At Saturday’s conclusion to the American Cinematheque’s two-night tribute to Samurai Jack creator Genndy Tartakovsky in Hollywood, the Star Wars: Clone Wars helmer revealed that he is leaving behind his signature 2D style as he makes the leap to feature films. In addition to some news about Tartakovsky’s upcoming projects, attendees were treated to the world premiere of Star Wars: Clone Wars–Volume 2, an engrossing finale to the well-received toon extension of George Lucas’ fantasy saga.
"I tried to pitch some 2D features, but it was a nightmare," Tartakovsky noted. "I was just trying to get $10 million pictures made, but no one wanted to do it." He pointed to director Brad Bird’s successful transition from the 2D world of Family Dog, The Simpsons and The Iron Giant to the Pixar blockbuster, The Incredibles. "That’s a 2D guy doing 3D," he said with much admiration.
Tartakovsky assured fans that he is not finished with traditional animation. "I will return to it eventually," he said. "If I do a few good 3D movies, hopefully I’ll get to do something in 2D because there’s nothing like watching drawings."
The screening of Star Wars: Clone Wars–Volume 2 was met with uproarious applause. Tartakovsky noted that they were up most of the night working to complete it for the premiere event, and thrilled fans when he mentioned that George Lucas hadn’t even seen it yet.
According to Tartakovsky, Lucas has been very hands-off with the animated series, giving him and his Cartoon Network crew a lot of creative freedom in relating the events that happen between Star Wars: Episodes II–Attack of the Clones and Star Wars: Episode III–Revenge of the Sith. He said one of the things that lured him back to do another season was the opportunity to explore new elements of the saga and show things that have never been brought to the screen, such as a Jedi knighting.
"I said, ‘What is a Jedi knighting? How does that go?’" Tartakovsky recalled. He then shrugged his shoulders and imitated Lucas saying, "I don’t know."
The Clone Wars team was also given the daunting responsibility of depicting the epic invasion of Coruscant, a task that Tartakovsky said had him a little scared because it was a major event in the overall storyline and he didn’t want to let the fans down. Judging by the reaction of the audience, he didn’t disappoint.
Another instance where Lucas gave Tartakovsky and his artists a great deal of liberty is the introduction of General Grievous, one of Episode III’s major villains. Tartakovsky said all they had to go on was a piece of concept art, and notes that the character has since gone through some significant changes for the big screen. "Our Grievous and the movie’s Grievous are very different," he revealed.
The Tartakovsky love fest continued as Brian Miller, senior VP and general manager of Cartoon Network Studios, presented the animator with a solid silver statuette of Samurai Jack that was custom sculpted by an artist in Argentina. Miller lamented the fact that Tartakovsky was moving on, but noted, "He will always be a part of the fabric of the network."
Star Wars: Clone Wars–Volume 2 kicks off tonight, March 21 at 7 p.m. (ET/PT) on Cartoon Network. The five new 12-minute episodes will air through Friday, March 25.