An Oblong look at the world.
Angus Oblong is talking to the pig again. "Say hi," Oblong's voice pleads during our phone conversation. But this little piggy is silent. "I guess she's not going to talk," Oblong says, his voice trailing off. But this is Hollywood, and even pigs have a sense of timing. The little bugger finally snorts at the receiver.
A Vietnamese potbellied porker, the pig is named the Countess. She eats Cheerios, doesn't like to be dressed up, and uses a litter box. Oblong, who is the cocreator of the new animated WB series The Oblongs, has owned the pig about two months. "She's about as big as a lamp," he says.
A phone conversation with Oblong, who won't disclose his age, reveals one thing: His funny stories meld a dark sense of humor, a perpetual smirk, and the embarrassment of a guy on a press junket who just wants to stay behind the scenes and (flaw cartoons. At times it's tough to separate the God's honest truth from his facetiousness. "I was supposed to start this interview by telling you that I lie and that I just make stories up--it's one of my disorders," he jokes. I laugh and wonder if he really owns a pig.
Oblong's latest animated creation, The Oblongs--which was set to premiere on the WB on April Fool's Day--is just as slippery a slope as his stories. Some will find it funny, others will find it oh-so-politically incorrect: It features a handicapped mutant family living downwind from an industrial waste site in a toxic valley. No, really--it's a comedy.
Bob Oblong (voiced by Saturday Night Live's Will Ferrell) has no anus or legs. His wife, Pickles (Designing Women's Jean Smart), is a chain-smoking, wig-wearing alcoholic (she's lost her hair). Their children include a pair of conjoined brothers (Biff and Chip), a heavily medicated son (Milo), and a daughter (Beth) with a cucumberlike growth on her head. (OK, it really looks like a penis.) Word has it that Biff is gay but doesn't know it and will come out in a later episode, Oblong says. A gay teen conjoined with his straight brother? The logistics of that have yet to be worked out. Other characters include a drag queen named Anita Bidet and Helga (voiced by out comic Lea DeLaria), a fat little neighbor girl who spends one episode surviving on boxes of old wedding cake after being abandoned by her parents.
The Oblongs were born in 1994 when Oblong, who attended the University of California, Berkeley, for a couple years, began drawing the characters for his book, Creepy Susie and 13 Other Tragic Tales for Troubled Children. After the book was published in 1999, he decided to shop the characters for an animated series, which were becoming white-hot in popularity around Hollywood at the time. The Oblongs is executive-produced by Bruce Helford and Deborah Oppenheimer (The Drew Carey Show) as well as Jace Richdale (The Simpsons).
"The characters are based on people that I've experienced in my life before," Oblong says. "All the characters are very likable. My original vision was that some of them would be pretty repulsive and hateful, but the WB writers have gone in a different direction, and it's a good direction."
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has called the new show "warped." Oblong, who drives a 1971 Cadillac hearse, just thinks the show is funny. "I guess I wanted to get human oddities out there in the mainstream," he says. "My sensibilities are different from the rest of the world, I guess. Of course, some people are taking it too seriously and thinking it's politically incorrect. But everything I do is politically incorrect."
Oblong, who lives in Los Angeles with his boyfriend of 10 years, currently serves as a consultant and illustrator on the animated show. He is also working on a second installment of Tragic Tales and a satirical workbook he calls Mommy Is Going to Die.
"It's for kids whose mothers are on their deathbeds," he says in a tone revealing that even he only half believes that description. "It's one of those lesson books, like learning how to share or not throw tantrums."
We assume he's kidding.
Find more on The Oblongs and other Angus Oblong creations at www.advocate.com
Graham is on staff at The Hollywood Reporter.
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|Publication:||The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)|
|Article Type:||Brief Article|
|Date:||Apr 24, 2001|
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