BAR HARBOR — The comedic duo Bert and I may have had a virtual lock on Down East Maine humor for a good half century. But for pure, gut busting laughs, there really is nothing that can match “Temp Tales.”
The short cartoons, created by Hanji and Atom O’Chang of Rockland, capture Maine coastal characters in all their eager, potty-mouthed glory: sipping Allen’s Coffee Brandy and milk while riding out a snow storm pausing from their house painting jobs for yet another “smoky break” and going nearly haywire talking about their snow machines.
“Temp Tales” is salty, crude and, with Hanji’s anime-inspired animation, endearingly cute. It’s a winning combination that has won the show legions of fans and hundreds of thousands of YouTube hits. Now people in the MDI area can see what the fuss is all about up close and in person. At the end of this month, the O’Changs will come to the Dog and Pony Tavern to premier their newest episode, offer merchandise, meet fans and just generally have a good time.
The event takes place on Oct. 30, beginning at 8 p.m. at the Dog and Pony, located on Rodick Place downtown.
“Temp Tales is a work cartoon that’s not safe for work,” Atom O’Chang said this week during a phone interview from his Rockland home. “These are the cartoons that guys who are doing carpentry, roofing, painting houses will watch on their iPhones during break or taking the boat back to the mainland. And that’s who we’re writing for.”
Inspiration for the show comes from O’Chang’s years working blue-collar jobs on the Maine coast. The Maine native said he painted, pounded nails, mowed lawns and worked for caretakers for summer homes for nearly 15 years on a bunch of islands from Portland to Rockland. The salty characters he came in contact with would come to form the bedrock for “Temp Tales.”
“I always kept a blog, recorded my experiences working on the islands and stuff. That was sort of my outlet. Working some of those jobs was kind of drudgery for a while. But even before that, just growing up in the Midcoast area, we always would make fun of that stuff. We were always looking for a medium, me and my buddies.”
That medium came together without much forethought in 2012, when Hanji needed a project for a Maine College of Art class. Atom threw together a script, and his wife animated it into a cartoon. A few months later, the first O’Chang Comics hit. “Meat Recall” went viral. A quick several hundred thousand views later, and the pair knew they were on to something.
Since that time, the couple has churned out “Temp Tales” episodes just as fast as time allows. Atom writes and provides voices for each episode, while Hanji creates the cartoon imagery from whole cloth.
Hanji has since graduated from Maine College of Art and is able to devote herself fully to animation. Atom, meanwhile, is taking a break from blue-collar work with a job in the newspaper business. The pair hope to parlay the energy of “Temp Tales” into running an animation studio in Rockland, he said.
Both the O’Changs will be in Bar Harbor on Oct. 30 to show their new Halloween episode, which he describes as a cross between “Jaws,” “Pet Sematary” and the story of Rockport’s famous Andre the Seal. If past episodes are an indicator, the show ought to be pretty darn funny.
This is the second trip to the Dog and Pony for the cartoonists. O’Chang said that they love showing their work in a place like this where the audience really gets it.
“The owners are great people, and there are a lot of great people that really get our stuff up there,” he said. “We just had a great time last time we were there.”
O’Chang Comics material contains inappropriate language and some illegal drug usage. It is recommended for adults.
“O’Chang” is a pseudonym.