Another nice pat on Krogzilla’s big scaly back: The National Academy of Web Television Awards has just nominated “KROGZILLA GETS A JOB” for “Best Animated Series.” I’m in good company, with only four other entries — one being Tom Hanks’ exec produced “Electric City” and the classic “Red Vs. Blue.” A fellow ShutUp! Cartoons series is also nominated, “Do’s & Don’ts.” That’s TWO series from the same channel, people. A very encouraging nod for our little show, indeed.
And if you ever need a sea monster fix, please visit the Facebook page. I’ve just posted a ton of FAN ART, some Behind the Scenes pics and early Design Sketches. And as always, Krogzilla has stuff to say on Twitter.
Viva la season two!
At long last, here I am to wrap up the series and talk about the final episode in this run, aptly titled “Deconstruction.” It was always my goal to end Krogzilla’s job-hunting arc but to also, you know, SAY something. This series started out as a funny premise, but as I wrote the scripts I realized it was about something more. Lots of us have gone through some soul-crushing “downsizing” over the last few years. I know many, many very successful people who suddenly had to re-invent themselves again, and even switch careers. That’s what Krogzilla is really a metaphor for: those of us who have been “200 feet tall,” unstoppable and at the top of our game, only to suddenly find ourselves fighting for the lowest position. I’ve heard from some of you and I know you relate. So when it came time to finish up Krog’s storyline, I wanted to take a risk… I wanted to play less to jokes and more to sentiment. In short, my target was the tone of a Wes Anderson movie; melancholy yet hopeful, emotional yet funny, and never getting too sappy while trying to say something deeply true.
From the moment I put Krogzilla on the job hunt, the inevitable question I had to ask is, “where does he end up? What would make him happy?” And it seemed like the answer was a positive spin on tearing down buildings. The workers who have to destroy a building before putting up the new one is an interesting and ironic profession, and ideal for our hero. There’s so much to say with it! It was also very important to me to not reveal what job Krog was interviewing for, at least not right away.
By making the boss a very sage-like mentor, I could also get away with a lot of “nail-on-the-head” message statements. The foreman’s voice was performed by Joel McCrary, who was just perfect. Joel has played many “salt-of-the-earth” blue collar and dad types, and he knew just how much gravitas to give this guy without going too far over the top. And many of you caught the fact that this very same character was the FIRST PERSON Krogzilla encountered in Episode 1 — the first guy he meets ends up being the guy with the answers at the end. I’d like to say I planned that, but it was one of those happy accidents created by budget constraints. As I tried to lower the number of characters to be created, I combined this foreman character with the gardener from Episode 1. I figured that in this world, they could conceivably be the same guy. Now it’s so perfect, but I never would have done it on purpose. It makes the foreman that much more sage-like!
Hats off to Ryan and his team at Silly Monster Media. They put a lot of extra time into our final show. We all wanted to “finish strong,” and make it one of the best episodes. The backgrounds have more color and detail, there are more props and some animated bulldozers thrown in there, and most of the episode is led by an original song.
Let me talk about that for a minute, because it still amazes me. Nick Flora is an independent musician in Nashville who I’ve gotten to know over the last couple years. I love his music and the tone of his stuff seemed ideal for that “Wes Anderson” vibe I wanted to achieve. It also doesn’t hurt that one of Nick’s favorite movies is “Rushmore.” I asked for him to write something in that zone, but it also needed lyrics that referenced both elements of monster movies and the experience of finding a new place in life. In about two weeks, he sent me the song “CREATURES (GETTING CLOSER),” and it was exactly what I was hoping for. Just a magical little song that nailed it. I couldn’t be happier with it. I’m very proud of what it says and the emotion it evokes as we see Krogzilla happily working in the rubble. You can hear the full song and purchase it on iTunes HERE.
For the final scene, it was important to revisit Marcus and see that he and Krog will continue to be friends. And of course, I needed one more appearance from Jeff. I like pulling a little at the heartstrings and then popping that balloon with a laugh… just before it gets too sentimental. I think we got there.
I’ve had such a great time making this web series, but the other extremely gratifying thing has been the response from the audience. Web-based content is so interactive, I could read viewers’ thoughts on an episode within MINUTES of posting it. I’ve found that those on the Facebook page are much kinder and invested than the YouTube Commenters. The first is like someone stopping by your house to visit and the second is more like a random stranger walking past your house and shouting stuff at you from the street. As I finished this last episode, I knew it was a risk. I’m very aware of ShutUp! Cartoons’ demographic. Most of them would rather see hot chicks and ninjas beheading each other or a fart joke followed by a nice explosion. I get it. Most of the shows are designed for fast laughs and short attention spans. And here I come with my talky thing filled with awkward pauses, long-form character development and absolutely NO beheadings. I mean, I made a show about a monster who never eats anyone or really does anything monstrous! I felt like I could maintain that if there was enough comedy between the characters. But now I was going to do something a little softer at the end, mostly set to music. I was a bit nervous. I had no idea how the main audience would react! I could almost see the YouTube comments: “Boooooring. FAIL. Where R tha jokes??”
But the audience seemed to like it. The Thursday that it posted, I was between meetings and settled down at a Starbucks to read the reactions. An hour after the episode posted, I was seeing some of the nicest comments I’ve ever gotten. Stuff like, “So glad Krog found his purpose!,” “Emotional and fulfilling,” “Aw, that almost made me cry,” and “What a satisfying conclusion. He’s really happy.”
There I am, sitting in a Starbucks, teary-eyed. Not only did they like it, they GOT it. There was a connection made between the art and the audience. And not only that, I felt like my risk had paid off. I had trusted my audience with a little more complexity and they were gladly receptive. That’s ultimately the best I could’ve hoped for. Thanks, guys.
Many of you are concerned that, with a title like “KROGZILLA GETS A JOB,” there can be no second season. Krogzilla HAS a job, so what’s left? Lots. I titled the show “–GETS A JOB” for a reason. The show is designed to evolve with each season. So the next batch of episodes will follow a new facet of the monster’s life, and the title will reflect that. It might be retitled “Krogzilla Goes to College” or “Krogzilla Gets A Date.” Not sure yet. Marcus does say that he’s thinking of going back to school… I wanted to lay down those breadcrumbs for the future.
What is the future of Krogzilla? That’s up to Shut Up! Cartoons… and you. If you love the series, tweet, Facebook and comment to the folks at Shut Up! Cartoons and tell them you like it! I’d love to do more, and to see where the big green guy ends up next.
Ah, the mega-everything store “PRICE BOMBERS.” At least that’s what I decided to call it so I didn’t get sued by Target. But Target is the new Walmart… which was the new K-Mart. My family and I all go to Target now like it’s the town square. We stay there all afternoon, and get everything from groceries to clothing to car supplies. It’s weirdly inclusive. And it seemed like the perfect place for Krogzilla to work.
This is one of my favorite episodes because there are so many new characters here and so much happens. First there’s the uptight manager Darren, who is played with extreme effeminate fussiness by Josh Greene. It’s a big shout-out to Dean Pelton on “Community,” which is one of my favorite characters on one of my favorite shows. I love Darren’s opening speech, and ooooh was Josh chomping at the bit to do it. Super-duper high maintenance and “always gets Krogzilla confused” with some guy named Jeremy? Let that sink in and let’s all feel sorry for Jeremy for a moment. Many of you fans will also recognize the re-use of character design here: Darren looks suspiciously like the executive from the architectural firm in episode 4. Amazing what some re-coloring and a new voice does, right?
The “Zombie Girls” are another couple of characters that I KNEW I wanted to put somewhere in this series… because they are based on two real girls. Oh yes. I have Karen Whipple to thank for this, since she is the one that encountered them in a Party City. As Karen tells it, she overheard two teenage girls talking exactly like this as they checked out the zombie masks in the Halloween section. They seemed to be obsessed with being zombie-SOMETHINGS for a party coming up. They just couldn’t decide if they should be zombie cheerleaders, zombie nurses, zombie hookers, or just slutty zombie girls in short skirts. When Karen told me about these chicks and did the voice, I had to make them shoppers in this mainstream store. My wife Vicki got seriously valley as the second zombie girl. I wish I’d had more time to explore the strange, bent minds of these two, but the brief exchange at the T-Shirt rack is all I had time for.
The girls also paved the way for a payoff with the “Taco Salad” reference. I must explain and give a shout-out to actor David Storrs. He used to do an improv character who would mumble about taco salad, simply because Dave thought it was funny to say. He’s right. When you say it over and over again, “taco salad” starts to sound increasingly goofy. And the way Darren says it, I guess he’s from Minnesota.
Then we come to THE RETURN OF REGURGITOR! Yes, fans, I agree. Get this guy his own series, because he’s super funny. Ken Marino returns again and brings more of his signature smugness. The magic improv moment in this scene was when Krogzilla asks if Regurgitor wants to “take another shot, or do you wanna call in your stunt man??” Ken, the master of turning things back on the other guy, came up with the brilliant 180: “You… you wanna beat up my stunt man?” There were a lot of great alternates that I wish I had time for: “You mean Hank? He’s not working right now. He’s with his family on vacation. I guess I could call him up, maybe you guys can get together. What do you have against Hank?” On and on, more and more uncomfortable for poor Krog. And I loved it.
This episode also ends with a wonderful cacophony of the little boy, the monsters fighting, and the Zombie Girls mumbling. It’s a jumble of sounds that bring out several funny moments, depending on who you’re listening to. Personally, I want a Regurgitor T-Shirt with his final line on it: “I make myself throw up and I make a lot of money doing it!”
Okay, you K-Z, Kro Zo fans… we’re winding down. The last hurrah is already online, so check out the final EPISODE 10 and I’d love to hear what you think. I’ll have my final thoughts soon.
I’ve had a lot of friends make ends meet as a substitute teacher, so I thought this would be an obvious job to tackle. I’ve also heard that there are not a lot of requirements to become a sub. I like the idea of a character who barely understands human culture having to educate some humans. Honestly, I’ve had teachers who barely spoke English who were teaching me American History, so it didn’t seem like too far of a stretch. The major drawback for the classroom scene was that I could not cut to a room full of kids reacting and talking to Krog as I originally intended. This was budget-driven again, and so we only show a lot of “tops of heads” as we did with the birthday party episode. I have to admit, it took some of the fun out of the script — I envisioned a lot of funny reactions that I just couldn’t get. And without anyone else to cut to, it made the entire scene very challenging to direct and to keep interesting.
I had pressure from the guys at Smosh.com to make sure the show wasn’t getting “too talky,” and here I had my most “talky” scene ever! In the middle of production, I just asked my animators to look for ANY opportunity to lay in visual sight gags and activity in the classroom. The most economical additions seemed to be paper airplanes and spitwads (I thought the airplanes were a nice subtle nod to Krog’s past). And then the animators added one of the biggest laughs in the first scene by adding the, ahem, chart of the male reproductive system that Krog pulls down accidentally. That was all from the animators. And it laid in a good joke.
The rest of Krog’s speech (about what coasts he prefers to destroy) fell a bit flat, I have to admit. Not sure where the comedy got lost, but I have to cop to this — it doesn’t have the more lively jokes or banter of other episodes. Perhaps it’s because Krogzilla ended up having no one to really banter with. Which is why the next scene in the break room perks everyone up and plays so nicely by contrast.
In the break room, we meet Alan, an Asian American teacher played by Jason Gerali (who also bullied “Mucus Marcus” in episode 5). Alan triggers some of Krogzilla’s worst racially-awkward missteps — the kind of conversational trainwrecks I loved from Ricky Gervais in the original episodes of “The Office.” Krogzilla just digs himself deeper and deeper by acknowledging the painful connection between giant monsters and Japanese people. Then Jeff the Barnacle pops up to make things even worse! Shout out to MY old stomping grounds of TULSA here. The “Jeff Lance” joke at the end was pure ad-lib and I love it.
Vanessa Ragland plays another character for me here, the Vice Principal. She was supposed to be a new onscreen character, but fell victim to the continuing pressure to lower character count and save money. So Vanessa’s voice was reduced to an intercom box, which could conceivably happen in a school. And who knows, maybe her delightful voice as she fires Krogzilla is all the funnier as it comes from an impersonal box.
One more bit of trivia: Smosh had very few requirements for me regarding content. Some were obvious (no R-rated swears, no nudity, no drug use), but they also wanted no smoking or even any references to smoking. My little wink at this is Alan coming into the break room to tell Krog just that: “You can’t smoke in here.” Then we get one more sight gag from our main monster: smoke pours from his nostrils when he drinks too much coffee. Good to know.
We’re coming to the end of the series’ run, and I’m sad! But the next two episodes are some of my favorites. I’m happy to report that next week is chock FULL of new characters, and the return of an old nemesis (cough-cough-lava vomit!!-cough).
Ah, what could be more ironic than a huge beast trying to work in a pet store? In this show, Krogzilla is really pulled in a lot of directions. On one hand, he’s completely sympathetic to the caged reptiles, calling them “slaves” to the humans. On the other hand, he sees a lot of the animals as part of a big buffet line. I’ll be honest, Krogzilla’s appetite for cats is a bit of an homage to ALF. Y’know, “Alf?” The 80′s puppet sitcom? Alien living with a family? Okay, super old reference.
I enjoyed writing this episode which was a bit of a departure from the format. In this one, Krog and Marcus don’t even GET the job. They’re just trying to apply and they really blow it. I liked bringing Marcus back into the show here (and a lot of you seem to like him too — thanks). This creates some “buddy movie” banter between the two — Krog giving in to his inappropriate monster instincts, and Marcus trying to cover for him. And the pet store manager is completely humorless. She ain’t havin’ it!
I wrote this part with my sister Katie Hooten in mind. Katie is the next Tina Fey. Her observations and deadpan delivery always strike me funny. I thought, “If anyone needs to shoot down these two guys, it’s Katie.” Katie has done a ton of work behind the camera as a producer, and is now making her way in the industry as a screenwriter. It was fun to put her behind the mic and get her to perform again. I’m still playing with a rule I’ve created for this show that no one is really amazed that Krog is a monster. They’re more irritated by it… as if monsters are a new kind of minority or social class that we are all getting used to.
This episode has two punchlines to it. One is the traditional “button,” where Krog’s appetite finally gets the best of him and he eats a whole cage of parakeets. Then I go into a bit of an epilogue outside the store. And this scene gets weirder and weirder. I really enjoy the loose and improvisational argument that Josh Greene and I have as we exit the store. Then the most awkward and creepy character in the series appears — a delivery guy played by Ken Marino. A lot of these lines were improvised, taken much farther than I wrote, and we found some pretty funny stuff. WHAT is this guy into? Why does he want Krog as his pet… or as his photography model? Why is he so into reptiles in an almost fetishistic way? I don’t want to know. But it made me laugh.
A little trivia: Ken’s character was originally written to be a skinny GOTH guy, with emo hair, eye makeup and studded collar. I think the voice was even recorded with that in mind. But the animators let me know early on that I had written way to many characters for the budget… like TWICE as many. It takes time to build each of these characters in Flash Animation and time equals money. The solution is something that many of you have picked up on. I created several “types” that would have interchangeable hair, mustaches, skin coloring and wardrobe accessories. Thus, the delivery guy bears a striking resemblance to Vince the Big Dogs manager… or the mall security guard. And you may notice that SHIRLEY the pet store manager is the exact same type as LOLA the pink-haired bully from Episode 5. I’m kind of proud of that design. With color changes alone, I took the exact same character design from punk rock hoodlum to conservative African American in a business skirt! Ta-da! It’s all in the color styling, folks.
You’ll see these character double-ups throughout the series. I was still able to choose my battles and create specific, unique stand-alone characters when I really felt I needed them. I hope the reused character designs don’t affect the feel of a city FULL of characters, which is what I wanted. Think of it like the Muppets… a lot of those guys were the same shape with different noses, right?
I keep waiting for animal lovers to speak out against this one, but I guess we ALL eat birds, don’t we? Next week, Krog not only tries to fit in with humans… he is given the job of educating them. Or… not educating them, as the case may be.
In this episode, Krogzilla has a demeaning job that I and many, many of my friends have had: the job of entertaining at children’s birthday parties. Now I’ve never personally had to put on the costume of a TV character, but I thought that situation had the most comedic “juice” to it. What’s weirder than a monster putting on another monster suit? It’s always fun for me to create the “world within the world,” and by that I mean creating fake products and shows within the world I’m already creating in. When a character in a TV show sits down to watch a TV show, what do they watch? For this birthday party character, I thought clowns and Barney were much too played out. Same with Dora or Sesame Street characters. My kids recently became hooked on “Yo Gabba Gabba” like it was crack cocaine, and I love the zany color schemes and designs of that show. So Party Marty comes from a similar type of program.
And I love the ring of that name: “Party Marty.” I can’t believe there isn’t a TV character with that name already. I wish I could print up T-Shirts.
Yes, the episode starts kind of dark with Marcus and Krogzilla talking about how “those animals in there” are going to watch Krogzilla “defiling himself.” But younger kids have no idea what that dialogue is about and it always provokes muffled, forbidden laughter from the adults. Honestly, if you’ve ever had to earn money by dancing around for a crowd of kids, you know it can be an endurance test.
The best part of this show was that I got my kids involved. Both of my boys are very young, but they love performing and learning how a project is put together. My five year-old Elliot has already shot and edited his own movie! Getting them both in the recording studio to say the right lines was a bigger problem. Nathaniel (two years old) was the real diva. He wouldn’t say a thing until I brought Josh Greene’s little dog into the booth. Oh sure, then Nathaniel would say the lines to HIM. Another kid performer was my niece Eva. She’s been performing and speaking publicly for much of her young life, so she not only played the sassy little girl in this show, but she also voiced the girl in the movie theater (episode 5). (Trivia fact for all you “Hoodwinked” buffs, the song “Eva Deanna” on the soundtrack is about HER!) I love real kids’ voices. There’s nothing like seeing a character that has been animated to an unpolished, real kid’s voice. It makes it funnier too (such as Nathaniel barking “Do da dance!”).
I had so many ideas for this show, but budget kept me hemmed in a bit. I wanted Krogzilla to leap into a bounce house, then hear it POP and deflate. Too much for our animation schedule. I also wanted some crazier destruction with a pinata and a table of presents. But you have to choose your battles. There’s another sight gag in this one that I credit the animators with — during Krogzilla’s rapid-fire balloon animal session. A certain phallic balloon sculpture appears that COULD be a sword or… a horrible mistake at a kids’ party. Wow, did the YouTube commenters pick up on THAT one. Hmmm, maybe 100 comments on that moment alone? I GET it that you get it, guys. Glad you saw it. Glad it made you LOL and OMG so much, for Pete’s sake.
Krogzilla’s next horrible job adventure is right around the corner, and it has plenty of creepy, uncomfortable moments. And kitties.
Episode 5 finds both Marcus and Krogzilla as movie theater ushers. This show takes a bit of a serious turn as Krog is allowed to spout off for a while. It’s frankly the one big speech I wrote for myself and all along I’ve wondered if it was worth the screen time. I’m not exactly an Academy Award winning actor, but I can get a good rant going if I want to.
This theater setting allowed me to get on a soapbox a bit about a couple of things that irk me. One topic is the monstrous multiplexes that we all go to see movies in — giant buildings filled with at least 20 screens run mainly by people under 25 years old. They always feel a bit too large and impersonal, and more like places to sell snacks in bulk than provide showmanship for the movies they play. There’s also my distaste for bullies, which come in all eras of life. I encountered a lot of these types of bullies in high school — guys who just zero in on the weak member of the pack and hassle them for four years. But my biggest rant is on the state of big budget movies. I know we are all tired of the rebooting, rebranding and yes, regurgitating of the same entertainment over and over. Let me be clear, I LOVE big popcorn movies, but the pursuit of a pre-existing brand for marketing purposes has gotten a bit out of hand (“SLINKY: THE MOVIE!”).
For every “Avengers” that delights, there is yet another “Transformers” sequel that feels way past its prime (“Prime”… see what I did there?). As Krogzilla tells us, we have no right to complain about these regurgitations if we keep paying money to see them. Everyone I talk to groans about Michael Bay’s latest “event” movie, but somehow these are still the movies that end up as the biggest money-makers of the year. If we all keep going, they’ll just keep making them, people!!! But I digress. The bullies in episode 5 are not just typical tormentors… they are also what I imagine typical mega-sequel ticket buyers look like.
I’ve already gotten a lot of great feedback on the new bully characters. Randy (they guy with the “Grinch” smile) is voiced by Jason Gerali… this guy’s natural voice has this weird “slide” to it that I thought would be fun for the character. I love how Jason absolutely CHEWS on his words when he says “Oh my GYOSH! It’s MYOOOCUS Marcus!” The pink-haired she-bully known as Lola is voiced by super funny lady Vanessa Ragland. It’s beyond me why Vanessa is not a major comedy star on your TV right now. She is a great improv comedian, screenwriter and host of the Pop My Culture Podcast. Her star is rising — look out for her! In the booth, Vanessa’s voice was equal parts velvety and snarky — ideal.
By the way, did you catch Shayla and the Exec from Episode 4 on a date in the first shot? We needed extras to walk by, and the choice to use those two characters created a fun extra joke for viewers who are paying attention. That was all from the animators. Nice job, guys!
I always have a wish list when I finish these episodes. For this one, I so wanted to create a ton of fake movie posters to line the hallways — lots of jokes and parodies to be had there. Oh well — not to be in the “low budget land” we are living in here. At least our favorite jerk Regurgitor makes an appearance (sort of) as the overblown movie display that raised Krogzilla’s hackles. Rest assured, this is not the last time you’ll see “Regurg.”
Once again, don’t stop going to megaplexes and don’t stop seeing big summer movies — just get wise to the ones that are all marketing and no substance. And if you see a bad movie, please don’t burn down the display in the lobby. Sorry, this show isn’t big on hints for proper social behavior.
Next week: Kids, cake and PARTY MARTY!!!
For Episode 4, it seemed obvious to put Krogzilla in a situation where he was with miniature models of a city. It’s very “meta,” because that’s how they MADE old Godzilla movies — with a guy about six feet tall walking around models. So this idea naturally put Krog at an architectural firm. I knew I wanted to do one episode in a corporate setting too. In comedy, the more formal the situation, the better the “squirm” factor and the more laughs you get out of inappropriate behavior.
I also scored another big guest star for this show – John O’Hurley. I was really amazed that I got him. John is basically a TV legend due to his memorable role as “J. Peterman” on “Seinfeld.” Then of course he is a household name in many other ways, such as hosting the National Dog Show every Thanksgiving, hosting “Family Feud,” playing King Neptune on “Spongebob Squarepants,” and appearing on about a billion other shows. I’m just thankful our kids went to the same preschool class. John had a good time doing his “John O’Hurley thing,” which was perfect for the stuffy corporate executive who accuses Krogzilla of eating the city models. Small note: I love the teeny, tiny hands that the animators gave him. Watch them flail around like little marionette hands.
This episode is also home to another favorite character of mine, sassy black girl Shayla, played by Karen Whipple. Karen does this voice at random, at parties, or when she just gets sassy. So I had to write a part for the voice. It seemed like a good fit for tubby, bumbling Krogzilla to get some help from this go-getter. Shayla takes no crap and really seems to have a good grip on office life — which is to say she doesn’t take any of it too seriously. It’s hard to pick a favorite line from Shayla, because I love them all. I think the most quoted on the YouTube comment section is “It just got real up in huuur.” But I have a special love for “Sea monster, please.”
I’m really glad Jeff’s last line landed as such a good punchline (“What are you, a cop?” and… he is). Lots of thumb’s up from the commenters on that one! I realize that a lot of Smosh.com viewers like karate kicking and explosions, but if you relax into the conversations between the characters on this series, there’s a lot of little goodies in there. I tried to sneak in subtle jokes mumbled under someone’s breath, and my sound editor Mark Keefer even creates new fun with the moments he picks. When Shayla and Krog toast their cups, they just sit there saying, “Mmm. Mmm, mmm,” back and forth. Keefer just laid that in there and I love it!
This is one of those rare episodes where I actually set up events in another episode. We see Marcus at the movie theater, and tease Krogzilla’s next job. I thought Marcus needed a quick appearance in this one, and tying a couple of events together over two episodes made it… you know… less “episodic.” You might be wondering how much crap this poor sea monster can take, and when he’s gonna finally snap. Well episode five seemed like a good place to let off some steam — and I give him a good reason. Stay tuned.