As he ventures along a magical tree-trunk portal into a world of creation, a bullied boy discovers the power he holds to be different. Wolfboy and the Factory of EverythingThe wild, weird and whimsical new 2D animated series, now streaming on Apple TV+, artfully inspires young audiences by drawing on creator Toff “Wirrow” Mazery’s own experiences of living life “outside the lines”.
“We’ve said from the beginning, when we started writing, that throughout the show, for the kids and for everyone, we’re explaining that the weird parts of us are the parts that don’t conform to this that we think other people want us to be.” says Mazery, who co-created the series with Emmy Award-winning Edward Jesse. “That way of thinking and moving forward that comes out of the beaten path, I think that’s the key. If I hadn’t done that, I don’t think I would have been so happy and satisfied in my life and in my work. In art and in life, I have taken many detours. And some of them bought me this work and hit RECord.
Produced by open creation platform hitRECord and Bento Box Entertainment, Wolfboy and the Factory of Everything follows the epic story of Wolfboy (Kassian Akhtar), an imaginative kid who gets teased at school for wearing a wolf mask. After retreating to a nearby forest, the boy discovers two magical sprytes who unknowingly lead Wolfboy to their factory of everything in the center of the earth, where everything – from clouds and trees to rabbits, dreams, hiccups and even memories – is created for the natural world on the surface.
While at the Everything Factory, the breadth of Wolfboy’s imagination baffles even his new Spryte friends, including the wise Professor Luxcraft. In the 10-episode series, Wolfboy not only discovers his destiny to play a vital role in an age-old battle between the forces of creation and destruction, but he also learns that it’s dreamers like him who can change the world for the better. . .
In addition to newcomer Akhtar as the titular Wolfboy, the cast includes Critics’ Choice Award nominee Archie Yates (JoJo Rabbit), who portrays Sprout; Lilly Williams as Xandra; Cristina Milizia (DC superheroes girls) as Floof; and Gordon-Levitt as Professor Luxcraft. The series is dotted with special vocal performances, including Juno Temple (Ted Lasso) and the former Gordon-Levitt 3rd Rock of the Sun bandmate, stage and screen legend John Lithgow. Gordon-Levitt is also producing the series with Mazery.
“I believe so much in Toff and his vision,” says Gordon-Levitt, founder of hitRECord and known in animation for his starring roles in Disney’s treasure planet and Studio Ghibli The wind picks up. “And I felt like my job was just to support him and say, ‘You continue to be yourself and tell your story honestly. And we’ll help you do it.
Visual artist Mazery and Gordon-Levitt first met when Mazery decided to share samples – on hitRECord’s website – of his “Tiny Stories” collection, stunningly colorful illustrations accompanied by a few focused narrative sentences. about the ups and downs of life and a person’s place in the world. Mazery’s Tiny Stories Universe art, which he has been creating for 10 years, served as the inspiration for Wolfboy and the Factory of Everything.
“Joe himself noticed and appreciated [Tiny Stories], and we started a Tiny Stories collaboration with the hitRECord community, with the aim of bringing together the amazing contributions into an illustrated Tiny Book, which hitRECord self-published,” explains Mazery. “Building on this success, thanks to Harper Collins, we have published ‘The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories’. Working on these books with Joe and the team was one of the best years of my life, and it set me on a path that eventually led me to wolf boy. I am forever grateful to Joe for all he saw in my work.
Corn Wolfboy and the Factory of Everything isn’t drawn from a specific “little story”, Mazery has used the character in repeated artwork and connected to Wolfboy on an even deeper level after his designs came to life once animated in this new series .
“Wolfboy tries to figure out who he is, and he goes through ups and downs where he tries to please everyone and be who they want him to be,” Mazery explains. “When I was growing up, I didn’t know exactly who I was. I don’t think all kids do. You’re kind of told who you are and then you try to figure out who you really are on your own. And when you’re yourself, you’re probably going to be a little different or a little weird.
Wolfboy and the Factory of EverythingThe narrative certainly speaks to this idea, but so do the show’s softly painted, brightly colored and shimmering visuals. Of course, a spryte realm filled with glowing dragons, spinning snow globes, and a new discovery behind every geometric, gemmed gate would be quite different and “strange” compared to the human world. But even the sprytes themselves are pretty wild; some look like miniaturized plants or animals, while others appear as completely unidentifiable shapes. The one thing spryte designs have in common is that no design is the same as another.
“I didn’t want them to look like humans, and they had to come from mountains, water and land and be whimsical,” says Mazery. “One of the most amazing parts of this job has been hiring artists that I’ve loved over the years, like our artistic director, Beatrice Blue, and seeing the show become an amalgamation of the artistic vision of each.”
He continues: “That’s the advantage of being a showrunner. One day, one of our character animators, Natalie Andrewson, came up with 100 different characters. The imagination that went into these characters is amazing and it’s a big part of what made the world so beautiful. It’s like magic.
And Gordon-Levitt brought his own magic to the show, lending his voice to a character he’s always wanted to play, but never had the chance until now. “I’ve always loved stories about magic and fantasy worlds and, in particular, the kind of magical wizard figures and mentors you often find in those worlds,” he shares. “I’ve never had the opportunity to play one before and doing the voice for an animation is really the perfect way to do it because I couldn’t grow a beard like that even if I had 20 years to waste. This is such an opportunity to be that kind of archetype that I wouldn’t normally get the opportunity to be on camera, but with a voice and using our imaginations I could be this guy.
Mazery adds, “When the idea came up that maybe Joe could voice it, suddenly he’s younger, more energetic, and weirder. It changed everything. It changed the way I write it. It was much more three-dimensional, much more whimsical. And that made for a much better character.
Finding the right people, like Gordon-Levitt, to bring Mazery’s weird and whimsical vision to life, he says, was one of the main ingredients and joys of creating. Wolfboy and the Factory of Everything.
“To work with people who clearly resonated with the show’s message and put so much of themselves into it, not just our unrivaled creative team, but also the production team, I’m so grateful for that” , says Mazery. “It was a labor of love for everyone involved, and it brought us all together as a ‘wolf pack’. We all saw something of ourselves in this story.
And Mazery hopes Wolfboy will continue to inspire viewers in the same way.
“Always keep your imagination and creativity alive,” says Mazery. “Because one day it could become your superpower that helps you change the world.”
Victoria Davis is a full-time freelance journalist and part-time Otaku with an affinity for all things anime. She reported many stories ranging from activist news to entertainment. To learn more about his work, visit victoriadavisdepiction.com.