Marcel the Shell made his YouTube debut in August 2010, and quickly went viral.
This anthropomorphic seashell is the creation of comedienne/former SNL writer Jenny Slate and her filmmaker boyfriend Dean Fleischer-Camp. In his now famous video, the one-eyed, pink shoe-wearing Marcel describes how he skis using toenails and enjoys hang-gliding on a Dorito. He’s timidly voiced by Slate. He is adorable, and reasonably funny.
Now, Marcel has taken the logical next step of all cutesy internet memes: he’s got his own book. Specifically, Marcel the Shell With Shoes On: Things About Me is a book for children, though I suspect Marcel’s broad appeal will see many adults sneaking a read.
Slate and Fleischer-Camp spoke to Time about their new release, revealing that a Marcel book for grown-ups was out of the question:
“Dean and I didn’t have any interest in making an adult humor book. When we realized kids liked Marcel too, the only thing keeping it fresh for us was to take on the challenge of making a good children’s book that wasn’t too saccharine. Marcel has an unnamed nostalgia and a bit of meanness to him, and we realized quickly that he could be a classic character.”
But that’s just the start. Marcel is becoming a brand, and Time reports a TV show (an expanded version of the web videos) is in the works. Slate hopes it “will be like The Muppet Show, a place where our comedian friends can come and play around in a world full of shells.”
Slate’s previous work on SNL was tinged with disappointment: she lasted only one season, and is primarily remembered for a gaffe from her very first episode, in which she accidentally swore. Marcel, she says, cheered her up during her post-SNL funk:
“I felt a little smushed down. I felt that I should just sit down and do something creative for the sake of being creative. I had a little heartbreak after the show, and I don’t wear grumpiness well. So Marcel was something I did to make myself happy. It came from a place of strength. He is this little guy who is proud of who he is, and I wanted to say in a loving way, there is nothing wrong with me.”