Interview With Christy Karacas & Steve Warbrick (Creators Of Adult Swim's Superjail)

We had a chat with Christy Karacas and Steve Warbrick the creators of the Adult Swim show "Superjail." We chat about how the show came to be, the challenges of Season 3 and more. The season finale of "Superjail" airs on December 9th on Adult Swim. Let’s start from the very beginning. How did the concept of Superjail come up? 

Christy Karacas: We made a short film called “barfight” that adult swim saw and liked—it was a three minute ‘bar fight’ without any main characters or story-which you need for a TV series—so we came up with the idea of a show in a jail because you would always have an excuse for riots and violence and fighting. And then we added rainbows and all kinds of cutesy stuff on top because we love Dr. Suess and all that jazz. Which was harder to create the storyline or the characters?

Steve Warbrick: The characters seem to be the harder of the two. In an 11 minute show it’s difficult to have characters that have more to them than just what you see.

Christy Karacas: For me I think the characters. I mean they’re super fun to draw but figuring out what makes them tick can be tough. I usually just have fun drawing them and THEN figure out what makes them tick. Out of all the characters which one was one the biggest challenge to develop?

Christy Karacas: The Warden. It’s his show but in the beginning we weren't sure if he was really insane, or a genius or both. I think of him as a super selfish spoiled megalomaniac man child with A.D.D. and control issues.

Steve Warbrick: I think the Warden was the most difficult. He definitely took the longest to flush out. Partly because he is not so concrete. Pegging him down would have pigeon holed the show a bit.

                                             The Warden  Can you tell us on your decision on the final animation style for the show? Was there any previous styles or concepts for the show, how did you decide on this one?

Christy Karacas: Mostly it’s how I draw, but at the same time there are some things you consider when designing for animation—like how much detail in the drawing—things like that. Also we wanted a hand drawn non-computery look, like something a kid would scribble in his notebook when they really should be studying.  Was there any cartoons that help influence you to create the show?

Christy Karacas: Looney Toons! Dr. Suess! Old cartoons on Seasame Street! Vince Collins! The show is now in its 3rd season what were some the challenges of this season compare to the previous seasons?

Steve Warbrick: I think the real challenge of this season was combining the first 2 seasons.  Finding the right balance between storyline and action. I think this season succeeded from that point of view.

Christy Karacas: This season was kind of the smoothest to be honest. I think first season we were figuring out how to translate the feel of “barfight” into a show with a stream of conscious cam moves/feel and also lots of gags and violence. In the second season we really focused on better ‘character driven’ stories and I think in the third it really came together with a good balance of both. Season three we balanced the yin yang in Superjail.  As the series progresses we are seeing more development into The Warden character. Each season he seems to even get more crazy and mad. How has The Warden changed or progress from previous seasons into season 3?

Steve Warbrick: I think this season you really get a feel that running Superjail really is a massive task…even if you are whimsical and slightly magical.

Christy Karacas: Well, like I said before I think a lot of it was figuring out who he was and what makes him tick, you know? I think season 3 it really came together well. Christy you also play a few characters on the show. You play Alice the hulked up security guard and Jacknife. How did you pick which voice you would use for each character?

Christy Karacas: Originally we didn't want talking in the show but the network said no-so we were like –ok-how about just the openings-like this criminal is so dumb and crude he can’t even talk-he’s like this lizard brained criminal with the most primal desires-sex-money-booze-food-etc. They control his behavior and emotions. I also always loved that Italian cartoon ‘la linea’ with this little guy who was one line but he just screamed and yelled-he mostly screamed and freaked out-that was kind of what I got the idea for Jack Knife from. For Alice, I just tried to be a big gruff guy sounding like a girl—but not really succeeding at it but also not knowing it—kind of like a sexy Marilyn Monroe crossed  with a teenage girl and a big dumb ox. 
                                               Alice Superjail is truly unique and it’s unlike anything on television right now. As a comedy show, do you find any pressure on staying consistent with the jokes, puns or references that the audience will connect with?

Steve Warbrick: As a rule-we never have pop cultural references in the show.  I feel like we try to take familiar situations and see how crazy we can make it.  But who knows? I could be wrong and maybe a Miley Cyrus joke will stand the test of time.

Christy Karacas: I think the biggest pressure is keeping the ‘gags’ fresh and trying to not repeat what we've done. We've done so many gags like ‘head cut off-follow it to this’ etc. Coming up with clever little twists is what makes the gags funny, like ‘eyes pop out of head, land on frying pan and are fried like eggs.’ That’s what makes the violence funny for me—that contrast of super violent and gross and ridiculous and funny at the same time. As season 3 is coming to a close. What can we expect in the future for Superjail?

Christy Karacas: I hope season 4! I hope toys and video games. I hope a live action movie starring David Wain!!!!!!!! 

Steve Warbrick: Hopefully a season 4…and some toys!  Here are some questions from the fans of the show? Jaime asked:  Christy is there any bloopers that you had recording Alice for season 3?

Christy Karacas: Bloopers? Well, not really. Alice is a woman of few words so it’s kind of hard to mess up her lines. John asked: Will there be a Superjail game in the future, maybe for a mobile phone or videogame systems?

Steve Warbrick: Ya…when you finish making it.

Christy Karacas: I wish but don’t know of any.  Nancy asked: Which characters are you mostly like in terms of humor or personality 

Steve Warbrick: I would say a bit of Alice and a bit of Jared and a bit of the Doctor.

Christy Karacas: I’m probably the most like The Warden. I have huge A.D.D., I’m impulsive, irresponsible, have a bad memory and am creative.  Finally how can the fans keep in touch with the show?

Steve Warbrick: Follow it on the Adult Swim website.