ThunderCats to Appear at San Diego Comic-Con Before Cartoon Network Premiere
Shannon Cottrell Ethan Spaulding, Michael Jelenic, Dan Norton of ThunderCats
See more photos in Shannon Cottrell's slideshow, "ThunderCats Studio Tour."
ThunderCats art director Dan Norton has a sign in his office that reads, "This is the day you dreamed of when you were 12 years old."
"I was a ridiculous ThunderCats fan," he says.
"I mean, you would run home from school, do whatever you had to do to get home, especially to catch the intro," he continues. "That set the pace for the whole episode."
Norton liked the "seriousness" of the show. ThunderCats, he says, was not "a throw it in your face superhero show." He recalls being twelve-years-old and wondering if he could "draw something that cool."
"Dan only speaks in hyperbole," ThunderCats producer Michael Jelenic had joked earlier in our conversation. Norton's unabashed enthusiasm for the franchise and his clearly genuine awe over his position on the show in many ways help put the show into context.
One of the big names in 1980s cartoons, ThunderCats is back, set to premiere on Cartoon Network on July 29 at 8 p.m. Its return is the result of people who grew watching the original Rankin/Bass series, who went to work in the animation industry and now have a chance to breathe new life into the characters that made an impact on them decades ago.
There have been numerous attempts to revive the adventures of Lion-O, Cheetara, Panthro and the rest, but nothing had really stuck until the current creative team formed.
"It's been in the works for a while," says Jelenic. "I think this team came together and it sort of clicked and mostly that's why it's going right now. People have been waiting for this show for 25 years, but it's been in development for two or three years."
This trio is rounded out by Ethan Spaulding, who joined Norton and Jelenic in January of 2010, right around the time the series was greenlit. Spaulding previously worked on Avatar: The Last Airbender and is a self-professed fan of anime series like Future Boy Conan, Macross and Cowboy Bebop. He helped develop ThunderCats into a grand saga that unfolds in a fashion similar to anime serials and U.S. shows like The Last Airbender.