The Devil You Say
You’re about to meet the man who foiled Satan’s plans to enslave mankind, and instead usurped the the title of Lord of Evil for himself. Under the guise of Hunson Abadeer, along with his daughter Marceline the Vampire Queen (disguised as actress and singer Olivia Olson), he has managed to ensorcell the minds of the world’s unsuspecting teenagers via such maleficent animated fare as Rocko’s Modern Life, Phineas and Ferb, and Adventure Time.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Malevolent Monarch of Mirth, Martin Olson!
Patrick Chappelle- Does your diabolical genius come natural, or did you have to work really hard to develop it?
Martin Olson- I hung with outsiders, never dated or went to concerts. I just typed and wrote songs in my room during my teen years. I understand Vlad the Impaler had a similar childhood.
What did your childhood friends think of you? You must have made for an interesting playmate.
My outsider, anti-social friends all either died, became famous, went to prison or joined cults. I am grateful to still be in touch with many childhood friends through my brother Thomas who is more social and worldly.
Rumor has it that without you, there would be no Spongebob Squarepants. It’s been said that his creator originally intended him to be a superhero, something on the level of Marvel’s Thor character. True?
Steve Hillenburg [Spongebob creator] is an old friend. When he was being wrongly sued by some unfortunate soul, Steve reminded me that I gave him the idea for the series. His first show treatment was entitled SPONGEBOY and I don’t recall a super-hero element. His concept was to make the Spongeboy series a twisted and surreal "Leave It To Beaver."
You’re such an educated, well read and enlightened man; how does one of your caliber end up doing cartoons?
On earth, anyone who doesn't care about TV, radio, movies, sports or smart phones is an outsider. Humans project illusory intelligence on outsiders just because we don't like staring at screens. I’m an idiot, devoid of knowledge.
I was hired to write cartoons by the Nickelodeon executive Mary Harrington. My ideas didn't refer to our existing culture, so animators hired me and outsiders like me to write for their shows so they'd be different
Have you gotten the cartoon bug out of your system, or would you like to contribute to more animated shows in the future?
In my spare time I write for myself and would be doing that even if I wasn't paid a dime, similar to people on the spectrum or in insane asylums. I'm lucky to have been hired to write for comedy shows and animated shows so I could continue writing unsellable things for myself that have no commercial value.
You’re originally from a quiet hamlet in Boston. How did you end up in that haven for heathens called Los Angeles?
In ancient times, circa 198, two friends and I started the first comedy club in Boston. Using the comedians as our cast, another friend and I sold a late night monster movie show to a local television station. Using those crazy on-air tapes, I came to Los Angeles to look for work as a comedy writer. Some of the comedians I knew in Boston hired me to be head writer for their HBO specials. Since I didn't care about TV, radio or movies, I tended to work with "outsider" comedians like Bobcat Goldthwait, Steven Wright, Penn & Teller, Louis CK, Kevin Meaney, Ron Lynch and Imperators from Zebra Galaxy 4.
You’ve received four Emmy nominations, for both television and music. Did this give you a god complex maybe just a little bit? Some say these kinds of life events can turn a man against his own flesh.
The Emmy and Oscar Awards are sculpted from vats of hardened studio executive excrement, then gold-plated by filthy homeless children in an underground bunker under the Hollywood sign. There the statues are embedded with transmitters that mind-control the populace into thinking, talking and caring about sitcoms, miniseries, comic books and movies. More I dare not say.
There seems to be this dark undercurrent to your work that permeates everything you do (murder, suicide, flagellation and genocide, for instance). Your Encyclopaedia of Hell is an instruction manual for human extermination (at the hands of demons, no less). You are Hunson Abadeer, Lord of Evil in Adventure Time. You wear black or dark colors most of the time. In Imaginary History (your book of prose), there is a poem entitled “I Give My Love A Present of the Night”, and on the second line, eleven words in, the word “dark” appears! Do you consider yourself a “dark” person, Martin?
Love of the universe and kindness to oneself and to others, concepts impermeable to the human brain, might be the only concepts of real and lasting value. Satire, saying the opposite of what you believe is right as if you believe it, is the greatest mind-expanding tool of humanity. It reinforces the supremacy of love and kindness in a fun, ridiculous way, by pretending that greed and selfishness are excellent qualities. Jonathan Swift and Stephen Colbert are wonderful examples of artists who ridicule evil by simulating it.
Your daughter Olivia seems like such a bright ray of sunshine, but there she is right there with you singing cheerfully loathsome songs of heartbreak and death on your debut album. Then there’s the fact she plays Marceline the Vampire Queen, your fictional daughter on Adventure Time.
When my wife and I moved to Venice California, our shack on the canals served as a halfway house for comedian friends visiting Los Angeles. As a result, our children Casey and Olivia grew up having the greatest and craziest comedic minds over for dinner every night. Perhaps the constant "trickster vibe" of abstract humor in our home influenced the kids to be independent thinkers with less normal belief patterns. Then again, maybe not! Casey and Olivia certainly assimilated comedy and satire into their everyday thinking. Both have been hugely helpful in shaping my writing projects.
The Father-Daughter Album of Unspeakable Beauty is a remarkable CD! I know you and Olivia have been recording music since she was very young. Is Cartoon Network not paying you enough, or was the decision to record and release this album a whim?
Thanks for the good word, Patrick. It’s on our own label and has been selling remarkably well for a piece of plastic with insanity pressed into it. Olivia was a savant in music as well as a natural mimic at an early age. She could imitate the riffs of famous singers as well as come up with catchy, interesting musical ideas that seemed beyond her years. Thus she was hijacked to sing in the film Love Actually as a nine year old in London. We started recording together when she started writing songs at age eight. The Father-Daughter album consisted of tracks we recorded when she was age twelve to age eighteen. She arranged all of her complicated vocal harmonies and always has cool ideas on how to plus the arrangements. A message to filmmakers out in this insane world: if you’d like to produce some music videos from our music, contact us through Patrick. Filmmaker Douglas Freel, who directed Ministry’s “The Fix”, made a music video for “Besmirched” that I love.
Was it difficult working with Olivia on this album? She’s all grown up now, has ideas of her own, and it’s not like she has to listen to you any more.
It was a dream having one of the world's greatest singers down the hallway to do leads, backups or harmonies on your songs. She always had a strong mind about what she likes and doesn't like and as a result her thinking about songwriting and arranging influenced me quite a bit.
Who plays what instruments on the album?
I played the instruments and produced the tracks. Olivia played all the instruments on her own tracks which, I’m amazed to say, have never been released to this day, but which are fucking tremendous.
Olivia has certainly come a long way from singing “All I Want For Christmas” in Love Actually, a decade ago. Does she intend to record any music of her own, and if so, will you be a part of it in any way?
She just completed an EP of four songs called BEAUTY IS CHAOS, written and produced in a style different from her pop writing. It's beautiful and fantastic and was produced in collaboration with the great Los Angeles soul music composer/producer Aaron Steinberg aka "Captain Danger." After she gets the next CD out, she should follow it up with a “Young Olivia” CD of all the tracks she wrote and produced as a kid. It would blow people’s minds.
Were you aiming for a particular audience when you wrote and recorded these songs?
No, I just wrote it for myself and was influenced by Olivia, knowing that she would be making up a lot of the singing parts and transforming it into something better than I originally intended.
You’re intelligent enough to have been a professor, and handsome enough to have been a model. Yet, you chose humor to make a career of. Why?
Thanks, but I don't enjoy being in front of people or performing. It's less pressure being behind the scenes and just interacting with a few people, one on one, like a brain surgeon or serial killer.
Whose decision was it to write The Adventure Time Encyclopaedia in similar fashion to Encyclopaedia of Hell, and why?
Pendleton Ward, the modest genius who created the entire Adventure Time world out of the fabric of his mind, liked my book Encyclopaedia of Hell and graciously asked me to write the encyclopedia for his series in a similar style. I am indebted to him for the wonderful creative fun I've had working on a television show with my daughter. Thank you, Pen.
Is it true what they say about Disney, and their machinations to remake the world in their image? Surely you’ve put in enough years working for them to have been allowed into their inner circle. No?
The Walt Disney Company has been creative fun and a dream come true to work for. However, on the sixth day of the sixth month of my sixth year writing for Disney, I was invited by executives to a secret initiation ceremony where Walt's frozen brain was thawed out and implanted into a super-computer. The computer analyzed the company data and immediately ordered the canceling of all Disney Channel sitcoms and that bonuses be given to show creators with successful shows to foster good will. The executives were forced to destroy the computer for the good of the company and for the good of society at large.
How would you define your career? Your resume is as diverse as it is long. Playwright, poet, satirist, actor, musician, author, cartoon character. I pity anyone who would dare to take on the task of having to compose your biography.
Thanks, Patrick. Relatively speaking, we'll all be dead and forgotten, as will all cartoons and resumes. So on a serious note, I'll end with advice I've given writers before: Write for yourself and not for an audience or for executives, try your best to be respectful to everybody, and on a personal note, if you strangle a nurse after a party, make sure you find a ravine with off-road access to dump the carcass.
Originally published at Gorgeous Freaks Magazine