Cartoon Network's Venture Bros. are back (finally), with the first two episodes of season 7 released and the next due out on Sunday. Huge revelations about Rusty's father have become known, while Monarch has donned the mantle of the Blue Morpho and Dr. Mrs. the Monarch as ascended the ranks of the Guild of Calamitous Intent.
Doesn't sound like your typical cartoon, eh? Wait until we tell you about the latest in Hank’s relationship with a crime lord’s daughter.
Venture Bros. creator/chief director Jackson Publick has spoken with Newsarama about the series, as well as the long-awaited Art of the Venture Bros. book recently released by Dark Horse Comics.
Newsarama: So Jackson, I’m sure you’re tired of hearing it’s been two years since the last season of Venture Bros but you guys are back and I’ve watched the first couple of episodes. You guys don’t really date the show anymore so where are we in relation last season?
Jackson Publick: We are like a week after the last episode of the last season. Last season you could tell it was about to be fall in New York. I’m guessing last season ran from September to November based on how I made the background painters change the leaves on the trees. The premiere is the day before Thanksgiving.
Nrama: At the end of this first episode, we learn about the "Problem." Rusty already has enough daddy issues, how will this make that worse?
Publick: [Laughs] I guess by throwing them in his face? We’re proving that you can’t really escape them. We backed off of his daddy issues because he was succeeding on his own terms and if anything, he had this brother’s shadow cast over him now. It’s just another way to say that nothing ever quite changes and everything comes back around again with the kind of life these people lead.
Nrama: Hank’s evolution or progress has been my favorite to watch and go through. He’s always been more confident and looked up to heroes like, you know, Batman, but where does this leave Dean in things for this season?
Publick: Dean? Well, Dean is has always been more sensitive and already went through his sad emo and rejecting his father phase. He was also the first one to find out they were clones and he’s been trying to actively step away from the inevitably crushing of the Venture world. That’s why he’s going to an Ivy League school and this season he actually moves on campus and continues to not always successfully escape this world he was born into.
Nrama: With Malcolm donning this Blue Morpho and Sheila becoming a prominent member of the Guild and it was hinted last season of this wedge, but we see that’s not really the case here, does the Monarch know how much Sheila is risking by doing this? Does he actually care?
Publick: [Laughs] Gosh, probably, you know if they were better at communicating. I don’t think he’s beyond caring, I think he is a little obvious and self-centered as most of our characters are. He’s on a hair trigger and his world is changing and railing against that. It remains an issue with them, I mean she is in some ways his boss and he has to find a different way around this problem than donning Blue Morpho, which clearly didn’t work.
Nrama: You have Mark Hamill finally get to voice a character, how long have you guys been waiting for that?
Publick: You know it’s not even something I thought was a possibility. I know he did some voices for Metalocalypse and so when we start a new season, I forget these things until a new character pop ups who’s appropriate. We don’t generally have a wishlist of actors that we want to work with other than there are just people we love in the world. As luck would have it, there are two characters in an episode that are very different voices but both in his wheelhouse so it was sort of a “Ph shit, let’s get Mark Hamill” and we got him! It was neat and he was fun to work with.
Nrama: Let’s switch gears for a minute and talk about the Art of the Venture Bros. book from Dark Horse.
Publick: Yes, please.
Nrama: That was supposed to come out last year if I recall, did you guys want to release it around the time of the new season or something else hold it back?
Publick: No, but it’s pretty perfect! [Laughs] At no point during the making of this book did we ever think we’d finish it or the timing would be... we pushed it back a few times... it just took a really long time and the bulk of the work was being done while we were producing season six, which was just a brutal season that had every production mishap happen to us. The book was just another thing on top of it which made our availability a little harder. There’s so much art. I mean you’ve seen it, it’s thick as hell. We would do the interview things, then somebody would take a pass at editing then a few months later, we would get a PDF and I would have to go through it and proofread it and look at it and then say “oh I have a better image for this chapter” or “don’t show my notes on this page because there’s somebody’s phone number on this” [Laughs] “cut down this part,” it was just a lot of work putting a book like this together. Once it was late, we wanted to throw some stuff from season seven in there as a teaser, but the timing couldn’t have worked better.
Nrama: Was an art book something you always wanted to do? Like, did you purposefully hold on to this stuff?
Publick: Any of the production art was living on a server because we have to constantly refer back to it and it’s a little harder to get a hold of the earlier stuff since we switched production companies and servers fail and stuff like that, so as far as the notes go, I don’t throw any of that stuff. It was all living in just a big box. It can make my job easier since I already made it up.
Nrama: You have Patton Oswalt do the forward of the book. He’s a fellow Adult Swim alumni having been on several shows especially The Heart, She Holler, what was it about him that you wanted to be included in this book?
Publick: I honestly don’t remember because he wrote it like two years ago. I mean, I’m a huge fan of his and we met at Comic-Con International: San Diego one year and he’s very bright and great voice of comic nerdom and thought he would be appropriate it for it. I couldn’t have had a better endorsement.
Nrama: There’s a part of the book where you show off pages from a proposed Venture Bros comic. We’ve talked about this before, but has your thought about making a comic changed at all? Is that something you feel like you could still do?
Publick: Maybe? We get asked that a lot and I would love to, but I personally don’t have the time and I don’t know how much I or Doc could let go and let somebody else run with it. We’re weird protective control freaks that are just super judgemental people [Laughs]. I don’t know, it could be cool and it could be a low-risk way to let other people try to write our characters because we certainly put up a wall around the show.
Nrama: Have publishers approached you in the past? Have any deals come close?
Publick: Yeah, it’s come up maybe two times. We’ve given serious thought and people have been interested but I can’t make up stories for this and that because the show is already killing me.
Nrama: Can you talk about how you’ve structured this season because the second plays into the first episode but in a linear since, more like a “meanwhile”? Is that going to be a theme going forward?
Publick: Yeah, that second episode should have just been titled “Meanwhile.” It’s a sort of special case. I’ve been saying that the first three episodes are a two-parter in three parts. We’re unofficially calling it the “Morphic Trilogy.” It’s sort of what should have been the finale last season. Unfortunately we produced episode three last, that’s why I’m in New York because we were mixing it and turning it in the network like, tomorrow. It’s a doozy! It’s a continuity jungle gym!
Nrama: Lastly, by the end of the season, how do you want people to feel about this arc?
Publick: I want them to be amused and surprised and happy we did it! I want them to feel like we made another good season. For some people, the current season is always the best, some think it’s the worst. Some of the people that hate it, they go back and hindsight and go “alright, not that bad." That’s how I am with the Matrix Reloaded. I get it!