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Napoleon Dynamite lives — as a cartoon.

Fox has ordered six episodes of an animated series featuring the further adventures of the awkward, alienated Idaho teen and his friends. And not only is it being written by the Jared and Jerusha Hess, who wrote the 2004 film, but the characters will be voiced by the original cast members.

"We'd always thought if there ever was a great way to continue the adventures of Napoleon, it would be through animation. The movie's kind of a live-action cartoon as it is, I think," Jared Hess, a BYU graduate, said with a laugh. "So it makes the transition nicely."

The "Napoleon Dynamite" series does not, however, pick up where the movie left off. It's a prequel, showing us Napoleon, his friends and foes before the movie began.

The main characters from the film, plus some of Napoleon's high-school enemies, will also populate the animated series, Hess said.

Jon Heder (Napoleon), Aaron Ruell (Kip), Efren Ramirez (Pedro), Diedrick Bader (Rex), Sandy Martin (Grandma) and Tina Majorino (Deb) are among the actors who have signed on to reprise their movie roles.

Fox has yet to schedule "Napoleon Dynamite," but — given the time that's needed to produce an animated show — it most likely won't air before spring 2011.

It could end up next to "The Simpsons," as the new "Napoleon" will share that show's talent. About a year ago, the Hesses teamed up with veteran "Simpsons" writer/producer Mike Scully — a six-time Emmy winner — to bring Napoleon Dynamite to animated life.

"He's just a class act and super-talented and funny," Hess said. "So he's on board as our show-runner and kind of navigating this new animation world with us."

And animation does require some adjustments. "The process is a lot longer than doing something live-action would be," Hess said. "You have to work months ahead."

But there are advantages as well. There's no need to build sets or worry about special effects. "It's fun to be able to write something and not have to worry about how you're going to execute it," Hess said.

And he claims he's not worried that Fox has ordered just six episodes for now. "I'm actually kind of relieved so that we can work hard to make these first six really good," Hess said.