After what seems like a long long time, this past March Yen Press finally released Kingdom Hearts: The Novel as a single black & white collected manga. Just one that happens to be over 300 pages long! “On the Destiny Islands, three children–Sora, Riku, and Kairi–are living out their peaceful, carefree lives while yearning for whatever lies beyond the great ocean. But one night, an unexpected disaster takes place, and the three are torn from each other and their island home. Meanwhile, at Disney Castle, Donald Duck and the other castle residents are in an uproar upon discovering King Mickey has suddenly gone missing. When fate brings them together, Sora, Donald, and Goofy set out on a grand Disney adventure to find their friends!” Find it over at the Yen Press web site. It’s written by Tomoco Kanemaki and illustrated by Shiro Amano, based on the original game concept by Tetsuya Nomura.
Today at Cartoon Brew there was an announcement about new developments for the much-anticipated upcoming Ratchet & Clank feature film. (Based on the popular Playstation video game series. Do we even need to say that?) Now the film has a distributor (Focus Features, also the home of Laika films) and a planned release date: April 29, 2016. Which is close to the time that Insomniac Games plan to release a new Ratchet & Clank adventure for the PS4. “The movie will be directed by Kevin Munroe (TMNT) and co-directed by Jericca Cleland. The film’s voice cast, also announced this week, includes Paul Giamatti, John Goodman, Rosario Dawson, and Sylvester Stallone, with Ratchet, Clank, Nefarious, and Captain Qwark voiced by the same actors as in the games. The script was developed with former Insomniac Games and Ratchet & Clank senior writer T.J. Fixman, with original Ratchet & Clank character designer Dave Guertin and weapon/vehicle designer Greg Baldwin also working on designs.” In other words, they’re putting a lot of effort into this thing!
Robert Goodin is an animator who’s worked on TV shows like Rugrats and American Dad. Now he’s taken some time out from that the craft his first hardcover graphic novel, The Kurdles. “In the spirit of Hergé’s Tintin or Carl Barks’ Uncle Scrooge, The Kurdles is an all-ages comic spiced up with a teaspoon of strange. Sally is a teddy bear who gets separated from her owner while on a drive in the country. Desperate to find her way home, she stumbles upon Kurdleton, home to a most peculiar group of characters in the midst of a crisis; their forest house has grown hair, eyes, and a mouth! The creatures work with their new friend to keep Kurdleton from growing legs and running away!” Check it out over at the publisher, Fantagraphics Books.
As quite often, the creators can explain this project far better than we ever could: “Somewhere far away, in the uncharted realms of the ocean, lies the mysterious island of Mutasia. As one of the few unexplored places left on Earth, Mutasia is home to a previously unknown collection of wildlife, unique to the island of Mutasia. The inhabitants are called Mutasians and are mixed up mixes of every type of animal imaginable. As you explore the island and meet the Mutasians, you’ll discover that they are a lot more like you than you might think!” That’s the story of Mutasia. It started with an illustrated book, Mutasia: Land of Illogical and Utterly Impossible Creatures. Now it’s expanded to a book series, a line of plushy toys, several sing-along CD’s, and an animated short film on DVD called This Mish-Mash Bash. All of that and more available at the colorful and award-winning Mutasia web site, of course.
There’s been a lot in the news lately about the new video game Yooka-Laylee (get it?). It’s the flagship product of a new company called Playtonic Games, which features a lot of the creative staff from Rare. And this new game is considered to be a spiritual successor to the wildly-popular Banjo & Kazooie series. But that’s not what’s got people talking. This is: Playtonic put up a Kickstarter campaign to finance the game… and they reached their initial multi-thousand British pound goal in less than 40 minutes. That’s got to be some kinda record, we think. “Yooka-Laylee (yes, like the tiny guitar) is a 3D platformer starring Yooka, a bipedal lizard-like dude, and Laylee, a purple “wisecracking lady-bat.” They have unique abilities, such as Yooka’s tongue-grapple and Laylee’s tactical sonar blast, and together these best buds explore five worlds filled with weird characters and feisty bosses. Also, one of the abilities is a “giant fart bubble.” Playtonic knows the way to its players’ hearts.” And their pocketbooks, it would seem. Head on over to Engadget to find out more.
Stone cold sober, as a matter of fact… Another animation-influenced graphic designer we’ve discovered is Christopher Lee — no, not that one, though he probably gets that all the time. This Christopher is an artist from Northern California who later moved down south to find work in art and animation. He did, working for graphic magazines like Vapors and Buck. Lately though he’s struck off on his own, creating a line of posters, prints, t-shirts, and even toy designs based on his original art. His web site is called The Beast Is Back, and on that ominous note you should go visit if you want to find out more. Seriously, you’ll see plenty of his art on just the front page.
A recent article in Variety notes that Beast of Burden is now set to shoot as the first China / New Zealand co-production animated feature film. “Written and directed by Kirby Atkins (Nickelodeon’s The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron), the story sees a species of now-extinct creatures called Thoriphants rebel against their life of servitude to mankind and embark on a treacherous journey.” You may recall that we previously discussed the film on this very web site. As a reminder, we’ll give you the link to Mr. Atkins’ original proof-of-concept short film, which helped him to secure the production deal for his first solo feature.
Call her Riri. Or Riri Mon, perhaps. Either way, she’s an artist who specializes in the chibi side of things… and she’s spun that talent off into Little Heroes, a series of toony acrylic charms for the gamer fan. After a successful Kickstarter campaign they’re now available as key chains, buttons, and other wearables. Not to mention her collection of art prints (many featuring some well-known anime and anime-style characters) and 3D media. Look her up at ririmon.com.
Audrey Miller is an illustrator who works in numerous 2D and 3D media, and she’s another artist whose work often involves animals — both real ones and toony ones. A graduate of the Laguna College of Art and Design in Laguna Beach, California, she has studied both animation and illustration and since put herself to work creating prints, sculptures, plushies, and children’s book illustrations. Take a look at her web site and marvel at her way with color.