Kevin Smith has long teased the return of Clerks: The Animated Series — and now it may finally be a reality. In a new interview with Consequence of Sound for a forthcoming oral history on the show’s 20th anniversary, Smith digressed on the possibility of a reboot of the cult classic cartoon, including where it might pop up.
“Over the years, [the series] has found an audience and people love it,” Smith tells us. “Those who know it really dig it, and they’re always like, ‘Can you do that again?’ And, the fact of the matter is, we can, in many different ways, do it again.”
The problem, he says, has always been ownership.
“But figuring out who owns the fucking thing has honestly been the biggest struggle of the last decade,” Smith continues. “Because we didn’t know who owned it. It was a Miramax television product, and Miramax television doesn’t exist, and Miramax certainly doesn’t exist the way it did back then. It was a Disney thing, but it’s never shown up anywhere on any fucking Disney outlet. You’re certainly not going to see it on Disney Plus or something like that. So, for years, we were trying to figure out who owns that version of the Clerks cartoon.”
Fortunately for Smith, longtime friend and producer Scott Mosier, who has since found success in the world of animation himself, solved the rights issues. After doing some digging, Mosier discovered that Disney still owns the property, and suggested that now might be the best time for the Mouse House to reopen the Quick Stop. Smith reiterates what Mosier told him:
“Scott’s point was like, ‘Right now, they’re trying to figure out how to put a bunch of people on the T.V. set or the movie set post-quarantine. How to work together and still socially distance. But the one thing you could do right now, and you’re doing today, I guarantee you, is that everybody could still make animation. Maybe we walk into Hulu and say, ‘Look, this is the story. Here we did these six episodes. Disney owns them. You guys aren’t doing anything with them. We have all these designs and a bunch of people we’d like to be involved. The voice cast could come back, a bunch of the writers could come back, and stuff. But all the heavy lifting has been done. It’s been time tested and vetted. So all we have to do is turn the lights back on. You could always do any Clerks cartoon you want, but if you want to do that Clerks cartoon, the one we all love, the one that would make the most sense to do, this is the very thin bridge we cross upon which may be how it gets built.”
So, where would it live? Smith points to the Disney-owned Hulu, where more more mature fare is often reserved.
“They own the look of the show, that incarnation of the show, Leonardo Leonardo as a villain, Mr. Plug, Bear is driving — that rendition of Clerks they own,” Smith explains. “So that’s why the Hulu thing is the only play. That’s the only play to make that version of Clerks. But if we went in and Hulu was like, ‘We don’t wanna do that,’ then I could walk over to any place and be like ‘I want to do a Clerks cartoon.’”
Whether or not Hulu bites remains to be seen, but Smith sounds optimistic. “It’s so weird that you brought it up,” he says of the oral history, “because right now we’re like ‘Maybe now is the time.’ Timing is everything and also a willingness to do it. Lord knows if I’ve shown anything over the course of my career it’s a willingness to step right back into the past. So I hope it comes to pass. Let’s see if this is possible.”
Look for the full story on May 31st when Consequence of Sound publishes Andrew Buss’ exciting oral history. In related news, Smith is clearly staying busy despite the lockdown. He launched a Mooby pop-up service for charity, he’s finished a Covid-inspired screenplay for Mallrats 2, and his latest entry in the View Askewniverse — last year’s Jay and Silent Bob Reboot — recently hit Amazon Prime.