While Guillermo del Toro fans wait with bated breath for years and years to see if the filmmaker will ever bring a live-action update of Disney’s The Haunted Mansion attraction to theaters, Disney Television Animation is looking to fill that attraction-adaptation gap in your heart. They’ll be producing a Haunted Mansion animated special for Disney Channel and Disney XD, as well as three pilots and a short-form series that have nothing to do with rides, attractions or spooky spirits.
Some may bemoan Haunted Mansion taking the animated route, but everyone should be overjoyed to hear that the mega-talented Gris Grimly has been brought in to art direct from a script written by Phineas and Ferb vets Joshua Pruett, who will consult and produce, and Scott Peterson, who will also executive produce and story edit. Grimly’s dark and often “haunting” illustrations have been seen in his Wicked Nursery Rhymes series, and he’s also added art to well-known stories like The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Pinocchio. (Fun fact: his Pinocchio work is what inspired del Toro to start up his “I’m doing a Pinocchio movie” claims.) He was also half of the creative team behind The Dangerous Alphabet, written by Neil Gaiman.
Moving out of the creepy domiciles, Future-Worm! is Disney’s upcoming short-form series, and according to the press release, it’s about a boy who creates a time machine out of a lunch box and becomes good friends with a fearless worm from the future. Just a day in the life, am I right? The series was created by director Ryan Quincy, who both created IFC’s Out There and worked in the South Park animation department for years.
On the pilot side of things, we have Billy Dilley’s Super Duper Subterranean Summer, created by Aaron Springer, a former Emmy-nominated SpongeBob SquarePants writer, as well as the writer/director behind most of the recent Emmy-winning Mickey Mouse shorts. This series would follow a pair of kids named Zak and Marsha who end up having a pretty bizarre summer trapped in the center of the Earth with a weirdo classmate named Billy Dilley. (I have already said that name to myself several times, smiling immaturely all the while.)
Then there’s Douglas Firs, which centers on the animal community of Douglas, where humans never set foot. Barry the bear is a terrible handyman, er, handybear who sets himself with the task of fixing the town’s problems. It was co-created by video game voiceover artist Matt Olsen (Sly Cooper) and former Sub Pop Records art genius Jesse LeDoux.
Finally, there’s Very Important House, which sounds the most promising to me. It’s about an 11-year-old girl named Frolle who moves into the titular house and soon becomes caretaker of the universe. Say what? This show was co-created by Invader Zim creator Jhonen Vasquez and Rick and Morty character designer Jenny Goldberg.
I don’t tend to watch a lot of Disney Channel, other than the things my daughter watches (while I tear ass to a different, less Disney room), but none of these sound terrible, especially given the creative talent behind them all. Here’s hoping The Haunted Mansion animation doesn’t cop out on the creepiness.