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Wendell & Wild’s Afro-Punk Influences

WENDELL & WILD – (Center) Sister Daley (voiced by Michele Mariana), Kat (voiced by Lyric Ross), and Sister Chinstrap (voiced by Michele Mariana). Cr: Netflix © 2022

This Halloween, director and writer Henry Selick (Coraline, The Nightmare Before Christmas) has teamed up with writer and producer Jordan Peele to bring audiences an all-new stop-motion horror comedy film, Wendell & Wild.

The Afro-punk movement had a “big effect on the look and feel and story,” according to Selick. “It’s cultural, fashion, and musical.” Selick referred to it as the bridge between the late ’70s and ’80s black punk music, but with “new, amazing fashions.”

WENDELL & WILD – (L-R) Kat (voiced by Lyric Ross) and Sister Helley (voiced by Angela Bassett). Cr: Netflix © 2022

The clothing initially served as inspiration for Kat’s fashion in the film, but it took on a deeper meaning as the story was still being developed. “[It] became this very strong connection between her and her father,” according to Selick. “She’s not so much a rebel as [she is] someone who loved her dad who was into the first wave of black punk music, and she’s into this later wave.”

Selick has his own connection to black punk music. “Before Afro-punk, there was Fishbone.” Selick met the group in the 80s, and ended up writing and directing the music video for their 1985 song “Party at Ground Zero.”

“A shoestring budget, shot on video, but it came out pretty great,” says Selick. “I ended up meeting those guys who are still performing, and we have one of their songs in the film.”

In addition to the classic black punk music inspiration, Selick was also inspired by the modern Afro-punk aesthetic. “I just was floored by how insanely creative and beautiful some of the looks and costumes and attitudes are.” Selick also appreciated that it was not a mainstream movement. “That really spoke to me and to Jordan.” They shared this inspiration with caricaturist Pablo Lobato who completed the character designs for the film.

You can see the Afro-punk influences for yourself when Wendell & Wild premieres on Netflix on October 28, 2022.

About Wendell & Wild

From the delightfully wicked minds of Henry Selick and producer Jordan Peele, comes Wendell & Wild, an animated tale about scheming demon brothers Wendell (Keegan-Michael Key) and Wild (Peele) – who enlist the aid of Kat Elliot – a tough teen with a load of guilt – to summon them to the Land of the Living. But what Kat demands in return leads to a brilliantly bizarre and comedic adventure like no other, an animated fantasy that defies the law of life and death, all told through the handmade artistry of stop motion.

As The Bunny Hops®