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The Marvel Life

The Marvel Life: Superjail!

Christy Karacas and Steve Warbrick discuss X-Men, their season finale, Comic Con and more!

Superjail! (Courtesy of Adult Swim)

By Blake Garris

The Adult Swim Cartoon Network animated series “Superjail!” unfolds within a maximum security prison situated inside a volcano. The Warden—voiced by David Wain—presides over space and time, altering reality while a psychedelic bloodbath between billions of inmates spirals out of control. 

Series creators Christy Karacas and Steve Warbrick happen to be huge Marvel fans, which may explain in part their penchant for wild ideas, crazy characters, and the kind of setting you don’t often come across on animated television shows.

As they geared up for the season finale of their third season—“Burnstoolie Burn,” airing at 12:45am December 9 on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block—we caught up with Karacas and Warbrick to talk about their love for the art of X-Men and X-Factor, the Marvel films and animated series’ and a special homage to Iron Man that you’ll see if you tune into the season finale. 

Marvel.com: What comics did you read growing up?

Christy Karacas: I remember being into, in junior high, X-Men and X-Factor. I remember going to the grocery store and having a couple bucks and picking out the coolest ones. I just remember that rack would be really cool to look at, the art and stuff.

The X-Men

Marvel.com: Were there any specific characters or creators from X-Men or X-Factor that you liked?

Christy Karacas: I remember [artist] Whilce Portacio. It was the Chris Claremont era with Archangel and all that. I remember getting into it and being like “I don’t know who these characters are or what’s going on,” but I’d read it and try to figure it out.

Marvel.com: Are you into any of the animated shows or movies that are out now?

Steve Warbrick: Yeah, I just saw “X-Men: First Class,” I thought it was awesome.

Christy Karacas: Yeah, I love that one. We were just talking about “Amazing Spider-Man.” I loved it. I thought it was really, really good.

Marvel.com: Where do you guys see animation going? I know you’re in a different world than our animated shows, but where do you see it going forward?

Christy Karacas: Sometimes when I’m working, on my side screen I’ll watch something. I’ve seen a lot of those Marvel straight-to-DVD specials, and some of those, the action is awesome. I saw some of the anime X-Men too, and it was really cool, I thought. As far as where it’s going, I don’t know, I think a lot more straight-to-video. It’s funny, the CG stuff is so big, the kid’s stuff.

As far as regular animation, it’s just so expensive; it’s getting weird. We like to do a traditional animated show, and you see a lot less of that. A lot of the television stuff, there’s more script-driven comedy, you know? I love “South Park” and “Aqua Teen,” but they’re more like a minimal thing, and they’re more about the writing and the voice acting and stuff. It’s funny because the super hero stuff is about the action a little more, with story too. Our show is kind of about the visuals and the action, kind of like “Looney Toons” or something. I don’t think there’s a lot of stuff like it right now. 

Christy Karacas (courtesy of Adult Swim)

I’d love it if there was more, but all the super hero stuff is huge right now, and sci-fi, that’s great for animation just because that stuff works well.

Marvel.com: If you had the opportunity to work with Marvel or X-Men characters on an animated show, who would you want to work with?

Steve Warbrick: Oh, that’s a good question. That’s one you need a day to think about. [Laughs]

Christy Karacas: I’d love to do Hulk, but I feel like he’s been done so much it’d be cool to do something you haven’t seen, you know? I’m trying to think right now. I mean, there are so many rad ones you can do.

Steve Warbrick: There are so many.

Christy Karacas: It’d be rad to do a whole Secret Wars thing. That’d be totally insane. I like Hulk just because he smashes stuff and you can do a lot of action. I know I’m going to hang up the phone and think of 10 ideas. I like Spider-Man, X-Men, Hulk, kind of like the classic ones, that’s kind of what I grew up on.

Steve Warbrick: Fantastic Four deserves another shot there.

Marvel.com: What would you tell Marvel fans about “Superjail!” to get them interested if they’ve never heard of the show?

Steve Warbrick: I would say it’s just all the action you can handle, really. I mean, if you like action, you would like [the] show. It’s just pure action.

Christy Karacas: It’s funny, this season we really pushed the bar. We learned a lot the first and second seasons. I think we really got to a good place of a good blend of story and a good blend of action. A big part of the show is the visual style of a real kinetic stream of consciousness. We try to not cut with the camera a lot. It’s very fast-paced. It’s only 11 minutes, but when you watch it, sometimes you feel like it was two or five minutes. So if you like a really fast-paced thing, and violence and action, you’d like it. It’s a jail, but there are a lot of weird, wacky characters. There are robots, and there’s always weird mixed-genre things going on.

Christy Karacas (courtesy of Adult Swim)

Steve Warbrick: There are not a lot of origin stories, though, so comic book fans might not like it. [Laughs]

Christy Karacas: [Laughs] Yeah, maybe we need a super hero in there next season.

Marvel.com: How has Adult Swim been for you guys? Are they hands-off, or do they come at you with a lot of critique?

Steve Warbrick: No, this season they’ve been very hands off. They’ve really trusted us and what we’re trying to make. They have very few notes. Usually the notes will come from standards and practices.

Christy Karacas: Yeah, they’ve been really great. This is the first “real show” I’ve worked on; I mean I’ve worked on shows on staff, but not my own. In the beginning there was a lot more notes, but I think they’re trying to figure out what works, what doesn’t work, and all that. Overall, for all three seasons they’ve been really great and supportive. I don’t think we could have done this anywhere else. This season’s been awesome, because like Steve said, I think they really trust it now. They literally are hands-off. We’re making what we want. They’re happy, we’re happy, the fans seem happy finally. Obviously I really would love to do more seasons, but if for some reason we couldn’t, I’d feel good about this season like we really made what we wanted to make. This season’s felt really good. I’ve felt good about every episode. I’m sure this happens with comics, I’m sure you have deadlines, you’ve got to get this stuff done, you have budgets, and there’s times when you’re like “Aw, I wish we could have figured this part out, or done a little more with this.” This season I don’t feel like that about any of them. I feel like these are really solid and what we wanted to do, so that’s a good feeling.

Marvel.com: What can you tell us about the season finale?

Steve Warbrick: What can we say without giving anything away?

Superjail! (Courtesy of Adult Swim)

Christy Karacas: There’s going to be a huge amount of fires, so that might give a clue about who the finale might center around. The Warden kind of gets a little favorite inmate in this one.

Steve Warbrick: A real friend. [Laughs]

Christy Karacas: Yeah, he likes to play with fire. [Laughs] It kind of gets out of hand. If you know the characters, you’ll probably get it. There’s a balloon ride. [Laughs] Actually there’s kind of a little Marvel joke there, I forgot.

Marvel.com: Oh nice. Anything you can tell us about that?

Christy Karacas: Let’s just say the Warden has to make a protective suit, if you get my drift. [Laughs] It looks a little like somebody’s suit.

Steve Warbrick: Hmm. Now we’re going to get sued by Marvel. Great.

Tony Stark’s not the only billionaire out there, you know?

Marvel.com: What’s it been like working with David Wain throughout this series?

Christy Karacas: He’s been awesome. He’s been so cool, and he’s very supportive.

Steve Warbrick: Definitely. He’s been into it more than ever before.

Christy Karacas: You know he shoots movies, he’s a pretty big director, so he’s always been really cool. He’d do a phone patch, and he’d do the thing remote. It’s a pain for him I’m sure, so we’ve been really lucky and psyched that he’s into it. And he’s really funny, so he’s just added so much to the Warden.

Superjail! (Courtesy of Adult Swim)

Steve Warbrick: Yeah, I mean, he is the Warden. That’s what’s great.

Marvel.com: You guys were at New York Comic Con recently. How was it?

Steve Warbrick: We saw Stan Lee at Comic Con. That was the highlight of Comic Con.

Christy Karacas: Oh yeah, I forgot about that.

Marvel.com: Did you meet him?

Steve Warbrick: No, you kidding me? [Laughs]

Christy Karacas: I didn’t want to—you ever meet someone you really like, and it ruins it? What’s he like? Is he approachable? We saw him twice and I was like “Man I really want to get a picture, but I don’t want to bug him.”

Marvel.com: He’s pretty approachable. He’s really nice.

Christy Karacas: That was kind of insane. We were both kind of like “That just made the whole day,” seeing a legend.

Steve Warbrick: That was great. And Lou Ferrigno.
Christy Karacas: He looked good.

The Hulk

Steve Warbrick: He was jacked.

Christy Karacas: Yeah, he looked huge.

Marvel.com: How is the convention circuit for you guys? I know you go to a couple every year.

Steve Warbrick: I love it. I was in nerd heaven, personally. It was really fun. This year at Comic Con was very fun.

The season finale of Superjail! airs at 12:45 AM December 9 on Cartoon Network and for more information on the series visit here. You can also follow Christy on Twitter @ChristyKaracas.

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