Sketch Artistry

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The cre­ator of re­turns to Adult Swim with a show that an­i­mates as many ideas as his brain can gen­er­ate in the tongue-twist­ingly ti­tled By Tom McLean.

With the three-sea­son run of his Adult Swim com­edy China, IL hav­ing wrapped up last year, cre­ator Brad Neely opted to go back to his roots for his next show for the net­work. De­but­ing July 10 at 11:45 p.m., Brad Neely’s Harg Nallin’ Sclo­pio Peepio is a new quar­ter-hour an­i­mated sketch show col­lect­ing fre­netic one-off bits, shorts and songs — all fil­tered through Neely’s sig­na­ture vis­ual style.

Pro­duced by Tit­mouse, the re­sults in the first sea­son’s 10 quar­ter-hour episodes are in­tense, strange and funny. We caught up with cre­ator and ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Neely, exec pro­ducer Daniel Wei­den­feld and co-exec pro­ducer Dave New­berg to talk about the new series.

An­i­ma­tion Magazine: Is there some sig­nif­i­cance to the show’s ti­tle?

Brad Neely: Yes, but not nec­es­sar­ily in a tra­di­tional way. It is sig­nif­i­cant and mean­ing­ful to me. I guess I should say it mat­ters, but I’m not so sure it has mean­ing.

An­imag: Where did the idea come from and why did you want to do this kind of show af­ter China?

Neely: I got my start do­ing car­toons on the in­ter­net, and they were all very short and they were mostly song-ori­ented or first-per­son de­scrip­tive sto­ry­telling. And af­ter hav­ing done three sea­sons of rig­or­ous, strictly nar­ra­tive sto­ry­telling with China ... it just kind of felt good to go back and ex­er­cise those mus­cles again.

An­imag: De­scribe the over­all ap­proach to the show.

Neely: Af­ter we started get­ting into the show and writ­ing bits, mak­ing a lot of the songs, it started telling us what it was. We had a very nice cast and we were able to bring in good guests, so I was writ­ing it as we were mak­ing it and just cranking out a lot of mu­sic and the show kind of shaped it­self.

Wei­den­feld: I’ve known Brad for a very long time ... and noth­ing has even been more a win­dow into his brain than this show and the ti­tle of this show. ... There’s an open­ing ti­tle se­quence, there’s the end credits, and then there’s just a slew of stuff in between that ranges from five-sec­ond lit­tle pops to full mu­sic videos that are two min­utes long with Brad’s mu­sic and fea­tur­ing guest stars singing some of these songs.

An­imag: What’s the creative process like on this?

Neely: We had a writ­ers room early on, to kind of run a bunch of my ini­tial ideas past guys and girls in the room, just to make sure we weren’t go­ing to pub­lish some sort of (messed)-up man­i­festo. And we used that for a lit­tle bit, but once we re­al­ized that the net­work re­ally wanted us to do dou­ble the amount of bits in an episode than we had pre­pared for, I just kind of showed up ev­ery day know­ing that I had to crank and we just filled them up.

Wei­den­feld: Brad wrote about 500 in­di­vid­ual sketches for this show, not all of which will be in this first sea­son. An­imag: How do you pro­duce the an­i­ma­tion? Dave New­berg: We sto­ry­board it and Brad di­rects our sto­ry­board team. Some­times he’ll act out how he wants the char­ac­ters to be­have on screen and we’ll video­tape it and our board artists try to hit that as close as they can. Then we lay it out here and we do the an­i­ma­tion here in Los An­ge­les, and then we ship the clean-up over­seas and bring it back here and watch it and fix all the mis­takes in house. We do that for about 80 per­cent of the show and 20 per­cent you can’t re­ally ship any part over­seas; it’s just the nature of com­edy, Amer­i­can com­edy — Brad’s spe­cific sen­si­bil­i­ties don’t trans­late nec­es­sar­ily ... so we’ll an­i­mate ev­ery­thing here for a lot of that stuff. An­imag: How many board artists do you have? Neely: We have five. And (di­rec­tor) An­gelo (Hat­gis­tavrou) some­times would board, too. We were able to have more fun with the board­ing process, too, be­cause in a half-hour nar­ra­tive you’re fo­cused on so much in terms of the ac­tion, the story, the emo­tion, the char­ac­ters. This, it’s like we might never see these char­ac­ters again and it was fun, it was way looser, no con­ti­nu­ity to track.

An­imag: Will there be any run­ning gags or char­ac­ters?

Neely: There are a cou­ple of fake bands that con­tinue to show up. There’s a band named Fruit Blood that we check in on the most. ... There are a cou­ple of for­mats that we go back to, but char­ac­ters, we just make them and then break them. [

ADis­ney XD brings to air the most-re­cent ad­di­tion to the LEGO an­i­ma­tion line with the orig­i­nal series By Tom McLean.

ni­ma­tion and LEGO have to­gether proven to have the Force with them when it comes to ex­tend­ing the Star Wars universe, with the orig­i­nal series LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Ad­ven­tures on Dis­ney XD the most re­cent ad­di­tion to the line.

Set between The Em­pire Strikes Back and Re­turn of the Jedi, The Freemaker Ad­ven­tures fol­lows sib­lings Zan­der, Kordi and Rowan, and their re­fur­bished bat­tle droid R0-GR (“Roger”) — scav­engers who col­lect parts from var­i­ous bat­tles to build hy­brid space­ships to sell. When Force-sen­si­tive Rowan comes into con­tact with the Ky­ber Saber, he is men­tored by Naare, a sur­vivor of the Jedi purge who has more than a few se­crets.

The series came rather quickly to cre­ators and ex­ec­u­tive pro­duc­ers Bill Motz and Bob Roth, who learned from di­rec­tor of cur­rent series at Walt Dis­ney An­i­ma­tion Jer­maine Turner at a Comic-Con party in 2014 that they were look­ing for an orig­i­nal Star Wars show set dur­ing the orig­i­nal tril­ogy.

“We walk to din­ner, like three blocks, and as we’re wait­ing, Bob says, ‘I know what the show is,’” says Motz. “And I was like, what show? The one we just heard about? And he says, ‘Yeah, they’re sal­vagers.’ ... So over din­ner we hashed out the essence.”

“Roger came out of that din­ner,” says Roth. “The no­tion they go around the galaxy and scoop up parts from other bat­tles and cre­ate their own hy­brid ver­sions of these ships and sell them for a liv­ing, that all came out there.”

The series is an equal part­ner­ship between LEGO and Dis­ney-owned Lu­cas­film, with creative ex­ecs on both sides. Motz says the creative process has run very smoothly, de­spite the in­volve­ment of so many cor­po­rate mas­ters.

“We feel like we came in with a re­ally solid idea and then they helped el­e­vate it to the next place,” he says. “We’ll kick back if we think it’s the wrong di­rec­tion and they will cer­tainly kick back with us.” “But it is at ev­ery stage just plused,” adds Roth.

Work­ing with LEGO has some in­ter­est­ing creative chal­lenges, such as char­ac­ter de­signs need­ing to con­form to the clas­sic minifig­ure con­fig­u­ra­tion.

“You can sort of sug­gest a char­ac­ter is fat or skinny, but re­ally ev­ery­body is the ex­act same size,” says Motz. “We’ve learned you can do a lot with a minifig­ure. You can do a lot to sug­gest a whole bunch of dif­fer­ent looks, but then you’ve got to re­mind your­self at the end of the day that it’s a minifig­ure.”

Pro­duc­tion is done over at Wil Film in Den­mark, us­ing a pro­pri­etary sys­tem that al­lows the U.S.-based creative crew to re­view and comment in­stantly on the show.

“We spend a lot of time on Skype,” says Roth. “The amazing thing is they’re half a world away and it’s been the most col­lab­o­ra­tive process we’ve ever been a part of.”

With the show hav­ing been well-re­ceived since its June 20 pre­miere, Roth and Motz are hope­ful they’ll get a chance to act on their plans for the show beyond the first sea­son

“I like that these char­ac­ters are grow­ing and chang­ing so you’re not locked into do­ing the same kind of story over and over again,” says Roth. “Since they grow, the sto­ry­telling grows.” [

Sure, thanks. In the morn­ing,

Brad Neely’s manic show is a rapid­fire com­e­dy­mu­sic blend.

In­tro­duces fans to new he­roes in the fa­mil­iar set­ting of the orig­i­nal Star Wars tril­ogy.

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