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,