Interview with Haley Mancini, head writer for "The Powerpuff Girls"
During the last Annecy International Animated Film Festival, we were able to interview Haley Mancini, head writer for Cartoon Network's new version of "The Powerpuff Girls". Check it out!
Animac Magazine: You started your career in comedy at the Upright Citizen's Brigade. How did it influence your writing and did it have an effect on your work in Powerpuff Girls?
Haley Mancini: Huge. Huge influence in writing. I learned to write at the Upright Citizen's Brigade because I never studied it in college, so I fell into comedy when I first moved to Los Angeles and I started taking comedy writing classes there and found it was what I was meant to do. Right after I picked it up, I started working in the industry and I worked for the National Lampoon, and then a bunch of different shows... I had a mentorship from Neil Campbell, who's so great and is in charge of Comedy Bang Bang now, and he helped me realize that my voice was very visual and absurdist. And I love animation anyway, so it ended up becoming a perfect match to work in animation.
Animac Magazine: The original show is really beloved. How did you approach the new version in terms of what you wanted to keep and what you wanted to change?
Haley Mancini: Our showrunners, Bob Boyle and Nick Jennings, are amazing, and I think everyone who works at the show is a huge fan of the original, especially me. I think made some really great choices about what to keep and what to leave. I think my co-writer at work says it best: "we didn't reinvent the wheel, we just added more spokes". I think we just expanded the world. They go to a school where there's kids of all ages, so there's more things for them to rub up against. There's more interaction, that sort of thing. We just dealt a little deeper with the characters.
Animac Magazine: How do you manage the writing process? Do you write the show directly on a script, or do you have an outline and then you storyboard it?.
Haley Mancini: We have an outline first, and we have it sectioned out very similarly to other shows. Most script-driven shows still have an outline phase first, we just do that outline phase and we pass it to the storyboard artists. From there, they ask questions about it, and then we have a meeting where they bring up any concerns and all of that, and we make sure that the story arc is clear with everybody and they go and do their interpretation. Then they come back to the writer's room and we give them notes on every step of the process and collaborate with them. It's extremely collaborative, and the storyboard artists add a lot.
Animac Magazine: We wanted to ask you about your influences in comedy and how they affected your writing on the show!
Haley Mancini: Sure! My largest influence in my life in comedy, bar none, is the first ten seasons of the Simpsons. It has excellent jokes that work on every level and a lot of heart.
Animac Magazine: What are your plans for the show in the long run?
Haley Mancini: We'll see! Personally my goal is to create something that I think is funny and that everybody thinks is funny but also something like the Simpsons, that has heart. And if there's anything I can write that helps any kid to become their best selves as they grow, then that's great.
Interview conducted by Adrian Carande