Every now and then, I get messages social media asking, "have you ever thought about turning this into a cartoon?" The answer to that question is "yes, and I almost happened".
Everyone who knows me knows that all I ever wanted to make cartoons. So when I was approached by a production company last summer to adapt the Jake Jetpulse universe into an animated series, I couldn't pass it up. Opportunity came knocking. And I was about to break through that door like the Kool-Aid Man. Some of you might not be old enough to understand that reference. Go ahead, I'll wait here while you YouTube it.
This was not going to be your ordinary project. The Adventures of Jake Jetpulse would feature the first Afro-Latino superhero on the autism spectrum. When Jake and I constructed the Jetpulse Universe, we envisioned it to be a one-of-a-kind visual experience. To capture the essence of this grand neuro-diverse world, The Adventures of Jake Jetpulse was a full CG Animated project that incorporated incredible toon shading software to give the Jetpulse universe its dynamic “comic book” visuals. Similar productions with this art style include “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” and the Netflix original series, “Love, Death + Robots”.
SO WHAT GOES INTO MAKING AN ANIMATED CARTOON?
Frozen cost Disney $150 million and was 102 minutes long. Do a little math and that comes out to about $1.5 million per minute. PER MINUTE!!! Animated projects are not cheap. They're huge beasts with tremendous moving parts. I'm not trying to scare you, but don't say that I didn't warn you! The average 30 minute animation can cost anywhere between $10,000 to $12,000 a minute. But that's just a starting point and does not reflect the cost for voice talent because celebrity voice talent can cost you. Other factors that could increase the production budget is production values, story, music and software. The cost of the animators is a pretty small percentage of the total cost. So yeah, this was the world that I jumped into. Animation is a very demanding business. Some animations that you watch take months to put together.
Each 3D modeler was free to use their imagination to create the environments that would be featured in the Jake Jetpulse animated series. The images above were created for the opening scenes that take place in the fictional Yellowhook Elementary School. Artist: Vishnu Gollakota
SO WHAT MAKES OUR STORY SO UNIQUE?
I'm glad you asked! Our story highlights learning difficulties (often thought of as a weakness) into a young boy’s source of power.
As a superhero on the autism spectrum, we follow Jake on his journey as he learns to adapt to the behavioral and social challenges that are the hallmarks of autism spectrum disorder.
By introducing a cast of diverse, heroic characters who share cultural and social situations, the characters become grounded and familiar. Children who live outside of urban areas need to see the world from a different perspective.
Seeing the world from another point of view fosters understanding. Understanding creates empathy, and empathy closes the gap of fear and indifference as stereotypes begin to disappear. What also makes "The Adventures of Jake Jetpulse" so exciting is its intelligent storytelling. Not only does it fuse all the elements of pop-culture and sci-fi; It also provides the viewer with an intimate glimpse into the imagination of a child on the autism spectrum.
A SHARED UNIVERSE
The thought of Jake's success on television led to discussions about expanding the Jetpulse universe. The Jetpulse saga was written to be shared animated superhero universe that expands from the “The Adventures of Jake Jetpulse”.
With each hero and villain embarking on their own unique journey, viewers will have the opportunity to learn more about each character and join them on their paths to becoming the heroes they are destined to become. Much like Marvel’s shared cinematic universe, Jake Jetpulse seeks to connect the heroes to one timeline and bring them together for one epic battle against evil.
The idea of seeing an all-out "Avengers Style" battle was enough to get everyone psyched about the show.
SCRIPT & STORY
Tremendous care went into writing this phenomenal story. The writers took a unique approach by capturing the symptoms and nuances of autism rather than labeling and highlighting the diagnosis. This Strategy opened doors for discussion as the viewer would experience visual queues that are familiar to them.
To ensure that our characters are grounded in reality, Jerome Schultz Ph. D was brought on board as a script consultant. Dr. Schultz is an accomplished Clinical Neuro-psychologist at Harvard Medical School. His work with children on the autism spectrum helps the writers develop Jake and Julia’s “relatable” personalities.
In March of 2020, Evoi Productions starts preparing for the long-awaited Jetpulse Studios project. A team of talented 3D modelers, Voice actors, animators, and visual effects artists are assembled to help bring the Jetpulse universe to life. The animated series was scheduled to a 14 episode series, each with a 30 minute run time.
Pre-Production for the Jetpulse Animation project began on June 29, 2020. Storyboard artists were tasked with creating the first glimpse into the animated Jetpulse Universe. A team of talented 3D modelers got to work building incredibly detailed 3D environments for the opening sequences. To keep production on schedule, Evoi Productions also enlisted the services of Super Dope TV to create the "Hero" models of the lead characters. Their fantastic 3D models punctuated Jetpulse's unique animation style.
Voice actors received their scripts and were scheduled to start recording dialogue on July 13, 2020. The table read for the pilot episode was insane. I couldn't tell you how crazy it was to hear the voices of Julia, The Goblin Queen, and Marrz the Troll. My son Jake was even cast to lend his voice as the main character.
The first 9 minutes of animatics were completed. Once the dialogue was completed, we'd begin adding their voices. Rigging and animation were scheduled to begin on July 20, 2020. With minimal obstacles, everyone was cranking away.
AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE
As financial troubles led to a delay with payroll, members of the team started to lose confidence but continued to work on the project. Start dates for the second phase of the team were forced to be pushed back until further notice. The team's only decision was to scale down and work with only the resources available. Without the necessary software and manpower in place, Our completion date was moved to February 2021.
With no financial support to continue, the production of the Jetpulse animated series was halted on July 21, 2020. According to Evoi Productions, a key investor had backed out at the last moment. Jetpulse Studios parted ways with Evoi Production on July 24, 2020, in search of new prospects and new investors to help fund the project.
SO WHAT'S NEXT?
There was no doubt that everyone involved had an emotional attachment to this project. Everyone involved was in some way connected to a sibling, relative, or friend that was on the autism spectrum. They were drawn to its messages of diversity and acceptance. It was gut punch for all of us when production halted because many of us felt that an animated project like this needs to be made. This is why I will be announcing an upcoming Kickstarter campaign to raise the money needed to complete the pilot episode. So stay tuned and don't forget to sign up for newsletters and updates about everything Jetpulse related!