Last night during the Tromanimation Film Festival, Maxwell Atoms screened for the first time his 1995 student film that inspired the series
The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy

The short, which preceded the Cartoon Network series by eight years, is called Billy and Mandy in Trepanation of the Skull and You. Following the screening, Atoms posted it online:

Atoms (who then used his birth name, Adam Burton) made the film when he was a 21-year-old junior at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. “The directive was to make a two minute animation, and that’s what I did,” Atoms wrote on his Youtube page. “I was big into fringe culture at the time, and found trepanning fascinating. I also wanted to do something with this ‘Billy’ character I was obsessed with, and I HAD to have some dinosaurs.”

He offered a few additional notes about the student short on his YouTube page:

The animation was hand draw[n] on paper, colored in markers, and then cut out and glued to cels. I thought that would save time over painting cels, but the cut-and-glue process really sucked. So I was probably wrong about that.

Atoms attributes the potato quality to the fact that it was “transferred from 16mm shot on a WWII-era Bolex, which was transferred to VHS, then DVD, then ripped [and posted online].”

The short is a reminder that what ends up on television often doesn’t begin as a fully-formed concept. Young artists who aspire to create their own TV shows might be advised to take a page from Atoms’ playbook: focus on developing an artistic voice and honing creative instincts — and worry about the polish later.

Amid Amidi

Amid Amidi

Amid Amidi is Cartoon Brew's Publisher and Editor-at-large.

More in Shorts:

Latest News from Cartoon Brew