Bakshi originated the idea for Tattertown in high school, where it was originally a comic strip called Junk Town. The strip made light of the human condition by showing the value of things we throw away.
Bakshi worked with Nickelodeon to bring his strip to life as a regular television series. In 1988, they commissioned him to create a pilot for the series. It aired on December 21, 1988 during the network's Nick at Nite block of programming.
Originally the series was to be picked up in 1989 for 39 episodes, but the project was abandoned. Nickelodeon renamed the pilot Christmas in Tattertown and aired it annually as a special until 1992. Bakshi has retained rights to the pilot and in an interview on his official website conducted on August 2, 2007, he confirmed a DVD release.