Locals finding success at SuperDeluxe.com
In a case of pop-culture synergy rarely if ever encountered beyond the perimeters of bong-blasted off-campus grad student intellectual circles running around in circles and pseudo-situationist manifestos, last weekend's edition of The New York Times Magazine ran a sidebar to their weekly "The Way We Live Now" column describing America's first president as less of battle-hardened, Valley-forged, dollar-bill demigod and more of sad sack of oak-hewn chompers and fusty insecurity.
That's a load of crap, as anyone who's seen Brad Neely's groundbreaking animated video for Cox and Combes' tune George Washington knows full well: America's premiere prez was "6-foot-8" and "weighed a fucking ton." Also, he had many, many penises.
Thanks to that flash-animated video's success, Neely was approached by Turner Broadcasting System's online comedy upload site SuperDeluxe.com, which debuted on the Web this past December with not only the Austin-based Neely on board but also a short series by local filmmaker Bob Ray of Rock Opera and the recent Roller Derby doc Hell on Wheels fame and A Scanner Darkly animator and former Gals Panic frontman Lance "Fever" Myers.
While Ray's SuperDeluxe.com series Ape Sh!t featuring poo-flinging space travel and some serious mad monkey kung-futurism has since been given the axe (which only means that Ray's refocusing on other, possibly more extreme pitches to hurl Turner's way), Myers' The Ted Zone, which melds Evan Dorkin-style comic nerds (à la Dorkin's late, lamented Welcome to Eltingville pilot for Turner-owned Sunday night animation riot Adult Swim) with surpassingly novel storytelling skill and the odd porn/incest gag. Who says family values are in decline?
Not SuperDeluxe's Senior Vice President for Content Drew Reifenberger, who acknowledges the tsunami of animation and comedy talent currently holding total control over the SuperDeluxe website, which allows users to upload their own comic 'toons and sketches while ordering and, more importantly, paying for the really, really good stuff, which, apparently, is all from the Five-One-Deuce, baby.
"Sometimes you're lucky, and sometimes you're good, and I think we were both," says Reifenberger from the Atlanta warehouse-space that SuperDeluxe.com shares with, not coincidentally, the Williams Street Adult Swim crew. "Austin is such a hotbed for creative talent that I think it was sort of inevitable that we'd end up with some talent. When we were down for South by Southwest, we met a ton of young talent that's all based there.
"We really wanted to establish an audience and a brand and a positioning that would be around some really creative work that takes some comedic risks. And those three guys are exactly that. They're like the poster children of SuperDeluxe.com."
Neely, whose myriad other SuperDeluxe.com projects include the absurdist rappings of Tor Johnson look-alike Baby Cakes and the nattily deranged Professor Brothers, doesn't view this overnight Internet phenom as a subset of Adult Swim, however: "I do what I do because I have ideas for this format and not as a stepping stone to other formats, i.e. Adult Swim. If I did do anything for television, it would be a lot different, I think. I'm not using SuperDeluxe as a portfolio or anything like that. I'm just having a really good time right where I'm at."
Ditto that for Myers, who says, "I'm actually a real big believer in what SuperDeluxe.com is doing. I think a lot of people, myself included, when they first hear about something being a cartoon series on the web, there's a little bit of ingrained stigma along the lines of something on a website being inherently less of a big deal than something being on television.
"But I've found that people are beginning to make that switch from watching Adult Swim on the Cartoon Network on Sunday night to watching it whenever and wherever they please on their laptops. People's habits are changing, and the SuperDeluxe guys have a lot of interesting strategies to build the brand. I really believe in what they're doing, and I think, as an animator and a storyteller, I'm in a good place."