Monday, July 25, 2011

ThunderCats Relaunched!

-By Dan dos Santos

I have mentioned before my love for 80's cartoons here on Muddy Colors, and if any of you attended the IMC this year, you certainly heard me tout it again. So needless to say, I am pretty excited about Cartoon Network relaunching ThunderCats this Friday, July 29th.

I have seen so many movies and comics of late re-vamping old classics (even re-vamps of the re-vamps!), and rarely do they live up to the originals. So part of me was really reluctant to see what they were going to do with ThunderCats. But I must say, I am quite pleased!

The ThunderCats has a really wonderful cast of characters, and such a solid backstory, that there is a TON of potential for a wide variety of interpretations, be it child-like or very adult. You can see some wonderful, un-official renditions of these characters in the recent CGHub challenge.

Ultimately, I think Cartoon Network took a really smart approach. Rather than change the characters dramatically to fit current tastes, they simply changed the animation style. The characters themselves have been altered very little. Even some of the outfits are nearly identical to the 80's version. Yes, the abbreviated style typical of Japanese animation may be to everyone's liking, but it lends itself well to the constraints of animation, and is undeniably popular at the moment, hopefully ensuring the show's success. That is, after all, the real goal... not just appeasing OLD fans, but rather creating a whole generation of NEW fans.

Below are some samples of the pre-production concept art. I particularly love the treatment of WilyKit and WilyKat.

And for a real treat, check out some recently revealed concept art from the original series! It's almost unrecognizable, as it appears the series was initially headed in a totally different direction.


  1. My kids have been bugging me about this show because they know I loved the original. But I really hate that style of animation. This concept art is great, though. Maybe the Cats can make me learn to love the new style... Definitely gonna watch the first episode.

    Love your work, Dan. I've noticed lately I've been picking books to read because they have a Dos Santos Cover! Do you think you will ever make a book of your paintings? I'd be first in line to buy it!

  2. @Lashawn: I think you'll change your mind. One of the great things about the japanese style of animation is the way it describes action so well. I think it's a great choice for the show, and expect the fight sequences will be particularly cool.

    As for a book, one was on the way with Dark Horse comics a year or so ago, but company lay-offs meant the project was re-evaluated and then nixed. Not a big deal though, as I would like to have a larger selection of works anyways. I expect I will revisit the project within the next year or two.

  3. You made my day Dan! I LOVE THUNDERCATS!

  4. I have been looking forward to this show for months and I'm SO glad the premiere is finally almost upon us. I've been eating up every little bit of new information and every new trailer. Thundercats Ho!!!

  5. I've been eying this new iteration too. Adored the Thundercats as a kid, even though I have to admit that the kick-ass intro was always the best part of the show! :)

    These artist have done a great job redesigning the characters for 2011. But in general with Japanese animation, I do miss the more realistic treatment of characters you could get in the late 70's and 80's.

    Nice post Dan!

    Billy Norrby

  6. This is AWESOME. :D Then again i also love the last version of He-Man and that did not last. :(

  7. This looks exciting! And I don't mind the Japanese influence on the animation style. Though, am I the only one who was waiting for Lion-O's "Thunder...Thunder...Thundercats! HOOO!" in that trailer? :)

  8. Thanks for posting all of this! I'm stoked for this revamp I've been counting the days!

  9. Okay Dan, you were right. I loved it! Hate Lion-o's hair though. : )

  10. @ Lashawn: Glad to hear it! I really enjoyed it too. Surprisingly solid story! Though I REALLY wish they kept Cheetara's original voice. That deep, raspy voice was so sexy in the original. I found her a little bland this time.

  11. Gotta remember Dan the Original Thundercats was like 25 years ago. Cheetara's original Voice actor is like in her 60s or something now. Wouldn't exactly work.

  12. @Balgus: I still think it's a shame. The actors who voiced Liono and Panthro are doing the new show, why not Lynne Lipton too.


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