All Emmy Award-winning director Ryan Quincy wanted to do was please his new bosses. That’s not surprising. The writer/animator had been hired by the Disney Company to create new product for its cable channels.
The problem was, Quincy was so caught up in trying to come up with ideas to please his new bosses, his creative juices began to fade like an ice cube in Death Valley. His solution was to focus on making the kind of program that he would like.
And, what he would like is an animated series that starts with a wild premise, is delivered in an unconventional manner and features guest voice talents who are as far away from the normal list of voice actors as Earth is from Alpha Centauri.
“I had worked in animation but more geared toward adults with ‘South Park’ and my show ‘Out There.’ It was refreshing for me that I was going to make a show that I could watch with my kids,” Quincy says during an interview at the Disney animation office.
The Nebraska native knew the show he wanted to make would be heavy into science fiction but also show the influence of Marvel Comics. Toss in a bit of “Star Wars” and “Doctor Who” and the result is “Future-Worm!”
The production is a wild mix of science fiction elements as 12-year-old Danny (voiced by Andy Milonakis) creates a time machine – which looks a lot like a lunch box – and travels through time with his best buddy, Future-Worm (James Adomian,) who happens to look like a Hulk Hogan version of a worm.
Quincy refused to take a traditional path in creating Danny. Instead of just making just another nerdish character, he has given Danny “a weird confidence about himself.”
This plays into the central theme of acceptance. Danny’s parents know about their son’s time travel and about Future-Worm, but they are OK with both. Future-Worm is designed to be the best friend who always has Danny’s back. He just happens to be a worm.
Creating offbeat characters was just the start of the weirdly odd path Quincy followed.
“The other thing I wanted to do was not have to deal with all the time-travel paradoxes and just run away from the rules of time travel,” Quincy says.
Even the structure of the new cable series defies conventional thinking. Episodes will feature an 11-minute story, a 3-minute story and a 7-minute story.
The characters were introduced last year in a “Future-Worm!” short-form series on Disney XD and Disney XD’s YouTube Channel. Those shorts were the reason the show was added to the Disney XD lineup.
“Writing the shorts made my work better because we had to cut directly to the chase,” Quincy says. “It was hyper-compressed.
“It was a good lesson in storytelling in a short amount of time.”
Although Quincy considers himself an animator before a writer, he learned during his days working on “South Park” that the key to a great animated series is the stories. The animation can be simple if the story is good.
When ideas are pitched for future stories, they are divided into the different time packages depending on how much material is there.
The strange mix of voice talents includes Selma Blair, Jeff Ross, Jack McBrayer, Chelsea Peretti, Bill Nye and Jonathan Frakes. The most unusual voice talent of all is Neil deGrasse Tyson, one of the best-known scientists outside the gang at “The Big Bang Theory.”
Quincy didn’t have a lot of confidence the astrophysicist would agree to be a voice on the show when he pitched the idea.
“We were blown away when he accepted,” Quincy says. “The only caveat was that he wished there was a little more science education in the show.
“He loved that Danny has ‘SCIENCE’ on his shirt,” which is an entry point for kids to start thinking about science, Quincy says. “So, he’s fine with the absurdity of it all.”
“Future-Worm!” also stars: Jessica DiCicco (“Gravity Falls”) as Bug; Melanie Lynskey (“Two and a Half Men”) as Danny’s mom, Megan Douglas; Ryan Quincy as Danny’s dad, Doug Douglas; and Corey Burton (“Jake and the Never Land Pirates”) as the narrator.
- 11 a.m. Monday, Aug. 1, Disney XD
- To see a video of Ryan Quincy drawing Future-Worm go to fresnobee.com/video.