City Paper Dook-Dook-Dooks Cartoonist Tony Millionaire in Anticipation of Pilot Episode of The Drinky Crow Show
Tony Millionaire (not his real name) is the creator of the celebrated, anachronistic, violent, puerile, profound, filthy, and funny Maakies comic strip, appearing in many fine newspapers around the world, and also here in the pages of City Paper. As the premiere of the pilot episode of The Drinky Crow Show draws near on Cartoon Network, CP art director Joe MacLeod, fumbling with the tiny buttons on his Sony ICD-P330f IC recorder, held toward the speaker of a telephone, interviewed Millionaire, who gamely took a few shots at the new Drinky Crow Show theme song by They Might Be Giants. Millionaire's singing voice can best be described as Gene Simmons of Kiss impersonating Leonard Cohen.
City Paper: Is the ribald nature of the Maakies comic gonna be reflected in this particular presentation of the Adult Swim?
Tony Millionaire: When we first started making [the show], we sent them the scripts and sketches, and they looked at it and said, "Where's the ribald nature of Drinky Crow?" And we said, "Well, it's for TV, you don't wanna--" and they said "No!" We thought we had to tone it down. They told us "tone it up." So we toned it up.
CP: All the gore and scatological content will be there?
TM: It's all there and it's all magnified. Extremely. Obscene.
CP: Why isn't it called Maakies?
TM: I like the word "Maakies" because when you look at the word "Maakies" you can see the double A's, it sticks in your head. But if you say to somebody "Maakies," they say "What?" and I gotta spell it, or pronounce it: "maaaah-keez." But "Drinky Crow" is a word that's very catchy, everybody loves to say "Drinky Crow." Little kids love to say "Drinky Crow."
CP: You don't have to explain what it means.
TM: Exactly. "Drinky Crow" is self-explanatory: Alcoholic bird.
CP: You had this--I'm not gonna say "abortive"--brief flirtation with Saturday Night Live, doing shorts.
TM: Yeah, I had a flirtation with abortion. They made six episodes and they aired two, and then they decided they had enough, because the Saturday Night Live crowd is not looking for that kind of stuff. I'm always surprised when somebody says, "We're gonna put this on TV," and I'm thinking, Are you insane? What do you want to put that on TV for?
CP: And you've got a slave ship, a slave room of people in Korea making the animation?
TM: I have a slave room full of about 30 people in Transylvania--it's not a joke, it really is in Transylvania. Eric Kaplan, who is the producer and writer, bought an animation company in Transylvania called Mirari Films. They are doing all the grunt work. It's done in CGI, but they've taken my drawings and textures and wrapped them around their models, so it really looks like a three-dimensional version of my comic strip, without having that shiny plastic Jimmy Neutron look. They call it outsourcing, but you know what I say? Transylvanians need work, too.
CP: Does the show have a rating?
TM: I think it's rated triple-X. I don't know what it's rated. I think most of the Adult Swim shows that are played late at night are rated "Mature Audience," but they definitely won't let us show boobs. At one point they go to a Chinese grocery store to find a fish that has female body parts, and the Chinese grocer pulls out a fish and says, "Bosom Fish," and the fish had nipples in the original, and Adult Swim said, "Uh-oh, you can't put nipples on that fish." And we said, "But it's a fish and it's in the place where its eyes are." And they said, "Nonononono, we can't even play with that." So we put a bra on it, so when he pulls the fish out, it's wearing a bra, but it'll turn out to be funnier that way anyway.
CP: You've got children
TM: I do. I have two adorable little children, 3 and 5.
CP: What do you think is appropriate for them?
TM: Anything but this show. I actually don't let them watch a lot of stuff. I mean, they're 3 and 5, so there's a couple of stations on cable that play strictly the very youngest cartoon stuff, and if I'm just exhausted and I have to go do something for an hour in the garage, I'll put 'em in front of the TV and let 'em watch that. I'm nervous about when they get to be 10, or 8, and they want to watch something a little more sophisticated--because it's all about sex. It's all sexy--sex, super-sexy, you can be super-sexy--even the boys, like, "Check out this sexy skateboard." I mean, I've got two girls and there's nothing on TV for them.
CP: They're gonna be watching that Bratz stuff.
TM: Yeah, exactly, and I thought there was a women's revolution or women's liberation. There's not. It's all still about how you can get yourself to look better for the boys.
CP: There will be none of that on The Drinky Crow Show.
TM: You kidding me? It doesn't matter what the women look like on The Drinky Crow Show--they're still getting laid by the monkeys and crows.
CP: As a consumer of your strip I worry about your health and your demons.
TM: [laughs] That's good. That means I'm doing the right thing. The comic is not about my health and my demons, it's about the demons that everybody has, and sharing them with other people so that when they have a little demon inside themselves, they see it in the comic strip and they think, Well, that's the way things are, it's not so terrible.
CP: How many people have you talked to about this project?
TM: I try to talk to as many of the weeklies as I can. Most of the publicity I've done is online, to try and get people to look at the clips, to get people to realize that their support is really important--that if people don't say anything, they won't make a show, but if people do say things, they will make a show. So the internet is really very helpful that way, because when you post onto one blog you're actually posting onto 30 blogs, because they're all talking to each other, and then it goes on and on like that. This is really the way, what's it called, uh, seminal, what the fuck do they call it--
TM: Not incestuous. That'd be me fucking my sister--which I had a dream about the other day, by the way.
TM: Yes, thank you. Viral marketing. Creep in through the internet, then it takes off and spreads itself.
CP: We want you to sell out the right way.
TM: [laughs] Exactly. I think you can be more successful when you don't try to think how many people can I get to read this, know what I mean? You're just doing the best job that you can.
CP: You can now turn down my hundred dollars any time I ask you for a spot illustration.
TM: That's right, I can say, "Sorry! I already have a hundred dollars." How long is this interview going to go on, anyway? Are we done?
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