Exclusive: Pat McHale announces ‘Over the Garden Wall’ comic book series

May 13, 2015 | 10:24 a.m.

Join Wirt, Greg and Beatrice back “Over the Garden Wall” this summer with a new miniseries published by KaBoom.

Created by Pat McHale, “Over the Garden Wall” was Cartoon Network’s first original animated miniseries. The series, which debuted in November, followed brothers Wirt and Greg as they traveled through a mysterious place called the Unknown, searching for a way home. Among those they encountered during their journey was the ominous Woodsman, an irritable bluebird named Beatrice and a talking horse named Fred.

During “Over the Garden Wall’s” 10-episode run, KaBoom, Boom Studios’ all-ages imprint, published a one-shot companion comic written by McHale with art by Jim Campbell. They are reuniting for a new four-part miniseries, with the first issue due out Aug. 26.

COVER ART: Main | SubscriptionBoom 10 Years variant | Incentive

The new story is set between the third and fourth episodes of the animated series, with the synopsis explaining, “Wirt and Greg are trying to hitch a ride out of schooltown but end up having to walk. Soon, they come upon two girls playing, and wind up having to keep them entertained so that they don’t wake their giant of a father!”

McHale, whose prior credits include being a creative director on Cartoon Network’s hit series “Adventure Time,” spoke over the phone with Hero Complex to discuss the new “Over the Garden Wall” miniseries.

The subscription cover of "Over the Garden Wall" No. 1 by Steve Wolfhard. (Boom! Studios)

The subscription cover of “Over the Garden Wall” No. 1 by Steve Wolfhard. (Boom Studios)

How does the new “Over the Garden Wall” miniseries relate to the overall animated series?

The first comic that we did, that one-shot comic, was sort of an in-between-two-episodes thing that fell between Episodes 2 and 3. These comics are also going to do that, between some of the other episodes, and then also possibly go into some back-story stuff for some of the characters too.

They’ll sort of extend the miniseries in some ways. Like if you were watching the show, you could kind of pause the show after certain episodes and read one of the comics, then go back to watching the show, then pause the show and read the comic, and it would all be like one longer story.

Were you mindful at all that the audience this time around would already be aware of how the story ends?

I think that’s part of what’s interesting about writing it. I don’t know if most people who read it will have seen the series, but I’m sort of assuming a lot of people who are reading the comics will have, so there are certain things we can kind of give away earlier. Like maybe Beatrice can say things that will make the more knowing audience be like “Oh, that’s going to be revealed later,” and setting that up even more. I’m speaking very vague.

But also I think they should be able to stand alone if you haven’t seen the show. We’re trying to do it so that you can still know who the characters are and follow [the story] just if you pick [the comic] up. With the show we tried to do that too. Even though it was a continuing story, each episode stood alone as its own little tale.

How hard is it to transition the storytelling from an animated format to a comic book?

The one-shot was really hard for me because I had no idea how to do it. It seemed like it shouldn’t be that hard — I’ve written scripts before — but trying to only write and not draw the panels so that you’re just writing what you imagine what someone might draw eventually. It was trippy. I had to get trained. Eventually I got used to it by the end of that first comic.

I feel like the ones that we’re doing now are a little bit easier.

Jim Campbell, who’s the artist, he drew the first one and he’s drawing all these too. He’s really helping me learn the ropes and figure out how to do comics.

Certain kinds of things like pacing is so different in comics than it is in film. I’m trying to get used to it.

"Over the Garden Wall" creator Pat McHale will write the comic book miniseries. (Maarten de Boer / Getty Images)

“Over the Garden Wall” creator Pat McHale will write the comic book miniseries. (Maarten de Boer / Getty Images)

Music was a big part of the animated series. How is it working in a medium without that added element?

It’s interesting because it’s very noticeable to me that we’re not going to be able to have music in here to really sell this. I think a lot of it ends up in Jim’s hands trying to get the mood across in the drawings. A lot of the stories we’re telling in the comics are a little bit on the lighter side compared to some of the darker episodes of the miniseries. There will be some dark stuff in this next batch but I think the lighter side of the show lends itself better to comics without music where it can be more lively and it can be more fun and you can kind of feel what the music would be.

The one-shot did have music though, with a song and some sheet music in the back.

We plan on putting more of the sheet music into these too. To have one page of sheet music per comic is still the plan.

The incentive cover for "Over the Garden Wall" No. 1 by Michael DiMotta. (Boom! Studios)

The incentive cover for “Over the Garden Wall” No. 1 by Michael DiMotta. (Boom! Studios)

Are these stories you’re exploring in the comics ones that you came up with while you were creating the animated series?

They’re all versions of stories that existed when we were structuring the show. The show ended up being 10 episodes, but we had a few more stories that didn’t make it into the show. These are some of those kinds of things. When we made the show, we tried to put everything we could into it, so these stories have sort of changed and been reworked so that they work in the context of what the show ended up being.

Some of them are easier to write than others because some of them were pretty much figured out, but the one I’m working on now is not figured out at all so it’s a little bit harder.

Are there plans to keep making more “Over the Garden Wall” comics?

I don’t know. I don’t believe that there are any plans for it that I’m aware of. But who knows?

I think these four or five, if you include the first one, for me it’s kind of just nice to have. In some ways it feels more like we’re completing the show even more than it was complete before, rather than adding on to it. Hopefully, they don’t feel tacked on. That would always be the thing, whether we have more stories that would not feel like were just added to make more. It’s better if it’s making [the entire story] richer.

Are you interested in doing more comics work?

Maybe! It’s nice, it’s really nice to have a physical thing. That’s, I think, the most exciting part. Well no, the most exciting part is writing stuff and then Jim drawing it, because I just like his drawing so much. He’s just so good!

But, yeah, to actually get physical copies of things. With video you just make stuff and it just exists in the ether of wherever stuff exists now. So [having a comic book] is nice. I’d like to make more.

– Tracy Brown | @tracycbrown |@LATHeroComplex

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3 Responses to Exclusive: Pat McHale announces ‘Over the Garden Wall’ comic book series

  1. Ggg says:

    I absolutely cannot wait! <333

  2. Alex says:

    Best news ever.

  3. Kas says:

    I'm so excited! This is my favorite miniseries! Are we ever going to get a DVD too? I would buy it in an instant!

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