ECCC 2013: Animation Studio Titmouse Unleashes The ‘Disco Destroyer!’

If you’re a modern animation fan, you’re probably into something Titmouse Inc. is putting out. The animation, graphics, and design studio took the stage at Emerald City Comic-Con with studio head Chris Prynoski, “Invader Zim”/”Johnny The Homicidal Maniac” creator Jhonen Vasquez, “Motorcity” producer Ben Kalina, and Man of Action’s Jim Mahfood and Joe Casey.

What does the “Metalocalypse” studio have in store for 2013? Well, expect more “China, IL,” more “Superjail,” more “Venture Brothers,” and they’re working on something with both Amazon and Netflix. Find out what else what Titmouse had to say during their Emerald City Comic-Con panel about “Johnny The Homicidal Maniac” getting a movie and the insane “Disco Destroyer” coming to the revamped “Liquid Television!”

The three-minute series of “Disco Destroyer” shorts feature Judah, a drag racing hero with an 8-track player in his chest. Jim Mahfood says that he teamed up with Joe Casey to pitch it around to multiple studios with no takers but when Titmouse was working on the new incarnation of “Liquid Television,” the animation studio jumped at the opportunity to signed off on the project. “I thought we were making this flash cartoon things that would look kind of wonky, but what Titmouse did was way beyond what I [expected],” Mahfood gushed. He says that the team all comes from different backgrounds with a shared love of music (the main character is a 70s rocker guy who only cares about preserving the rock and roll lifestyle) and their diverse talents all favored the quality of the series.

He says that after a decade of pitches in Hollywood, it was a big deal for him to see his work finally come to life.

We got to see a sneak peek of “Disco Destroyer,” with our hero getting riddled with bullets before being resurrected with an 8-track player in his chest and a super-sexy stripper lady saving his undead bacon from a bunch of demons. The series looks to have a rougher, chunky style in line with “Motor City” with plenty of sexy, violence, and cussin’. Mahfood says the show was developed like “Speed Racer” with the race as the background of the show where it could theoretically go on forever with Judah racing the forces of God and the devil as well as street gangs inspired by “The Warriors.”

Mahfood says he has an arsenal of characters to explore if “Disco Destroyer” does well like Zombie Kid. He wanted to use this short series instead of one of his long-held characters since it would hurt less if it failed.

Jhonen Vasquez says that his “Squee” short, which he’s been thinking about since 2007, is a potential launchpad for a “Johnny the Homicidal Maniac” feature which he hopes to fund through Kickstarter. It’s called “Squee vs. The Labyrinth of Meat” and sees Squee sold by his parents to a meat factory. He apologized in advance for the second half of the short. Talking about “Johnny,” he says that the feature wold be produced by Titmouse but wouldn’t go theatrical. Vasquez says that in writing the story, he started from the perspective, “what would make audiences the most sad,” and going more Lovecraftian. He describes the character as less of a badass and more of a jerk who doesn’t realize he’s a jerk.

Vasquez says there’s not a lot to the character of Squee so it was necessary to develop him further for the short and give him things to say and do beyond being reactive. He describes Squee as the Bilbo Baggins of the story, surrounded by other characters traveling through the bowels of the McWilly’s labyrinth. Vasquez says he looks back in embarrassment on the early dialog for Squee’s parents in the comics, taking the opportunity to flesh them out as people. Horrible people, but people nonetheless.

When asked about continuing “Motorcity” post-cancellation, but Prynoski says that Disney keeps that IP on lock, so don’t expect anything there. He did say his studio is interested in working on something new, however.

Finally, the Netflix project is “Turbo,” based on the DreamWorks film of the same name about a racing snail. Plus, look forward to the return of “Venture Brothers,” soonish, with Timouse currently wrapping up season five.