August 10th, 2011


Back in the Day: Skeleton Key Pin-Up

Drawn for one of Andi Watson's Skeleton Key collections published by SLG in the 90's. Sarah and I were big fans of the book and as it happened we ended up developing a pitch bible for Sunbow Entertainment when they were trying to sell SK as an animated series. Or, I should say, we re-developed the bible, as there were two previous goes at it if I recall correctly. Sarah came up with the idea that solved a major problem in the earlier approaches, after that we set to world-building, using as many of Andi's original elements as possible. We turned in a pretty extensive bible for which Andi worked up a lovely set of character designs. Most of the characters were from the original comics, there was a small set of new characters we came up with, villain-types, mostly, and it was extremely cool to see Andi's designs for them.

Nickelodeon bought the series for development but sadly nothing came of it -- it fell victim to in-fighting between the east and west coast offices (west coast wrested it from the collapsing east coast, who had made the deal for it and seemed to be behind the concept as we pitched it). Apparently there was a misguided attempt to turn it into an overly-innocuous little kid's show, making the characters younger, and pretty much gutting the things that made the project appealing enough for Nickelodeon to go for it in the first place. It seemed like a dismantling -- a pretty witless and smug one, to boot -- and at some point Sarah and I realized that we didn't want to have anything to do with Nickelodeon if we were asked to work on the pilot as originally planned. I don't think things got very far, actually, although Andi would likely know more about the way things went down after things started to go south. I still wonder how things would have gone if the east coast office was able to develop the project.

I think they blew an opportunity, Andi's series was, and is wonderful, the characters were swell, Harry Potter mania was still building at the time and it seemed a good time for solid, imaginative, good-looking fun magical kid stuff -- we always thought a Skeleton Key series as envisioned stood a good chance. We still have all the bible materials and incidentals filed away, I really, really loved that project. And a show on the air couldn't have happened to a nicer guy than Andi. Oh, well.

Anyway, I hadn't meant this as a plug (or a recollection, I was only going to post the pin-up but as usual I opened up my big mouth, as it were) but since I'm on the subject I should mention that there will be new Skeleton Key stories running in Dark Horse Presents shortly. I'm really looking forward to them.