Talking with “The Venture Bros.” creators Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick feels like stumbling into a coveted conversation with the colorful characters from the long-running and always wild Adult Swim adventure series. Like henchmen 21 and the Monarch, the co-writers and friends bounce off each other, slinging jokes and theoretical scenarios with relish and cheeky irreverence.
So, it’s little wonder that when CBR sat down at New York Comic Con in a roundtable interview to discuss “The Venture Bros.” Season 6 and its recently released DVD, Publick and Hammer were quick to spin into silliness, self-mockery, and speculation about the sexual prowess of their male characters. And fans will thrill to know they also touched on how the cult-adored series might end, and if a “Venture Bros.” comic might follow.
What did you guys do for the new DVD?
Doc Hammer: We went to the DVD gym and did a lot of DVD calisthenics.
Jackson Publick: We got some commentaries. We got some commercials. We found ways to put the stuff that would show online after an episode. We either put them into the episode they were cut out of in the first place, or tacked ’em on in an appropriate way. Like (Jonah’s) funeral is at the end of “All This and Gargantua-2.” Any content that existed we put on there.
Hammer: And then we did commentary for all the episodes.
How do you prepare for the commentary?
Hammer: We meet with our sensei so we can be battle ready. I’m a breakfast guy. Jackson’s a lunch guy. So what we like to do is get it done right after breakfast/lunch, which the world calls “brunch.” We get in there. Do a little bit of shadowboxing. No, what we do is we call each other up on the phone and go, “Do you want to do commentary?”
Publick: And when we finish one, we go, “Should we do another one now?”
Hammer: And then I’ll text him three days later and go, “We need to do another one. I sound terrible. Unsalvageable. We got to do it again.”
You had to redo some of the commentary on season six, right?
Hammer: Yeah, he always announces it. [Gestures to Publick, who laughs]
Publick: I’m giving them a slice of life!
Hammer: Right when we start! “Okay, what we’re doing is we’re doing it again.” Like who gives a rat’s ass?
Publick: It’s no less or more interesting than anything else we have to say about it. It’s just like this is what it’s like to be us for five minutes.
Hammer: We’ve had to do it twice because something broke. Sometimes we will say something that we’re not supposed to talk about. And we don’t just talk about it; we reference it for 25 minutes. Like “you guys can’t talk about Hanover Pretzels for 25 minutes.” You can’t! You’re not allowed to legally. So what do we do? Do we go and cut out every time somebody says, “Hanover?” Nope.
Publick: We rerecord the audio.
Hammer: It’s usually a legal issue. It’s definitely not swearing, because they let us get away with that. Or there’s something wrong with the audio. Which happens all the time.
One of the most memorable commentary moments — and I forget which season — was when you debated: if you were to have sex with one of the male characters on the show, who would it be?
Publick: [To Hammer] You picked Dean, right?
Hammer: Come on! Dean seems like he’d be a sensitive lover. 21 would also be a sensitive lover. That’s what I’m looking for. I just don’t want to get manhandled! You know what I mean? Like maybe you’d more fun with a Brock. But I’m fragile. There’s not much of me. I want somebody who is just going to be very tender and walk me through it. You know what I mean?
Publick: I guess that makes sense.
Hammer: 21 would be fine. And he’s pillowy, which I might enjoy, being a human railing.
Publick: But Shore Leave is excellent at gay sex.
Hammer: I don’t want that! No. This is a human experience. I don’t need to be like [affects a voice of macho bravado], “I’ll show you how it’s done!” Boom boom bah! There’s semen everywhere.
Publick: Right right right. Boom: power bottom.
Hammer: Yeah. [Macho voice] “Trust me, I’ll know exactly what you’ll like!” [back to his own voice] “Oh, God, yes! I do! How’d you know that?” We’ve all had one of those. Trust me. What I would want is something more just–
Publick: Right, you’re looking for love. I’m just out for the kicks.
Hammer: If you’re out for kicks Shore Leave is your man.
Hammer: Beautiful body. He knows what he’s doing. Maybe he doesn’t know what he doesn’t. Maybe he’s like, [affecting Shore Leave impersonation] “I’m all talk! I have no idea.”
Publick: I have two left dicks!
Rewatching season six, I was thinking about OSI and Sphinx, and the Council of 13. What is it particularly about the bureaucracy of super villains that appeals to you?
Hammer: It’s funny. Look, if you think about what’s been done with superheroes–not only for comedy but also for action–this has been mined. It has been well-mined. What has not been mined that “The Venture Bros.” does–I think almost better than anybody–is the stupid part of it. If you wake up, have action, and go to bed, “Venture Bros.” deals with about an hour you wake up, and about a half an hour before you go to bed. The action part is really–everybody else does that super well. But losing your toothbrush, finding your toothbrush: action. So, bureaucracy is boring. So there’s something funny about it. There’s something naturally funny about having to file for things.
Publick: Yeah for a Man of Action to —
Hammer: Man of Action, waiting in line! To me, it’s funny stuff. I’m telling you. Ask your friends the worst thing that happened to them at a DMV. It’s their best story and they have no idea that it’s a good story.
Do you have an end in mind for the series?
Hammer: We have information. We talk about this constantly. He used to have an ending firm. I had the idea that it never ends firm. And then we had the idea that this goes on forever. If we walk away, that story keeps getting told. But we have information that we’d like to impart before we stop telling you about The Venture Bros.
Publick: Someday the cameras will shut off on “The Venture Bros.” But they will live on somehow.
Hammer: But there’s stuff we want to say before we (end it).
Publick: We don’t have a big finish in mind.
Hammer: We’re not a finale show. Think of about us. What are we going to do?
Publick: We’re not going to pretend and do a “Lost,” like, “Oh, no we know exactly where this is going.” This is not a close-ended story.
Hammer: We could pitch around a “Mad Men” style ending. Except we got nobody to fall in love suddenly, like, “Oh, they’ve been in love the whole time! We just didn’t say it!” We don’t have any of those.
Do you have a graphic novel in mind?
Hammer: When it’s over? Yeah, it could be over and he’ll call me up and be like, “Do you want to do whatever?” And I might say yes. Or I’ll get bored and do a Guild of Calamitous Intent manual. But the idea of a comic book, I don’t think either of us have that kind of time. I have fetish time. And he has time to do something much better than “The Venture Bros.” So, you might get something crap. Like, “Oh look–”
Publick: He made a whole Guild handbook!
Hammer: Sure, and illustrated it or something.
Publick: Lovingly illustrated.
Hammer: Yeah, beautiful.
Publick: And he’s just giving it away as a PDF.
Hammer: You can just call him! He made a couple of vanity copies. He will actually just give them to you. “I got ’em in the back. Just hang on. And here’s my new Weep album. I got a whole stack. You know anybody who wants one? Take ’em. Just take ’em!” That’s how I manage my business.
“The Venture Bros.” season six is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.
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