Good news for fans of “Over the Garden Wall” or people with an affinity for poetry and clarinet music. Cartoon Network and Mondo have teamed up to bring “Over the Garden Wall” character Wirt and his “For Sara” cassette into existence, and Hero Complex has an exclusive excerpt from the tape.
“Over the Garden Wall” is Pat McHale’s Emmy Award-winning miniseries that follows brothers Wirt and Greg as they travel through a mysterious place called the Unknown, searching for a way home. Among those they encountered during their journey was an ominous Woodsman, an irritable bluebird named Beatrice and a talking horse named Fred. The series is uniquely weird, funny, a tad bit dark and features a memorable soundtrack of original music.
“‘Over the Garden Wall’ is like a bunch of my interests sort of meshed together,” said McHale.
“One thing that we talked about when we were making the show was that it was supposed to feel sort of like a quilt,” explained McHale. “Every episode had its own unique color and pattern and everything but overall it was supposed to become one quilt that all works together. Every episode should feel exciting."
In “Over the Garden Wall,” Greg is the more carefree younger brother who has a pet frog and touts rock facts. Wirt is the more sensitive and serious older brother who may seem irritated by Greg at times, but it is also clear that he cares for his sibling.
“Greg probably appeals to the youngest people,” said McHale. “Wirt probably appeals to people who have been through stuff that Wirt’s been through. Some of the younger people may look up to Wirt in some ways, even though he’s kind of goofy. He’s still the hero of the show."
As the series progresses, audiences discover that Wirt has a passion for poetry, clarinet and a girl named Sara. And that like any good teenager flustered with an intense crush, Wirt created a personalized mixtape to help confess his feelings.
“I just really like the sound of clarinet,” said McHale when explaining why he chose it as the instrument Wirt plays. “I think it sounds really good if you’re good at it. It sounds really bad if you’re bad at it. It seems like a cool instrument ... but for some reason it has a stigma of not being cool, I think.”
Of course, while the series revealed that the cassette played a pivotal role in Wirt and Greg ending up in the Unknown, the exact content of the tape was a mystery to fans until now.
“On the tape is poetry and clarinet music,” explained McHale. “It’s sort of like this bed of clarinet music where Wirt has layered his clarinet into harmonies and stuff, and then recorded over that using two different cassette recorders. He’s recording poetry that he wrote and songs that he composed. It goes back and forth between poetry and music but it also has music underneath the poetry."
That the mixtape is actually a cassette tape also adds to the miniseries’ timeless charm. Even in early meetings about promotional material, creating an actual cassette tape was on the series creator’s mind.
“Generally, for the purposes of teenagers recording themselves in goofy ways, tapes have been around for a while and people still use them,” said McHale. “It seems as timeless as we could get for a modern setting."
Those who have ever actually made a mixtape with a cassette player will remember that there is something special about the process that is not quite captured when creating a playlist or any other modern day equivalent.
Mondo’s limited-edition tape features 20 minutes of Wirt’s poetry and music, produced and performed by the Blasting Company, who did the music for the show. McHale said that, in order to be authentic, the Blasting Company actually did the recording on tapes to layer the clarinet music the way Wirt would have. Elijah Wood, of course, is featured as the voice of Wirt.
“With things like Garage Band and stuff, people can still make plenty of embarrassing recordings for themselves,” McHale conceded. “But then you can sort of curate them better than you could on a tape ... on tape it’s already there so you have to rerecord the entire thing ... it’s quite riskier.”
And the “For Sara” cassette is very much aware of the risks, as well as the charm in homemade mixtapes.
“There’s lots of those kind of mistakes and uncomfortable, like, awkward changes between songs and stuff on the tape, which is kind of fun,” McHale said.
For fans looking for even more “Over the Garden Wall,” Cartoon Network has recently released a DVD of the entire series which includes some special features (such as the “Behind Over the Garden Wall” featurette above). Additionally, fans can check out the comic book miniseries by McHale and Jim Campbell being published by KaBoom.
Listen to the exclusive clip of Wirt’s poetry in the clip above. The limited-edition cassette is set to be released Wednesday.