With a DVD of the first season and the premiere of the second season occurring only about a month apart, McCulloch has been incredibly busy. Thankfully, he took time to chat with me about his alias, the work process of The Venture Bros. and his lack of improvisation skills.
[Nancy Basile, About Animated TV] Where does this alias Jackson Publick come from?
[Jackson Publick] I kinda just pulled the name outta my head. [Laughs.] I thought it would be fun to kind of create a mysterious creator figure. And I was gonna have a lot of fun with it originally. I was like, well, if anyone interviews me, I'll just lie. I'll just make up exciting stories about my jet-setting lifestyle and it back-fired. It back-fired the very first time I got interviewed by anybody. Some little newspaper in Seattle or something and the guy was like, "Jackson Publick, who voices the character Stan under his real name, Chris McCulloch." I was like, "You're supposed to just say Jackson!"
[NB] So now both names are pretty much synonomous, huh?
[Jackson Publick] Yeah, but I like to use Jackson. It's like the hat I like to put on when I'm working on the show.
[NB] You put a lot of information on your blog, under the name Jackson Publick. Do you get a lot of feedback from fans?
[Jackson Publick] I do. They are actually great. I've worked on other shows and stuff, and I've worked on comics, and never had fans as cool as these people are. The people I've met at comic conventions, I would dare say they are part of the reason why we got a pick up for a second season.
A lot of them were really motivated to try to pester Adult Swim and stuff like that, and write into message boards. They write comments to me and ask questions. Everybody just seems to get it, and they all seem like pretty hip, smart people. They are very, very supportive.
We actually just got, for the second time, we got a care package with home-baked cookies and some coffee and stuff the other day!
[NB] You mentioned "hip" and "smart." Your show is hip and smart. I think someone has to have good pop culture knowledge to watch it. Are you a child of the 80's, like I am?
[Jackson Publick] The 70's and 80's, yeah. I'm 34.
[NB] Yeah, I'm 35. I noticed Mr. White has the 80's hairdo.
[Jackson Publick] Yes, Yes! He's got the Human League haircut. The Philip Oakey from the Human League haircut. Which I guess was when [Mr. White] peaked, was in the early 80's and he just can't let it go.
[NB] I notice that Dr. Venture has a lot of acquaintenances and connections from State University. Is that because you yourself have a lot of relationships still from your university?
[Jackson Publick] No, actually. I do, but that's more a nod to the old Fantistic Four comics or even Spider-man. Reed Richards went to college with the guy who became Dr. Doom. So it was kinda like playing with that whole thing where everyone has this history with each other. And, I thought, college is so dumb. [Laughs.] It's where you meet most of your friends. And when you think about what you actually do in college, and the way that you kinda just jerk around with your dopey friends... [Laughs.] But when you're a kid and you're reading these comics, you think college is like this austere thing and your learning important stuff. You're like, "Oh yeah, Mr. Fantastic and Dr. Doom, they're in college; I can see where an important rivalry would happen there."
But that's what we do with everything. We take the air out of every cliche or tradition that we can. So that was the idea. There was a nod to that kind of thing first. And then I just called it State University because, again, you know if we had a phone number in the show it would be 555-something. It's the way to make it generic. [Laughs.] And then we don't have to what State they went to and I don't have to say what college.
[NB] You created The Venture Bros., you write the show, but you also do voices. What do you have the most fun with?
[Jackson Publick] Making stuff up is the most fun. Not even writing the script. It's just the part where you're just getting the ideas. Or Doc Hammer (writer, editor) and I are bouncing ideas off each other. It's the inspiration. Everything else is this sad attempt to bring the idea into reality. It becomes work from then on.
But, I really like writing the scripts. Especially if you're in a good groove. If you're collaborating with somebody, it's when you're bouncing stuff back and forth. And if you're writing alone it's when you're working smoothly and somehow your just crack yourself up. Which happens! [Laughs.] So that's when I feel the best, I think.