When aspiring artist Ryan Quincy moved to California in the mid-’90s, he had two goals—getting a job in animation and becoming a pro-surfer. As fate, or coincidence, would have it, a back injury abruptly ended Quincy’s water-based career. But it led to a lot of time spent watching cartoons in the hospital, solidifying his pursuit of animation.
In another act of kismet, Quincy’s neighbors in Playa Del Ray just happened to be South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and the show’s animation director Eric Stough.
Quincy ended up landing a gig on the movie South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut and then moved to the TV series, where he spent 12 years in various roles, earning two Emmys in the process. During this period, he also created IFC’s adult animated dramedy Out There, and did some development work with Disney Television Animation.
He eventually was given the opportunity to make Future-Worm! for Disney XD. The five-episode short-form comedy adventure toon follows the time-travelling adventures of an optimistic 12-year-old boy named Danny and his loyal sidekick Future-Worm, a fearless, bearded worm from the future that also happens to have washboard abs.
The now full-length series, which got the greenlight in February, will make its 11-minute format debut in the US on August 1, after previews of three- and seven-minute story segments from the premiere ep land on the Disney XD app. (The three-minute version will also be available on Disney XD’s YouTube channel.)
Quincy spoke with Kidscreen about his transition from adult animation to the kids side of the biz, and Future-Worm!’s unique format strategy.
How did Disney encourage you to create Future-Worm!?
After Out There didn’t get picked up, I was approached by Disney TVA creative VP Mike Moon. He said I should go back to Disney and make a show. So I did. They wanted me to make the show that I wanted to make, which was very refreshing. With Out There, I was trying to do more of a dramedy like an Alexander Payne or Wes Anderson movie. But with Future-Worm!, I wanted to try something else, something fast-paced, but also very funny and still with heart—a fun, dumb time-travel show that anyone could watch, including my kids. And what’s great about Disney XD is that it is trying to be more experimental with creator-driven shows like Gravity Falls and Star vs. The Forces of Evil.
How was the three-format strategy developed?
I pitched the idea of creating a type of variety show. The 11-minute episode would follow a more classic A/B storyline where the characters are on an arc and learn something at the end. The seven-minute ep is more of a sitcom-type scenario, or a ‘they need to solve one problem’ type of episode, while the three-minute version is more of a social media-style shareable sketch like a fun movie trailer or a ‘game show from the future’ idea.
Is a multi-format production more difficult to manage?
The biggest challenge is the sheer volume of stories we have to tell. We have 21 half hours, and there are three cartoons in each one. Every day of every week is planned out minute by minute—it’s constant multitasking. But our main goal of going to series was to build out the world.
What does a typical production day look like for you?
Some days we go in and the three-minute ep is a little easier, but other days we could be working on two 11-minute eps. But we do apply a method of breaking down a story that we learned from the creators of Rick and Morty, Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland. They use The Hero’s Journey on the circle story structure. We apply that and it works with any one of our formats.