Seth Rogen and his producing partner Evan Goldberg are big fans of comics writer Garth Ennis. So much so, they brought two of his seminal comics to life. First Preacher, and now, The Boys. The latter has become a pop-culture touchstone. Its first spinoff, the animated series The Boys Presents: Diabolical, drops on Prime Video on March 4. Both Rogen and Goldberg talked to Nerdist about the expansion of The Boys universe into animation, as well as the white-hot success of the flagship show.
Nerdist: I love that every Diabolical episode has a distinct animation style. Was that a mandate on your guys’ part, or Eric Kripke and the showrunner’s part, or did it just roll out that way?
Seth Rogen: It was something we wanted from the beginning. And part of the concept from the get-go was to give each one their own style and to push people to come up with original stories that warranted a unique animation style that differed from the other ones. I think one thing that we think is great about The Boys is how kind of flexible the tone is and how, within this world, it can be funny and serious, and sad and romantic and all these things. And that was something we really wanted to test out—how many genres and styles could live in this world.
There was one episode about the older couple, “John and Sun-Hee,” that was surprisingly poignant and sad. I think that was possibly my favorite. And Andy Samberg wrote that one. Were you thrown all by how serious and sad it was?
SR: Not surprising to anyone who knows comedians. When you spend enough time around comedians, as we have, you know they’re all very sad. So, no, it’s not a surprise, ultimately.
You guys got an absolutely killer lineup of well-known talent to work on these episodes. Did they come to you as fans like, “We love this show. Can we please work on it?” Or did you go out to them?
Evan Goldberg: Oh no. We went to all of them and said, “Would you please, please do this? We’d be honored if you’d do this.” And I would say that half of them did it because they wanted to work with us. And half of them did it to work with The Boys. Because The Boys is more popular than us.
The Boys is more popular than almost everything! One episode spends a lot of time humanizing Homelander sort of, as much as he can be. Is that something that you guys were kind of working towards, as not just seeing him as monolithically evil?
SR: Not necessarily. I more think it’s just rounding out the story. Not all the episodes are canon or pertain directly to things that are happening in the narrative of The Boys TV show. But that was one thing we found to be a very exciting opportunity is to kind of fill out parts of the story that we would probably just never take the time to do on the actual show. I think if Diabolical continues, that is a fun button for us to push. To keep filling out backstories of characters that maybe we wouldn’t show you on the main show.
So, Diabolical is the first of several The Boys spinoffs. Are you guys surprised that something as dark and subversive has clicked with the mainstream in the way that it has?
EG: No. I think this is the natural reaction from 15 years of the Marvel movies. The world had to come to this place. People need this.
SR: Yeah. I think it’s not. I agree. Any time you can kind of show another side of a thing that people are inundated by bringing a very original take to something that is already very popular, but may be repetitive in some ways, people seem to really like it. And that’s why we feverishly pursued making The Boys into something for a decade when nobody wanted to. And then finally they let us do it.
I know that you guys tried to get it off the ground as a movie for almost forever, and only later it became a TV series.
SR: Well, we just wanted to make it something. I mean, literally, the day the first The Boys comic book came out, me and Evan bought it, brought it to the studio, and told them to option it. They did. And then hired other people to make it.
Now that The Boys has become so huge though, could you potentially see it becoming a movie as well?
EG: Anything can happen in The Boys universe!
I think years from now, people are going to look back at The Boys the way we look back at classic Star Trek. A pop-culture property that’s 100% indicative of the time that it was made in. You have to really think that that’s part of the show’s success, right? That it’s got its finger on the pulse so hard?
EG: Yeah. It’s a good thing it took us a decade to get it going. Because if we did it 10 years earlier, I don’t think it would’ve landed in the same way. It really hit at a moment where it reflects a lot of life.
SR: Yeah. And kind of like corporate proliferation. Kind of all that stuff. Yeah, it became more and more relevant as we were developing it.
Do you guys have ideas already percolating for a Diabolical season two?
EG: Oh yeah.
SR: Oh yeah. We could’ve done 20 of these if they would’ve let us. But this was just the start, I guess.
The Boys Presents: Diabolical premieres on Prime Video on March 4.