LeSean Thomas at 2019 Annecy International Animated Film Festival.
|Born||South Bronx, New York City, U.S.|
|Area(s)||Producer, director, writer, artist, animator, storyboard artist, character designer|
The Legend of Korra
Children of Ether
LeSean Thomas (//; born 1975 in South Bronx, New York City) is an American television animation producer, director, animator, comic book artist, writer, character designer, and storyboard artist, based in Tokyo.
His recent, notable projects include the TV series Black Dynamite for Adult Swim, The Legend of Korra for Nickelodeon, Aaron McGruder's The Boondocks for Sony Pictures Television, Children of Ether on Crunchyroll, and the Netflix anime original series Cannon Busters and the upcoming Yasuke.
Thomas' contributions as supervising character designer and co-director on seasons 1 and 2 of Adult Swim's animated series The Boondocks, helped propel the show to be nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Comedy Series and win the honorary Peabody Award.
His early production credits include character designer, layout and key animator on Showtime's web series WhirlGirl, assistant animator for Lizzie McGuire and storyboard artist for various shows such as Kim Possible on Disney Channel, Ben 10: Alien Force for Cartoon Network, The Batman, Batman: The Brave and the Bold and Green Lantern: First Flight, as well as supervising character designer for Superman/Batman: Public Enemies for Warner Bros. Animation.
LeSean landed his first production deal with the late George Jackson's UBO Network, where he created an animated online series called BattleSeed. Thomas wrote, produced and directed the series which was presented at the New York Anime Film Festival in 2000. He produced a BattleSeed original animated trailer which aired in theaters as a promotional trailer for the Sci-Fi Channel. Thomas also provided production development for the action adventure movie UltraViolet.
Thomas is also a comic book artist, with work on such titles as Arkanium, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. His books include sketch bible Nervous Breakdowns: The Art of LeSean Thomas Vol. 1. He has also released the artbook Midnight Marauder: The Art of LeSean Thomas Vol. 2 and currently working on Cannon Busters, a creator-owned graphic novel.
In 2009, Thomas relocated to Seoul, South Korea, at the request of Korean animation studio JM Animation to be hired in-house as part of the animation production staff. He was later hired as in-house storyboard/animation production artist at Studio Mir for work on The Legend of Korra for Nickelodeon. Soon after, Moi Animation studio looked to hire him as a producer and director on several other independent projects, marking him as the first American animator to be hired to work in-house as permanent, independent production staff for animation studios in South Korea. His exploits in the Korean animation industry have been recently recorded and featured in a web-documentary he produced and directed called Seoul Sessions, presented by Creative Control TV, an online TV network that features coverage of talents in music, fashion and the arts. Thomas was also recently invited to speak at the 5th annual TEDx in Incheon, South Korea, where he spoke about his journey and the importance of "Successful Failures". In 2011, Thomas was tapped to work on Black Dynamite for Adult Swim. He served as creative producer and supervising director for Season 1 and supervising director in Season 2.
In November 2014, Thomas successfully crowd-funded an animated TV series pilot called Cannon Busters: The Animated Series, based on his creator-owned comic book of the same name. The project included the talents of Thomas Romain (mecha designer for Space Dandy, co-creator of Basquash!, co-director on Ōban Star-Racers), Joe Madureira (Uncanny X-Men), Tim Yoon (Batman: Under the Red Hood, The Legend of Korra) featuring production by top anime studio Satelight. The project was successfully funded in December 2014, raising over $156,000.00 and was released to limited audiences July 8, 2016. In October, Thomas partnered with Crunchyroll for an exclusive deal to co-produce his original anime creation Children of Ether, released in 300 theaters, July 26 as part of Crunchyroll's Anime Movie Night event. It was released on-platform shortly afterwards.
On August 2, 2017, it was announced that Cannon Busters was acquired by streaming giant Netflix. It is slated to be a 12-episode series and scheduled to be released on March 1, 2019.
On November 8, 2018, Netflix announces Yasuke, an Original Anime series created, directed and executive-produced by Thomas, which is based on the historical African samurai of the same name who served Oda Nobunaga in the late 1500s, featuring Lakeith Stanfield (Atlanta, Sorry to Bother You) as the lead voice of Yasuke, alongside Grammy Award-nominated artist, Flying Lotus, who will produce the music as well as serve as an executive producer. Animation production will be handled by Japanese animation house,MAPPA (studio). Release date TBD.
- Tim McCourt, Sam Taylor (8 November 2016). "The Pegbar and Grill". Soundcloud (Podcast). Soundcloud. Event occurs at 18:50. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
- Seoul Sessions web-docu on Creative Control TV
- Failing your way to success: LeSean Thomas at TEDxSinchon presentation
- Forbes Cannon Busters Review
- Crunchyroll & LeSean Thomas Join Forces for Children of Ether
- Children of Ether Forbes Article
- Netflix Acquires Cannon Busters series for 2018
- Netflix Acquires Cannon Busters, Saint Seya & more, Variety Magazine
- IGN Anime Club: Creating Anime
- Netflix's 'Cannon busters' Adaptation Sets Release Date