The Cleveland Show wraps up its second season tonight on Fox with “Hot Cocoa Bang Bang,” an episode that aims to put the comic in comical. Yes, Cleveland packs up the family and journeys to San Diego to take in the sights and (dubious) smells of Comic-Con, where he unveils his new comic book Waderman. In a revealing Q&A with EW, Cleveland (voiced by series co-creator/exec producer Mike Henry) talks about his aquatic superhero, Donna’s big secret, and his brief encounter with Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How are you feeling today?
CLEVELAND BROWN: I’m feeling all right. Just relaxing here in Stoolbend with the kids, getting ready for the summer. My plans are to drink beer, sweat, and go swimming as often as possible.
So, you’ve created a comic book superhero named Waderman.
I started working on it in my prepubescent years before I sprouted pubescence, and once girls came in the picture I kind of shelved the project. And of late, I’ve been thinking a lot about life and what I’m going to leave behind, and I felt Waderman was something that could last generations so I wanted to go ahead and get it published.
But he’s basically a guy who wears wading boots—
Hip waders. I don’t mean to correct you, but wading boots are for p—ies.
Still, that doesn’t sound very badass.
Hmmm. What do you wear to work, Mr. EW?
T-shirt and jeans.
(Lightly sarcastic) That sounds badass. (Normal) No offense, of course.
Of course. What makes Waderman a good comic book hero?
A variety of crimes can take place in shallow water. You think of any small creek, bathtub, or public fountain, and it’s the type of situation where you definitely don’t want to ruin your Doc Martens or your Wallabees if someone should fall in the fountain or drop a pocketbook or whatnot. Waderman is always there when need be.
What inspired you to create him?
Back in the day, my girlfriend — or the object of my desire at the time, Miss Donna Tubbs — was at a local mall and she fell in the shallow fountain and was in need of help, and I didn’t want to ruin my red Keds. I had a dream that night that if only I had been wearing hip waders at the time, I could have saved her instead of having Robert save her. She went on and married Robert instead of me, so I figured if Waderman had been there, he would’ve had his woman a long time ago.
Does Waderman have a catchphrase?
Maybe an occasional pun, like “See you Wader!”
This was your first trip to Comic-Con. How would you describe the experience?
Well, first of all, there was immense traffic trying to get from the hotel to the Convention Center. A lot of these weird bike things with passengers on the back — bicycle taxis. And once we got to the convention, the smell became quite acute. When I first got there, I assumed that San Diego has its own type of smell, and there was farming going on there, but then I realized the high concentration of what was body odor amongst the conventioneers. I believe Junior called it “a– and corn chips.”
That’s very evocative. And what about the people?
It was a roomful of sadness turned happy for a weekend.
Was there any interest in Waderman from Marvel or DC?
The stakes were too high for this one, so neither company wanted to go all in. But there happens to be a certain Mexican-American film director interested.
You must be referring to guest-star Robert Rodriguez. Apparently you two had some kind of conflict…
The conflict did not arise out of me mistaking him for a valet or anything like that. He apparently was interested in making Waderman into a feature film, but then we had a personal conflict which put us at odds. Maybe I’ll just leave it at that.
Speaking of that, how surprised were you to discover that Donna had once starred in a blaxploitation film called Hot Cocoa Bang Bang?
No. 1, I thought it was an invasion of privacy, as her mammaries lay splayed across the screen. But No. 2, I thought it was pretty cool that I was married to a badass superhero chick.
And how was her acting?
Awful. Over the top. Not believable. But of the genre.
You and Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons also shared a moment at Comic-Con. What’s that dude really like?
Very judgmental. Not in the best shape. But quite candid and on point.
Did you ask a question at any of the panels?
I asked Adam West what it was like to work with Seth MacFarlane.
What did he say?
I think he thought I was talking about Seth Green, so he was unclear on the answer.
Did you get anyone’s autograph?
I was trying to get the Incredible Hulk’s autograph, but turns out he wasn’t incredible enough to be able to write.
Sorry to hear that. And did you happen to sign any autographs for any fans?
I did. Unfortunately it was for a misguided baseball fan who thought I was the late Willie Stargell.
Any other revelations at Comic-Con?
I would just say that good prevails. Junior had a blast. Junior led the charge against the studios trying to hype their [movies and TV shows] at the festival, which is aimed at true comic book enthusiasts and is frankly the only thing they have to look forward to.
Are you considering turning Comic-Con into an annual family trip?
Perhaps. A lot of things would have to happen. We would have to be flown first class, be taken in limos, and all get a shot at Princess Leia of 1979.