Ernest et Célestine (Ernest & Celestine) is a 2012 children's animated film from Europe about a friendship between a mouse and a bear. It hasn't had a widespread English-language release in North America yet, but when it does, I recommend it. It's charming! (Trailer, with English subtitles.)
The two main characters exist in different worlds, and are both victims of circumstance. Ernest, the bear, is a musician who lives alone in a cabin in the forest outside a large town, an outsider. If not for the cabin, he'd be homeless; he runs out of food during the winter and must resort to busking and begging, and eventually theft, because busking is forbidden and his musical instruments are taken away.
Jojo Gould is a Scottish writer who has only recently come across furry fandom — just in time for him to write a very furry series of books! The first of which happens to be available at Amazon as a Kindle download. “This is he introductory book in the New Bears for the 21st Century series. In a future where humans are no more, bears have evolved as the planet’s master species. The Bear in a Safari Hat is your first humorous pawstep into that new magical world. Starting off in an almost fairy tale style, the story then unfolds as the characters emerge (think somewhere between Winnie-the-Pooh and Planet of the Apes). The Bear in a Safari Hat is the first part in a series of volumes. This is a coming-of-age serial release for young-at-heart adults and intelligent youth alike.”
Andre Norton (Alice Mary Norton, 1912-2005), “the Grand Dame of science-fiction”, was one of the first authors of Young Adult s-f, and of anthro s-f. At a time when most s-f featured teenage or adult human heroes fighting alien adversaries, her novels often starred humans working with sympathetic anthro aliens against human villains, anthro protagonists, or humans transformed into anthro aliens.
Today, Baen Books is reprinting many of her out-of-print s-f titles, two novels in each book. The Iron Breed reprints two of her anthro classics together for the first time: Iron Cage (Viking Press, September 1974; original cover by Bruce Waldman) and Breed to Come (Viking Press, June 1972; original cover by László Gál). If you have not read them before, read them now.
Jerry Beck at Cartoon Scoop has posted on Frank Tashlin’s 1946 children's book The Bear That Wasn’t. In case you are unfamiliar with the famous story, a bear in a forest goes into a cave to hibernate for the winter. He emerges next spring to find that a human factory has been built around him. When a foreman orders him to get to work, and he protests that he is a bear, not a man, everyone tells him, “Don’t be silly! Bears are in the zoo, not in a factory! You are just a silly man in a fur coat who needs a shave!” So he becomes a factory worker, until the next winter when he has to hibernate again.
The moral was not new. It was one of President Abraham Lincoln’s favorite jokes.
“If you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have?”
“Four, because calling a tail a leg don’t make it one.”
Herobear and the Kid was a renowned and award-winning black & white all-ages comic book series created by animator Mike Kunkel back in the 1990′s. It told the story of a lonely young boy who receives a rag-doll white bear as a present from his grandfather. Unbeknownst to our young hero, both his grandfather and that toy bear are very special. Soon enough the bear springs to life as an 8-foot-tall, caped, flying ursine superhero, and as his sidekick “the Kid” our young protagonist is off with his new friend on adventures. Now, Boom! Studios have announced that Mr. Kunkel will be re-launching the Herobear series through their Kaboom! imprint this coming June. Comic Vine has a write-up about it, including a preview of the special “animation cel” variant cover that will be available at some retailers.
“When Hooligan Bear and his nephew Little Louie return home to the bear factory and find it has been closed, they are faced with a problem. It’s a turning point for the little bears and the beginning of many adventures.” That’s the description of Home, the first book in the new series of Hooligan Bear adventures written by Ian Toynton and illustrated by Andrea Dietrich. Hooligan bear and his four friends are a set of plushie bears who must learn about the world around them as they work and play in this series for young readers. This being the modern age, the books are not only available on-line (from Big Tent Books), but Hooligan Bear even has his own Facebook page and his own Twitter feed.
Lex Nakashima & I have started a project to inform YOU of the best untranslated French-language funny-animal adventure cartoon albums. The Blacksad series by Juan Díaz Canales & Juanjo Guarnido has found a good American home at Dark Horse, but there are others that Americans are not being informed of.
Lex & I recently brought you a review of the first two The Saga of Atlas & Axis albums by Jean-Marc Pau. Next up is The Sword of Ardenois by Étienne Willem, to be completed in four albums, the first two of which are now available.
Author/artist Willem has said in interviews that The Sword of Ardenois is his homage to all of the Medieval-setting talking-animal fantasies that have influenced him; notably the medieval Roman de Renard, the Disney 1973 anthropomorphic-animal Robin Hood animated film, and Brian Jacques’ Redwall novels.
Willem’s first volume, Garen, won a BD Gest’ Art 2010 award (in 2011, for the best bande dessinée of the previous year) for the Best Youth Album of 2010.
Boston & NYC, Little, Brown & Co., March 2013 Hardcover $17.99 ([6 +] 285 [+ 7] pages)
Kindle $8.89. Illustrated by Charles Vess.
The age rating on this is “8 and up”. This is one of those “all ages” books like The Wind in the Willows that you will not want to miss just because it may be in the children’s section of your bookshop or public library. Seek it out! It is worth it.
Lillian Kindred is a little girl whose parents are dead and who lives with her Aunt on a farm at the edge of Tanglewood Forest. The book doesn’t say how old she is, so that’s probably not important. What is important is that she’s established as old enough to be allowed by other people to play in the forest alone, and young enough to look for fairies. One of the things that she sees is lots of cats wandering freely – feral cats and farm cats. She does not bother them, but she does put out dishes of fresh milk for them.
One day she falls asleep in the forest, and is bitten by a venomous snake. Vess’ illustration shows a coral snake; the worst kind. Wikipedia says that, “Coral snakes have a powerful neurotoxin that paralyzes the breathing muscles; mechanical or artificial respiration, along with large doses of antivenom, are often required to save a victim's life.” Lillian does not have any of that. She is alone at the foot of a tree, dying.
Well, I must say, I am enraged at the Oscars.
Host Seth MacFarlane promised at one point that the cast of Prometheus, my pick for worst movie of last year, would be up to explain “what the hell was going on there”. I watched the entire telecast, and was disappointed to find out that MacFarlane may have in fact have been joking. I was hoping they would just break down after attempting to explain it and start apologizing. No such luck.
I guess some other stuff happened too. Should probably write about that.
This “novel” collects Dickson’s three light space-opera adventures about humans, the bearlike Dilbians, and the jovial-but-sinister Hemnoids: Spacial Delivery, first published as a novel by Ace Books, November 1961, 123 pgs.; Spacepaw, first published as a novel by G. P. Putnam’s Sons, February 1969, 222 pgs.; and “The Law-Twister Shorty”, a novelette in The Many Worlds of Science Fiction, edited by Ben Bova (E. P. Dutton, November 1971, pp. 51-105).
Planet Dilbia is in a crucial location for both humans and their adversaries, the Hemnoids. Therefore making friends with the Dilbians and establishing a human presence there is of the utmost importance, which may be a problem, since the bearlike Dilbians stand some nine feet tall, and have a high regard for physical prowess. They're not impressed by human technology, either. A real man, er, bear doesn't need machines to do his work for him. But Dilbians are impressed by sharp thinking, and some have expressed a grudging admiration for the logical (and usually sneaky) mental maneuvers that the human "shorties" have used to get themselves out of desperate jams. Just maybe that old human craftiness will win over the Dilbians to the human side. If not, we lose a nexus, and the Dilbians will learn just how unbearable Hemnoids can be.... (back-cover blurb)
Riverdale, NY, Baen Books, December 2000, 431 pages, 0-671-31959-0, $6.99
The Cartoon Brew has a preview list of animated features due out in 2013; at least those announced so far – some with trailers.
Humorous science fiction is all too rare. One of the most successful humorous series is/are the Hoka stories of Poul Anderson & Gordon R. Dickson. They began in the short-lived Other Worlds Science Stories in May 1951, moved to Universe Science Fiction after Other Worlds ceased publication, then to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction when Universe bit the dust.
By 1957 there were almost enough Hoka stories to fill a book. Anderson & Dickson added one original story and a short “Interlude” after each to tie them together into a novel, and Earthman’s Burden was the result.
The 1950s were the postwar era with the Marshall Plan and the sparklingly new United Nations, when idealistic America was trying to pull the whole world up to Western levels of prosperity and democracy. The Hoka stories carried these ideals into space.
It looks as if we’re finally getting some motion on the long-in-development film Ernest & Celestine. This 2D animated feature from France tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a middle-aged bear and a young mouse, and how they learn to realize their dreams and overcome bigotry by working together. Based on a series of books by Daniel Pennac, the film version is directed by Benjamin Renner (A Mouse’s Tale), Stephane Aubier, and Vincent Patar (A Town Called Panic), and produced by Studio Canal. There’s a trailer up on YouTube, and according to Animation Magazine, it’s likely to come to North American shores in the fall of 2013.
Shirokuma Cafe literally translates from Japanese as Polar Bear Cafe. It’s a manga series created by Aloha Higa, following the story of a little coffee house in Japan — run by a polar bear, and frequented by any number of zoo animals. The three main characters are Polar Bear, lazy young Panda, and lovesick Penguin. (Most of the animal characters in the series are simply naked after their species.) The manga has been running since 2008, but just this year a new anime series based on it came to TV thanks to Studio Pierrot. You can find out more at Anime News Network, or check out an actual episode at Crunchyroll.
The Californian startup's foam ear fittings come in bear, fox and rabbit forms, while the faux-fur sleeves come in a variety of colours – including a limited-edition "pika" variety for those willing to throw in an extra $10.