Remember Liquid Television? No, not the illegal drug that flooded the streets 4 years ago causing people to eat each others hair. The other Liquid Television. The MTV produced, Emmy-award winning one from the early 90's that showcased animation in all of it's various, and sometimes perverse but always pleasing shapes and sizes. Yeah, you know which one I'm talking about. Well it's coming back! Get ready world! I recently had an opportunity to sit down and talk with Drennon Davis, one of the many animators involved with the new Liquid TV about his series of shorts “The Long Legs”, why comedians are “drawn” to animation (I'm sorry) and Frog Baseball.
NAMag: So, working hard on Long Legs?
DD: Yeah, well I'm actually just starting that back up today. Took a little break like a year break. Liquid Television bought the first dozen. It's just taking them a while to put it out there, but Ebaum's World, are you familiar with Ebaum's World?
DD: They've hired me to make new episodes and it's all kind of non-exclusive, so I can put it wherever I want really, which is great. It's kind of fun, it's getting out there in the world, but I can also just keep putting it wherever I want really.
NAMag: Oh ok, and nobody's like...there's no weird contract saying you can't put it on this site or that.
DD: Yeah, exactly.
NAMag: Oh that's perfect!
DD: Well, it's gonna be on Ebaum's for the first two weeks exclusively and then I can put it wherever, and then with MTV I can just put it wherever.
NAMag: Is the new Liquid Television going to be on Netflix and Hulu as well?
DD: Yeah, Netflix and Hulu as well. They're just trying to get it out there as much as possible. This has been a project for the guy that's putting it all together for about 6 years now. Trying to get it back on MTV. It's definitely been a struggle, but I've seen a lot of the episodes and they look really good; it's definitely got that weird-and-then-sometimes-funny thing going on. You know, it's still geared towards college kids getting stoned at midnight. Some of the animation, that's where it's definitely changed is the animation. They still have rudimentary stuff like mine, but they have some AMAZING animation on there now as well.
NAMag: Do you know how many animators they have working on the new series?
DD: It's a lot. It's basically a curating process where they were just hunting the world for animation shorts in particular and they just put them all together. Sometimes it's an awesome claymation music video, or sometimes it's a touching sad piece, and then you have stuff like my weird little minute pieces that are there to kind of cleanse the palette, I guess you would say.
NAMag: Gotcha. Did you watch the old Liquid Television?
NAMag: What was your favorite short?
DD: As a kid I really liked Frog Baseball. I grew up really liking Beavis and Butthead. It's really hard to find now the old Liquid Television stuff, the Mike Judge stuff made me laugh the most. I've always been more into the humor, though I do like the weird stuff. I have a fondness in my heart for that weird stuff. There was one with puppets...it was like a biker chick that was always looking for her man...
NAMag: Yeah! I vaguely remember that one...
DD: Her dude's name was Crow...and she was a marionette...it was so ridiculous looking, if I recall she was the only marionette and everyone else were like this weird sock puppets, and it just looked...well it looked pretty terrible but it made me laugh.
NAMag: Yeah, it was like precursor to Sifl and Olly.
DD: Yeah! Totally, exactly.
NAMag: Do you see yourself doing a stand alone show? Kind of like how Aeon Flux turned into its own thing?
DD: I would love to. I mean right now Long Legs is kind of like an animated comic strip and it's usually “a joke” and then you're done, but the characters I really...really, really love them. And I would love to do something bigger with them. I'm just not sure what.
NAMag: Ha, yeah I watched that one with the cat earlier...
DD: Oh yeah the cat, I'm doing a series with that one, a lot of these are like comic strips in the way that you'll see a lot of recurring scenarios happen like a lot of shit talking with cats, or with the kid that’s got him in the jar. That’s gonna be an ongoing one. Right now I'm working on one where he's got an alter ego that's called “Spidermen Spider” and he just has a Spiderman mask on and of course he already has the powers of Spiderman so...
NAMag: That's pretty much the best. (laughs)
DD: Yeah, totally. He's a big dork.
NAMag: How long have you been doing animation?
DD: Not very long. I guess I started playing around with it when I lived here maybe like 4 years ago, and then when I moved to L.A. I kind of got out of it for a tick. I did a couple of TV show things that put a bad taste in my mouth and I just decided to do this again. I just wanted to create shows, not all animated, but this one was something I had to animate obviously, so I just taught myself how to do it, it's really rudimentary. I don't consider myself a good animator, I mean, luckily I had some skill from film school, so about 4 years off and on.
NAMag: 4 years isn't bad. (laughs)
DD: Ha, yeah I guess that's not bad. I wouldn't say I've been continually animating for the last four years but you know, little things here and there.
NAMag: And you were featured in the Titmouse Festival last year in LA too yeah?
DD: Yeah Sean Lennon, John Lennon's son, is a big animation fan. He put the festival together and they had Titmouse sponsor a party and they showed some of the new Liquid Television episodes in a movie theater. It was great and it was really well received. I have good hopes for Liquid Television doing good.
NAMag: So it was kind of like a showcase? A little taste of what's to come?
DD: Sort of yeah. Pretty much and they had us do stand-up afterwords as well. It was me, Eric Andre, Katie Crown... yeah, it was fun.
NAMag: Currently I feel like animation is more DIY. It seems like it's a lot easier to get involved in it as opposed to the old days where you had to go through these huge studios and movie houses and school, and you had to know people to get put on, but now you can pretty much start...whenever you want. How do you feel about that?
DD: Great! Power to the people, the more the merrier you know? Especially with comedy, I don't feel you need to be a great animator. Sometimes the worse, the better. It just makes it that much more funny, and I think that kind of helps in comedy in a lot of ways. It allows me to focus more on character and the writing, which is key with comedy especially you know? In fact I've seen a lot of beautiful animations that are supposed to be funny, but they are just too good looking! It's like if you see a comic who’s too good-looking your like “oh, this person's not funny”
NAMag: How long does it typically take you to do an episode?
DD: About a week. I mean they're short, and sometimes less then that now because all the characters are already drawn. All the mouth movements and a lot of the body movements are already done so usually that will speed along the process a bit so yeah, I would say anywhere from 2-5 days now.
NAMag: Oh man, that's fast.
DD: Yeah, but it seems like it takes forever when you consider it's only 30-60 seconds.
NAMag: I've noticed that a lot of comics...well, comedians and animation tend to go hand in hand. Why do you think that is?
DD: You mean like Bob's Burgers?
NAMag: Yeah, yeah, like a lot of animated shows lately you see the credits and it's like: Comedian, comedian, comedian, comedian. Writing, voice acting, John H. Benjamin, Kristen Schaal, Eugene Mirman...
DD: Jon H. is kind of the king of it.
NAMag: Yeah! Exactly, Lucy Daughter of the Devil, Archer, Venture Bros. That's like his jam!
DD: Yeah it really is. Yeah I don't really know why comics are so into animation. I guess it's just one of those things that happened. I would credit it to The Simpsons really. That's when a lot of the comedians started infiltrating animation I feel like. Before that it was just voice actors and stuff like that. They're also usually great writers so it makes sense. It's also good to see a comic that nobody has ever heard of, but he's just killing it in the animation scene; like Tom Kenny, most people don't know who he is, but that's SpongeBob! And he's making more money than most actors we could identify on the street, you know? I think that's pretty cool. You don't ACTUALLY know who these people are. They're just hiding behind an entire world and they can get away with a lot more. I think comics are drawn to that you know? They can say something a little off kilter and not have to worry about it fucking up their career.