‘The Cuphead Show!’: Create a Wild, Animated Retro Ride by Netflix

Cartoon Fleischer meets Disney’s “Silly Symphonies” in a new series based on the hugely popular run and shoot game.


Boasting a classic 1930s 2D visual style and packed with quirky antics,”The Cuphead Show! “is the newest addition to Netflixdeveloping cartoon slate. The 12-episode series, based on Studio MDHR’s hugely popular gun and run game, follows the adventures of brothers Cuphead and Mugman as they jump out of the pan and into the fire only to land and get ready to continue. High octane number is released.

The reckless and impulsive Cuphead, voiced by Tru Valentino, is somewhat short-tempered by his cautious and slightly neurotic brother Mugman (Frank Todaro), while Elder Kettle (Joe Hanna) is the patient guardian who ensures order for their cozy little home on Inkwell Isle. Luke Millington-Drake voices the duo’s nemesis, The Devil, with Wayne Brady voicing the vocals of big band frontman King Dice-style Cab Calloway and Gray Griffin as Miss Chalice.

Now streaming on Netflix, “The Cuphead Show!” is executive produced by Dave Wasson (“Time Squad”) along with “Cuphead” creators Chad and Jared Moldenhauer. Animation provided by Lighthouse Studios, a 2D animation studio based in Kilkenny, Ireland, co-owner of Mercury Filmworks, and Tomm Moore’s Cartoon Saloon (which features the Nora Twomey film “My Father’s Dragon” with Netflix this year) .

The classic, hand-drawn visuals for which the game is known are the channel’s classic Fleischer cartoons and Disney’s “Silly Symphonies,” complete with wobbling “rubber-tube” arms and legs and even those dancing skeleton. A close observer will notice a variety of vintage touches, including film grain and other artifacts.

“I love this era of animation,” said Wasson, who previously worked on Disney Television Animation’s “Mickey Mouse” series. “The animation from that time period was raw and vivid. That’s something I really pray we get. ”

The Cuphead Show! (L to R) Tru Valentino as Cuphead and Frank Todaro as Mugman in The Cuphead Show! Cr. NETFLIX COURSE © 2022

“The Cuphead Show!”


To get the distinctive vintage look and feel of the “Cuphead” game, Wesson knew that the series would also need to use its signature hand-drawn watercolor background. “That’s what the 1930s setting looks like, and that’s what the game simulates as well,” he said. “Maybe that’s naive, but I’m just like, ‘It has to be,’ even if I really don’t know how we’re going to deal with it.”

Art director Andrea Fernández was tasked with creating the look and feel of the series, including developing a visual style guide for digital background production that delivers the handcrafted quality of the watercolor paintings. “I spent about six months just researching and developing how to get work done in a way that could be done across thousands of contexts of unique locations,” she said. “The game has about 25 backgrounds. The show has thousands. It’s about 100 per episode. There is a lot of artwork to do in this particular style [of] animation, especially television animation, because of the hard, painstaking process behind getting this image. You paint something, especially with watercolors, it’s so personal. It’s organic. It is so fluid that it is difficult to systematize.”

Fernández developed different color palettes for each episode featuring new characters, much like a cinematographer creates distinct looks for a film to support the story. The vibrant Technicolor in Fleischer Studios’ 1936 short, “Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor,” was especially helpful as a reference. “The cartoon ‘Sinbad’ has so many elements in the game that I’m just like, ‘Oh, this is great!’ Like, we can take some of this palette and bring it into the Underworld. We can take some of these palettes and we can put it in the open sea, and we can take some of these and take it on this volcanic adventure. ”

The Cuphead Show! (L to R) Tru Valentino as Cuphead, Gray Griffin as Chalice and Frank Todaro as Mugman in The Cuphead Show! Cr. NETFLIX COURSE © 2022

“The Cuphead Show!”


Similar to the 2D channel used for the shorts “Mickey Mouse”, “The Cuphead Show!” animated with Toon Boom Harmony. “Since we were trying to do a look at 1930s TV schedules and budgets, we knew we were going to have to embrace more modern technology,” said Wasson. “Basically, inside Harmony, you can build a two-dimensional rig for a character, but if you use rigs like that, they can look a lot like puppets. They don’t really look like traditional 2D animations. But if you add hundreds of very specific individual drawings to each frame, you can ‘trick’ the system into making it look like traditional hand-drawn animation. “

The show’s engaging intro was written by Wasson and executive producer Cosmo Segurson (“Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling”), and later supplemented by series composer Ego Plum (“SpongeBob SquarePants”) ). The Easter egg-filled scene features scenes from the stop-motion experts Screen Novelties, known for their work on Adult Swim’s “Robot Chicken” and Nickelodeon’s “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

“I just felt that we really needed a great opening sequence,” added Wasson, describing the conversation about how major titles are skippable across streaming platforms. “I said, ‘I don’t know about you guys, but my kids love a main title sequence. They watch it all the time. ‘ I think if we did it right, it wouldn’t be something people would want to overlook.”

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https://www.indiewire.com/2022/02/the-cuphead-show-animation-netflix-series-1234700503/ ‘The Cuphead Show!’: Create a Wild, Animated Retro Ride by Netflix

Olly Dawes

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