Dave The Barbarian Creator On Studio Notes About Evolution Jokes And The Upside To Narration [Exclusive Interview]

“Dave the Barbarian” follows, well … Dave, a strong yet rather cowardly barbarian who lives with his older sister Candy, the fashionable princess left in charge of a medieval kingdom because their parents went off to war. Also living with them is Fang, their feisty sister who is definitely not a monkey.

Because the show didn’t have the biggest of budgets, it wasn’t exactly filled with action scenes or lots of movements, so they had to work around that. As the animator tells it, “Rocky and Bullwinkle” served as an inspiration, because that series was essentially “a radio show with pictures.” One solution was to focus on designs and poses that would be funny without much movement. “What winds up happening a lot of times is the characters are just moving for the sake of moving and it’s not really doing anything and it’s weakening that pose,” Langdale explained. But that wasn’t the case with “Dave.”

Like “The Flintstones,” the show thrives in anachronisms. Though the series features dragons, sword fights, and magic, there are also shopping malls and even video games. Additionally, a lot of the humor comes from the narrator, who often interacts with the characters and breaks the fourth wall. Even this served a dual purpose: Not only was the narrator funny, but it allowed the show to avoid having to animate every scenario. “You can tell a little bit bigger story because you can just be like ‘and then…'” Langdale said. “When you know you’re not going to be able to do a sequence budget-wise, you can just have the narrator say what happened. It gives you a lot more fluidity.”

Perhaps no joke from the show is as well remembered as the megaphone joke, in which Dave constructs a homemade megaphone using nothing but string, a squirrel, and a megaphone. When asking Langdale about it, he dismissed it as some grand stroke of genius, instead explaining that, “I didn’t even think about it, it was just what came out.” Even the gag at the end of that episode, in which Dave jokes about explaining the megaphone joke, felt just like any other joke to the animator. “Well, obviously he should come out to explain that bit and then not explain it at all,” he said.

“Dave the Barbarian” may not have had the level of popularity of some of the biggest Disney Channel cartoons, but it is the only one that had members of Metallica as guest stars. As Langdale tells it, James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich were looking to guest star in an animated show, and they thought this one sounded funny. “So we wrote an episode around that and wrote these characters for them and had them come and do it,” Langdale explained. “And James was great … James could definitely have a second career as a voice actor if he wanted to. It was really fun.”

Leave a Comment