As I mentioned in an earlier entry the main influence for the Camelot 2050 series (besides the Romanticised Legends of Arthur) takes the form of Saturday Morning Cartoons from the mid to late 1980’s. Central to this influence are the properties He-Man, She-Ra and Brave Starr by Mattel and the ThunderCats (owned by Warner Bros and animated by the Pacific Animation Corporation). These are the foundation blocks of my (and I suspect many other peoples) childhood and essentially the standard by which I would measure shows for years afterwards.
I think, perhaps it was the symmetry between the settings that appealed to me. Arthur was a hero who gathered together a group of like minded, courageous individuals to do good for the people of Briton (at least, in the legends he was) and each of the properties above has that in common, you can equally throw Transformers by Hasbro into that mix. Characters like She-Ra, Lion-O and Optimus Prime fit very well into the Arthur role even reflecting various stages of his growth and development as a leader. Lion-O is the young Arthur, he’s still learning and is frequently aided by Jaga the Wise (a Merlin-esque mentor figure) who helps him fulfil his potential. Optimus Prime is the fully realised Arthur who leads with courage, compassion and wisdom, the one whom all others look to when the situation seems unwinnable.
While She-Ra, He-Man and ThunderCats all existed in heavily Fantasy oriented settings (with a heavy injection of technology to sell those expensive vehicle toys) where monsters and magic could largely overcome those machines that did feature Brave Starr took a technology heavy setting (influenced as it was by the Wild West and the Gold Rush) and injected mysticism into it. Essentially flipping the established formulae. I remember Brave Starr very fondly, at the time I was heavily into Westerns and Science Fiction and this series appealed to both. I remember my favourite character was 30-30, the cybernetic horse and Brave Starr’s most loyal companion (another show, The Galaxy Rangers would occasionally feature robotic horses but not, as far as I remember, as fully developed characters in their own right). So Brave Starr opened my eyes to genre-mashing.
Aimed (as they where) at children these shows, especially the Mattel properties, carried strong themes about morality, they featured life-lessons at the end of each show and, in many cases if you go back and re-watch a few episodes, these lessons seem incredibly progressive for the time so, in writing Camelot 2050 I’ve tried to encompass that sense of ‘becoming the best you’ in some of my characters. That sense of growing into their responsibilities and, as the series progresses, earning the privilege of their station is an important part of the narrative (and a commentary upon my feelings surrounding many figures in the political/economic world we live in).
Camelot 2050 is written for those of you who remember getting up early on a Saturday to go and watch those cartoons. It hopes to bring back that sense of joy and ‘wow, cool!’ but with a firm nod to your, by now, adult sensibilities. The sentiment informs the imagery and, even though a robotic horse does seem an impractical mode of transport in an era of tanks and machine-guns it’s the enduring image of the Knight and what they stand for and that is what’s important in the world that has been created for you.
2 thoughts on “Influences, where does Camelot 2050 come from?”
Lion-O is even more the “Young Arthur” type figure in the 2011 reboot, if I remember right. Never really saw it before, but I think you hit the nail on the head there.