At Pop Bunker we have been lucky enough to discover the comedy web series ANTI-MATTER. We covered its most recent episode release a little while back and around that time opened up a dialogue with some of the folks involved in the show including its writer and director Chris Walker. The show description from its site:
In the tradition of “Cheers”, “The Office” and “Friends”, comes Anti-Matter, a workplace and family of friends comedy which takes a playful life in the comic shop!
Set in a comic book store, Anti-Matter features the zany often hilarious hijinks that happen with the staff and the idiosyncratic regulars of a NY comic book shop who treat the store more like a clubhouse than a place of business.
Through the exploits of the staff and regulars Anti-Matter serves as a hilarious gateway for audiences to laugh as a surprising number of life’s events occur in the shop.
Below is an interview that Chris (on the right) was nice enough to do via email. Remember to visit antimattershow.com for updates and information on the show, and subscribe to its YouTube channel so you can be notified of new clips and episodes.
PopBunker: Are the participants in ANTI-MATTER a group that has worked together before? Is there a common thread amount the developers?
Chris Walker: Some of the cast knew one another from Upright Citizen’s Brigade and the NY comedy scene. We were able to create a good rapport through table reads and rehearsals.
I’m friends with Douglas Mangum and Matt Bird. They helped me to create the series. Douglas was worked at my local comic shop, so I’ve have known him for many years. Matt is the brother of comic book inker, Steve Bird, who’s a really good friend of mine. When I decided to transition into tv and film from comics he recommended I speak with his brother about writing screenplays and the film industry.Matt is very talented screenplay writer. I encourage everyone to check out is blog Cockeyed Caravan for reviews and tips on films, comics and writing.
PB: Many of the actors and contributors are huge comic fans and even contributors. Was that general shared interest that gave birth to ANTI-MATTER, or was there a more sudden inspiration?
CW: The inspiration for Anti-Matter came from all my experiences in comics, as a fan, creator, and logging in way too many hours at comic stores. I had decided I wanted to write and produce comedies, and had been coloring professionally for several years on titles like Thundercats and Kitty Pryde. They always say start with what you know, and I knew comics. Anyone whose hangs out around comic stores knows lots of funny conversations and happenings go on there all the time. I knew if I captured it the right way, it would be hilarious.
PB: “Cheers,” The Office,” and “Friends” are referenced as shows that ANTI-MATTER is in the tradition of; are there web shows present or past that also served as an inspiration?
CW: Felica Day is a huge inspiration. The Guild is pretty much one of the Gold Standards for web series. I’m also a big fan of Old Friends on Babblegum. I love the feel of this series. It’s classic and modern at the same time. It had a huge inspiration while I shot the series. There’s also Vag Magazine, about workplace comedy about a feminist magazine. The writing in the series is really funny. I also enjoy Awkward Embraces. The characters are well drawn and the show is pretty funny. Easy to Assemble and Downside by Daryn Strauss are are terrific shows.
PB: How long does production take on a typical episode?
CW: A typical episode takes about 3-4 hours. Shoots were usually evenings at Jim Hanley’s Universe from 7-11. We would shoot evenings from . We would also shoot shoot about two episodes on Sundays when there was less foot traffic. JHU was really cool for letting us in there to make the series. Their staff were great sports about the whole project.
PB: When watching ANTI-MATTER, many of the jokes seems so natural and in the moment. Does the show allow for a certain amount of improv?
CW: I encourage improv, especially ad libs or making a line your own as long as the cast is hitting the story beats. I was very fortunate to cast so many performers from Upright Citiens’ Brigade. The great thing about the cast is they have great suggestions for a line or an approach to a scene.
PB: Do you plan on running the show on a season schedule with concluding story arcs separating one season from the next?
CW: While the series is meant to be episodic there are be story arcs for each character. The show was designed to be like comics strips where you get laughs and characterization in each episode and over several episodes you get to see the back story and story arches.
PB: Are there any inside jokes or running gags that you would like the clue the viewer in to watching for?
CW: In Kung Fu, the books change around a lot because we shot on different days. We kind of forgot that the store might change from shoot to the next on that episode. Someone already called us out about it on YouTube, and joked about paying attention to that kind of detail because they worked in a comic book store.
PB: What can we look forward to with regard to your current episode schedule?
We have a few more characters to introduce including Bateman, who’s pretty much the heel of the series, not so much like Newman on Seinfeld, but more like the annoying guy everyone avoids when they show up in the comic store and breath a sigh of relief when he leaves. We pick on Bateman a lot more, because he’s kind of the go to asshole character.
You’ll also meet Taylor who’s pretty much the smartest of the regulars, but also has many girl problems. For someone so smart he just can’t figure out women. There’s also more Jeremy who might be my favorite character of the series. He’s a trade worker who’s the guy you can never quite figure out if he’s joking or being series. He brings a lot of spice to episodes.
PB: Any last bit or shout out you would like to share with your current and future fans?
CW: Shout outs to the cast and crew for working very hard to make the show. Their hard work comes through in the episodes. Also thanks to Doug and Matt for helping me shape ideas for the series.
To current and future fans. I think the series has a lot of heart and it’s really my gift to fans and retailers who love talking about and reading funny books. Comics are an awesome medium and a very cool community of people who enjoy them.
And thank you, Chris. ANTI-MATTER is a funny show and one that should appeal to just about anyone in or out of geek culture. Check it out at antimattershow.com.