People who really know animation might know not only the sad story of Richard Williams’ failed magnum opus The Thief and the Cobbler (1964-1992; released 1993 and 1995) but also the story of my dream passion project, Dexter’s Odyssey, which is Dexter’s Laboratory meets The Lord of the Rings with dinosaurs and shades of Samurai Jack.
This writer might spend years, or even decades, on this one film project, a multi-part and visually lush, dinosaur-infused epic fantasy tracing the epic Lord of the Rings-like journey of Dexter, Dee Dee (his sister) and Mee Mee and Lee Lee (Dee Dee’s black and Asian friends) on a quest across vast patches of dinosaur-inhabited wilderness and far off exotic distant lands in order to stop the evil Mandark (Dexter’s rival) from conquering and enslaving the world’s free peoples with a mighty war machine that he is secretly building after Mandark—furious that Dee Dee didn’t invited him to her birthday party—declares war on the free world.
This project will be intended by yours truly to be my masterpiece, but also one with a more realistic interaction between humans and dinosaurs than even that for The Flintstones (1960-66), as well as containing some of the most complex animations ever attempted onscreen whether it’s hand drawn or computer generated.
I may or I may not get full funding for the Dexter’s Odyssey project until I achieve success or even win an award or something, so for years or decades yet to come, I’d just pick at it, in-between working on other things, for Dexter’s Odyssey can be the whetstone with which I could hone my talent, craft, skills, and ideas.
And my art style might keep improving and changing, becoming more and more complex. Sure, 2D hand drawn traditional animation is largely out of style these days, replaced by digital 3D CGI animations such as Tangled, Wreck-it Ralph, Frozen and most recently, Big Hero 6.
And you know, if I were to become a great animator, and if I were to hire many other animation hands—including the great animators of the 1980s and 1990s Disney Renaissance—to pass on their knowledge to a whole new generation of young animators before all that knowledge and especially the 2d hand drawn traditional animation techniques will be lost forever, then Dexter’s Odyssey will be one of my ways to learn.
And if I do, I’ll set up my own studio to help train an entire new generation of young soon-to-be great animators and help make another revival in animation, one that will be very diverse especially in technique.
And sure, even more than just a footnote in animation history, Dexter’s Odyssey is gonna be a hugely influential animated movie project. And not to mention, a work of genius, pure and simple. I may be a genius who may be difficult to work with or demand perfection from my crew, but I may become an inspiration as well as a great teacher.
And sure, given my obsession over making Dexter’s Odyssey, I would also create some of the most spectacular, beautifully lush, and intricately complex animations of all time, hand drawn or CGI—for example, Mandark’s machine of war, which is filled with every piece of weaponry and machinery imaginable—and some of the most delightfully subtle. Plus beautiful cinematography and lighting effects; every in-camera and/or digital trick in the book, and a hundred which aren't.
Dexter’s Odyssey will not technically be a Disney movie for it is something absolutely unique: a giant epic animated film project that may be as though it is designed somewhere in the 20th century more than the 21st, using design trends from anywhere and from the 20th and 21st centuries, and all sorts of ideas, including a weird mash-up of different things that may seem unrelated to each other—from Dexter’s Laboratory cartoon characters to Samurai Jack cartoon characters to dinosaurs to Japanese samurai to even the Do Do Bird from the 1930s Warner Bros. Cartoon Short, Porky in Wackyland:
Sure, apart from the Do Do Bird from Porky in Wackyland, some or almost many of the characters (including Dexter, Dee Dee, Mee Mee and Lee Lee and Mandark) may look like they came out of Genndy Tartakovsky’s 1990s work on Dexter’s Laboratory or his work on Samurai Jack, but they could still move with perfect fluidity whether it’s realistic or stylized. It will be a dream on an epic scale and scope and with epic grandeur. And seriously, guys, the whole entire thing will be in the language of a great dream.
And seriously, guys, anything is possible in the world of the animation art-form.
Or as this sign above from the 1938 Warner Bros. Cartoon Porky in Wackyland says:
"IT CAN HAPPEN HERE”
And only through animation can anything really possibly happen.
((And animation is not a genre. It is a technique.))
You understand, Your Majesty, Father of Samurai Jack?
Well, given my intention for Dexter’s Odyssey to be a really great epic masterpiece of animation art, of film or cinematic art, and of human art, it will be unsurprising that Dexter’s Odyssey will also not just be an animated cartoon movie or a Disney movie but a really epic event and epic experience.
I just wanted just about everything about Dexter’s Odyssey to really blow away just about everyone (especially those who will get to see it)—and it’ll be like realizing there’s a whole other half of David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia right after that movie’s intermission, or that Michelangelo’s Adam isn't just sicking his pointy finger at the sky on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (And you know, Adam is just sticking his pointy finger directly at the finger of Almighty God).
Do you understand, Go Go Tomago?
Yes, this may be as far removed from the tone and scope of one of its source materials (Dexter’s Laboratory, a kids cartoon show from the mid to late 1990s that is pretty standard as far as storytelling) as can be imagined…
Yes, it will be a weird mash up of different things that may be seemingly unrelated to each other from Dexter’s Lab cartoon characters and/or Samurai Jack cartoon characters to dinosaurs to Japanese samurai to elements of the quest plot of J.R.R. Tolkien’s three-volume fantasy epic The Lord of the Rings (battles and all) to even the Do Do Bird from the obscure 1938 Warner Bros. cartoon short, Porky in Wackyland…
Yes, to use said different things seemingly unrelated to each other, from Dexter’s Laboratory cartoon characters and/or Samurai Jack cartoon characters to dinosaurs to Japanese samurai to even said Do Do bird from Porky in Wackyland, not just like characters but also like toys on a child’s play-set will be a daring, challenging, and bold move, and to try and accurately animate dinosaurs based on today’s scientific research will be a challenge as daunting as mounting an epic Lord of the Rings-style battle, especially if they involve Japanese samurai…
And yes, instead of the usual comedic misadventures of Dexter and his sister Dee Dee, it will trace the epic Lord of the Rings-like journey of Dexter, his sister Dee Dee, and Dee Dee’s two friends Mee Mee and Lee Lee, on an epic Lord of the Rings-like quest to stop Dexter’s rival Mandark from conquering and enslaving the world’s free peoples (and even bringing death and destruction and ruin and terror to all) with a mighty war machine that Mandark is secretly building after Mandark, insulted by not being invited to Dee Dee’s birthday party by Dee Dee herself, declares war on the world’s free peoples…
But this, Dexter’s Odyssey, can still be the whetstone with which I could hone my talent, craft, and skills.
Or would it?