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Indiana Jones: Animator unearths incredible cartoon concept

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Lucasfilm

Watching this roughly minute-long Indiana Jones cartoon, it’s easy to get your hopes up. Is this a show? quickly becomes This is a show!, which then leads to: When is this on?

But for now, this is it.

Years ago, artist and animator Patrick Schoenmaker was commissioned by Lucasfilm and ACME Archives to craft an illustration of Harrison Ford as the scholar with a knack for getting in over his fedora. That led the artist to embark on an unsanctioned quest to craft a proof of concept snippet of animation for what he’s calling The Indiana Jones Adventures.

The clip above, which Schoenmaker says took him and a handful of assistants five years to create, would serve as a kind of opening credits sequence for such a show, if Lucasfilm ever decided to make it. The company confirms that this is not an official project of theirs. (Bias alert: This short is incredible. Lucasfilm, please make this.)

Within that minute of footage, you can spot a number of classic characters: Short Round, Marion Ravenwood, and Marcus “Got-Lost-In-His-Own-Museum” Brody. EW reached out for additional comment from Schoenmaker, whose other credits include the 2015 short Bingo! and layout artist work for the Oscar-nominated The Secret of Kells.

Schoenmaker tells EW that Lucasfilm hasn’t blessed or cursed his efforts. “No, I’ve not been contacted by Lucasfilm about developing this into a full series, neither have they asked me to stop working on my Indy project. Generally, Lucasfilm really encourages fans to expand the universes of their franchises with fan art. They even have fan art competitions from time to time, so I believe they really appreciate it if the fans are involved.”

Here’s a character model sheet for the show, one of many pieces of concept art, which Schoenmaker featured on his blog. As you can see, there are a few other characters who didn’t make the animated short, such as Indy’s father (played in The Last Crusade by Sean Connery.)

Schoenmaker says he and a friend began writing these characters into broader scripts for a whole season of TV, but backed off that plan. “We decided it would be a step too far. It was more efficient to focus on the short, that was enough work on it’s own. The designs were done to get a broader feeling for the world of Indiana Jones,” he says. “When I was still developing the concept, I had ideas for settings that would bring us more familiar characters, but I aimed for a 1-minute piece to keep things manageable, so I had to cut certain scenes.”

Originally, he said he started the project to fill the Indy void left after 2008’s Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Now, of course, Steven Spielberg and Ford have announced plans for a fifth Indiana Jones movie, which would shoot in 2018 and be released July 19, 2019.

That doesn’t necessarily kill the possibility of an Indy cartoon. Even with annual Star Wars films hitting theaters, Lucasfilm has delved into the TV market with producer Dave Filoni’s Disney XD animated series Rebels, which tells stories from the galaxy beyond the ones on the big screen.

George Lucas himself tried the TV series route for his intrepid archaeologist in the early 1990s — The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, which starred Sean Patrick Flannery as a teenage-era Indy, Corey Carrier as a child Indy, and George Walls as an elderly Indy in the present day.

Ford even did a guest spot in one episode as a framing device, but an animated Indiana Jones has never been tried.

Robert Iger, CEO of Lucasfilm parent The Walt Disney Co., recently told investors he’d like to see the character and franchise continue in some capacity. Some have speculated about a new, younger actor taking over the part, but that has been met with an equal amount of backlash.

Maybe animation is the way for Indiana Jones to live forever, in the spirit of Ford and Spielberg, without aid of any replacements or supernatural artifacts.

Unless Lucasfilm picks up the torch, there won’t be any more from Schoenmaker.

“For me personally, this is where it ends for now. I’ve been working on this in my spare time for over five years,” he says. “As long as that sounds for such a short film, animation is really a lot of work. So doing a full short, or better yet, a pilot episode would just be madness. I love the character dearly, so I’m pretty sure I’ll make some more Indy art in the future, but when it comes to animation, this is really the most I could do.”

For more Indiana Jones news, follow @Breznican.

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