Tom Hanks has earned an impressive collection of awards and honors for his work in television and film — both on and behind the camera — but his latest venture is completely new territory for the 54-year-old. 

Starting early next year, Hanks and his producing partner, Gary Goetzman, plan on introducing the new animated series “Electric City” to the web. It will be produced through their Playtone production company as a joint venture with Reliance Big Entertainment, a major media company in India. 

In an interview with The New York Times, Hanks says that he had a vision for the series several years ago imagining it as “a very gripping, almost film-noir, very serious look at a future that was not a dysfunctional dystopia that an awful lot of the future things are.”

"Electric City" will be shown online in 20 three-minute installments, and as part of the upbeat vision, will focus on socially conscious themes like energy consumption and the freedom of information.

In terms of energy, I have a pretty good idea of where Hanks was inspired in at least one area. 

Since becoming an owner of an all-electric Toytoa RAV4 back in 2003, the actor has embraced electric cars as the future of transportation. In 2007, he was the first customer to walk away with a newly converted gas-to-electric ScionXB from AC Propulsion. "I can drive all weekend, hauling dogs and helping my friends move, and the only reason I’ll need to stop at a gas station is for beef jerky and lottery tickets,” he said in an interview in 2008.

No doubt, with "electric" in the title, Hanks will show a future where gasoline engines are minor players when it comes to transportation. He's also hopeful that the franchise could extend its reach into graphic novels or an online role-playing game, among other properties.

Look for it online in early 2011.

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

Tom Hanks to release animated web series
Actor's new “Electric City” shorts to focus on socially conscious themes.