‘Nomad of Nowhere’: Jordan Cwierz on the Animated Antics of the Wild New Western Series

     March 23, 2018

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Rooster Teeth continues to deliver excellent, original animated series with its newest title, Nomad of Nowhere. Recently introduced to premium subscribers through the company’s FIRST service and available today for other followers, the first episode introduced the title character, a mute and somehow magical miscreant eking out a living in the literal middle of nowhere. Complicating the Nomad’s isolated lifestyle are Toth and her assistant Skout, two driven women who are out on a mission to capture the Nomad by any means necessary.

While that premise sounds like a gritty Western plot–which Nomad does have elements of–the series has more of a fun, playful feel, especially where the Nomad is concerned. It occupies a totally different space in the Rooster Teeth brand and is a promising addition that already has me hooked and waiting for more episodes. I got a chance to speak with series writer-director Jordan Cwierz about the new debut, its inspirations and influences, what the creative team hopes fans gain from the experience, and where Nomad of Nowhere is going to go from here.

My interview with Cwierz follows below, but you can watch the first episode on Rooster Teeth now, or to get a taste of what Nomad of Nowhere is like, check out a clip from that episode below:

How would you describe Nomad of Nowhere in one sentence?

Jordan Cwierz: Oh man, just one sentence? Can it be a long one? If I were to give it the old elevator pitch, I’d say: Nomad of Nowhere is like if a bunch of spaghetti westerns got mashed up with all your favorite fantasy series to create one epic adventure – the likes of which you’ve never seen. Oh, and there are cute little rock friends called critters … Crap, that was two sentences. I should have opened with the critters.

Where did the idea for Nomad come from?

Cwierz: The idea was pitched by Georden Whitman, one of our production artists on Camp Camp at the time. He had done an animation in college called “Sir Knight of Nothing,” about a mute knight who is much more of a lover than a fighter. The story Georden wanted to tell was an interesting one, but we wanted to shift the setting to make it more unique. We settled on a western setting, because after all, there aren’t many shows in the western-fantasy genre out there. After a couple of rounds revising the pitch, characters, and story, Nomad of Nowhere was born!

What inspired you for its creation, be it other animated series, art styles, music, etc.?

Cwierz: My main source of inspiration for Nomad actually came from live action pieces, mostly spaghetti westerns and Deadwood. ::laughs:: There is a certain feel those types of movies and shows have. There’s an odd sense of nostalgia and, I don’t know — despair. Life is hard, the land is harsh and unforgiving. You need to be tough just to get through a single day in that kind of world. That’s the main feeling that stuck with me when trying to develop the show alongside [writers] Miles [Luna] and Eddy [Rivas].

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Image via Rooster Teeth

So far, what’s been different about your experience on Nomad versus that of other Rooster Teeth animated series, like Camp Camp and X-Ray and Vav?

Cwierz: Just about everything, to be honest. I think Nomad is much more ambitious than we’ve ever dared to dream as a team, but at the same time it seemed like the next logical step. We want to always be growing and challenging ourselves. It’s also the first time we’re working on a show that I did not have a part in creating or writing the majority of the episodes, which is a new experience for me, but a welcome one. It allowed me to focus more on exploring animation styles, honing in on character designs with the art team, and a bunch of other detail-oriented stuff that will make me sound like a perfectionist. For me, I never want the production of a new show to feel easy or familiar; that starts to feel lazy. I wanted to push things into a new territory and I feel like we did that here.

How did you go about settling on a specific look for Nomad? And what software do you use to animate it?

Cwierz: Whenever we start a new show we want it to feel like a completely new world for the audience; a truly unique viewing experience unlike any other show we’ve done before, which is simultaneously a thing I love about working for Rooster Teeth, and an incredibly difficult challenge. The setting for Nomad is such an integral part of the show that we really needed to make sure we gave the background development a lot of attention. So we spent a lot of time looking at inspiration for the background art; going through everything from art books from Disney and Studio Ghibli, to graphic novels and video games. Eventually we landed on a more realistic art style, with hints of brush strokes and splashes of color to keep things from being too monochromatic.

We use Toon Boom Harmony to animate all of our 2D shows, and the program has a lot of built-in tools for post-production like lighting and color correction, which is another thing we’ve been trying out more with the visual style of Nomad. It makes those expansive dessert shots extra artsy!

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Image via Rooster Teeth

Nomad feels like it has a little Samurai Jack, Looney Tunes, and even some Trigun in its DNA, but it’s entirely its own thing. What’s the target audience for Nomad and what makes Rooster Teeth the best platform for it?

Cwierz: Ha, this sounds like a question more for [co-founder and CEO of Rooster Teeth, and Executive Producer on Nomad of Nowhere] Matt [Hullum] or [co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Rooster Teeth, and Executive Producer on Nomad of Nowhere] Burnie [Burns]. This might be sacrilegious to say as a content creator, but I don’t really concern myself with target audiences. Sure it’s important to know who you’re making your show for, but I trust my gut and creative instincts more than anything. I knew I could do Nomad justice because it honestly struck me as a show I would want to watch. It felt like a show I would watch growing up, or even today as an adult. And that’s what Rooster Teeth has always been about: making the best new shows that everyone on the internet wants to watch. The fact that it feels like it has the ingredients of things like Samurai Jack and Trigun while still having the legs to stand on its own pretty much sums up what we strive to do.

What do you hope the RT faithful and new fans get out of Nomad? And what are you most excited for them to discover in this first season?

Cwierz: I hope they get a fun new show with characters they love and empathize with, and a story that keeps them asking questions and excited for answers. I can’t wait for everyone to see more of Skout and Toth, and the Nomad’s adventure. I’m excited for everyone to see more of the world of Nowhere, and learn its history. There’s some good stuff ahead.

What are your long-term plans for Nomad?

Cwierz: Six seasons and a movie?

In all seriousness, we do have a story to tell with Nomad of Nowhere. We know how it will end and when it will end. That’s all I can probably say without spoiling too much ::sweats::. In the long run, it’s going to be one hell of an adventure.

You can keep up with Nomad of Nowhere earlier than everyone else by signing up for Rooster Teeth’s FIRST program

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