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King of the Hill exhibit in Texas


Currently at Texas State University-San Marcos, just south of Austin, there’s a wonderful exhibit on The Making of King of the Hill. Writer and executive producer Jim Dauterive has donated 11 years worth of material to the Southwestern Writers Collection at Texas State. This vast amount of material includes original scripts, story pitches, production notes, promotional material, model sheets, research notes, and even tapes from the unseen, live-action spin-off Monsignor Martinez. The exhibit is on display through December 14, but all the material has been made available for research.

Last Saturday night, Dauterive was on-hand to discuss the show’s history – as well as to answer questions from admiring fans. For more information on this exhibit use this link. And click here for a page that includes a pdf of the complete archive inventory.

(Thanks, Jess Price)

  • Hey, thanks for posting about KOTH. I am a HUGE fan and have never understood why the show doesn’t get more love. I can’t really think of a recent animated show on TV with more depth and richness in the characters and the writing.

  • Nic Kramer

    I kinda like the show too, but it looks like we’re going to get alot of complaints for this show by tomorrow.

  • Ellen

    Too bad the site and list doesn’t have any pictures. Since the material was donated, I hope they will have more King of the Hill exhibits in the future. It sure deserves it.

  • King of the Hill has artwork worthy of an exhibit?
    New to me…

  • Forget “Dallas”, forget “the Lone Ranger”, forget the Alamo even… “King of the Hill” is perhaps the truest picture of life here in Texas that mainstream media has ever put together. It is to suburban Texas what Garrison Keillor’s Lake Woebegon is to small town Minnesota.

  • Jess Price

    It was really interesting to hear “behind-the-scenes” details on the show from writer/producer Jim Dauterive.

    He admits that KOTH is a show that probably doesn’t need to be animated – and it’s definitely a format that probably wouldn’t be “green lighted” if it were pitched today (sort of a modern day, animated “Andy Griffith”).

    Fox keeps it around because it still pulls in a modest audience (more prominently between the coasts). In fact, Fox even canceled the show several years back. The entire production offices were packed up and were nearly cleared out when Fox changed their minds and ordered more episodes.

    Dauterive wouldn’t comment on the writer’s strike (as writer and executive producer he kind of has conflicting interests). Fox’s block of animated programming has provided somewhat of a safeguard for KOTH – but there was a vibe that we might be watching the show’s final season.

  • The G Man

    ” … there was a vibe that we might be watching the show’s final season.”

    I certainly felt that after last night’s episode.

  • I’ve always enjoyed King of the Hill as a modern Winesburg, Ohio (the novel)– of course better written (well, excluding the uneven first two seasons). After a few years, the show has really evolved into a ironic satire on “middle class society,” whereas, the supposed common and typical are usually insane and reckless. The majority of the comedy is derived from finding absurdity in the mundane. Of course on must tolerate all the low-brow scatological humor to get to the good parts…

    I don’t know why people dislike the show, it has much more richness in characters and story than any television family– animated or live action. Granted, KOTH doesn’t warrant an obvious reason to even be animated when it could easily be shot with actors– but I think it is necessary for it to be a cartoon. Animation allows a removal from reality, suggesting a suspension of belief.

    I hope it’s not the final season… if it is, I hope the final episodes will have closure. I’d hate for it just be cut off— The Critic, The Tick, Duckman, Futurama,… shows deserve a self acknowledged final episode. I’d even accept an Ed, Edd, and Eddie type final episode if need be…

  • Why animate it? If it were live action it would end up like most other sitcoms. Most of it would have to take place on the “home” and “workplace” sets (which would look very much like sitcom sets). The scripts would be written to accomodate that limitation. The few trips outside would be to generic back lot locations temporarily dressed up to be “texas”. Probably by adding a cactus.

    Drawn, it is more real than if it were photographed.

  • J. Shamblin

    There’s pitches, research notes and actual scripts for the show? Come on, who’s behind this?

    Ha ha ha… You had me going there for a minute!

  • Gummo

    I think it’s part of the genius of KOTH that people look at it and say, oh, that could be live action. When it really couldn’t. Animation gives us just enough extra distance to enjoy seeing the characters put in situations that would be really emotionally painful to watch with live actors.

    There’s so much emotional pain in this show — adulterous couples, divorced self-pitying losers, awful uncaring parents, strange & disappointing children — that it couldn’t possibly be as warm & yes, funny, with real people playing these roles. But the fidelity to character and the “real world” often fools us into thinking there’s no reason to animate this, when it just wouldn’t work any other way.

  • Jess Price

    “King of the Hill has artwork worthy of an exhibit?
    New to me…”

    Like many people on here, I would argue that it is the writing that sets this show apart from other animated (and live-action) sitcoms. During its best years, the writing was funny (while never gag-based) and heartfelt (while never saccharine).

    And keep in mind that this exhibit is at a gallery that is dedicated to writing in the first place.

  • Zee

    I hated KOTH for the first 2 or 3 seasons. I just couldn’t get over how ugly it was and it bothered me that this was even animated. But for some reason I would keep watching, and after the third season it grew on me, and since then I have absolutely loved the show. More than any other show KOTH has genuine heart. This show has more soul than any series that I have ever worked on.
    There have been plenty of great shows the past decade, shows with fantastic designs(power puff girls,samurai jack), shows that are really funny(drawn together, south park, family guy), shows that written very well(venture bros.) But KOTH is the only show that I watch that, to me, is more than a show. The characters feel as real to me as bugs bunny characters did to me when I was a child. THAT is the kind of soul KOTH has, and it is a rare special thing indeed.
    Maybe if it were not so ugly it would be even that much better. Who knows?

  • Marvin

    I knew the show depicted Texas in a true light when one year I came home for Christmas and my dad and his neighbor were standing next to his truck, drinking a couple beers. Most of the conversation consisted of them saying “Yup.” (In truth they rarely ever do this, but I thought it was really funny at the time.)

    San Marcos is not that far from me, I might have to make the trip out there.

  • I agree with Robert, it will stand out for years because it WAS animated, and pretty well, at that. It’s funny to me when someone says “King of the Hill has artwork worthy of an exhibit?” I have to chalk it up to artistic ignorance. Mind you, I am 45 minutes away from the exhibit, and my Dad was Hank’s cartoon clone, albeit with less hair, so I am prejudiced to this series. It is an accurate portrayal of modern day Texana. I often question South Park’s art, but the social commentary and satire make up for it-however, King of the Hill has both, and this is a terrific chance to see how it is artfully combined, behind the scenes.

  • Jess Price

    “I hated KOTH for the first 2 or 3 seasons. I just couldn’t get over how ugly it was and it bothered me that this was even animated.”

    The early years are a bit hard to watch from this standpoint. It is interesting that, according to Dauterive, this style was intentional. Mike Judge wanted the series to have a grittier feel – much like “Bevis & Butt-Head”. But, like almost all animated shows, the artwork and characters evolve.

  • top cat james

    Bring back Cotton, dammit! That was my favorite character!

    He’s the modern day equivalent of Poopdeck Pappy! Who doesn’t love a nasty, foul-tempered, lecherous old coot?

  • Mr. Semaj

    King of the Hill is more realistic than its contemporaries, but it still consists of the most hit-or-miss stories out of all of them, in a strangely addictive sort of way.

    While the first few seasons were good, they later used a lot of boring stories and turned some of their characters into complete jerks/idiots, while the others went ignored.

    Although the show today has made substantial improvements, I sometimes wonder where Jim Dauterive (and even Mike Judge) was when they began deviating from the “Bible” in Season 5.

  • Ryan C.

    I have lived in Dallas/Fort Worth for almost a decade, and Texas for almost 33 of my 35 years. KOTH’s depiction of suburban Texas is pitch perfect, with the right blend of spoof, satire, and social commentary. It is the “little show that could” as far as I am concerned. Put it next to Family Guy and quickly see which one stands out as being funny without having to resort to scatalogical touches.