What happens when you turn an iconic children’s story into a modern, adult romcom? You get The New Adventures of Peter + Wendy, a YouTube series as light and sparkling as a glass of champagne.
This fun, flirty series takes place in magical Neverland, Ohio, founded by J.M. Barrie and famous for being the first place humans discovered fairies. Peter Pan is a comic book illustrator, John Darling is an aspiring editor of the local newspaper, Wendy is an advice columnist, and Michael is Peter’s pal. Tinkerbell is never seen, but works the camera, her conversation tinkling bells. Rounding out the cast is wealthy entrepreneur Lily Bagha.
So, why Peter Pan? Kyle Walters, co-creator and Peter Pan himself, took time to talk with BookTrib about Peter + Wendy and bringing the series to life.
BOOKTRIB: What about the story of Peter Pan made you want to retell it as a contemporary, real world romcom?
Kyle Walters: I’m a mushy, cuddly, bear of a grown man who still reads comic books and watches “Amelie” whenever he gets the chance.
Honestly, the first six words of the novel: “All children, except one, grow up.” While not fully encompassing our theme of finding a balance between the carefree joy of childhood and being a grown up, it captures which side of the battle I want to be on.
BT: Many fans got to know you first as the adorably nerdy Ed Denham in Pemberley Digital’s Welcome to Sanditon. Did you have Peter Pan in the planning when you were cast in that series?
KW: I did not! Welcome to Sanditon was my introduction to the web-digital series world. I had way too much fun interacting with the amazing fan base, both online, and in person at VidCon. I knew that I couldn’t just sit around and wait to be cast in something new, so I vowed to have a show created and online before VidCon 2014. [Co-creator Shawn deLoache] and I essentially took this feature-length film from idea to fruition in less than a year.
BT: So how did it start?
KW: The time: July 2013. The place: a restaurant somewhere in Los Angeles. Executive producer Bernie Su had asked me to help be a reader for Emma Approved callbacks. We were on our lunch break when I talked to Bernie about my Peter Pan plan percolations. He definitely was excited about it.
But a month later when Shawn and I had a pitch ready, Pemberley Digital was too busy with Emma to take it. I was too excitedly impatient to get this show made [to wait], so Shawn and I decided to do it on our own. We walked — nah, we strutted across the street to see Adam Laupus, now one of our awesome producers, at his apartment. He helped develop the budget and, despite my claims that I could afford the production, suggested we try what was a very successful Kickstarter. We were off to the races!
BT: How important is transmedia to this telling of the Peter Pan story?
KW: It’s important to me that the story of Peter and Wendy is fully available to all. So, the videos stand on their own. For anyone interested in more immersion, there is the in-world newspaper, The Kensington Chronicle, with John’s editorials, Peter’s Panels (a comic created and drawn by me), Wendy’s Dear Darling articles and more, complete with weekly subscription. All the characters have Twitter as well as other social media accounts. Viewers can create role play accounts, and even become residents.
There’s a passage in the first chapter that describes Neverland as essentially a map of a child’s mind. It talks about how each child’s is different, but that they are all recognizable as Neverland, our magic place. It ends:
“On these magic shores children at play are forever beaching their coracles. We, too, have been there; we can still hear the sound of the surf, though we shall land no more.”
It saddens me that we may go to our fun, free spirit less and less as we grow up. Peter + Wendy lets our viewers go there again.
The New Adventures of Peter + Wendy airs Wednesdays and Fridays.
Enter to win a copy of PETER PAN by JM Barrie, autographed by entire cast of The New Adventures of Peter + Wendy.