Netflix and King Features Syndicate announced today the new animated series The Cuphead Show!, based on indie game studio Studio MDHR’s video game Cuphead.
The announcement marks the first long-form animated series production for King Features since announcing their strategy to build character franchises across multiple platforms. King Features, a unit of Hearst Entertainment and Syndication, inked a deal in 2017 with Studio MDHR to represent Cuphead for licensing.
The comedic series, set to debut at a yet-to-be-announced date on Netflix, will follow the “misadventures of the impulsive Cuphead and his cautious but easily swayed brother Mugman…across their surreal home of the Inkwell Isles.” Cuphead co-creator Chad Moldenhauer told IGN that the show is still in development, but that it will appeal to both kids and adults. The series will tell a different story than the game, though Moldenhauer points out, “It’s safe to say that [the showrunners are] aiming for the same kind of vibe that the game hints at. They’ll be taking that idea and expanding it.”
Like the game, the show’s animation style is “inspired by the classic Fleischer cartoons from the 1930s,” which presumably means lots of rubber-hose goofiness. Moldenhauer also said that the series will be hand-drawn: “The current goal is to stay as far away from [computer-assisted] puppeteer animation as possible. The idea will still be that every frame is hand-drawn. It’s going to be hand-drawn but digitally.”
King Features has shown itself to be mostly clueless when producing its own animation, but this project differs in that the series is being produced by Netflix Animation and the people on board are industry A-listers who understand the pastiche of early American animation styles that made the game a breakout success.
The series will be executive produced by Dave Wasson (director on the Mickey Mouse Shorts and creator of Cartoon Network’s Time Squad), with Cosmo Segurson (director of Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling and Pig Goat Banana Cricket) serving as co-executive producer. For King Features, president C.J. Kettler will serve as the executive producer, and Cuphead creators Chad and Jared Moldenhauer will serve as executive producers for Studio MDHR.
Adam Paloian (supervising director, Spongebob Squarepants) and Clay Morrow (director, Mickey Mouse Shorts) are supervising directors, while Andrea Fernandez (art director, Unikitty!) is art director.
The start of our amazing crew pic.twitter.com/CRpKf0lXMz
— Adam Paloian (@adampaloian) July 9, 2019
Here’s the first image from the series, with character design by Shakeh Haghnazarian, clean-up by Tapan Gandhi, and final color and design by Andrea Fernandez: