire season, but we can’t afford to keep bringing him back,” says Publick.
“He was voiced by a professional, Kevin Conroy,” says Hammer. “We’d love to keep employing him, but that’s pricey.”
“We’re saving the Action News Team for a spinoff. Actually, I can not confirm or deny that,” warns Publick.
As for other plans for the season, the co-creators don’t want to give it away.
“We’re about to sell it away soon,” Hammer explains. “We just spent a year making what fans want us to give away. Let us give it to you the way we want to give it to you.”
Another thing Hammer and Publick tread carefully around is the growing legion of fanatics for their show.
“I don’t really feel the fanaticism,” says Publick. “I think we have the number of fans one should expect on the Cartoon Network. We write a geeky show. We pack a lot of information in our shows. There’s a continuing narrative of a sorts, and there’s a lot of reference to its own personal history and a history that only exists in our heads.
“There’s a specific kind of show that wants to deliver more than just jokes. It obviously means we piss off people who are looking for a string of jokes. There’s give and take. I think we only get a kind of low-level Josh Whedon interest.”
“That’s not true,” counters Hammer. “We don’t have any idea of the size of our fandom, but the love in their hearts is very clear to us. Jackson and I also douse ourselves in black market snake pheromones. That way people are attracted to us sexually.”
“The tiger penis root we gnaw on also works,” Publick now chimes in. “Women sense our powers, as do men. It reeks. It smells like someone dumped a Porta Potty on us, but people respond on this animal visceral level.”
However one responds to Jackson Publick, Doc Hammer and “The Venture Brothers,” it’s pretty safe to assume the show’s fans are going to be all over them for more.