Devin Flynn was nine years old when he drew his first cartoon; a flipbook of a mouse dropping something heavy on a cat. Since then he's made animated work for Wonder Showzen, the Aqua Teen movie and us (he does some of the little title sequences at the beginning of shows). He also plays bass in the band Pixeltan. His latest show, Y'all So Stupid, contains moments of such staggering genius that we felt compelled to sit down and go through it with him...
VICE: How long does one show like this take to make?
Devin Flynn: 4 weeks. It breaks down like this...
Week 1. Think up some shit. Laugh at it. OK, it works. Design something.
Week 2. Lay it out. Record voices and music. Listen. Laugh some more.
Week 3. Animate that shit. Complain about flash. Bust balls on everyone.
Week 4. Do anything that you could possibly imagine we forgot to do. Plus add one more unnecessary scene so everybody has to put in overtime.
How do you feel about people always referencing drugs, particularly acid, when describing your stuff? Accurate or lazy?
It's funny. Sometimes it seems like an easy response for somebody who can't articulate what they really think, but other times I'll meet somebody who is really in touch with their inner zooted stoneyness and it will make a lot of sense to me. A drug experience, if you are lucid enough, can help you cut through a lot of bullshit. I would like to think that some of my scenes are simulating that aspect of the experience. And stimulating that ass.
My favorite response is when people say their IQ was reduced. I want to respect people's intelligence by presenting them with raw material which has not been custom-honed to their demographic needs. These are the things I want to see in a show, and I trust my instincts enough to know that somebody else out there might be into it too. I feel like the level of over-stimulation in media is so high right now. There's a din of visual noise drowning out ideas. I don't care how quickly cut or strobed-out your video gets, it's only raising your voice to be heard... So if you ain't saying nothing, it looks even more ridiculous to be yelling.
What's your work space like?
I used to work out of my apartment and do everything myself so I could be naked if I wanted. But now I go to a studio and have my lil’ team, so usually I'll wear clothes and stuff. Y'know, there's a dude in our office who likes it really cold so we are always battling back and forth at the thermostat. I don't like having to wear gloves when I draw, y'know? My new collaborator Seth Cooper has been on the show since Episode 4 and he's a good/bad influence. I throw a lot of my ideas at him and he always has amazing things to add, so I like having him around.
Boring question: how'd you get into animation?
In high school I used to make flipbooks of dudes doing skateboard tricks, subway graffiti, and other ruder subjects, which should be of no surprise to anyone. I moved to New York after high school and met Todd James, who was in the process of making the animated segments for the Beastie Boys' "Skills to Pay the Bills" fan video. We hung out a lot and made lots of pencil tests and storyboards for shows we dreamed of one day making. We both loved Ren & Stimpy and Beavis & Butthead and at different times tried to get jobs at their respective studios. But we were still a bit wet behind the ears by their standards. Soon after, I moved to Providence for college, which was when I had all my confidence stomped out of me and I attempted to be "smart" with animation. I put the pencil down and "experimented" like a big nerd. Music took the foreground at that point. I was in Providence from 1993 to 1997 after all. You couldn't escape it. I moved back to New York in late 1997 and landed a job at Funny Garbage directing a web cartoon show for Cartoon Network written by Gary Panter called Pink Donkey and The Fly. That was a significant turning point. But it wasn't until 2000, when I made the Lightning Bolt animation, that I really saw that I had something infinite going on there. I think I basically just came back around to my high school flipbooks.
What's on the horizon?
I'm slated for a gang of more episodes so prepare for some deep Cachuananche drama, The Origin of Lil’ Haze and C-Stilt, and many more irresponsible acts of animation, including a special episode to punish all those who complain about the show making sense. We're also gonna try some new features which we'll post in between Y'all So Stupid episodes that will probably keep people guessing and bitching. I'm also listening to the final mixes of Gary and Devin Go Outside. It’s a semi-musical collaboration with Gary Panter which will be coming out this spring.