Adam Reed

Adam Reed

North Carolina native Adam Reed got his first job with Atlanta's Cartoon Network in 1994 through the help of his older sister Anna, who worked for the fledgling channel's parent company, Turner Broadcasting System. While Reed was working at Cartoon Network as a production assistant, his co-worker and future creative partner Matt Thompson invited him to join him in creating new interstitial material for a new afternoon block of old cartoons, using their hands as puppets in the manner of the 1950s variety show comedian Señor Wences. The Western-themed "High Noon Toons" (Cartoon 1994-95) featured Reed as the cowboy hand puppet Lil' Jo and Thompson as his sidekick Haas. The pair next worked together on another low-budget live-action show, "A.M. Mayhem" (Cartoon 1995-96) starring prop comic Carrot Top. While working on "A.M. Mayhem," Reed and Thompson discovered a short-lived and long-forgotten Hanna-Barbera Saturday morning cartoon called "Sealab 2020" (NBC 1972), an ecologically themed cartoon about life in an undersea research laboratory. Mostly to amuse themselves, the pair wrote and recorded a pilot in which they created new dialogue for the characters, in the style of Woody Allen's spy-movie parody "What's Up Tiger Lily?" (1966). Cartoon Network passed on the pilot, but when Reed and Thompson left Cartoon Network to set up their own production company, Reed stole the "Sealab 2020" master tapes from the network library to further fine-tune the idea. In 2000, as Cartoon Network was beginning a new late-night programming block that would become known as Adult Swim, executive Mike Lazzo contacted Reed to revisit the "Sealab" concept, which became one of Adult Swim's debut programs. Newly christened "Sealab 2021" (Cartoon 2000-05), the show imagined that the characters of "Sealab 2020" had been driven insane by the claustrophobia caused by living underwater for over a year. They matched the show's original animation to new scripts and characterizations; the results were surreal, violent and outrageous, and helped define the Adult Swim tone. However, the 2002 death of lead voice actor Harry Goz, who played fatuous base commander Captain Murphy, marked a heavy loss for the series, which was canceled after later seasons were less well received. Reed and Thompson moved directly into a superhero parody called "Frisky Dingo" (Cartoon 2006-08), detailing the ongoing battle between playboy billionaire Xander Crews, aka costumed superhero Awesome X, and his nemesis Killbot. Reed, who had taken occasional small voice roles on "Sealab 2021," voiced Crews. Although "Frisky Dingo" developed a strong cult following -- enough to justify a short-lived spinoff called "The Xtacles" (Cartoon 2008) focusing on Awesome X's henchmen -- the show was canceled after two seasons were completed. Reed and Thompson ended their association with Adult Swim and formally dissolved 70/30 Productions in January 2009. While vacationing in Spain shortly after the end of "Frisky Dingo," Reed spotted a beautiful woman sitting alone in a café and became tongue-tied at the thought of approaching her. This led to the creation of a new character, an international man of danger whose self-confidence is so complete that it causes him to overlook how his brilliant plans might go wrong. That in turn led to Reed and Thompson's next project, the spy-film parody "Archer" (FX 2010-) starring H. Jon Benjamin as the dashing secret agent Sterling Archer and Jessica Walter as his hectoring boss and mother, Mallory Archer. Reed played Ray Gillette, a suave and openly gay agent born and raised in the hills of Appalachia. The stylish-looking series, set in a deliberately anachronistic time where the latest technological marvels are all available but the men still wear sharp suits and John F. Kennedy is still president, was an immediate critical and commercial success, marking Reed and Thompson's move into a more mainstream commercial arena. Reed and Thompson next served as executive producers of "Unsupervised" (FX 2012), an animated series about a pair of awkward adolescents co-created by David Hornsby of "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" (FX 2005-2012, FXX 2013-). The show lasted only one season before being canceled.