For fans of the overwhelmingly funny, sometimes depressing, always deranged stick figure world of Cyanide & Happiness, this is the moment we've all been waiting for -- the world premiere of its new show. This first season will feature 11 weekly episodes (with a depressing one mixed in -- an ode to the comic strips), each running about 12 minutes long and debuting on Wednesdays (except for episode 1, which hits the website this Thursday). Each episode will be a collection of longer-than-average shorts, and some episodes may even be several parts. Leading up to this, the C&H guys have been pumping out weekly shorts since fall of last year, which have been a big hit with viewers. "Fans have been hugely excited for the shorts," says Dave McElfatrick, co-founder of C&H. "Every week we're kind of panicking about how they'll react to them. But nope, everything always turns out swell with them. We get a great response from the fans. Which is...we're very grateful for every week. It's been overwhelmingly positive." "Junk Mail" and "Confession" are a couple of their most popular. Fans even demanded the original whistling tune from "Junk Mail" be made into a ringtone. (It was.) But the guys are ready to place the shorts on hold for a bit to concentrate on their full-length series episodes.
And where better to debut the first episode than at the Alamo Drafthouse in Richardson? This Wednesday's event will kick off with some of C&H's most popular shorts up on the big screen. After that, McElfatrick and fellow co-founders Rob DenBleyker and Kris Wilson will come out on stage to take questions from the audience and introduce episode 1. When asked about the possibility of an after-party, McElfatrick was non-committal but optimistic about some bar time with the audience post show.
A drink (or two) would definitely be in order for the comics. Making an 11-episode animated season is a lot of fun but, also, a lot of hard work. It all starts with the story writing process. Luckily, when the guys first sat down to plan the season, they realized 50 percent of the writing was already done. Some ideas were as many as five years old, but a forum wasn't in place to develop them, until now. The other half of the stories came from the guys sitting around bars, trying to make each other laugh. With Wilson living in Fort Collins, Colorado, numerous plane rides were taken in addition to Skype sessions.
As the show began to take shape, the guys carved out management roles for themselves, a way to make sure their bases were covered. McElfatrick was put in charge of art, DenBleyker covered animation and Wilson spearheaded sound design and voice acting. But pretty soon, those roles loosened up. Which is pretty typical for C&H -- the comics shared responsibilities when creating their shorts, as well. They even reached out to outside talent for help with art and animation, and their circle of contributors has only grown with the creation of the full-length episodes and is now worldwide.
They've hired a management team, artists and animators from the U.S., India, South Korea and more. When it comes time to make an episode, it all starts with laying down the voice roles. Then the comics and a select few others create demonstrations of what they'd like to see, and those demonstrations are sent out to artists and animators all over the globe.
Besides working with some of the best studio talent out there, season 1 will also feature appearances from special guests. But McElfatrick is pretty secretive about whom they're working with. "Let's see," he says. "He wears a lot of white, he has long hair, and he really likes to party. Sometimes he has a bloody nose. Oh, he has a beard, as well. That's enough information, I think." McElfatrick, you've just sent Cyanide & Happiness fans into a tailspin.
Speaking of, fans will notice one thing missing from Wednesday night's festivities -- former C&H member Matt Melvin. A couple months ago, it was announced that Melvin had parted ways with C&H. The foursome had realized that not everyone was on board with the new direction C&H was headed. Unfortunately, the outcome was Melvin's departure.
"All I can sort of say, really, is that we were all pulling in different directions," McElfatrick says. "A lot of the things we are wanting to do, like...you'll see that we have a new site design coming up very soon, we'll have new elements on there...a lot of that just couldn't have happened or wouldn't be possible if we were still in the situation we were in, which it sucks. It really does suck that that sort of had to happen. It's not been good for anyone, really. But we can just try and move on and do what we do." The remaining three comics are still very supportive of Melvin and his work, including his new web comic, The Last Nerds on Earth. "There's no animosity at all," McElfatrick says. "It's been the easiest way to make that decision, I suppose."
The loss of a founding member wasn't easy, but the remaining three are looking forward to the future of Cyanide & Happiness. The shorts will be back after the show's first season ends, and the team plans to trade off seasons of shorts and full-length episodes for the foreseeable future.
Tickets for Wednesday can be purchased online.