At San Diego's Comic Con 2012, which kicks off tomorrow, Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick, the co-creators of Adult Swim's "Venture Bros.", will be speaking about the show as part of Adult Swim's Comic Con lineup.
Fans of the sardonic action-adventure-comedy cartoon, which features an impressive collection of gay characters -- even for Adult Swim's standards -- will be eager to get any morsel of information to tide them over until the Season Five premiere in February 2013.
"Venture Bros." follows the exploits of Dr. Venture (an egotistical, middle-aged, former "Johnny Quest"-type character), his two over-eager sons (think "The Hardy Boys") and an ever-expanding cast of body guards, arch-nemeses, spies and laughably bureaucratic supervillain / superhero organizations.
The show has a huge universe -- especially for a cartoon -- and a rich canon, reminiscent of classic comic book lore. Also similarly to comic books, "Venture Bros." has a cast with a diverse collection of gay characters.
Before heading to San Diego for Comic Con 2012, Hammer and Publick spoke with Huffington Post Gay Voices about the LGBT bandwagon, gay characters on "Venture Bros.," the upcoming season and LOGO.
HuffPost Gay Voices: The show draws a lot of material from popular culture. What are your opinions on the slew of recent developments for LGBT people in culture from Obama endorsing gay marriage, to J.C. Penny featuring gay dads in their Father’s Day catalog to the Green Lantern being rewritten as an openly gay character. What do you make of all this?
Jackson Publick: It’s great, I think.
Doc Hammer: It doesn’t seem like much hype compared to how plain common sense all this stuff should be. I know the world we live in but it would be nice if these things weren’t news.
Jackson Publick: The Green Lantern seems a little calculated to me. It’s like, "We've got to get on this gay bandwagon and make this character gay." Like anything else, there’s earnest expressions in the culture and then there’s kind of bandwagoning. But if their hearts are in the right place, then... sure.
Doc Hammer: And there are things to get on bandwagons, like, if everyone decides that heroin is suddenly not cool, we can’t fault them for getting on that bandwagon.
Jackson Publick: Didn’t Green Lantern deal with heroin too? No, actually it was Green Arrow and Speedy.
Doc Hammer: Wouldn’t you love to be writing for "The Green Lantern" right now? And somebody slides it on your desk, like, "Oh yeah! He’s gay!" It would be awesome! How many plotlines you could come up with. Finally get Aquaman out of his closet.
Jackson Publick: His watery closet.
Speaking of the bandwagon, Adult Swim has had a lot of queer characters throughout its history but it never feels like a bandwagon thing. What is it about the network that has made it so receptive to such a wide range of sexualities and gender variance?
Doc Hammer: It’s a feral network, everybody who had a show and started on it was way outside of the mainstream and their opinions on humanity were a little less mainstream. So, when they included gay characters for their life -- for their paradigm -- it wasn’t a big deal.
Jackson Publick: It’s a counterculutural network and a young network.
Doc Hammer: It’s inherent to the people that started shows on it. None of them were regular TV professionals.
Tell me about developing your gay characters. Where do you draw inspiration from? Does their sexuality come in as an after-thought, or was, say, Col. Gentleman never straight to begin with?
Jackson Publick: Gentleman in particular, he was always gay. We were drawing a lot from William S. Burroughs with his history. We were doing Sean Connory as William S. Burroughs with a hint of Quentin Crisp.
Doc Hammer: Then we discovered he’s like a Superman, full of bravado. The way he deals with all of life is that what he does is correct and everyone else is wrong. So he’s so openly and proudly gay and thinks that anybody who isn’t is any idiot.
Jackson Publick: Yeah, why would you not fuck whatever you want? What’s wrong with you?
And what of your other characters? What’s your mindset?
Doc Hammer: Jackson and I are not gay and we’re not supervillains and we’re not women. We’re not any of these things. We draw upon them the same way we would any other character. If you write for a character that has the same sexual preference as you, doesn’t matter, they’re not you. So when we write a gay character, it’s just one more thing that he has.
Jackson Publick: Yeah, we write them differently but no differently than all the real character specifics that we take into account when we’re writing anybody else.
Doc Hammer: And each one of them is a very specific character and not just a specific kind of gay, but a specific kind of character. The Alchemist is gay in the sense that it’s just incidental -- he rarely has gay jokes unless he’s talking about sex with somebody. And then Shore Leave is a very openly swishy queer proud guy. Who kind of throws it in peoples’ faces because that’s the kind of guy he is.
Jackson Publick: And because he can kick ass to back it up. Shore Leave is the one who evolved the most -- because he started as a one-off joke, because we were gagging on how the G.I. Joe vocationally specific-themed characters reminded us of the Village People. We made a sassy Village People kind of guy and then we brought him back.
Doc Hammer: Then he just became his own person. They’re all different. Shore Leave’s a bad ass, it’s one of his characteristics. The thing is that he throws that in peoples’ faces. He likes pushing peoples’ buttons because what are they gonna do? He’s bad ass.
Is there any reason that your show, compared to most, has so many gay characters?
Jackson Publick: Probably some of the reasons why we thought to bring gay characters in, not just because that’s life, but we always dealt with this being an all-male world. There’s a million jokes about what’s going on with Batman and Robin. It’s a classic thing to call out the homoerotic nature of the men’s adventure show. We liked including characters that made other charcaters in the show uncomfortable or that just called it like they see it. Yeah, it’s not just a homoerotic world, it’s a gay world and a straight world, and it’s... there’s a lot of sexual preferences on our show.
Doc Hammer: I think there are more male gay characters than there are women in our show. A lot of it is based on... we originally came from playing the "Johnny Quest" paradigm, which is this white, fiercely heterosexual world...
Jackson Publick: Mommy-less world...
Doc Hammer: Yeah, this is the world we started in, so I think it’s just natural that we’d have more gay characters than women. We have a lot more [women] now, we lost a lot of our early roots. But it’s natural, when you’re playing with superheroes and things like that, it’s a big topic.
One of my favorite scenes in the show is in Operation PROM, when Doctor Venture finds out that the "Rusty Venture" is a gay sex move named after him and The Alchemist and Shore Leave begin arguing to define a "Rusty Venture." The situation and dialog were brilliant. How did you come up with the scene?
Doc Hammer: I have a filthy mind. But the other thing about that that’s great is that Rusty Venture is a gay icon. That blew Doc’s mind -- that they have parties where they dress-up like Rusty Venture. It’s kind of obvious, a Rusty Venture sounds like a sex move.
Jackson Publick: Yeah -- like a Dirty Sanchez or a Rusty Trombone or whatever. So that was its natural origin. It was just something Jackson and I stumbled and started playing with it and then when we wrote them all out, I got that job and I’m just sickening...
I’ll restrain from asking too many questions about next season but tell me about the relationship between Shore Leave and The Alchemist. They seemed pretty smitten in episode 4. Was that just a one-night thing or should we expect to see that relationship develop in the upcoming season?
Doc Hammer: We can’t give you spoilers but we didn’t get to develop it as much as we want because we’re undisciplined buffoons and we had a lot of other plotlines to deal with. But it does get touched upon.
What characters should we expect to come out, or develop much more, in this coming season?
Doc Hammer: Exact same thing as before. We focus on main characters and then we pull a couple out from all the shows that nobody knew were anybody and then we develop a few plotlines for people that are important to us but everybody else sees as tertiary characters. We hit who were fetishizing at the moment. And last season, we were really into Shore Leave. He was the go-to guy for everything.
Jackson Publick: And every season we do try to touch on people that we haven’t touched on in awhile. Colonel Gentleman does get a decent episode this season. Because last year we didn’t really use those guys at all, except for that one scene.
Doc Hammer: Yeah, it’s not like with Shore Leave where he got to call-out Pete White. That was fun. But, with Gentleman, you get to get this older gay angle that’s really quite funny. And he’s hilarious, just as a person.
Would you consider the show particularly gay-friendly or do you see it as just the way that things are going, where gay characters are there and it’s not exceptional?
Doc Hammer: We have no position on it except that we do want to help the "out of the closet is the best way to be" mentality. But it’s as gay-friendly as it is straight male-friendly and I’m not sure it’s that either. It’s not a position that we’re taking. We paint a broad, veiled world and everybody inside of it has their good qualities and bad qualities and also gay. Because that is the world that we live in.
Jackson Publick: And because you watch a lot of LOGO. I think that’s something you should point out here.
Doc Hammer: I live primarily as a gay person that doesn’t have sex with men. Because the traditional things that have been culturally ascribed to gay culture are the only things that I care about. And yeah, my TV's set to go on for LOGO. But, in defense of that, it runs all night. It’s good to have a network that comes on and isn’t an infomercial. Not that I’ll keep "Noah’s Arc" on, that’s too much for me. But I will keep on anything else. Have you seen "Noah’s Arc"?
Jackson Publick: No.
Doc Hammer: It is deep! It is deep! The acting is sub-par, and I’m being kind.
Jackson Publick: What’s it about?
Doc Hammer: It's a gay soap opera, with a black --
Jackson Publick: -- With animals on a boat?
Doc Hammer: It seems like, if Tyler Perry made gay TV, and decided to make it not as funny as Tyler Perry’s capable of: "Noah’s Arc." It’s something else. But, Kate, who was on that gay comedy show--
Jackson Publick: the "Big Gay Sketch Show" --
Doc Hammer: -- Is on our show now. So, when I first met her, she was like a celebrity to me because I watched that much LOGO.
If you could sleep with any guy in the Venture Bros. Universe, who would it be, and why?
Doc Hammer: Ha! Didn’t we have to answer this at a convention? You said Dean!
Jackson Publick: No, I said 21, because I think he’s a cuddler and I like cuddling.
Is he still a cuddler?
Doc Hammer: Oh, once a cuddler, always a cuddler. Now he’s a bad-ass, but it’s...
Jackson Publick: It’s the need to be cuddled! I’m pretty sure Glenn Danzig just wants a hug!
Doc Hammer: Absolutely! I’m sure he’s a tender lover. That’s what I want to see in print -- "Glenn Danzig: I’m sure he’s a tender lover." I think just because 21 became a badass... that was him becoming, that’s the way he always wanted to be and he actually stumbled upon a way to be it. But inside of that he’s still a geek, he’s still incredibly sensitive and I think he is a sexual fumbler, which, for me, who has had no gay experiences, I would like sexual fumbling, I would like cuddling, I would like to be able to giggle at how bad it is.
What about you, Jackson?
Jackson Publick: I stand by Shore Leave, because I feel that he would be the most skilled. I’m sure he has a lot of experience deflowering guys like me. Maybe that’s what I need. I think he would know. I think he would know what I needed, because I think he’s seen it all.
Doc Hammer: Well, you’re throwing your hands up and just going, "you steer." I guess I just want a little guiding, so we can explore together. And then, maybe after that, if I get comfortable, then I’ll have Shore Leave show me the ropes. But, he seems too aggressive.
Keep your LGBT Adult Swim fix going with Huffington Post Gay Voice's interview with "Superjail!" co-creator Christy Karacas and writing director Janine DiTullio, and check out queer characters from "Venture Bros." and other Adult Swim shows in the slideshow below.
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