Interview with ‘Regular Show’ Creator J.G. Quintel

 
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Interview with ‘Regular Show’ Creator J.G. Quintel

Since its premiere in 2010, Regular Show has been a ratings hit and much-enjoyed addition to the Cartoon Network universe, detailing the atypical and charmingly bizarre misadventures of park groundskeepers Mordecai (a well-intentioned bluejay) and Rigby (an adventure-thirsty raccoon). Developed loosely from the student shorts of CalArts graduate JG Quintel, the show’s freeform creative approach to writing and design is a breath of fresh air which has proved appealing to all ages. Quintel was at this year’s Annecy Festival where Skwigly were fortunate enough to find out more about the show, its success and its future.

Since graduating you’ve had quite a fast career trajectory, how did Regular Show come about?
At the time I was working on Marvellous Misadventures of Flapjack for Cartoon Network as the Creative Director, and then Cartoon Network started the ‘Cartoonstitute’, a shorts programme where they were looking for new shorts. They asked me if I wanted to pitch anything and I pitched them an idea for Regular Show, they let me make a pilot and then it turned into the show premiere!

So it came from this short film, originally?
Well, a bunch of the characters came from my student films. One of the harder parts of the process for me is coming up with designs, and so with the student films I had these designs that I really liked, that I wanted to keep and kind of combine from several films, that’s why it kind of feels a little bit pushed together. And then there were some characters that didn’t exist yet; I had Mordecai, Pops, Benson, and then I needed a friend for Mordecai so I made up Rigby. Then Skips and Muscle Man and all the rest just kind of came along but yeah, they were all from the past and I brought them back and put them together.

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You yourself play Mordecai, was voice acting something that was always on the cards for you?
Well, I had done it in the short film, kind of out of necessity, and then my friend from school – Sam Marin – also voiced all the other characters, so he ended up voicing multiple characters in Regular Show as well. So he’s Pops, Benson and Muscle Man. Actually being there and doing the voice acting with real professionals who are trained, you realise that they are so talented. I don’t have much range, I can just use my regular voice, pretty much, but I remember it was really funny trying to learn how to yell. Because I’m a pretty calm person in real life, I don’t ever yell, but Mordecai yells all the time, when they get into crazy situations. I can do it now, but it was weird at first.

So there’ve been five successful seasons already, is there a sixth coming up?
Yes, we should start seeing the sixth season soon and the fifth season is wrapping up. The sixth season puts us at almost 190 eleven-minute episodes, it’s a lot!

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Is there anything, story-wise, that you’re able to divulge at this point?
Well we’re definitely doing more Mordecai with CJ episodes, we’re seeing more of their relationship. We’re also gonna see more with Thomas, he’s the intern in the show, and a lot of people wonder “Why is he even there?” He just kind of pops in and out and says lines, but we’re gonna deal more with him. We’re gonna do more Halloween episodes, we’re gonna do a couple Christmas-themed episodes, because we did one two seasons back that worked out really well for us, it got nominated for an Emmy and we had a lot of fun making it. So this time around we wanted to do a couple. It should be very cool, we’re excited about it. It’s one of our best seasons yet, actually.

It’s been licensed for video games and such, when it comes to that sort of universe do you still have a role to play in the development?
We did a video game for Nintendo 3DS and, given the level of game that we were going to make – because it couldn’t be everything, it couldn’t be a huge thing – I was really happy with how it turned out. We got to do kind of a platforming game where the characters could switch around. At the early phases of it, conceptually, I was able to give my ideas and one of them was being able to play as Mordecai and Rigby without it being a two-player game, so that felt like a really cool way to be able to do that. And then I tried to take all the games I remembered really loving as a kid and trying to put those within this game, and WayForward did a really good job of making it really cool.

From what I gather quite a lot of the influence on the style of the humour comes from Britain…
Yes, I’ve watched a lot now because my roommate in College was British, and he exposed me to tons of British comedy, so I watched Mighty Boosh, The I.T. Crowd, League of Gentlemen, Blackadder, so many shows I thought were hilarious because I’d never seen anything like them. That just kind of became a part of what I thought was funny, I think that’s where Regular Show has this kind of universal appeal, because it adds a lot of different styles of humour into it but keeps it all kind of straight-faced. And the voices are very real, they don’t go too crazy.

From a creative perspective, have Cartoon Network given you the freedoms to do the show your way?
Yes, it’s the best place I’ve ever worked at as far as creative freedom goes. I mean, for my pilot it literally was that I pitched the board and they said “Great, make it!” No notes! Then as far as the show goes, whatever we come up with they’re always up for us making an episode about. We’ve never been told “Oh, that’s too weird” or “that’s too extreme”, or anything like that. They’re very supportive of any ideas we comes up with and help us to get it along to the end, so it’s been a great experience.

I came upon the show through Netflix, I’d be interested to know your thoughts on that sort of platform for shows?
I think it’s great because, for one, everyone who watches the show already are watching it on Cartoon Network, and they’re probably watching whatever Cartoon Network puts online, but then Netflix is a whole other audience that may not see it, so it’s letting people who may not even know about it find out about it. I think that’s really great, that they can see seasons that have already aired and then maybe they’ll get into it enough to watch the new episodes as they come out on Cartoon Network. We’ve made a lot more episodes than what’s on Netflix right now and there’s a lot of great episodes that, if you can catch them when they come out, are really fun.

The sixth season of Regular Show is set to begin in the US this fall. For more information you can visit the show’s official site and Cartoon Network UK.

About the Author

Ben Mitchell is a Bristol-based animation/post-production freelancer, independent director, composer and graphic novelist. As a freelancer he has produced animation work for CBeebies, Channel 4, Plymptoons, Somethin'...


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