Powell River has found itself animated in the fourth and final season of Infinity Train on Cartoon Network. The show is an animated action/adventure series for children. The final season was released in April of 2021 and features recognizable Powell River landmarks.
Ryan Pequin, who is originally from Powell River, worked on the show for the first two seasons with his friend and the show’s creator Owen Dennis. Pequin has been living in Los Angeles for the past six years.
“I lived [in Powell River] until I was 21 and then I went to UVIC for awhile; I lived in Vancouver for a long time and went to school for design and illustration,” said Pequin. “I got a job as a storyboard artist in LA for Cartoon Network and moved down in 2014. I’ve been in LA since and at Cartoon Network the entire time.”
A storyboard is basically a comic book version of the show before it gets sent to Korea to get animated. Pequin was involved with drawing the outline of the action of the show, which, on Infinity Train, is based off of scripts.
“If it’s my job to show somebody picking up a ball, I’m drawing a pose of a man standing in front of a ball, then a pose of him bent down picking up the ball and then another pose of him standing up again,” explained Pequin. “So that’s three poses of him; then we send that over to the animators and they would draw the hundreds of drawings in-between all those poses to flesh out everything else that happens.”
Infinity Train is a show about an interdimensional train where every car contains a different universe within it. Passengers board the train, are given a glowing number on their hands, and then must work through their personal traumas and histories to make the number get to zero so they can go home.
“If high school me at Brooks [Secondary School] knew what I was going to do as a grownup, I think I’d be pretty happy with it,” added Pequin. “Art class was the one thing I cared about back then.”
Dennis said they decided in the final season they wanted to have some Canadian characters and needed a small hometown. That’s when he approached Pequin about growing up in Powell River.
“It was a lot of fun; there are only a few glaring inaccuracies I can think of,” said Dennis. “First, we turned it into a fictional city by calling it Powell Lake, mostly because we had to add a train station for our plot.
“Another is that we had a map of Canada shown and it has Nunavut in it, which we didn’t realize was added in 1999; Ryan is 100 per cent to blame for that,” added Dennis, laughing.
The fourth season is set in the mid-1980s.
“We also tried to make sure we got the language right, though I’m sure we missed a few things,” said Dennis. “I remember when Ryan once called my hat a toque and I was like, ‘What’s a toque?’ because in the US we call them beanies, which is an equally silly name.”
Pequin had to ask his dad for clarifications on a few things. They needed to know what Marine Avenue was like 35 years ago and what the old Max Cameron Secondary School looked like because they could only find one online picture.
“There’s also a point where they’re running through town in the middle of the night, so we used Google Street View to reference what the buildings in town look like, how the houses are placed on their lots, the kinds of siding and style of houses, what kinds of sidewalks you guys have, the foliage, things like that,” said Dennis. “It’s kind of funny though, spending all that time talking about Powell River and spending so much time travelling around it on Google Maps makes me feel very attached to the city. It seems like a place I’d really like to visit someday.”
Dennis said Powell River reminds him a lot of his hometown in Lake Elmo, Minnesota.
“Minnesota and Canada share some cultural touchstones, so I’d love to make it up there some day and visit,” he added. “It looks beautiful.”
Pequin still has family in Powell River and tries to make it home for every major holiday. Moving to Los Angeles was a bit of an adjustment, moving from the coast to the desert.
“BC is one of the most beautiful places on the planet; I definitely miss it,” said Pequin. “Powell River itself is gorgeous; I think about driving down Alberni Street and looking down at the ocean. I have a place to come back to, which is wonderful.”
Infinity Train will also be airing on Teletoon and HBO Max.