The Von Dingles Novel & Animation Project
From the team behind ROBOT CHICKEN, the Von Dingles is set to be an comedic 88 page graphic novel. The novel sets out to answer the all important question. Where exactly do all those lost Easter eggs go when nobody finds them?
Creator John Harv Harvatine tells us that... “Ever since I was a kid I wondered what happened to Easter eggs that were left behind and never found. I imagined their story and adventures being told as a comic book, and even tried doing stop-motion with eggs on my camcorder (terrible idea). Now that I’m older and wiser I know the truth…they grow arms, legs, faces, and hide from humans. They also wear cute clothes, have skilled jobs, and are obsessed with making scrumptious foods with their favorite thing in the world, Von Dingle berries! Stoopid Buddy Stoodios has graciously accepted the responsibility of sharing THEIR story with YOU, going back to their own roots, comics!”
Getting Back to their Roots!
When I was approached by Stoopid Buddy Stoodios, I was surprised to see that they were creating a Kickstarter campaign around a graphic comic novel. Then I learned that the studio artists began in comics before they eventually did what they are best known for. Stop motion! In their early days, they collaborated in creating comics around popular culture, using images of toys in various silly scenarios. Does that sound familiar? Yup, this was the precursor to Robot Chicken itself. Twisted ToyFare Theatre was the name of their comic and anyone who saw it would recognize how it lead to their successful series.
Examples of already completed pages by artist Patrick Williams
While the campaign goal is to create a novel, there is also going to be stop motion that ties into the project. Stoopid Buddy already animated a promotional short called Halloween Massacre. It depicts eggs in various harrowing situations, showing exactly why any left behind eggs needed to evacuate from human civilization. Humans are just not friendly to eggs and like to use them to egg houses and smash them under foot. Plus, there are also the odd zombie eggs among them. Zombies you say? Well yes. The campaign was released just in time for Halloween 2023, so it does seem fitting to throw at least SOME zombies into the story!
Stills from Halloween Massacre
Who are the Von Dingles?
The novel will follow the Von Dingles which live in the Hidden Valley under the leadership of King Dingle. The King is the ruler of the Hidden Valley and under the thumb of the outside nemesis Pecker Egg (formerly Pecker Von Dingle). While Pecker tries to intimidate the inhabitants of the Valley to keep them in line, an intrepid bunch of eggs rises to meet the challenges he creates.
The main characters who fearlessly venture out of the Valley are all filled with unique personalities and abilities. Some which they discover along the way.
Vigor is cocksure and overly confident, he permanently wears a Hawaii shirt with an open collar, and a baseball hat on backwards.
Brittle is calm, smart and clever, Brittle is rarely seen without her sweater and a stocking cap with a ball. She has a gentle way about her, often being able to see both sides of a situation and perspective.
Clark is the hero of the story. He has legs but no arms or face, and doesn’t eat, just absorbing what he needs through his shell. He carries a fanny pack (which is a bit of a Mary Poppins handbag, in that it fits far more than it should) with various useful things in it, including a piece of crayon that he sometimes uses to draw a face on his shell.
The project is super exciting and as I write this seems to be headed for success, as it has nearly half the first goal raised in only two days.
How to View the Von Dingles Novel
The studio partnered with their friends at a company called Macroverse. Macroverse released an app in which backers of the Von Dingles Kickstarter campaign can download the graphic novel to, as well as download other comics that the company hosts. Patrick Williams is the one illustrating the novel, and Macroverse co-founder Adam Martin is helping to co-write the novel with John from Stoopid Buddy. On top of that, the studio is also going to create related short animations when time allows. With all the talent and passion going into the campaign, it is sure to be a very unique and fun read when it is completed.
According to the Kickstarter page, backers will not have to wait until the entire novel is done to start reading. But it will be released in sections. You can find the Macroverse app over here.
Behind the scenes photos from Halloween Massacre
Want to Support the Von Dingles Project?
Click the links below to check out the campaign and the Stoodio.
Interview with John Harvatine
Photo by Michael Buckner for The Hollywood Reporter (Harv Left with Seth Green)
I reached out to the studio and asked some questions that I thought fans might want to ask about the people and details of the campaign. Harv took the time to get back to us and filled in some of the mysteries behind the Dingles.
Q: I learned that your beginnings were in comics before you became known for stop motion. Can you tell us a bit about your start in comics and why you decided to get back to your roots?
A: Matt Senreich and Seth Green, my other Stoopid Buddy partners, were heavy into that world before I met them. So when we started the Stoodio years ago that was always a backbone of who we were. For me, I always loved Disney comics, and my dream was to become a Disney animator or comic book artist. So much so that when I learned that Disney was based in Burbank I wanted to move there…I was 10, hahaha. Who dreams of living in Burbank? THIS GUY.
Q: For your Kickstarter campaign you released a short video with stop motion scenes illustrating the plight of some of the Von Dingles. Did the story originally start out as a stop motion project before deciding to make it into a novel, or maybe it was the other way around?
A: The Von Dingles started out as an idea for a short. Basically, it was the thought of what happens to the Easter eggs that aren’t found. What happens to them? That was on my mind, then I thought it would be funny to show an egg’s perspective of egging a house, what would that be like? So those two random holidays got put together into a little short that wouldn’t cost a crazy amount of money to express my love for that idea.
Q: You guys created many funny characters for the novel, one that appears to be an egg with a large robotic body named Pecker. Is he the offspring of the original Robot Chicken? Could he and his robot army be more mad scientist creations that escaped to rule over the Hidden Valley?
A: Robot Chicken is so deep in our Stoodio, it’s hard not to be influenced by it. A lot of our comedy and sensibility comes from that show, we all love it and passionately make it, so it’s not bananas to think that it would influence what we do. So when I was coming up with the main bad guy, Pecker Egg, I was inspired by the Easter tradition of blowing eggs, you know hollowing them out and decorating them. So I thought what sick egg would do that to other eggs…well Pecker Egg would with his metal beak of course! Then it seemed fun to tie it back to Robot Chicken, like it could come from that universe. So maybe it will in the future, for now they share some similarities, but that’s about it.
Q: Looking at the released teaser comic pages, the Dingles seem to face major obstacles, namely Peckers robot army. Clark also has to overcome the fact that he has no arms. Have there been any real life obstacles in creating the new campaign so far?
A: Tons, mostly because this a new project that seemed like it came out of nowhere, but it really was brewing for a while. Luckily we have been really supported by friends, family, and fans who love the idea of supporting something independent. So the biggest challenges are really just spreading the word that we love this project and we are hoping to do much more with it in the future!
Q: On the campaign page it mentions "Backers will get regular updates, sketches, behind-the-scenes videos, new comic shorts and more". Will the future short animated stories be different from the novel in any way? Such as side plots or expanded characters that fill in things the novel doesn't immediately address?
A: Yes totally. The universe of The Von Dingles is vast, and not only will we be diving into the big adventure that the graphic novel covers, but we’ll start exploring other characters and challenges, as well as some cute and funny little comic panels. We got lots planned with these guys!
Q: How did you team up with artist Patrick Williams of Macroverse and was he a fan of your early Twisted ToyFare Theatre comic creations?
A: We have always been fans of Patrick and of Macroverse, they have been on our radar for awhile. There have been a few attempts to line up but schedules never worked in our favor, but then this summer we found a small window of time that we could all work together, so that’s why it all happened so fast. We all really wanted to work together, so we scrambled to get the teams assembled to hit the small window of time.
Q: One of the writers listed for the novel is Adam Martin. When he helped Harv come up with all the different characters, were any of them inspired by real or fictional people?
A: Adam has been fantastic, he feels a bit like the grown up in the room. WIth his experience, it has really helped elevate the characters and story beyond our dreams. All of the characters were inspired by people we know for sure, so I don’t want to insult them, hahaha. But I will say that the spirit of these characters comes from the team on this project. We all are like Clark, wide-eyed (he has no eyes) and excited for what the future brings, but are smart enough to know that there will be obstacles that we need each other to overcome.
Q: If your campaign exceeds all of its financial goals, can you divulge where you might take the project next?s cocksure and overly confident, he permanently wears a Hawaii shirt with an open collar, and a baseball hat on backwards.
A: We would love to continue making comics of the characters, because it’s such a fantastic way to tell their story, for sure. Also, we would like to bring it back to its roots and develop it as a stop-motion show. The stories that we want to tell work in both formats, but stop-motion is such a fun expression, there is no way we couldn’t keep trying to bring these lil’ cuties to the screen. We love the challenge of fighting gravity, budgets, schedules, and with such a talented group of artists down here we could really make that sucker pop!