The animated Constantine series will draw directly from Hellblazer: All His Engines

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Jan 10, 2018, 8:45 PM EST

We have more information about the upcoming animated Constantine series, which we learned about today during Warner Bros. Television's TCA panel. Speaking exclusively with SYFY WIRE after the presentation, Peter Girardi, Executive Vice President of Blue Ribbon Content & Alternative Programming for Warner Bros. Animation, shared some further details about the upcoming series, including how they will approach the supernaturally attuned chain-smoker's origin. 

The notion of creating an animated series after one season of a canceled live-action show is not exactly a tried-and-true concept, but the character of John Constantine is so beloved that WB animation (and Blue Ribbon Content) weren't going to let that get in the way. Did it affect how the series was approached, however? 

As Girardi says, "First, I'm a super fan, so when we we're talking to Geoff Johns and the people at DC, we asked what will be great that is still what people loved about the [NBC] show, but is a little more Constantine? We started with the graphic novel, All His Engines, and that is classic Constantine."

As the original NBC show doesn't really give John Constantine much of an origin, the new series will use Hellblazer: All His Engines because it "gets the backstory in there, which is a primer for the character." Whereas WB animation is usually dealing with more famous characters, whose backstories are known (Batman, Superman), Girardi says that including the material was important because "not all people know who these people are, so you have to do a little backstory. This story does that when he meets up with his friend, who is disappointed because Constantine is different now." 

The 128-page graphic novel from Mike Carey and Leonardo Manco was originally released back in 2005 to coincide with Keanu Reeve's Constantine movie. It finds Constantine dealing with a worldwide plague, a mad demon "in a body woven out of cancer cells," and "a plot to build franchised Hells in the cities of men and unleash a plague of coma cases," according to the Vertigo synopsis.

The animated show will appear on the CW Seed, which has previously hosted shows tangential to the Arrowverse, such as VixenAs a result, Girardi says that "what we've learned is that this is a movie first. When we finished the script of the film, we all go back and figure out the episodic breaks. And some of those episodic breaks may not be in the final movie because they only make sense episodically, and not in the context of a feature, so there is additional material that will only be for the feature. So there are two things we are doing at the same time here."

He adds that he was pleased with the work that they did on Vixen, but they got better with Constantine, as well as the recent Freedom Fighters: The Ray. Speaking of that show, Girardi says that "The story is important. It's a gay character, and it's important he's not just an add-on and just doing lip service to be 'pro-social.' It's core to the character and a big part of the story about identities in an alternate universe story."

The Ray first appeared in the Arrowverse during the recent crossover epic, Crisis on Earth X, and was played by Russell Tovey (UK's Being Human). 

The Constantine animated series is slated for release in the spring, and Freedom Fighters: The Ray is in production on the back half of Season 1 episodes right now.