‘Victor and Valentino’ creator brings Mesoamerican myths to life
Cartoon Network knows all about being unique in the world of animation, so it really takes a game-changing show to break new ground. Diego Molano, creator of the new show "Victor and Valentino," accepted that challenge, taking “groundbreaking” to a new, supernatural level.
So, what makes this show so different from everything else on your screen of choice? For starters, it’s the first Cartoon Network original program centered on Mesoamerican folklore – think the Mayan and Aztec civilizations – and the first to feature Hispanic leads.
To ensure the series was presented in an authentic and respectful manner, the "Victor and Valentino" team partnered with TurnerUno, Turner’s Business Resource Group for Latino and Hispanic employees. The goal was to gain a better cultural perspective for the show’s marketing and promotions. During the focus group session, TurnerUno members shared personal insights and perspectives that influenced conversations concerning promotion.
We sat down with Diego to talk about his inspirations in making this one-of-a-kind show, as well as what it’s like to have a mom who tried to scare the heck out of him with ghost stories.
"Victor and Valentino" premieres Saturday, March 30 at 9:30 a.m. ET/PT on Cartoon Network. If you just can’t wait to catch the premiere, watch it now right here.
Hi Diego, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Needless to say, "Victor and Valentino" is a pretty unique and groundbreaking concept. For those who don’t know, tell us what the show’s about.
Diego Molano: "Victor and Valentino" is a show about two half-brothers who spend the summer with their grandmother in a place called Monte Macabre, which is a small town where the myths and legends of Mesoamerican folklore come to life. It seems like a simple little town at first, but there's more than meets the eye, and lots of strange, supernatural things start to happen.
Let’s talk about your inspirations for this show – a bit of mythology perhaps?
DM: The great mythologies of the world inspire me. That was my thing in school, from middle school all the way through college. My favorite mythology was Mesoamerican mythology, meaning the legends and folklore of the pre-Hispanic indigenous people's mythologies of the Americas. That means Aztecs, Toltecs, Olmecs, Mayans, Incans, Muiscas… the list goes on.
These stories were so cool and really not talked about when you compare them to Greek, Roman, Egyptian or even Norse mythologies.
“I feel lucky that Cartoon Network took a chance on me and now I get to do it first.”
How does it feel creating Cartoon Network’s first original show that centers on Mesoamerican culture and features Hispanic leads?
DM: When you think of mythology, people usually think of Hercules or Thor. So, it feels really good, but I'm astounded that someone hasn't done it before. I also feel lucky that Cartoon Network took a chance on me, and now I get to do it first.
"Victor and Valentino" will be debuting simultaneously in both the United States and Latin America, making it Cartoon Network’s first multi-region original series launch since "The Powerpuff Girls." We understand you are the voice of Victor - did you do his voice in both languages yourself?
DM: Yes, we were all talking about it and thought it would be cool if I did the voice in Spanish as well. The difficult part is I'm still training as a voice actor, so it kind of hurts my throat.
It's literally double the amount of voice acting, but I'll get used to it at some point. The other hard part is fitting all the copy in there. When you look at a sentence in Spanish, and you look at a sentence in English, Spanish sentence can be almost twice as long. Sometimes we end up having to change the phrasing to squeeze it into the timing of the English version.
“The wave hasn't really hit me yet where it's like, ‘Whoa, I can go home and watch my show on TV.’”
You’ve worked on so many great shows, from “The Powerpuff Girls” and “OK K.O.! Let’s be Heroes,” to several Adult Swim shows. Tell us how it feels to have your own show. How did those projects help prepare you for this?
DM: It hasn't really hit me yet that I have a show, because it's not on the air yet. The wave hasn't really hit me yet where it's like, "Whoa, I can go home and watch my show on TV."
Working on these other shows was a really good education. Ian Jones-Quartey (creator of "OK K.O.!") is a great showrunner. I watched him work and kind of absorbed as much as I could. When I worked on "Black Dynamite" for Adult Swim, I wore many hats, so I learned the ropes on that show. Same thing working on "The Powerpuff Girls." I absorbed different things from different shows that really have helped me do what I do now.
You’ve told us about the characters and the world of "Victor and Valentino," but are there any personal touches specifically from your childhood in the show?
DM: At first, people will notice how sneaky and mischievous Victor is. And I was just like that. I should've been reprimanded more as a kid because I really was a lot of trouble. But the personal touch I added is that in every episode, Victor ends up learning a new lesson and softens his heart a bit. Hopefully kids can learn something from the show… like how I should have learned a few lessons as a kid.
Is that why your mom used to torture you with ghost stories? What’s up with that, Mrs. Molano?
DM: As a kid, I used to be terrified of ghosts. I was paralyzed by anything supernatural because Latino moms, they kind of instill this fear in you where something's going to get you – like the Boogeyman or the Chupacabra. My mom would make things up like, "Don't go out past 9 p.m. because there's a wailing woman that steals children around the corner” or some giant, two-headed dog that's going to kill me.
But then as I grew older, my grandfather, who is a scientist and mathematician, would say, "Please do not listen to your mom. She does not know what she's talking about. There's no evidence for anything that she's talking about." So, when I hit 13 or 14 years old, I grew up a little bit and became more scientific.
What can we expect in the first season of "Victor and Valentino," any little details you can share?
DM: The first season is really about learning who these characters are and getting to know them and their quirks. There are so many side characters that are so full of personality that you want to use them in every episode. I was just in the writers’ room yesterday with my three writers, and it's a good problem to have when we can't decide which characters to put in a particular episode because there are so many good ones.
Get a sneak preview of full "Victor and Valentino" episodes here, and catch the premiere Saturday, March 30 at 9:30 a.m. ET/PT on Cartoon Network.