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Tuesday, January 29, 2002


Mainframe Entertainment continues to develop Jill Thompson's Scary Godmother as an animated series, with plans for a one-hour special to launch the property.

"We'll have the one-hour special hopefully for Halloween this year," Kim Dent Wilder, Mainframe's vice-president, production, told The Continuum during a visit the company's offices in Vancouver last week.

"This property has been out for a while and it's bounced around in terms of whether or not we wanted to do one-hour specials or if we wanted to go as a series. People didn't understand it from a series point of view and they were looking at it as a special or direct-to-video type of thing. And we didn't really want to do that because it's better in the long term for us to invest this much money and build something for it to be a series.

"We have a lot of faith in the property and we think that once people see it, they're going to really like it and they're going to be more interested in seeing it as series. The characters are attractive and they're fun."

Phil Mitchell, vice-president of development and operations, told The Continuum that the one-hour special is a "cool" way to allow story-telling time to introduce Thompson's characters.

"It's an introduction to the world and to the characters and to the whole set up of how Fright Side works. And the progression onto a series should be relatively simple because everything is set up," Mitchell said.

"It's a good way of getting all the R&D (research and development) done up front. The show seems to be the way where it will use the same characters over again and the same locations over again. So it's established and it has a kind of sitcom situation in terms of how we use things."

Mainframe's Zeke Norton provided The Continuum with a look at the development of Scary Godmother's character designs. At one point, he showed a group image scanned from Thompson's art with two CGI characters seamlessly replacing the original art.

Although an animation promotion was completed a year ago, work continues on the look of Scary Godmother.

"The look has changed. It's improved quite a big since then," Norton said. "This was our first attempt at making it look like more of a 2D thing. We've come a long way since then, and it's going to look even more like the book."

Being faithful to the source material has been a constant in Scary Godmother's development.

"We start with a script that has been adapted from the origin of the story of Scary Godmother," Norton said. "It's actually based on the books and the stage play Jill Thompson and Runamuck Productions put together. The stage play is quite fun.

"The voices have not been cast yet. That's the next step, to cast the voices. And then, obviously for a series, the voice actors are the same, they stay for the series."

The one-hour special will have all the main characters.

"We haven't invented any new characters for the series yet," Norton said. "In the special, there are 12 characters, five kids and seven FrightSide characters. There's the trick-or-treaters, and Jimmy and Hannah, and then on the Fright Side, we've got the Fright Side characters, the three vampires, Bug-A-Boo monster, Scary Godmother of course, Pettibone the skeleton and Harry the werewolf."

Norton said that Thompson is actively involved in the show.

"She and her writing partner wrote the script and she is also the art director, for at least the one-hour special," Norton said. "All of the characters are based on her comics and her character designs that she has done for us.

"I think it's a good fit for animation and especially for Mainframe. The stories and the characters are very rich. And the look - I don't think there's going to be anything else on TV that's going to look like this."

Mainframe is also working on the Spider-Man and Gatecrasher series for MTV, as well as a new, unannounced comics property. Look for more news on those soon here in The Continuum and more features on Mainframe Entertainment in Comics Continuum #1, the new magazine that launches on May 1.

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