Q&A: Jon Glaser talks “NEON JOE, WEREWOLF HUNTER”Movies/TV,News Ken W. Hanley
While primarily purveyors of comedy and anime, Adult Swim has never been too far from the world of horror as well, whether they know it or not. Most of their comedy programs exercise little restraint in the realm of the surreal and darkly comical, and on some instances, outright jump into bloody homages of the demented and disturbing. Yet sometimes, Adult Swim happens to use horror as a jumping off point into their particularly un-PC brand of absurdist humor, and that definitely seems to be the case with their newest creation, NEON JOE, WEREWOLF HUNTER.
Created by Jon Glaser and PFFR, the comedic geniuses behind DELOCATED and WONDER SHOWZEN, NEON JOE, WEREWOLF HUNTER follows a werewolf-hunter for hire who finds himself tasked with finding the truth behind a string of werewolf-related murders in a small town. The five-part mini-series event, which co-stars Scott Adsit (MR. SHOW), Steve Little (EASTBOUND & DOWN), Steve Cirbus (DELOCATED) and Stephanie March (LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT), looks to be up to Adult Swim’s standards of insanity and bloody violence, and yes, there will be werewolves. FANGORIA caught up with Glaser on a roundtable at October’s New York Comic Con to talk about the origins of NEON JOE, the one-off comic prequel and what werewolf fans should expect…
FANGORIA: So, why exactly is this character called Neon Joe?
JON GLASER: I believe we explain it in the pilot as well as in the comic book. The show is about this guy who wears neon and hunts werewolves, and you’ll discover why he does this on the show. Neon, for Joe, is like wearing reverse camouflage so that he’s out in plain view and can let these creatures know, “I’m here, deal with it. I’m not hiding.”
FANGORIA: Is he inviting them to fight him?
GLASER: I don’t think he’s as much inviting them as he is making his presence known. He’s not trying to hide or be subtle about it. He’s just really stupid.
FANGORIA: How did this show come together initially?
GLASER: This is actually one of my favorite parts of this project. I was on Jimmy Fallon’s show maybe three years ago to promote the series finale of DELOCATED, and I wanted to do something stupid for the interview to amuse myself. So I found these two pieces of clothing from doing comedy bits over the years: one was this neon yellow hoodie and the other was a pair of Coors Light sweatpants. I arbitrarily paired them and wore ‘em on the show, where I said, “I’m really sad that DELOCATED is done but I’m really excited about my new project, NEON JOE, WEREWOLF HUNTER. I’m dressed as the character right now and that’s really all we have, but I’m excited.”
It was an arbitrary joke; I was only wearing the Coors Light pants for the “Silver Bullet” thing, which has been played out, but there was no show or anything. But I have this great relationship with Adult Swim, and at the time, I remember thinking to myself, “I could see them going for this joke, since it sounds funny and it’s a funny name for a show.” And that was kind of what happened; a few weeks later, I got a call from them saying, “Could that actually be something? Could you write a pilot?” So I said “Sure,” and I sat down to write the pilot. So this wasn’t a passion project; it’s not like I was like, “I always wanted to make a werewolf show.” This is the opposite of that.
FANGORIA: So where did you go from there with only a title at hand?
GLASER: Well, once it started happening, I started asking, “What’s the idea? Who is this character?” I was determined to make it as dumb as possible, and when I say “dumb” or “stupid,” I usually mean that it’s funny like that. I think it’s obnoxious to say, “Yeah, this is really funny!”
FANGORIA: Does the show take itself seriously at all?
GLASER: The show takes itself very seriously. NEON JOE does play itself like a drama, and the tone is very much like a dramatic show. But it’s a comedy since everything about it is absurd and dumb. Once you see clips and footage from the show, you’ll see that it’s exactly as dumb as it should be.
FANGORIA: Was there anything you could specifically compare NEON JOE, WEREWOLF HUNTER to? Was there anything you wanted to make fun of?
GLASER: Not really. There wasn’t anything specifically we were trying to replicate or parody. There is sort of a JAWS feel in that it takes place in this small town in New England, then this creature appears and causes havoc so the town people don’t know how to deal with it. No one wants to close down their businesses, and that became a thing as soon as I knew what the show was.
From there, we just started writing scripts and we shot the pilot, which Adult Swim liked and wanted to see more. So in the scripts, we just started adding more weird, stupid stuff and I’m really proud of it.
FANGORIA: NEON JOE, WEREWOLF HUNTER is airing over five consecutive nights on Adult Swim as a mini-series. Is there potential for more NEON JOE after this or is this more of a finite project?
GLASER: Hopefully, there will be more. I have to wait to find out after the show airs.
FANGORIA: Can you tell us about the NEON JOE comic book? How did that come about?
GLASER: That was presented to me after the fact. Adult Swim came to me and said, “What if we do a comic book to help promote the show?” And I was completely psyched to do it. [Being a comic book hero] is the coolest, and everyone involved from the artist to the colorist to the cover artist are awesome.
I wrote the comic based on pre-existing material we shot that got cut from the final version of the pilot. Some stuff that is in the comic book is actually in the show, and I think the first thing from the comic is in the episode. There’s also a lot of origin story in the comic, so you get some backstory about the character. The comic debuted at New York Comic Con and I believe we’ll be giving away comics leading up to the show at other conventions, and I’m almost as excited about this comic book as I am for the show.
The comic is made by some really talented people: Tom Mandrake and Jan Duursema did the artwork, Dan Panosian did the cover and Chris Sotomayer did the color. I’m floored and it’s way more amazing than I ever thought it would be. And I collaborated with them, more than just sending in the script: I saw all the art, gave notes, “Could you do this?”, “Could you change this?” They also saw the pilot and were given stills and video from other episodes so they could see what the tone of the show would be. They captured NEON JOE, WEREWOLF HUNTER perfectly because everything is played out dramatically, but the very first thing you see in the comic is werewolf pubes.
FANGORIA: For the show’s FX work, is this more splattery and practical like EAGLEHEART or is it more digital, akin to TIM AND ERIC?
GLASER: I think for what we ended up doing, NEON JOE plays as realistically as possible. We had a really good special FX team that did all the werewolf stuff. I don’t think the show ever gets too gory, but there’s tons of special FX stuff that happens. I don’t want to give anything away, but I think it’s all pretty cool and I’m very happy with it.
FANGORIA: Where did the show shoot?
GLASER: We shot mostly outside of New York, several exits outside of the Palisades in several small towns. It was just outside of the city, where we could capture a New England feel. It was actually almost like a reverse commute since we were 45 minutes outside of the city. The show looks really good and is shot great; it looks much more cinematic than DELOCATED. So it looks great in addition to being funny, stupid and dramatic.
NEON JOE, WEREWOLF HUNTER airs Monday, December 7th through Friday, December 11th at Midnight on Adult Swim.