The European artist known only as Jason is known for is stark graphic style and his rather eccentric stories, often told without dialogue — works like Werewolves of Montpellier and Meow, Baby! Now, Jason has returned with a new hardcover, full-color graphic novel for Fantagraphics Books, and he’s enlisted the services of award-winning French writer Fabien Vehlmann. The Isle of 100,000 Graves comes to stores this April. In it, we meet a little girl searching for her father, who encounters blood-thirsty pirates… and an island where young executioners go to learn their deadly art! Of course there’s an entry for the book at Amazon.
image c. 2011 Fantagraphics Books
It seems like we just can’t get away from those damned dirty apes — not that a lot of us actually want to! Now BOOM Studios is premiering a brand-new Planet of the Apes full-color comic book series this April, written by Daryl Gregory (an award-winning novelist) and illustrated by Carlos Magno. The story this time takes place prior to the original 1968 Planet of the Apes movie, a time when humans and apes have formed an unsteady truce — very unsteady, it seems. Ape Central.net (a division of ComicBookMovie.com) has the story, as well as links to the brand new Planet of the Apes movie Ceasar: Rise of the Apes, starring James Franco and directed by Rupert Wyatt. Recently the film’s premier was moved back from this summer to this coming Thanksgiving.
image c. 2011 BOOM Studios
One of the box-office surprises of 2005 was a little film called Hoodwinked — the first independently produced CGI film, which went on to make a rather tidy little profit. Talk began almost immediately about sequel for the film — and now, that sequel is coming to theaters on April 29th. Hoodwinked introduced us to Little Red Riding Hood, her rather resourceful (and butt-kicking) Granny, and a big-but-not-so-bad Wolf. All three of them return in the new film, Hoodwinked Too: Hood vs. Evil. They’re joining up with an outfit known as the Happily Ever-after Agency (HEA) on a mission to save Hansel and Gretel from a wicked witch. Some things have changed — Hayden Panettiere (Alpha and Omega) replaces Anne Hathaway as the voice of Red, and the director this time is Mike Disa, previously known as a director of video short films. But once again we have Patrick Warburton as the Wolf, Glenn Close as Granny, and David Ogden Stiers as the frog Nicky Flippers, head of HEA. You can view the current trailer for the film on YouTube here.
Cartoon Brew recently put up an article letting us know about a new project from Disney’s Movietoon Studios (creators of A Goofy Movie and other works). It’s a new direct-to-DVD CGI called Planes, and it’s all about — you guessed it — anthropomorphic airplanes. Here’s the Press Release from DMS: “Planes will introduce an entirely original and hilarious crew of daredevils from every corner of the globe and draws inspiration from the immensely popular Disney/Pixar’s Cars world. ‘We had such a great time exploring the world of Cars over the course of two films, so it seemed only natural for us to see where our imaginations would take us in a film where planes were the main characters. By expanding the Cars world, Planes gave us a whole new set of fun-filled situations and a great opportunity to introduce some fantastic new characters,’ commented John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer, Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios. Planes takes off with an international cast of the fastest air racers around, in a comedy packed with action and adventure starring Dusty, a small town dreamer who longs to enter the most epic around-the-world air race … despite his fear of heights. With the help and support of a fleet of new and hilarious characters, Dusty wings his way into the biggest challenge of his life.” Look for Planes to take off in the spring of 2013.
Little Pedro c. Walt Disney Pictures
Empresas Polar is a well-known brewer of cerveza (beer) in Venezuela. Recently they decided to create a campaign bringing their company logo, a polar bear, to life. Enter The Character Shop, an outfit famous for their creation of animatronic characters for use in advertising — a great many of which are anthropomorphic animals. They helped Empresas Polar create the character of Pedroso the Polar Bear for their new line of TV commercials. And the people of Venezuela seem to be taking to them — and Pedroso, the 7-foot tall bear himself — quite well. The Character Shop has a page dedicated to their creation of Pedroso, and of course you can see some of his actual commercials on YouTube.
Anticipation is building for the return of Dragon Warrior Po the panda and his compatriots in this summer’s Kung Fu Panda 2, hitting screens in May from Dreamworks Animation. Before that though, Kizoic Comics (an imprint of Ape Entertainment) brings us a new one-shot Kung Fu Panda 2 full-color prequel comic, illustrated by Dan Schoening. Taking place between the two movies, the new comic follows the story of Po struggling to balance being the Dragon Warrior, a good son, and a noodle waiter all at once! The one-shot will be followed by a new Kung Fu Panda comic book series beginning May 4th, as well as a special Kung Fu Panda mini-comic for Free Comic Book Day. Ape Entertainment has a preview of all of this on their web site.
Now how could you miss a title like that? What is it? A new black & white graphic novel written and illustrated by Mike White, coming this May from Slave Labor Graphics. Here’s the publisher’s press release: “Meet Gretchen & Chester. Gretchen is a shy 4 year old girl and Chester is a talking 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’. 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!” You read it here folks. Amity Blamity, in softcover this May. Yep.
This April the creative team behind The Astounding Wolf Man, writer Robert Kirkman and artist Jason Howard, return with a brand-new full-color comic book series for Image Comics called Super Dinosaur. Mr. Kirkman refers to the series as “a Pixar movie on paper”, which is sort of a clue that the violence quotient will likely be much lower than in their previous comic series. The story goes like this: The evil Max Maximus wants to rule Inner Earth, home of the last remaining dinosaurs (who have become largely anthropomorphic). Standing in his way is a 10-year-old human boy and his best friend, a 9-foot tall T-Rex in a suit of battle armor. Meet Derek Dynamo and Super Dinosaur!
image c. 2011 by Jason Howard
WE3 was a well-known and well-received 3-issue comic book miniseries written by Grant Morrison (Animal Man) and illustrated by Frank Quitely (New X-Men). This full-color comic was first published by DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint in 2004, and was first gathered together as a trade paperback graphic novel in 2005. Now, the graphic novel version returns, again published by Vertigo. This time it’s a brand-new hardcover edition, featuring new story pages by the creators. It’s scheduled for release this coming June 15th. The story of WE3 follows three stray animals — a dog, a cat, and a rabbit — who are captured by a secret military organization and transformed into cybernetic weapon-animals. Now they have limited speech, they are covered in body-armor, and they are armed to the teeth with deadly weapons. When they learn they are to be decommissioned, they make a break for freedom — pursued not only by the military, but by other cybernetic animals. Interestingly, the WE3 entry on Wikipedia mentions that in 2006 WE3 was optioned for development as a CGI film by New Line Cinema. Then came the word (in late 2008) that New Line was no longer involved in the project, but that John Stevenson (co-director of Kung Fu Panda) was now attached to the film as director.