'Regular Show' Creator J.G. Quintel Talks Video Games, Hiring Artists and Season 5

For four seasons, Cartoon Network’s Emmy-winning animated comedy Regular Show has been entertaining fans with the surreal misadventures of slacker buddies Mordecai, the coffee-guzzling blue jay, and Rigby, the impulsive raccoon, who share a desire to blow off their jobs as groundskeepers. Filled with video-game references, anthropomorphic mole love interests and unicorns, Regular Show lives up to its tagline, “It’s anything but.”

With the first two seasons arriving this week on Blu-ray, a video game in the works and Season 5 just around the corner, Spinoff Online sat down with Regular Show creator and voice talent J.G. Quintel to catch up on what’s next.

Spinoff Online: There are just a handful of episodes left in Season 4. What are you looking forward to? What can fans anticipate for Season 5?

J. G. Quintel: The end of the Season 4 has a bunch of cool stuff coming up -- some reappearances of old characters, some eating competitions and some pretty intense relationship stuff that’s going to be awesome.

Next season will have our third Halloween special, which we recently finished and is probably the scariest thing we’ve ever made, even though we’re a comedy show. I’m excited for people to see that. We also will have our Thanksgiving special, which people are going to lose it over, I hope. There are a bunch of really funny episodes. We’re starting to get the first finished episodes in and I think they’re our best ever.

What has the editing process been like with Cartoon Network? Are there a lot of ideas you pitch that don’t fly?

Oh, yes, all the time. [laughs]

Actually, what’s awesome about making the show at Cartoon Network is that they are on the same wavelength as us. The things that we find funny we’re able to do. Sometimes that’s aged-up sensibilities. I didn’t want to make a cartoon just for little kids because I don’t really like cartoons like that. I wanted something that felt more realistic and had humor more in line with that of a high-school student or a college student. Everyone working on the show is just trying to make each other laugh, so that’s what it ends up being -- what we think is funny. I feel like parents can appreciate because they can really enjoy the jokes without feeling like they’re watching something really dumb.

Can you talk about your strategy behind hiring artists with no background in animation, but generally have a background in comics?

Regular Show isn’t’ a script-driven show, we’re a board-driven show, which means the people who are drawing also need to write it. That’s a very specific skill set. When you work with animators who can draw really well, they aren’t always the best writers.

I’ve found that people working in the comics industry tend to be really good at both because they draw and write their own stuff, especially the independent [creators]. I really like to go through artist alleys because you get to see what they think is funny and cool, and how they draw naturally without copying your style or trying to write the way you write. If their stuff gets you to laugh, you figure they could work on the show.

We have a test we give out, and I’ve asked tons of people to take it based on their comics.

What is the test?

It’s a little bit of a premise from one of our episodes. It will ask the artist to thumbnail-storyboard a chunk of it, as well as some cleaned-up drawings of the panels they drew. There’s also a writing portion that is essentially my drawings with blank word bubbles above the characters’ heads and they just have to fill it in and make it as funny as they can.

Are you a comics reader?

Not in particular, except for independent comics. As far as superhero comics or mainstream stuff, I haven’t really gotten into it that much. The ones I’ve checked out haven’t been that funny, but the independent comics get me to laugh, and that’s the kind of stuff I like. Whenever I go to comic conventions, especially once I started going for work, I gravitate toward the smaller, newer stuff.

Regular Show has been adapted into a video game. What can you tell me about that?

We have several online games currently that are pretty simple, but I’d been hoping we would actually get a for-real video game. We ended up getting our first game, which is for Nintendo 3DS, called Mordecai and Rigby in 8-Bit Land.

I’m really excited about it. I’ve gotten to see a few play-through demos and it’s super-fun. It’s an amalgamation of all of the games I liked growing up, but set to Regular Show. I’m super-pumped for it!

Are you doing any of the voices for the game?

No, not unless they use anything from the show. It’s a pretty simple game.

There’s a heavy dose of ‘80s nostalgia in the show, and it sounds like definitely in the 3DS game. Where does that love of outdated technology come from?

I grew up with a lot of that stuff. I like the idea of taking outdated format technology and putting it in a space that’s a little ambiguous and you’re not sure what year it is. The idea of a 1980s brick cell phone is hilarious to me.

I remember growing up getting video games and being blown away by the cover art, and then you’d play the game and the graphics were never as good as they’d advertised. But as a kid you were still totally into it. I wanted to infuse that into the show.

Mordecai and Rigby in 8-Bit Land will be in stores fall of this year. Stay tuned for updates with J.G. on Twitter @JGQuintel.

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