For many of us 90’s kids, the cartoon characters of our youth probably feel like ancient relics of the past. Ask a Zoomer if they know the words to The Wild Thornberrys opening theme, or if they’ve seen a Simpsons “Treehouse of Horror” episode, and you’ll likely garner a blank stare.
3D artist Filip Hodas of Prague has visualized that feeling in eerie fashion with his latest series “Cartoon Fossils part II.” Aptly named, Hodas has created fossilized renderings of beloved cartoon characters of the past, including the Simpsons Maggie with a tattered blue bow on her spiked bone hair, and the unmistakable football-shaped skull of Arnold from Nickelodeon’s Hey Arnold!
Each fossil rendering is presented on a museum pedestal with a plaque, accompanied by a Latin-translated title and a superscript description—Maggie is dubbed “Homunculus Maggus,” and Arnold is “Homo Arnus.”
This is the second installment in Hodas’ series, with the first released in 2020 depicting the skulls of such icons as Goofy (“Canis Goofus”), Spongebob (“Spongia Bobæ”), Popeye (“Homo Popoculis”), and even the dame herself, Minnie Mouse (“Mus Minnius”).
Both sets of characters are meticulously crafted, with extreme, detailed textures that are arrestingly hyperrealistic. While I appreciate the artistry, I can’t say I’m a fan of being forced to reckon with my own mortality.
Hodas himself describes the series as “imagining the remains of my childhood heroes,” all while helping him better his technical skills in Cinema 4D, Zbrush, Octane Render, 3D Coat, Substance Painter, Substance Designer, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe Illustrator.
“To make it more cartoony, I decided to contrast the realistic look of the skull with colorful flat backgrounds,” Hodas explains in his description of the project. These bright colors add to the spookiness of the finished project, supplying a haunting cheerfulness that feels off-kilter when juxtaposed with the decaying bones of the cartoon characters we always thought defied natural processes like aging and death.
In a world that keeps on moving and changing, this constant, unflinching state of cartoon characters is one of the likely reasons we find comfort in them. So to see this paradigm shift presented so realistically is unnerving, to say the least. As if aging isn’t hard enough, now we’re being confronted by the bones of our childhood besties?
Hats off, Hodas, but at the same time, how dare you!