Q&A: Dave Willis & Matt Maiellaro
The creators of talk about the final season of the Adult Swim series, which premieres June 21. By Tom McLean.
When Adult Swim debuted on Cartoon Network in 2001, there was no indication that the quirky, strange and hysterically funny Aqua Teen Hunger Force would survive to the second episode, let alone 14 years.
But, as with all good things, the adventures of Master Shake, Frylock, Meatwad, Carl, the Mooninites and Doctor Weird are coming to an end with the final season of the series debuting June 21 at midnight on Adult Swim.
After 11 seasons, a feature film in 2007 — complete with a marketing gimmick turned real-life bomb scare — and an ever-changing title, we caught up with show creators Dave Willis and Matt Maiellaro to commemorate the end of the Aqua Teen era.
Animag: Why do you think the show connected with an audience that kept tuning in?
Willis: I don’t know. You never really know why people respond to something. I just think Matt and I tried to make what made us laugh, and fortunately that was something that made millions and millions of other people worldwide laugh.
Animag: Tell me a bit about the new season and what you have planned?
Willis: It’s the same the show it has always been, just a slightly different title. We named it Aqua Teen Hunger Force Forever and then, of course, we got the call that said this was the final season.
Maiellaro: We inadvertently found out about halfway through the season that it wasn’t coming back, so we started thinking about special episodes to make.
Willis: I think the finale is going to be very satisfying, unpredictable and yet inevitable. I think the way we wrap it up, I think we do the run of the show real justice. I just think it’s going to be a nice half-hour episode. We’re doing nine episodes but the last one is a half hour, so other than that, they’re all just standard episodes. I think they’re funny. I think they’re really strong. We haven’t been on the air in a while. We worked really hard to make this season great and I think we’ve done it. Congratulations, Matt!
Maiellaro: Oh, yeah! Thanks, Dave! Congratulations to you, too!
Willis: We’re both congratulating each other because it’s so good.
Animag: Were there any feelings of nostalgia or sadness as you were working on the last episodes?
Willis: I had a little moment there in the read just doing a Meatwad line. I don’t want to say which one it is because it’d kind of give away something, but it was sort of weirdly poignant and it made me think for a while. ... When we came up with this show I was in my late 20s and I’m mid-40s now; it’s crazy. I’ve gotten married, I’ve had kids, same with Matt, we’ve lived a big chunk of life that has been part of this show.
Animag: Has anything changed about the way you animate the show this season?
Willis: We’re using the same animation we used in the pilot. We just keep recycling it over and over and over again. That’s crazy! Nobody does that.
Animag: Looking back at the whole show, what’s the highlight for you?
Willis: I think making a movie was cool, and I remember the opening of the movie, going around with my wife to all these different theaters and just watching people watch the movie. It was kind of thrilling. I remember seeing an alarmed elderly couple get up frantically during the open, as soon as they realized this was not Eyes Wide Shut or whatever they had come to check out. “Wait a minute, that’s not Sarah Jessica Parker! Let me check that ticket … .” And that Boston thing was pretty insane.
Animag: Would you revisit these characters in another movie or special?
Maiellaro: We’re trying to really push the sequel to the movie. So hopefully we can get that happening in the next few years.
Willis: There’s a script. That’s the one good thing about cartoons — they never die. But neither does Batman, though. You just put someone else in the suit. Maiellaro: And neither does Jason. Willis: Jason Vorhees, that’s right. Can you imagine if he was a cartoon? He’d be twice as invincible! [