Recently a new young-readers’ book series premiered, courtesy of Jennifer Lynn Alvarez. Starfire is the first book in her new series The Guardian Herd, featuring a society of talking pegasi. “Once every hundred years, a black foal is born, prophesied to either unite or destroy the five herds of flying horses that live in Anok—fated to become the most powerful pegasus in all of the land. Star is this black foal. Even though Star has malformed wings that make him unable to fly, the leaders of each herd will take no risks and want to execute Star before his first birthday. With the help of his friends, Star must escape the clutches of the powerful leaders, and his epic journey of self-discovery turns into a battle between good and evil that will keep readers eagerly turning the pages.” They’ll have more pages to turn this coming April when Stormbound (the second book in the series) hits the shelves. Check out the official page from Harper Collins Publishers to find out more.
Bringing it all around home again, Marvel Comics have announced a new tie-in comic book series based on the animated TV series based on the hit movie based on the comic book: Guardians of the Galaxy. Star Lord and his companions (and we know which two companions you’re watching the closest!) are back in a new 4-issue full-color miniseries. Interestingly, they actually tell us ahead of time that the artwork is primarily screen-captures from the upcoming animated series on Disney XD. Now if only they’d tell us more precisely when the new TV series will premier! Anyway, the comic book miniseries begins in February, adapted by Joe Caramagna. Read an interview with him over at the Marvel site. “Oh… yeah…”
Yet another creative discovery from the CTN Animation Expo: Meg Park, designer and illustrator. Or as she puts it on her personal web site, character designer and visual development artist. Besides examples of her work you’ll find a link to her Etsy Store where you can purchase various prints — many of them toony and anthropomorphic — as well as her art collection book, Fluff & Fangs.
As you may have heard floating through the air in Hollywood lately, Dreamworks Animation has been worrying a lot of people lately(notably investors) with a lack of hit movies. Several of the studio’s offerings over the last two years have not performed as hoped or expected at the box office — and now, Penguins of Madagascar is not exactly on track to set any new records either. Even How to Train Your Dragon 2, which was a blockbuster earlier this year by most standards, was not as much of one as many had expected. All of this seems to have made Dreamworks rather skittish about their upcoming slate of films — especially when it comes to the competition. To that end the studio recently announced that Kung Fu Panda 3, originally slated for release in December of 2015, has been pushed back four months to March of 2016 — presumably to keep out of the way of Star Wars VII, or at least that’s the buzz around town. Interestingly, that move puts the new date for Kung Fu Panda 3 just two weeks after Disney is scheduled to release Zootopia. It seems like 2016 just got a little more interesting — and 2015, perhaps less so.
Ivette and Marilu Molina are real-life sisters who both work in animation as storyboard and character design artists. Over on their tumblr page they have a section following the development of their personal project called Sabertooth California. “Welcome to sabertooth cub adventures. Join twin saber cubs Sunny and Sky on an adventure of a lifetime.” They’ve already created test animation even as they’re busy working out the plot!
At the recent Comic Con Experience in Brazil, Pixar president Jim Morris chatted up the crowd about Finding Dory, Pixar’s upcoming CGI film scheduled for release in June of 2016. Besides showing them lots of preliminary artwork and other goodies, he also gave the world the first inklings of the new film’s plot. Following the adventures of Finding Nemo (of course), this new film follows Dori (the royal blue tang who suffers from short term memory loss) as she journeys across the ocean in search of the marine research facility where she was born — and where her parents still live. Once again Dori will be voiced by Ellen DeGeneres, and her friend Marlin the clownfish (Nemo’s father) will again be voiced by Albert Brooks. No word yet if popular characters like Bruce the vegetarian-wannabe shark or Crash the oh-so-radical sea turtle dude will also make an appearance. But check out the article at Animation Xpress to find out what we do know now.
[Thanks to Fred Patten for the heads up on this article]
Lily Williams works in illustration and visual development for animation — and she has a particular af-FIN-ity for sharks. So much so that she created her own animated mini-documentary called FIN-conceivable. It tells us several interesting facts about sharks and makes a plea for their preservation in the wild oceans. Meanwhile she’s also found time to work on various cartoon projects at Sony Animation. Take a look at her web site, and follow the links to check out FIN-conceivable at Video Press.
The artist Nic Gregory recently emigrated from Australia to the United States — and in the middle of it, found time to complete an illustrated book project: Sleeping Beauty, re-imagined with birds. Amy Gregory wrote the adaptation, and Nic created the full-color artwork. Now the completed hardcover is available at Nic’s web site, along with examples of his animation art and character design. Interesting trivia: Nic is a former hip-hop musician, and a former pro wrestler — who even had his own action figure.
The career of artist Brian Ajhar has already spanned three decades. He’s a character designer and caricaturist who has illustrated more than a dozen books — furry, human, and otherwise. Many of his sketches and character designs have been gathered together in three books: In Character Volumes 1 & 2, and Mugs & Beards. Currently he travels the country as a guest lecturer and instructor at numerous art colleges and animation events. Check out his web site and make sure to watch the YouTube video featuring a collection of his work.