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A toilet-less spaceship concept builds a web fan base for multimedia future

There's probably a long list of things that you should never forget to include when you're building a spaceship, but I'm positive that a washroom is at the top. Enter Dr. Garble D. Gluke and Professor Stoughton J. Shpeel, two scientists...
August 1, 2001

There’s probably a long list of things that you should never forget to include when you’re building a spaceship, but I’m positive that a washroom is at the top. Enter Dr. Garble D. Gluke and Professor Stoughton J. Shpeel, two scientists on a five-year mission to explore the uncharted regions of their galaxy. Soon after takeoff, Gluke gets a niggling feeling that he has neglected something crucial in the construction of the Ker’plinkian space-traveling science vessel the Graviton What. Watching Shpeel dance around, it dawns on Gluke that he forgot to build a washroom. Desperate to relieve himself, Shpeel seizes control of the spacecraft and crash-lands on the planet P’zazz. There, Gluke and Shpeel become entangled in a rebellion against Carl the Cruel, a software mogul and absolute ruler of P’zazz. Neutral ground in this conflict is the Club Cosmic Soda Pop.

Described as a cross between a Dr. Suessian bedtime story and a Flash Gordon-esque space opera, Cosmic Soda Pop is a Flash-animated web creation from Fremont, California-based Vis-a-vis. Styled as an independent new media content provider and creative developer, the year-and-a-half-old company’s client roster includes Sony Pictures Entertainment (hybrid animal designs for upcoming feature film Jumanji 2), Hasbro (new Furby designs for Fantasy Factory), DreamWorks and Walt Disney Feature Animation. Vis-a-vis is staffed with Star Wars/Industrial Light and Magic veterans Terryl Whitlatch (characters and creatures) and Kurt Kaufman (vehicles and spaceships).

Cosmic Soda Pop is Vis-a-vis’ own project and consists of a five-minute pilot, some animated shorts featuring spin-off characters, plus on-line comics and games at www.cosmicsodapop.com. Targeted at kids eight to 16, the property was created by Whitlatch and creative director Jon Bresman (Phantom Menace concept researcher).

The pilot is budgeted at between US$30,000 and US$35,000, with the shorts running at roughly US$7,500 to US$12,000 for one to two minutes. The shorts are called Nix Nax and feature two out-of-work mercenaries who lost their positions with Cruelcorp’s Vast Army of Little Green Men (owned by villain Carl the Cruel) because of corporate downsizing.

There are 35 to 40 characters developed at this stage, and the concept could be ready for production at any time. ‘Leading companies such as software developer Autodesk have used our characters for e-learning packages that can be seen by people all over the world,’ says Jon Bresman, creative director at Vis-a-vis. ‘The people who have seen Cosmic Soda Pop tell us that they want to see more. Simply put, we have already seen that Cosmic Soda Pop has lots of licensing and merchandising potential.’

While the company is actively pursuing TV distribution, Vis-a-vis would realistically like to get a comic book out by the end of this year instead of pushing series production. The concept made an appearance at ComiCon last month, and Vis-a-vis is actively pitching to comic publishers.

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