Indie video game phenomenon Cuphead will be making its way to Netflix as animated cartoon series, The Cuphead Show!. The game’s original creators Studio MDHR, founded by Jared and Chad Moldenhauer, will be executive producers though the animation will be handled by Netflix in-house.
Cuphead the game was launched in September 2017, using 2D, hand-drawn, watercolour illustration inspired by 1930s American animation styles. With characters and scenery reminiscent of Walt Disney and Max Fleicher cartoons and “rubber hose” animation – a style that refers to long, wobbly limbs – the game’s intricate, vivid and often darkly surreal visuals quickly garnered a global fandom. As of July 2019, the game has made its way to Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, MacOS and Windows, and sold four million copies, as well as winning over 20 major awards.
Despite Studio MDHR handing over the pen and ink to Netflix for the series, the broadcaster suggests it will stay true to its aesthetic roots, stating: “The game that has won the hearts and minds of fans with its gorgeous retro hand-animated style, crazy boss-brawls, and challenging gameplay will come to life on television for the first time ever in The Cuphead Show!. The new series will expand on the characters and world of Cuphead, with an animation style inspired by the classic Fleischer cartoons from the 1930s.”
Studio MDHR also announced the news on Twitter, reiterating its loyalty to classic cartoons: “Coming to you in full colour and cine-sound, it’s…The Cuphead Show! Witness the wondrous Inkwell Isles as you’ve never seen them before in an original series inspired by classic animation styles of the 1930s. Now in production by the talented team at @Netflix Animation!”
It’s certainly not the first video game to transition to television. Pokémon started life as a video game, Rayman, Sonic and Mario all ended up with their own shows, and who can forget/forgive the makers of Angry Birds for making it all the way to the big screen (with a sequel coming this summer).
Netflix also clearly has an eye for accomplished illustration, having released Luke Pearson’s Hilda comic as a series in 2018.
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