Tonight on FOX, Animation Domination High-Def will officially debut two new animated shows as part of their late-night ADHD lineup: Lucas Bros. Moving Co., followed by Golan the Insatiable. The latter cartoon features a menacing godlord from another dimension, Golan, who is now trapped in the small town of Oak Grove where his only friend is a little goth girl named Dylan (voiced by Mary Mack). Together, through various adventures, they combat the boredom of suburban life.
IGN recently got a chance to speak with Golan the Insatiable's creator Josh Miller, who not only came up with the idea for the 'toon after authoring a series of , but also voices Golan on the new show. During our conversation Miller talks about how he pitched the show to FOX, the process of developing his stories for TV and the Calvin and Hobbes-esque friendship between Golan and Dylan
IGN TV: FIRST OF ALL, I WANT TO ASK, HOW DID THIS IDEA COME ABOUT? AM I RIGHT THAT IT STARTED WITH YOUR BLOG ON SOMETHING AWFUL?
JOSH MILLER: Yeah, I'm not sure if I'd call it a short story or what exactly, but yeah, I did a series of those over the last two years. It started initially because I had a deadline and was trying to think of something to do, so it came so fast in that sense that I don't even quite remember where the initial idea came from other than I thought it would be funny. Partially, the original short stories were all in the format of Golan writing into the town's "Letters to the Editor," like, a tiny newspaper in the town he lived in. So what I ended up doing, though, then was just reading between the lines and what he was talking about, what he was like, his personality and other characters, just the nature of the town. It kind of grew out from there. Also, I guess kind of on a basic level, I'm from Minnesota -- I'm not from a small town in Minnesota, but I've certainly spent enough time in them. I also just like the idea of this horrible tyrant from kind of a Conan the Barbarian-like world trapped in a really boring, overly polite place.
IGN: HOW DID THE PROJECT THEN END UP AT FOX AND ADHD?
MILLER: That was a case of the right place at the right time. I had a friend who works for the Weitz Brothers -- they did About a Boy -- sort of their company, and he had been telling me for awhile that I should try to develop Golan into an animated show. At that time, really, the only place that was even logical that it could go was Adult Swim. But then also I had no particular way to get in to pitch it there, so I didn't really pursue it. Then one day he brought up ADHD. Their company knew people who were specifically hemmed over here at ADHD. I knew them socially I guess -- not even exactly in that sense -- but long story short, I got my foot in the door and slapped together a pitch. It helped that I'd been doing it for years, so I knew the character really well. The original stories were paired with artwork by this cool Scottish artist named Ali Horn, so I was able to kind of bring that in. Ultimately, the designs had to change a little bit from her original work, but I think it really helped sell the kind of tone and aesthetic of what I was going for.
Golan the Insatiable!
IGN: AND THIS WAS YOUR FIRST ANIMATED PROJECT, RIGHT?
IGN: I KNOW YOU HAD DONE SOME STRAIGHT COMEDY SHORTS AND STUFF LIKE THAT BEFORE, BUT WHAT WAS IT LIKE TRANSITIONING FROM THAT TO ANIMATION, AND ADAPTING THAT STYLE FROM THOSE ILLUSTRATIONS AND PUTTING IT INTO A TV SHOW?
MILLER: It was great. The funny thing is, the first thing that I did as a kid was a lot of animation, you know, just at home on a little VHS camera. But I quickly learned that if I just got my friends to read dialogue, it took a lot less time than holing up in a room for weeks on end. But my style of live-action stuff was always fairly cartoony, so stylistically it was kind of a dream come true to be doing animation. For some reason when you're doing live-action with a cartoon tone, it's more of a niche style; whereas animation is the tone of animation in a post-Simpsons world. Then, as far as actual production, that was a really interesting change of pace, because in live-action, unless you're going to dump a ton of money into reshoots, you're stuck with what you've got. You can kind of work your magic with editing, but I really love from a comedy writing standpoint with animation we just get so many second chances, because you write it, then you record it, and basically until it's fully animated you can always hop back in the booth and record more. Even when it's animated -- especially because we use Flash animation -- it takes some time and you don't want to monkey with it too much, but if it's just, like, changing the mouth movements to fit a new line, you can kind of keep doing it up to the last second.
IGN: DID YOU DRAW ON ANY PAST CARTOONS FOR INSPIRATION WHILE YOU WERE DEVELOPING THE SHOW?
MILLER: Not really. Visually, the style we were going for, they wanted something that was taken from the original Golan artwork, even though that was darker and a little more twisted. They liked that it had this kind of elaborate storybook feel. In particular, backgrounds are very Maurice Sendak or Edward Gorey; there's also a little bit of Charles Addams, who created the original Addams Family comic strips and stuff. I took from that. As far as actual shows, I feel like everything is kind of Simpsons-like. I wouldn't compare our show to The Simpsons, but I was of that specific age. I grew up on that, and I feel like my very brain is made up of Simpsons quotes.
To be more specific on that, too, we're doing a 15-minute show. I don't know if you've seen any of the other ADHD shows, but most of them -- especially Axe Cop and [Lucas Bros. Moving Co.], which Golan is paired with -- are very surreal shows, especially for 15-minute comedies, are more in the vein of Adult Swim. I think they really set the template with Aqua Teen and Harvey Birdman and stuff. So we were going for a little bit more of The Simpsons' traditional, family animated sitcom -- basically like a traditional, family animated sitcom, but with this one really weird element dropped in.
Golan with his pal Dylan.
IGN: WAS THERE EVER ANY HESITANCY WITH THE STUDIO REGARDING THE SUBJECT MATTER, LIKE A SHOW ABOUT A HEDONISTIC DEMON MONSTER THAT COMES INTO THIS TOWN?
MILLER: Surprisingly no. [Laughs] I was kind of expecting that from the get-go. I thought some things would have to be toned down. Frankly, there were some things that I even I just wanted to tone down. I feel that when I was doing this stuff for Something Awful, that was for a specific audience, and the fact that it was on the web. Translating it to a cartoon, there were just some things I wanted to do differently. We knew we couldn't be quite as offensive or R-rated as the original stories were. But one thing that's really nice about ADHD -- I was about to say "especially being my first TV show," but frankly I think it would be great even if it was my tenth TV show -- even though we're a part of FOX, we function a little bit autonomously. It's not like we're constantly getting network notes on every episode. Like, Kevin Reilly's been really cool towards Golan, but even with him it's more "overall," like notes about the characters and stuff. So we get our notes on our show from the heads of ADHD, but they've kind of got a cool, unique relationship with FOX that creatively is really nice, because even though we're going on one of the four big broadcast channels, it feels very similar to the projects I'm working on with weird indie things that are just going straight up on the web now. It doesn't feel like there are these layers of an international corporation that we have to wade through to get every joke onto the screen.
Continue on Page 2, as Miller explains the character of Dylan, Golan's origins and the future of the series
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