The Adult Swim cartoonists that soothe your insomnia
It’s the middle of finals week and you have a shitload of studying to do. There are books and papers strewn all over your desk, blending in an almost feng shui-like manner with 11 cans of Pabst and a half-eaten bowl of ramen noodles.
And you’re watching a forward-facing ass with legs and a revolver blow the hell out of everything he sees.
Does this sound like a scene you lived during finals season? You’re not alone–the popularity of Adult Swim’s animation group Williams Street has risen dramatically in the last three years. The forward-facing ass is actually named Assy McGee, a hard-ass (no pun intended) cop that fart-breathes when he runs or gets pissed off. His partner is good-cop Detective Sanchez, a father and husband who once had a heart attack at the sight of illegal immigrants plopping out of a pi�ata. Their favorite bar is called Bill W’s, a brilliant play on the anonymous sobriety-monger of the same name.
Voiced by Larry Murphy, who also voices all the other main characters in the show, Assy is one of the newest additions to the Adult Swim lineup that was created by the cartoon geniuses over at the studios of Williams Street, formerly the Ghost Planet Industries from whence Space Ghost ruled late-night programming.
Williams Street produces many of the shows that air during the Adult Swim block of Cartoon Network’s lineup. The group has been at the forefront of mature animation for almost seven years now and is still going strong. It’s easy to think that Assy McGee is their most absurd idea yet, though there’s really no way of measuring the absurdity of this studio.
Their debut came after Cartoon Network decided that Space Ghost wasn’t a strong enough frontman for the nationwide community of insomniacs lost in a haze of bong smoke and cheap beer. Williams Street formed from the animators that stuck around after Space Ghost’s exit and made their debut with four shows in fall 2000, the most popular of which is still Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
Aqua Teen is the longest-running show featured on Adult Swim, alongside Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law. It chronicles the misadventures of a floating french fry container, a pretentious drink cup with a straw and a shape-shifting wad of meat. The popularity of the show has led to four seasons over six years and is expected to continue airing through at least two more seasons.
The show got some bad press at the end of January, when an advertising scheme backfired. The Moonintes, secondary characters from Aqua Teen, were created in likenesses of blinking LED light panels and placed on various locations throughout major American cities. In Boston, police found one such panel with wires running behind it and covered in duct tape to hold in the batteries. When the lights began to blink as night fell, they feared the devices were bombs.
That should speak to the lack of popular culture knowledge held by Boston’s finest. Who else wouldn’t recognize the middle-finger-flipping Ignignokt? It got worse as the investigation continued: It turns out that Williams Street had hired a political refugee of Belarus and his business partner to create the lights for the forthcoming Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters. While everyone that knows about Aqua Teen just laughed about the whole thing, Cartoon Network’s parent company, Turner Broadcasting Systems, has had to pay out over $2 million, most of that to Homeland Security and the Boston police. Police officials in Portland didn’t even bother to investigate. Apparently, our cops are hip and spend their night shifts munching down Voodoo Doughnuts and catching episodes of Aqua Teenback at the station.
One more Williams Street show worth mentioning is Metalocalypse. This parody of the heavy-metal lifestyle earned the best ratings of any Adult Swim premiere to date. It tells the brutal tale of the fictitious Dethklok, a band of five heavy-duty rockers who drink all day, like to pee on food displays at grocery stores and feed fat kids to rabid mutant cats. The fame of the show has brought in such real-world metal figures as James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett of Metallica, George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher and King Diamond for guest-voicing roles.
The first season had a strong turnout every Sunday, when new episodes would air, and often beat Family Guy and Futurama in ratings. There is a second season scheduled to air this coming fall and it will answer the many questions you have about Nathan Explosion’s love handles, William Murderface’s side project Planet Piss and whether or not Toki Wartooth will get his chance make out with all the “goils at the pornography awards.”
Those three shows are some of the most famed Williams Street works, though there are many others that are just as inane and entertaining. This summer will mark the debut of several new seasons for their shows and they air regularly Sunday through Thursday from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. on Cartoon Network. There are five more weeks until finals start and when they get here, be sure to buy a sixer of your favorite brew, pack that pipe with your favorite herb, order up a few slices of Hot Lips and relax to the hilarity of Williams Street–trust me, this is the finest way to study for any subject matter.