It’s kinda nice to talk about stuff, because for so long its been NDAs and secrets, so yeah it’s good to finally talk
Im Giancarlo volpe, supervising director of the boys diabolical
Q – not having talked about things for a while, I think that plays into how we got this animated series, can you talk a bit about how you ended up going with the animated series as opposed to the live-action, as a spinoff
A – oh, so It was very much because of the pandemic, the boys season 3 schedule was delayed shooting schedule because of the world being shut down, Eric Kripke and Seth, and Evan all collectively wanted to give the fans something to chew on while they’re waiting for season 3.
Me – and we are SO grateful
A – I’m glad to hear that! So god bless animation, this art form that I chose, it didn’t really slow us down these last couple of years, we were available and ready to go, so we made some cartoons! I saw a couple of people online saying, they made this instead of season 3?! And its like, obviously not! That implies that they like somehow trained the crew of the boys to like animate instead of like film! So that was happening in tandem, in fact, there were times when we couldn’t get Eric on the phone cuz he was busy on the set, you know, we’ve been doing both!
A – there were a couple of notes we got, saying like don’t explore that, we’re going to be exploring that in season 3 (live-action) so we don’t want to like repeat ourselves, or contradict ourselves, so there’s a little bit of overlap but I don’t fully know what happens in season 3, I mean I have a couple of ideas, like contextually from like the directives we got, so I’ll probably be surprised too! There’ll probably be a couple of moments where Im like, oh, that’s why they made me cut that line, you know, so that’ll be fun!
Q – each of the different episodes had a different animation style, how did that come about?
A – I want to say, you know, that some of that pre-dates me being hired, but as I understand it, Seth and Evan and Eric were like, lets make this like Animatrix, lets make this like I don’t know if you remember Spike and Mike’s twisted animation festival –
Q – (most of us) we do!
A – so something like that, but in The Boys universe! So lets make it feel like it was eight different filmmakers, with their unique voice and style, and so the writers kind of all came up with their own ideas, and had a short description, yeah this one should kind of feel like anime, and that one should feel like this and that, and then later as we hired directors, they helped visualize what that would like and how to pull that off under a very compressed schedule.
Q – at this point are people running to work with The Boys? We’ve got people like Kumail Nanjiani and Awkwafina writing and voicing in here, was the show reaching out to certain people and if so, how did they choose their collaborators?
A – there’s clearly some kind of network to draw from, for sure. Friends of Seth, I’m sure that was a factor, like a list in his cell phone or something, we were also given a list of celebrities that are fans of the boys, like a friendly reminder like hey, Method Man is a huge fan of the show – we didn’t get Method Man but like that, you know?
Q (me) – So there’s 8 episodes and you obviously can’t say which ones your favorite, but which one was the most work?
A – ooh the most work, man that’s a good question. The Awkwafina episode for example ran long, she gave us so many wild lines in the record that it was hard to pick which take to use, so we were like trying to use ALL of them and the episode was like 18 minutes long or something, we had to cut it down to make it produce-able, so that was challenging. I think also there was a little extra attention on “1 plus 1” because it was so faithful, Eric has since then dubbed it canonical to the series, that went through several rounds of making sure it all worked correctly. I remember that one was like the last one we shipped and we were all tired and like ughhh gotta get this one done!
Q – Well that’s the episode that you wrote and that Simon co-directed, on top of it feels very canonical to the show, is there a reason Eric allowed it to be covered here (in The Boys Diabolical) as opposed to the live-action show?
A – I think it was originally conceived as a kind of what-if? Scenario, maybe this could be Homelanders origin, to Simons credit I think he did such a great job that Eric was like, Im convinced this happened, it all fits, it all works, this is canonical. I thought that was really cool.
Q – Lets take a moment to talk about the (cancer) episode, it was so poignant and powerful and you don’t expect to see something like that in The Boys universe, what inspired that, it was really beautiful and sad.
A – I would imagine that Andy, he chose that subject matter so there must have been, I can only assume, we didn’t pry that he’s got a personal story (with cancer), I think a lot of us do. And just wanted it to be an interesting hook – can you use Compound V to cure cancer? At its core it’s not a cynical take on The Boys universe, and I say this with affinity, The Boys is kind of a cynical take on corporations and power and greed and all that, this is like a flip on that, what if you could use power to actually help people! And it’s a really beautiful episode and I’m so happy with that, especially the way Steve Vaughn directed it, I’m really proud of that one.
Q – is this something you can see people doing in future seasons, like trying to bring less of the cynical and more of the personal explorative stuff?
A – Do you mean in entertainment in general or specifically on The Boys?
Q – Specifically on The Boys.
A – Good question. I mean, I’d like to think that resonates with everyone, like oh yeah we could also do that and it could make (the show) that much richer, if you had moments of like, “I could actually help someone with my powers”, you know, a little more contrast with Homelander’s assholery.
I’m Simon Racioppa, one of the executive producers and the showrunner of the boys diabolical.
Q – I’m gonna start you with an easy one – in every panel we’ve had little kids come up to the microphone and ask, is this appropriate, can I watch this? So what is your target audience, would you say?
A – I don’t have kids so I’m probably the wrong person to ask this question! LOL Everyone should see it! No, it’s mature in both language and content, I think parents should make their own decision about that, and I would definitely say it is not a kid’s cartoon.
Q – Can you talk a little bit about getting Simon Pegg to come onboard? He voices Hughie finally on the show, so …
A – So when we’re putting the episode together, Garth Innis wrote that episode, and the goal was always to make it Garth’s version of The Boys, so Eric Kripke developed the series for live-action for the Boys and that’s his version, we wanted to do Garth’s version, which is where it came from. So if you’ve read the original comic books, you know the character Hughie looks like Simon Pegg, he was based on Simon Pegg, Derek Robertson who does the art has come out and had conversations with Simon Pegg, and Simon is aware it’s based on him. So Simon is of course a friend of the show, he appears on the show (plays Hughie’s father), it was just a no-brainer. So much so, that we were saying if Simon can’t do this for schedule reasons, we’d just take the character out of the episode. We weren’t gonna have anyone else play the Hughie in our show. Luckily when we talked to him, he was like, absolutely I will do that, and then it was just scheduling. He was outside of London at his home, we sent a studio record session, and there was a remote group that went up there and installed it for him, this was still a deep pandemic, so they come into your room and they set up a microphone and blankets and stuff and then they leave and you wait for 15 minutes and then Simon Pegg can come in and record safely. And he (Pegg) was so happy and so great to work with, cuz he was like, I thought I would never get a chance to play this character because I’m too old now, and he’s like, this is my chance to do it. He was amazing.
Q – Did any of the other voice cast members say I gotta come on and do this person or that person?
A – Jason Isaacs, who played Billy Butcher in Garth’s version, as well, was really excited about playing that, if you’re familiar with the books – Karl (Urban) was not available, there were scheduling issues, we have a very tight schedule on the show, so we couldn’t afford to wait very long if someone wasn’t available. So we had Jason Isaacs come in, and I think someone had brought him the comics and was telling him, you need to play Butcher, this is like you on a page. So when we came to him, he was like absolutely, I will do this again. And he was great, he was like, I’ve got this no problem, cuz we were all like well the characters got all this -, and he was like, I know. And then he would just DO it and we’d all be like, yes, exactly, the perfect south London cockney accent, because that’s where he grew up.
Q – Did any other actors reach out to you to participate on the show?
A – Uhhh, well we had some actors we knew were fans of The Boys, so the mothership show, we call the main show The Boys the mothership show, had people talking to them who wanted to be on the show, so like Kumail Nanjiani we knew was a huge fan of the show and had been asking about getting involved in it in some way, so we reached out to him and his wife and were like yeah, we’d love to be involved! So usually we went out to, we have a great casting director Linda Lamontagne, who was excellent at like approaching actors and giving us a list of people she knew was interested in being on the show or would be right for the roles, so yeah it was just a matter of working with her.
Q – You guys are essentially starting to build an MCU-like universe –
A – The VCU, the Vought-CU!
Q – The Vought Cinematic Universe, yes, what other kind of like styles, when we were talking to Giancarlo, he was talking about like he saw it a bit like the Animatrix, what kind of other stories would you want to tell in this sort of format? You have such a broad variety to work with!
A – Yeah well, I kinda see The Boys Diabolical, I mean if we’re lucky enough to get a second season, as a kind of grab bag of different aspects that you wouldn’t see in the mothership show. So we don’t want to either repeat anything from the mothership show, and we don’t want to repeat anything we’ve done in season 1, it has to be new, new material. I think it would be great to do some international stuff! Obviously The Boys is set in New York, but Vought has its tentacles around the world so, there’s stuff happening in Asia, there’s stuff happening in Australia, there’s stuff happening in Russia. It would be great to do like a Vought “what’s happening in the rest of the world” during the mothership show, when we’re just seeing what’s happening with Homelander and the crew of the Seven in New York.
Q – So you’re asking what if? Basically
A – Yeah! We would call it, cuz I think “what if” is trademarked, we would call it, “what else?” LOL
Q (me) – So you have a whole series of episodes, each one a different tone and style and everything, you obviously can’t say which one is a favorite because you’re not actually supposed to –
A – Thank you for recognizing that, everyone always asks me which one’s your favorite and I’m like, I love them all!
Q (me) – Right! So, which episode would you say you had the most FUN doing?
A – Oh my gosh that’s a great question – okay so, I wrote the last one and obviously there’s a lot of fun in writing an episode too. But I would say the most fun one was actually Awkwafina’s episode, which I know was very divisive episode, some people love it some people absolutely hate it, but like putting together the soundtrack for that, we commissioned an original Japanese pop song for that episode, so that was really fun.
Q (me) – That’s super cool! Who was the artist?
A – So we had two composers, Leo Birenberg and Zach Robinson, the composers from Cobra Kai, they were unbelievable, they were like we know exactly what kind of tone you want, we know what you need for this episode, so they came on board and pitched us some music and we were like, yes! And then the director for that episode, Madeleine Flores, also was a big fan of like Japanese pop music. So she introduced us to a couple of things, she was like it would be great if we could get this band Necry Talkie who is an actual Japanese pop band, and we licensed their music and they’re in the show. So that one was really fun putting together because I learned a lot about other artists that were not in my normal sort of purview.
Q – You said you wanted to do a second season, do you have some ideas already for those, were there some (ideas) lingering leftover from this season?
A – So funny enough, there weren’t a lot of ideas lingering, because what we did was, when we knew we were going to be doing 8 of them, we started going out to the 8 writers, like Andy Samberg and the Glazers and people like that and we just started filling up the slots one by one. We stopped when we had 8, so there weren’t like lost episodes or things we started but didn’t finish, each one was assigned once per the 8. I don’t want to repeat ourselves, that’s the biggest thing. I want it to be brand new, no repetition, and stuff you haven’t seen anywhere else.
Here’s to starting a petition for The Boys International!
(cheers all around)