After a two year silence, with few clues to the date of its return, The Venture Bros. will be returning to Adult Swim in January 2013. When Adult Swim announced their panel line-up for SDCC2012, I fidgeted and squealed with joy (the lazy girls’ alternative to jumping up and down). Waiting comes with the territory for fans of the show; time between seasons is spent constantly trying to convince our friends it hasn’t been canceled. Considering that most information about The Venture Bros. is filtered through Jackson Publik’s LiveJournal (yes, I’m serious) and the Adult Swim message board, a press release was like finding a golden ticket.
I made it to the panel just in time to take a seat at the back to enjoy an unfinished clip from the upcoming season. Pencil-drawn, with no detail, The Monarch and Dr. Mrs. The Monarch (though, I found out later it’s still acceptable to call her Dr. Girlfriend) are alone in their bedroom, obviously on the verge of something bizarrely sexy, when it becomes apparent they have gotten their role playing signals crossed. Hilarious pop culture and subpop culture jokes ensue, cue deafening laughter. The lights came up and the cameras focused in on the panel. I had vague hopes Patrick Warburton (Brock Sampson) and James Urbaniak (Dr. Rusty Venture) would be attending, but co-writers and co-creators, Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer, were alone on the panel. There wasn’t really time to release a bummed out sigh before Jackson and Hammer launched into a tangenting back-and-forth, fire off jokes at a pace that was hard to keep up with.
Their energy and adrenaline from the panel followed them to the press room. They made their way down the press wall, beguiling one camera after another, until they finally reached our table. Their energy suggested a nervousness, but their casual demeanor made it hard to believe the suggestion. We were only a couple of minutes into the round table before someone asked the question on everyone’s mind: What exactly is a Rusty Venture? For those of you unfamiliar with last episode of season 4, “Operation P.R.O.M.,” an ongoing joke about the definition of a sex act called a “Rusty Venture” runs through the entire episode. Publick was quick to say, “That’s open to interpretation.” After a moment of mumbling and a bit of general wishy-washyness, Doc admitted he’d recently been swayed towards accepting a specific meaning. “I kinda thought the Rusty Venture would be what really is a Rusty Venture. Like Rusty Venture is somebody who is a lonely, desperate, almost-been. And, that, to me is masturbating until your dick is red.” Publick nods and points out this is, in fact, “The Brock one.”
You could tell the avid fans from the casual watchers. Some tossed out general questions, and others honed in on specifics. Someone pointed to the episode “Bright Lights, Dean City,” asking for info on possible exploration of alternate dimensions on the show. Are they going to limit the scope of this multidimensional storyline? Jackson fired back quickly, “We should…. somethings you know are a little tonally off, but you want to try em sometimes, or theyre good for a joke or you… I dunno. I did want to go back there. I kinda wanted to see a dimension, because I actually hate stories like that. I hate alternate time lines and dimensions and stuff -” Hammer then cut in to say,”Awesome reason to do it.” With a slight guffaw, Jackson said, matter of factly, “Exactly. Like we have to do that because it’s such a genre trope…”
The Venture Bros. doesn’t seem to limit itself in terms of vulgarity, but there seems to be a subtle science to how the vulgarity is used. Rarely, if ever, is something disgusting just for the sake of shock factor; rather, every vulgar joke carries a large punch of humor. You have to wonder, though, if there are ever things that can’t make it past the censors at Cartoon Network. “Yea, but for….like we mentioned a brand of pretzels and that’s a big problem, but we can say other things and its not. We don’t understand,” says Hammer. Publick went on to explain,”They’re gonna put us on earlier this year, so it’s one or two times there were a couple of jokes this year where it was like ‘oh, that’s a little much.’ And I’m like what are you talking about, Prom was waaay worse than that.” Adult Swim has yet to announce an air time, or day, but Publick and Hammer kept saying “9.”
Bearing this vulgarity in mind, and considering that most of the female characters are scantily clad, how do they explain the appeal the show has for female viewers? I was one of the only two girls in the room, and the question intrigued me. Doc was the first to answer,”We don’t write the men as men, you know what I mean….the show is so feminine in a way. It doesn’t have this kind of stereotypical male outlook and I think women respond to it. Plus woman are, they like good things, like any man likes good things….” Publick later came back to this topic when asked if there was a concious effort to appeal to women and gay men. “There’s a conscious effort to have the characters to be true to themselves and be true to the show, and to generate the kind of comedy we want to generate. And there are sometimes where you are worried about if that character would do that thing. But, we never think like…ummmm…you do kinda think, ‘how will the world interpret this?’ And where is my moment to say something that I want to say to the world, so that happens occasionally. But the responsibility of the blanket judgement, that never really happens.”
With our time running out, and only a few questions left, someone finally asked what we all wanted to know: Why does it take so long between seasons? Without a hint of exasperation in his voice, Publick explained, “It takes us a long time to make, because we have to make the whole show. For instance, until last week I had not had a day off in 3 months. Not a single day off in 3 months. So, that’s what happens. We write before we start production, we write maybe – if we’re lucky- we write half the scripts and then we start production. And then you’re writing at night, and on weekends, and stuff like that. SO, by the time we get through a nine month, ya know, pre-season production thing, we’re just freakin’ exhausted. And then we have to edit the show for like the next four months….” So, basically, it will pretty much always take this long between seasons.
Despite the exhaustion of the process, you can tell Publick and Hammer pour a lot of love into The Venture Bros., and receive a lot of satisfaction from the process and the final product.
Though season 5 isn’t slated to air until early 2013, we can expect a Halloween special this year!