There’s no way of telling how many times evil has been defeated in this small nondescript building in Burbank, Calif., sitting in the shadow of a California interstate. It’s not a top-secret government facility, but the home of Stoopid Buddy Stoodios, where the Sony Crackle animated series “SuperMansion” is produced.
The team behind the series has used the maze of studios, workshops and recording booths to produce its third season of the Emmy-nominated, stop-motion adult comedy series, which debuted on the streaming service Thursday.
Created by Zeb Wells and Matthew Senreich, “SuperMansion” follows a group of unlikely heroes, the League of Freedom, led by the chronologically challenged Titanium Rex (voiced by Bryan Cranston). He and his team — Black Saturn (Tucker Gilmore), American Ranger (Keegan-Michael Key), Jewbot/Robobot (Wells), Cooch (Heidi Gardner) and Lex (Jillian Bell Brad) — work out of their SuperMansion in Storm City.
Wells, who cut his teeth in the comic book world writing for Marvel Comics (“The Amazing Spider-Man,” “Wolverine”), is excited about the new episodes because most of the first two seasons were devoted to establishing the background stories of this band of misfits. It was time well spent, he said, because creating the characters’ histories was vital to making the series work.
“Early on we learned a parody character would be funny for one joke,” Wells said. “But that doesn’t sustain you. … We started weaving longer character arcs together, and that’s been very satisfying to me to scratch that itch I have from comic books.”
In the season opener, the League ends up trapped in a dystopian future. By the time they escape, their archenemies, Dr. Devizo (Chris Pine) and his Injustice Club, have replaced the League.
It takes a small army of artisans and craftspeople to do the stop-animation. In one small studio, a military command center has been built on a table not much larger than a writing desk. The room will be used in only a few scenes, but the detail from control panels to the images on the wall are too detailed to be seen in one viewing. Then the people, places and things that populate the miniature locations all have to be crafted by hand.
“SuperMansion” art director Frank Duran understands a lot of the details his team puts into each episode will be overlooked. His approach is to concentrate on making the main characters as interesting as possible. Everything else is filler.
“I don’t want to overdo it to take away from the story or the characters,” Duran said.
Modern technology has made the stop-animation process a little easier as various body parts or props can be created through a 3-D printer. But the rest of the process remains labor-intensive as scenes are shot one frame at a time. It takes 12 frames to make a single second of animation.
“This is really the first season where I feel like we settled down and we had everyone in place and they knew what they had to do,” Wells said. “So, this has been a really fun and rewarding season.”
Production on the third season started in early April 2017. It will include a holiday production, “A Prayer for Mr. T: The SuperMansion Thanksgiving Special,” set to debut Nov. 15. The annual Thanksgiving turkey competition between Titanium Rex and Dr. Devizo goes very wrong when Rex’s turkey transforms into a nightmarish bird monster whose eggs hatch freakish bird creatures at an alarming rate.