Netflix orders queer-friendly DeadEndia animated kids series with Beetlejuice musical star
DeadEndia, a horror-comedy series of graphic novels from Eisner Award-winning comic book artist and animation director Hamish Steele, has been lauded for its art, touching tales of adolescence, and inclusion of LGBTQ storylines. Now, Steele and his creation are looking to break new ground in a different medium.
Netflix announced Thursday that the graphic novels will be adapted into a new animated kids series, which is set to launch on the streaming platform in 2021. At a time when there's a void left by Steven Universe (which ended in March) and She-Ra and the Princesses of Power (which ended in May), this already seems to tick a lot of the same boxes.
DeadEndia is set in the space of a theme park and the haunted mansion that resides there. Barney, Norma, and magical talking-dog Pugsley are trying to balance their summer jobs with facing a barrage of supernatural forces—including demonic game show hosts and sleep-sucking witches. Courtney, a thousand-year-old demon, becomes their guide to the underworld multiplane.
In addition to Alex Brightman, star of Broadway's Beetlejuice: The Musical, the show has tapped Zach Barack (Spider-Man: Far From Home), Kody Kavitha (Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), Emily Osment (The Kominsky Method), Clinton Leupp/Miss Coco Peru (Will & Grace), Kenny Tran (Maybe Happy Ending), and Kathreen Khavari (Big Little Lies) for the voice cast.
Barack became the first trans actor to appear on-screen in a Disney Marvel movie, though he only showed up in a background capacity in the Spider-Man: Homecoming sequel. Leupp featured multiple times on Will & Grace as drag persona Miss Coco Peru and has appeared in entertainment as far back as 1995's To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar. Barack will voice Barney, a trans teen, on DeadEndia, while Leupp will voice Pauline Phoenix.
Kavitha will also voice Norma, Brightman will voice Pugsley, Osment will voice Courtney, Tran will voice Logs, and Khavari will voice Badyah.
"DeadEndia is about terrifying demons, vengeful ghosts, and mysterious magic," Steele said in a statement. "It is also about coming of age in a world that wasn’t made for you. It’s a drama about found family, identity, and making mistakes. And of course, it’s a laugh-out-loud comedy! I’ve always dreamed of making the show I needed as a lonely, horror-obsessed closeted gay kid and thanks to Netflix and our ridiculously talented, diverse, and representative writers room and crew, we have shot way past my dreams and into wildest fantasy territory!”
Steele won the Eisner Award in 2018 for Promising Newcomer with his graphic novel Pantheon: The True Story of Egyptian Deities. He began the world of DeadEndia as an animated short that he produced in 2014, shown below.
The 2D-animated show will be produced at London's Blink Industries studio.