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The Fight for Fleadom

(Say that three times fast we dare ya!) Author Lewis Goldstein is known for creating stories that are religious parables told with a particular wit. Now in his second book, he tells the story of one Finnegan T. Flea in a graphic novel called Of Fleas and Fleadom: A Tale of Two Vermin, illustrated by Arianna Grinager. Finnegan is an ordinary flea, trapped under the thumb (literally) of a brutish flea-circus owner and forced to witness some of humanity at their worst.  He longs to break out and experience his true “fleadom”, and Mr. Goldstein’s adventurous poem shows how the flea tries to do precisely that. Find out more at the official web site of Baable-On Books, the publisher. By the way: This (very) graphic novel is not meant for young readers!

image c. 2015 Baable-On Books

image c. 2015 Baable-On Books

Review: 'The Bees', by Laline Paull

Your rating: None Average: 3 (1 vote)

The BeesThe man stared through the trees, not listening.

"There – thought for a moment it had vanished."

An old wooden beehive stood camouflaged against the trees. The woman drew back.

"I won’t come any closer," she said. "I’m a bit funny about insects." (p. 1)

The reader knows from the beginning that the orchard hive is on an old, out-of-business farm being sold, to be demolished so its land can be added to a light-industrial complex. But the bees in the old wooden beehive don’t know it.

Bees are controlled so much by instinct that it is very difficult to realistically anthropomorphize them. But it has been done, in A Hive for the Honeybee by Soinbhe Lally (original Irish edition, February 1996; U.S. edition, March 1999), and the award-winning 1998-1999 five-issue comic book Clan Apis by Dr. Jay Hosler, a neurobiologist specializing in the study of honeybees, collected into a 158-page graphic novel in January 2000. And now there is Laline Paull’s complex dystopian The Bees.

Front., bee illustrations from Meyers Konversations-Lexikon 1897, NYC, HarperCollinsPress/Ecco, May 2014, hardcover $25.99 (340 pages), Kindle $12.74.

Join the Colony

Making its premier at WonderCon this year (in Anaheim, California, of course!) was Termites, a new animated film concept by Matthew G. Hill, Barrett Kime, Tighe Damron, Melanie Makaiwi, and Tom Wentworth. The crew have started up a Kickstarter campaign to finance their project. Simply put: What would happen if a colony of termites in a fancy home got wind (sorry, sorry…) that the house is about to be fumigated? “Through the eyes of young Termite hero, Larkin, we dive into both the fascinating narrative world (4 arms, anybody?), the exquisite landscape of artistic possibility, and the raw emotion of a tragic, yet inspiring story”. The campaign is running on Kickstarter until May 17th.

image c. 2014 The Colony

image c. 2014 The Colony

Review: 'Remedy', 'Ravel', and 'Render', by Heidi C. Vlach

Your rating: None Average: 3 (1 vote)

This story takes place on another world, among people who are not humans. The three peoplekinds live together in varied mixtures, with no history of war or racial strife. They work together and still have troubles to face.

All three books have this preface. The three peoplekinds are the tall dragonlike korvi (they are called dragons because of the similarity, though they have feathers instead of scales), the small weasel-like ferrin (they can ride on their korvi friends’ shoulders), and the green-skinned insect/humanlike aemet (with prominent antennae) who have the talent of making plants grow. Further descriptions are brought out in the stories.

“Remedy: A Story of Aligare”. North Charleston, SC, CreateSpace, February 2011
Trade paperback $13.00 (5 + 439 pages), Kindle $2.99.

“Ravel: A Story of Aligare”. North Charleston, SC, CreateSpace, December 2011
Trade paperback $4.00 (91 pages), Kindle 99¢.

“Render: A Story of Aligare”. North Charleston, SC, CreateSpace, May 2013
Trade paperback $13.00 (703 pages), Kindle $2.99.

Indie Animation Looking for Help

Jerry Beck’s Animation Scoop has an interesting article about a pair of independent animation projects in the works — both of which just happen to be very furry. First up is Ghost of a Tale, a new video game designed by Lionel “Seith” Gallat. Lionel has worked as a supervising animator at Dreamworks on movies like The Prince Of Egypt, The Road to Eldorado, Spirit, Sinbad, SharkTale, and others. More recently he’s been a director for Illumination on films like Despicable Me and The Lorax. Ghost of a Tale follows the adventures of a medieval mouse battling rat zombies on a mysterious island. In a very different vein is Dogonauts by Shel and Justin Rasch. “Mortal enemies, a Dogonaut Pilot and a Space Flea, shoot each other down only to awake, marooned side by side on an alien desert planet.” Justin is a stop-motion animator known for films like Paranorman. He and his wife Shel completed Dogonauts in their garage, all the while both of them working full-time jobs. Both of these projects are seeking crowdfunding help to move from their current levels of production up to the next, and hopefully get them out into the world. The Scoop article features trailers as well as the official pitches for each of these projects. Check ‘em out.

Review: 'A Monster in Paris'

Your rating: None Average: 4.7 (3 votes)

A Monster in ParisRecently released on DVD in North America, A Monster in Paris (trailer) is a CGI-animated kids' film that originally came out in France in October 2011 as Un monstre à Paris.

Taking place during the Parisian flood of 1910, the two main characters are Emile, a shy film projectionist and amateur cinematographer, and his friend Raoul, a tinkerer who likes to invent gadgets and operates a delivery service out of the back of his truck. During a late-night delivery to an absent scientist's laboratory, Raoul plays with chemicals, unaware that his tampering accidentally creates a giant flea with a beautiful singing voice.

The "monster" is quickly targeted by Maynot, the Commissioner of police, who becomes obsessed with capturing and killing it as part of his campaign to become mayor. He's also taken an interest in a cabaret singer named Lucille, who disguises and hides the flea after recognizing its musical talents.

Raoul is an old friend/enemy of Lucille's, and soon he and Emile are in on her secret, trying to find a way to protect the flea from the Commissioner.

Video: 'Meet Thomas: Creator of an Alternate Universe'

Your rating: None Average: 5 (3 votes)

Can a district manager capture inspiration sparked by a train ride – with assistance from a four-figure piece of consumer hardware? [Coyoty]

See more: Background on the creation of the Rabbit, Toad and Bird

Samurai Secrets of the Animals

We think it best to let the publisher, Shambhala, explain this one themselves: “The Demon’s Sermon on the Martial Arts is a classic collection of martial arts parables, written by Issai Chozanshi, an 18th-century samurai. The stories, which feature demons, insects, birds, cats, and numerous other creatures, may seem whimsical, but they contain essential teachings that offer insight into the fundamental principles of the martial arts. This manga version, based on Chozanshi’s text, brings these tales alive in a captivating and immediately accessible way.” It’s translated by Sean Michael Wilson, illustrated in full color by Michiru Morikawa, and coming this March in paperback from Shambhala. Amazon has more information.


image c. 2013 Shambhala

Rare TV screening of uncut 'Mr. Bug Goes to Town' this Sunday on TCM

Your rating: None Average: 4.3 (3 votes)

Mr. Bug Goes to TownIt’s been announced since August 3, but it just occurred to me that it hasn’t been announced on Flayrah yet. This coming Sunday, October 21, from 8:00 p.m. (EST) in the evening until 5:00 a.m. the next morning, Turner Classic Movies will feature “Rare Animation” including three features and eighteen shorts, hosted by TCM’s Robert Osborne and the Cartoon Brew’s Jerry Beck.

The three features will be the Fleischer Studios’ Gulliver Travels (1939) at 8:00 pm., Mr. Bug Goes to Town (1941) at 9:30 p.m., and Lotte Reiniger’s independent silent The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) at 1:15 a.m. the next morning. It is Mr. Bug Goes to Town, a.k.a. Hoppity Goes to Town, that makes this of interest to Furry fans.

Beware the Fat Furry!

Your rating: None Average: 2 (1 vote)

Doctor Doom! The Red Skull! The Mirror Master! We have been menaced for decades by such flamboyantly costumed comic book supervillains as Galactor! The Green Goblin! Black Adam! The Yellow Claw! But not until now, with the publication of Alter-Ego #112, August 2012, have we known how narrowly we have missed one of the most bizarre costumed villains of all: an overweight wooly-bear caterpillar named The Fat Furry!

Or … have we? Bwhahahaha!

Trailer: Blue Sky's May 2013 'Epic'

Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (3 votes)

The Cartoon Brew has the first teaser/trailer for 20th-Century Fox’s & Blue Sky’s CGI-animated Epic, which features talking mice, birds, slugs and bugs.

The Brew's readers make a lot of comparisons to FernGully. Opens May 2013.

Kickstarter live for M.C.A. Hogarth's 'Spots the Space Marine'

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M.C.A. Hogarth is raising money on Kickstarter for a print edition of her military science fiction serial Spots the Space Marine, featuring the bug-like alien Samuel-Colt and a host of human characters. The book will accompany the existing e-book and serial editions.

The work features alien culture and psychology as well as lots of explosions, cliffhangers, and gun-fights: no straight human vs. bug action here. More like bug-and-human vs. bug.

Money raised is to go towards "cover art, layout; all the things that make a physical book great." Backer reward options include the book or e-book, the author's original notes, and art of floating bug aliens. The project now stands at $625 of its $1500 goal, with 25 backers.

Man’s Best Friend

Rebellion/2000AD, the folks who brought you Judge Dredd, now bring you Kingdom: Call of the Wild, a new full-color trade paperback written by Dan Abnett and illustrated by Richard Elson. “Earth, the far-future. With the planet now overrun by gigantic alien insects, mankind is all but extinct. Genetically engineered dog soldier, Gene the Hackman, now protects one of the last remaining human beings, a young girl named Leezee Sower, and the two of them have traveled to the land of Auxtralia, straight into the territory of a new pack!” Look for it this March, or find out more at The Book Depository.


image c. 2012 Rebellion/2000AD

Canadian man eats, sleeps, dreams bugs

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Passion can take you a long way, as Québec-based entomologist Georges Brossard explains in a BBC interview:

I'm the bug man – a real bug man. I love bugs. I sleep with them, I dream about them. I eat them. I love bugs.

The Montréal Insectarium – founded in 1990 by a 250,000-insect donation from Brossard – attracts over 350,000 visitors each year, and offers annual insect tastings.

Nature leads the way again for science

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Science is constantly looking to the natural world for clues on how to built the better machine. The flight of the butterfly is paving the way for tiny aerial machines . The erratic looking flight of the butterfly, on closer examination, is a total mastery of the air, where the insect can use 6 different sorts motions of the wings to stay aloft, changing as needed from wingflap to wingflap. It was compared to the way a horse can change gait effortlessly.
The beautiful brittle star isn't where most people would look to for superior eyesight, but they are literally covered with perfect lenses, allowing for a total wrap around view. The lenses are much better than what we can make, thanks to the perfect use of chalk-like calcite crystals in its skeleton.