The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, a cult-classic cartoon about two kids who trick the Grim Reaper into becoming their fairy godmother/slave, defined the 2000s for a lot of children.
And with good reason. The show got its start after the pilot proved to be popular when Cartoon Network aired it as a short. So, we at Viral Pirate have a surprise for you, mates! A copy of the original, even earlier, pilot has been found.
Now, we should give the warning that this cute little cartoon, which ironically enough predates the insertion of Death into the formula, may be too macabre for some of our younger viewers, as it involves the nifty practice of “trepanning.”
Trepanning is the ancient practice of drilling holes into one’s head, often used for the medicinal purpose of relieving migranes. Fortunately, we’ve come to an age where we realized that a healthy amount of aspirin can take care of that.
Now, you may have noticed that, beyond a surprising lack of the personification of death, there are quite a few differences between the original pilot and the final show. For one, the titular duo appear to be teenagers. Added to that, Mandy seems to be just as much of an idiot as Billy, if not more, although this could have been a side effect of the trepanning.
Mandy is also seen smiling, something that would make the universe implode as we know it, according to one episode.
Creator Maxwell Atoms, who we mentioned before for his work on Bunnicula, explained this on his YouTube page.
“The directive was to make a two minute animation, and that’s what I did,” he said, “I was big into fringe culture at the time, and found trepanning fascinating. I also wanted to do something with this ‘Billy’ character I was obsessed with, and I HAD to have some dinosaurs.”
That last part does beg to question the suprising lack of dinosaurs in the final show, but does explain that time Fred Flintstone guest-starred.
For those out there interested in a future career in the animation industry, Atoms offered some notes about the animation process.
“The animation was hand draw[n] on paper, colored in markers, and then cut out and glued to cels. I thought that would save time over painting cels, but the cut-and-glue process really sucked. So I was probably wrong about that.”
Why the cartoon we see is in black and white, if this was originally in color, does bring up some questions… like why there are so many images of Mandy smiling.
And in case you are wondering, Adam Burton, the voice of Billy in the short, is Atoms himself, using his real name. I should have known Maxwell Atoms was too cool not be a stage name. I think that Nicole Burton is probably his sister.