The world of movies lost another big name this week when actor Bob Hoskins passed away at the age of 71. Though he was known throughout much of the world for his dramatic roles (and earned award nominations for several of them), here in the United States he will perhaps forever be best known for his role as gumshoe detective Eddie Valiant, playing opposite a crazed toon bunny in the groundbreaking 1988 live action/animated film Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, which went a long way towards putting animation back on the American landscape after a long slump in the previous decade. But not even counting that, Hoskins had numerous roles in movies with more than a bit of Furry Fandom interest. Some of them cringe-worthy (Mario Brothers, anyone?), some of them wonderful (like the voice of Boris the goose in Balto), and some of them rather obscure (he played Badger in a 2006 British TV movie of The Wind in the Willows). Check out his page at the Internet Movie Database to find out just how diverse his career was. He will be missed.
One of the big hits at this year’s WonderCon in Anaheim (California) was Tentacle Kitty. And why not? Who wouldn’t want a little pink 8-legged beastie crawling over to them and purring? Well… Created by the delightfully odd folks at TentacleKitty.com, this feline cephalopod lives with her friend in a strange and magical place of cotton candy mice (yum!) and rat-tailed unicorns (ooo!). Not making sense? Just visit the web site and check out the latest on-line comic and some of the available plushies and t-shirts and other tie-in items coming up. Plenty of people at WonderCon did.
Shelley Wolf is a creator of magic tricks for kids. Her husband Chance Wolf is a well-known comic book illustrator for titles like Spawn. When the two of them noticed how their son was getting really into shark lore, they decided to use that as an inspiration for a new series of books for kids. And so the Surf Sharks were born. The idea is simple: Three beach kids and three talking sharks hook up to ride the waves, have adventures, and learn more about our oceans. Surf Sharks: The First Ride just came out in hardcover from Surf Sharks Inc, and it’s available on Amazon. The creators also have a Surf Sharks web site with the books and other collectible shark stuff available.
Let’s stick with the bird theme for the moment. Pengey Penguin is an orphaned flipper-bird who is the star of two new hardcover novels for young readers — both created by author John Burns. In The Many Adventures of Pengey Penguin, our smooth-feathered hero ventures out into the Big World, encountering many dangers yet making friends at the same time. In The Further Adventures of Pengey Penguin that “Big World” becomes New York City, as Pengey moves in with his adoptive human friend — and both of them learn to make the situation work. Visit the official Pengey web site and you’ll find not only the books and several tie-in items like Pengey t-shirts, but also a collection of nature documentary shorts and even links to penguin-themed cartoons. These books are not available in stores: Only on-line, so visit the web site to get them.
Sorry, sorry… It’s called The Chicken Squad, a series of light-hearted mystery stories written by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Kevin Cornell. “Meet the Chicken Squad: Dirt, Sugar, Poppy, and Sweetie. These chicks are not your typical barnyard puffs of fluff, and they are not about to spend their days pecking chicken feed and chasing bugs. No sir, they’re too busy solving mysteries and fighting crime.” In The Chicken Squad: The First Misadventure, “… when Squirrel comes barreling into the chicken coop, the chicks know they’re about to get a case. But with his poor knowledge of shapes (‘Big’ is not a shape, Squirrel!) and utter fear of whatever it is that’s out there, the panicky Squirrel is NO HELP. Good thing these chicks are professionals”. Following all this? Check out this new book series from Atheneum Books for Young Readers over at Amazon, in one of several formats.
[Hey, don’t forget! You only have one week left to vote for the Ursa Major Awards — the Hugo Awards ™ of anthropomorphic fandom! Visit www.ursamajorawards.org to find out how.]
Making its premier at WonderCon this year (in Anaheim, California, of course!) was Termites, a new animated film concept by Matthew G. Hill, Barrett Kime, Tighe Damron, Melanie Makaiwi, and Tom Wentworth. The crew have started up a Kickstarter campaign to finance their project. Simply put: What would happen if a colony of termites in a fancy home got wind (sorry, sorry…) that the house is about to be fumigated? “Through the eyes of young Termite hero, Larkin, we dive into both the fascinating narrative world (4 arms, anybody?), the exquisite landscape of artistic possibility, and the raw emotion of a tragic, yet inspiring story”. The campaign is running on Kickstarter until May 17th.
Daniel and Dawna Davis, known collectively as Steam Crow, refer to themselves as “a husband and wife team based in Phoenix, Arizona, who make friendly monster-inspired art, prints, books, and other oddities”. With a weird sense of humor and an extreme graphic-arts style to boot. Their books include Caught Creatures, a book of “monster haiku”. You can find that and much more at the Steam Crow web site, as well as a blog updating the latest of what they’re working on — and what’s the next convention or festival they’ll be appearing at.
Michael Vash is a fine artist, illustrator, and former Disney employee with a wicked sense of humor. Mostly (but not exclusively) it’s directed at our canine companions. His first hardcover book is called Doggy Styles: The Poop and the Scoop — An Irreverent Guide to Man’s Best Friend, and it’s available at Amazon right now. Fair warning: These are not illustrations meant for kids! Also, check out Michael’s personal web site for sample pages from the book, as well as more of his illustrations both silly and not.
As we get closer to the summertime release of Marvel Comics’ Guardians of the Galaxy movie, we’re likely to see more and more of Rocket Raccoon — and his buddy Groot, the anthropomorphic tree. Next up: Marvel’s “first in-house original prose novel”, Rocket Raccoon and Groot Steal the Galaxy by Dan Abnett — one of the original creators of Guardians of the Galaxy in 2008. “Rocket Raccoon and the faithful Groot are the baddest heroes in the cosmos, and they’re on the run across the Marvel Universe! During a spaceport brawl, the infamous pair rescues an android Recorder from a pack of alien Badoons, Everyone in the galaxy, however, including the ruthless Kree Empire and the stalwart Nova Corps, seems to want that Recorder, who’s about as sane as a sandwich with no mustard.” Check out the interview with Mr. Abnett at Comic Book Resources, and check out Steal the Galaxy when it arrives in hardcover this July.