Move aside Justice League of America, Avengers, Fantastic Four, and X-Men. The League Of Freedom has arrived! There are battles to be won, and Titanium Rex (Bryan Cranston), Black Saturn (Tucker Gilmore), American Ranger (Keegan-Michael Key), Brad (Tom Root), Cooch (Heidi Lynn Gardner), and Jewbot formerly known as Robobot (Zeb Wells) are here to win them. From the creators of the award winning “Robot Chicken”, creators Matt Senreich and Zeb Wells along with executive producers Seth Green and Bryan Cranston bring to life “SuperMansion” a new twenty-two minute stop-motion animated series from Stoopid Buddy Stoodios. The talented Matt Senreich and Zeb Wells took time during a set visit to chat about their new show.
Zeb Wells is a former comic book writer for Marvel Comics, which included “Heroes For Hire” and “Civil War: Young Avengers/Runaways” and various Spider-Man titles. He is an Emmy and Annie Award winning writer, director, and voice actor for “Robot Chicken” and “SuperMansion” Jewbot formerly known as Robobot. He has been nominated for and won multiple Emmy and Annie Awards for his work on “Robot Chicken”. He is co-creator of “SuperMansion” along with fellow writer Matthew Senreich.
Matthew Senreich is an Emmy and Annie Award winning writer and producer who started his career in entertainment at the age of 16 by interning at Marvel Comics. He continued to do multiple internships within the comic book community. In 1996, he was employed by Wizard Entertainment, a publication house that produces comic book, action figure, anime and collectible card gaming magazines. A few years later, he became editorial director of Wizard Entertainment’s publications. During that time, he met actor Seth Green who was a fan of Wizard magazine. Together they joined forces and created “Sweet J Presents”, a web-based series of stop motion animated shorts on screenblast.com. Based on these shorts, Adult Swim picked up “Robot Chicken” which would go on to garner many awards. Senreich and Green run Stoopid Buddy Stoodios.
During a recent set visit to Stoopid Buddy Stoodios, I had the pleasure of sitting down with creators Zeb Wells and Matt Senreich to talk about their upcoming show. They talked about the nuances of the superheroes on “SuperMansion”, how Bryan Cranston got involved in the show, and what makes this stop motion animation show so unique.
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Zeb Wells/Matt Senreich: Good, good!
You have a show on Crackle. An original show, “SuperMansion”. Can you talk about it?
Wells: It’s about a group of six superheroes that live in a mansion together, so they are all at varying degrees of competency. We have titanium rex who is the leader. He’s probably the most competent, and as a result of that is the most frustrated about the incompetent of the rest of the team.
Senreich: He’s dealing with issues with his age and whether or not he’s past his prime.
Wells: He has to deal with a team of superheros that maybe had a little problem focusing on the job at hand.
How did you come up with the concept of “SuperMansion”?
Senreich: We’ve skewed so many different universes with Robot Chicken, whether through the Star Wars Universe, the DC Comics universe. We just kind of wanted to play in our own playground and create our own superhero universe if you will, taking out tropes of other paces and turn them 90 degrees on their side to create original characters that kind of evoke feelings that you may or may not know.
Superheroes are becoming very popular on tv. Would we see a little bit of DC or Marvel comics in your superheroes?
Seinreich: It evokes the feelings of certain characters but each one of them have their own personalities. Again, it’s less about the powers they have and more of the personalities they portray. They’re off kilter. They’re human beings in essence, dealing with mortality and other issues or just getting along. What makes friends get along. That’s really what this is about. Six friends living in an apartment. Six superheros having to deal with the mundane issues of life.
The episodes are really funny. They are not your typical heroes per se. They are a little quirky.
Senreich: As most people! (laughing)
Wells: Yes! (laughing)
Exactly! (laughing) In other words, this brings out the imperfections in superheroes.
Wells: Yes. We just happen to have normal people who have superpowers. None of them are quite prepared for being a hero. None of them are great at it. So we have the character Brad who is a big strong character, but in order to be that strong, he has to inject himself with the pink serum. He is basically a junky.
Senreich: He’s an addict. What does that mean? What does he have to deal with. The pros is he could become a superhero. The cons is he’s addicted to it. The same thing with Black Saturn. If your parents died in front of you, this is what you could become as a human with no powers. Maybe his parents didn’t die and he just wanted to be a superhero. That’s kind of how we are going to explore that.
Wells: Yeah, you know there’s a lot of sexy cat women in comic books. We decided what would happen if an actual female cat was evolved into a more humanoid cat. She probably wouldn’t be so sexy as much as so crazy if she was used to making her way through the streets. So they basically have a wild animal in the house and they have to deal with that.
Senreich: Our JewBot character. His goal in life is to understand what it is like to be human. When He finds out his inventor is a Jewish woman so by the laws of the Torrah that makes him Jewish. So now not only does he want to know what it is like to be a human but what it’s like to be a Jew.
Are any of the main characters in the show based on real people?
Seinreich: I don’t know. I’m looking at the characters right now. (looks at poster of SuperMansion’s characters). You know, when we were casting them, we kind of evoked the funny in each of the characters because we know a lot of these people who were doing the voices. We knew they would bring to life the characters. Bryan Cranston we always talked about. A Bryan Cranston type of character to actually get him to play… or Titanium Rex. We wrote that character for him. He;s helped it evolve. It’s been amazing. The same with American Ranger. Zeb had this in mind Michael Keaton for that character. It’s evolved since then. And the others. It’s based on the voices our friends can do.
How did you assemble the cast? I know Bryan Cranston is one of the main characters. How did you bring him on board.
Senreich: For the script, we always had in mind a Bryan Cranston type and we never actually had the courage to go out to him. We actually went through the official process of getting an actor to work with you. We got a response within 24 hours. We submitted it to his agent and we got a response within 24 hours saying not only did he love the script but he wanted to make it with us. He called us directly himself. It was beyond exciting. It was in the final days of “Breaking Bad” and he’s taking time out of shooting that to come talk with us about this little project of ours, that we never dreamed to get him in.
Amazing! So he’s executive producer?
Senreich: Yes, he’s our partner on this.
Is he writing also?
Senreich: He’s not writing any episodes, but he definitely has say on a lot of it. Again, you get him… He’s ad libbing stuff. He takes things to the next level for us.
Are you going to having any guest stars, any celebrities?
Wells: We have a lot of guest stars. The second episode has Clark Duke and …
Senreich: And other people. It’s a mix of people from Robot Chicken where it went from Breckenmeyer to Donald Faison who’s considered part of the Robot Chicken Family to Chris Pine who came on Robot Chicken and had a blast . We were like, we should bring him back. He was amazing. George Peele.
Wells: Ron Pearlman
Senreich: It’s been a really good group of people. John Brothan is another one of those people. He is now on the Punisher. Again, it’s just people you know there voices from working with them before. We really like these people. These are people we think are funny that we wanted to work with.
With the success of your other project “Robot Chicken”, a lot of people who worked on there are coming on board for SuperMansion as well then?
Wells: Yes, there’s a lot of crossover. We are definitely leaning on the expertise of our crew, who has built up over the last 8 seasons.
Senreich: It is a lot of crossover. If anything, the company has grown, which is a great situation to be in. And all those people who started in Robot with us, has evolved into positions of authority and are now running not just one but multiple shows. With SuperMansion, you can see the talent they are bringing forth. It’s great.
Seth Green was very much involved in your other shows. Is he coming on board with this one as well?
Senreich: Seth Green is very much involved. I still share an office with Seth. He is here every day of the week losing his mind with us, every way, shape, and form.
Were there any difficulties, since this is a little different from Robot Chicken, in working with stop animation?
Wells: It’s actually the same type of animation that Robot Chicken is. The only difficulty we ran into is the fact these are different puppets. They have a new different look than Robot chicken. That creates complexities that you really can’t plan for. You just have to dive in and start doing it. And fix the problems as they come along.
Senreich: It’s just more a style than anything else, but it’s the same process.
What makes this show stand out from the other stop animation super hero shows out there?
Senreich: I don’t think this show looks like anything else out there, which is what I think will make it stand out. And it also has a viewpoint that is very different than a lot of things that are out there. It’s taking a concept and making it mundane. I like that aspect to it. I don’t know, what do you think?
Wells: I think it’s just a fun character based show and I do think that if I look at this poster (points to SuperMansion poster), I want to know what characters are up to. I want to know what their stories are. I’m proud of that.
Senreich: If none of that sells that, hopefully some of the actors participating in this, their fans are interested in seeing what they are going to do next as well.
If we want to learn more about it, we can go on the web site and facebook online? Social media?
Senreich: It’s online. All sorts of social media. @SuperMansiontv. It’s all over the place. It’s very easy to find.
When does it debut?
Senreich: October 8. It will debut on Crackle. It will be 3 episodes available all at once, and every week after that there will be a new episode.
That’s really exciting! I know Robot Chicken fans are excited to see this one and anybody else that loves shows like this, because this is so hilarious! I was laughing my head off watching it!
Do you have any last words for our fans?
Wells: Please give it a watch and let us know what you think!
Senreich: Zeb reads message boards so let him know what you think! (laughing)
Thank you so much!
Senreich/Wells: Thank you!
As I got a personal tour behind the scenes with creator Zeb Wells, I saw how creating a stop-motion show is far more intricate that it appears. From the many limbs of each puppet to the detailing of the clothes and the attention given to the set decoration, it is clear that many hours of hard work was spent on just a few minutes of each scene. And did I mention the vast storyline with its many post it notes filling an entire hallway? There was also a unique sense of camaraderie at Stoopid Buddy Stoodies. Where else will you see a Tiki puppet room?
“SuperMansion” is a hilarious show. I am a fan of anything superhero, so “SuperMansion” was no exception. But don’t expect serious, hardcore, perfect superheros. There were some elements of Superman in Titanium Rex, Batman in Black Saturn, Cat Woman in Cooch, Captain America in American Ranger, and the Joker in SuperMansion villain The Groaner, but overall, these were all unique characters on their own. Bryan Cranston is perfect as the righteous yet frustrated Titanium Rex. The same can be said about all the other actors who brought out distinct personalities in a delightfully humorous way. These are heroes who live in imperfection, but these imperfections are inevitably what makes them heroes.
Make sure to tune into “SuperMansion” which is online now on Crackle. Additional episodes will stream weekly through December 17, 2015. Upcoming episodes will include series’ voice cast Bryan Cranston, Seth Green, Keegan-Michael Key, Jillian Bell, Tom Root, Tucker Gilmore, Heidi Lynn Gardner and Zeb Wells, along with guest stars Chris Pine, Ron Perlman, Donald Faison, Jordan Peele, Nick Kroll, Anton Yelchin, Famke Janssen, Breckin Meyer – and more. Catch it now!
Twitter: @SuperMansiontv / #SuperMansion
Matt Senreich is on social media!
Zeb Wells is on social media!
Courtesy of Crackle