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Baidu India promotes World Environment Day with 'The Last Conversation'

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World Environment Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972. It is on Sunday, June 5 in 2016. This year’s theme is: “fight against the illegal trade in wildlife”, with the slogan "Go Wild for Life”, and some search engines are getting on board:

#TheLastConversation, featuring Foxy and DU bear Baidu’s India office will launch a new social campaign named “The Last Conversation” to raise awareness of wildlife depletion. The campaign will feature Baidu’s mascot, the “DU bear”, having a final conversation with different endangered animals through a series of posts on Facebook and Twitter, with the goal of urging people to avoid products that cause harm to wildlife. (Baidu India’s 31 May press release)

Baidu's campaign, which started June 1st on Facebook and Twitter, shows the ultra-cute DU bear interviewing critically-endangered species living in India, such as the Himalayan brown bear, as well as other popular species of lesser concern, such as the Bengal fox.

Rattle and Hummmm…

We came across this announcement from Screen Daily: “Kaleidoscope Film Distribution (KFD) is handling world sales on animated feature Danny Diamondback, which Aardman Animation alumni Darren Walsh (Shaun The Sheep TV series) will direct. It’s the story of a young rattlesnake with a musical talent in his tail. The film is based on the children’s novella of the same name, first published by Harper Collins and written by illustrator and production designer Barry Jackson (How The Grinch Stole Christmas). Jackson has written the script and will be heading up production design on the project. Siege Train Studios’ Curtis Augspurger (Valiant), Matthew Hampton, and Cora Palfrey will produce the film alongside Jackson. Bibo Bergeron (Shark Tale) will serve as executive producer.” That’s one heck of a lotta veteran anthropomorphic talent on one project. No word yet on if the film is to be CGI or claymation. Guess we’ll find out after they give us a projected release date!

Anthro animation coming from Paramount Pictures

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The Hollywood Reporter has announced Paramount Pictures Corp.’s forthcoming animated features from its Paramount Animation division for the next four years, 2016 through 2019. All of them include anthropomorphic characters.

First up will be the already-released-in-Europe French feature adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s 1943 classic The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince). It has already been filmed around the world as live-action features and animated serializations as well as dramatized as audio recordings, radio serials, an opera, a ballet, etc. Saint-Exupéry’s story is not long enough for a feature film, so the movie, directed by Mark Osborne (Kung Fu Panda), presents it as a flashback within a new story about an old man (the Aviator) telling the story of long-ago crashing his plane in the Sahara desert and meeting the Little Prince, to a Little Girl raised to be a strictly materialistic “scientific” child prodigy, bringing fantasy into her life. The movie is a combination of computer graphics (the modern story) and stop-motion animation (Saint-Exupéry’s story as a flashback), by Mikros Image in Montreal, Quebec. The anthropomorphization? The Little Prince meets a talking fox, snake and flower. It was released in France on October 7th, 2015. Paramount Animation will release it in the U.S. on March 18th, 2016, in an American voice dub with Jeff Bridges, Marion Cotillard, James Franco, Paul Rudd, Benicio del Toro, Paul Giamatti, Ricky Gervais, Albert Brooks and Bud Cort.

Review: 'Monster Musume', vol. 1, by OKAYADO

Your rating: None Average: 4.6 (8 votes)

Monster Musame vol. 1 Oops. This manga would be a lot funnier if not for the serious news in August of a man in Idaho being arrested for having sex with a cat. Many of Flayrah’s readers wondered how that was possible, considering the size differences of a human’s and a cat’s sex apparatus.

One of the ongoing questions in Monster Musume is how Kurusu, the terrified human teenaged protagonist, is going to have sex with a snake? Well, Miia’s human above the waist. And with boobs that, like the Maryland judge said describing Jane Russell’s (in banning the movie The Outlaw), "breasts hung like a thunderstorm over a summer landscape." And Miia really, really, REALLY wants to f--- with him, despite his genteel inhibitions.

So does Papi, the harpy. Well, when she’s old enough. She’s about the equivalent of a nine- or ten-year-old human girl. And, being a bird-girl, noticeably feather-brained, too. (Kurusu isn’t into cradle-robbing, either.)

And Centorea, the centauress. No “centaurette” as in Disney’s Fantasia; this is a dignified but horny adolescent female centaur. The centaurs are supposed to be too haughty to comingle with humans, but Centorea proves the old adage that you can justify anything if you try hard enough.

Los Angeles, CA, Seven Seas Entertainment, October 2013, trade paperback $12.99 (unpaged [192 pages]). Translated by Ryan Peterson.

Review: 'The Darkness', by Eddie Drueding

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Cover to 'Arraborough: The Darkness'The Darkness, a.k.a. “Arraborough, Book 2”, has a two-page “The Story So Far” synopsis of Book 1, The Unimaginable Road, but it seems more confusing than enlightening. Basically, The Darkness jumps right into the story in progress. If you have not read The Unimaginable Road, you should start there. If you have, even when Book 1 was first published over a year ago, the events will swiftly come back to you.

The Darkness is a darker story, no joke intended. In Book 1, the community of Arraborough is created with high hopes for its success. Unknown forces are clearly working against it, but there is a feeling that if the animal community will continue to trust each other and work together, they will prevail against the shadowy obstacles. In Book 2, that unity is broken. Deaths occur, some possibly natural but ominous, and others definitely murder. The Arraboroughans now wonder who is the murderer in their midst; which of their close friends is secretly working to sabotage their community. And the agencies opposed to Arraborough seem stronger.

Tust and Kelly are in earnest discussion with Slither. Fespin, Hillany, and Inkwell are playing with Taj as Arlafette looks on proudly. Albin is sharing some opinion with Mander. Breth and Barelle are setting out plates and cutlery. From the kitchen, Hylan is bringing out a large garden salad. Dhenzi and Brady are whispering to themselves, glancing covertly at Spiny, who sits off by himself. Slick’s face hardens as he realizes that one of these people is a traitor and a murderer. (p. 37)

Melange Books, June 2013, trade paperback $13.95 (203 [+ 2] pages), Kindle $5.99.

Arraborough Book Two, 'The Darkness', now available

Your rating: None Average: 3.9 (11 votes)

Cover to 'Arraborough: The Darkness'Eddie Drueding's Arraborough series debuted in 2012 with The Unimaginable Road, featuring a "fully anthropomorphic world bereft of a human populace". With 2013 comes the release of The Darkness, again published by Melange Books, and available in PDF and HTML formats or print-on-demand via Lulu.

Proceeds from 2013 sales will be donated to a local animal charity, The Cat Rescue Network.

Book 1, The Unimaginable Road introduced a strange animal planet and the small group of friends who decided to build a safe haven from the deep-laid intrigues of their modern society.

The Darkness finds them facing their painful pasts and confronting their hostile environment. An expedition exploring the dark, mysterious network of caves finds evidence of horrors past, present, and future; and a seemingly random accident in a nearby city sends a tragic figure on a collision course with the peaceful denizens of Arraborough.

Read more: Fred Patten reviews The Darkness

Review: 'Sandeagozu', by Janann V. Jenner

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'Sandeagozu' front coverThis unique and imaginative animal fantasy, set during 1932, features five cagemates from a large New York City pet shop specializing in exotic animals, who plan to escape and set out across Depression-era America for that legendary animals’ paradise, Sandeagozu – the San Diego Zoo. Led by Sherahi (“tiger killer”), the giant pythoness, the band of odd fellows consists of her, Manu the langur, Dervish the coatimundi, Dutchess the scarlet macaw, and Junior the venomous cascabel (a South American rattlesnake).

Virtually all the reviews summarize the plot as that: five exotic animals escape from a New York City pet shop to journey across America to the San Diego Zoo. Yet Sandeagozu is not exactly that, and very much more than that. That event, the meeting of the animals in the pet shop and their decision to escape together, does not begin until page 103. Jenner first builds a leisurely but fascinating backstory, rich in detail and characterization. The reader barely notices, and does not care, that the main story has yet to begin.

Illustrated by Robert Crawford. Harper & Row, October 1986, 442 pages, $18.95; ISBN: 0-06-015633-3

A Boy and His Snake… or Vice Versa

Suddenly everyone is talking about Sanjay and Craig, a new animated TV series on Nickelodeon. It stars the voice of Chris Hardwick (comedian, bowler, and head honcho of The Nerdist Channel on YouTube) as Craig, the best friend of a young suburban boy named Sanjay. Craig, it turns out, just happens to be a talking snake. The Nerdist web site has more details, and you can check out the glowing review at Gerry Beck’s Animation Scoop, also. The series is up and running on Nickelodeon now.


image c. 2013 Nickelodeon

Save the Snakes! Save the World!

Serusis is the title of a new 5-issue full-color comic mini-series coming late in June from Big Dog Ink. “Planet Serusis is under the control of the Reliton army and its ruthless leader, Snogard. In an attempt to save their world, two Serusisans kidnap a group of humans in the hopes that they will be able to access the secrets of the creators of Serusis itself. Four humans versus the Reliton army? Good luck with that.” The Serusisans, by the way, resemble large snakes with terrific hairdo’s. The Relitons are big reptiles too, with four limbs and lots of attitude. This all-ages series is written by Tom Hutchison (Critter) and illustrated by Owen Gieni (Avengelyne). Things From Another World has more.


image c. 2013 Big Dog Ink

Scaly, feathery alternative limbs leap the uncanny valley into the future of prosthetic design

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Prosthetic snake armThe mention of an amputee flaunting a showy, bird-plumaged prosthetic arm should make the Furry connection clear, in this story about the work of the Alternative Limb Project (ALP) and it's director, Sophie de Oliveira Barata.

De Oliveira Barata is "challenging the belief that prosthetic limbs should aim to look as realistic as possible." Her career started in special effects for film and TV, before she moved to work with a realistic prosthetics company for eight years. In her opinion:

The dominant thinking is that a new limb should be as close a match to the previous limb as possible. But until technology gets to the point where you can have a realistic looking limb in movement and aesthetics, there will always be this uncanny middle ground. Having an alternative limb embraces difference and can help create a sense of ownership and empowerment.

The new option for limbs include crystal, stereo speakers, lighting, and simulated internal anatomy to tranform disability-concealers into creative, eye-catching fashion. What's next, hooves and paws?

Animation: 'Science Fare'

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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.

Review: 'The Unimaginable Road', by Eddie Drueding

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The Unimaginable RoadThe Unimaginable Road, a.k.a. Arraborough, Book One, begins when six wandering animals coincidentally meet in a Blackwood Forest clearing near a mysterious abandoned house, on a prairie far from the nearest town, about a mile from the cliffs over the Balaba Ocean. The animals – cousins Slick and Slither Snake, Inkwell Pig and Wild Boar (also cousins), Tust Turtle and Hillany Chicken – have all been drifting through one animal region and city after another – Ellineste, Loragin, Thilomina, Hoglarotha, Serpenton – looking for someplace where they can feel safe.

To fill the heavy silence [around the campfire], the snake with vertical green stripes and the perpetual scowl says, ‘I’m Slick. We’re cousins. We went through a pretty bad time in the spring, back in Anilton. Slither had the idea that there must be a better, safer place to live, so …’” (p. 6)

They compare depressing notes, and Slither proposes that they build their own commune, a sanctuary, right where they are.

Melange Books, June 2012, trade paperback $14.95 (188 pages), e-book $5.99.

Freeway extension rattles snakes

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Ontario King's Highway 401shieldIn recent days, the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) has erected a two-meter (six foot) tall fence, stretching 9 kilometers (about 5.5 miles) along the threatened eastern fox snake's habitat in the city of Windsor, Ontario's west end.
 
The special fabric fence – which extends below ground level – was erected because the snake can climb and slither beneath regular fences. The MTO was concerned that snakes might wander into the construction zone, where they would be at risk.
 
The fence was built with assistance from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources to keep the construction project in compliance with the Endangered Species Act, as work begins on extending Highway 401 west towards the proposed bridge to Detroit.

iGorilla supports Congo park; Brazilian specimens burnt

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Two quick stories from the BBC: A fire has destroyed a collection of snakes, spiders and scorpions at the Instituto Butantan in the Brazilian city of São Paulo:

"The entire collection was lost, the biggest collection of snakes in the world," curator Francisco Franco said. "It's a loss to humanity."

Meanwhile, a $4 iPhone app called iGorilla is to be sold to support conservation work in the Democratic Republic of Congo's Virunga National Park.

Editor's note: The feature list looks suspiciously similar to the company's 99¢ iPuppet.

Bagsnatcher grabs venomous snake instead

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That's one heck of an anti theft device!
A thief in Sydney, Australia, stole a sack from a professional snake catcher's trunk when he was stopped in traffic, and ended up with a venomous red-bellied black snake.
Police are informing the public to be aware of the canvas bag, which might be anywhere, and the snake, which is "possibly quite cranky by now."