Big news from our friends over at Cartoon Brew, especially if you’re a fan of traditional animation: “Indie animated feature distributor GKIDS has announced that the highly anticipated hand-drawn French film Ernest and Celestine will open in New York and Los Angeles on March 14, 2014. That will be followed by national expansion to all major US markets. GKIDS has qualified Ernest and Celestine for the Academy Awards this year in the film’s original French language with subtitles. The American release, however, will be dubbed with a voice cast that includes Forest Whitaker, Lauren Bacall, Paul Giamatti, William H. Macy, Megan Mullally, and Nick Offerman. The small New York-based distributor has experienced fantastic success at the Oscars during the past five years by countering the big studios with quieter, more personal hand-drawn fare. They have earned nominations for three of their features: The Secret of Kells, A Cat in Paris, and Chico & Rita.” Check it out next year.
image c. 2013 GKIDS
And with that, we wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. Needless to say, you have our THANKS for reading this regularly! We appreciate your company.
Stan Sakai is world-famous as the creator, writer, and artist of Usagi Yojimbo, a multiple-award-winning funny animal comic. He has given a lot to our furry fan community, not only from his creation but from his appearances at furry conventions around the country. Now, Stan needs some real help. His wife Sharon has been battling cancer, and she has been in and out of hospitals for some time — basically needing 24-hour care even when she is at home. The couple have insurance, but the bills have been piling up far past what their insurance will cover. The Cartoon Arts Professional Society have set up a site asking for donations to help Stan and Sharon cover their medical expenses. Please visit and contribute this holiday season if you can. Give back to someone who’s given us great characters and great art!
image c. 2013 by Stan Sakai
Since 2009, artist and writer Roger Langridge has been playing in Jim Henson’s world by creating various comic book series featuring the Muppets for Boom! Studios. Titles like The Muppets, The Muppet Show, and The Muppet Show: The Treasure of Peg-Leg Wilson. Now, over at Marvel Comics, they’ve announced that all of these titles have been brought together to be released in march in a new hardcover collection, The Muppets Omnibus. The Comic Book Resources page has a more complete preview of this full-color collection, coming next year on the Disney Comics imprint.
image c. 2013 Disney Comics
Felix the Cat, the creation of Pat Sullivan and Otto Messmer, is perhaps one of the most famous and long-lived cartoon animals ever — pre-dating even Mickey Mouse. In the 1950’s, Joe Oriolo created a well-known series of cartoon shorts for Trans Lux Productions, which helped to bring Felix and his friends (and enemies!) to a new generation. Since the 1980’s, control of the “Felix Empire” has belonged to Joe’s son, Don Oriolo. Don has overseen the creation and distribution of Felix’s image on numerous products and in numerous media. Many of the images of Felix used for these were drawn and painted by Don himself. Now, IDW Publishing have collected Don Oriolo’s works together in a new full-color hardcover book, Felix the Cat Paintings. Check it out at Amazon, before it hits the shelves early next year. The book features a forward by comic book historian Craig Yoe, as well as essays from cartoon aficionados like Jerry Beck, Mark Evanier, David Gerstein, and Paul Castiglia.
image c. 2013 Don Oriolo
One of the most talked-about furry phenomena from a decade ago was a silly little series of animated shorts called Happy Tree Friends. Here’s how the distributors describe it: “Happy Tree Friends is the cult cartoon sensation with over 1 billion views. The cartoon is drawn in simple appearance and combines cute forest animals with extreme graphic violence. Each episode revolves around the characters enduring accidental events of bloodshed, pain, dismemberment and/or death.” Got that? Well now Flatiron Entertainment have released Happy Tree Friends: Complete Disaster, a 4-DVD box set which includes 13 half-hour TV episodes and 75 short cartoons. Amazon has it for sale, of course. Ouch!
Image c. 2013 Flatiron Entertainment
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
The Hollywood Reporter recently ran an article about Triggerfish — the animation studio which some refer to as the Pixar of South Africa. Following the international success of Zambezia (about a city of birds) and Khumba (about a young zebra missing half of his stripes), Triggerfish have secured funding which will allow them to begin work on two new films out of a planned slate of five. The company’s stated goal is to release one film a year starting in 2016. First out of the gate is Here Be Monsters, about a young human boy who interacts with a scary sea monster. It’s written by Raffaella Delle Donne, who worked on both the studio’s previous films. Soon after that comes Seal Team, described as “an action-comedy that pits a group of seals against the great white sharks of South Africa.” Khumba is currently screening in Africa, with plans to roll it out to the rest of the world going into 2014.
image c. 2013 Triggerfish
Among the many Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles projects coming out of IDW Publishing this year was a mini-series simply called Villains. Now, they’ve collected the first four stories from this full-color series into a new trade paperback, wordily titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Villain Micro-Series Volume 1. Here’s their summary: “Krang, Baxter Stockman, Old Hob, and Alopex all get their turn. Krang’s history is revealed, Baxter’s secret project may be more dangerous than he realized, Old Hob is ready to branch out on his own, and Alopex discovers a devastating truth about her past.” Hey, how ’bout that? Two furries and an alien have the human out-numbered! Check out the extensive preview at the Comixverse.
image c. 2013 IDW Publishing
For those looking for more of an intellectual take on some of these anthropomorphic concepts, check out this new book: Carl Barks’ Donald Duck: Your Average American, by Peter Schilling, Jr. From Amazon: “From 1942 to his retirement in 1966, Carl Barks drew Donald Duck comic books (the seventh greatest comic of the twentieth century according to The Comics Journal) for Walt Disney. He took what should have been a bland franchise and turned it into a classic of comics. Drawing on his own experiences (most notably a brief stint as a chicken farmer), Barks went to create a character who was remarkable . . . for not being remarkable. In his pursuit of a good job, his boredom with suburban life, his temper, his squabbles with neighbors, and his resolve in the face of his many failures, Barks’s Donald Duck was truly your average American.”
image c. 2013 The Walt Disney Company