Happy Easter: Superbook in CG!

Just in time for Easter, Christian Broadcasting Network has announced a computer-animated remake of their 1980s series Superbook. If CGI doesn’t turn today’s kids devoutly religious, there’s still one last hope: 3-D!


  • Craig

    The concept is almost as creative as the original ‘super’ book itself!  I wonder how CBN will be able to maintain a G-rating, what with all the brutal murders, the incest, the sexism, the homophobia, and all the other superstitious, contradictory stuff thrown in…  If they edit all that stuff out of the show, then there won’t be much left for the time-traveling robot and electric-guitar playing kids to see!

    • Superstarseven

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  • Grumpy Animator

    Christ…

  • Seni

    WOW! What an upgrade! It looks pretty good, so it’s got MY support.

  • http://pyatyletka.blogspot.com Nick Cross

    Heh, early in my animation career I did some work for CBN…easily the worst job I ever had in this business.

  • http://www.frankpanucci.com Frank Panucci

    My favorite part is the little Lego block with the frowny face, and the slogan underneath: “The Adobe Flash plugin has crashed”

    • The Gee

      I couldn’t get it play either. Until I read what you wrote, I took that as a sign that maybe I wasn’t supposed to watch it. The player is there but the video stays dark.

      Okay, to be quite Frank*, I’m still taking it as a sign and not as a technical glitch. haha.

      I saw the early incarnation of “Superbook.” If memory serves, it wasn’t so bad. Not as bad as say that DIC show on early American history. Though, I hope I’m not confusing “Superbook” with a separate cartoon about a time traveling, clockwork robot who always had to bail the scene just when the going got interesting.

      * pun intended.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        I had as similar sign happen when I tried playing one of the Nest Productions New Testament videos too! The VCR just ate the tape!

      • http://www.frankpanucci.com Frank Panucci

        If I try to look at a religious site on my computer it crashes to the Blue Screen Of Hell, with little animated red flames at the bottom.

        Page Fault Rubbed On Unclean Area
        Stop Error 666666666 666666666 666666666 666666666

  • John

    Craig…actually all of that “stuff” reminds me more of Hollywood and the supermarket check-out line than anything else.

  • http://thisisonlya.blogspot.com robcat2075

    If one is wanting kids to believe these are real historical events, making them look like not-real animation seems counter productive.

    • Alan

      I disagree with that–although I’d question this particular approach. One would think they’d START with real history, though.

  • Toonio

    Reboot meets the Bible! This is going to be interesting.

  • Krayon

    I prefer have Studio 4c to produce my biblical animations that this…. If you going to compare Clone Wars with this, at least step up your characters animation, Just saying.

  • Gray64

    I have to admit, I watched Superbook as a kid, and I have some affection for it, even though I’m not particularly religious (and wasn’t back then, either). It was one of my earliest exposures to anime (along with Battle of the Planets and Princess Knight). I had a friend who in the mid-eighties, commenting on the wave of Anime that hit syndication — think Robotech and Voltron — described it as “looking like those cartoons on the religious channel.” As I recall, the original didn’t shy away from violence, at least implied violence (the Cain and Abel story, for example) and Adam and Eve’s nudity was cleverly handled. The kids in the original did not themselves seem particularly religious either, just more or less witnesses to what was going on in “Bible Times,” with the Bible story often echoing something going on in their own lives.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      And that’s probably what I got out of the show too. These kids were living pretty normal lives when all this happened.

  • http://tresswygert.blogspot.com Tres Swygert

    I really wonder why Pharaoh was movin’ around with hand motions like a Power Ranger at 0:58 into the video.

    All jokes aside, this doesn’t excite me much. I remember the “real” SuperBook animated series, and it had more heart with character structure. The character designs for the CGI seems repetitive and lifeless. Also, where’s the third kid in this show? They had a small little boy in there too….guess they had something else to axe.

    • Gray64

      The third kid you’re thinking of is Chris’s little brother (whose name, I believe, was Yuri). He was born during the first season and, through the magic of tv, was old enough to participate in adventures for the second season while the other characters hadn’t visibly aged at all. I agree, the character designs here are PBS-bland; Chris and Joy look enough alike as to be related (maybe they’re supposed to be, now).

  • Inkan1969

    Yeek. The original “Superbook” animes were actually pretty cool, with an appealing artistic style. You can see that in the original clips. This CGI version looks awful; the characters look so generic.

    • http://www.facebook.com/pages/JM-Urbina-Animation-Director/138440486216374 J.M. Urbina

      I personally like the Original Anime Style better. In fact….why did they make it ORIGINALLY anime. to reach out Japan??

      Any ways there is another anime series I used to watch as a kid called La Casa Voladora (The Flyign House) it is the same concept as Superbook I wonder if it was done by the same guys

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhiL8Pb22og

      • Chris Sobieniak

        It was. Both SuperBook and Flying House were handled by CBN and animated by Tatsunoko Productions (best known perhaps for Speed Racer, Gatchaman, Casshern, etc.)

  • m(_ _)m

    At first I thought it was strange that this news program was running such a long piece on this new show.. But then I realized it was CBN news, so it’s just a 5 minute commercial.

    Eh, Western remakes of anime titles aren’t ever as good :\

  • Skip

    It’s a good idea and I hope it works out for them. Although what’s being produced here looks below todays standard in CG animation, and it also looks cheesy to me. From what I’ve seen the 2D version of super-book made in the 80′s looks more watchable.

  • Terry Walsh

    When it comes to Biblical movies, no one did them better than Cecil B.DeMille.

    A friend and I were sharing movie experiences not long ago and I was asked what is the single most memorial SPFX scene I ever saw in the movies ? For me, it had to be the parting of the Red Sea in DeMille’s 1956 Technicolor epic. Whenever I think of that film I remember that sequence and Edward G.Robinson’s line rallying the crowd “Where’s your Moses Now ?”.

    • http://www.filmbuffonline.com FilmBuffRich

      Really? While I like the design of the effect, for years I’ve winced whenever I would see the sequence because of all the visible black matte lines in it. It still boggles me that 10 COMMANDMENTS beat out FORBIDDEN PLANET that year for the Visual Effects Oscar.

  • Dave

    I think this is “old news” . CBN announced their new CG Superbook direct-to-DVD series over a year ago . This is just a promotional piece on the latest episode they’ve released on DVD.

  • AaronSch

    I’d rather my children watch “Super Book” with all its cheesy animation rather than something well animated that is infused with negative and often destructive messaging. Too often the desire to appeal to adults results in a cynical world view and inappropriate humor.

    The quality (or lack thereof) is on par with something like “Veggie Tales.” I did clinical work in a couple of children’s hospitals here in Phoenix and the little ones watched the stilted animation in “Veggie Tales” as intensely as anything from Disney, Dreamworks or Blue Sky Studios.

    • Gray64

      Entirely too many people think that “mature” and “thought provoking” has to mean violent and depressing.

    • http://thisisonlya.blogspot.com robcat2075

      “I’d rather my children watch “Super Book” with all its cheesy animation rather than something well animated that is infused with negative and often destructive messaging.”

      What is there out there that is “well animated” and is “infused with negative and often destructive messaging”? This seems like a false premise a bit like the “war on Christmas” meme the right circulates.

      It’s not like there is a plague of such things leaving nothing else to watch. It’s hard to even think of any examples. Disney, Dreamworks and Blue Sky have all put out the occasional painfully uninteresting film but “negative and often destructive”?

      Or anyone else in the “well animated” camp… un family-friendly fare without an uplifting message isn’t in their business plan.

      • Rick R.

        Your post, Craig’s post, (and the tone of Amid’s post) is exactly why these things aren’t false memes.

        If any of us were to attack Islam or the gays with the fervor any of you just used, it would be considered unacceptable or some kinda “phobic.” Saying something is wrong does not equate to fear most of the time, it’s just a false meme that people “fear” things when nah, we don’t agree with it. You don’t accept all ideas are equal either, so why can’t we agree to disagree without name calling?

        I don’t think “infused with negative and often destructive messaging” was aimed at Disney/Pixar or feature films. This is a TV/made for video presentation, and the corollary would be the Seth MacFarlane/South Park/Adult Swim fare, which is usually hostile and mocking towards Christianity or “old fashioned” values.

      • RadFemHedonist

        I don’t care whether you’re actually afraid of LGBT people or not, if you think it’s wrong to be LGBT you are prejudiced (just like a muslim or a member of any other religion who thinks it’s wrong to be LGBT is prejudiced, or indeed anyone at all who thinks it’s wrong to be LGBT is prejudiced), I have spent a substantial proportion of my life feeling suicidal because of people like you (anti-body ownership, anti the right to express one’s sexuality alone or with a consenting partner/partners within one’s appropriate age range, prejudiced against LGBT people), and it’s not because I need to go to a camp that will make me live a lie for the rest of my life, it’s because you want me to go to said camp, stop me from having protection against bullying in educational institutions and workplaces, and from having freedom from discrimination, want to stop me from being able to be happy with my sexual orientation, all on the basis of your own ignorant unevidenced beliefs, you are a horrible person if your goal in life is to make sure that I am never viewed as legally and morally equal to a straight person who’s ethics are identical to mine and whose actions are apart from whether their sexual and romantic partners are the same or “opposite” gender to them.

    • http://www.stringstornasunder.blogspot.com Chris Powell

      If AaronSch is thinking like me, perhaps they are referring to the fact that Superbook will Promote and convey BIBLICAL values such as Looking to God as your first help as opposed to anyone else, Obeying God even when its hard, loving your enemies and truly loving people in our actions AND thoughts. Let alone the Gospel itself which teaches the forgiveness of sins Through Jesus’ sacrifice.
      These are things we don’t often see in animated films. ‘family friendly’ or not.

    • http://kambodiahotel.blogspot.com Moro Rogers

      Agreed, but why can’t Christians come up with some art that doesn’t completely suck naked mole rat scrotums ? Reubens and Bruegel did it, Dante and Tolkien did it. THAT’S the standard they have to live up to.

      • Ben H.

        Amen bro.

        Its a constant topic at my bible college Film department, creating art while following our own faith and conscience. Drawing isn’t something we can get into in campus, as everyone knows that eventually your gonna have to draw nude men AND women. I had an interesting but trying conversation with a former classmate who had trouble comprehending the practice as he paged through my sketch books one day. I had to give him a definition of the word erotic when defining my limits, despite him graduating from a conservative high school. Damn, I thought they might have taught him some Greek grammar in those prep classes. I kinda fell sad for him now.

        Fortunately the film department where I’m at now is small enough not to get noticed and has a supportive faculty. Not a lot of money, but we have some freedom. To hear of what happens at the film department of other bible schools like Biola and APU makes me shutter. Did you know Biola’s film making curriculum is almost entirely made up of Billy Graham films? Nothing against Graham, but hardly anything personal or student driven makes it past the lower division classes. The money they get from the film trust is how they can afford much of the expensive equipment and space. And the worst part is because of the Gospel Movie Gettho this environment creates they enter the market with little industry connections. We have only two industry active professors and their connections alone beat what Biola grads have access to.

  • bluenowait

    “The new superbook’s animation rivals major studios like Disney and Pixar.”

    Phhhhtttttt… BAAA-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! HOHOHEHEHEHOOHOO!

  • MichaelDair

    Holy Crap.

  • Randy Koger

    Hey AaronSch……how about NAMING some of those “….destructive….”, etc. shows you’re on about.
    I can’t think of any…so name some names.

  • RODAN

    I have nothing against this… It’s a story telling morality based (bible stories, etc) set to pop style techniques. So as far as that goes it’s alright I suppose. Not so much different from the 50′s Davey and Goliath.

    I won’t insult it or praise it…. perhaps they should bury it. Still for some it may be worth while.

    CAN I GET AN AMEN?

    ~RODAN~

  • Well Read Ed

    If you’re going to make a animated show from a fantasy book, at least pick a readable fantasy book.

  • http://www.stringstornasunder.blogspot.com Chris Powell

    This is awesome. Love the heart behind this. Artist doing the best they can do to show kids the Word of God and how it affects their lives.

  • http://www.oddballcomics.com Scott Shaw!

    If I wasn’t already an atheist, this would turn me into one! Seriously, how are the viewers supposed to separate fantasy/sci-fi (a time-traveling robot) from religion? Please, gimme JOT any time.

  • JTee

    I had to laugh when I heard “Fact Checking”. What facts exactly are the talking about?

    • Jonah

      Historical.

  • Matt

    I liked the original better, but at least someone is making Christian childrens programing of a quality that’s watchable. Save, for veggie tales some are the most aweful low budget affairs that make me wish for a revival of Hanna-Barbera’s ‘The Greatest Adventure Stories from the Bible’

    • Moffitartan

      You’re forgetting Ozamu Tesuka’s Old Testament Stories, otherwise called In the Beginning: The Bible Stories. That was an anime series helmed by Ozamu Tesuka himself, based on the Torah/The Old Testament. Really excellent series in my opinion; it really helps humanize the stories from the Bible a lot and makes them relatable.

      I do think there’s a lot you can do with a series based on the Bible. It just depends on whether or not the creators are trying to be ultra-preachy about it or not.

  • HH

    i grew up with the original Superbook and as much as the new one looks visually good, they could’ve made the kids look more interesting. Looks to me like they’re twins…

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  • Moffitartan

    Taking a look at this, I am struck by the fact that it does resemble the CGI Star Wars: Clone Wars series quite a bit. I like the animation style, and I think it has just the right amount of toon stretchability and realisim to make it work.

    I grew up with the original Superbook series, and I absolutely loved it. It helped me relate to the stories from the Judeo-Christian Bible as a little kid in a way that just reading them didn’t. Given what I saw with this, I do think they’ll be able to achieve the same effect.

    Now, I do have some complaints about the show’s design:
    1.) Why did they make Joy and Chris look so similar? Part of their original appeal was the strong color association; blue for Chris and pink for Joy. Now they look a bit bland and don’t stand out so much.

    2.) What happened with Gizmo? Part of his appeal was that he was a wind-up toy brought to life. It was often a plot-point that if his key wasn’t wound up, he would wind down and become immobile right at a crucial moment (he wound down right as Eve bit into the Forbidden Fruit for example). Now he looks like a generic robot with a TV for a head.

    3.) What. Happened. With. The. Transportation. Sequence?!?! In the original, it was this super-trippy fantastical sequence that wouldn’t have been out of place in Yellow Submarine! Now they just go through a sparkly tunnel in space? At least they could have given it curves and loops like they do in Doctor Who.

    4.) I honestly wonder about the inclusion of the War in Heaven story into the series. Part of the appeal of the original series was that we never actually SAW the supernatural characters’ actual forms. They were spirits, and except for God couldn’t physically affect the world around them. Having Joy and Chris and Gizmo actually interact and see them to me makes the angels and demons/devils seem more like an alien, mortal race to me.

    5.) At last but not least, why that tired design for Satan? In Super Book, he only appears during the episode with Job, and then doesn’t look at all like a demon; he looks like a green man in Feudal European attire (intentional anachronism?) who barters with God over Job. In the Flying House series (a sequel series to Super Book that focused on the New Testament), the one time Satan shows up to tempt Jesus, Satan appears as a giant pair of malevolent, shining eyes, which made him even more terrifying. Now, he just looks like a generic devil/demon with bat wings and goat’s hooves.

    I have high hopes for this series. I sincerely hope that they actually do a good job; they already look far better than almost anything else that has the “Christian” label. I just hope that they are able to keep the same spirit that the original series had, or at least give it a spirit that homages the original.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to try and find episodes of Ozamu Tezuka’s Old Testament Stories. Now THAT was an excellent anime Bible series.

  • Cyle

    Ugh. What have they done? Who would think this looks better than the original anime? Who thinks this looks good l at all? The children are clones, the animation is robotic, and Gizmo… poor Gizmo. No. There was no need to redo this. I’m seriously disturbed by what I just saw.

  • Rodney

    I’m not familiar with the original books but to the crew working it I’d say… looking good. It doesn’t seem too come across as heavy handed. Looks competent in design and animation. If I was a kid I’d watch it.

  • http://www.animationinsider.net/ Aaron B.

    CBN released the pilot a little over a year ago for this series. Being at work I can’t listen to the audio, but does the reporter mention that series directors Tom Bancroft and Rob Corley are veterans of Disney features?

    In any case, what determines the success of this title won’t be whether crotchety old folks fondly recall the 80s version or not… it’s whether CBN can has a clear enough vision for where they want to take their brand, and how they intend to use the new medium (CG) to articulate/ disseminate their message in a new or encouraging manner.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/strannik45 Strannik

    As someone who was one of the kids from the ex-Soviet countries that the original Superbook was supposed to convert, I have to point out that it wasn’t nearly as effective as the folks at CBN seem to think. I enjoyed it, but to me, what I saw was little more than entertaining fairy tales – not really different from cartoons about Hercules or Jason and the Argonauts. Of course, I don’t remember the original being nearly as much of blatant propaganda as this new series.

  • http://downindeep13.blogspot.com/ JerRocks2day

    I know this news is about 4 months old, but I thought I’d comment on it.

    Yup, I grew up on Superbook when I was a kid; I remember the episodes I mostly grew up on were the stories of Gideon, the Apostle Paul, Jesus’ crucifixiction, David and Goliath, Moses and the Plagues, etc. Looking back at the show as an adult, I can assure you that I still have a soft spot for the show, mainly because it’s anime and had Chris, Joy and Gizmo witness the stories be told without being preached at all the time.

    I didn’t grow up on Flying House (because I thought it was a rip-off of Superbook) up until recently, when I first saw it two years ago. I kinda regret not growing up with FH because it looked fun.

    Anyway, I personally have a grudge against the way this new Superbook is turning out. When I first saw the new episode, I was immediately petrified at how the story of David and Goliath was portrayed; i mean, why portray David, son of jesse, as a blonde sheperd boy with ninja skills? That’s easily classified as bad fanfic. I was also shocked at how Chris, Joy and Gizmo were drastically changed. They even had the balls to jetset Ruffles. 0.0

    I’ve been working on a project called ‘Trouble Shooters’, which features revamped versions of the original Superbook/Flying House characters: Chris, Joy, Gizmo, Justin Casey, Humphrey Bumble, etc., and serves as a response to the new CGI Superbook.

    I indirectly inferred about it in Ducktales comic book news, when I posted on the effort of putting it together. After I find a way to post it, I’m gonna wait and see what kind of feedback I get.