The Return of Megas XLR?
The Return of Megas XLR? by Jerry Whitworth
Created by New York’s School of Visual Arts students George Krstic and Jody Schaeffer, Megas XLR was conceived by Krstic while playing a video game with Schaeffer as a series that combines elements of cartoons, anime, comic books, video games, and more in an animated series. Using Schaeffer’s high end computer, the pair were joined by fellow SVA alumni Tony Cupo and Chris Prynoski culminating in a pilot for the series that was transferred to VHS cassette (though the computer went through many upgrades in order to support the software the group used). Krstic and Prynoski had previously collaborated with Anne D. Berstein on the Emmy-nominated animated series Downtown for MTV in 1999 that was canceled after only a single season (leading to numerous jabs against the network in the form of Pop TV on Megas XLR). Chasing down a Cartoon Network executive at San Diego Comic-Con International, the group passed over the tape and the pilot aired on the channel in 2002 as part of a contest judged by fans to decide the next Cartoon Cartoon. After winning the vote, Megas XLR went into production premiering as part of Cartoon Network’s successful Toonami afternoon animation block of action/adventure programming in 2004.
One of the show’s most memorable measures was its use of renowned guest stars such as Peter Cullen and Frank Welker somewhat reprising their roles as Optimus Prime and Megatron, respectively, of Transformers fame and Bruce Campbell voicing the MODOK-inspired reoccurring villain Magnanimous (Campbell joining the cast shortly after Prynoski chased him down at a convention to hand him a script for the episode that introduced the antagonist). Major characters Jamie and Kiva were played by prolific voice actors Steve Blum and Wendee Lee, respectively, after a suggestion by Krstic to the casting director to try to hire the pair following their work on the wildly successful anime series Cowboy Bebop as its stars Spike Spiegel and Faye Valentine (with Megas XLR characters Coop and Goat based on real life friends of Krstic, the former on Tony Cupo). Blum was also known at the time for his role as the voice of Toonami’s host TOM. The series is also remembered for its opening credits including the popular line “Chicks dig giant robots.” Unfortunately, Megas XLR would be canceled after two seasons due to low ratings despite developing a cult-like following by viewers (various sources such as ToonZone citing the show as one of the best cartoons of its decade).
Chris Prynoski would go on to found Titmouse Animation Studios which became a huge force for Cartoon Network’s [adult swim] late night block of animation geared towards adults. George Krstic would become a guiding force for Genndy Tartakovsky’s Emmy award winning Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series for Cartoon Network before later joining Prynoski to produce the animated series Motorcity for Disney XD (which was a spiritual successor to Megas XLR and was recently canceled after only a single season). In October 2012, Jason DeMarco (a founding father of Toonami and an executive for Cartoon Network and [adult swim]) tweeted that Cartoon Network had abandoned the rights to air Megas XLR domestically (though it still airs internationally having developed a following in other countries) which led to Krstic inquiring about the rights to the series. At present, Krstic and his fellow Megas XLR creators are in talks with the network to see if they can acquire the rights to the series or work with Cartoon Network to allow them to air the series on another station. While Megas XLR is available on iTunes and Xbox Live, there is as yet no official DVD release in the US which the creators are also looking into seeing happen as well as about continuing the series or producing a sequel. Krstic and others involved such as Prynoski and Steve Blum have been vocal about support of the show which has seen growing support online such as in petitions being compiled and communities established in an effort to help the see Megas XLR brought back. These efforts have included Krstic appearing on various podcasts in the past few weeks spreading word of the situation and raising awareness among the show’s fans. For the latest on the show’s development, you can follow Krstic on Twitter.