In conjunction with the release of MTV/Paramount’s Daria: The Complete Animated Series on DVD, we got in touch with Glenn Eichler, who co-created the show with Susie Lewis Lynn. Eichler, a big-time award-winning consulting producer on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report, reminisced about the heydays of everyone’s favorite smart and grumpy teenager.
Animag Online: Daria first debuted in March of 1997 and ran for five seasons on MTV. Why did it take so long for the show to be released on DVD?
Glenn Eichler: That’s how long it took to clear all the music rights. It also had a lot to do with MTV. Every time they began working on the rights, they had another loopy hit, so their small home entertainment division had to put their resources on getting that show out. I guess we sort of got under the wire right before Jersey Shore!
Animag Online: Why do you think the show was such a hit in the late ’90s?
Glenn Eichler: You know back when the show was on the air, everyone would tell me that they loved the show because they were Daria. They’d say, ‘Oh, I was a total outcast at school.’ I just can’t believe that everyone was a total outcast! I do think that as adolescent you feel like you don’t belong. Another reason could be that the show was very funny.
Animag Online: What did you enjoy most about the job?
Glenn Eichler: You know I liked the fact that we got to do all kinds of social commentary while entertaining. It was also a great kick to hear the voice actors doing squeaks and funny voices. Back then, MTV was really interested in being a full-blown animation studio. There were always a lot of storyboards to look at or listen to audio. It was a non-stop grind, and when the smoke clears, you have created this show for 6 and half-years.
Animag Online: You are now a busy producer on The Colbert Report. How does that compare to working on an animated show?
Glenn Eichler: My job now is worse. It’s much more intensive and more of a grind. It’s because a lot of what we work on doesn’t get on the air. You often have less to show for the work that you do. When you compare animation and live-action, they both have their pluses and minuses. I like writing things that involve characters’and not just joke writing. It’s also great to read the paper and be able to make jokes about things that are ticking you off on The Colbert Report.
Animag Online: So what was your big career break? How did you end up co-creating Daria?
Glenn Eichler: That was a long time ago. I was the editor of The National Lampoon. Then I went to work as a promo writer at MTV. That’s when Mike Judge was brought in to do Beavis and Butt-head and I started writing for that show and became story editor on that show. Daria was a spin-off of that show, which I co-create with Susie Lewis-Lynn.
Animag Online: Your career also includes writing stints on shows such as The Wrong Coast and Big and Small. How did that come about?
Glenn Eichler: I owe my preschool writing career to the writer’s strike. I couldn’t work on an American show, so I got to work on a Canadian preschool show. It was great to be able to do that.
Animag Online: Do you have any favorite episodes of Daria?
Glenn Eichler: To be honest, I haven’t looked at them for a while. I always wrote the first and last episodes of the season, so I tried to make them special. I liked the musical ones, the fantasy episodes, especially the third seasons’ ‘Death Takes a Holiday.’ Those were a lot of fun.
Animag Online: This is the part of the interview where we ask you to offer some valuable advice for wanna-be animation writers/professionals!
Glenn Eichler: These days, it would make sense to learn how to do your show at home on a PC, put it up on the web and get people to see it. That’s the best way to do it. It’s harder today to get anything on TV. There are so many other venues out there, so it’s best to take advantage of those other channels.