The Midnight Gospel, now available on Netflix, is a surreal animated series from the minds of Pen Ward (Adventure Time) and Duncan Trussell (Duncan Trussell Family Hour) and the animation studio Titmouse. It follows Clancy, a spacecaster, as he travels around a simulated multiverse to interview wild creatures and characters like a short, zombie-avoiding president for his program. In addition to speaking with Trussell ahead of the show's release, ComicBook.com also had the opportunity to have Ward answer a few questions about the wonderfully wild new show.
Arguably the most interesting thing about The Midnight Gospel is that it actually stitches together plots out of interviews Trussell conducted as part of his podcast, the Duncan Trussell Family Hour, with various guests. Obviously, it's not like Trussell had a short, zombie-avoiding president on the podcast, and his name isn't actually Clancy, so some of the dialogue for the show is newly recorded.
"I never got them to sign anything and I certainly didn't want to," Trussell said of the whole process. "If they didn't want the podcast to go onto the animated series, I wasn't going to do it. I wasn't going to try to force it or anything like that. And then every single one of them was really happy to come in and record dialogue that we needed to glue the conversation to the action, so we had no problem at all with anybody. Everybody was pretty excited about coming in and doing it."
Keep reading to see how Ward discovered the Duncan Trussell Family Hour podcast in the first place, why he made The Midnight Gospel, how they chose which interviews to use, and more!
Have you had a chance to check out The Midnight Gospel yet? Or are you excited to get your first taste? Let us know in the comments, or hit me up directly on Twitter at @rollinbishop to talk all things animation!
The eight-episode first season of The Midnight Gospel is now available on Netflix. It stars Duncan Trussell as Clancy, a spacecaster who interviews a variety of different subjects, and uses material originally included as part of the Duncan Trussell Family Hour podcast with animation from Titmouse. You can check out all of our previous coverage of the animated series right here.
DISCOVERING THE PODCAST
ComicBook.com: How did you discover the Duncan Trussell Family Hour podcast?
Pen Ward: My friend Jesse Moynihan (http://jessemoynihan.com/) told me about it while we were working on Adventure Time. Jesse was also Art Director on Midnight Gospel. He and Elle Michalka (https://www.instagram.com/eleanormichalka/) worked out the look of the show. Their art is rad.
WHY THE MIDNIGHT GOSPEL
After the success of Adventure Time, from an outside perspective, it feels like you could have done just about anything you wanted. What spoke to you about doing this show in the first place? Why The Midnight Gospel, of all things?
I was trying to make something personal to me. I wanted to make something that dealt with themes of kindness and mindfulness. I was listening to Duncan's podcast where he interviews people who all are pursuing serenity in different ways.. philosophers and comedians. And Duncan's really funny, he makes learning about meditation funny for me. Duncan's personal in his interviews, he's an open book about his own insecurities and.. I love listening to people who can spill their guts.. it makes me feel better about my guts. I realized Duncan was already making something that I wished I could be a part of so I reached out.
HOW INTERVIEWS WERE CHOSEN
What was the process like for picking which interviews to feature in the show?
I leaned towards interviews that touched on practicing kindness.. I learned to throw that word around a lot this year "practicing." It really takes the pressure off when you're just practicing kindness haha.. which has really helped me! I really like that word.
I also chose conversations that look death in the eyes.. because it's scary.. facing death helps me appreciate life.
ON WORKING WITH NETFLIX
What’s your relationship been like working with Netflix?
It's been really wonderful! Elizabeth Porter and Mike Moon were so supportive and caring on this project. I'm really appreciative. It's been a really pleasant experience.
Given the strange times we’re in right now, what are you up to while everyone seems to be socially distancing?
I'm just stayin in! Drawing and working on animation from home.