Like many creators, legendary animator Genndy Tartakovsky – whose famous cartoon work over the past 15-20 years (or so) include Samurai Jack, Star Wars: The Clone Wars (the 2D animated series), The Powerpuff Girls, and Dexter’s Laboratory, just to name a few – has had a few ideas that just didn’t make it past the drawing board. One of these forgotten projects was a cancelled Superman animated short film, which included background artwork done by artist Scott Wills.
In an era that’s becoming something of a renaissance for Tartakovsky’s work — the Powerpuff Girls are back in an all-new series, and a more mature Samurai Jack series is soon to follow — it’s not too out of the ordinary to see old creations surface as the artist and storyteller ramps up for new projects. Now, concept art from Tartakovsky’s abandoned Superman project has similarly made its way back into the spotlight.
The short, which was originally planned for DC Nation, was still in the planning process when the entire DC Nation project was brought to a sudden, final halt. DC Nation kicked off in March 2012 as a series of Saturday morning cartoons that included animated shorts as well as Young Justice and Green Lantern: The Animated Series. The block met its demise after a slow death in April of 2014. Shared today on Wills’ personal blog, the background artwork for Tartakovsky’s Superman story seems to reveal bursts of color within the darkness of the DC universe – and two pieces (seen below) in particular starkly contrast one another.
The darker colors and Wills’ involvement in the project definitely set the tone for a more serious story, reflecting on some of the earliest images shared from the upcoming Samurai Jack series. “Genndy Tartakovsky, Justin Thompson and I were very excited to do our take on an animated Superman,” Wills wrote on his blog. “[B]ut unfortunately it was pulled from us just as we were starting.”
Tartakovsky’s work for DC Nation may never have reached completion, but the animator is ramping up for the release of his all-new comic with Marvel, “CAGE!”, and the 2018 release of Hotel Transylvania 3, which he is set to direct once again. Needless to say, Tartakovsky is more than busy enough, but speculating on what his turn on a Superman story would have been like is difficult to resist with artwork like this. Superman has always been a story known for its wide-scale shots of the sky, and these pieces tell the same story of how our hero feels through the sky that surrounds his form.
Wonder Woman opens in June 2017; Justice League on November 17, 2017; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League 2 on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020. The Flash, the Batman solo movie and Man of Steel 2 are currently without release dates.