Carl Jones: In Living Color


Born in Germany with humble beginnings, 34 year-old Carl Jones is a self-taught artist and writer that has become a major force in the animation/arts world. Carl is currently producing Adult Swims top-rated animated series, The Boondocks, and was the illustrator of the award winning comic strip of the same name. He has also produced conceptual art for Warner Brothers Pictures along with developing an animated series for Roc-A-Fella Films called The Playpen.

In addition to his production work, Carl has also breathed life into characters with his hilarious voice-over acting for The Boondocks, and is also developed a line of art toys Called HOODIEZ produced by Dreamland Toyworks.

The multi-talented man of many responsibilities took time out of his schedule to talk to HipHopDX about the many things that inspiring his work, what we can expect from the current Boondocks season and .why niggas are like pancakeshuh?

DX: For those that dont already know, can you explain your role within The Boondocks creative family?
Carl Jones: Im a producer on the show and I guess you can say Aaron McGruders right-hand-man. I kind of have my hand in every part of the production from script to final delivery of the episode to the network.

DX: The first season started offending everyone even before the show started. Reverend Al Sharpton and other black activists criticized the show’s liberal use of the word nigga, deeming that the word is inappropriate for humor. How do you guys deal with resistance from leaders, networks or other powers that be?
CJ: If we cant beat ‘em, we join em. [Laughs] Aaron has made public announcements that we [The Boondocks] must be stopped, and that he will join Al to get these niggas [us] off the air. To be honest, we dont really deal with much opposition from people, just Al. And whats crazy is Al used to be my nigga. I mean, I still stand behind him on certain issues; he is a smart brother with a lot good things to say but I think there are bigger targets out there for Al than a cartoon. I mean the world is in an uproar right now and our country has many problems like war, disease, pollution, drugs, etc and Al has a problem with a cartoon? I honestly dont think hes ever seen the show because if he did, the nigga would see that we are story tellers that set out to be funny first, but also deliver a message through social commentary and political satire. Adult Swim has been cool with giving us the creative freedom we need and so has Sony I mean who really takes Al seriously anyway? When [activist] Naji Ali and Al Sharptons boy was protesting The Boondocks with his peoples out here in L.A., they just so happened to have their protest at the same time and place that the Nation of Islam had scheduled a protest. The niggas started beefin’ and Naji got punched in the eye, yo, ain’t that some shit? But The Boondocks is inappropriate? Those niggas crack me up.

DX: Moving ondo you think people have become too sensitive about political correctness and racial epithets?
CJ: I mean I cant tell people how sensitive or insensitive to be; that would be insensitive of me. I get why some people have a problem with the word “nigga” and thats their right. But lets replace the word nigga with the word pancakes, and let’s just say that white bigots were calling us pancakes for hundreds of years would we stop using the word pancakes? I mean it sounds silly, but the power we give our oppressors is what is crazy to me. Its not the power in the word itself because the word has no power of its own; its the energy and the people behind it that afflict us. So we support their affliction when we give the word the power to hurt, you feel me? I know all my real pancakes out there feel me.

DX: Is there any topic too taboo for the show? Do you pull back from ideas that seem way too inflammatory or controversial?
CJ: The only topic that was to taboo for the show was the topic of God or Oprah as some know her. We tried to do a show about Oprah getting robbed and as soon as the word Oprah was typed in the script, the building started shaking and there was a loud thunderous voice from above that said, Thou shalt not make fun of Oprah! I mean this message came from somewhere way up at Sony, I mean it was crazy! We could say Oprah, but we couldnt show her [in animated form]. Oprah is like Jesus but with more followers. Thats the only taboo topic I can think of

DX: Have you gotten any backlash for calling people out? Do you think R. Kelly might show up on your doorstep one day with beef? Would you even care?
CJ: Actually one of our friends at Adult Swim was at R. Kellys house one day chillin’ in his rainforest in the living room and brought up the episode, and surprisingly “The R” found it pretty amusing. I mean but really whats he gonna say? The whole world has seen the tape! Shit, Riley stuck up for him anyway and for real when R&B niggas start having beef with cartoonist its time for me to be doin’ something else.

DX: The show was originally developed for network TV, but ultimately ended up on Adult Swim. Has Adult Swim given you guys any restrictions or do you pretty much have free range?
CJ: Man, Adult Swim is the coolest network in existence. These niggas really get it. We have a very good relationship with them, I mean the executives over there rock long hair, beards, jeans and shit, they love Hip Hop and they are just really fun people that have a strong connection with there audience. I am glad we are here, they are dope for real.

DX: The Boondocks has fans of all ages including very young teens. Some characters on the show seem to be obvious satirical representations of real people, such as Ed Wuncler III and Gin Rummy possibly representing George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld. Do you ever care that some of the more thought-provoking scenes are falling on deaf ears?
CJ: Nah, not really. The cool thing is that its still funny even if you dont get the satire. The characters seem to work with or with out knowledge of who they represent so if its funny thats all that matters to us.

DX: So what can we expect from the new season in terms of plots and guest stars? Ive been hearing lots of rumors about some pretty big guests
CJ: Man, we got Snoop, Busta, Weezy, Cee-Lo, Xzibit, Fat Man Scoop, Charlie Murphy and Sam Jackson are back. Oh, and the music this season is bananas! This season we got my man Meta4 the Great killin’ it on the mic! Music producers 9th Wonder, Fatin, Jay The Double Genius and a few others! Its gonna be crazy, man.

DX: How does the new season differ from the last?
CJ: Better animation and a lot funnier episodes. The first was like more of an experiment for us to figure out what works on the show and what doesnt, but now I think we have nailed it! I cant even look at season one now after working on Season 2 for so long.

DX: Anyone whos watched even a snippet of the show will tell you that the storylines are outrageously funny and innovative. How do you guys come up with the plots and new characters? Whats the writing process like?
CJ: Aaron, the writers and I actually start sitting in a room throwing ideas on the wall seeing which ones stick. After picking out the strongest concepts we start fleshing out the stories with a lot of what if this happened? or what if that happened?, then Aaron would go hide away in his room or office for like a week or so with out food, water or sleep.then also with help from co-exec Rodney Barnes, funniest nigga I know, he will come out with a rough draft for us go threw it together looking for places to punch up the comedy and stuff then like two drafts later eventually shapes into what you see on TV.

DX: The Boondocks started out as a national comic strip (syndicated in more than 300 newspapers) that was then sacrificed after the creation of the TV series. What were some of the challenges of taking it from the strip to an animated series? Is the strip done for good, or will it be resurrected one day?
CJ: The real challenge was just doing both at the same time. Its like working three full time jobs. I am honored and thankful that Aaron gave me the opportunity to draw the strip because to me it is a piece of history and it was worth every late night and stomach ulcer. I dont know if the strip is gone for good, we been talkin’ about it a little lately but I dont know

DX: The Simpsons had great success this past summer with a full length movie feature, are there any plans for The Boondocks to put out a movie soon?
CJ: Yes, its in the near future but I cant give any details right now.

DX: Among your many talents, youre a brilliant toy designer as well, who has recently created a line of art toys called Hoodiez, produced by Dreamland Toyworks. Youve also designed the characters for Beanie Sigiels PlayPen animated seriescan you talk about the success of both of those?
CJ: Thanks,well yeah The Hoodiez are a line of art toys that I created which are doing really well now! They can be seen on the new Pizza Hut commercial thats running now for their new Dippers. Also Marc Ecko just copped a gang of them to put in the Ecko stores so Im really proud of well they are doing. This led me to starting a toy company with a few partners of mine called MAD MONK. Actually, our first toy release is The Dilla Doll with your help on the connect for his moms

DX: No problem.
CJ: Oh, and good looking out DJ House Shoes too! Well, The Dilla Doll is based on J Dilla obviously, and designed by animation producer and director Seung Kim . Its coming next year! As far as The Playpen goes there has been some progress made lately with creating a place for this property created by Beanie Sigel. I will keep y’all posted!

DX: So besides the stuff you already spoke of, do you have other upcoming projects?
CJ: Man, I can only speak on a few [laughs]umm Im creating an animated film that Aaron McGruder is co-writing with me but I really have to wait til the production for Season 2 of The Boondocks is done before I can speak on the other things I got cookin’ but hopefully I will get a chance to do another interview soon after The Boondocks launch and we can talk more openly.

DX: Yup, we better be the first ones to know
CJ: No doubt.

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