Thundercats – Marvel UK days recalled

Thundercats Issue 1 - Marvel UK

Variety reports Warner Bros. has optioned a Thundercats script by tyro scribe Paul Sopocy to turn the popular 1980s animated series and toy line into a live action feature.

Warner-based Paula Weinstein will produce through her Spring Creek Productions banner, along with Dick Robertson and Lew Korman.

Come on, you must remember the Thundercats? They were a group of humanoid cats (with feline names like Lion-O, Tygra, Panthro and Cheetara) who flee their planet of Thundera after it’s destroyed. Once crash-landing on another planet, Third Earth, they must thwart Mumm-Ra, an evil sorcerer, bent on killing them off.

Marvel UK - ThundercatsI certainly do — one of the first internal freelance commissions I had at Marvel UK was writing Thundercats stories (The Marvel UK comic ran for 129 issues and was published for three years) and, on one commission, getting a salutory lesson in how to cut a story “that could not be cut!” from Richard Starkings, who skillfully trimmed an 11-page story to just five. That certainly showed me and was, looking back, a valuable lesson.

The story involved the secretive Berbils, who always seemed a bit wet (like knock off Ewoks but worse), so I came up with the idea of them actually having a super secret ancient technological society no-one outside their species should know about, especially Mumm-Ra. Since they were partly robot/cyborg they had to have some kind of technology but I don’t think it was ever explained in the TV show.

The edits were a salutory lesson on the commercial necessities of comics publishing when budgets on a title with declining title were trimmed as sales began to drop.

Variety says Sopocy has written the script as an origin story expanding on the major heroes and villains from the animated series, with the plot focusing on Lion-O coming of age as the leader of the Thundercats.

This web site a pretty good Thundercats resource (www.cheezey.org/thundercats) for the original US Thundercats comics published by Star, but there’s nothing about the Marvel UK comics so I can’t tell you exactly how many stories I wrote (although I do recall one fan actually asked me to sign every issue I’d worked on once, which was a bit of s shock when he lifted them out of a large duffel bag along with Real Ghostbusters comics…). The Thundercats Lair site (www.thundercatslair.org) also has a comics section but the MUK section is “coming soon”, although it does have a bit of info in its gallery area, which features some art from the title.

Tim Perkins was a a regular artist on the title and the majority of the pieces on the site are from Tim’s collection, plus cover artwork for the UK’s ThunderCats Issue #1, generously donated by the artist who drew it, Lee “Best Daleks Artist EVER” Sullivan.

Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot (Bear)

Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot (Bear)

Update: Talking of robot bears, New Scientist reported 6 June 2007 on a 1.8-metre-tall Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot (Bear) will be able to travel over bumpy terrain and squeeze through doorways while carrying an injured soldier in its arms. The prototype Bear torso can lift more than 135 kilograms with one arm, and its developer, Vecna Technologies of College Park, Maryland, is now focusing on improving its two-legged lower body. Not quite a Berbil, but surely one step nearer…

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



Categories: British Comics, Film

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