A Word on “Villainous”, my First Ever TV Writing Gig
In the three books I’ve published, I’ve closed with a short segment I title “A Word From the Author” (with variations). In it, I give the reader a few personal insights into the novel they hopefully finished reading. I usually write those segments at the very, very end, once the manuscript has been fully edited and formatted. I like doing so because there’s a bit of a poignant feeling to the ritual; it’s a bittersweet punctuation that makes me feel like a project on which I worked for months, sometimes even years (and in the case of “Reverie of Gods”, almost a decade), is behind me, so I can move on to the next one.
So what am I doing now? Something similar, though not entirely.
As I said in the post’s headline, “Villainous”, the new IP created by Alan Ituriel, which launched three days ago on Cartoon Network Mexico, was my very first TV writing gig to actually make it to the air. I had a couple other small breaks (namely on CBS’s “The Unit” several years ago) which never got too far, but this one was actually made. At least four of the screenplays I was commissioned actually made it to the air.
Holy fucking shit.
A huge monster sitting on my shoulder right now is telling me that I have no place writing this at all because, unlike “Reverie of Gods”, or the “The Armor of God” books—which, to be fair, I wouldn’t have ever completed by myself—“Villainous” is not my baby. I mean, it would be nice to say it was, because stars and garters I loved the final product, but it’s not my baby. “Villainous” is Alan’s and his team’s baby. It’s the baby of the people from Cartoon Network Mexico who produced and aired it, in particular Humberto Cervera, whom I know worked tirelessly to get it done. They’re the people who have a right to write something like this, and not me; at most I gave it a nice hat during the baby shower (no pun intended).
But then, there’s another smaller and meeker monster sitting on my other shoulder (yes they’re both monsters) telling me that I do have a right to feel proud. Or, well, maybe not proud, but to feel something vis-à-vis “Villainous”. Humbled might be the right word. Maybe honored. I know that Alan and the people at CN could’ve easily picked a more experienced writer and that the show would still be as amazing as it is, but for whatever reason, they picked me.
This was last year (obviously I couldn’t speak much about it until now), and even back then I repeated to Alan, and his team, and all the people responsible (or to blame!) for my collaboration in the project, just how crazy grateful I was for the opportunity. I repeated it ad nauseum, and have repeated it even more now that it’s out. It’s gotten to the point when I’m afraid that it might begin to sound insincere. I promise it’s not; I’m just really excited about the whole thing.
During the many months between the moment I delivered the scripts and last Monday when I finally got to see some of the episodes on the air (or online), “Villainous” wasn’t really a constant presence in my head, mainly because for obvious reasons I wasn’t involved in the production process after script delivery. I knew I’d finally get to see them some day and I imagined it would make me smile. I never imagined it would make me feel a thousand feet tall despite my modest contribution.
Maybe it has something to do with the reception. Within 24 hours of launch, I checked the #Villainous hashtag on Twitter and was legit shocked to find an amazing amount of art made by fans who loved those shorts so much they decided to give something back to Alan and his team—just as a demonstration of their fandom. And, garters, it’s not only doodles; I’m talking top-tier stuff made by people who probably get paid for their art. Hell, someone even composed a fan theme for the show! I’ve also stumbled upon many people who have put profile and cover pictures of the characters on their social media. There’s also an unofficial fanpage on Facebook and, hell, there’s already a TV Tropes page!
All within a few hours of a very quiet launch!
On Tuesday, I managed to get my claws on my parents’ TV and tuned into Cartoon Network, which I didn’t get at home, and was delighted to find the big beautiful “Villainous” (or “Villanos”) logo within the first commercial break following a particularly crazy “Uncle Grampa” episode. Bless my luck, it happened to be one of the episodes I wrote, and in English.
It was hilarious (and two amazing visual gags weren’t in my script, so that’s the animation team’s credit), and I was excited, so I wanted to talk about it on social media. Both tweets I tagged “Villainous” fucking blew up. With an unimpressive number of followers, I never get more than five or six interactions per tweet, and as of time of writing, one of them has had over 2500 between RTs, Favs, and replies. Hundreds of people sending messages, talking about how amazing the animation and character designs are, claiming Demencia as their waifu and Flug or—startingly—Black Hat as their husbando.
Someone also uploaded my episode to YouTube.
I’ve had to redirect torrents of love and admiration towards Alan and his team and studio because I legit felt like I had no business receiving praise over a product for which they’ve worked incredibly hard. I got lucky and did my best. It’s funny how in two days I gotten more (mostly misdirected) praise over “Villainous” than in the three years since I published my first book.
And I legit couldn’t be happier for “Villainous”, and the insanely talented team behind it. I’ll risk sounding insincere, and I’ll listen to the tinier monster, but this is the first time in years I’ve felt this honored and humbled to be a part of something, no matter how big or small, so I want to thank Alan Ituriel and the producers at Cartoon Network, particularly Humberto, from the bottom of my heart. The feeling is just indescribable, and entirely unexpected.
I have no idea if I’ll be involved in the future of “Villainous”, but that doesn’t change the fact that I hope and I know the show—and the team—could very well become the next (very) big thing. I wish Alan, AI Animation Studios, and Humberto Cervera, producer at Cartoon Network Mexico, all the success in the world.
And thank you all again for this feeling.
You can catch episodes of “Villainous” on Cartoon Network Mexico (though I’m pretty sure it’s only a matter of time before all of them are recorded and put online). Also, please make sure you follow Alan on Twitter, Humberto on Twitter, and Like AI Animation on Facebook for any future updates and projects.
Cartoon Network just uploaded all ten shorts (in Spanish) to their YouTube channel. Enjoy!