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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.

The Boy and the Beast

Can’t think of a better title than that, so why try? Several places on the Net (including Flayrah) have already made note recently of The Boy and the Beast. It’s the latest anime feature from Hosoda Mamoru, the man who brought us Summer Wars and The Wolf Children. As you can tell from those works, the man has an interest in anthropomorphic characters — and this new one just may be his most furry feature yet! The Boy and the Beast “… tells the story of a lonely young boy who strays into a parallel world inhabited by supernatural creatures, where a bear-like beastman becomes his companion and mentor.” It’s set to premier in Japan this July. No word yet on any planned release in North America, but most of director Mamoru’s works have made it over here eventually. Check out the article over at Twitch Film — it includes a trailer with subtitles.

image c. 2015 Toho Studios

image c. 2015 Toho Studios

Goodbye to a Couple of Bears

Over the past few days two gentlemen passed away. Two gentlemen with very different but both very interesting connections to furry fandom. Stan Freberg, 88, was a man who “wore so many different hats throughout his career that he may as well have been a hat-maker. Satirist, songwriter, comedian, commercial producer, recording artist, actor, puppeteer, and voice artist only scratch the surface.” Among the myriad of voices he created some of the most memorable might be Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent (in both the puppet and animated versions of Beany & Cecil), the beaver in Disney’s Lady & the Tramp, and (from a very young age) Junior Bear, the lunk-headed young son of short-tempered Papa Bear in a series of cartoons by Chuck Jones.  (“C-A-T, dog… D-O-G, Rhode Island…”). Meanwhile Bob Walker also passed away, at the age of 54, apparently from a heart condition. Mr. Walker will best be remembered as co-director (with Aaron Blaise) of Disney’s 2003 2D animated film Brother Bear, but prior to that he had worked as a layout artist on numerous Disney animated projects including Rescuers Down Under (1990), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), The Lion King (1994), Mulan (1998), and Lilo & Stitch (2002). A native of Canada, Mr. Walker started his career working for Nelvana Animation on TV shows like The Raccoons. [Thanks to Cartoon Brew for providing this info.]

Be Wary of Wishes

One day, a washer-woman encountered a talking fox, who begged her to hide him from a trio of hunters. She did, concealing him in her laundry basket. Of course, this simply made him fall in love with her. Now he wished that she would love him back… and she wished he were a human instead of a fox. So begins the dark fable Outfoxed, written and illustrated by Dylan Meconis. In 2012 Outfoxed was nominated for Best Digital Comic at the Eisner Awards. Now it’s finally available on dead trees thanks to the folks over at Toonhound Studios. You can also check it out over at the author’s web site.

image c. 2015 by Dylan Meconis

image c. 2015 by Dylan Meconis

Finn and Jake Make It BIG

Word has been spreading rapidly that Warner Brothers have put the mega-popular show Adventure Time on the fast-track for development as a feature film. Needless to say, many are assuming they were encouraged by Paramount’s success with the new Spongebob Squarepants movie. According to Cartoon Brew: “The animated film will be produced by Chris McKay, the animation supervisor of The LEGO Movie and director of the forthcoming The LEGO Batman Movie, and Roy Lee, one of 18 producers on The LEGO Movie. Adventure Time creator Pen Ward will have some involvement with the film, according to Deadline, specifically ‘in writing and producing the feature version.'” No word yet on a release date, but given how early in the project they are it’s a good guess it won’t be before 2017. The question on a lot of people’s minds then is: Will Adventure Time still be as big then, and bring as many people to the theaters?

image c. 2015 Cartoon Network

image c. 2015 Cartoon Network

The Girl, and Her Pig

We simply can’t describe Amity Blamity any better than the publishers do: “Meet Gretchen & Chester. Gretchen is a shy 4 year old and Chester is a potbellied pig. They live with Gretchen’s Grandma and listless Uncle Downey in rural America.  Mistaking their afternoon activity of playing office for entrepreneurial gusto, Downey recruits the duo to assist in his deluded aspirations of running moonshine (echoing his boyhood heroes Bo & Luke Duke). Unbeknownst to the outlandish family and their activities, strange forest critters begin to lurk in the woods nearby, disrupting their quirky daily life and sending them on an adventure to save their degenerate Uncle from a strange genetic mutation!” Got that? Now Slave Labor Graphics have published Mike White’s black & white on-line comic strip story (so far) as a single soft-cover trade paperback. Check it out (including a YouTube trailer) at SLG’s web site, and see the comic itself (including more full-color “Sundays”) at the official Blogspot.

image c. 2015 by Mike White

image c. 2015 by Mike White

One Little Monster And Her Family

Katie Cook is well-known these days as one of the main writers and sometimes artist of IDW’s My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic comic book series. Well, she has also created her own on-line comic series called Gronk: A Monster’s Story, which follows the adventures of a young and rather adorable monster… living out in the human world. Unable to make it as a scary thing that bumps in the night, she instead moves in with a young woman, her mischievous cat, and her friendly but very large dog. After several years on line, this full-color all-ages comic has now been collected into three softcover volumes by Action Lab Entertainment — all of them currently available at the Gronk web site.

image c. 2015 by Katie Cook

image c. 2015 by Katie Cook

The Last Boy in Big Print

For many Furry Fans who grew up in the 1960’s and 70’s, Kamandi, The Last Boy On Earth held a special place in their hearts. Now, IDW Publishing have brought us this: “Of all Jack Kirby’s celebrated DC Comics creations, perhaps none has struck such an enduring chord with readers as his post-apocalyptic adventure Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth. Now, to the delight of fans far and wide, this much-anticipated series joins the esteemed ranks of Jack ‘King’ Kirby’s Artist’s Editions! Long after the age of super heroes, Kamandi triumphed as humanity’s last beacon in a world ruled by beasts. Traveling the remnants of civilization after a great disaster, the Last Boy on Earth found both friends and foes among the irradiated animal kingdom that now inhabited the world. Written and drawn by Kirby, the series was unique to comics and completely unlike anything else readers had seen. This enthralling Artist’s Edition features some of the most influential complete issues from the revered series, including issues 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, and 9, along with additional covers and other bonus material. At 160 pages and measuring 12” by 17,” this Artist’s Edition will amaze and delight fans this May!”

The Boy Who Fell to Earth

In 2012 John Claude Bemis (author of the Americana-Fantasy series The Clockwork Dark) brought us a new post-apocalypse novel for young readers called The Prince Who Fell From The Sky. “In Casseomae’s world, the wolves rule the Forest, and the Forest is everywhere. The animals tell stories of the Skinless Ones, whose cities and roads once covered the earth, but the Skinless disappeared long ago. Casseomae is content to live alone, apart from the other bears in her tribe, until one of the ancients’ sky vehicles crashes to the ground, and from it emerges a Skinless One, a child. Rather than turn him over to the wolves, Casseomae chooses to protect this human cub, to find someplace safe for him to live. But where among the animals will a human child be safe? And is Casseomae threatening the safety of the Forest and all its tribes by protecting him?” Published by Random House, check this out over at the author’s web site.

image c. 2014 Random House

image c. 2014 Random House

Hank the Horse, and a Lady

Hillary Bradfield describes herself as an animator, comic creator, and storyboard artist.  Most recently she’s spent her time working on Disney XD’s Randy Cunningham, 9th Grade Ninja. On her own though, she’s created a comic strip adventure called Hank the Horse over on her blogspot. Follow the adventures of a cranky equine as he’s dragged along on a wild adventure by a young lady — who happens to look a lot like Hillary draws herself. Some of her Hank comics have been collected on dead trees as well, and Volumes 1 & 2 are available on her blogspot also.

image c. 2014 by Hillary Bradfield

image c. 2014 by Hillary Bradfield

Human Dinos vs. Dragon Wizards

DinoFroz is a 2D animated TV series created by Orlando Corrati and animated by Mondo TV Studios in Italy. “The series depicts the adventures of Tom, a 12-year-old boy and his friends who, after playing a board game, are teleported to a world where they can transform into dinosaurs using stones called Rockfroz.” And more importantly, they can use their new-found dinosaur powers to try and defeat an army of evil magic dragons who are determined to rule all worlds — including ours! All of this also (hopefully) serving in the sales of tie-in toys. You can see both show and toys advertised and summarized over on YouTube. DinoFroz is currently seeking distribution in North America.

image c. 2014 Mondo TV

image c. 2014 Mondo TV

Birds of a… Well, You Know

An unusual new all-ages miniseries is coming soon from Archaia. Written and illustrated (in full color) by Jorge Corona, Feathers tells the story of a young boy named Poe who is, yes, feathered. But that’s hardly the strangest thing about his world. “A reclusive boy born covered in feathers must help his first-ever friend, a young girl named Bianca, as she tries to return to her home beyond the slums of the Maze. They must dodge street gangs and child-snatchers along the way, and perhaps together will learn the secrets to his mysterious past.” Check out the review over at Bleeding Cool, and look for the first of six issues to arrive in stores this January.

image c. 2014 Archaia

image c. 2014 Archaia

And Speaking of Squirrels…

One of Marvel’s most unusual super heroes (and that’s saying a lot!) is getting her own full-color series this January. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl follows the adventures of, who else, Squirrel Girl — perhaps the world’s most upbeat superhero. And with her accomplishments, who wouldn’t be? With the help of her squirrel-like powers and her trusty squirrel sidekick, Tiptoe, she’s taken on and defeated some of the Marvel Universe’s biggest and baddest super-villains. From Entertainment Weekly: “In Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, writer Ryan North [Adventure Time] and artist Erica Henderson [Quantum & Woody] take on the lighthearted superheroine whose mutant gene gives her an endearing cocktail of squirrel-related superpowers. When the comic book begins, she’s starting college—but in no time at all, Squirrel Girl is defending Earth from threats most cosmic.” Check out the interview with Ryan North over at Comic Book Resources.

Image c. 2014 Marvel Comics

Image c. 2014 Marvel Comics

Simians, Leather, and Chrome

It’s time we caught up with The Humans. Which is to say Keenan Marshall Keller and Tom Neely’s new full-color comic book series from Image. Take the violent biker culture of the early 1970′s. Set it in dusty Bakersfield, California. And make the protagonists all walking, talking, humanoid apes. In leather. On big bikes. There you go. “The Humans is one long and twisted ride through biker gang warfare, drug running, corrupt cops, semi-truck hijackings, Vietnam flashbacks, Skin Fights (homosapien cockfighting), major ultra-violence, a strip club called The Forbidden Zone, and bloody vengeance.” Sounds like quite a party. Check out theinterview with the creators over at The Nerdist, and look for the first issue to come out this November.

Image c. 2014 Image Comics

Image c. 2014 Image Comics

A Boy Becomes A Man… And A Dragon?

He Walks With Dragons is the first book in a new fantasy series of the same name by author and poet Stanley S. Thornton. As he points out, unlike your average fantasy series this does not take place in a fantasy land — it imagines dragons in our actual world, influencing human history and human evolution. “Draig, a boy on the verge of his manhood, is summoned to the majestic mountain by the Great Ones. There he finds out he is about to transcend the ages and risk his life to prevent the destruction of mankind. Born into the naïve innocence of ancient man, Draig lives a simple pastoral existence in a quiet, small village. But one day he is flung on a magical journey into a forbidden new world. There Draconos, a dragon, befriends the boy, training him in the art of warfare. From this day forward, the young boy finds himself in awe at the wonders the world holds for him. Not only has Draig become a man, but he is living like a dragon and learning their mystical powers… And when the time comes, will Draig be willing to lay down his life for the sake of saving the dragons? And when the dragons are gone, where will he go?” He Walks With Dragons and The Staff And The Orb, the 2nd book in the planned 4-book series, are available now. Visit the author’s web site to find out more about the series and when the next books are coming.