Butch Hartman is a busy man. Even while show-running two animated television series on Nickelodeon right now (the fan favorite The Fairly OddParents and the recently debuted Bunsen is a Beast), co-creating the new 3 o’Clock Club comic for Lion Forge (along with Jordan B. Gorfinkel), and constantly developing new content for his Noog Network app and Youtube channel as side projects, Butch is never one to let his creative energy flag. While it would seem promoting those projects during the hectic days of Comic Con would be enough, there was an extra-special surprise for attendees here in San Diego: an exclusive mini-comic featuring Butch titled Fairly OddPhantom.
The comic, alternatively titled as Let’s Rescue Butch Hartman!, acts as both a response and spiritual successor to a short crossover video posted on YouTube earlier this year featuring all the protagonists from Butch’s Nick shows (besides the aforementioned OddParents and Beast, the clip also features the beloved Danny Phantom and TUFF Puppy), who all meet up for the first time on screen. That short (featured below) has been watched nearly 2 million times on YouTube alone and shared countless more times on Facebook and other streaming platforms.
“We wanted to do a special and unique comic just for Comic Con,” Hartman told me during our brief conversation during last day of the convention. “The brain trust at Nickelodeon—meaning me and one of my writers [George Goodchild]—decided to do a comic book featuring me as a cartoon character.” And if that wasn’t enough, Butch also wrote the comic and did the pencils, while Benji Williams and Marcus Valazquez helped round out the creative team.
The hook of the story works in contrast to the previously released short. Whereas the video released earlier this year concerned itself with the respective shows’ respective main heroes meeting and teaming, the comic focuses around those shows’ villains, and their nefarious plot to kidnap their creator so that they can be the stars of their own cartoons.
And the best part is, everything lands. The comic contains all the trademarks of Hartman’s Nick oeuvre. It’s wacky, wild, extremely meta, and tons of fun.
And for being a Comic Con freebie, all the love and heart is there. “People think comics are easy to make, but it’s hard work, especially short ones. [NOTE: This comic is only five pages long]. Still, despite its brief length, Fairly OddPhantom manages to pack a dense amount of comic within its pages. Naturally, the in-jokes are plentiful and there are even cameos from some other Nickelodeon shows who turn up during the action (no spoilers here!). But this got me wondering… Are we entering the age of the Hartman Animated Universe (a la Marvel)? “I am my own Stan Lee,” Butch chuckles.
Can’t wait to see what’s next!