EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Aqua Teen Hunger Force co-creator Matt Maiellaro
Aqua Teen Hunger Force has become a bonafide hit for a generation of animation and comedy fans thanks to its decade-plus long run on Cartoon Network. With that, co-creator Matt Maiellaro has taken his years of work in the trenches of animation and become an “overnight success.” In addition to helping guide ATHF into its 12th season, Maiellaro has two animated pilots up for review and he’s entering the world of comics with a graphic novel called The Knowbodys from Kickstart Comics.
We caught up with Maiellaro to talk about his venture from the world of cartoons into comics and the transition from surreal humor to supernatural action.
iFanboy: We know who you are, Matt… but who or what is The Knowbodys?
Matt Maiellaro: Mom and Dad work for an exclusive, secret agency called Practice, an agency which is set up to police the supernatural and keep that world in-check. So like, if you’re a werewolf and you live in a human neighborhood, you’ll be ticketed for disturbing the peace if you howl at the moon at 3 in the morning. Like our human society; the supernatural world has its share of good and bad. Mom and Dad have these extra sensory abilities so they are able to see the supernatural world. Mom and Dad also do their jobs in secrecy – the kids have no idea. They tend to move around a lot, putting up the front of being the All American family with nerdy jobs while really they’re investigating a supernatural crime. The kids get tired of moving around, changing schools, meeting new friends while the parents are so immersed in their job they lose focus on the most important part of their lives; family.
iFanboy: But according to the previews of the book, that family life gets put aside when the parents have a job to do in New Orleans. What’s the threat there?
Matt: A bunch of toys have come to life and they’re threatening a pack of talking cars that just got back from Rio. Sold?
How about, a colleague of the head of Practice has broken out of prison and is threatening to disrupt the fabric of human existence. The prison is located under the Gulf of Mexico outside of New Orleans so the Knowbodys are called in to find this guy and stop him before all heck breaks loose. New Orleans is the perfect setting because it is one of the most haunted places in America.
iFanboy: You’re best known for your comedic work on Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Squidbillies, but The Knowbodys. What brought you to tell this story?
Matt: The Knowbodys is serious, yes, but it’s also fun and mildly light-hearted even with the stakes-at-hand, so there is a balance I think. Knowbodys has structure while an Aqua Teen Hunger Force has random silliness and tends to de-struct mainstream templates. I wanted a chance to tell a real story and follow characters on an emotional journey and that’s what excited me about writing Knowbodys.
iFanboy: Besides The Knowbodys, what are your current projects right now in animation, comics and music?
Matt: I’m still making Aqua Unit Squad 1, we are about to hit season 12 and begin writing season 13. I have a pilot with Fox Animation and one with Disney XD… fingers crossed for pickups. I’m also developing the Mad Libs movie with Appian Way (Appian is run by that guy who starred in that little boat movie, Titanic). I don’t have much going on musically, just noodling the guitar at home while working. I figured after playing Download at Castle Donnington last year opening for ACDC (one of many bands that did so) I deserved a break from rockin’ out.
iFanboy: With a break from music, do you plan on spenting that time doing more comics?
Matt: I would love to do another comic. I have some ideas already brewing so… let’s do it!