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Disney TV Inks Deals With Aaron Springer, Jhonen Vasquez, Jesse LeDoux, and Ryan Quincy

Disney TV Animation announced an unusual series of pilot deals and projects today with an un-Disney-like roster of creators. The first three projects are pilot deals. In years past, animation pilots were rarely ever reported to the public, but after Adventure Time, where fan enthusiasm for the pilot convinced execs to greenlight it for series production, pilot deals have become public affairs:

  • Billy Dilley’s Super Duper Subterranean Summer
    Creative Talent: Director Aaron Springer, whose credits include the Emmy Award-winning Mickey Mouse cartoon shorts and SpongeBob SquarePants, is creator.
    Synopsis: Summer break takes an unexpected turn when Zak and Marsha end up stuck in uncharted land at the center of the earth with eccentric classmate Billy Dilley.
  • Very Important House
    Creative Talent: Jhonen Vasquez, creator of cult favorite Invader Zim and character designer Jenny Goldberg (Rick and Morty, Bravest Warriors) are co-creators.
    Synopsis: 11-year-old Frolie moves into the Very Important House and suddenly finds herself in the role of caretaker of the universe.
  • Douglas Furs
    Creative Talent: Highly-regarded illustrator and former Sub Pop Records art director Jesse LeDoux and actor/writer Matt Olsen (Sly Cooper) are co-creators.
    Synopsis: Deep in the woods, beyond human reach, exists the thriving animal community of Douglas where Barry the bear, the world’s least-handy handyman, takes it upon himself to fix all the town’s problems.

In addition to the pilots, Disney also announced the new short-form Disney XD series Future-Worm!, created by Ryan Quincy, who worked on South Park prior to creating the short-lived IFC series Out There. Future-Worm! is about a boy who creates a time-machine lunch box and befriends a worm from the future.

RELATED: Disney TV Animation Begins Production on Pickle & Peanut

Disney TV also announced development of a Disney Channel/Disney XD TV special based on the Haunted Mansion ride. The show will be art directed by illustrator Gris Grimly, who will also exec produce with Phineas and Ferb story editor Scott Peterson. Peterson will write the special with Joshua Pruett, another Phineas and Ferb alum.

Meanwhile, with production ended on Phineas and Ferb, Disney has also announced a development deal for new projects with the show’s co-creator Dan Povenmire. The show’s other creator, Jeff “Swampy” Marsh, is currently attached to direct a European feature co-production called Unstable, which will be produced by Peafur Productions and Surfer Jack Productions.

Clockwise from top left: Aaron Springer, Jesse LeDoux, Jhonen Vasquez, Ryan Quincy.
  • L_Ron_Backfromthegrave

    This could be some of the greatest news I’ve heard in a long time. Aaron Springer and Jhonen Vasquez are always guaranteed to create a home run. Both are unique artists who make creative decisions and have imaginative problem solving abilities. It seems like TV animation may be approaching a new Renaissance with what is coming out Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Dreamworks, and now Disney.

    Congrats to all of these talented guys!

  • Tony

    I’m surprised Vasquez would make another show after the way Nickelodeon treated Invader Zim. I’m even more surprised that he would make it for Disney.

    • Beamish Kinowerks

      Yep. Still, it’s great to finally see him out of the wilderness. I just hope he publishes more comics eventually, too.

    • anonylove

      This is what I would feel at first but, truly our friend below us speaks ever the more truthful. These artists are wonderful for sharing their imaginative perspectives with fans. Above all they just love doing what they do and I couldn’t be more appreciative of it. They keep creative control to whatever extent they deem valuable and give us the most they can. It’s just great to have new material from these guys so many enjoy.

    • SarahJesness

      I was thinking the same thing. Disney tends to be a bit stricter on content than Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon. (hence why I’m surprised that Gravity Falls managed to be so dark)

  • Jen H

    I’d love to see some more subversive stuff, but I doubt I’d see it on Disney Channel. Still intrigued though, and looking forward to seeing the style and sense of humor each creator will bring.

  • Steven Bowser

    I hope Vasquez can make something that rivals Zim. But I doubt it. I’ll keep my eyes peeled.

  • Capital_7

    These all sound a little vague and in some ways similar, don’t they?

    In a “A kid finds a box that makes anything happen”- kind of way. Two of them sound like grabs at Finn and Jake’s peeps.

    • Ryoku240

      Its funny to think that back in the 90’s a series of cartoon Network pilots were criticized for all being comedy duo teams, now its comedy duo teams that either have to fit in somewhere or find a macguffin.

  • Ben

    The CEO for hot topic is masturbating to this press release.

  • Pedro Nakama

    This looks like they are in direct competition with DreamWorks’ new television animation division.

  • Anonymator

    Just give Aaron Springer a show already… How many pilots is this guy gonna have to make before he gets his own show?!

  • Ryoku240

    I’m going to hope that the first two evolve a bit out of their mundane synopsis’s, I have no clue what to think of Douglas’s Furs.

  • AmidAmidi

    Seven of the people in the story weren’t pictured: Jenny Goldberg, Matt Olsen, Gris Grimly, Scott Peterson, Joshua Pruett, Dan Povenmire and Swampy Marsh.

  • Satorical

    The artists really should have consulted with you before doing something they enjoyed.

  • Anyone know?

    I always heard that the true creativity/good stuff on Zim was pushed by the story artists and such, not Vasquez. This was years back from an artist at Nick. Way he told it Zim was basically just a Alien masquerades in high school and the artist at Nick kind of took it over from there. Any truth to this?

    • Ryan

      Invader Zim had a pretty famously combative crew. Jhonen Vasquez and series director Steve Ressel really, really did not get along, particularly as the show evolved and more and more of Vasquez’s sensibilities were realized in the show. Ressel used to post on Zim message boards and answer fan questions and by the end of the show’s run he was taking shots at pretty much everybody he didn’t like on the show’s crew. I know a number of artists didn’t like working on the show as well. Zim was an, how shall we say, acquired taste.

      Rikki Simons, long-time friend of Vasquez and artist on Zim, wrote a pretty nasty attack on Ressel around the time the Invader Zim DVDs came out. It’s incredibly biased as you would imagine, but it’s an interesting at what Simons perceives to be the work environment of Zim. Vasquez himself pops up in the comments and is remarkably diplomatic regarding the whole situation.

      The blog that hosted Simons’s attack has long since disappeared, but thanks to the magic of the Internet Archive, you can read it here: http://web.archive.org/web/20040409085214/http://sadcircusbythesea.typepad.com/the_sad_circus_by_the_sea/2003/11/index.html

      Scroll down until you find “Character Assassination Long Since Past Due.”

  • He said un-Disney-like.

  • He didn’t actually work for Disney though, he was contracted by the studio that produced the show.

  • Jen H

    I think having ‘edge’ in quotations marks is pretty spot on to what we can expect from Disney, XD or not. :

  • Evan

    I’ve heard squee is actually getting an animated short with titmouse studios, idk when.