The adult animation industry is booming right now and, other than a few rare cases, it’s not slowing down even for pandemics.
Enter JJ Villard. As we get on a call, I remind him of one of my favorite quotes that I’ve ever been told by an animator as done by him, “If you want to eat sushi every night you get a job at Dreamworks, if you want to create something that you’re passionate about, you get Taco Bell”. He actually told that to me while he was in production for King Star King, an animated series that JJ reminds us was the first to score Adult Swim an Emmy win. despite being cancelled after six episodes, “Robot Chicken won Emmys but that doesn’t count because it’s stop-motion”. When now ex-Adult Swim producer Mike Lazzo picked that series up, he did so after running into JJ at San Diego Comic-Con, checking out some sketches, and letting him know which one would make a good series.
Fast forward a few years later, JJ is still hustling his own projects as best he can. Before the streaming services went mad for adult animation, he tells me about a project that he pitched to Netflix two years ago that only recently has been ordered to series (“I can’t even say anything about it because Netflix has, like, 50 pages of NDA”). Another pitch meeting came in the form of a meet-up at Cartoon Network Studios where JJ pitched a few things to Lazzo and Co. before being thrown out. On his way to the exit, JJ was able to pass off a page of sketches to Lazzo who, after looking at it on a flight back from LA to Atlanta, optioned for JJ Villard’s Fairy Tales.
We were the first to break the story of a new horror-themed animated series that JJ was working on a while ago. It was then we first heard about a project that teased a litany of special guest voices via the classic horror film universe that JJ was working on that would make the guys at Bloody Disgusting blush with envy like Linda Blair, Warwick Davis, Robert Englund, Corey Feldman, Alan Oppenheimer, and Jennifer Tilly. We separately confirmed Heather Langenkamp (Nightmare on Elm Street), Finn Wolfhard(Stranger Things), Sheryl Lee (Twin Peaks), Catherine Hicks (Child’s Play), Corey Feldman, Peter Weller(Robocop), David Patrick Kelly (The Warriors), John Kassir (Tales from the Crypt),Maika Monroe(It Follows), Elvira, Edwin Neal (Texas Chainsaw Massacre), Doug Bradley and Ashley Laurence(Hellraiser), Kevin Van Hentenryck (Basket Case), and Warwick Davis (Leprechaun), all guest stars over the course of the show’s six episodes, one of which, entitled “The Goldilox Massacre” was part of Adult Swim’s annual April Fool’s Day sneak peek premieres that you can read our review for here.
According to JJ, the other episodes will take us through his twisted takes on Rapunzel, Rumpelstiltskin, Little Red Riding Hood, Pinocchio, and Snow White (“that was the character that Lazzo saw that helped pick-up the show”). As for the guest stars, when I asked who was one he couldn’t believe he was able to land, he mentioned Linda Blair, “when I told her how much her work meant to me, a tear came down her face, that was a real special moment for me and a highlight of my career.”
Don’t worry, from the sounds of it, JJ Villard’s Fairy Tales won’t be any sort of melodramatic fare. Villard brought in a writer’s room that included the likes of Johnny Ryan (Pig Goat Banana Cricket) to help write some sick-ass episodes that may or may not follow Adult Swim’s cardinal rules: “1) You can’t defame God 2) You can’t animate sex 3) You can’t have vomit…we may have broken that last rule!”. That said, Villard does mention that he made it a point to put in some subtle sweet moments that help viewers build relationships for the various episode’s titular characters, much in the same way we saw Goldilox go nuts on those three bears in the sneak peek. To help animate the series, JJ turned to the same Korean animation studios that gives us the most maniacal series of all…Dora the Explorer, ” I don’t know why anyone would watch We Bare Bears…but Apple & Onion is good and so is Peppa Pig and Dora. When I was producing this, I said I wanted the same Korean studios that makes Dora!”
On what we can expect for the show’s future? Honestly, it sounds like JJ Villard’s so busy that even if Adult Swim were to order a second season of JJ Villard’s Fairy Tales, he may be too caught up with his upcoming Netflix series that it could be challenging to do both. Such as the days gone by is the current adult animation industry. Top-flight producers are in high-demand and the various genres are running a gamut on different streaming services and networks. It may be sooner rather than later that we see more of JJ’s sordid tales.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. JJ Villard’s Fairy Tales premieres on May 10th, only on Adult Swim, check your local listings.