Mania Exclusive: Millionaire and Kaplan on DRINKY CROW, part deux - Mania.com



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Mania Exclusive: Millionaire and Kaplan on DRINKY CROW, part deux

On voices, drinking and getting the word out

By Rob M. Worley     November 14, 2008


The Drinky Crow Show
© Cartoon Network/Adult Swim

Having already discussed mutilation, copulation and the process of making CGI look hand drawn in part one of our interview we now resume our conversation with Tony Millionaire and Eric Kaplan, creators of the new Adult Swim animated series 'The Drinky Crow Show'.

Rob Worley (Mania): Tony, what can you do in the show that you can't do in comics, Tony?

Tony Millionaire: I think that the fact that it's longer than a comic strip. You know how like on the bottom of the comic strip I'll often put in a modern couple, bickering but it's always just a quick joke, a quick bicker.

When you've got an 11 minute show, you can really get into the whole explanation of the relationship and it gets funnier and funnier the deeper it goes.

You've also got body language, and the other thing that really surprised me were the voices.  I would see something written down in the script and I would be, "this isn't that funny," but when you hear the actors say it and I realize, "well that is funny, it just depends on how you say it."

Timing, body language and the way the animators can do shrugs and tilts of the head, it's worth like six panels of cartooning.

Mania: You mentioned the second strip that runs at the bottom of the 'Maakies' strip. Are there plans to somehow translate that idea to the cartoon?

Uncle Gabby and Drinky Crow

Tony: We actually thought about the idea of putting a separate story going along the bottom of the screen, but that would have been much too distracting. It might have been funny but it was kind of gimicky.

So what we'll do now, a lot of time the strip will go down into the tiny world of the bugs or some germs are fighting with each other...show a little Syphilis virus down inside the bloodstream, and they're having a little drama going on. That kind of thing.

Eric: There are a lot of different realms of reality in the show. Sometimes we're dealing with a fight over a relationship but then sometimes we're dealing with cosmic issues: the creation of the universe, the destruction of the universe.

One  of the things you get a sense of reading the strip is that it's not a show that takes place in the past. It's a show that uses some of the iconography of the past to create an experience of what it's like to be conscious now.

Everyone's experience in the world now -- you have in your mind a way that certain things should look...an old man, a pair of jeans, a telephone. That's, in your mind, what the world looks like. But it doesn't look like that any more. It's always changing.

So there's a tension and a kind of emotional vulnerability that comes from the clash between our sense from when we were kids of what the physical environment looks like, and what the physical environment, in fact, does look like.

That's something that's captured by the strip. That's something we very consciously try to capture in the stories we're telling in 'The Drinky Crow Show'.

Tony said once, "Drinky Crow is not a crow. He's a guy that looks like a crow. The things that happen to him don't really take place in the 19th century. They just feel like they do."

So we're always weaving these different strands from stuff that feels like it could be happening now, stuff that feels like its more primal. Stuff that feels old but its not old.

Tony: Like we had to build an ATM machine. But of course it was a steam-driven ATM machine. So you can do an ATM joke but still have that look of steam pouring out of the top of it.

Mania: Those space aliens have shown up a couple times and they're always driving some classically rendered UFO type vehicle.

Uncle Gabby shows Drinky Crow the Beer Goggles

Eric: Yeah, it looks like a steam-powered UFO.

Mania: There's a perception of reality about watching a TV, about how the story is going to unfold. I feel like 'Drinky Crow' unfolds in a very unconventional way. For example you destroyed the whole world in the first episode and he ages 50 years in another.

Tony: That's pretty much the same gimmick that you see in Warner Bros cartoons. Coyote gets killed several times in every episode, right?

You just ignored that he just died two seconds ago and keep going.

Eric: It's like the stories that kids tell themselves through their play.  And also what’s called in Indian philosophy lila, the play of thoughts arising from the undifferentiated substratum and then subsiding into it.

Tony: They're shooting each other constantly, falling over and dying, and starting again.

That's how they get people to join the army.

Eric: And actually the advertisers on Adult Swim are the Army, so maybe we're contributing to that sense of youthful immortality.

Mania: I noticed in two of the 'Drinky Crow' episodes, Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement (stars of the HBO series 'Flight of the Conchords') were voicing some of the characters. Are there plans to work with them more on this show or elsewhere?

Eric: We might do more stuff with Bret and Jemaine. I met  them when I was writing  on “Flight of the Conchords and they are very powerful comedic sensibilities.  They are also from New Zealand which is quite remote so their ancestors did a lot of sea-faring, which makes them great casting for a maritime show.

Mania: Are there any other interesting guest voices coming up on 'Drinky'?

Eric: Yes! Jackie Mason playing a vampire.

Mania: And I saw both of your names listed in the voice credits.

Tony: Yeah, we're doing a lot of the voices

Eric: [in character] I am Mud-God! Put that down!

Mania: Tony did you play yourself in the 'Monkey God' episode?

Uncle Gabby and Drinky Crow

Tony: I did play myself in the hospital bed.

Mania: I don't think you had any speaking lines in that role.

Tony: I think I did...well I also had the role of myself as a God.

Mania: That's right, you were in a coma in one reality and a God in another reality where Uncle Gabby was in a coma.

Eric: You said, "Hey, get your hands off of that!"

Tony: "What the hell do ya think you're doing?!"

That's the kind of acting I can do.

Mania: How do you prepare for the role of Tony Millionaire on 'Drinky Crow'?

Tony: I get really nervous. I jump around. I think, "Ohmygod! Ohmygod! Ohmygod! I hope I don't flub  lines!  I hope I don't flub lines!"

Then I go in there and I say, "Halt, ye!"

And then I'm done.

Eric: Tony has a star turn as a cop. I feel like you must have been some kind of squid or a sea ape or something like that.

Tony: I did some grunts and groans as a monster.

I leave the acting to the actors. I think it's best that way.

Who played the the Elephant Man?

Eric: Oh, that's Jonathan Slavin! The brilliant Jonathan Slavin.

You can tell there's a level of professionalism in the voices that are not being done by me or Tony. One of them is Jonathan Slavin.

[Editor's Note: Slavin has appeared on 'Andy Richter Controls the Universe' and will appear in the upcoming Victor Fresco series 'Better off Ted'. Fans may have seen him recently as Marlee Matlin's put-upon translator in 'My Name is Earl']

Mania: Eric, what voices do you do on the show?

Eric: I'm the voice of Mud-God, an Ogre, I'm another kind of God, a Norse Giant Ymir. What else am I? Probably some kind of weird talking sponge or talking vomit or something like that.

Tony: You play a teenager

Eric: Oh yeah! I'm one of the teenagers who sort of represents the Adult Swim audience.   I have a great craving to be entertained, but sadly I’m only interested in sex, violence and meta-humor.

Mania: Is there anything you want Mania readers to know about 'Drinky Crow' that we haven't covered?

Tony: They're really gonna like it. They're gonna like it a lot. They should really watch it.

Eric: It has OUR seal of approval.

But, we have a show where the people who will love it have to find it. That's my only concern. I know that people will love it, but those people who would love it have to know that it's on.


'The Drinky Crow Show' in on Cartoon Network/Adult Swim, starting every Sunday Night, at 12:15am. The first episode airs on November 23rd.

Visit the Adult Swim website for more info about the show and Maakies.com for ongoing comic strips from Tony Millionaire.

Tune into Mania.com Monday for another exclusive clip from 'The Drinky Crow Show'.

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