Aqua Teen Hunger Force Creator Dave Willis Heads to Supercon | Web Exclusive | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida

Aqua Teen Hunger Force Creator Dave Willis Heads to Supercon

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Hmm, so what time, exactly, will you be heading to Orlando?

(Laughs) Honestly, it's cool. It's great to hear people watch the shows over and over again. So much of TV is furniture -- it's forgettable or something you just sort of turn on. It's nice for people to actually care about it so much they want to see someone talk or meet them or want to watch the shows over again. You have to want it to be that way to some degree with TiVo. I know I've become such a picky viewer now.

What do you watch on your TiVo?

Sunday night is pretty big for us. We watch Madmen. That's probably the one show I stay on top of.

This whole Adult Swim thing that started nearly 10 years ago now has been built on these shows like Space Ghost Coast to Coast and Aqua Teen and Sealab, and it's spawned this amazing phenomenon of low-fi, low-brow animation. What's it like for you to be one of the creators of what's basically become a cottage industry now?

You always sort of knew as the means of production got cheaper and easier there would be more and more people trying to [create shows] this way. It's just people trying to tell stories or get ideas out there. Nowadays, an editing machine that we used to use for Space Ghost that cost $100,000 can be replaced with Final Cut Pro for like three grand. We did things [lo-fi] out of a necessity though. When I started over there, Space Ghost was on its 14th episode, and Mike Lazzo [the senior VP of Adult Swim] had started the show out of an attempt to get some low cost programming. It was just going to be a one-off, sort of wrap around thing, and then we decided to make it a real show. And we could be cheap about it because we used all this recycled animation with the other half being live action. We were just using it over and over again and revoicing it. And I think people responded to that cheap aesthetic.

The irony is, we weren't really trying for that paper doll look with Aqua Teen! We were genuinely trying to make a fully animated cartoon. And that's just how it looks when people who don't know how to basically animate a cartoon try and make one. (Laughs)

So what you're saying is you totally lucked into this!

Well, to some degree. But also, it comes out of necessity. You just figure out what the best way is to do it. I think that's also true for the Sealab guys, and, like, Tim and Eric. That's just these two guys that were friends, hammering out shorts and doing stuff for the Internet the best way they knew how. And you get better at it.

Is there a lot of camaraderie among the different producers of the Cartoon Network shows?

I think we're pretty well sick of each other at this point. (Laughs) Nah, I mean we're all really friendly. There's a lot of sharing between shows. I did Squidbillies with another friend, Jim Fortier, who's also a Space Ghost producer. Matt Maiellaro [co-creator of Aqua Teen Hunger Force] is doing 12 oz. Mouse, and he's getting everybody in the department to do voiceovers. But there's a friendship and a kinship, and we help each other out. Certainly among the Atlanta [based] guys, but also the LA guys too. We'll occasionally get help from like a Brendan Small to do a voice or something, too. So, everyone kind of knows each other.

The number one question a lot of fans have is will Space Ghost ever come back. Do you think that's a possibility?

Uhh. I don't know. Maybe Space Ghost Babies: The New Generation?

Sounds like Muppet Babies, but a little more perverse.

You know, we've talked about pulling it out of mothballs for one episode, like if we could get a really amazing guest. There was a brief period where we were chasing Don Rickles, because I think he would probably merit coming out of retirement to strap on the pads and do the show. It would have to be a guy like Bill Murray or Steve Martin or somebody so it could just be used as this amazing, expensive excuse to meet them.

So did you or the other writers do most of the interviews for Space Ghost?

It depended. I did a large chunk of them, certainly in the later years. Matt Harrigan did some. George Lowe, the voice of Space Ghost, did a lot early on. Before I was there they hired a Shakespearian actor to get into the Space Ghost suit and ask questions, which was really weird and awkward because I think the guy spent most of the time trying to network with the guests (laughs). Depending on who it was being interviewed too, if it was up someone's alley, people would want to do it. The voice of Zorak, Clay Croker, is a big Butthole Surfers fan, so when we interviewed Gibby Haynes I invited him to help.

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John Linn

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