The Interview: 'Goode Family' Creator Mike Judge (Pt. 1)
As animator/filmmaker MIKE JUDGE nearly wraps up his long-running Fox cartoon "King of the Hill," he also embarks on a beginning: Tonight's debut (9 p.m. on ABC) of his new nuclear family-centered animated comedy, "The Goode Family." Comic Riffs recently caught up with Judge, 46, who has a strong following thanks largely to the iconic "Beavis and Butt-Head" and the cult classic turned popular hit, his 1999 satire "Office Space." Today, we focus on "The Goode Family"; tomorrow, we'll look at his broader career.
MICHAEL CAVNA: So in moving from "King of the Hill" to "The Goode Family," you go from satirizing a jeans-wearing Red State propane salesman and his family to satirizing a bike-shorts-wearing Blue State hybrid-driving vegetarian and his family. Does your own family provide any inspiration this time around?
MIKE JUDGE: I think on this one, neither of my daughters are like Bliss (voiced by Linda Cardellini). Or Ubuntu (voiced by David Herman). ... It's kind of like probably more like me reimagining being a kid myself. And there's a lot of [co-creators] John [Altschuler] and David [Krinsky].
MC: And what about the parents as "green" zealots?
MJ: I had very liberal parents. That's mostly my mom. When I was growing up in Albuquerque, she was into things like organic gardening. But there are all kinds of influences.
MC: In one of your very early shorts, of course, you have the tie-dyed hippie character who sounds didactic as he lectures us about good health. Obviously this was material you were drawn to from the beginning.
MJ: I realized that [recently]. I hadn't seen that thing in years. For "The Animation Show" [which Judge co-organizes), I went and saw it. ... It was kind of surprising, how I hadn't changed [in that regard].
When I did that [short], I was driving in Dallas about 1990 and I heard a commercial for Whole Foods. The ad said, "Surely you're thinking about what you eat, but what are you feeding your children?" ... I just knew I had to make fun of that.
MC: "The Goode Family" has more elegant lines and superior artistry to "King of the Hill." Does that have anything to do with starting fresh at this point -- not yet being locked into a look, as you were with "King of the Hill"?
MJ: That's what we were trying to do. [Improve the art.] I don't draw really well, and so were kinda locked in with the look [of "King"]. We did a couple of things -- we looked at covers of underground comics. We looked at Zippy and R. Crumb and were going for that crosshatch underground look. It started with my drawings.
I started out [my career] making these weird animated shorts and then did "Beavis" and then "King of the Hill." It became like when everyone got stuck with DOS as an operating system. So we wanted to start clean [with "Goode Family"] -- with a style that wouldn't cause headaches down the road.
MC: So after working with Fox and NBC and MTV and Comedy Central over the years, why did you go with ABC for this?
MJ: A couple of networks were interested, but ABC seemed to "get" it. They've been good at promoting it, and I think maybe it'll stand out a little more being on ABC. It is a little different than a lot of what's on Fox and Cartoon Network. Maybe it's a good place.
MC: David Herman has performed in at least four projects for you [including "Office Space" as Michael Bolton, and "Idiocracy"]. Has he become your good-luck charm--like John Ratzenberger is to Pixar. Is David your Ratzenberger?
MJ: It's just that he can do so much. On "King of the Hill," I would just continually keep giving him new characters. The depth of the guy and what he can do, both in live-action and with voices -- he's just a really great actor. What he gives you is real -- never hacky.
The Reliable Source
| May 27, 2009; 7:30 AM ET
Categories: Interviews With Cartoonists, The Animation
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