THE STOCKHOLMS Exclusive Interview: CYANIDE & HAPPINESS Creators On Their New Series
The two creators of the Cyanide & Happiness comics and cartoons, Mike Salcedo and Rob DenBleyker, have been airing their new series, The Stockholms. Check out what the guys had to say about the new show!
Mike Salcedo and Rob DenBleyker have been bringing happiness to webcomic lovers everywhere with their Cyanide and Happiness shorts, amongst other projects such as Bigfoot Justice. Recently, the pair have turned their talents toward a new ambition, The Stockholms.
The Stockholms is appropriately named, as it is a mock sitcom surrounding a "family" of hostages in a bank. Essentially bottle episodes, each short-form comedic installment explores 4-minute adventures following the hostages and the police attempting to de-escalate the situation.
Rob and Mike's new series also includes talented voice actors Chris Sabat (My Hero Academia, Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood) and Nolan North (Wolverine and the X-Men, Uncharted). We asked the guys about what it was like to direct the talented voice actors as well as what inspired the unique series.
If you're interested in hearing the audio component of our exclusive chat with Mike Salcedo and Rob DenBleyker, you can do so via the podcast player below!
Literary Joe: How long have you guys been planning to work on the Stockholms?
Mike Salcedo: Like last October is when the deal went through. So not long at all, really.
Rob DenBleyker: Yeah. It's a pretty fast production. It's almost like every episode is a bottle episode. It's a hostage situation. (Laughs) It very accidentally, I think, became much more relevant as we were making it.
Literary Joe: And I think it's a unique idea; how did it originate? Who came up with the idea initially?
Mike Salcedo: I came up with the idea. I do a webcomic called Bigfoot Justice, where the weirder ideas that don't work as C&H short pitches kind of get funneled into.
And so I had the loose idea for a bank hostage situation that never ends, it never de-escalates or escalates. And it was kind of too weird and long for a short, too weird and long for a comic. So I just kind of held onto it.
And we got approached by the guys who were looking for show pitches that we had lying around. And I just kind of pitched that one.
Rob DenBleyker: Yeah, and it works great because our goal is that we're trying to think of a show that we could make for YouTube. That's a relatively low budget, not super ambitious like the previous shows that we've made for like laptops and CSO.
And we were trying to think like, what's something that's narrow and focused, but also lets us tell a story with these funny characters? And Mike came up with the idea of a family of hostages that never leave a bank for like a year and a half, this sitcom.
Mike Salcedo: Yeah, no, it's perfect. It's like, I have an idea for literally one building the whole time.
Literary Joe: Did you guys always have the name in mind? The Stockholms?
Mike Salcedo: Yeah, I think it was a placeholder. It was kind of like, I'll come back and think of something better later, and it just stuck.
Literary Joe: Now, these episodes are roughly like four minutes long?
Rob DenBleyker: Yeah. Three to four. I don't think any of them are longer than four for now.
Literary Joe: So, do you guys feel more comfortable with short-form storytelling versus long-form then?
Rob DenBleyker: It's kind of a mix like we knew going in that we were making something short-form, and the whole premise of this was like, what if The Stockholms was a full 22-minute sitcom, but we're only showing one scene from each episode and each installment.
So that was kind of the challenge going in like presenting installments of what feels like a much bigger show but doing it in a way that each three-minute episode still feels like a complete story. And I think, yeah, most of our scripts ended up too long. At first, we had to really whittle them down, which I think in most cases, helped.
Literary Joe: Now, I know you guys both provide your voices to this a little bit. Rob, you're credited as the sniper, but Mike, I think IMDB said that you were in a few more episodes. Do you guys like being behind the scenes, or do you guys like being involved in voicing more?
Mike Salcedo: I would say to me, personally, I'm never clawing to be the voice of a character. I've cast myself as Ned because he was, at the start, kind of my least favorite character, which is weird, because he's kind of grown to be my favorite now, but he was just kinda me by default because we had sort of maxed out everyone we could cast in the office. And so I kinda just got funneled into Ned, but he's just like a bad Neil deGrasse Tyson impression.
Rob DenBleyker: Yeah. Same here. I don't think I'm a very prolific voice actor, I enjoy it a lot, but I definitely prefer to stay more on the directing side.
Literary Joe: Nice. And speaking of voice actors, you guys have appearances from people like Chris Sabat and Nolan North in the series. What was it like trying to get them on board for something this short form?
Rob DenBleyker: I mean, in both cases, we were already friends with these guys. We had done a small collaboration with Nolan North and Troy Baker on YouTube earlier in the year. And we've met these guys at conventions.
Chris Sabat, we've met and hung out with him more in other cities, even though he lives in Dallas, the same city we do. He's at every convention that we are, and we ended up becoming good friends that way.
So when it came time to cast this, these guys were already asking us, Hey, we should collaborate on something. So it was a pretty easy fit. All these guys are just great to work with. And Mike was the one who directed them, so I can't speak to what that was like, I'm kind of jealous.
Mike Salcedo: I don't even know if I'd call it directing. They're just professional voice actors. And I was like, yup. Yup. Sounds good. I will say Chris Sabat was very adamant about, No, if there's anything wrong, let me know, feel free to give me any notes. It's all good. And I'm glad he said it because I was not going to give him any notes.
Rob DenBleyker: Right, we have a musical episode coming up, and Chris Sabat was like rehearsing and practicing over and over before Mike even got there.
Mike Salcedo: Oh yeah. Yeah. We walked into the building, and he was already mid-song. He had already gotten into it. He'd been like listening to it in his car. He knew the scripts. He knew the stories. It was awesome.
*This interview has been edited for clarity.*
Yong Sun misses his family as his first Christmas in the bank approaches. Even so, the Stockholms are gonna be okay.
New episodes of The Stockholms release once a week, and you can catch up here.