Mad: Does My Mom Know I'm Watching This?
When I was a kid, chuckling my head off at Mad magazine's irreverent take on pop culture, I always thought, "They should make this into a TV show?" A-hem, just a few years since then Warner Bros. Animation and Cartoon Network have answered that request, which is one many kids have had over the years.
The studio commissioned Robot Chicken writer/producer Kevin Shinick to tackle the task of turning the iconic mag into an animated series. The Emmy-nominated writer/actor/director has experience in irreverent animation on Chicken, as well as Ugly Americans. His writing credits also include the stage show Spider-Man Live!, as well as other comic book, games and TV productions.
Fans of Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego? might remember him as the host of the Emmy-winning series.
Rick DeMott: So how do you go about putting together an episode of Mad?
Kevin Shinick: I'm the head writer and I have a staff of three or four other writers. I'm fortunate to have the team that I do, because we all want this to be the best show for Mad, because we grew up reading it and we all loved it. So what we try to do is mirror the feel of the magazine. When you read the magazine it always started with a movie parody and ended with a TV parody. It would have fake commercials, fake promos in between Spy vs. Spy and whatever. So from that level we try to stack a show like that. We're always going to start with a movie and end with a TV and have anything else I mentioned in between.
From an animation standpoint, I'm always trying to make sure that every episode is a mini animated film festival. Usually… we break this rule from time to time… the movie parody is photo collage, the TV parody might be a Mort Drucker type look. I make sure we get Flash in there. I make sure we get stop-motion in every episode. Even within those categories we try and mix it up a bit. We have a couple different stop-motion companies we use, so they have different looks. We have a number of animators who have a really great style in their Flash. The company we use called Bunko does a lot of the photo collage stuff, but we also do a lot of the photo collage stuff in-house as well. So at the end of the day I'm looking up at my board and I'm making sure that one level I'm hitting all the things I'd want to see as a Mad magazine reader and now viewer and as an animation lover I want to see how many different styles I can put into one episode.
RD: Are most of the companies based in the United States or is it a mix between U.S. and foreign firms?
KS: It's a mix. A majority of them are here in the United States. One is in Korea. The majority are here either in Los Angeles or New York and varying places.