Netflix has debuted the (very brief) first look at its upcoming animated series, The Cuphead Show!, based on the best-selling, notoriously punishing videogame Cuphead (which first debuted in 2017). And while the clips don’t reveal a whole lot, the animation looks fabulous and seems to really capture the spirit and energy of the game, along with its 1930s squash-and-stretch cartoon aesthetic.
The original Cuphead video game was based, in part, on the classic animation of the Fleischer Brothers, who created, amongst other things, the highly popular and influential Betty Boop cartoons. While they were unable to do The Cuphead Show with hand-drawn cel animation, a number of the elements will be hand drawn and, as you can see from the clips, the animation really does feel like a classic old cartoon you just happen to have stumbled upon.
“Cuphead is a lovable scamp and he also happens to have a cup for a head,” Dave Wasson, executive producer, says during the first look. Wasson was one of the key creative forces behind early installments of the newer Mickey Mouse cartoons (that you can watch on Disney+) and helped develop the wonderful Disney Channel series Star vs. the Forces of Evil (also on Disney+). He’s an unsung hero of modern animation and has exactly the right sensibilities to bring Cuphead to convincing life. And it really does look spectacular.
The first look also showcases the voice talent behind the two main characters – Tru Valentino as Cuphead and Frank Todaro as Mugman, two brothers navigating the weird and wonderful world of Inkwell Isles. But clearly the emphasis of the first look was to showcase the truly eye-popping design work on display and the lush, old-school-feeling animation. (It’s worth noting that King Features Syndicate is one of the producers on the show. It was recently announced that Genndy Tartakovsky will be making his long-delayed Popeye movie with King Features. This bodes well for that project.) “It’s going to bring you back to wonder of childhood,” Andrea Fernandez, art director, said during the first look.
There is still no release date for the show but after seeing these clips, it has become nothing short of a must-see.