The Last Kids on Earth brings Max Brallier‘s hit graphic novel series to life in a wonderfully animated adventurous epic that arrives on Netflix September 17th in a one-hour special. The series follows 13-year-old Jack Sullivan (Nick Wolfhard) and his band of middle-schoolers who live in a decked-out tree house, play video games, and battle zombies in the aftermath of the monster apocalypse. It’s a hilarious adventure filled with crazy gadgets and a lifetime supply of action, and it’s just the first taste of what’s to come in the new series from Atomic Cartoons.
In anticipation of the show’s debut, I had a chance to chat with Brallier and co-showrunner Scott D. Peterson (Phineas and Ferb) about the process of bringing The Last Kids on Earth to the screen, making hard decisions about which moments from the books to include, and the unique style of animation that feels like the graphic novels brought to life. The duo revealed the plans for future seasons, or “Books”, and confirmed that an original story is on the way in the form of an interactive special. Plus, guest stars Keith David, Mark Hamill, Bruce Campbell, and Catherine O’Hara‘s characters have been revealed. All that and more follows below.
Check out the official trailer for The Last Kids on Earth first, followed by our interview. And be sure to tune into Collider Weekly’s animation podcast Saturday Mourning Cartoons tomorrow morning for our review of the series and another interview with star, Nick Wolfhard.
How did the opportunity to turn the books into an animated series originally come about, and at what point in the process did Netflix get involved?
Max Brallier: My daughter had been born a couple days earlier, and so I’d forgotten to check my email. I got an email from a guy named Matt Berkowitz who works at Atomic Cartoons, and they’re the production company for Last Kids, and he had read the books and loved them, and I was very flattered. He wanted to sort of talk about if there had been any interest in doing an animated series. We got lunch at a lousy little diner down the street from me and we chatted for a long time about cartoons and what Atomic was doing, and then pretty soon after that we’ve kind of put together something more formal.
I was really excited about what they were doing, everything Atomic was saying, their take on the material, and I think maybe most importantly was their willingness and excitement to let me also be involved, do some writing and be involved in the creative side, and help sort of shape it; take the books and shape it into something new and different, but also the same in a good way. So we went around and pitched it, and it very quickly landed with Netflix. They were one of three or four places we pitched, and we sort of walked out of an hour long meeting like, “Wow, that went really well,” and it did, and that’s kind of what happened, I think. Yeah, that’s it.
Scott Peterson: Well, apparently Netflix came about as close as possible to buying it in the room, but they decided, “We want to go straight into production. We don’t even want to do any development on this.” And so, they contacted me on a Friday, Matt from Atomic and Max, said, “Hey, can you come in on Monday to give us your take on this?” So I spent the weekend reading all the books and coming up with a pitch, and met with them. It was actually on my birthday, Halloween, and we met for about an hour and again, very quick within a couple of days, they said, “Great, we want you onboard.” It was just a great match; I loved the material and the guys were great, and it very quickly became a team going straight into the production.