The new Thundercats series has been on the air for just about a year now; and it looks like Cartoon Network is already looking to cancel it. This is a shame, not only is Thundercats one of the few shows on CN that is actually a cartoon; but is one of only a handful of quality animated shows at all on the air today. I’m talking today with Marisha Ray of Save The Thundercats who is spearheading the campaign to save this show and others like it.
Pure Nerd Nip: Marisha; when exactly did it come to light that the network may be canceling T-cats? On the surface everything looks good, new episodes are rolling out regularly and the over-arching story has never been as focused as it is right now; what happened?
Marisha Ray: Basically the show was the victim of “Wrong time, wrong time”. Cartoon Network (For some strangly unknown reason) thought it would be a good idea to air the show on Friday nights at 8:30. A lot of the fans of the show are adults who grew up with it in the 80’s, but what adult in their late 20′s is home on a Friday night? With that, the kids that are in the target age range for the show, are also not watching T.V. at 9 o’clock at night for many apparent reasons. This lead into a chain reaction, involving the toy sales, which pretty much fuels the animation industry. The adults aren’t buying toys, because, I mean, they are adults, and the kids weren’t buying the toys because they were unaware of the show. Now through all of this, the show was actually getting pretty good ratings considering the unfortunate time slot. And the toys were doing ok, but not good enough. In response to the low toy sales, the retailers and Bandai pulled the toys from the shelf. This happened at almost exactly the same time as when the show got moved to Saturday mornings. After the showed switched time slots to the more obviously appropriate time and day, the ratings soared! But guess what, there are no more toys on the shelf. From there, well, you know what happened next.
So a well written and well received show is ultimately getting canceled because of poor timing and lacking toy sales. That, my friends, is one of the most tragic things I have heard in regards to the history of animated T.V. Nothing is more unfortunate, than hearing about robbing children of great art and story telling, just because some corporate big wig isn’t making as much as he might have liked. To me, it is like a child going up to an adult with a book in hand, and the adult responding with, “Well, are you gonna pay me to read you this book?”
PNN: At San-Diego Comic Con last year me and 1000 other people stood in line just to wind up not seeing the premier; has the fan support for the series not been there or been underwhelming to some people?
MR: It is kind of hard to tell. I don’t really have anything to reference it to, you know? The way I see it at the moment, people are taking time out of their busy schedules to sign our petition, and that is more than I could have ever hoped for. The petition currently has 2000 signatures, and that is awesome! But I know there are a LOT more TCats fans out there, so let’s rally and score one for great television and art!
PNN: Beyond the immediacy of keeping Thundercats on the air, what else is the campaign looking to achieve?
MR: Well, I have a bit more of a personal connection with the series because my boyfriend is Matthew Mercer, who is the voice actor who voices Tygra in the new series. With that, we both became very close friends with the rest of the cast and crew. Everyone is so amazingly awesome and talented! When everyone learned of the cancellation, they were crushed. These guys are all working professionals who work on many different shows and projects, and seeing the personal connection they made with their characters and the story line was very compelling. Out of all the shows, they all agreed that Thundercats simply could not end this way. Someone had to save it! Out of there compassion for the show, I knew I had to at least try and do something! I know saving something that you have no control over is difficult, but I knew one thing I could at least do, was raise awareness. Awareness that good art and television is being canceled because of petty decisions based around what is going to make Mr. Money-Bags the quickest buck. Awareness that even concepts as abstract as art and creativity, still have strong corporate fists desperately trying to grab what they can if something is even remotely marketable. Awareness that good all ages programing is getting canceled, and replaced by half-assed concepts that are cheaper to make. These things, are not ok.
PNN: You guys have some pretty awesome photography on your site and I noticed on twitter you used the tagline “Kitties w/Titties!” is that the unofficial slogan for the campaign?
MR: HAHAHA! That is not the unofficial slogan, I am jut very aware that if you use the word “titties” in a twitter post, curiosity is going to get the best of them, and people will go click on the link! And is is not false advertising! There are, in fact, eight different breasts on the sight… No duplicates! Sex sells, and you know what, that has been working quite well for the Save Thundercats! Campaign.
The Photography that you see was done by the amazing Greg De Stefano! He new exactly what we were going for, and nailed it right on the head! You can see more of his work at www.gdfoto.com.
PNN: You mentioned that you already have 2000 signatures [At the time of the interview]; is this a number that will really sway WB or just a beginning milestone you had in mind?
MR: Since this has never really been done before, I am not sure how many signatures would be a convincing number. The important part, is to let them know that there are people paying attention, and that what is going on is not acceptable. Also, this petition would help the series potentially get picked up by another network if they knew it was something people were invested in. So, ultimately, the more signatures, the higher the percentage is that they are going to take us seriously!
PNN: Do you feel this is a network programming decision on behalf of Cartoon Networking; or from up on high thru WB wanting to showcase more DC properties off of which they can make more money?
MR: Animation is taking a hit all around. There are several other shows that are on the chopping board; that is why the Save Thundercats movement is for great animated T.V. everywhere, and a push for more, not less of it. Thundercats just happened to be the right show to really grab the attention of the adults that this is a widely unaddressed issue. Ultimately, there were poor decisions made from all parties, and this is not a campaign to chastice those companies, just to let them know that we are paying attention!
PNN: As much as I love T-cats; why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and your other projects.
MR: Well, to make a long story short, I am an actor, and a host in the geek-centric industry, as well as just an over all nerd. I actually wanted to make sure that all the girls I picked for the shoot, were also nerd girls with a face in the nerd industry. All of us are gamers, comic book readers, and role players!
PNN: I saw the teaser trailer for Batgirl: Spoiled and it looks pretty promising! What are the plans for that?
MR: Yes! That is another project I am heavily involved in. I am a producer and writer on that project, as well as playing Batgirl. The series is going to be 12 episodes long, and should be launching in late summer. We will be running a kickstarter to raise the funs, so be sure to keep a look out for that! For more info follow us @batgirlspoiled or go to our website www.batgirlthewebseries.com .
PNN: Interesting choice going with Stephanie Brown instead of Babs as Batgirl; a bold move that I applaud! I’ve been a big fan of her character from Spoiler, to the only female Robin, and absolutely loved her run as Batgirl before DC removed her to reintroduce Barbra in the new 52. Why’d you decide to go with her over the OG Batgirl?
MR: Stephanie is essentially the Buffy the Vampire slayer of the DCU. She has always been the unsung hero; never the strongest; didn’t have the most training; but was very compelling as a person, and certainly the most relatable. She didn’t come from wealth, and she has to fight her way to the top. There are many more elements that people can relate to with Steph, then say, Barbra. Along with that, her series was canceled right in the height of her prime in order to make room for the DC52. This caused many fans to crave more Stephanie! Ultimately, we felt she was the most compelling person to tell the story we felt needed to be told.
PNN: Already I’ve noticed some hate on the youtube comments for this choice; How will portraying Steph change the aspirations & intent of your web series?
MR: You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. If we went with Barbra, there would be people asking why we didn’t go with Stephanie. Barbra has had her time in the spot light. We wanted to showcase a more real, more relateable Batgirl. Everyone can commiserate with her story. We thought this would be the most interesting story that people could get invested in, and continue to come back and see her transition.
PNN: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us! I urge everyone that is or was a fan of the T-Cats or quality animation to head over to the petition and help save the Thundercats!
And for more of Marisha, check her out on twitter @Marisha_Ray and check out some of her other projects as well!
Super Power Beat Down
The Quasi-Psychologists (Which is a podcast were we answer YOUR Bullshit problems with Bullshit)
The Grind (A video game sketch and news show)
Stay Nerdy My Friends!