In the spirit of Roadside Romeo — but with a completely different cast and crew! It’s Koochie Koochie Hota Hai, a new CGI animated film coming this summer from India’s Prana Productions. It’s a loose remake of the 1998 live-action film Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, which was the highest-grossing Bollywood film of that year. This new cartoon feature follows the lives of three high school dogs — one guy, two girls — in a love triangle, and throws in the added plot element of a time travel machine. In a sly wink to the original film, lead actors Shahrukh Khan and Kajol play the lead voices in this new version, along with several well-known comedy and action stars in other roles. You can check out the trailer on YouTube.
New for very young readers, from Lerner Publishing Group: Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye is a full-color trade paperback series for kids, created by Colleen Venable and Stephanie Yue. Sasspants the guinea pig P.I. attempts to solve the mystery of the missing sandwich with the help of her sidekick, Hamisher the hamster, and a menagerie of pet-store suspects. Each book in this series is peppered with clues, and features a collection of animal facts at the end. Then there’s Mr. Badger and Mrs. Fox, a new series (also in full color) by Brittie Luciani and Eve Tharlet. In Volume 1: The Meeting, Mrs. Fox and her daughter Ginger are chased out of their home by a vicious hunter’s dog. They end up seeking shelter in the home of Mr. Badger, his two squabbling sons, and his toddler daughter. It’s a series about making friends and getting along in families of different backgrounds. Both new series are coming this March.
Three new titles of varying furry-fan interest are coming the March from Antarctic Press. First up: He’s a chip off the old… well, you’ll find out. Chip is a brand-new full-color miniseries by Boneyard and Far West creator Richard Moore. Chip is a young gargoyle on a farm in upstate New York, who’s determined to convince his elders that he can be a big, scary defender of the night like them. Trouble is, Chip is only 4 inches tall! On the non-fiction side of things there’s the new instructional trade paperback, How to Draw Magic and Fantasy by Fred Perry, Ben Dunn, and David Hutchinson — three names you should know if you follow Antarctic Press or furry comics in general. And finally, there’s Twilit, a new black & white comic book series by Robby Bevard and J.L. Anderson. Hmmm, we’ll let the publishers describe it: “When the vampires on campus would rather bake in their weed than drink blood, life is pretty mellow. Well, except for the occasional scraps with the werewolves, but as long as they vacuum up afterward, the vamps are cool with it. What’s worse is the furry fan down the hall who’s convinced he’s a werewolf, but isn’t.” You read it here folks.
Free Comic Book Day is an annual event where comic book publishers present your local comic book dealer with full-color mini-comics to give away for free — Now how cool is that? It takes place on the first Saturday in May, which in this case is May 1st. Inevitably, you can find some cool anthropomorphic titles in among the freebees for the day if you look. This time around, Ape Entertainment Shrek and the Penguins of Madagascar, featuring four stories which preview two of their upcoming comic book titles (guess what they are!). Archai Entertainment also combines two titles, in their case Mouse Guard and Fraggle Rock (!). Archie Comics presents a special free edition of Sonic the Hedgehog, while Top Shelf Productions has a special introduction to Owly and Friends (his friends being Johnny Boo and Korgi). There’s lots more to be found on Free Comic Book Day, but of course supplies are going to be limited! If you want to find out more about the event, check out www.freecomicbookday.com.
Once again, the folks at Boom! Kids take things in a whole new direction… Donald Duck and Friends Volume 1: Double Duck is a new trade paperback (also available in hardcover) that collects the recent issues of this comic book series… featuring everyone’s favorite cranky duck as a top-flight secret agent, out to save the world from a madman bent on melting the world’s polar ice caps! The story is by Fausto Vitaliano and Marco Bosco, with various folks contributing the full-color art. The books are scheduled to come out in early May.
17 Cats is a new web site with one mission: To connect artists with buyers. Here’s how they describe it: “In a nutshell, this site is simply a place for artists to organize and manage commissions. We also provide a place for people to come and see who is available for commissions. What kind of artwork? Anything. Paintings, Sculptures, Woodwork, Sketches, Cartoons, Comics, Manga, Knitting… If you are an artist and create custom works, you are welcome here. Join cost: Free. Yup.” We always like to hear that. More than 100 artists are listed as “open for commissions” on the site, and of course eager art-buyers can use it to discover new artists and new works.
The International Animated Film Society (ASIFA) presented the 37th annual Annie Awards on Saturday, February 6th. The presentation was held at UCLA’s Royce Hall, and none other than William Shatner was the host.
As many had been expecting, Disney/Pixar’s Up took the honors for Best Animated Feature Film, as well as a Best Director win for co-director Pete Docter. But what was notable about the evening was that, unlike last year’s Kung Fu Panda sweep, no one film or TV show ran away with a multitude of awards. By sheer numbers, three items emerged victorious for winning three awards each: Coraline (Best Feature Character Design, Best Feature Production Design, Best Feature Music), Prep & Landing (Best TV Character Design, Best TV Production Design, Best TV Production), and The Princess and the Frog (Best Effects Animation, Best Feature Character Animation (Eric Goldberg for Lou the Alligator), and Best Feature Voice Acting (Jen Cody for Charlotte). The Penguins of Madagscar won two awards, Best TV Directing and Best TV Production for Children. Another 10 items won a single award each, including one for Fantastic Mr. Fox (for Best Writing in a Feature). In other words, the awards were spread around quite a bit!
Besides the regular awards, the evening also included several special awards and honors. Bruce Timm, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Tim Burton each received the Winsor McCay Award for Lifetime Achievement in Animation. The June Foray Award for “Benevolent Impact” on Animation went to long-time animator and union activist Tom Sito. William T. Reeves of Pixar won the Ub Iwerks Award for Technical Achievement (he practically invented particle systems animation), while Martin Meunier and Brian McLean were given Special Achievement Awards for creating a new fabrication process used in making the film Coraline. Also, moving tributes were held for the late Roy E. Disney and Wayne Allwine (the voice of Mickey Mouse). A complete listing of the Awards and pictures from the ceremony will be up soon at the Annie Awards web site.
Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb (in hardcover, from Eos) begins the new Rain Wilds Chronicles — set in the same world as Hobb’s Realm of the Elderling series. In this new book, humans celebrate as dragons are once again born in the city of Cassarick. But something is wrong… This is from the Publisher’s Weekly: “Here be dragons—but debilitated, deformed, damaged dragons, hatched too soon, sick and starving, into a world that has mostly forgotten them. The first of Hobb’s Rain Wild Chronicles, an absorbing extension of her Liveship and Tawny Man trilogies, introduces 15 young dragons who struggle to survive with the grudging help of mutant Rain Wilders. Eventually driven out by the Traders Council, the hatchlings decide to seek Kelsingra, their ancient home. Caught up by the dragons’ plight and longing to escape unhappy families and the stifling Rain Wild culture, self-taught dragon scholar Alise Kincannon and teenage tree-dwelling mutant Thymara volunteer to accompany them on the quest, with the help of magnetic liveship captain Leftrin and a host of colorful characters. Hobb’s meticulously realized fantasy tale is a welcome addition to contemporary dragon lore.” It’s on the shelves now.