Victor and Valentino is an American animated television series created by Diego Molano for Cartoon Network. It is produced by Cartoon Network Studios. Molano later stated his excitement in putting the "spotlight on Aztec, Olmec, and Maya mythologies" and in having more representation, calling the show "a baby step" in letting Latinos feel they are "part of this tapestry that’s America." Molano also called the series "a supernatural adventure comedy with some action elements," and stated that he loves how he can explore his "favorite subject" (mythology) by focusing on "Mesoamerican mythologies of pre-Hispanic indigenous people of the Americas."
On March 30, 2019, the show was greenlit for a full TV series, premiering simultaneously in the United States and Latin America. On July 15, the show was renewed for a second season which premiered on April 18, 2020. In February 2021, the show was renewed for a third season which premiered on September 4, 2021.
In the small quiet town of Monte Macabre, two total opposite half-brothers search about the town for adventure and find strange and supernatural happenings with the help of their supernatural grandmother.
Promotion, production, and release
The idea for the show originally started as a thesis project titled High Noon in Mexico in 2002 by Molano when he was a Maryland Institute College of Art student, where Victor and Valentino were part of a video game, along with a third brother named Vicente. In 2004, the idea took the name of "Victor, Valentino and Vicente." Years later, he revisited the project when interning for Titmouse, where he worked after graduating from MICA, and worked as a "clean-up artist" on Superjail!.
Being a Latin Americanfolk-themed show, its pilot episode premiered directly on the channel on October 29, 2016 (two days before their local Day of the Dead). In this pilot, Molano voiced Victor, and planned on finding someone else. However, he decided to, ultimately, voice Victor in the main show. He later stated that he was, as a kid, just like Victor, thinking he could "do no wrong," and hoped the show would give a "good lesson for kids."
The main show itself, is produced at Cartoon Network's studio in Burbank, California. Molano noted that this is where all the writing, storyboarding, pre- and post-production is done, with 36 people working on pre-production, while the main production of the animation is done by two studios based in Seoul: SMIP Co., LTD. and Digital eMation, Inc. He further noted that the visual inspiration from the show comes from "Mesoamerica’s beautiful, ancient art styles." In 2019, Molano expressed some of the challenges with producing the show. This included condensing "large, epic scale, sometimes adult-themed myths/stories" into 11-minute episodes and making them "digestible content rated for kids." He was inspired to borrow from "storylines from indigenous cultures all around Mesoamerica" in an attempt to bring them into the "US cultural imaginary." The art directors of the show, two brothers, Josh Parpan and Justin Parpan, who had worked on Gravity Falls and DuckTales respectively, added their perspective. Their work allowed the "culturally-specific world for the series" to be constructed, which they showcased on a Tumblr blog titled "Folk Art Friends – The Art of Victor and Valentino." In an interview with Cartoon Brew, they expressed the need to "do something new and different artistically," and immersed themselves in "a variety of Latin American art," with many forms of inspiration.
Victor "Vic" Calavera (voiced by Diego Molano): Valentino's younger half-brother who is as easily bored as he is excitable. He prefers playing games, pulling pranks and being mischievous, but can be rather hasty and uncoordinated. He would rather look cool than follow directions, but cares about Valentino above anything else. Additionally, he is really bad at spelling, prefers being dirty and is easily duped into committing certain acts.
Valentino "Val" Calavera (voiced by Rico Rodriguez [pilot]; Sean-Ryan Petersen [series]): Victor's older half-brother who is more cautious and likes taking in the smaller things in life. He has better coordination than Victor and is smarter, but still looks out for him and cares for his well-being. He is seemingly overweight, but seems to be pretty strong and muscular at times, seeing to how he lifts heavy and huge things easily; he is very knowledgeable about ancient Mexican culture and its history.
Chata (voiced by Carla Tassara [pilot]; Laura Patalano [series]): the boys' grandmother, with whom they stay in Monte Macabre for the summer. She appears to be blind, is stern, yet kind. The pilot depicts her as an undead spirit that can take on a human form, while the series only implies her supernatural connections. In a 2019 interview, Molano said that he based Grandma Chata on his own grandmother.
Maria Teresa (voiced by Frankie Quiñones): Charlene and Pineapple's mean-spirited grandmother and Chata's rival. She owns her own taco establishment.
Charlene (voiced by Cristina Milizia): A strange and macabre little girl who picks on/hangs out with Vic and Val. She has connections to the supernatural and likes using them on the brothers. She has a crush on Victor and takes every chance to be involved with whatever he is doing.
Pineapple (voiced by Diego Molano): A large, lumbering, monosyllabic boy who is Charlene's brother. He acts as a stooge for her and, despite his intimidating appearance, is shown to like dancing and be sympathetic.
Julio "Don" Jalapeño (voiced by Jason Hightower): The local mini-mart owner who gets occasionally caught up in Vic and Val's antics, and is well-versed in Mexican and Latin-American folklore and cryptids. He seems to be attracted to Grandma Chata and sweats a lot in her presence.
Xochi Jalapeño (voiced by Cristina Vee): Don Jalapeño's teenage daughter who tends to the supernatural plants in the back of the store. She can be intimidating and takes Salsa dancing.
Sal (voiced by Jorge Gutierrez): A hippie-like, otherworldly person with magic powers who sometimes brings Vic and Val on adventures. He is possibly hiding more about himself then he lets on.
Isabella (voiced by Milizia): An intelligent girl who hangs out with Vic and Val. She and Val are mutually attracted to each other. She is later revealed to be a Mega-mime and in league with Tez.
Tez (voiced by Christian Lanz): Maria Teresa's husband and a powerful sorcerer who has sinister plans for Monte Macabre; the series' primary antagonist.
The show first broadcast on Cartoon Network in the U.S. and Latin America on March 30, 2019, part of the channel's 2018-2019 programming lineup. The show premiered on Cartoon Network UK on 26 August 2019. It then premiered on September 23 in Italy with episodes 1x7 and 1x12 and then officially premiered in October 7 with regular episodes. It also aired on Cartoon Network India on 1 November 2019.
In October 2020, Cartoon Network commemorated Hispanic Heritage Month with an "ongoing content series that celebrates equality and individuality," which was narrated by Sean-Ryan Petersen, who voices Valentino, and features a "variety of powerful youth activists." In addition to this, fans were encouraged to stream Victor and Valentino episodes, and those of other series,[nb 1] in Spanish on the Cartoon Network App.
The first 18 episodes of the series was released as a DVD titled "Victor and Valentino: Folk Art Foes," on March 2, 2021 with a total running time of about 143 minutes and language options in Spanish and English.
The series has been reviewed positively. Remezcla described it as show with Gravity Falls vibes and something that aims to give Latino kids an "entertaining look at the folktales and myths that populate the American continent."Common Sense Media called the show a "comedy adventure series" based in a town which is a "setting for all kinds of supernatural oddities inspired by Latin American folklore." Other reviewers concurred. The L.A. Times called the show a "supernatural action comedy," and praised its "mix of Mexican visual motifs and Japanese anime conventions," saying it makes for "something new, yet familiar."Gizmodo described the show as the first series on Cartoon Network "starring a predominantly Hispanic cast" and praised the matter-of-fact, casual approach to "indigenous, Mesoamerican culture." The reviewer further stated that the show has the space to do worldbuilding while "letting its supernatural elements sometimes take the backseat" and called it a "clever, good-hearted show." In the same fashion, Collider stated that the animation is "a rare title that offers up something new," that it welcomes "viewers of Mesoamerican backgrounds," shares a lot with OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes, and is a series that is "fun and funny enough for kids" while offering stories "worth watching for audiences of any age." Similarly, Deadline argued that the show gave off "some fun-filled" Steven Universe and Rick & Morty vibes.