It’s a good question.
Had he instead asked who claymates Satan, the answer would have been clearcut.
Director Will Vinton, father of the California Raisins and Domino Pizza’s ill-fated mascot, The Noid, drew on some of Twain’s best known work, cobbling together a story in which the fictional kids stowaway aboard an airship Twain plans to pilot into the comet.
The Satan section above comes courtesy of the author’s final, unfinished novel, The Mysterious Stranger. The animation is top notch, but hoo boy, it’s hard to imagine a vision this apocalyptic getting a G-rating today.
Vinton himself resisted the rating, not wanting to be lumped in with more regular kiddie fare. It performed disappointingly at the box office despite great critical response from such lofty realms as The New Republic.
Is it really so surprising that families flocking to the Care Bears Movie steered clear of one featuring a shape-shifting, free-floating mask, who terrorizes the children in the film (and presumably, the audience) by conjuring an enchanting little clay kingdom only to rain misfortune upon it. We’re talking smashed coffins, grief-stricken clay mothers wailing over the bodies of their young, helpless victims being swallowed up by cracks that appear in the earth.
Where’s the Happy Meal tie-in there!?
It’s reassuring to know that the existential horror was indeed deliberate. As Vinton told James Gartler in an interview with Animation World Network:
“… it was just such a bizarre character, to start with. In fact, I haven’t seen a character quite like that in almost anything else – someone who has this power but no feeling one way or another and just sort-of tells it like it is regarding the future of humanity. We wanted it to be about metamorphosis, visually, and make that a big part of sequence. He transforms and grows up and down from the earth and appears out of nothingness. The design of the character came from an early drawing that Barry Bruce did, where a jester was holding his face on a stick. I thought it was a really interesting way to play it. I ended up doing the voice of the Stranger with a female performer. We wanted it to be almost androgynous, so she and I did it together and made a point of not trying to hide it, even.”
I’m not sure the person or persons responsible for the theatrical trailer, below, got the memo…