One part James Bond, one part Hanna-Barbera, and one part Seinfeld, the animated series Archer is a perfect cocktail of recent pop culture.
The show, which debuted in 2009 on the cable channel FX, has developed a cult following for its thoroughly adult-level story lines. In addition to the often scantily clad characters, including the voluptuous Lana Kane, voiced by actress Aisha Tyler, the characters are frequently seen drinking and partying. The show even created its own fake brand of Scotch called Glengoolie. (This is definitely not programming for the Scooby Doo set!)
The main character is super-spy-turned-private-investigator Sterling Archer, voiced by H. Jon Benjamin, who has the throwback good looks and drinking habits of Mad Men’s Don Draper, but none of his suaveness (think The Pink Panther’s bungling inspector Jacques Clouseau). Archer works at an intelligence firm with his domineering and ruthless mother Malory Archer, voiced by veteran actress Jessica Walter, and gets into one crazy adventure after another. It’s not uncommon for the episodes to involve Japanese gangsters, the FBI, the CIA, vicious arms dealers, and petty dictators.
Just in time for Archer’s eighth season, which debuts in January, art director Neal Holman is publishing a behind-the-scenes companion titled The Art of Archer. (Look for it starting Dec. 6.) In addition to interviews and commentary, the book features a wide selection of sketches and stills. Naturally, I got Holman to choose some of his favorite images that involve the character’s drinking habits, along with his thoughts on each.
This image was created to promote Season 5 of the show Archer: Vice. “The Scotch Guzzle is essentially our Heisman pose,” says Holman. “If we were to give Archer trophies, this would be the figure atop them… and now I’m wondering why those don’t exist already.”
ARCHER BLOODY MARYS
“A good Bloody Mary on a lazy Sunday morning is a thing of beauty. Our lead 3-D compositor (and drink guru), Dominic Maschler, makes an insanely great Bloody Mary, with homemade mix. I use Zing Zang because I am lazy and Zing Zang is awesome. And if you really want to spice it up, use Marie Sharp’s Fiery Hot Sauce from Belize. Just please don’t shove a slab of bacon in it. It’s a drink, not a meal.”
ARCHER & SCOTCH
“This was originally created for a promotional piece at New York Comic Con. It is one of my all-time favorite images that we’ve done, as the composition and posing are a direct homage to Robert McGinnis, whose work was and is a huge influence on the aesthetic of Archer. If you’re unfamiliar with McGinnis, do yourself a google and prepare your jaw to drop accordingly.”
TIGER & CHAMPAGNE
Back in Season 5, Archer and his crew found themselves in the country of San Marcos and met this tiger. “It’s good to have goals,” says Holman of this scene.
ARCHER & LANA
“Glengoolie has been our Scotch brand since Season 1. Glengoolie Black is the mid-tier label, and Glengoolie Blue is the top-shelf label. Glengoolie, for the best of times!”