There’s a new kid in school at Nickelodeon, and he’s a real beast.
“Bunsen” tells the tale of a strange creature learning to navigate the world of middle school for the first time with the help of his human friend Mikey. Bunsen just wants to show the human world that monsters and humans can co-exist peacefully without monsters wanting to eat everyone.
“The show’s about every kid’s experience in school about trying to fit in and be popular. Who better to try and fit in than someone who’s not even from this world,” says Hartman, who first drew the characters back in 2009, when he was considering the idea for a children’s book.
“I drew this cover picture of a boy and a monster looking at each other. They look a lot different now than they did then. And I thought of the name ‘Bunsen Is a Beast’ right then. ‘That’ll be kind of funny as a cool kids’ book.’ Then I set it aside,” Hartman explains. “It sat in my office for three or four years, then an exec at Nickelodeon saw it and said, ‘We ought to develop this.’ And that’s how we got the ball rolling.”
The show premieres on Feb. 21, and will air at that time through Feb. 24, before moving to its regular timeslot of Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. Two episodes of “Bunsen Is a Beast” are available for preview ahead of the premiere at Nickelodeon.com.
The voice cast includes Jeremy Rowley as Bunsen, Ben Giroux as his human buddy Mikey and Kari Wahlgren as beast hater Amanda. “Saturday Night Live” alum Cheri Oteri also appears as the voice of schoolteacher Miss Flap.
In addition to his work with Nickelodeon, the prolific Hartman also created the Noog Network, an iPhone app that features interactive games, cartoons and live shows. “I kind of never stop. I never sleep. I just like to draw and put ideas down. And every idea that Nickelodeon doesn’t buy I put on the Noog Network,” explains Hartman. He notes that Noog is a good place to try out new ideas and see how they go over in a short amount of time.
The free app is currently only available on iPhones, but will so be available for Android phones in the next few months, according to Hartman.