Gavin Schmitt Interviews Craig David Wallace
How does one describe “Todd and the Book of Pure Evil”? The most frequent comparison is “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, because it revolves around a group of high school kids and the supernatural. But there are plenty of differences — the tone, for one. “Buffy” would occasionally become melodramatic or have “after school special” themes. We don’t see that with “Todd”. We also have a more tasteless humor with “Todd”, and the overarching theme of heavy metal (which makes sense when you’re dealing with the devil).
In short, though, it is irreverently funny and highly intelligent despite its juvenile exterior. Any fan of the “horror comedy” would feel right at home with the series. Unfortunately, it was unceremoniously canceled after only two seasons and still more story left to tell…
Which is where the new film, “The End of the End”, comes in. Because you can’t convincingly have 30-year olds play high school kids, we have gone animated. And, in some ways, even more extreme. Loose ends are tied up, questions are answered… but the possibility remains for more stories to be told. After all, evil is forever.
In November 2017, I had the distinct pleasure of shooting a few questions to Craig David Wallace, the show’s creator-writer-director. Hopefully this is not the last we see of him in the world of Crowley High.
GS: I was late to the party and didn’t even hear about “Todd” until after it was canceled. Now it’s one of my all-time favorites, and I don’t think I’m alone. Is this something you’ve noticed – a lot of new fans years later – or was I just a bit slow?
CDW: I live in a bit of a bubble – I don’t have any social media accounts – so I haven’t really noticed that much. During our cross-Canada tour for the Animated Feature, I’ve met a lot of hard core fans who there from the beginning as well as people who found it later, so there’s at least some new fans years later. It would help if we were still on a streaming platform, which is something we’re hoping to get the series back onto along with the animated feature.
GS: You’ve listed influences such as the “Evil Dead” trilogy, John Hughes, and “Faust”, all of which make sense. I’ve also heard you include “Conan the Barbarian” – how does that fit in there?
CDW: It’s quite simply one of the best fucking movies ever made! And obviously I’m talking about the John Milius / Schwarzenegger original. Really, the Conan influences are most in the season one finale when Todd forges his sword. Todd sitting on the steps of Crowley High at the end is my version of Conan sitting on his throne. It’s more of the spirit of the thing. The Conan The Barbarian DVS/Blu-ray has one of the best commentary tracks ever where Milius just rambles about the “power of steel” for 2 hours.
GS: The show could fairly be described as gross, juvenile and often offensive for sensitive viewers. The movie actually ups the ante on dick jokes. Were there any jokes or ideas you had wanted to include but were limited by censors?
CDW: I can’t think of any time we were actually censored. I mean, for the feature we were only responsible to ourselves, and with the series our network execs were completely supportive of what we were doing. We did have to do a “day-time” edit of the series for airing before 7pm, but for the first season we created our own “safe” versions instead of bleeping. So “ass” became “hatch”, which was actually funnier. And my favourite was “Shit out of luck” becoming “Ship out of dock”. The daytime edit of “Cockfight” was totally incomprehensible. I think by the time we hit season two we just got tired and did bleeps. I’m not even sure if we even needed to do a safe version by then. With all the dick jokes, it’s really weird because all of us in the writers room are probably some of the most polite non offensive talking people you’ll ever meet. I don’t think I’ve ever actually said a dick joke outside of working on Todd.
GS: As I understand it, you turned to animation for the movie for budget reasons. Once you knew it would be a cartoon, did this open up possibilities that would have been hard to film traditionally?
CDW: We could make the cast look like teenagers! Seriously, it was getting a bit silly there by the end, and if we had done a live action movie it would have been hard to set it in high school. Certainly the ending of the film with all its carnage would have been impossible for us to do. Beyond that, we actually tried really hard to keep it in the realm of what we’d be able to do live action. We wanted to make it as close to the series as possible.
GS: One advantage of animation, as you alluded, is that the characters never have to age. Have there been any talks of holiday specials or endless movies every few years for eternity?
CDW: I did have a crazy idea for a Christmas Special instead of the animated movie where it would be a talk show with Atticus being the host and Elliot being his sidekick, and Todd, Curtis, and Jenny being the guests with Evil Hannah being the surprise guest hiding backstage. But more movies? I don’t know. It took a LONG time to get this one made. If anything, maybe we can get a revival series going. I have an idea for a live action sequel that’s totally different than the show but with the same characters and themes that would probably just piss everyone off. Maybe that’ll happen!
GS: In the movie, we find that the “B” in Hannah B. Williams has significance. How far back was this in the plan?
CDW: Once we decided that she was Hannah “B” Williams, we knew she was going to be a clone. That was before we even shot the pilot. Just how we were going to reveal it took a while to really figure out.
GS: I’m still not sure if I get the connection between the wolf, Nikki Kane and the stoner dudes… help?
CDW: It’s pretty simple: The Metal Dudes are Nikki and they’re all the wolf. Part of it was my reluctance to introduce new characters and my need to try to tie everything together somehow. My co-creator of the series Charles Picco would say “Todd should have a girlfriend!” and I’d think about it and then say “Only if she turns out to be the metal dudes! And that they’re the wolf too!” And he was like, “fine as long as I get to write a musical about Todd getting a girlfriend”.
GS: As a major creative force behind “Slasher”, was there ever any thought of putting an actor from “Todd” in the show? And why didn’t you?
CDW: There was some talk but ultimately it just didn’t happen. I’d love to work with all of them again, especially since we’ve reconnected while promoting the Animated Feature. I’m surprised they’re not all super stars because each one of them is amazingly talented.
GS: The AV teacher in “Stranger Things” bears a strong resemblance to Atticus; do you happen to know if this was intentional?
CDW: Oh man, I don’t know. I really wanted to dislike Stranger Things because of that, but gosh darn I just love that show. I’d like to think it was an homage, and I hope the Duffer Brothers are fans of Todd. And I hope they read this and give me a job.
GS: (laughs) I’m sure it’s possible! Thank you for your time.