Some of you may know the talented Bob Boyle from his work on Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!, or perhaps from The Fairly OddParents. He has even directed and designed Sesame Street segments. He has also published two books, Hugo and the Really, Really, Really Long Strong and Rosie & Rex: A Nose for Fun!. But these days, he’s been working on a new project, the new Powerpuff Girls show, based on the original series but reimagined for today’s audiences. I had the opportunity to talk with Bob about the show and his experience working on it.
GeekDad: As a co-executive producer (and director), what do you do for the show? What kind of influence do you have over the animation style in your roles in the new show? Do you like the changes from the original?
Bob Boyle: Myself and Executive Producer Nick Jennings oversee all the creative elements of the show. We work closely with the writers to create and develop the stories, direct the storyboard artists, and go over all of the designs and color with our Art Director. We’re also responsible for guiding the recording of the voice over artists and the post production (music, sfx, editing, etc…). So we’re involved in all aspects of the show, but animation is a very collaborative process. Luckily we have an extremely talented crew that has really helped us make the show what it is.
I’m very happy with the changes that we made with this new version of the show. I feel like we’ve been able to keep the core elements of what made the show a success while also making it feel more contemporary.
GD: Are you hoping to reach a new generation of viewers, or do you think the viewership will mostly be devotees of the original?
BB: While we’re certainly hoping that we can connect with a new generation of viewers, I think that fans of the original show will also be able to enjoy it. Sometimes it can be hard for people who grew up with the original show to accept that the new version is slightly different. We all love the original but it’s a different time, with a different crew, and the world has changed quite a bit since the show last aired. I think if Craig McCracken (creator of the original show) was making the show today he would make a different show as well.
I think one of the great things about the show is that it’s something that both kids and adults can enjoy on many levels. When we premiered our show at South by Southwest this year, it was really exciting to see whole families watching it together. The kids would laugh at certain jokes and the adults would laugh at others. And many of the parents were fans of the original show so they were genuinely excited to be able to share it with their kids.
GD: How were the new voice actors for the Powerpuff Girls chosen?
BB: When we started developing this new version, we looked at all aspects of the show to see what we felt we should keep and what we should adjust. As much as we love the original voices, we wanted to infuse the show with a new energy and thought casting new voice actors for the girls would be a natural way to do that. We auditioned a lot of very talented actors but the ones we chose really stood out because they are very much like the characters they play. Kristin Li, who plays the lovable character of Bubbles, walked into the audition and just started hugging everyone. Nick and I immediately turned to each other and said, “That’s Bubbles.” Natalie Palamides, who plays the super tough Buttercup, strutted in and just grunted “Wassup?” We thought, “That’s Buttercup!” And Amanda Leighton, who plays the type A leader Blossom, came in totally prepared with a binder full of notes. Naturally she was our Blossom.
And from the very beginning of our recording sessions, the three girls have been like real sisters. They’re always laughing, joking, hugging, and dancing. They have a natural chemistry and friendship that extends beyond the recording studio. They are a true joy to work with.
GD: Do you see this show going for a long run, like the original series did?
BB: We’re really having a great time making the show so I hope it runs for a very long time. I feel like the characters are extremely strong and the universe that they exist in is so rich that there’s certainly no shortage of great stories we can tell.
GD: Would the lessons learned in the new episodes be updated for today’s audience? Have you tried to do anything different because of the intervening decade between the old and new shows?
BB: Storytelling has evolved a bit since the show was last on the air. This is especially true at Cartoon Network where many of the shows tend to focus very heavily on the characters. The characters of the Powerpuff Girls are already very strong but we tried to dig even deeper to find out what really makes the girls tick and how we could really expand on their personalities. We love all the fighting and action that is always part of the show but we also wanted to be able to spend time with the girls just being real people that we can all relate to and care about on a deep level. So that when they are getting their butts kicked by a giant monster, we really feel for them.
GD: Why did they choose to make the girls’ colors softer, more pastel? Are you trying to appeal to a certain group, or just wanted a change?
BB: That’s just a part of the overall adjustment that we made to the art direction. We have a very talented Art Director, Eusong Lee, who has really done a great job of updating the look and style of the show. I think he has done a great job of maintaining the overall feel of the original while making some very cool changes to make it feel more contemporary.
GD: The son of one of the GeekMoms wants to know why the opening monologue from the narrator isn’t part of the show anymore.
BB: We’ve used it occasionally but we felt like we didn’t want to be tied down to include it in every show. Like I mentioned before, storytelling has changed and we wanted to be able to have the option to tell stories with different structures.
GD: Will we see a lot of new characters in the new series?
BB: Yes! There is a mix of some old favorites and a lot of new characters. It’s really an honor for us to be able to create new characters for this Townsville universe. I’m especially excited by a character I created called Man Boy. He’s a man’s man in the body of a boy. He’s a real old school misogynist who thinks the world has been wussified and wants to turn Townsville into Mansville. He’s a perfect foe for our three girl power gals.
GD: Will there be another musical episode in the new series?
BB: I don’t know if we’ll do a full musical, but there are a few episodes where music and songs are heavily featured. We are very fortunate to have a very talented composer, Mike Reagan. He was the composer for me on a Nick Jr. show I created called Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! and was also the composer for the God of War video game so he has quite broad range. His score and songs of the show are always a joy to hear and always help drive the episodes forward.