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talking animals

Can 'The Wild Life' get any wilder?

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Anthro animal animated features are sneaking up on us faster than we can announce them.

Here is the trailer for the 90-minute The Wild Life, due for American release on September 9, 2016. It’s very loosely based on Robinson Crusoe from the island's animals’ point of view; Tuesday the parrot, Carmelo the chameleon, Scrubby the goat, Rosie the tapir, Pango the pangolin and others. The animals decide to “help” the human castaway and his dog. Ha, ha.

This has already been released throughout Europe in February as Robinson Crusoe, and it will have been seen in most of the rest of the world by the time we get it. If nWave Pictures is involved, it’s a Belgian production. nWave’s animation studio is in Brussels. It does good work. nWave produced the 2013 The House of Magic, which was scheduled for an American theatrical release – it’s set in Boston – up to the last minute. It ended up as a direct-to-DVD kids’ release.

Let’s hope that The Wild Life has better luck.

'The Little Prince' fox plush doll

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littleprincefoxplush.jpgThe French 2015 animated feature of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince will be released in America by Paramount on March 16, 2016. Its associated merchandising includes a plushie of the book and film’s talking fox.

The illustrated announcements on Amazon.com imply that the plush fox is poseable. One shows it standing on two feet next to the film’s Little Girl. Another shows it on all four feet.

The latter is priced $80.00 marked down to $19.99. The former is $14.99, and the order is for both figures. A foreign imported fox, clearly a different plushie, is currently unavailable and unpriced.

If you want a plushie of a talking fox (but how will you know it’s supposed to be of a talking fox?), here you go.

Review: 'L'Extravagante Croisière de Lady Rozenbilt', by Pierre Gabus and Romuald Reutimann

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This is a review of the original French edition. My thanks to Lex Nakashima for getting and loaning it to me.

L'Extravagante Croisière de Lady RozenbiltThe young Alfred Bigoodee is only an assistant when he embarks on the seaplane of Lady Rozenbilt, the fabulously rich woman with tastes as fantastic as they are dangerous. This voyage will forever change his life.

A complete story about the man who will become Captain Bigoodee, one of the most striking characters of the series District 14, the prize-winning series of the International Comics Festival of Angoulême. (French blurb; my translation)

The French publisher’s American subsidiary in Hollywood has published the English translation, The Fantastic Voyage of Lady Rozenbilt, almost simultaneously with the original edition, but has declined to send me a review copy; so this review is of the French edition alone.

This 124-page hardcover album starts out as a prequel, so to speak, of Pierre Gabus and Romuald Reutimann's District 14, Season 1, which I described in my review as:

a Ridley Scott Blade Runner megalopolis (Reutimann’s art convincingly portrays a huge but crumbling early 20th-century city) with Humphrey Bogart as the cynical private eye; and the inhabitants, each of whom has a dark secret, divided roughly into one-third humans, one-third anthropomorphic animals, and one-third outer-space immigrants in their flying saucers.

The humans are the upper classes of society, but that doesn’t mean that the humanoid animals are not at least as active when it comes to really running things.

One of this world’s supporting characters is the mysterious cat-man Captain Bigoodee; American- or English-accented in the French edition or French-accented in the American edition. This is the story of his youth, and of how he loses his innocence.

Paris, Les Humanoïdes Associdés, October 2013, hardcover €15.99 (124 pages).

Animation: 'Thunder and the House of Magic'

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Jerry Beck has just announced on his Animation Scoop website that Shout! Factory will release the December 2013 Belgian-made (for Christmas 2013 release in French-speaking parts of Europe) 85-minute animated feature The House of Magic, retitled Thunder and the House of Magic and dubbed into English, in theaters in U.S. “selected cities” on September 5. The selected cities include New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Boston, Houston, Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. Shout! Factory is primarily a DVD releaser, so presumably this will become a generally-available DVD release shortly after that.

Under either title, this looks like a kids’ CGI animated feature that furry fans will enjoy, with an anthropomorphized kitten, rabbit, mouse, dog, doves, and lots of Toy Story-type toys saving an elderly stage magician’s house from being sold out from under him by a greedy nephew. The movie is made by Brussels’ nWave Pictures, which made the 2010 A Turtle's Tale: Sammy's Adventures and the 2012 A Turtle's Tale 2: Sammy's Escape from Paradise features that have already become children’s DVDs in America.

Review: 'The Silver Foxes' series by M. R. Anglin

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Silver FoxesM.R. Anglin’s author’s page on Amazon.com identifies her as a young Jamaican resident of the U.S.

“Fanfiction” has a particular place in her heart since she started by writing fanfics. She enjoys writing YA and middle grade fiction.

She has a different definition of “fanfics” than most other people, since her amateur fiction is all original, without anyone else’s copyrighted characters in it.

She says on FaceBook about Prelude to War:

Even though the main characters are animals, it is meant for an audience of 13+. I'd consider it Christian (or at least inspirational) fantasy fiction.

I assume that means she considers fiction with talking animals as being for young children; e.g., she is not familiar with furry fiction.

Besides these three Silver Foxes novels, she has written Lucas, Guardian of Truth, a Christian fantasy with a human 11-year-old protagonist. Anglin’s first two Silver Foxes books were self-published through Lulu.com. She has recently transferred them to CreateSpace, and finished the third novel.

From Facebook:

This year [2013], I've been working on revising and revamping book 3 in the series for print.

And it is here.

Silver Foxes, by M. R. Anglin, Raleigh, NC, Lulu.com, April 2008, trade paperback $12.00 (134 pages).
Winds of Change, by M. R. Anglin, Raleigh, NC, Lulu.com, June 2009, trade paperback $14.99 (216 pages).
Prelude to War, by M. R. Anglin, Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, October 2013, trade paperback $11.99 (viii + 298 [+ 1] pages), Kindle $2.99.

Review: 'Animal Land: The Creatures of Children’s Fiction', by Margaret Blount

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Animal Land: The Creatures of Children’s Fiction Today there are many academic studies of talking animals in children’s literature. Animal Land was one of the first, and still is one of the best. Whether you look for the original British edition, its American edition (NYC, William Morrow & Co., March 1975, hardcover 0-688-00272-2 $8.95, 336 pages), or a reprint (Avon Books, March 1977, paperback 0-380-00742-8 $3.95, 336 pages), Animal Land is worth reading. You may think that you are already familiar with all the stories covered in it, but Margaret Blount has profiles of dozens that will be new to even talking-animal connoisseurs.

London, Hutchinson, October 1974, hardcover 0-09-118410-X £4.50 (336 pages; illustrated)

Reviews: Furry, anthro, and animal-related books of 2013

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Roz Gibson reviews fiction of furry interest she read in 2013; her favorites included:

Review: 'Otters in Space II: Jupiter, Deadly', by Mary E. Lowd

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Otters in Space 2: Jupiter, DeadlyThis is credited as the Second Edition; but it went on sale at Anthrocon 2013, July 4-7, while the Kindle and Smashwords first editions have an August 24 and 25, 2013 publication date. That’s later.

Does anyone besides me care about this bureaucratic trivia? This is a good read, in a handy trade paperback edition for those who don’t want to read it on their computer. Get it in one format or the other.

But this is a direct sequel to Lowd’s Ursa-Major-nominated Otters in Space: The Search for Cat Havana. If there is any flaw with Otters in Space II, it is that you need to have read the first book to really understand it. Or at least read the review of it, in Flayrah on February 6, 2012.

Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, July 2013, trade paperback $9.95 (227 pages), Kindle $6.99.

To Protect the Forest

RedSilver: Nature’s Evolutions is a new anthropomorphic fantasy novel written by Steve Alford. It’s available now at Lulu.com. “When Red Sunset, an ordinary vixen from Devon, is chosen by Mother Gaia to defend the Heart Forest from attack, she can hardly believe what is happening to her. As one of the legendary Animentals, she can command powers she could only ever have dreamed of. But this is a far from idyllic situation. The Heart Forest is under attack by strange creatures unlike anything she has ever seen before. And if the Animentals fail, the consequences run far further than she could ever imagine…” The book is illustrated in black & white by the artist known as Silent Ravyn, who has also uploaded a collage of illustrations to their Fur Affinity page.


image c. 2013 by Silent Ravyn

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

Review: 'Where the Blue Begins', by Christopher Morley

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Where the Blue Begins

Each in turn may call this a fairy story, a dog story, an allegory or a satire, but all will be moved by the beauty and the meaning--a beauty and a meaning that seems to live within the realm of those books that go on and on making friends and spreading enchantment.?? Gissing, its hero, is a dog who searches the world for an ideal, and then finds in the smoke of his own furnace fire a hint of the heavenly blue that he had been seeking. (blurb, slightly edited)

It is difficult to tell after ninety years just what an author was thinking, but I believe that Christopher Morley, a popular literary essayist and novelist, just wanted to have fun writing about a world of talking dogs. His last message to the public, written when he knew that he was dying in 1957, was, “Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to continually be part of unanimity.”

Mr. Gissing, a gentledog of leisure contentedly residing in Canine Estates with Fuji, his butler (a Japanese pug), on an income of 1,000 bones a year, becomes dissatisfied and leaves home to search for where the blue begins (a purpose to life).

Garden City, NY, Doubleday, Page & Co., October 1922, [10] + 215 [+ 1] pages, $1.75.

Review: 'The Cats of Tanglewood Forest', by Charles de Lint & Charles Vess

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The Cats of Tanglewood Forest
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.

'Free Birds', first Reel FX CGI feature, due in theaters November 1

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The Cartoon Brew has photos of the first advertising for Reel FX studio’s first CGI feature, Free Birds, due November 1. The advertising, at CinemaCon at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas on April 15-18, included this 3D printed display.

Free Birds, previously announced under the working title of Turkeys, is about Reggie (voice of Owen Wilson) and Jake (Woody Harrelson), two odd-buddy turkeys who time-travel back to Pilgrim days to eliminate the present-day turkey-eating Thanksgiving feast.

… and They Can Talk To Him ['Alex Walker and the Circus of Secrets']

We’re fresh back from WonderCon in Anaheim, and me-oh-my is there a lot to talk about. Starting with…

Here’s one we somehow missed over the past couple of years, but we found out about it now, finally: Alex Walker and the Circus of Secrets, by Michael Mayo. “On the run from  his father’s deadly plans, Alex and his mother stumble upon a small traveling circus in a Kansas field. A strange accident awakens a hidden ability: He can speak to the animals — and they can speak to him. He meets an elderly cocker spaniel, a macaw, and a Siamese cat who tell Alex he is their long-prophesized savior. Alex must learn to fight for their lives — and his own.” This young adult novel is available now in paperback from Valstar Publishing, and also in a Kindle edition. Another bonus: Proceeds from the sale of the book go to various no-kill animal shelters.


image c. 2011 Valstar Publishing

Dark Horse's 'Beasts of Burden' comic book to become animated feature

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Beasts of BurdenCartoon Brew has announced that Dark Horse’s Beasts of Burden comic book by Evan Dorkin (writer) and Jill Thompson (artist) is being developed into a CGI animated feature film by the Reel FX Creative Studios in Los Angeles and Dallas. The feature is to be written by Darren Lemke, directed by Shane Acker (director of darkly depressing post-Apocalypse animated feature 9), and co-produced by Reel FX’s Aron Warner and Dark Horse’s publisher Mike Richardson and Andrew Adamson of Strange Weather Films (director of the first two Shrek and first two Chronicles of Narnia movies).

While the history of animated feature films is replete with movies featuring talking dogs and other animals, there are relatively few starring four-legged “natural” dogs (Disney’s Lady and the Tramp and Amblimation’s Balto come to mind), and virtually none with serious suspense/horror plots.