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Review: 'Ewe at Work'

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

ewetube_0.jpgChristmas markets, and craft markets in general, can be a bit of a gamble. Many times, it's just the same old things that you will see at every market. Though sometimes you find something different, something more unique that jumps out at ... ewe. That was my experience at a recent Christmas market where I found a number of pictures and books revolving around sheep puns. It kept my attention long enough that I decided to buy one of the books; Ewe at Work.

baa-code_0.jpgAccording to the cover, it was "Voted No. 1 sheep book in Ramsgate." That's a real place! (Population around a thousand, so make of that what you will.) It features just over 90 self-contained images, nearly always involving sheep puns, drawn in a minimalist style similar to xkcd and Cyanide & Happiness. And that's it, really. You're either the sort of person who would buy a book of sheep puns or you are not.

Review: I keep my promise to 'Shaun the Sheep'

Your rating: None Average: 3.4 (7 votes)

Shaun the SheepBack in 2011, I wrote my first top ten movies of the year list, where I chose Winnie the Pooh as the seventh best movie I saw that year, but I didn't see it in the theaters. Because it was Winnie the Pooh, and it was a children's movie even more so than the average animated movie featuring talking animals, and it would have been embarrassing for a late twenty-something to be caught going alone to the movie theater to watch it. Explaining that I was only watching it to review it for a furry website wouldn't have really changed that. But I wrote back in that first top ten list:

I decided to skip this movie at the theaters because, you know, it’s Winnie the Pooh. Big mistake. Next time, I’ll man up, and watch the kid’s movie.

I was right back then; it does, sometimes, take a man to review a kid's movie. That was a promise to myself that I wouldn't let embarrassment get the better of me in the future. Shaun the Sheep was the first real test of this self promise. I mean, Free Birds were a slightly different proposition; as "geek culture" becomes more and more prevalent in pop culture, to the point they are nearly synonymous, watching animated movies, even those with slightly awkward studio pedigrees, is much less of a big deal. But I was fairly certain Shaun the Sheep was meant as a pre-school level animation (I was unfair in this assessment; I was thinking of the spin-off Timmy Time, which is meant for pre-schoolers but is not the basis of this movie); but I made that promise to myself not to let pre-school prejudice get in the way.

Good call; this is a pretty good movie.

Three coming Russian animated features with anthro animals

Your rating: None Average: 2.3 (3 votes)

Sheep and WolvesThe Hollywood Reporter announced on May 13 that Wizart Animation in Moscow (business office) and Voronezh (animation studio) is producing The Snow Queen 3 for release in late 2016. Presumably this is in Russia, and it’ll come to the U.S. in 2017. Also presumably the cast will include Orm the troll and Gerda’s pet ermine Luta, since they were so popular in The Snow Queen and The Snow Queen 2: The Snow King.

The same Hollywood Reporter article announces that Wizart is pre-selling its own Sheep and Wolves featuring anthro wolves and sheep – it’s titled Volkii I Ovtsi (wolves and sheep), in Russian. Here’s the the English language for Sheep and Wolves.

The article continues, "Wizart will also be […] offering pre-sales for Urfin and His Wooden Soldiers (by Melnitsa Animation)."

The Lamb. No Lion.

More news from Cartoon Brew: The first major-studio release of a faith-based animated feature film. “Academy Award-nominated director Tim Reckart (Head Over Heels) will make his feature directorial debut with faith-based feature The Lamb, Sony Pictures Animation revealed today in a late-Easter Weekend announcement. First announced in September 2014, The Lamb will be a fully CG-animated pic based on the Christian nativity story, telling the ‘inspirational story of a young lamb who will change the world’ with an all-animal cast.” Lest you forget, the last time there was a faith-based anthropomorphic animated film (independently released) it was Jonah: A Veggie Tales Movie. Stay tuned for more information on a release date for The Lamb.

image c. 2015 Morethings.com

image c. 2015 Morethings.com

Review: 'Red Devil', by Kyell Gold

Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (3 votes)

Red DevilRed Devil, a sequel to Kyell Gold's Green Fairy, is both the second volume of his Dangerous Spirits series, and part of his Forester series (Out of Position, Isolation Play, Waterways, Bridges and others), set in an alternate contemporary America inhabited by anthropomorphic animals. Solomon Wrightson, the homosexual teenage wolf who was the protagonist of Green Fairy, is the best friend of Alexei Tsarev, the fox protagonist here.

Alexei, a young Siberian in the States on a student visa that expires in two months, hopes to impress the Vidalia Peaches semi-professional soccer team enough to become a member.

If they sponsored Alexei, he could apply for a visa that would allow him to stay in this country indefinitely. (p. 3)

Besides being good athletes, everyone on the Peaches is gay. Alexei has only recently come to the States from his hometown of Samorodka, Siberia, partially to play soccer but really to escape the brutal anti-gay attitude prevalent in Siberia. (Gold is clearly using Siberia to refer to all Russia in this anthropomorphic world.) Alexei misses his sister Caterina, with whom he was especially close. They were exchanging letters, but she has not answered his last few missives. Alexei is sure that their abusive parents are preventing her from writing.

Alexei is rooming with Sol at the house that Sol shares with Meg, the mannish teenage otter from Green Fairy, in Sol’s room where his portrait of Niki, the murdered 19th-century fox transvestite is hanging. Alexei, who semi-believes in ghosts, already is influenced by the spirit of his great-grandmother “Prababushka”, whom he feels may have followed him to the States to protect him. In addition to worrying about Cat back in Samorodka, and getting onto the Peaches soccer team to stay in the States, Alexei has developed a crush on one of the Vidalia amateur players, Mike, a friendly Dall sheep; but the insecure, withdrawn Siberian fox is always being shoved aside by Kendall, a more brash and self-assertive pine marten also on the local amateur team. Alexei is unsure whether Mike is just being polite to Kendall, or if he really prefers the more outgoing marten. Or whether Alexei should continue to concentrate on his feelings for Mike, rather than looking for another boyfriend in Vidalia and the States’ more open and relaxed straight and gay sexual atmosphere.

Illustrations by Rukis, St. Paul, MN, Sofawolf Press, January 2014, trade paperback $19.95 ([iii +] 269 [+ 2] pages), Kindle $9.99.

Shaun the Sheep to get big-screen movie

Your rating: None Average: 4 (2 votes)

Shaun the SheepShaun the Sheep, the ovine character created by Aardman Animations, is set to get his own movie.

Shaun first appeared as a supporting character in Aardman's 1995 A Close Shave, and later got his own children's television series. Now, Aardman is to join with film-TV group Studiocanal to make Shaun's full-length claymation film.

Aardman will produce the film, written and directed by Richard Starzak and Mark Burton. The plot concerns Shaun's mischief inadvertently causing his Farmer to leave Mossybottom Farm. Shaun, Blitzer the sheepdog, and the rest of the flock must go to the big city to rescue him.

Animation: 'Science Fare'

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Cartoon Brew has posted a sample of “Mike Carlo’s Cartoon Madness” to illustrate the Titmouse, Inc. animator’s personal short films. The 3’52” “Science Fare” was pitched to Nickelodeon a year ago. I guess that it did not sell.

The CB’s Jerry Beck says of Carlo's animation,

These are very polished, professional cartoons that look as good – and are just as funny – as anything on Adult Swim or Comedy Central. I predict he’ll be running his own show very soon.

I don’t care for the Adult Swim or Comedy Central style of animation, but “Science Fare” certainly is anthropomorphic.

Survey: Foreign Furry novels

Your rating: None Average: 5 (7 votes)

Fuchsgeschichten (Fox Stories)I recently had an article, “The Furry Novel That Nobody Has Read”, published in Anthro #32, November-December 2011. It is about the Dutch About Reynard the Fox (Van de vos Reynarde), by Robert van Genechten, published in 1941. The reason that I had not read it is that it was only published in Dutch, which I do not read. (Yes, I once had a copy.) The reason I said that nobody else has read it is that it is a very anti-Semitic pro-Nazi talking-animal satire that equates rhinoceroses with Jews. There was never an English-language edition, and due to modern anti-Hate literature laws in America and most Western European nations, it could not be reprinted or translated today. (Correction: at least one modern Dutch neo-Nazi group is trying to keep the 1941 Dutch edition available.)

But what about other, modern Furry novels in foreign languages that have never had English-language translations? They certainly exist, and Furry fans in France, Germany and other nations can read them in their own countries; and they theoretically could still be translated into English some day. What have we English-language readers been missing?

'The Boy Who Cried Wolf' updated by automatic sheep collars

Your rating: None Average: 2.8 (4 votes)

Wired reports that Swiss scientists are trying to develop a sheep collar that will notify shepherds when wolves attack their sheep, and will release a chemical deterrent.

Interview: Rukis on her comic 'Red Lantern'

Your rating: None Average: 2.6 (8 votes)

I had the pleasure of interviewing Rukis (creator of Cruelty and co-creator of Red Lantern) on her latest publication. My questions and comments are not to be taken seriously.

[Isiah is the creator of furry video blog FurReview; his latest episode covers Communist import foxes and responses to the prior episode about the Ursa Major's 'Best Website' award.]

Me: Good evening, Rukis! Thank you so much for joining me tonight! It's a pleasure to have you on the show!

Rukis: Evenin'. Pleasure to be here.Red Lantern

Me: Now, you've recently come out with your second ever publication, Red Lantern: The Crimson Divine. Came in the mail today and I just finished reading it a few hours ago. I know you get this a lot, but if you could please just briefly explain what Red Lantern is about for those who don't know.

Rukis: Put simply, it's a drama/adventure/romance set in a quasi-Indian setting in the 1700s. If the world had been populated by anthro animals, and wasn't really the real world, at all. The story follows a prostitute in a brothel, his young trainee, and a group of naval soldiers fleeing a bunch of angry lizard folk.

Black to the Moon

Black to the Moon is a 3D CGI animated feature film from Europe, which recently premiered at the Cartoon Movie event in Lyon, France. Originally known as Blackie & Kanuto, it was directed by Francis Nielsen and produced in France, Spain, Italy, and Belgium (!). Currently it’s looking for distribution in North America. Here’s the storyline according to the Internet Movie Database: “Blacky, a black sheep, is the terror of the farm. And she is obsessed with going to the Moon. Kanuto, the sheepdog, gets tangled up in her plans while failing to hide his love for her. They get swept away in an adventure where they meet an opera-singing cow, a fashion designer wolf, illegal sewing spiders, a weird couple of birds from some famous singing TV reality show contest, and a peculiar pack of dogs, the ‘Pastrinos’, who have a rocket ready to launch. And of course, Pinky, the Godzilla-sized sheep, with a bad attitude of lunar proportions.” Seriously.  Maybe it’ll make more sense when you see the English-language trailer on YouTube. But then again, maybe not.


image c. 2012 Art'Mell

French farmers face new blitzkrieg from wolves

Your rating: None Average: 3 (2 votes)

In the 1930's wolves became extinct in France. Sixty years later, wild wolves crossed over the Alps from Italy into France. This group has since expanded to up to 200 individuals in 20 different packs. The wolves have spread to cover 15 out of 94 départements (map) reaching North to the Vosges in Lorraine and West to Cantal in Auvergne (map), and occupying the French Pyrenees for the first time in a century.

The presence of the wolves has caused considerable distress to French shepherds — particularly in the French Pyrenees, where they are forced to contend with a growing wolf population, along with a now-discontinued government plan to reintroduce brown bears.

Review: Black Sheep

Your rating: None Average: 3 (1 vote)

Black Sheep (2006) is certainly an interesting film. It comes from New Zealand and certainly doesn't seem to be trying to break any stereotypes as there are quite a few well-defined ones in here. It's a horror comedy and while I can't say it's a genre I am familiar with this film does have a few scary scenes as well as a bit of entertaining humour.

This film is a lot like Resident Evil but with sheep. A farmer is experimenting with genetic engineering and when some environmentalists spill some waste from the facility they cause the sheep to start eating meat and attacking people. In addition whoever is bitten by a sheep turns into one. This leads to a race to survive and contain the outbreak for the protagonists. The humour is mainly provided by one of the environmentalist who makes a variety of new-age quips about their chakra and provides scented candles.

WILD ANIMUS: Free Book give away

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Bookcrossing.com and Too Far Press have teamed up to distribute over 1000 copies of Wild Animus (Advance Reader Version). The book is about a Berkley college student who decides that he no longer wishes to be a human, but a Dall Ram by the name of Ransom. The book follows his attempts in the literal world and the world of print to break thru to the Furry side.

They pay the postage and ship worldwide. The author, Rich Shapero, seems unaware of a Furry community, and may be even somewhat autobiographical.

A planned publicity stunt ala a giant Easter egg hunt, with copies of this book as the eggs across the world is likely to send some of the spotlight Furryward.

RIP, Dolly the Sheep

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Dolly the sheep, the first mammal cloned from an adult, was euthanized after being diagnosed with a progressive lung disease, her creators said Friday. She was born in 1996 and revealed to the world in 1997; scientists studied her as she began to exhibit symptoms of aging as though she were much older than she was, and she began to exhibit signs of arthritis before her sixth birthday. She was six and a half years old when she died, and is survived by her five children.

More information can be found at the Washington Post.