The global pandemic put many television shows on pause, and animated series are no different. With much of the production happening overseas, the wait between seasons is typically six months to a year.
Fans of the Emmy Award-winning fantasy Netflix series The Dragon Prince , have waited since November of 2019 when Season 3 dropped and with no definitive Season 4 premiere date yet announced, it could be at least two years that have passed before fans know what happens in the war between humans tempted by dark magic and the magic-based world of Xadia.
But there’s still plenty to be excited about The Dragon Prince. Last summer it was announced that Netflix has renewed the series for four more seasons, each with nine episodes, allowing the entire seven-season saga play out as originally planned.
At this past July’s Comic-Con@Home, The Dragon Prince panel allowed fans to meet other creatives behind the series and showcase their contributions to the immersive hit show. Monsters and Critics spoke to co-creators Aaron Ehasz and Justin Richmond about what fans can be excited for in the meantime, as well as what to expect from the show moving forward.
The first three seasons were constructed as a quest to get baby dragon Zym back to his mother, Lord Viren’s army was defeated, and the core friendship of main characters Callum, Rayla, Ezra has strengthened. It was a thoroughly satisfying close to season three.
‘A little bit darker, more mature themes’
“It’s not a different construct,” Richmond responded. “But the series will have the ability to look into the future because we know how far we’re going. I think we’re going to try to make the show a little like Harry Potter and age it up, with a little bit darker, more mature themes.”
“It’s not going to be inappropriate of course but we want to age along with our characters and our audience so hopefully your seven-year-old loves it but so does your grandmother, parents, and you. It’s nice to have the vision of four seasons is a unique opportunity that you don’t get very often.”
“We’ve always had a saga-minded approach while always trying to make each season its own experience,” Ehasz added. “I think the other piece that’s different is that the initial commitment from Netflix was much smaller than what we got, eventually they expanded to 24 episodes, then to 27, then that’s when we got to three seasons.”
“We had to prove ourselves in that time period. They told us to make sure you tell a story that is full and satisfying, even if we don’t find the momentum and fanbase and energy to go forward with the saga.”
“For us, we had to figure out how do you tell this story and build three seasons that hopefully stand on their own as awesome and valuable but having the discipline to build in all of our plans for the rest of the saga for all of these seasons that go forward.”
“The difference now is that Netflix, with their support, give us the ability to say, ‘Here we go, now we have the freedom to build out the saga the way we always planned and dreamed.’ It means you can take certain risks and make certain tradeoffs in the early seasons because you know where you’re going in the later seasons. It’s been a great creative gift and opportunity.”
Both creators remain tight-lipped on any story details on the horizon. Though we know that Claudia has saved her father Lord Viren and that Aaravos has grown into a large cocoon. The biggest tease spun out of the recent Comic-Con@Home panel was the reveal of a new Sunfire Elf named Karim, who is “a great character, written wonderfully if I don’t say so for myself and the writers,” Ehasz said laughing. “We were able to work with Luc Roderique (who voiced King Harrow) again, who has brought the character to life in ways that people are going to instantly find this character compelling and fascinating.”
Richmond and Ehasz also added that once the fourth season does drop, that the wait between seasons will be much shorter, barring something surprising.
“The gap was finishing season three, and getting things moving so we can push forward into the next phase and that’s why we’re experiencing the gap (between Season 3 and 4),” explained Ehasz. “The release cadence between four and onward should be closer to what the first few seasons were like. It all depends on what Netflix feels is best and works but I expect the cadence to be more predictable and regular for those seasons.
So what can fans do while they wait, wait, and wait? That’s the most exciting thing to come from the recent announcements. No doubt the center of attention right now is Season 4, but what team Dragon Prince has come up with in the meantime is better than most television shows that are in between seasons. There’s still plenty of new Dragon Prince content to consume.
Often times when a series concludes, there’s a weak effort to roll out a book, or video game capitalizing on the fumes that remain by those who still seek more. That content is usually disappointing, and end up as thinly-veiled money grabs.
That’s not the case with Dragon Prince as each product bearing the show’s name is closely tied into the bigger saga at hand. The animated series only scratches the surface of what is a massive world Wonderstorm and Bardel have created. Heavily-invested fans want more and these peripherals deliver on that hope. Here’s a slew of what’s out there already and what’s coming out soon.
The Dragon Prince prose novels (and audiobook) written by Ehasz and wife Melanie McGanney Ehasz give more detail to each corresponding season. The first one, The Dragon Prince Book One: Moon (Scholastic) explored the events of Season One through a variety of character’s points of view and the just released follow up, Book Two: Sky expands on what happened in Season Two in a similar way.
In the canon middle-grade Dragon Prince graphic novels, original stories give new pieces to the puzzle. Through the Moon picks up right after the big Season 3 finale and is a transition story into Season Four. Rayla is unable to fathom that Lord Viren died in the great battle. She is also burdened with finding out the truth about her parents and Runaan’s fate and through the sacrifice of Phoe-Phoe, Rayla is able to explore the raw emotions stemming from the epic confrontation.
“It did happen,” Ehasz assured those wondering if Through the Moon is essential reading. “The burden on us as writers was to write Season 4 in a way that we didn’t want to be redundant, but there’s some explanation to what has happened [in the comics].
“The situation has changed, but we had to write it in a way that assumes that many people may not read it so we take on that storytelling burden. There’s definitely a deeper understanding for those that read it, about the sinew that connects Season 3 and Season 4.”
In April 2022, the second graphic novel, Bloodmoon Huntress will be released, featuring a prequel story written by Nicole Andelfinger and drawing by Felia Hanakata, which tells the story of young Rayla taking place many years prior to Season 1.
‘Treated with reverence’
Another flashback tale will make up the third graphic novel, entitled Puzzle House written by Peter Warman, readers will learn about the villainous Viren’s mastery of dark magic and the lessons he learned from mentor Kpp’Ar. If Puzzle House and Bloodmoon Huntress are anything like Through the Moon, they’ll be stories that help complete the bigger picture.
“Some of it is a reaction to the experience of working on Avatar: The Last Airbender during the early days. Nickelodeon to some degree, treated the series as the core experience, of course it was and everything else was ancillary. A lot of it was treated with reverence and meaning and in some cases, it felt like this was a way we’re going to make money, by making toys.”
“As someone who was on the creative team of Avatar, I recognized in my nephew and other people attached to the show, they really loved this show and these characters in a really meaningful way. It meant something to them.”
“I always felt that if we’re building up these other parts of the experience for them, if we’re making a card game, action figures or a video game, we need to honor their emotional commitment to this world. We need to recognize this is a part of their experience and value that the same way.”
“We call it The Dragon Prince community, as opposed to an audience, which is passive. Our community includes people who are going to be players of the games, who are fan artists, who write fan-fiction, or just talk about it online. People are engaged.”
“Those graphic novels are not just a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Hopefully they are, but it also gives them a much deeper understanding of the world and these characters they connect with, and gives them something to argue about.”
If it’s arguing that fans want to do, they’ll soon have two board games. A D&D style role-playing game in the works from Fandom called Tales of Xadia, that is intense as players want it to be. Tales of Xadia is currently being play tested, with pre-orders open since February.
If a massive RPG isn’t your speed, then another board game from Brotherwise Games, called The Dragon Prince: Battlecharged, might be more up your alley. It is a fast-paced, miniatures and card deck-based game that will appeal to more action-based board gaming.
“The [Wonderstorm] team and our partners we’ve taken on are fans of this world and love being a part of building that vision are just trying to make sure everything is meaningful and impactful and worthy of the community’s time and attention,” Ehasz shared.
“Like the Battlecharged game, Chris and Johnny O’Neal are true fans and they get these characters and embraced it. The thing their building is being built out of the true vision. It’s not a board game that is based on the game, it’s really cool, it feels good, it feels like the show. It feels right. There are new things to learn about show, but it should authentically feel like the world and enrich your long-term relationship with the world and not just some skin on a game. Those are the partnerships we want to build.”
If that wasn’t enough, fans will be able to add more Dragon Prince merchandise to their wardrobe near the holiday season thanks to a conjunction with Loot Crate that includes a Sunfire t-shirt that changes color in the sun, a Moonshadow tee that glows in the dark or black light, and a hoodie design for all of those Aaravos fans.
Ehasz and Richmond beamed about what’s coming to fans in the coming months both in Season 4 and other media. Too often fans of a series wish there was more and The Dragon Prince team is actually delivering, on both fronts.
“The kind of commitment to enlarging the vision together and belief that we’re making something meaningful to a large community and big group of people who love it and stay engaged with it, I think it’s an honor,” Ehasz proudly stated.
“I think it’s humbling and everyone is taking it really seriously and we’re grateful to be here.”