Don’t know the names Mike Luciano and Phil Matarese? You’re about to. While working at a small advertising agency in New York, Luciano and Matarese — now 28 and 26 years old, respectively — spitballed ideas for animations depicting the everyday lives of pigeons after watching one outside their office window. They produced a few shorts in their spare time that were so well received by the New York Television Festival, Mark and Jay Duplass paid them a visit. One minor trip to Sundance 2015 later, Animals. was featured in The New York Times, profiled in the Los Angeles Times and bought by HBO for a two-season deal.
Like The Venture Bros., Archer, Rick and Morty and other not-for-Saturday-morning programs, Animals. is meant to be watched and enjoyed by a late night adult populace wanting a little more kick in its cartoons. To accomplish this, Luciano and Matarese completed most of the first season of Animals. before HBO or anyone else even knew it existed — thanks in large part to the Duplass brothers, who serve as executive producers. Many thought it was a strange way to make television, but as Luciano and Matarese told Uproxx, it’s the best way to do it.
You two met at a New York ad agency…
…and now you’re making Animals. for HBO. Did your copywriting or graphic design training inform your work on the show?
Phil: I did it all on the side. My parents got me this $50 Wacom tablet, and I was still using it up until eight months ago. The web series and the first few animated episodes were all drawn on that thing. But yeah, I was a copywriter at the agency and eventually I became a creative director of sorts. Mike and I eventually directed some things with them as well, but yeah… This was just a side thing. I was doing a little web comic at the time and when I met Mike, we came up with this rough idea that just seemed to really fit.