After the departure of Thomas Romain, the creation of project Code Lyoko started. Tania Palumbo became the artistic director. It was at this moment that two key documents of the cartoon were developed.
The first is the Graphic Bible: a book that sets out each character's outfits, the appearances of monsters, set designs...in short, the entire graphic universe of the series. After a titanic searching job, CodeLyoko.fr succeeded in obtaining a copy of this Bible. So you can now find it here:
The second element was developed in consultation with the director, the season 1 writing director and Tania. Two major figures in the Code Lyoko licence then emerged: Jérôme Mouscadet, director of all four seasons. And Sophie Decroisette, writing director for the first three.
This second element is the series Literary Bible. This Bible summarises the whole story and concept of the series. It doesn't go into the details of each season. However, it defines the relationships between the characters, described each one's personal history (friends, family, elements in their past, age...) and the general concept of the story: how Lyoko works, what year it takes place, etc...
Nevertheless, these two documents were very fragmented. Indeed, at the time, Code Lyoko hadn't revealed its potential and was just another cartoon among all the others produced by Moonscoop. There therefore basically was no reason to develop so far.
Once these two guideline documents were developed, the writing of season 1 was launched. Scripts were written between the 16th of January and the 8th of July 2002. The first 26 episodes then went into the creation stage. The series was then completed.
3 September 2003.
Code Lyoko arrived on French screens, marking the birthday of our cartoon. The series arrived on France 3. It was broadcast until the 25th of February 2004.
During the following months, the series arrived in the United States, broadcast Cartoon Network on the 19th of April 2004, and arrived on Canal J back in France in September of the same year: the franchise had launched successfully.
Season 2, creation of the backstory & birth of the community
Moonscoop realised this long before the arrival of Code Lyoko on Canal J. Discussions then begun for season 2...and the very least we can say is that everything went quickly. On the 7th of October 2004, the first scripts from season 2 had already emerged...
Before getting there, two key steps.
The first: the writers of Code Lyoko were very interested in the opinions of fans of the series. Thus, during the broadcast of season 1, they went on the Catsuka.com forum, where a discussion about the cartoon was born. Under the guise of pseudonyms that hid nothing about their identity, they took part in discussions with fans. From there, they talked about the cartoon: its faults, its good qualities...and especially what the fans would like to get answers about later, mainly on the concept.
The second step was crucial.
Code Lyoko was no longer just a cartoon, but a franchise with potential success. Rather than a repetitive season (like season 1 was), season 2 revolved around a scenario. Sophie Decroisette and Jérôme Mouscadet then changed the Literary Bible we talked about before. They created the entire series background. To put it simply: they invented the origin of Lyoko... The story of Franz Hopper, the creation of the Supercomputer and Lyoko, XANA's revolt. Everything was created at that time. The Literary Bible wouldn't change again until the end of season 4.
The final step: the 3D-CGI was redesigned to boost the series.
The heroes' outfits changed slightly in season 2 (appearance of Yumi's second fan)... New monsters, new places appeared...and especially, Lyoko changed in appearance, becoming brighter, the Forest Sector especially being highly modified.
And the writing of season 2 commenced...
The episodes were written between the 7th of October 2004 and 17th of April 2005...
The series only had a small fanbase, scattered over several fansites and blogs... Let's note this little date: 27th of July 2004, CodeLyoko.fr was born.
As the series became a success, season 2 was the subject of a modest advertising campaign. You can find all the information available to fans in the file CodeLyoko.fr concocted at the time.
But there was something more salivation-worthy... This trailer drew many new fans to the series cause... (Notably Shaka, who arrived on CodeLyoko.fr after seeing it... That's worth mentioning, right?)
And the starting signal was fired. Season 2 aired on France 3 from the 31st of August 2005, at a rate of one episode every Wednesday morning. The run lasted until the 8th of February 2006. The USA had also jumped on board and season 2 arrived on Cartoon Network on the 19th of September 2005, less than a month after the start of the French run. Trade agreements made Canal J only able to begin broadcasting after France 3's run had ended. The episodes arrived on the children's channel on the 15th of April 2006.
On the community side, on the 1st of September 2005, V4 of CodeLyoko.fr opened its doors: the site became an essential reference on the show.
Birth of a titan
The work done on season 2 was already unusual for a simple children's series. But though season 2 was just supposed to be a continuation of season 1, it became the narrative arc that would launch Code Lyoko. Its success would boom...to such an extent that even before the French broadcast was completed, the existence of a continuation was already guaranteed!
The franchise found huge financial partners in France 3, Canal J and Cartoon Network. The phenomenal audience figures of the series on these channels attracted funding... Season 2 hadn't even finished airing and two new seasons had already been ordered...a total of 45 episodes.
The licence took off.
Related products began to emerge. The flagship products so far are a series of children's books published by Hachette in the Bibliothèque Verte collection. The books retold the story of the episodes. The first volume came out on the 5th of October 2005. There were no less than 12 volumes by December 2009!
Simultaneously in October 2005, a Panini sticker album was published.
Other products were commercialised, but rather clumsily. Especially DVDs of seasons 1 and 2...that didn't cover all the episodes. And it wasn't until 2011 that all four seasons were released in English. You can find the release dates on the DVDs page.
Code Lyoko, after an engaging start on France 3 and Cartoon Network, revealed its potential with season 2, mainly through Canal J and Cartoon Network. The success of the series quickly brought more related products and two new seasons.