Seth Meyers is best known as the head writer at “Saturday Night Live” and the host of its “Weekend Update” segment, not to mention having been named the successor to Jimmy Fallon, set to take over “Late Night” next year. But he’s also a not-so-secret comic book devotee whose fandom led him and fellow “SNL” alum Mike Shoemaker to create “The Awesomes,” an animated comedy series that premiered on Hulu today. The half-hour show is, thanks to Meyers’ participation and his ability to call on the help of his famous friends, one of the highest profile original projects Hulu has embarked on to date.
“The Awesomes” follows Prock (voiced by Meyers), who decides to keep the superhero team of the title going after his father and the other more established members decide to move on. Prock recruits a group of somewhat less impressive new recruits — voiced by the likes of Ike Barinholtz, Rashida Jones, Taran Killam, Bobby Lee, Paula Pell and Kenan Thompson — to repopulate the group.
Speaking about the series to Indiewire in New York back in May, Meyers had no qualms about speaking of his love of the medium, as an established, professional adult. “I’m not ready to admit I’m a grown man. I will fully admit I love comic books,” he said, pointing out it was hardly an obscure fandom these days: “The biggest movies every year are superhero movies. It’s not like it’s a niche anymore.” That said, “I still feel like the best way to tell a superhero story is animated — or certainly if you come from comic books, it feels that way.”
The Awesomes aren’t intended to evoke any particular superhero team, Meyers explained. “It was just the idea of what happens when everyone leaves. In the first episode, the general consensus is they should just let the team die. It’s one guy, the son of the founding father, who wants to keep going, and it’s just that thing when people care about something and want to keep it alive.”
The personalities and powers of the characters in the show, which range from a Hulk-like transformation into a sumo wrestler to the ability to the ability to conjure anything, as long as it’s in the shape of the conjurer’s mom, were inspired by the cast members, “in a lot of ways off their strengths as vocal comedians,” Meyers said. “When you do so many ‘SNL’ table reads with people, you know what they can do, you know what they can say funny, and so we’ve been writing for their voices.”
The character of Prock pulls from Meyers’ and Shoemaker’s personalities, not always to the betterment of his efforts. Meyers described him as a “crazy overthinker,” adding that “to be a superhero team, you should be somebody who makes quick decisions, and my character is not good at that.” In the end, the team tends to be “all archetypes of comic book heroes,” or at least “it seems like they all are now. They’re very few new powers. They tend to be rejected when they try new powers.”
In terms of the comic books he’s been reading, Meyers said “‘Locke and Key’ is just great. It’s not a superhero comic, but it’s what I’m reading and enjoying the most. And I’m really enjoying all the Batman stuff from DC right now — Scott Snyder and Graham Morrison, I like what they’re doing. Matt Fraction’s ‘Hawkeye’ has been a great comic book. Fraction said it was his ‘Rockford Files’ comic, and I was like, ‘That’s great.'” He also cited Justice League from the late ’80s as influential: “That’s been one of my favorite comics and it’s just always about teamwork.”
Were he to have to pick a superpower of his own, which has to be something every comic book fan has given thought to, he admitted he’d go with superspeed — for practical purposes: “I have a lot to do every day. I wouldn’t mind having that. I remember reading a Wally West Flash comic years ago where he had to eat 1,000 cheeseburgers a day because his metabolism was so fast. I remember thinking, ‘That would be awesome, to eat so many cheeseburgers in a day and not put on weight because of your metabolism.'”