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Animation Renovation: 15 Classic Cartoon Characters Redesigned By Hardcore Fans

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Animation Renovation: 15 Classic Cartoon Characters Redesigned By Hardcore Fans

Fans have been putting their own twists on beloved creations since the moment fan-based communities surfaced. Long before the creation of the internet, fans from across the Americas created fanzines where they could express shared loves in the form of articles, fanfiction, and of course, fan art. And of course since the proliferation of the internet with the general population, the amount of people making their own versions of existing creations has grown exponentially. Where there were once fanzines, now entire websites exist, all solely for the purpose of being a place where all these fan creations can exist.

For this list, we’re choosing to highlight fan art of a medium that’s had massive spikes in popularity over the last two decades: cartoons. Because cartoons and fan art go together like bacon and eggs, chocolate and peanut butter, or pizza and pepperoni (or pineapple, if you wanna be one of those people). We’ve gathered fifteen pieces of fan art that aren’t just cool, they redesign some of the classic characters we love so much altogether.   These designs run the gamut from being simple makeovers and updates on retro classic series, all the way to being insane mash-ups. Ready? Let’s get artsy.

15. RUGRATS

One of Nickelodeon’s earliest cartoons of the ’90s, Rugrats centered around a group of toddlers and their everyday lives that became adventures due to their undeveloped perceptions and overdeveloped imaginations.

Easily one of Nick’s most popular series as well, the series has been spawning fan art for years, so much so that one of the show’s former artists eventually found themselves getting upset with all the cutesy art work circulating of the Rugrats as adults, instead of casting them as “lumpy people” the way the series intended. It’s up in the air then what they would think of this art from Isiah K Stephens, which cranks the realism factor way up and makes the Rugrats look the way actual children might in real life.

14. SWAT KATS

Another of the last few Hanna-Barbera creations, SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron followed a pair of former pilots in Megakat City’s police agency, Chance “T-Bone” Furlong and Jake “Razor” Clawson. After being fired from the police group The Enforcers, T-Bone and Razor take up jobs at the local military salvage yard, and while their construct their own custom jet fighter that they use to battle the…increasingly bizarre crime that appears inside of their city, from undead, time-traveling mages to robot mobsters to alien armadas. The series ran from 1993 to 1995 for roughly 23 episodes before being canceled due to low ratings.

Still, the series has remained a fan-favorite, which is why over two decades later such a short series is getting such beautiful art like this picture from Barelynormal Activity, which gives them a neat modern update, complete with making T-Bone a much taller, more threatening looking character.

13. ED, EDD, AND EDDY

The Cartoon Cartoon with the catchiest theme song of them all, Ed, Ed and Eddy was the creation of Danny Antonucci, and followed the adventures of three pre-teen boys living in a cul-de-sac in the city of Peach Creek. Massively successful, the series ran from 1999 to 2007, even getting a television film in 2009 to cap off the series. Some of its least used (yet still popular) characters were the Kanker Sisters, a trio of girls from a trailer park near the cul-de-sac with huge crushes on our main protagonists.

This art by bloochikin features those same Kanker Sisters, aged up into teenagers and exploring the local junkyard. It almost makes one wonder what a sequel to the series would look like if it took place with everyone in high school.

12. HANNA-BARBERA JUSTICE LEAGUE

In the ’60s, cartoons were pretty much run by Hanna-Barbera, the legendary animation studio that brought hits like Scooby Doo, The Flintstones, and more to Saturday morning cartoon blocks. Though their shows were often low-budget in animation, they produced a steady stream of television programming that ran the gamut from standard comedy to high-octane action series. They were even able to get a few of their series into primetime for a while!

With that in mind, it’s no wonder that they left such an impression on creators of every era. For instance, take this piece of fanart from PaintMarvels, which gathers H-B characters Hong Kong Phooey, Atom Ant, Secret Squirrel, and Peter Potamus and recasts them as a group of pulp action superheroes that feel like they leapt right out of a superhero comic.

11. JOHNNY BRAVO

Johnny Bravo was created by Filipino animator Van Partible as the second of Cartoon Network’s legendary group of Cartoon Cartoons, their own original animation series that ruled their airwaves from the late ’90s into the mid ’00s. Johnny Bravo in particular followed its main character, a jock that spent much of his time hitting on women only to get rebuffed, often violently, for his over-enthusiasm. The series debuted in 1997 and was known for its consistent celebrity guest-stars, featuring everyone from Adam West and Shaquille O’Neal to other Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters like Scooby Doo and Fred Flintstone.

In any case, this fanart from Sakimichan is really something. It maintains the basic look of Johnny Bravo, but adds a subtle attractiveness to him that makes me think he wouldn’t have nearly as much trouble getting attention from the ladies.

10. DEXTER AND DEE DEE

Dexter’s Laboratory was made by now legendary creator Genndy Tartakovsky, also known for creating Samurai Jack and Sym-Bionic Titan. Another of Cartoon Network’s earliest Cartoon Cartoons, the series was built around a simple idea of a genius little boy named Dexter who’s hiding a laboratory in his bedroom, and his sister Deedee, who tends to ruin all of his technology. One of the most popular Cartoon Cartoons ever, Dexter’s Laboratory ran from 1996 to 1999 and was revived briefly for another two seasons before finally ending in 2003.

Given how much kids from the ’00s loved it, it’s a wonder the series hasn’t been revived yet, but if it had there’s a good chance it would resemble this design by Rafael de Guzman. In the intervening years between the original series and now, 3D has become much more popular and cheaper to produce.

9. COW AND CHICKEN

The third Cartoon Cartoon series to air, Cow and Chicken was one of the more…bizarre programs to come out of the Cartoon Network. Literally following a talking cow and a talking chicken that were somehow born to two human parents, the series was an over-the-top comedy where the two kids lived their lives having comedic adventures while trying to avoid getting scammed by their enemy, The Red Guy.

This art by Felipe Martini completely owns up to the overall weirdness of the series, cranking it up a notch by making both characters have a more realistic bent to them. Still, there’s a lot of shout outs to the original series, including both the series’ main protagonists, antagonist, along with the classic looks of Cow, Chicken, and their weird parents in the photo frame in the background.

8. MEGAS XLR

One of the last Cartoon Cartoons to air on CN before they pulled the plug, Megas XLR was a bit different from the comedy focused series we’d gotten used to. It featured a longer run time and leaned far more on its action roots as a show about a pair of teenaged slackers who stumbled upon a robot from the future, recustomized to be piloted inside of a classic ’70s-style muscle car. Created by Jody Schaeffer and George Krstic, the series relied on references to video games and classic Japanese mecha anime for much of its humor and some of its plot set-up.

And we have a feeling that this piece of fan art by artist isogonica where the Megas robot is re-imagined to resemble a robot from Pacific Rim would be pretty well-liked by the makers of such a love letter to the mecha genre.

7. TALESPIN

In 1990 Disney decided to create their own block of television programming with Disney Afternoon. It would run roughly nine years and feature some of Disney’s best-known ’90s cartoons, including this series. TaleSpin was a fresh spin on the 1967 film Jungle Book, taking many of the characters from that film and re-casting them in an Art Deco world of sky pirates and aircraft delivery services, all in the metropolitan city of Cape Suzette. Though fairly popular, TaleSpin was all but created to go into syndication, and only lasted a single season of 65 episodes before Disney moved on to other, newer shows.

While that’s a shame, what’s not a shame is this pretty awesome sketch art by Kyletak. The art completely redesigns the normally anthropomorphic animals of the TaleSpin world as humans, but somehow remains surprisingly faithful to the spirit of each individual’s design.

6. PUFFY AMI YUMI

Concept wise, Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi is one of the weirdest cartoons to come out of the ’00s era of CN. It’s a cartoon about a Japanese pop rock band made up of two people: Yumi Yoshimura and Ami Onuki, and their adventures around the world while on tour. The band had little to no relevance in America before the cartoon, and seemingly the show only existed because it’s executive producer Sam Register was a fan of the band in real life and had enough power to turn them into a cartoon to make them more popular.

Still, despite being inspired by a Japanese band, HHPAY actually strayed fairly far from a Japanese animation style, and instead used a cuter, chibi American style instead. Artist Veon-kun uses a bit of a different tack though, and plays up the Japanese influences for an anime punk style that looks pretty cool.

5. DARKWING DUCK

Another Disney Afternoon cartoon, Darkwing Duck enjoyed slightly more popularity than TaleSpin, going on for three seasons before coming to a stop after 91 episodes in 1992. Something of a parody of pulp action characters and Golden Age superheroes, Darkwing Duck followed Drake Mallard, a superhero that lived in the suburbs with his adopted daughter Gosalyn and his sidekick-slash-pilot Launchpad McQuack. This series was noteworthy for relying more on action than comedy, a first for Disney Afternoon at the time.

Though all of the characters boasted a distinct enough look, artist thweatted created a pretty cool redesign here, taking all the duck-based characters and transforming them into regular humans. This work actually resembles the concept art for a Darkwing makeover, but then we guess you couldn’t call it Darkwing Duck if there weren’t actually any…ducks.

4. DOUG

The best of the early Nicktoons, Doug was a cartoon that centered around Doug Funny, a normal pre-teen boy doing his best to navigate the waves of Junior High alongside his best friend Skeeter and love interest Patti Mayonnaise. Created by Jim Jenkins, the series was Nick’s very first (and again, very best) animated effort when it premiered back in 1991.

But here, artist PesthDeLinz throws all the relatability of the Doug universe out the window in order to merge the series with popular anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion. It recasts Doug as Shinji (poor guy) and Patti as Rei, while making Doug’s alter-ego Quailman into the EVA-01. Yeah, this is a weird idea, but technically both shows are about how hard it is to interact with people, so it kinda makes sense?

3. AAHHH!! REAL MONSTERS

Aaahh!! Real Monsters was one of the earliest, and easily the most creative, of all of Nickelodeon’s early Nicktoons programs. The series was about a trio of young monsters — Ickis, Oblina, and Krumm — that went to a monster school underneath a city dump where they learned how to scare children. Several of the episodes actually involved the monsters traveling to the surface in order to see who they could scare as school assignments. The series was created by Gabor Csupo and Peter Gaffney and remained on the air for four seasons from 1994 to 1997.

Uniquely creepy in a way that no other show was doing at the time, these sculptures by artist Kevon Ward manage to tap into that creepiness flawlessly, adding a new dimension (literally) to what made them so charmingly weird in the first place.

2. PIRATES OF DARK WATER

The Pirates of Dark Water were one of Hanna-Barbera’s last major creations before the company was swallowed up by Cartoon Network and had its place usurped by the Cartoon Cartoon division of things. Created by David Kirschner, it first aired in 1991 and ran for two seasons and 21 episodes. Pirates was a story about the alien planet of Mer, which was being devastated by a dangerous substance known as Dark Water which consumed and destroyed anything it touched. The only person capable of stopping it is Ren, the prince of an ancient kingdom, and he must do so by discovering the thirteen treasures of Rule alongside a crew of other pirates.

This art by PioPauloSantana gives us a faithful recreation of the main cast, only with the anime aspects turned up a bit…and for some reason Ren’s pet monkey-bird Niddler is the size of a small dragon. Well…artistic license, right?

1. TINY TOONS ADVENTURES

Something of a forerunner to the Kids’ WB programming that would surface only a few years later, Tiny Toons Adventures was a joint effort between Warner Bros. Animation and Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment. Taking advantage of the then-popular “baby versions of iconic characters” phase, Tiny Toons introduced a brand-new cast of cartoons studying at Acme Looniversity to become the next generation of Looney Tunes.

Atariboy2600‘s art is making that a much more difficult task however, as Plucky, Buster, Babs, and Hamton all have to work together to take down an army of Hanna-Barbera zombies in a neat little homage to the popular series of zombie video games, Left 4 Dead. Guess if they want to be the top tier of toons they’ll have to go through more than just the original Looney Tunes.

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