UPDATE: As we mentioned last summer, both a feature film and a new TV series based on the UglyDolls line of plush toys have been in development for some time. Well now thanks to Animation Scoop and the Hulu Network we have the first trailer for the UglyDolls animated feature. And as it turns out, the film includes quite a roster of singers and well-known actors giving voices to the characters, including Kelly Clarkson, Blake Shelton, Pitbull, Wanda Sykes, and Gabriel Iglesias. The film is directed by Kelly Asbury (of Shrek 2 and Gnomeo & Juliet).
An unusual new graphic novel from Fantagraphics Books: Penguins by Nick Thorburn. “Told almost entirely without words, Penguins is one of the most playfully original graphic novels in recent memory… relying on visual expression and the physical movement of his penguin characters, as well as the formal properties of sequential drawings (with penguins routinely moving within and without each page’s panel borders), Penguins is a series of interconnected short strips that, without words or human characters, does more to showcase the breadth of emotion we as humans experience than most prose novels.” It’s available now in hardcover from Amazon.
You may recall we told you about Patrick and Jessica Reilly, a pair of U.S. military veterans who work together as a creative team. Well here’s an update: After some successful fundraising through Patreon the first issue their black & white fantasy comic Five Realms has been released. “Join Mehan, Ronin Prince of the Mallow Clan, his best friend Gellaze, and his student Iwain as they uncover the mysteries surrounding a ‘Golden King’ buried deep within a dust-chocked canyon.” The 1st issue is available at their Etsy store and a 2nd is due this winter.
Richard Fairgray is a well-known comic book artist and children’s book illustrator in his native New Zealand. (Interesting fact from his Wikipedia: Richard illustrates and animates his own works, even though he is legally blind.) His best-known work, Blastosaurus, created quite a sensation in his homeland. Now living in Southern California, Richard has re-launched his comic with the help of Paul Eiding and Golden Apple Books. From Previews: “Blastosaurus, a 6-foot-tall, mutant triceratops, aided by Tabitha Jones and Richard Green (the twelve-year-old sidekicks he never asked for) battles monsters, robots, sentient meatballs and whatever other weirdness Freak Out City can throw at him. This action/fantasy all-ages book is big, stupid fun, grounded by a real emotional core and the most human dinosaur you’ll ever meet!” And look, there’s a YouTube preview as well. Blastosaurus is out in comic shops now.
We had not heard of this, but evidently it’s a thing — and now it’s collected all together. “Anouk Ricard’s bold and colorful comics of this quirky, grumpy gang of pals are delightfully weird yet thoroughly realistic in their honest and hilarious portrayal of friendship. Anna, Froga, Christopher the worm, Ron the cat, and Bubu the dog continue their non-adventures with bickering, needling, cajoling, and honest friendship. No white lie goes unexposed, no small embarrassment goes unrevealed, no secret is kept, everyone’s foibles are fodder for jokes. Anna and Froga: Completely Bubu collects all five issues of the acclaimed Anna & Froga series into an accessible paperback.” It’s out now from Drawn & Quarterly.
Monster Mayhem is a new full-color graphic novel written and illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos. “Zoe’s favorite thing to do—besides invent and build robots — is watch classic monster movies. She has never been comfortable with kids her own age, and so she pretends she doesn’t need friends while inside she’s longing for connection. And then one day, Zoe finds a mysterious ring on her way home from school. She puts it on, gives it a twist, and — FRZAAKK! There’s a massive burst of light! The next morning, a familiar monster appears at Zoe’s window. He’s from one of her favorite kaiju movies, and he likes Zoe — he wants to be her friend. Has her secret wish been fulfilled? But it turns out that Zoe’s ring has brought more than just this friendly monster to life. More monsters have arrived, and they are hungry! Now she’ll need to reach out to other people to help her save her town from destruction. Good thing she’s a robotics genius!” Got all that? It’s available now in hardcover from Dial Books.
How on Earth did we not hear about this coming up? Well thanks to The Nerdist we did — and just in time too, as the newly-animated Watership Down is due very soon! “The BBC and Netflix are releasing a new CG-animated version this Christmas, and in order to more accurately portray the book, it’s going to come in two feature-length installments. The cast was already all-star, with James McAvoy as refugee rabbit leader Hazel, Nicholas Hoult as the psychic runt Fiver, John Boyega as the intimidating fighter Bigwig, Olivia Colman as bereaved doe Strawberry (a gender-flip from the book), Ben Kingsley as villain General Woundwort, Tom Wilkinson as doomed elder Threarah, and Taron Egerton as the rabbit Christ-analogue El-ahrairah (meaning “prince with a thousand enemies”). But now, via an official BBC announcement, they’ve revealed even more: Peter Capaldi will play the bunnies’ seagull ally Kehaar, Daniel Kaluuya is warren destruction survivor Bluebell, and Rosamund Pike is the Black Rabbit of Inle, a death/Satan figure and counterpart to the rabbit deity Frith.” All that plus director Noam Murro, the man behind 300: Rise of an Empire. Look for it on Netflix this coming December.
Another monstrous item we somehow missed, but now we found out about it thanks to Antarctic Press — and Bleeding Cool. “Cower at the presence of Gao, colossal kaiju of cuteness! This lovable leviathan spends his days under the sea until visiting aliens convince him to make friends on the surface. Gao thus leaves the ocean depths, only to spread shock and d’awww in his wake. This adorable mountain of menace unleashes destruction with every step…but how can you be mad at a face like that?” GAO! was written and illustrated by Alfred Perez for some time as a mini-comic, but now the folks at Antarctic have brought it to light as a new full-color comic miniseries.
A Furry Fandom favorite moves further into the eye of the mainstream, thanks to AMP! Comics For Kids. Now they bring us the Ozy and Millie Graphic Novel Volume 1 — written and illustrated by Dana Simpson, of course. “From the creator of the enormously popular Phoebe and Her Unicorn series comes Ozy and Millie, a playful comic exploring the friendship between two foxes. Meet Ozy and Millie, two middle-grade students in Seattle who also happen to be foxes. This comic centers around these two best friends as they take on the everyday challenges all middle-graders face-bullies, tests, and the dread of going back to school after a surprise snow day. Ozy is a young male fox whose adoptive father happens to be a dragon and frequent presidential candidate. Ozy’s calm and thoughtful demeanor is constantly tested by Millie’s rambunctious and rebellious pursuits.” Find out more over at Previews. Available now from Andrews McMeel.
Something that slipped by us last summer, but were happy to catch up with it now, thanks to Boom! Studios’ Kaboom! imprint: Ruinworld. “Writer/Artist Derek Laufman (Adventure Time Comics) brings his worldwide hit digital comics series to life at BOOM! Studios. Intrepid adventurers Pogo and Rex are on a quest for fame and fortune. Their discovery of a special map leads them on an epic journey through dangers, demons and old enemies. Just one problem-they’ve already lost the map.” Check out the preview and interviews over at Boom!
So here’s what we just found over at Slash Film: “Variety reports that [Dreamworks Animation] is in final negotiations for the movie rights to Jerry Hawthorne’s board game Mice and Mystics. The role-playing game, which was our No. 1 pick for games that should be adapted to film, follows mice heroes who must race through a vast castle to break the curse of the evil Vanestra, fighting rats, cockroaches, spiders, and the castle cat, Brodie. Its complex, deeply involved story seemed perfect for a big-screen adaptation, and it seems that DreamWorks thinks so too. If talks go through, The Hills Have Eyes and Horns director Alexandre Aja is set to direct a script by Aquaman scribe David Leslie Johnson. Vertigo Entertainment’s Roy Lee and Jon Berg are producing.” Sounds like there is some serious talent behind this project, yes?
The comic largely passed us by this year, but now Dark Horse have a new trade paperback compilation of Angel Catbird — written by none other than Margaret Atwood, creator of The Handmaid’s Tale. “A genetic engineer caught in the middle of a chemical accident all of a sudden finds himself with superhuman abilities. With these new powers, he takes on the identity of Angel Catbird and gets caught in the middle of a war between animal/human hybrids. What follows is a humorous, action-driven, educational, and pulp-inspired superhero adventure–with a lot of cat puns.” Illustrated by Johnie Christmas and Tamra Bonvillain, The Complete Angel Catbird is available now.
A well-known (among fans) but under-discussed pioneer of animation gets more of his due in the new book Walt Disney’s Ultimate Inventor: The Genius of Ub Iwerks. It’s written by Don Iwerks (Ub’s son!), with an introduction by Leonard Maltin. “Beginning with the creation of the Mickey Mouse cartoons, the Walt Disney Studio established an early reputation as being a technical leader in Hollywood. But Walt Disney didn’t do it alone. He frequently relied on the counsel, expertise, ingenuity, and creativity of a kindred spirit, lifelong friend, and fellow virtuoso: Ub Iwerks. Yet Ub and his many technical inventions and techniques are largely unknown by the general public. His illustrious career consisted of dozens of innovative contributions, large and small, to both animated and live-action motion pictures, as well as the fields of optics, film processes, and special effects. He was also the major force behind the design of special cameras, projectors, electronics, and audio for theme park projects-and much more. The high standard set by Walt and Ub continues to inspire artists and technicians within The Walt Disney Company as they explore new avenues of quality entertainment.” In hardcover from Disney Editions, it’s out of print right now but should be available again before the holidays.
Cartoon Brew has a new article up giving a chronological and detailed look at animated features from major studios that are scheduled to hit theaters in 2019. Interestingly, almost all of them have furry content — some more than others of course, but just about all of them have a least a little! Those titles include The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, How To Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World, Wonder Park, Missing Link, Uglydolls, Farmageddon (aka Shaun the Sheep 2), The Secret Life of Pets 2, Toy Story 4, The Lion King (the realistic CGI “live action” remake), Wish Dragon, Angry Birds 2, Abominable, and Frozen 2. (Hey, the first one nabbed itself an Ursa Major Award, don’t forget!)
Some of the most iconic funny animal illustrations in the entire world get the scholarly treatment in The Art of Winnie the Pooh by James Campbell, published by Harper Collins. “Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends have enthralled generations of children and have become some of the world’s most beloved characters. But before their adventures were captured in many millions of books published in nearly fifty languages, they started life in the 1920s as the product of a unique collaboration between author A. A. Milne and illustrator E. H. Shepard. They wove images and text together in a way that was utterly original for the time. It was a process that Shepard relished; he continued to create artwork for new editions until his death in 1976 at the age of ninety-six. This lovingly designed, full-color volume, which includes a foreword from Shepard’s granddaughter, tells the story behind this remarkable partnership, and traces the evolution of Shepard’s work, from his first tentative sketches to the illustrations we know and love, including the characters’ later incarnations by the artists at Walt Disney Studios.” The book is available now in hardcover.
For a perhaps more traditional furry tale from Japan, look no further than Konohana Kitan. A manga series originally created by Sakuya Amano, it was adapted as a 12-episode anime series in 2017. It follows the adventures of Yuzu, a young “fox-youkai” spirit. Now TokyoPop have collected the original manga together in a new English translation. “Yuzu is a brand new employee at Konohanatei, the hot-springs inn that sits on the crossroads between worlds. A simple, clumsy but charmingly earnest girl, Yuzu must now figure out her new life working alongside all the other fox-spirits who run the inn under one cardinal rule — at Konohanatai, every guest is a god! Konohana Kitan follows Yuzu’s day to day life working at the inn, meeting the other employees and ever-eclectic guests, and learning to appreciate the beauty of the world around her.” Yip!
Okay, something different… How about a Disney kitten as a magical kitty? That’s what we get in Miriya & Marie, a new black & white manga from Maya and TokyoPop. “Even though the wealthy young girl Miriya has almost everything she could ever need, what she really wants is to find her missing parents. But this year, she gets an extra special birthday gift when Marie, a magical white kitten, appears and whisks her away to Paris! Learning the art of magic is one thing, but getting to eat the tastiest French pastries and wear the most beautiful fashion takes Miriya and Marie’s journey to a whole new level!” On the shelves now.
And yet more animation heading to MIPCOM, looking for distribution. From Animation World Network: “Ken Faier’s independent production company, Epic Story Media (ESM), has signed major co-production agreements for two new animated series, Dolph-N-Fince and Haley & The Hero Heart, which both make their international debut at MIPCOM.” So let’s talk about the furrier, or rather, finnier of the two… “Dolph-N-Fince is a co-production with Canadian independent Neptoon Studios, headed by award-winning Todd Kauffman and Mark Thornton (Looped, Grojband, Sidekick) and Paris-based Samka Animation (Jamie’s Got Tentacles, The Marsupilami, The Sisters). Aimed at children aged 5-12, Dolph-N-Fince is a ‘fish out of water’ comedy about dolphin brothers who leave the ocean forever to live on land as guardians of Ocean King’s rebellious teenage daughter. The boys’ over-the-top personalities lead to crazy misadventures that always put Coral in the danger zone. If they blow this, their freedom and dolphin souls are on the line.” Shouldn’t that be cetacean out of water…?
Thanks to our friends at Animation Scoop, we found out about three new animated TV series that Dreamworks Animation is producing for Netflix. And guess what? All three of them are anthropomorphic! First up is Archibald’s Next Big Thing, coming in 2019. “Inspired by the critically acclaimed children’s book from Tony Hale, Tony Biaggne, and Victor Huckabee, Archibald’s Next Big Thing follows the adventures of Archibald Strutter, a chicken who ‘yes-ands’ his way thru life. Though living in the moment often leads him astray, Archibald always finds his way back home.” Then in 2020 look for this: “Welcome to Gabby’s Dollhouse, the preschool show with a surprise inside! Created and executive produced by Traci Paige Johnson (Blue’s Clues, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood) and Jennifer Twomey (Blue’s Clues, Team Umizoomi), Gabby’s Dollhouse is a mixed media series that unboxes a surprise before jumping into a fantastical animated world full of adorable cat characters that live inside Gabby’s dollhouse.” And finally in 2020: “All aboard to DreamWorks Rhyme Time Town, where Daisy the Puppy and Cole the Kitten are ready to guide young children through a colorful and adventurous world filled with nursery rhymes and imaginative play.” Stay tooned!
New from Tokyo Pop we have the first full-color comic follow-up to Nightmare Before Christmas — and just in time for Halloween, too. In Zero’s Journey, “When Jack Skellington’s faithful pet Zero gets lost, the ghost pup must get the help of the residents of Christmas Town to find his way back. With Halloween plans on hold while Jack mounts a search, will they be reunited in time to save both holidays?” Written by D.J. Milky, this new series features art by Kei Ishiyama, Kiyoshi Arai, David Hutchison, and Dan Conner. Check it out.