“RWBY”: The Captivating YA Animated Series

Yang, Penny, Weiss, and Blake at the end of Volume 8

Last year, when looking for another animated series to watch, I came across RWBY, a young adult animation, and one of Rooster Teeth’s flagship series. While I wasn’t sure about it at first, as I watched all eight seasons, I became invested in the characters, especially the protagonists, and a fan of the show itself.

Continue reading ““RWBY”: The Captivating YA Animated Series”

An Alternative to the Studio System?: Indie Animation Forges Ahead

Screenshots from the pilot of Nori and Zin (left) and latest episode of Gods’ School (right).

Indie animation is on fire as of late. This is clear from the hundreds of thousands of dollars given to Final Space creator Olan Rogers for his animated project, Godspeed, which will document the “entire process of developing, writing, boarding, animating, and even pitching” an animated series. Sara Eissa, the creator of Astur’s Rebellion, an animated series Crunchyroll passed on (to their detriment), has been posting updates and news about a site/startup that she founded, named Toon Cave.

Reprinted from Pop Culture Maniacs and Wayback Machine. This was the eleventh article I wrote for Pop Culture Maniacs. This post was originally published on July 15, 2022.

Originally, it was a video-sharing platform for animated content, similar to the indie animation platform, Fiyah. Toon Cave recently changed to a “marketplace for freelance animators to find work or collaborate with other animators” which Eissa called “more viable“. Some may be disappointed in this result, but it could be a boon for indie animators. It will likely be NFT-free, since Eissa rightly recognized recently that “many artists are against it for ethical reasons”.

Many creators, artists, and others responded positively to my previous post about indie animation. As such, this post will not only be an update on that post, but it will highlight new animations that I wasn’t aware of at the time I wrote that post.

Patreon is buzzing with activity. The first episode of Nori and Zin is being animated by sharpytown. Lopside Animation, which produced Long Gone Gulch, is moving forward with rough animations and likely more episodes in the future. Zeurel says the pilot of his series, Monkey Wrench, is almost ready to be released. Those working on Sheepish, a series with a non-binary protagonist, are saving up money until they begin crowdfunding. They are continuing to work on the pilot.

Animator Rebecca Doodles has said she is going ahead with development of the now-3D animated cartoon, Stellapie, and other projects. Also of note is The East Patch, a series created by the same people behind The West Patch. It has retro animation, a nostalgic style, and amazing art. It continues to move forward. [1]

Production on future episodes of Heloise’s Dreamophrenia animated series continues forward. Gods’ School, created by a French animator, Gaylord C. Libessart, an indie animated series based on Greek mythology, continues to barrel ahead. A recent short episode about Aphrodite loving Ares and Hephaestus, and unsure of which one to choose, was released on the show’s official YouTube channel earlier this month. Unlike previous episodes, it is less than five minutes long. More animated shorts are in production, with one coming this fall.

Hannah Daigle, a bisexual animator who is creating Satina, is advancing with the project. She put out a call for additional animators earlier this year. Faeduck Studios, which I have mentioned in previous posts, a studio creating BIPOC LGBTQ+ animated films and short, in their words, decided to shelve Howdy Cloudboy as an animated pilot back in September. However, they decided to turn Howdy Cloudboy into a motion comic, meaning that it is still continuing. Since September, pages of the comic have been released on the studio’s Patreon. [2]

Otherwise, Wild Card, a mature murder mystery series about lawyers. It is created by a bisexual man named Alex Bahrawy. There are continued releases of Wild Card: Shuffled! illustrated pages on the show’s Patreon and Webtoon. According to the show’s official Twitter account, the pilot’s pre-production by Astrobun Studio is done.

Similarly, animated series by Black animator Brandon Wright, the creator behind Guardian Instance, Diver: The Animated Series, and Silver Lin, among other animations go forward. Vivienne Medrano, creator of indie smash hits Hazbin Hotel and Helluva Boss, noted progress on the second season of Helluva Boss, which is premiering on July 31. These series share similarities with Genevieve Fleming‘s House of Hell which is about demons, and a human girl, Oria, who “has to live with them in an abandoned house”.

This is only scratching the surface of this indie animation boom, if it can be called that. There are various currently airing indie animated series. Apart from the aforementioned Helluva Boss and Hazbin Hotel, the latter in development for a full-fledged animated series, there’s Ollie & Scoops. The series, by Nico Colaleo, a good friend of Medrano, just aired its ninth episode, “Vinnie Video“.

In comments below the episode, Colaleo noted that episode 10 will pick up where this episode left off. More episodes are likely in production. The series is notable especially because it includes many well-known voiceover artists. This includes Kimmy Robertson, Eric Bauza, Mara Wilson, James Rolfe, Mike Stoklasa, and Daron Nefcy.

Eddsworld, is currently airing. Matt Hargreaves is the current showrunner. emojitown, a series by the emoji company and Wisdom Nunn‘s Bob’s World are also airing. In the latter case, two episodes of the series have aired on YouTube. The third episode is currently in production. Slowly airing this year is an independent anime series, Interstellar Ranger Commence.

The first episode was released on the official YouTube channel of Browntable, the series production company, on April 2nd. Although the episodes were originally scheduled to be released on a monthly basis, the second episode was delayed to sometime in July.

The same can be said about Michael and James, a series by Jon Lopez, who is also a lead animator for Eddsworld. The last episode aired in February, and the series is currently on hiatus. This short web series sticks in my mind because the first episode is a musical song by Elsie Lovelock who voices a guitar-singing girl named Leslie Loveydovey declaring “This House is Mine” as she invades the house of Michael and James. Lovelock later voiced Charlie Magne in the pilot of Hazbin Hotel. She has voiced many other characters and records covers for her YouTube channel.

There are other series currently in production just as exciting. Take, for example, Indigo, a sci-fi animated series created by a Latine non-binary storyboard artist named Moon, who often draws The Owl House fan art. Max is a non-binary protagonist, who realizes that the universe is ruled by two alien dictators, and goes on a journey to stop them. The pilot episode is currently in production. Moon put out a search for 2D animators and background artists for the series. They even created a Discord server for indie animation! The series, according to the show creator, will include asexual characters, robots, and villains scarier than before. [4]

Various indie animators responded to a tweet from Moon. There were some series I was familiar with, like the coming-of-age Stars Align, a cop series named Succubus Cop, and a space opera series Lumi and the Great Big Galaxy. In addition is a pilot by two gay married men (Félix M. and Floyd) filled with LGBTQ+ characters, Gadzooks! & The Cryptoid Kids, and a New Orleans based series named LimeLight.

Also of note is the magical slice-of-life entitled Mugshot and Pollen, the artistic-themed Long Way from Del’Arte, a horror-action-romance pilot named Nocturne, a fully deaf produced animated show named Corrupted Memories, and an upcoming series named Fighting All Odds.

There were other series I was not aware of, such as a sci-fi action adventure named Defenders of Alodia, a horror sci-fi named Crater Cove, and Creosote Raining! by Joshua. The latter recommended I mention an independent horror mini series, My Roof. There are many more I could mention, like a 2D science-fantasy named Among the Others and the game-themed Bit Wars. [5]

Fighting All Odds is more than an upcoming series. On January 28, the show’s creator, Robert J. Preston, told me in a direct message that the show is a coming-of-age story about Jackie. While she is deaf and hard of hearing, her deafness isn’t the subject of the show, as noted by Preston. Rather, the focus is on her hero’s journey. At certain points, Jackie uses American Sign Language (ASL) to talk to specific people. There are two deaf consultants to make sure the series best represents a “group of people who deserve more representation.”

The series has LGBTQ characters, like a non-binary character named Oli/Ironside, and those with disabilities. Preston emphasized these characters aren’t written different from any others. In his words, Jackie’s struggles come from her choices as a hero and individual, but not because of her deafness. He added that the series may touch upon LGBTQ identities and disabilities of specific characters as part of the “exciting super hero action story”.

Corrupted Memories, an animated series by a deaf Latine storyboarder, Jocelyn Saravia, has some thematic similarities to Fighting All Odds. This series is aiming to be a “fully deaf produced animated show”, with a pilot coming out possibly in the next year or so. The series may have some themes reminiscent of Inside Job, by former writer for Gravity Falls, Shion Takeuchi, as it centers on a “mysterious stolen experimental drug” which causes tension between college students, who try and find answers and attempt to piece together what happened.

As the show’s official website says, they don’t want those investigating the incident to know everything. The series may also be influenced by series such as Kim Possible, as Saravia says they were inspired to go into animation because of the show, and The Owl House, since she is a big fan of the latter series. They are also the creator of a comic named Mother Traces.

This differs from Evan’s series, Lumi and the Great Big Galaxy. The show’s Kickstarter further describes it as a sci-fi fantasy with humor and adventure, and a “mix of both episodic and linear storytelling.” The page also notes that this animated series in development is inspired by Wonder Over Yonder and Steven Universe, and says it has been in development since he was in middle school. The series is planned to be released in either late 2022 or early 2023, with the voice actors even outlined!

This series is as exciting as LimeLight. It is a series, according to its Patreon, mainly set in New Orleans. The series focuses on Ashira GoldenFire who is trying to make her way in the music industry but she becomes associated with “darker side of life” through Carter Sillver. She falls in love with him, but her future from then on is uncertain. Its quite an exciting hook into the story.

The series had its first livestream with the show’s voice actors, creator MoralSky (Hannah I. Johnson), and many others, streamed on the show’s YouTube channel. These creators recognize what Jenn, co-creator of the Sunflower Club, stated: “indie animation is not for the weak”.

Penelope LeBlanc lovingly hugs Dakota Rivers, while Elizabeth Montgomery looks on in a screenshot of a short animated clip by Stars Align creator, Thea

The Patreon for Stars Align, a slice-of-life fantasy with LGBTQ+ representation may open on August 1, according to Thea, the show’s creator. There was recently a collaboration with another upcoming musical series, Sunnyside Magic High. Thea noted that Stars Align takes inspiration by The Owl House. This isn’t a surprise as she has drawn The Owl House and Amphibia fan art. Currently, writing for the pilot episode is done, while plotlines for season one are being worked on.

In an interesting coincidence, there is an anime series with the same name directed by Kazuki Akane, and cut from 12 episodes down from 24 at the last minute. That series shares something with Thea’s Stars Align. There is LGBTQ representation as well. Yuta “Yu” reveals he is “binary trans, x-gender, or something else entirely” as one reviewer pointed out. The series also has a focus on mental health too like Thea’s Stars Align. In response to a fan, Thea noted that she was aware of this similarity two years after she had created her characters.

On a related note is Pia’s Mugshot and Pollen, a magical slice-of-life. I’m a big fan of older slice-of-life series like Azumanga Daioh, and Dear Brother, and newer series such as Ascendance of a Bookworm, Akebi’s Sailor Uniform, Laid-Back Camp, Let’s Make a Mug Too, and YuruYuri. I also like stories with magic, so this series would be right up my alley, and anyone else who enjoys such as series.

On a different vein is storyboarder Amber Avara’s Nocturne, filled with “vampires, retrofuturistic tech, nu-wave music”. She describes the series as a cross between Jem and the Holograms and Berserk. It shares some similarities with Allissoon’s Battle of the Bands. The latter is a 2d mature animated series in development about a world where musicians “have elemental powers based on the genre of music they play”. It is a series which sounds like a real rocker, for sure.

Then there’s Mysteries of Kruger Mansion which follows 14 young adults, ages 18 to 19, cast in a reality game show set in a haunted mansion. According to a direct message from Deric Jackman, one of the show’s co-creators (Adam Blubdi is another creator), this turns into a quest for “sinister truth” behind the mansion. It is, in his words, a “dark drama thriller” with blood, comedy, and a deep-cutting story.

The series, once finished, will air on the YouTube channel of Blu Productions, the company producing the series. The series, in some ways, gives me the same vibe as the classic 1993 supernatural black comedy film, Addams Family Values. It also makes me think about the short-lived young adult animated series, The Hollow, which had reality game show elements.

On another note is a sci-fi action-adventure cartoon named Defenders Of Alodia. It is created by Naya, a 19-year-old Black animator and SCAD student. Art direction and character design are by Vector Convoy. This series, in development, has a Kickstarter in the process. It is being produced by an emerging animation company, Boldbird Studios.

A recent tweet from the show’s official Twitter account said it has “Black girl magic” and stated that the series is “coming soon”. It fundamentally differs from Long Way From Del’Arte. The latter focuses on artistic friends who travel their world of “art, magic and science to find ancient stones that have the power to grant wishes”. All these projects come with a risk, even though many don’t want to deal with studios anymore, as some have noted.

Otherwise, Shannon Mowatt’s 16-minute animatic of Revamped, has been released in advance of the full animated pilot. It is an upcoming short queer film about four high school sophomores who deal with school life, vampires, and the supernatural world.

There’s the Lackadaisy film about 1920s gangster cats, based on Tracy J. Butler’s webcomic. Another series, Outcasts, has cats as characters. Shou Tuzi’s Tallyho! series continues to develop. It is inspired by steampunk, fantastique, and other media. Tuzi’s studio, Skull Hare Studio, is also working on Arthur: The Timeless Knight.

Daniel is continuing to pursue his action adventure series, Lumeon Lands, which has begin production. These series are important to highlight when Hollywood continues to end projects and sack animators. Some have put hope in indie animation, noting it has the promise to allow creators to have “creative control” unlike working under major studios.

While there are many indie animations I could mention. [6] However, I’d like to focus on a few series in development. One of those is Sam Sawyer’s SALEM, also known as Salem or S.A.L.E.M.: The Secret Archive of Legends, Enchantments, and Monsters. In May, SpectroliteAAA, the lead storyboard artist said that she could talk about it soon, but not yet. In January, Sawyer, when asked by a fan, said the same thing.

The series has been fully funded. The now-fulfilled Kickstarter defines the series as an animated story about “a cryptid with a big heart and even bigger questions, on a quest to discover their true origins”.

Apart from having high-profile voice actors like Laura Bailey, Rob Paulsen, and Adam McAarthur, a tweet from the show’s account confirmed Petra as asexual, Salem (who is also non-binary) as pansexual, and Oliver as gay. The series has Randy Abrams as executive producer. It is being animated with help from Surfer Jack Productions, a company said to specialize in “ingenious storytelling”. The company was founded by animation industry veterans Jeff “Swampy” Marsh, Lance LeCompte, and Bernie Petterson.

There are other series in development. This includes Georden Whitman’s pilot named Port by the Sea on two kids who are “sailing the seas to fix a now broken moon”, Matt Acuña’s fantastical adventure The Garden Age, and the Far-Fetched Show, an animated seriesabout a rock band of misfits” by Ashley Nichols and Dave Capdevielle.

In addition, there’s a demon/vampire themed series in the process entitled Bloodgore, the psychological horror dramedy named Please Stay Tuned, the ghost-themed Ghost Hunt, a sci-fi themed SpaceAges, and many more. These are a small sampling of the indie animated series out there. [7] These persist despite the problem of distribution and funding to “make original stuff”, and possible iffiness of crowdsourcing, as writer Chris Hill pointed out.

Port by the Sea‘s pilot will likely come out sometime later this year. The Far-Fetched Show is also moving ahead, with comics to go with the series like Wild Card. The Nichols’ Patreon notes that a lyrics video for the series band, Sesemoid, is coming out later this year. This also noted they are still working on the pilot. Currently, there is wonderful fan art of the show’s characters, including putting them in a Steven Universe setting, and much more.

The fact that Port by the Sea has over 1400 followers and Far-Fetched Show has over 67,600 followers, along with 406 Patreons of Nichols, proves what animator LanceArts pointed out: that the indie animation scene is “exploding with greater popularity now more than ever.

More episodes of Alpha Betas are currently in production, with recording for new episodes. Four episodes are set to be released in Fall/Winter 2022. Additionally, Lucha Vandross is fundraising for various indie animated series. This includes those inspired by 1980s Hong Kong films (Project Icarus and Project Icarus X) and a modern take on Robin Hood. The latter is about friends “robbing the rich and giving it to the poor” (Samson). [8] Animator 9Hammer is actively releasing series in Newgrounds, of all places. This includes series such as Chaotic Heart and Solace, with new episodes in production.

Others, like Warlord-of-Noodles, have ongoing series as well, which is also posted on YouTube and has a Patreon. Series like Deep States, by Molly, are on YouTube. There is the exciting 2d indie anime in development entitled Broken Beat, made by animators of prominent anime series, like Creative Theory. The series is about a protagonist, Sin, tasked with stopping the reign of the creator god, and challenged by an “endless conflict between humans and manifestors”. Sin masters his form along the way.

Newgrounds is a weird place. There’s a lot of terrible (and amateurish content) there, mixed with sexual content. It is more than what would YouTube would permit, and includes pornographic material. Apart from the series on hiatus by 9Hammer, Beyond the Fog, there’s The Looter, and Zack and Alex. The latter, by Jayevin Abad, had its pilot posted on YouTube as well. Otherwise, there are various other series, films, and more, which have aired on the site. [9] Some shows I’ve noted before in this post, and elsewhere, like Ollie and Scoops, Eddsworld, Tales of Alethrion, and Satina all have pages on the site.

Apart from Newgrounds, are further series in development. This includes The Art Of Murder, produced by an Australian indie 2D animation studio named Choc Chip. It is produced by Anokhi Somaia and directed by Nirali Somaia. Sonya Belousova and Giona Ostinelli are the series composers.

The Art of Murder is a murder mystery, musical, and pop culture parody where “sketchbook characters come to life” when the clock strikes midnight. It features voice actors like Lizzie Freeman, who also voices a character in Gods’ School, Lauren Lopez, who founded a popular online musical theatre company named Team Starkid. There’s also Joey Richter (part of the same theatre company), Joey Bizinger, a well-known Japanese-Australian voice actor, YouTuber, and more, and Megan Lee, a Korean-American singer-songwriter. 

There’s further projects of note. This includes various series by LGBTQ creators. [10] For instance, there’s an animated series such as Scrappers, Swift Spark and the Defense Five, Birdboys, and Novas. Scrappers and Birdboys are by trans women, Charlie Gultiano-Wyton and Danielle Maxine specifically. Swift Spark and the Defense Five is by a trans man, Pan. Novas is by a queer and trans artist, Jesse. Scrappers is being produced by Gultiano-Wyton’s animation studio, Variation Media.

Swift Spark and the Defense Five is by artist and animator, Pan, who loves Phineas & Ferb, and is based on a comic of the same name. Birdboys is by artist and animator, Danielle, with some teasers posted on her YouTube channel. Novas is the personal project of Jesse, a SCAD student, who posted a casting call for the animation on Tik Tok. What Avara, mentioned earlier in this article, stated is relevant here: support for indie creators is necessary if you “want to see diversity in animation”. Part of that is LGBTQ representation.

Just as exciting are the shows by Black creators. I’ve mentioned a few in this post already, including Creative Theory, Brandon Wright, Wisdom Nunn, Lucha Vandross, Nya, and Pia. For one, there’s a 2D animated series named Jumbie, produced by a small studio in Trinidad and Tobago, GemGfx Animation Studios. Originally scheduled for release in February of this year, the Jumbie pilot was delayed to February 2023, because the studio was working on a music video for “A Better Tomorrow”, a song by Mark Loquan, featuring Terri Lyons, which came out in April. With that, Jumbie is going forward.

In addition, there is an animated hiphop musical entitled Battu, which is scheduled to become an animated series on Cartoon Network. The latter has also picked up a show drawing from Nigerian culture entitled Iyanu: Child of Wonder to be overseen by a Black-owned animation studio, Lion Forge Animation. Before Disney Branded Television was headed by Ayo Davis, a Black woman, it agreed to pick up Iwájú. The latter is an Africanfuturist series set in Lagos, Nigeria. Disney is co-producing it with Kugali Media, a Pan-African entertainment company.

There are many other Black indie creators. There’s Vampire Nwt’s suspense mystery show entitled Blackwater Creek. It has queer Afro-Latine leads named after magic, monsters, and fruits! Even more exciting is Captain Zero. It is an action drama about a social media-obsessed superhero named Captain Zero who “must find the cause of his depression-fueled blackouts in order to save his city and himself.” The series is created by a Black non-binary illustrator, filmmaker, and writer, Lamard Cher-Aimé. It is produced by a Black-owned animation company, Cutting Edge Animation.

This animated series tackles “mental health in the Black community, identity,” according to Cher-Aimé. Currently, five seasons, 4 specials, and a feature film for Captain Zero are planned. The show’s GoFundMe states that with enough money it can turn the show into a reality. The show, and another produced by Cutting Edge Animation, Space Friends, are often promoted by Cher-Aimé. They often ask their followers to name show characters, and showcase series art and related merchandise. Interviews, Q&As, and more further pull in potential viewers on the show’s YouTube channel.

Recently, a short five-minute film entitled “Captain Zero: Into The Abyss”, funded in part by Chromatic Black’s Ida B. Wells fund, aired. It stars the Black trans actress Angelica Ross, who is the film’s executive producer. The film focuses on a therapy session of Xerxes Hughes, aka Captain Zero, with Dr. Niobe (voiced by Ross). It was posted on the show’s YouTube channel. It is within a video that is about 1 hour, 50 minute video, complete with mental health professionals, Ross, Cher-Aimé, and others talked about the film, Black representation in animation and comics, mental health, and many other topics.

These series prove what Ashley Nichols said: that “anyone can tell an amazing story.” It also seems to prove that people with vision and passion can make “god tier animation”. Amazing animation doesn’t always need a “studio behind it with a million dollars.” There is no clear answer for making indie animation viable. After all, people can still steal content of an indie animation and profit off it.

Even so, some have supported waiting longer for series to come to fruition, giving those producing it more time to rest, polish their ideas, and make the shows better. Furthermore, there is no doubt that corporate media fails to represent many aspects of society, with indie animation making cooler content despite the need for funds. There are the continual challenges of people not taking animation seriously.

Unsurprisingly, there have been calls for a website for indie animated series which works like Webtoon. The Animation for Adults site proposed an awards show just for indie animation. Creator Nation promoted a Discord server for indie creators, indie animated shows, and indie comics. Some noted news of Netflix’s war with its animation department by letting go many of its animation employees. Many creators responded sharing their series or pilots in the process. It has led more toward indie animation.

Creators have seen indie animation as the way to go. Some said that creators should do promos for other indie animations or said that now is the most important time to support, and follow, indie projects. This is coupled with the realization (and recognition) that those in the animation industry don’t have stable jobs.

Then, there’s Project City, created by Rad Sechrist, well-known as the showrunner of Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts. In February, I argued that Project City has “the potential to expand the indie animation space beyond…often crowdfunded series on YouTube”. I stated that it allows for “more independence for creators in the series, movies, music, or shows they create.” While it is amazing that Sechrist is funding, and creating, his next film (The Brave War), co-created with Andra Gunter and Daniel Rojas, independently, progress on the platform is somewhat slow.

There was lukewarm reception to his idea that people who buy shares in a project “have the right to make and sell merch” but have to “drop profits back into our system that distributes to all IP owners”. Some about the potential use of NFTs, which Sechrist realized was a good point. He is strongly against NFTs and for good reason. Others called it “iffy“, said the execution could be tricky, or worried it could set a bad precedent. On the other hand, there were those more receptive to Sechrist’s idea.

Project City now emphasizes its role as an animation school, including 15-minute lectures on various topics, and is now defined as a “project based platform for learning how to create animation.” Back in March, Sechrist said they are continuing with F-IP (fractional IP), where people could buy shares of an IP, but are not using Blockchain or NFT, and stated they would be launching it within the next month. That did not happen. The idea continues to be developed. A tweet from the project’s account used the #FIP hashtag on June 24. But, there haven’t been many more updates beyond that, as Sechrist last mentioned it in a tweet on January 7.

On the other hand, on June 18, Sechrist said that they have been wanting to take steps toward making Project City “a streaming platform of creators learning and sharing their process/knowledge.” He added that Project City takes “no ownership of IP people post”. Anyone can post and delete any video they have posted. In addition, he said they were considering allowing people to post 1 minute clips on the site. Ultimately, Project City may be part of what Avara describes, giving people a platform who wouldn’t have it “in the traditional studio setting”. More fundamentally, it is part of allowing creators to share stories on their own terms.

A few other indie animations are worth noting. Take for example, a comedy sci-fi music series named Starstruck, surrealist cyberpunk anime named Dreamcatchers, and an animated young adult horror mystery named Black Pines. There’s artist and animator Tamara’s Starmakers series (with a bisexual girl named Astra), and storyboarder Kaitrin Snodgrass‘s seeming space opera, Buckwild.

There’s also a young adult action-adventure fantasy film named The Will of Monsters, by filmmaker and animator Christopher Wade, an animated project named Big Cat Bandits, and about globe-traveling cat thieves “resisting an evil world-conquering empire with crime”. It was exciting to learn about 2D freelance animator Nadia Dar’s series based on growing up mixed race entitled Brighter, and an animated series named Ironface “steeped in 80s pop culture…part Terminator, and all NIGHTMARE” according to the show’s teaser. Others are just as intriguing, such as an action-comedy named Defender Squad about an alien woman who crash lands on Earth and “joins a low ranking two-person hero team” according to series creator Royal Wildfire.

These series, and many others, [11] are examples of creating animation without connections to big companies. These creators aren’t on “puppet strings“. Unlike series produced made by big companies, indie animations obviously depend on people’s support, due to lack of support from the industry unsurprisingly. The indie animations are often shared by their creators, following the basic marketing advice some shared about small indie creative projects. Still, it is worth remembering, as The Owl House creator and bisexual animator Dana Terrace once pointed out, “nothing is precious in animation.”

This makes me think about a Russian indie series about a family of Metalheads entitled Metal Family. It seems to have stopped for the time being. Western sanctions on Russia limited financial options available to Russians. They resulted in challenges for the show’s staff in getting money necessary for the show’s continuation. From comments on the Metal Family subreddit, I get the impression that the series is a rut now and won’t be coming out anytime soon. Presumably work on episodes is going forward, but slowly. My enthusiasm for the series dissipated after a character used an anti-gay slur unnecessarily and no one attempted to improve the dialogue.

On a more positive note, there are are creators such as a 2D Thai animator named KAGO, and an indie feature animation director, Fnook. Indie animation studios Cloudrise Pictures, Paper Panther, Tapocketa, Krispy Animation, and Bandit Mill are producing animations. The latter is working to create “unique, different adult animation” such as The Boys of Boxtown. Bitter Animation is making a pilot named Stranger and many other animations. The indie animated studio, Sunflower Club, is going forward with Little Wolf and Life in Hell.

There are many other series in the works. This includes DynamoToon‘s sci-fi fantasy comedy named Horizonauts. There’s also a queer Colombian-American 2D artist and animator named TipsyJHearts creating a series entitled The Evil Little Thing, and an animated series named The Porcelain Prince by Gabrielle Teaford. Also of note is an unnamed sci-fi crime drama “heavily inspired by Avatar and RWBY” by Keelan270, and Animation Emfatuation’s Crime!, a short film in the process about knightlights and teddy bears which fight monsters at night entitled Knightlights & Teddy Bears. 

It is worth pointing to a 2D-animated cartoon with slapstick and adventure entitled The Incredible Adventures of Detective Cat, an independent drama named GrindCove, Angye Burman’s Real Fantasy: Fight for the Past which focuses on four teens who try to figure out their future while “fighting off evil…and struggling with school”. Then there’s a series by an animator, Shorter, named Gangs for Rent. It is an animated sitcom about gangsters, with LGBTQ people, those on the spectrum, and with mental disorders.

There are many other indie animated series out there, [12] some of which aren’t in this article despite my best efforts to find as many series as I could. Cartoon Crave promotes some of these series on Twitter. Supporting indie animation is important to provide a viable alternative to often stifling studio system which ingests shows and spits them out. Likely the indie animation boom will continue as companies continue to cut animators and cancel shows.

Notes

[1] This paragraph used information from the Patreons of sharpytown, Lopside Animation, Zeurel, Sheepish Series, Rebecca Doodles, and the East Patch. The West Patch is being pitched in hopes of becoming a more full-fledged series in the future.

[2] This paragraph used information from Patreons of Heloise&RS, Gods’ School, Hannah Daigle, and Faeduck Studios.

[3] This paragraph used information from Patreons of Wild Card, Essieo, Brandon Wright, and Vivienne Medrano.

[4] See tweets here, here, and here.

[5] There’s two series adapted from comics: the supernatural series WeatherWitch, and robot-themed Space Cops. Others with previously aired series, like Lions Light and Sirenetta also responded. Other examples are a surreal adult animation named Tailocity, a sci-fi thriller named Eidolons Vision, a fantasy-adventure named Bonorum, a boxing fantasy named Punch Drunk Monkey by Brad Braché, the superhero series Aleph Stars, a cartoon about an overpowered superhero horse and “his sidekick Beaver fighting Evil” named Atomic Horseman, J.M. Collado’s Finding Alyx about a “child who learns…art of self expression through his alternative neighbors“, and an original “medieval post-cyberpunk science fantasy series” named Rogue Metro.

[6] Take, for example, joolia‘s The Legend of Pipi animated film, a channel named GLITCH creating animated shows, a short 3D animation film Grandma My Love (Mi Amor), a media brand named The Dynamite Twins and Friends with shorts, clips, and music, an animated series by Aran W of Fiyah entitled Scratch, an animated series by Corey named Newt currently on hiatus, an animated series entitled Don’t Touch the Props, the mature animated series Boy Meets Underworld, an animated series named Blood and Skinny Hedgehog, animated shorts featuring Serenity Lockhart, and a series centered around teenagers with magical powers and must save the world entitled Warlocks of Wrath High.

[7] Others include a slowly moving flash animated series, True Tail, C. Cameron’s Wimp Witch, Colin McCall‘s adventure-comedy Evelynne Doom, and hints that Zak Wood will independently produce the action-musical Band of Mythix. There’s Crash Tako’s Lovers in Crime, which currently has a pilot, Micaela Wainstein’s series in development, The Crystal Eden, an original anime named The Kaminai, a sci-fi series named Deranged!, an animated series named CRiTORA, a slowly developing series named Jade, an animated web series entitled Bleating Heart, Glenn Draper’s Space Landers, and Marabelli: A Scoundrel’s Tale, a series produced by Adventure Noises and created by Benjamin Feldman, is moving into full production.

[8] He is trying to produce a hip-hop influenced 3D action game named Supremacy, which looks pretty cool.

[9] Some Newgrounds series that ended include Interface (ended in October 2021) and Monster Lab (ended in December 2021). Some films on Newgrounds that have aired include Heartbreak (2022), Winter Blues (2022), The World of Literal Hat (2022), Home (2022), Tales from Scortchwater Valley (2022), The Wind Whistles (2021), The Wait (2021), Gilded Guy Gets Up (2021), Butch (2021), and Hot Salsa (2020).

[10] There’s a series by queer writer Stephanie “Steph” about an ambitious space pilot named Space Pilots and a queer western action- romance story entitled Limbo by a trans man named Inukuma. Also there’s a LGBTQ animated series named Summoners, created by a gay man named Blurzy, who describes it as “about a bisexual boy who lives in a world with magical abilities and a futuristic time frame”. There’s a series by a abrosexual art hobbyist named Violet about a trans elf girl, a sweet girls love film directed by Sophie Feher entitled Piece of Cake, and Inukuma‘s Romancing Roslyn Cherry.

[11] Likely Bloop and Friends, Frootoon‘s Project Tideaway, LZbrosThe Alyssian, Feldman’s Accidental Gehenna, Régis (Reggie) Camargo‘s Hockey, Love And GUTS!, CheesyTrishy‘s Dragon Falls and Crime Time, Sophie Bergers’ Framed, Artixi‘s Destination Unknown, BBGannon’s Alfred the Alien, Shiloh’s Zeyka, Poolustrations’ The Cosmos in your Eyes, Gabis’ The Fantastic Warriors, Courtney’s Sorein, Rebecca’s Royal Pain, Crescent Fire, and Brady’s Crash in the System are moving forward.

[12] Take, for example, animator and illustrator Colleen Gundersen’s unnamed series, an animated pilot by @LSMark_, and Legends of Myiorda (Myiorda No Shinwa), an original anime by Eternal Arts Studios. Century Park remains in the lurch because they haven’t found an Indigenous teen to voice the protagonist, the pilot of The Heroes of Tomorrow is moving ahead, as is Wolves of Cecila, and The Shadow Marked. Cartoon Connect is working on Lil Ron Ron. There have been no updates on Ana/Dami’s Harri’s World since January 2021 nor Dark Pages since December 2021, or Re:Quest. The studio producing the series stated the cast would be announced in November 2021, but that did not happen. Although there haven’t been any updates for some time, The Descendants animated series may be moving forward.

LGBTQ Representation Shines Through in Final Space

Ash gets her new form from Invictus in Final Space

On May 8, Final Space, the mature animated comedy, drama, and space fantasy by comedian Olan Rogers, revealed that a character in the show’s main cast was a lesbian. While this surprised some fans, the episode, and the show as a whole, has proven to be one of the best representations of LGBTQ characters in mature animation for some time.

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A Sparkling Gem All Can Enjoy: The Uniqueness of “City of Ghosts”

On March 5, City of Ghosts, an animated series created by Elizabeth Ito, formerly a supervising director of Adventure Time, premiered on Netflix. This series was positively received for its pacing, humor, voice cast, and animation style. Even though it has been over a month since it premiered, the show continues to be relevant, tackling topics which expose uncomfortable truths about our society.

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“Disenchantment” Is Queer Through and Through

Image via Twitter @Disenchantment

In recent years, series like She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, DuckTalesSteven Universe, and Adventure Time have praised for their LGBTQ representation, making strides and laying the groundwork for animation going forward. However, one series is often not recognized in this same respect: Disenchantment, Matt Groening’s adult animated comedy series.

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