StudioMDHR's Cuphead made an impression when it was shown during Microsoft's E3 press conference last year. When we hear the word "retro" used to describe a game's art style, many of us think of 8- or 16-bit sprites. Cuphead takes inspiration from material that's significantly older – cartoons from the '20s and '30s. I spoke with the indie studio's co-founders, Chad and Jared Moldenhauer, for a six-page feature that appears in the latest issue of Game Informer. There, the brothers speak about the intense process that goes into creating every hand-drawn frame of animation. Today, Chad was generous enough to share several pages from his sketchbook. They provide a glimpse at false starts, various oddities, and a few of the first designs that would lead to Cuphead himself.

You might spy a few familiar faces in the first page of Chad's sketches. "Ryu from Ninja Gaiden, Mario and a Ninja Turtle make cameos," he says."The last drawing on this page is based off of one of the earliest sketches I created for the game (before it was Cuphead)."

There's also a character who bears more than a passing resemblance to Dragon's Lair's hero, Dirk the Daring. And while it seems Chad was zeroing in on the body profile that would make it into the game, he clearly wasn't afraid to experiment. For instance, there's the head with a unicycle body and a skinny little guy without arms.