Recently, we had the esteemed pleasure of catching up with Mike Rosenthal, creator of Cartoon Hangover’s new animated series ‘Our New Electrical Morals’. After the jump, learn a little more about Mike, what inspired his show, and why the internet is actually his home address. Continue?
Who are you and where are you from??
I’m currently a student in Boston University’s Television Production grad program. Before this, I was in Pittsburgh. Before Pittsburgh, I was in Houston, and before that I was in Philadelphia. It’s easiest just to say I’m from the internet. That’s my only consistent location.
For those who have never heard of the show, what is Our New Electrical Morals about?
Our New Electrical Morals is about two business bros finding a baby in the wild. So they try to make money off of it. It’s also about tanks and the power of dreams and junk.
How did the concept of the show come about?
The cartoon is based on the comic of the same name I’ve been drawing since 2009. I originally made it for the University of Pittsburgh’s school paper and eventually started putting it online at vectorbelly.com. The two protagonists, Douglas and Business Cat, are based on doodles I drew in class. Douglas is based on a sketch of Abraham Lincoln from 11th grade geography, and Business Cat is based on a sketch from freshman neuroscience.
How were you approached by Cartoon Hangover?
I cold emailed them a spec that was never read, but they encouraged me to send original material. So I sent an original 30-minute pilot, which they liked, but they were looking for 4-minute shorts. I cobbled together a storyboard based on my comic, and they greenlit it.
What was the casting process like for the voices?
It was all done online, which is super convenient for me being so far from LA. Cartoon Hangover put out a casting call to a bunch of agencies, and over 400 voice auditions for 3 characters were uploaded to this database. The first listen took maybe 7 hours to rank everyone, and then I had to listen to and rank them again and again until I had it paired down to only 3. That was a very tedious but fun process.
What are some of your inspirations in creating an animated series and growing up what were some of your favorite shows, animated or otherwise?
I’m a huge Adventure Time dork, and I definitely wanted to create something that had at least half of that show’s energy. Some of my favorite webcomics, like Nedroid and Gunshow, will play around with longer story formats, and that was helpful to think about.
Growing up, I watched a lot of 90s Nick cartoons. Rocko, Rugrats, Spongebob, that sort of thing. At the same time I was also watching a lot of adult-oriented comedy, like Seinfeld and standup on Comedy Central. This was back in early elementary schol, and my older siblings and parents always had those shows on the TV. They never censored comedy for me—I saw Lewis Black and Dave Attell perform live when I was maybe 10. It’s funny because I grew up loving really offensive humor, yet I barely even use swear words in my work.
Do you have plans for other animated series and what else are you working on?
I have a lot of plans for animated series for different media. Whether or not they get made is a different story, but that doesn’t stop me from coming up with ideas. Creators create, and every second you’re not making something, you’re not a creator. Like, when I’m not actively writing or drawing or brainstorming, when I’m eating dinner or pooping around the internet, I don’t consider myself a cartoonist. So I plan and think and develop as much as possible.
I’m always working on drawing Our New Electrical Morals comics, though I’m taking a brief respite to think about direction. I also draw people’s tweets at twitterthecomic.tumblr.com. I’m writing a 15-minute cartoon pilot and a 30-minute live-action pilot that will hopefully be done before the end of summer.