Aqua Teen Hunger Force ended its run with Adult Swim after eleven seasons (and several title changes) several years ago, but its abrupt end with Adult Swim left fans wanting more from the series ever since. It’s hard to believe given all of the reruns that now air, but it’s been quite a while since there has been brand new material from the franchise. The long wait is finally over, however, as Aqua Teen Hunger Force has not only returned for a new series of digital shorts but is planning to return for a new feature film some time later this year as well!
Aqua Teen Hunger Force has finally returned with the debut of Aquadonk Side Pieces, a new digital short series for Adult Swim that will exclusively be premiering on the Adult Swim YouTube channel. Beginning today, a new episode of the 10 episode Aquadonk Side Pieces series will be going live everyday at 12:00PM ET / 9:00AM ET. To celebrate the debut of this new series, ComicBook.com got the chance to speak with series creators Matt Maiellaro and Dave Willis about their return to the Aqua Teen Hunger Force franchise, what to look out for in Aquadonk Side Piecesand what is was like working on a new series and movie during the pandemic.
You can check out an exclusive clip from a future Aquadonk Side Pieces episode in the video above, and find our full conversation with the creators (edited for clarity) below!
Coming Back for More
ComicBook.com: It’s hard to believe, because I see reruns all the time, but it’s been a while since we’ve had new aqua teen. So how does it feel jumping back in for [Aquadonk Side Pieces] and the new movie?
Matt Maiellaro: We felt very excited about it. We were stoked to get it going. It was just like flipping a switch. We just started doing ideas and making it work.
Dave Willis: Great…being away from it for so long, I think, it was really nice to jump back in because it felt fresh again and fun. Even though the world was going through a pandemic, we were having a good time.
You both have reinvented the show lots of times over the course of its original run, [and] then here we are again with a whole new kind of take on it. So when coming back to reimagine it again, what’s the challenge in keeping it fresh and making sure it feels new?
Maiellaro: It’s just our brilliant comedic writing.
Willis: It’s sweet that you said that we reimagined the show because, really, all we did was just retitle it every year. [Aquadonk’s episodes], they’re focused on some of our favorite villains over the course of the run and they’re really short. They’re internet-made. They’re all less than three minutes and they’re just fun and surprising…They’re sort of a fun way to look at it just from the villain POV.
Working With Returning Guest Stars
Speaking to that, was there a particular villain that you were especially excited to bring back and explore in this way?
Willis: Hand Banana actually appears in two of these. You would think that a dog that loves to [assault] Carl would be only really good for one episode, but we were able to stretch two episodes out of him. We get to see the Frat Aliens all grown up. Happy Time Harry finally finds his place in the world. [Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past] gets vengeance on his most dreaded enemy…It’s really like bringing back all the old faves.
[Aqua Teen Hunger Force] has worked with a lot of guest stars over the years. If you ever get the chance to bring more in, is there anyone you’d like to work with again?
Maiellaro: Well, we did get to work with… It was amazing that it’s been almost 20 years since we did that Happy Time Harry episode and we were able to get David Cross to reprise his role, even though we send him a microphone to record at home with no directions on how to hook it up. That was a frustrating Zoom call for us, but certainly for him. He held up an Amazon pack and was like, “What am I supposed to do with this?” [Patton] Oswalt reprized his role as the frat alien. That was fun.
Putting it All Together During the Pandemic
In terms of working over the course of the pandemic, speaking of the Zoom troubles, how was the process of making Aquadonk Side Pieces during all of this?
Maiellaro: It worked out. There were some issues here and there, technically, like the microphone thing with David Cross and getting used to Zoom stuff. Dave and I were recording everything from our own homes, building these makeshift studios. But it was not the same as down with an editor and just working on it real time. Much better in-person, especially when you’re editing.
Willis: But, that said, as opposed to a live-action camera shoot, where they were down for so long and then they had to hire medical crew and the budgets went up by 25%, we were able to slowly, maybe 60% of the efficiency, but we were able to chip away and make these via Zoom and everyone was able to keep working and keep doing our thing. That was also good because we were, as you might remember, all trapped in our homes with our families. So it was nice to continue to do what you do and, more importantly, be able to pay for the toilet paper that wasn’t on the shelves.
One of the things that fans made note of with the first clip that came out during the Adult Swim Festival was Breakie B, the dancing robot. There were a lot of comments talking about how that seemed super well-animated compared to the rest of the series, so how’s the production like on the back end now that you’ve come back? Are there improvements or changes in that manner?
Maiellaro: Well, we got to improve a lot of this animation because the movie was happening at the same time. The movie was being built differently than we used to make it. We were able to roll these into that system. You just type a script and you feed it into the computer and it just animates it. It’s really remarkable.
Willis: I think the shorts were a good excuse to re-approach our animation with a more modern… I think you’ll see, when the movie comes out, that the show looks different. We didn’t reinvent the look of it, but it’s just got a sheen to it. It’s just got a little bit of a reboot to it where it’s upgraded in a way that I think will be mind blowing to fans, or stuff, when they go, “God, it’s actually animated a little bit.” These characters actually can move something other than their mouths.
When coming back for this second movie, was there something that you both had in mind for what you wanted to do with this second one that you weren’t able to do with the first one?
Maiellaro: Tell a story. That’s true.
Willis: The first one was just a mishmash of just jokes and there was sort of a story. But this one actually has a nice journey for all the characters…I don’t know about Matt, but I think this is one of the best things we’ve ever done. I really love this movie. I think it’s really original and it’s got a lot of… We do one thing that I’ve never seen before. I don’t know if we’re allowed to talk about it, but I think it works. We’ll just say it’s interactive. It is an interactive experience…It’s just really funny and really enjoyable and didn’t overstay its welcome. It’s just a fun, tight experience, man. I hope a lot of people check it out.