We got this direct from Anime News Network. Seven Seas Entertainment have licensed Spica Aoki’s fantasy manga series Beasts of Abigaile for distribution in North America. Here’s what the publishers say: “Beasts of Abigaile follows a young woman’s fantastical adventures in the mythical country of Ruberia—and all the trials, tribulations, and attractive half-beast people that come with it! In this exciting new series loosely inspired by the classic fable of Little Red Riding Hood, readers will embark on a beautifully-illustrated journey of magical adventure and romance. Tsukishiro Nina has just arrived in the beautiful country of Ruberia, and its charming denizens and lush scenery are like a fairy tale come true. That is until she’s beset by a mysterious young man with a steely gaze and furry wolf ears—who promptly bites her! Nina finds herself turning into one of these beasts of legend, and whisked away to the prison of Abigaile where all their kind are sent. Nina must keep her wits about her if she’s to learn the secrets of this magical world where everyone either makes her blood boil or her young heart race!” Look for it to be released in black & white this June.
Cartoon Brew has a first look at Tomm Moore’s latest animated feature called Wolfwalkers. Mr. Moore, you may recall, is the Irish animation director responsible for The Book of Kells and Song of the Sea, both of which won praises from furry fans and animation lovers the world over. This new feature sounds even more anthropomorphic: “Wolfwalkers tells the story of 11-year-old Robyn Goodfellow, a young apprentice hunter who comes to Ireland with her father to wipe out the last pack of wolves. Her life changes though after she saves a native girl, Mebh, which leads to her discovery of the Wolfwalkers and transforms her into the very thing her father is tasked to destroy.” The article includes a teaser trailer the creators just recently released.
John Layman made a name for himself with the surreal comic book series Chew. Now he’s at Aftershock Comics with a new title called Eleanor & The Egret. Here’s what Comic Alliance said about it: “With the wrap up of Chew this year, John Layman has proved himself one of the go-to creators when it comes to crime comedy comics, and Eleanor and the Egret looks to be at least as surreal as his previous series. Sam Kieth, the legendary creator behind The Maxx, feels like an exciting choice to illustrate this Catch Me If You Can-style caper involving an art thief and a heron.” A heron who eats fine works of art, in fact. This is from the publishers: “A slightly surreal tale of an art thief and her sidekick, a talking egret who gets just a bit bigger after each successful caper, as they embark on a escalating series of daring thefts of world-famous paintings, and dodge pursuers in an increasingly weirdly dangerous game of cat & mouse.” Look for it this April.
And no, we’re not talking about Kong of Skull Island either. Cartoon Brew has an article about a new animated film in development called Kensuke’s Kingdom. “Based on the bestselling novel by War Horse author Michael Morpurgo and adapted for the screen by screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce (Hilary and Jackie, Welcome to Sarajevo, The Railway Man), Kensuke’s Kingdom follows the story of a young boy who washes up on a tropical island overseen by a mysterious Japanese soldier named Kensuke, who lives there with a family of orangutans as his companions.” Directed by animation veterans Neil Boyle and Kirk Hendry, the film combines a variety of 2D techniques for a rather unique overall look. No word yet on any plans for international distribution, but the Cartoon Brew article includes a proof-of-concept short film the directors have been showing around lately. It gives you a good idea what the film might look like.
Not to be out-done, this May Marvel will also bring us I Am Groot, the first solo comic featuring everyone’s favorite simple-talking anthropomorphic tree. It’s written by Christopher Hastings (Gwenpool, The Unbelievable) and illustrated by Flaviano. “When the Guardians of the Galaxy get caught in a wormhole, a smaller-than-normal Groot is separated billions of light-years away from the team. Falling to a planet below, Groot discovers he is on an entirely alien and unknown world full of strange creatures and societies. Seriously underdeveloped and with nobody who can understand him, Groot will need to make the journey to the center of this world and find the way back to his family!” Comicbook.com has an interview with Mr. Hastings talking all about it.
In what is perhaps a strange move (given his currently ever-growing popularity!) Marvel Comics have canceled their most recent Rocket Raccoon comic book series — only to replace it with a new one called Rocket, according to Bleeding Cool. “He thought his paws were clean, that they were on the up and up. But just when he thought he was out, they grabbed him by the fuzzy tail and pulled him back in. One day, and old flame (who happens to be an Otter) swims back into your life and just like that you’re back in the game…the heist game. From the dingy alleys of Knowhere to the far corners of deep space, they’ll speak in whispers that one of the best there ever was is back. If you need a safe cracked. If you need a vault busted. If you’ve got a big score that needs taking…you call Rocket. Just don’t call him a raccoon. It won’t end well for you.” Good Grief — the return of Lylla?? Look for it this May, written by by Al Ewing (The Ultimates, U.S.Avengers) and illustrated by Adam Gorham (The Violent).
[We won’t go over this year’s nominees for the Ursa Major Awards — there are other sites that have done that better already — but we will say we are more than honored to once again be nominated in the category of Best Anthropomorphic Magazine for 2016. Our humble thanks to all of you, our readers!]
Author Douglas Wood’s most famous creation is Old Turtle, an elderly reptile who guides those with philosophical and religious questions towards enlightenment… in ways that help to heal our species and our planet. Now celebrating 25 years since the release of the original Old Turtle picture book, Mr. Wood and artist Greg Ruth have brought us Old Turtle: Questions of the Heart, a new and larger hardcover book from Scholastic Press. “Why are we here? What is the purpose of life? How do we find happiness? Once again, Old Turtle’s wise answers offer readers of all ages inspiration, solace, and the most important gift of all — hope.” Pre-order it now, or look for it at the end of March.
From out of nowhere department, largely! Things are still ramping up for this summer’s release of Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2. According to our friends over at Animation Scoop, “Marvel and Disney XD announced today a 12-episode series of Rocket & Groot animated shorts. The shorts follow Rocket and Groot (from the Guardians Of The Galaxy) as they try to figure out how to get enough credits to buy a new ship after their old one breaks down. A compilation of all the shorts will premiere on Disney XD at 7:00am ET/PT on April 10th. Rocket is voiced by Trevor Devall (Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Johnny Test) and Groot is voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson (Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, The Cleveland Show). Featuring animation by Oscar-nominated Passion Pictures, the shorts are directed by Arnaud Delord and written by Chris ‘Doc’ Wyatt and Kevin Burke.” The Animation Scoop article has a preview.
Here’s what publisher First Second have to say about their new prequel book Animal Crackers — Circus Mayhem: “The wacky, high-action graphic novel companion to Animal Crackers, Scott Christian Sava’s highly-anticipated animated feature film. Buffalo Bob’s Rootin’ Tootin’ Animal Circus is famous for its jump-roping giraffe, tangoing lion, and knife-throwing elephant. But they have to be fakes, right? Owen is determined to get to the bottom of this mystery. When he visits the circus he discovers that his uncle and, coincidentally, all of the animals, are missing. It can only be the work of Buffalo Bob’s sideshow rival: Contorto. Owen stumbles upon the one thing that can save the day: Buffalo Bob’s box of animal crackers. But these aren’t any ordinary cookies: One bite and you’re transformed into a circus animal!” Look for it in hardcover later this month, or you can read all about it over on Goodreads.
IDW Publishing have gotten really serious with their Artisan Edition line of comic book reprintings. The latest beneficiary? The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as originally created (of course) by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. According to IDW, “This book reproduces all the original art to the first issue of one of the most important comic book phenomenons of the last 35 years — The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Scanned directly from the original art, mimicking the experience of the original hand drawn page, and also collecting all the layouts (also hand drawn) by the creators of what has been called this generation’s Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. Rounding out the volume is an extensive gallery of other TMNT images, also scanned directly from the original art.” Look for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Artisan Edition, hitting the shelves this May.
So how’d we go and let this phenomenon pass us by? Animal Jam is an on-line MMORPG gaming environment, launched in 2010 by the National Geographic Society. It was designed to use a fantasy setting to teach young children about zoology, natural history, and ecology. According to Wikipedia, “Animal Jam takes place in a fictional area known as Jamaa, containing various biomes and cartoon player-created animals. Players can create an animal with an anonymous 3-part name, such as ‘Crashing Magicshark’, dress it up with virtual clothing, and control it in the gameplay environment. The original six virtual animals that could be created were the panda, rabbit, tiger, wolf, koala, and monkey. Many more animals have been added following the six, letting players have the possibility of seeing one of their favorite animals in the game.” Now, after years on line, Dynamite Entertainment have announced the premier of the first Animal Jam comic book series, coming later in 2017. There’s an article about it over at News-a-rama. The first appearance of the new comic will be part of Dynamite’s contribution to this year’s Free Comic Book Day in May.
StupidFox is a fox. But is he stupid, or just misunderstood? Does he maybe have just a simple way of looking at a complex world? That’s the endless question pondered by creator E.Y. Chan in her full-color on-line comic strip called StupidFox — yes, spelled as one word. At her web site you’ll find not only the comic but a link to her shop full of prints, books, plush dolls, key-chains, and other cute items all graced by the simple fox and his friends.
Another discovery from the recent Long Beach Comic Expo. On his web page, here’s how this artist describes himself: “Walter De Leon is an artist in the entertainment industry working on various video games and animated properties for clients such as Disney and Stan Lee. In his free time he would create and come up with various ideas for books in the hopes to inspire others to get out there with their own ideas.” To that end he started Voolah Voolah Press as a vehicle for his own illustrated stories and sketchbooks. He is also looking for other creative people to join the fold! His own books include titles like Bunny Chop!, Dear Mr. Bear, and drawing portfolios of birds, dragons, and monsters.
Peachy Keen Pets is a Canadian craft service that specializes in “cute and quirky pet accessories and apparel”. That means fandom-themed collars, leashes, and other accessories for your pet; and pet-themed t-shirts for you. “Fun and functional, Peachy Keen Pets strives to provide the ultimate in quality, comfort and originality for your pet! Not only do we make stylish dog collars, harnesses, and leashes, but fabulous accessories like bowties, bandanas, leash pouches and more! Your pet is an original and should stand out on your block, and we’ve got that covered!” Take a look at their web site to see what they currently offer. Woof!
Recently, Netflix released a teaser trailer for OKJA, an upcoming film that (we will admit) caught us by surprise! Directed by Bong Joon-Ho (Snowpiercer) and starring Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal, the film tells the story of a young Korean girl named Mija who befriends a monstrous creature– the result of a genetic experiment that has produced a being “somewhere between human and animal”. We only catch a glimpse of OKJA from the trailer, but already horror and fantasy fans are buzzing. Look for OKJA this June on Netflix.
Thanks to a recent YouTube post about upcoming animated films, we learned of a new feature in production called The Ark and the Aardvark. Here’s the ad blurb: “The story follows an outcast aardvark by the name of Gilbert [voiced by Miles Teller], who becomes the reluctant leader of a ragtag group of misfit animals that need to be led to the mighty ark before the impending flood. Along their journey, they band together to conquer unforeseen obstacles, and ultimately, Gilbert discovers within himself the inner strength and ingenuity to prove that in a world of ‘twos’, he was truly destined to be The One.” Currently in production at Unified Pictures, the film is being directed by John Stevenson — co-director of the original Kung Fu Panda. No word yet on a precise release date (or who is going to distribute it), but it’s supposed to come out this year.
This May, IDW will release a brand new card game for young mystery fans called Purrrlock Holmes — Furriarty’s Trail (created by Stephen Sauer and illustrated by Jacqui Davis). Here’s what they say: “Furriarty is terrorizing London and he must be stopped before he completes his plans and escapes! As a newly inducted Inspector at Scotland Pound, it’s up to you to bust members of Furriarty’s gang in order to get closer to the bewhiskered baddie that’s been bullying all of Baker Street. Get ready detective, this case is officially afoot (or a paw, if you will).” What they’re not saying is: What’s the connection (if any) between this and the Purrlock Holmes series of young-reader mystery novels by Betty Sleep? You’ll know when we do! Here’s more about the game from TGN.
That’s the official slogan of Trash Panda. They’re a new clothing company started by a pair of fans from Southern California. They state their philosophy like this: “Whether it’s rolling that critical hit, landing that hit on someone’s face, or simply eating that last slice of pizza, or sitting down for a long session of talking and video games you should enjoy what you look like. Live on the outside.” That’s fannish. To that end they have a growing line of nerdy-themed t-shirts, several of which feature anthropomorphic designs. Visit their shop on-line to see what they have so far. And of course they’ll be adding more.
The artist Cielo Pinawin is crafter who chrochets fuzzy character dolls, and she sells them on line as CrochetGiftsbyCielo. She specializes in Pokemon characters, but lately she’s branched out into other anime critters and even the Ninja Turtles. All of her creations are hand-made and customized when you order them. Visit her Etsy Store to see what she’s done so far.
And the winner for the longest comic book title we’ve found recently goes to… Space Parasaurolophus, a full-color science fiction comic written, illustrated, and self-published by Leonardo Pertuzzatti. That very hadrasaur was captured by an alien race called the Lev’rram and given both sentience and an arsenal of fancy gadgets. All of which our hero uses to try and defend the Earth from the Werthams: A much more evil alien race, who wiped out the dinosaurs and now have their eyes set on humanity. Visit the creator’s web site to find out more.