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Where the more unusual news goes.

One Flew Over the Monkey’s Nest

This is direct from an article on Cartoon Brew: “Mexican animation firm Ánima Estudios, producer of the hit 2011 Mexican film Top Cat: The Movie, has released a trailer for its next feature Guardianes de Oz ([Guardians of Oz] retitled Wicked Flying Monkeys for English audiences). The film is set to premiere in Mexico on April 10, 2015. Directed by Alberto Mar (Top Cat: The Movie), the film has an original story by Mexico-born director Jorge Gutierrez, who helmed the recent Reel FX feature The Book of Life. Veteran American television writers Doug Langdale and Evan Gore are credited for the final script along with Gutierrez. Taking place in L. Frank Baum’s Oz universe, the film follows Ozzy, a young flying monkey who rebels against his boss, the wicked witch Evilene, and reaches out to the “Guardians of Oz”—the Lion, the Scarecrow and the Tin Man—who have been put under a spell by the witch.” The article also has a link to the trailer itself. It’s easy to see the connection between this and The Book of Life when you look at the character designs!

Look Out! Gremlins On Line.

Back in the day, E.T. Bryan and E.W. Bryan created Gremlin Trouble, a black & white anime-inspired comic book series about a hapless storm fairy turned into a puffy-tailed gremlin by a bolt of lightning — and the adventures that came next. That only begins to scratch the surface of how crazy this fantasy/adventure/j-pop story became. Well now, that same team have returned on line with Gremlin Princess: “Digit, a young Gremlin Princess and her pushy fairy best friend Appleblossom are enrolled in Miss Stahlbacken’s Academy for Young Entities, a harsh discipline school for fairy delinquents. There, sadistic magic using overseers rule, technology is banned, and escape is impossible. Hilarity ensues.” Makes much more sense, yes? See what you can figure out by visiting the Anti-Ballistic Pixelations web site.

image c. 2014 by E.T. Bryan

image c. 2014 by E.T. Bryan

I Vant to Suck Your Petrol

We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again: Anthropomorphics means anthropomorphic anything. To that end, witness this… Monster Motors. “The once-quiet town of Transylvania, Kentucky is under attack from Cadillacula, an evil vampire-car that sucks the gas out of other vehicles! The more victims he claims, the more powerful he gets. Genius mechanic Vic Frankenstein has a solution: Build a monster to fight a monster. Vic and his android assistant iGOR (interactive Garage Operations Robot) assemble a giant truck from the pieces of the town’s fallen vehicles. Frankenride is born, and the battle between good and evil hits the road!” You heard it here, folks. The Monster Motors full-color one-shot from IDW (written by Brian Lynch and illustrated by Nick Roche) comes to comic shops later this month. Check it out at Previews World.

image c. 2014 IDW Publishing

image c. 2014 IDW Publishing

The Lion Blocks

Perhaps it was inevitable that someone would turn Lego toys’ popular anthropomorphic fantasy series Legends of Chima into a comic book — and Papercutz were the ones to do it. No less than three volumes of Lego: Legends of Chima have hit the stands now, in both hardcover and trade paperback editions. They’re written by Yannick Grotholt with full-color art by Comicon (yes, that’s the name). “Chima— a world reigned by animal tribes, divided by the battle of the noble lions against the evil crocodiles. In High Risk [Volume 1] Laval, prince of the Lions and his friend Eris, a warrior of the Eagle Tribe, engage in a training race on their Speedorz. As the two speed through the jungle, they stumble upon a Gorilla convoy transporting CHI that is being attacked by the Crocodiles. Will Laval and Eris save their Gorilla friends? Or will they become Crocodile Meat?” Papercutz has a web site dedicated to the series.

image c. 2014 Papercutz

image c. 2014 Papercutz

Speaking of Bears… *Ahem*

What features the likes of Prozac Bear, Crack Bear, Lech Bear, and Death Bear, among others? Why it’s Bear Nuts, a full-color on-line comic strip by Canadian artist Alison Acton. Surprisingly nice for their many… quirks, these odd bears live in a magical realm where they all learn to get along… and not disgust the neighbors.  It’s all part of Studio Dooomcat, an on-line art collective (with prints, t-shirts, and more) started by Alison and Jim Charalampidis. Check out their web site, and follow the links to find the first two volumes of the collected Bear Nuts, available from DMF Comics.

image c. 2014 by Alison Acton

image c. 2014 by Alison Acton

Upcoming symposium on Gef the Talking Mongoose

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In 1931 on the Isle of Man, the Irving family claimed that their farm was home to a spectral talking mongoose. Many British tabloids carried stories on Gef and various psychic investigators visited, searching for evidence of the creature. Was is a hoax, paranormal activity, or some combination of them?

The curious can attend a symposium on Gef at the University of London, Thursday 10 April. Tickets are £7, including light refreshments.

Cats Are Weird

As if that were news to anyone! Well, just in case  you weren’t sure, comic strip artist Jeffrey Brown is here to tell you about it in his collection called, appropriately enough, Cats Are Weird and More Observations. Published back in 2010 (somehow we missed it!), this hardcover collection brings together both black & white and color observations of a pair of felines as they learn about the worlds both inside and out. Earlier, back in 2009, Jeffrey had success with his first cat-themed collection, Cat Getting Out of a Bag.  You can see both of these books at Jeffrey’s Amazon page. More recently, he’s made a name for himself with the popular Darth Vader and Son comic strip series.

image c. 2013 Jeffrey Brown

Teddy takes a trip . . . to Japan?

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Always wanted to visit Japan's capital city, but don't have the funds? Now you can travel vicariously through the eyes of a beloved plushie.

Japanese travel agency Unagi Travel, a self-styled 'Japan Travel Agency for Stuffed Animals', offers a selection of holidays for cuddly critters which range from a $35 mystery tour to the top of the range, a visit to the historic city of Kyoto for $95. Plushie owners also cover the cost of packaging their pals and mailing them to their destination. (Anyone who has ever experienced a budget airline might well envy the ability to go first class by private Jiffy bag.)

Animation: 'Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 1/8'?

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The Cartoon Brew has a critique by Amid Amidi of Sony Pictures Animation’s Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 hybrid CGI/cartoon 6’46” short, “Earl Scouts”, in which Barry the strawberry and one of the pickle foodimals humorously(?) try to kill each other.

Did you know that there were any Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 short cartoons? I didn’t, but the whole “Earl Scouts” is on YouTube. Seeing is believing … well, not that foodimals are real, but that “Earl Scouts” is. Officer Earl is at the beginning and the end, but most of the short features the two anthropomorphized foodimals. Does Sony Pictures Animation plan any more shorts like this?

Cat proposed as mayor of Mexican state capital Xalapa

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'Candigato Morris', by J Carlos V Padilla 32 days before the mayoral election in Xalapa, capital of the Mexican state of Veracruz, a feline candidate is making a mockery of the ruling coalition's politicians on social networks.

"Candigato Morris" has his own iconic posters and other campaign materials, and has captured the public fancy with such slogans as "no more rats in Xalapa" and "in Xalapa it suits you to vote for another animal; vote for Morris".

According to his Facebook profile, Morris, who was born in Xalapa, "promises no more than the other candidates" and "sleeps a lot, which is the ideal profile for a mayoral candidate."

It's yet to be seen whether the candigato's weakness for "quilts, sheets, pollows, couches, and clothing in general" will be his undoing. Still, given his charisma (and the fact that his campaign page has over 18,000 'likes'), the PAN and PRD coalition candidates may be in serious trouble come July 7.

Adventures in Ugly

After their first appearance in 2001 at San Diego Comic Con and other conventions, the fuzzy little “Ugly Dolls” have become a pop toy phenomenon of their own. Now Viz Media have announced the very first Ugly Dolls series of full-color graphic novels for young readers, starting with Ugly Doll: Goin’ Places this July. From the official press release on Comic Book Resources: “VIZ Media’s Ugly Doll graphic novel series will transport readers to a diverse universe where ‘ugly’ just means unique and different, and celebrating who you are inside and out is the new beautiful. Join Wage™, Babo™, OX™, Ice-Bat™ and their Uglydoll pals as they express themselves through laughs, tears, love and adventure!”

image c. 2013 Viz Media

Animals Think, Animals Write

It’s a new hardcover book called Animals with Sharpies, created by two of the founding members of the world-renowned collective The Royal Art Lodge. Again, we’re going to defer to their description, since we really can’t top it: “Animals with Sharpies is a collection of paintings with hand-lettered texts. In each painting, Michael Dumontier and Neil Farber have depicted an animal holding a Sharpie, ostensibly writing a message. These messages are varied in nature: Political and religious tracts, confessions, recipes, arithmetic problems, and more. Above all, these paintings are funny, but they are also startlingly poignant and jarring for the humanness of the suffering and longing depicted in these animals’ simple words.” Check it out at Amazon. It’s coming to shelves this June.

image c. 2013 Michael Dumontier and Neil Farber

Profile: Turkmenistan - The Land of Horse Heaven

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Emblem of TurkmenistanThe Day of the Race Horse is coming!

In Turkmenistan. It’s the last Sunday in April, April 28 this year. It’s a national holiday there.

Turkmenistan is widely regarded as one of the more corrupt and repressive nations of Central Asia; called by the New York Times “the North Korea of the former Soviet Union”. But not for oppression of its horses. In Turkmenistan, the odds are almost 100% that they are Akhal-Teke horses, the national breed that goes back to prehistoric times.

The Akhal-Teke is claimed to be the earliest domesticated breed of horse. Alexander the Great’s favorite battle charger Bucephalus (honored on a gold coin), which Alexander named a city after, was an Akhal-Teke. Alexander praised the Akhal-Teke for its hardiness, speed and stamina. See the Embassy of Turkmenistan’s website for an official description of the horse’s status.

Review: 'Summerhill', by Kevin Frane

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SummerhillSummerhill, probably a dog, is introduced at a dinner gathering as the others try to guess what he is:

‘I tell you,’ the ankylosauromorphic cyborg said in its fluid, polished, robotic voice, ‘he’s got to be some sort of wolf. Just on two legs, is all.’
Summerhill kept his ears perked and his mouth shut. He lifted his own glass of golden, bubbling something-or-other to his lips and took a sip, his eyes meeting the little girl’s for a moment of grateful acknowledgment.
‘Oh, please. Have you ever SEEN a wolf?’ asked the Crown Prince of the Akashic Realm, lines of disapproval appearing on his otherwise smooth, pale blue face. He and Summerhill had met earlier in the evening; the two shared a taste for fizzy beverages. ‘He’s far too small, and the colors are all wrong.’
The girl quietly begged pardon and broke away from the group. As she left, she offered Summerhill a tiny wave with her slender fingers, along with one final smile of sympathy and encouragement.
A being that looked like a pinkish cloud of gas with a self-contained thunderstorm rumbling all through itself chimed in. ‘No, I saw a wolf here aboard the ship just this morning.’ Blue tendrils of electricity crackled over its wispy form as it somehow created the sounds of speech. ‘He didn’t look anything like this.’ (p. 2)

Dallas, TX, Argyll Productions, January 2013, trade paperback $17.95 (285 pages).

Korean scuplts anthropomorphic animals from recycled tires

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Jackal-man tyre sculpture by Yong Ho JiAnthropomorphic jackals, wolf-men, horses and wild boar - all made of used tires, resin, steel and foam. These are the work of Yong Ho Ji, a Korean whose art has toured the world, from Seoul to Amsterdam.

Yong, who has an M.F.A. in fine arts from NYU and a B.F.A. in sculpture from Hongik University in Seoul, originally formed his pieces from welded iron bones, wooden planks and soil, overlaid with tires, before turning for a while to death-castings. Nowadays, he works in tire-wrapped resin formed on plaster molds.

Within the medium, there is great scope for choice in materials, as noted by Trinie Dalton:

A deer's tender cheekbones and muzzle are rendered with lightly treaded road-bike tires and smooth inner tubes, lining its eye sockets and nostrils to conjure a quizzical expression. The burly neck and forehead of a steadfast rhinoceros uncannily resembles a real rhino's bust because of the broadly treaded tractor tires peering out, like anger-strained tendons, from beneath a rough outer skin made of motorcycle tires.

Some species seem more popular than others; his gallery displays a multitude of deer and eleven models of shark, but only one mink. Herbivores feature on an equal basis - there's even a zebra. [tip: JayGryph]

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