ComicsVerse’s own Brandon Bloxdorf talks with Zeb Wells at NYCC 2017 about SuperMansion and Halloween Specials. Wells is an American comic book writer known for his work with Marvel comics; but, he is also known for his work on ROBOT CHICKEN.

ComicsVerse (CV): So, Halloween Special? Where did all this come about? Why are you guys deciding to do a special now?

Zeb Wells (ZW): Well I don’t know how old you guys are, but when we were growing up, when I was growing up, those Halloween specials were so cool, because you waited all year for them. You couldn’t rent them, or stream them. You had to be there when they were airing.

So I think to me, just if someone says, “Hey, here’s an opportunity to do a Christmas special.” Or, “Here’s an opportunity to do a Halloween special.” The eight-year-old in me will not allow me to say no to that. It’s going to be an instant yes. And I will make as many of them as you want.

CV: Nice.

ZW: And I think that’s why the Halloween Special has four different Halloween-y stories going on at the same time because we wanted to make as many Halloween specials … We couldn’t just choose one idea. We wanted to do all of them.

CV: I saw you have the Jason reference and all that.

ZW: Yeah. That was fun.

Zeb Wells

CV: What’s the contrast between Robot Chicken and SuperMansion? How do you split the ideas of what’s going to be more appropriate for which one?

ZW: I think now that SuperMansion’s been around a while, and the characters are more defined, a lot of the comedy is just springing out of their characters or the voices that we’ve developed with the actors. And with Robot Chicken, it’s more feasible to do a joke that’s just, like a Robot Chicken joke only has to be funny for 15 seconds, right?

And then if you run out of ideas or you don’t know where the joke’s going, you just pull the rip cord, and you do a channel flip, and then you’re out of it. No one ever has to know that you didn’t have anything else to say about that joke. Where with SuperMansion, the concepts and the jokes have to be a little meatier because they have to sustain for an entire episode, you know?

And they have to work within the context of the characters you’ve already created.

CV: So you feel like SuperMansion’s a bit more complex than Robot Chicken in that sense?

ZW: Yeah, yeah. And mostly because you’re not allowed to just bail if your joke isn’t working. There’s no escape hatch.

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CV: How is it for you, all these people that you’ve probably admired as a kid, and all the toys and heroes, and now you’re making your life out of it? Robot Chicken and SuperMansion, they all came from childhood inspirations. How is it coming back to these things, you know, at this age?

ZW: Yeah, it feels really great, you know? When I was a kid, flipping the channels, if you flipped by say the DC Universe show, and I can’t remember the name right now, but it had Aquaman and Superman.

CV: Super Friends!

ZW: When you were a kid, all you had to do was see one frame of that, and you’re like, oh, I’m watching this because there was just something about these men and women in colorful outfits that was like crack to a five-year-old brain. So the fact that I can still get high on this stuff from my childhood is so much fun. At the end of season one, we did a photo shoot with all the puppets, and they just laid out all of the characters from the season on the table. And that was a big moment for me because I just saw all the characters. I thought if I was a kid, and saw all these characters laid out, I would be like, oh, I wanna know what the hell’s going on here. And so that felt really good.

CV: Nice.

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CV: How was it to get Brian to do a full TV show with you guys? He’s on guest appearances on Robot Chicken and everything, but the full show with you guys? How did that come about?

ZW: It came about … We were looking for a Bryan Cranston type for a long time. We had cast, looked at a few people, and it needed the gravitas to it. And it’s hard to find somebody with gravitas, but also has really great comedic timing. Then we were like, well, Cranston was on “Breaking Bad,” but he was also on “Malcolm in the Middle.” He has the comedy chops.

And luckily, we looked at our Robot Chicken list and saw that he had done Robot Chicken. So we knew that he was great with voices.  Then, we shared an agent with him who was able to get the script to him. And he read it on a plane ride. And he just responded to this script. So I think it was like getting him to read it first, and then hoping that he found it funny.

And thank goodness, he did, and then he called us when he landed, and said, “I’d love to not only do the voice but go out with you guys and be a producer on it.” And so, with his pedigree, it really helped the show get made. So, we owe a lot to his, not only to the quality of the show with him coming on but just the existence of the show, to his influence.

CV: Nice.

ZW: Yeah.

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CV: How did you guys end up going with Crackle as your streaming provider and everything?

ZW: They were the company who, when we sat down with them, it wasn’t even a sit-down. It was a phone call, where they had seen the 11-minute pitch piece. And they just instantly got the show. Other people were interested, but they were like, “Oh, we’d kind of like to push it in this direction or this direction.”

And Crackle said, “Yes, we love this. This is the show. Come make it with us”. They wanted to do more episodes than anyone. And they wanted it to be a 22-minute show, which I felt it needed to be 22 minutes with all the characters that were in it. Even now, it’s really hard to jam everything in.

And so, they just thought the show was funny. And that’s super important that you’re not dealing with executives that don’t think what you’re doing is funny. That’s a major pain in the ass.

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