Marcel the Shell, who won the hearts of the millions who made Marcel the Shell With Shoes On a viral sensation last year, is back by popular demand. Jenny Slate and Dean Fleischer-Camp, Marcel's creators, have published a Marcel book and released a sequel to the YouTube short; a Marcel TV show could also be on the way.
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On: Things About Me, is a beautifully illustrated picture book that follows a day in the life of the miniscule mollusk and enjoys the view of a typical human habitat through his eyes. I often visit the aquarium, he says of a small fishbowl. It's the only place where you're allowed to stare. Sometimes you really do need to get a good look at things.
As in the film, Marcel's winningly pragmatic musings can have an undertone of sadness, yet you never find yourself pitying the one-eyed shell. (Though one of Amy Lind's illustrations -- accompanying Marcel's one regret in life -- might break your heart.)
Jenny and Dean -- who were recently engaged -- have been on a whirlwind book tour since Marcel the Shell With Shoes on: Things About Me was published by Razorbill earlier this month. They wrapped it up in New York City this week, with an appearance at the Soho Apple store Wednesday evening. (Dean and Jenny live in Brooklyn with Marcel and their dog, Reggie).
Jenny told IBTimes that although Things About Me is technically a children's book, there were more adults on average at the readings, which Jenny performed in Marcel's voice despite previous misgivings about being seen speaking as Marcel. At first I was nervous to do so, but in the end, it was fine, Jenny said in an email. I do prefer to do the voice in private, just because Marcel is Marcel and I am me.
Though the book covers some of the same territory as the first Marcel film, we learn new things about Marcel: His bed is a slice of bread, and he wears a pistachio as a helmet, because once or twice a year I climb the sandal.
Things get ever so slightly darker in Marcel the Shell With Shoes On, Two which premiered Tuesday.
I used to have a sister...someone asked her to hold a balloon, Marcel tell his off-camera interviewer, played by Fleischer-Camp, who directed both short films. Actually it happens to a lot of kids.
The Marcel sequel is just as endearing as the first Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, and offers the added benefit of Dean's reaction to Marcel's off-the-cuff statements.
When Dean laughs, that's completely improvised, Jenny said. In general, the shorts are about 40% written, 60% improvised. Dean is responsible for creating the great flow of the pieces. I'll put in my two cents and we might rearrange together, but really the brain behind the way that the pieces move, how it looks, how Marcel moves and is shot, well, that's all Dean!
Though Marcel is obviously Jenny and Dean's creation, he has taken on a life of his own. We are truly fascinated by his character, Jenny said. Even though we did create him, he grows naturally, and its exciting to observe that. It's hard to explain, but sometimes it's just time for me to talk like Marcel, either because I feel like it's fun to do so, or because there's a place for him in the conversation that I'm having with Dean, and I decide to speak as Marcel so that we can have more material to draw from.
But it's not like I'm possessed or something. I only speak freely as Marcel with Dean, and it's not like, 'Marcel is here now. There is no jenny!!!!', it's just more like a very casual way of workshopping.
Although Jenny wasn't able to get into details, she did acknowledge that a T.V. show starring Marcel was in the works.
We will keep making projects with Marcel for as long as it seems right to do so. We'll make more shorts, books, songs, and all of that stuff until there's nothing more to do, Jenny said.
When it starts to feel like we're stretching it, or that Marcel is becoming tired, we will do something else and just keep Marcel private.