And another furry Kickstarter campaign of note: Fox Hollow Tales is the creation of Jennifer Carson (writer, designer) and Pat Ann Lewis (illustrator). It’s a series of full-color illustrated books for young readers, featuring the adventures of a multi-species cast of characters in late 19th Century New England. The first book in the series, Wojer and the Wizard of the Wood, is nearing completion — and the creators are seeking crowdfunding to get it there, as well as to get started on the second book in the series, Wojer and the Black Knight. Visit their Kickstarter page to find out more, and to see a video trailer for the series.
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.
For this set of reviews, I didn’t deviate much from last month; I just swapped out one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Secret History of the Foot Clan issues for a plain old issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #4
If you were to chart the highs and lows of this first arc of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, the trajectory would look like a single beat of a normal heart on one of those heart monitors. Issue #1 would be right down the middle, nothing too special, nothing too bad, then issue #2 spiking to grand heights of funny animal comics, before an equal spike in the opposite direction following issue #3’s needlessly dark depths. Finally, this issue comes and, well, it’s nothing too special, nor too bad.
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.
Chivalry and Knavery is an on-line black & white comic strip created, written, and drawn by P. T. Cooper. Now in its eighth year, this comedic sword & sorcery adventure strip is rated as a Reader Favorite on Belfry.com. It’s also made it up to #53 in the rankings at thewebcomiclist.com. Join Kira the fox wizard, Sir Toby the lion paladin, and Ulf the human barbarian in their many battles — both mundane and fantastic. Visit www.chivalryandknavery.com to see the latest installment. There you’ll also find information about P. T. Cooper’s two published novels (Rin Tin Tin and the Lost King and The King of the Cats), as well as a gallery of the strip’s characters drawn by guest artists.
Watts Martin introduced his mixed human and anthropomorphic animal world of Ranea in the serial “A Gift of Fire, A Gift of Blood” in Yarf! #5-#8, July-November 1990. Several other stories followed, and Ranea became one of the most popular fictional worlds in Furry fandom. But Ranea seldom appeared outside of Yarf!, and that magazine has been gone for ten years now.
Fortunately, Martin has recently resumed writing stories set in Ranea. Indigo Rain, a 97-page novella (the sixth of FurPlanet’s novella-length “Cupcakes”), is a fine example and one that expands the reader’s picture of Ranea a little more.
Indigo Rain is a work of anthropomorphic fiction for adult readers only. (publisher’s advisory)
Divisions is set in Kyell Gold’s Forester universe (Waterways, Green Fairy, Winter Games, etc.), and is the third in the series featuring the tiger Devlin Miski and the fox Wiley Farrel (Out of Position, 2009, and Isolation Play, 2011). The series is narrated in the first person by both Dev and Lee in mostly alternating chapters.
Each novel documents a year in their life. In Out of Position, 2006, the two seniors at Forester U. meet, become secret lovers, and at the conclusion Dev, on Forester’s football team, becomes the first “out of the closet” football player. Isolation Play, 2007, starts immediately after Out of Position and deals with the aftermath of Dev’s and Lee’s revelation: Dev’s hostile teammates, shocked parents of both, a reporter determined to use them in a sensationalistic story, and facing life after graduation.
Now in Divisions, 2008, Dev and Lee pursue equally their professional careers, their personal lives, and the results of their open homosexuality.
Divisions is a romance novel intended for an adult audience only and contains some explicit sexual scenes of a primarily Male/Male nature. It is not for sale to persons under the age of 18. (publisher’s advisory)
The titular Delura is the name of the galaxy in which the series takes place. The story includes many alien races resembling anthropomorphic animals, including vulpine and lupine beings. It centres on a felinoid mineship operator who finds himself with damaged memories in a strange medical ward, and reluctantly begins his new life whilst knowing nothing of who he was, is, or will be.
Ryan and Taben have started a Kickstarter campaign to fund Delura's 2013 season. A $6,500 goal has been set, to go towards providing more animations and webcomic content, and to upgrade hardware and software so as to improve the quality of the graphics.
This issue, IDW sweeps the board, with My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #3 and the first two installments of the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mini-series, “The Secret History of the Foot Clan,” which tells the secret history of the Foot Clan. Turns out they were a parody of Marvel’s Hand ninjas all along!
The A cover for this issue of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic looks like a really, really rejected Marvel Secret Invastion crossover cover from a few years back. At least it gives you some kind of warning; heaven help you if you got the B cover, featuring Twilight Sparkle and Pinkie Pie happily ice skating. I may have juxtaposed Hack/Slash with this series last time, but I’m just kidding around. Apparently some like their ponies like their coffee; black and bitter.
It is mostly forgotten today, but when The Singing Tree was published in England in the mid-Eighties, especially in its American paperback edition as The White Fox, early Furry fans told each other, “You’ve got to read this!” When the first Furry specialty publishers emerged at the end of the 1990s, some of the novel’s diehard fans urged that they try to bring out a new edition of The White Fox.
This was not bad for a novel that was unknown in most American public libraries and was only briefly available from an obscure American paperback publisher.
“The Singing Tree”, by Brian Parvin. Illustrated. London, Robert Hale, Ltd., March 1985, 185 pages, £8.95; ISBN: 0-7090-2159-3.
“The White Fox”, by Brian Parvin. Illustrated. Los Angeles, Medallion Books, July 1986, 238 pages, $3.50; ISBN: 1-55627-012-7.
The ABCs of Death is a horror anthology film which premiered at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival. Released as Video-on-Demand on January 31, it will screen in theatres from March 8 in the U.S.
The film is comprised of twenty-six different shorts – all themed around death – one for each letter of the alphabet. Spanning A is for Apocalypse to Z is for Zetsumetsu, each short has its own director and style.
H is for Hydro-Electric Diffusion (by Thomas Cappelen Malling) features two anthropomorphic animal characters. A World War 2 British fighter pilot depicted as a jowly British Bulldog is shown watching a striptease performed by a sultry red fox who is concealing a deadly secret.
A short clip of the anthro characters can be found here - viewer discretion is advised.
We’ve mentioned the anime and manga known as Kanokon before around here. If you need a refresher: “Innocent country boy Oyamada Kouta transfers to a big city high school in his freshman year, and from day one, his life enters a world of crazy . First, a beautiful second-year student named Chizuru professes her love to him, then reveals that she is in fact a fox spirit. Frisky and flirty, she suggestively teases naive Kouta in front of his classmates, embarrassing him to no end. If that wasn’t enough, a gorgeous wolf spirit named Nozomu suddenly transfers to Kouta’s class and decides she wants the hapless country boy for herself. As fox girl and wolf girl vie for his heart, does Kouta have any say in this?” Now comes the news that Seven Seas Entertainment will release the first Kanokon Collected Omnibus (Volumes 1 and 2) this April, written by Katsumi Nishino and illustrated in black & white by Rin Yamaki. You can pre-order it at the Sci Fi Genre web site.
This nature novella about forest life, particularly of a young vixen, in Central Europe around the early 1900s, is barely anthropomorphic. But it is the inspiration for Leoš Janáček’s popular 1924 opera of the same title, in which the forest animals are anthropomorphized and sing a lot, so it is worth reviewing here.
In fact, this book – the only printing that the story has had in English – would not exist if not for the opportunity to publish the 1981 new costume designs for the opera by the popular children’s book author/illustrator Maurice Sendak. It has detailed full-color illustrations every few pages. Actually, The Cunning Little Vixen is the popular English title of Janáček’s opera; the title of Těsnohlídek’s novella would be Sharp-Ears the Vixen.
NYC, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, April 1985, 185 [+2] pages, 0-374-13346-8, $19.95. Pictures by Maurice Sendak. Translated by Tatiana Firkusny, Maritza Morgan, & Robert T. Jones. Afterword by Robert T. Jones.
Pixar story artist Jeff Pidgeon (Toy Story, etc.) is a toy fanatic. Not just a collector – he designs his own. After designing and manufacturing Happy Beaver and Trickster Fox, he has decided to open an online store to sell them and others that he will create. They will also be available at “select boutiques”.
Wired has an extensive interview with Pidgeon and twelve closeup illustrations of his characters from their clay models through their finished forms.