#1: Can you explain how Archie Asparagus came to be? (More than just "He's a John Cleese tribute" please)
A: Archibald was originally created for the very first VeggieTales promotional film, a 2 minute short entitled “VeggieTales Screen Test – Take 38.” The short started out with Bob the Tomato giving a Martin Luther King Jr.-esque speech about his “dream for a new kids show,” while Larry the Cucumber ran around behind him looking for his blue plastic wind-up lobster. After Bob was done, a rather snotty British asparagus popped up with his “wife” (a female asparagus who later became Junior’s mother) and declared Bob’s plan for a new show horrid. The snotty Brit would later become Archibald. He was originally conceived as a typically uptight Englishman, as frequently lampooned by Monty Python.
#2: Can you make a section for fan fiction on your website?
A: Hmm. Hadn’t thought of that. We’ll kick it around.
#3: Can you make a section for fan art on your website?
A: That could probably happen. Why? Do you have some?
#4: Can fans give you an idea for a veggie script?
A: Reading ideas from fans can unfortunately result in lawsuits and ugliness, because a fan can send in an idea similar to one currently in development, leading the fan to believe his idea was stolen. As a result, most producers are advised by their lawyers never to read unsolicited ideas. Unless a release is signed, any suggested idea, unfortunately, can lead to a lawsuit. Since getting a legal release from every fan who wants to submit an idea generates a whole lot of busy work for someone, we generally have to say “thank you, but no thanks.”
#5: Will Larryboy be back? If so, when, and 3-D or 2-D?
A: Yes. Big Idea is producing a new 3D Larryboy film that will be released in 2006, I believe.
#6: Does Big Idea still use Alias Wavefront Maya as their computer software? If not, what do they use?
A: Big Idea still has a few seats of Maya in-house, but all the animation is now outsourced to a contract animation studio in Canada. Sad, but much more cost-efficient.
#7: What's your favorite movie, music, and food?
A: Um… let’s see: No favorite movie, but my favorite filmmakers would be the Coen Brothers, Terry Gilliam, Tim Burton, Wes Anderson and P.T. Anderson. (And Peter Jackson, solely for his unbelievable accomp-lishment with LOTR.) I tend to like smaller, quirkier films. I’ve had my fill of “spectacle” for a while. (Look at all the CGI dinosaurs! Look at all the CGI comets! Look at all the CGI ______! Can we get back to characters, now?) Music… I prefer interesting Christian music from the likes of Andrew Peterson, Bebo Norman, Third Day, Sanctus Real, Kutless, etc. My daughter and I will jam in the car to Bleach, Reliant K, Pillar and other rockin’ stuff. Food… I like Thai and Vietnamese food, and of course, Chicago deep dish pizza and Chicago-style hot dogs.
#8: Do you play videogames? If so, what system do you use, and what games do you play?
A: I was really good at Asteroids. We had an Atari 2600, too. That was fun. Then I sort of tuned out of the whole videogame thing, and never quite tuned back in. My kids play Gamecube. I’m just not there. Sometimes I try to play Pokemon Puzzle with them, but they just spank me mercilessly.
#9: Will there be a silly song on Lord of the Beans?
A: Yes, there will and there is. It’s funny. It’s a “Silly Song for Elves” and includes a character talking Elvish. Mike is a goofy guy.
#10: Will Minnesota Cuke be back?
A: I believe Big Idea has another Minnesota Cuke adventure in development, involving Noah and his umbrella. Not sure if or when it will see the light of day, though.
#11: What's your favorite Veggietales episode?
A: Hmm… I really like the “Star of Christmas” and “An Easter Carol” because their messages are so deep. “Lyle the Kindly Viking” because it turned out so well. “Dave and the Giant Pickle” because it was the first episode that didn’t require us to kill ourselves to get it done on time.
#12: Who's your favorite Veggietales character?
A: I enjoy performing Pa Grape, Archibald and Mr. Lunt the most. Each lets me expand on a certain part of my personality in a way that probably wouldn’t be acceptable in everyday life. Especially Lunt. He gets to say the things I often think, but aren’t allowed to say in public.
#13: Have you ever had any interest in pokemon?
A: Nope. I think it’s crazy goofy nonsense. (My kids love it, though.)
#14: Have you ever thought of Archie having any siblings? If so, who and are they older or younger than him?
A: I think he was an only child. That’s the only possible explanation for his behavior. I imagine his mother was a librarian and his father worked in public television.
#15: Why does Veggietale's use so many parodies?
A: Because they’re fun to write! Pick the right source material, and the show practically writes itself! They also give the audience a different point of entry. “I love the veggies! And I love Star Trek! I can’t wait to see how the veggies do Star Trek!”
#16: Do you think you have anything in common with the characters you provide the voice for?
A: I have a lot in common with Bob. His personality is based almost entirely on my personality. There are parts of me that also come out in Archibald and Mr. Lunt. When I was a kid, I hated getting my hands dirty and my sister would chase me around with worms. (That’s the Archibald part of me.) Sometimes my brain thinks funny thoughts that really aren’t at all appropriate. (That’s the Lunt part of me.)
#17: Do you watch Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune?
A: Nope. My wife and I really stopped watching TV after our kids were born. I’ll watch a little David Letterman every now and then, and my wife likes to watch the Cubs play when she has a spare moment. But the TV generally belongs to our kids.
#18: Do you like the Super Mario Brothers?
A: I haven’t had the privilege of meeting them, but I hear they’re upright fellows.
#19: Were you always interested in computer graphics and animation?
A: I started playing around with computer graphics on an Atari 400 computer back in the early 1980’s. I thought it was pretty cool. Then “Tron” came out in theaters, and my eyes lit up. “You can do THAT with a computer?!?” I was so upset when Tron didn’t win the Oscar for best visual effects I wanted to spit. It was clear to me that computer graphics were the next big thing in movies, but the Academy didn’t get it. They gave the Oscar to “Altered States.” Bah humbug. So to answer your question, I’ve been interested in puppets since I was 6, animation since I was 8, and computer graphics since it became clear that puppetry and animation were going to someday live side by side on a computer, which, for me, was about 1981.
#20: Have you ever considered doing another Gilbert and Sullivan parody?
A: Hmm… probably not. I’m not wild about doing the same thing again. That’s why each VeggieTales episode went to a new world with a whole new story, rather than staying in Junior’s house over and over again. I could never write a show like Seinfeld, where each episode takes place in the same apartment. I’m just not wired that way.
Oh look, we're done! Thanks for the questions, Marina!