‘Dead Boy Detectives’ Promises a Wild Ride — and the Opening Credits Capture It Perfectly

“Dead Boy Detectives” threads a very specific tonal needle. Based on the Neil Gaiman graphic novels, the new Netflix series follows two dead teens — Edwin and Charles, played by George Rexstrew and Jayden Revri — and their flourishing careers as P.I.s who help other ghosts with unfinished business while trying to avoid Hell.

“We created a darkly comedic horror mystery,” co-creator (with Beth Schwartz) Steve Yockey told IndieWire. “We were always trying to make the Hardy Boys on acid, basically. As long as you stay grounded with the emotional stories, then you can go crazy with everything else.”

Over the course of eight episodes, “Dead Boy Detectives” does just that. Part of the series’ thrill is found in its opening credits, which distill the essence of the show’s tone into #friendgoals as two skeletons (filmed in bisexual lighting, no less) cavort and frolic while ominous Easter eggs proliferate. Watch the full sequence in the video above before the show premieres on Netflix on April 25.

“We had a chance to watch the rough cut of the first episode and come up with any concepts that capture the drama-comedy tone,” Elastic Creative Director Jeff Han told IndieWire. “Steve Yockey briefly told us he wants something fun and upbeat, with a strong visual that the audience doesn’t want to skip.”

Included in Yockey’s reference images was a skull dropping its jaw, and the Elastic team — including Min Shi, Jean Hwang, Gryun Kim, Lee Buckley, Jason Gaines, and Jillian Lynes, with the A52 VFX team — ran with it, creating two different concepts for the “Dead Boy Detectives” opening credits: an action-packed sequence of a skeleton dancing in a realistic 3D rendering and a more comic-book style rendering of two skeletons journeying through show-related obstacles together. After the realistic rendering was chosen, “I thought about what these two teenage dead boy detectives would do when they are not solving the cases,” Han said. “I brainstormed some skeleton fun moments. The boys would be lying down near the beach, riding bikes, or jazz dancing together. It was pure fun creating every frame of this title sequence.”

Viewers will get the chance to piece together the Easter eggs strewn throughout the sequence as the series progresses, but Han points out that Yockey specifically requested the “Dead Boy Detectives” opening credits include the cat and the eyeballs. “We couldn’t spend our entire budget to create a full VFX realistic cat — furry animals are expensive! — so we had to keep him in a picture frame,” Han said.

And the moody, neon lighting brings an already heightened show to even greater heights, bringing with it a little extra dollop of hedonism. “Steve’s skeleton reference image had some parts glowing in the dark,” Han said. “Neon and fluorescent lights came to my mind and we explored texturing the skeletons with neon colors, imagining the skeletons are at a nightclub, dancing. Min Shi, a designer in our team, made a beautiful frame of two skeletons with blue and purple lights. It was a home run, Yockey loved it from the start, and we kept the same look and lighting throughout the process.”

“Dead Boy Detectives” premieres on Netflix Thursday, April 25.

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