Ben Byrd has been a professional web designer and creative director for a long time. When he lost his then-current job a couple years ago, he made the decision to dive head-first into his artwork. And so he began displaying his colorful pictures of fantasy characters and comic book icons at art shows and fannish conventions all over. A quick look at his web site will show you just how prolific he has been. Now, he’s self-published his very first illustrated book for children, simply titled Dragons. Written by Tatiana Topyrik and illustrated by Mr. Byrd, it’s a rhyming bedtime story ostensibly for young kids, but older fantasy fans should enjoy it too. It’s available now on Amazon.
image c. 2017 by Ben Byrd
[We thought about creating an April Fool’s Day joke, but to be honest we could never top r/zootopia over at reddit.com! Anyway, we’re fresh back from WonderCon in Anaheim… Ye Ed-Otter] Here’s an American toy manufacturer called Safari Ltd. “From mind blowing dragons to enchanting mermaids, our authentic educational toys and action figures spark imagination and speak to the innate curiosity in all of us. Regardless of what you are looking for, Safari Ltd® wants to provide you with the best figurines in the industry and a comprehensive learning tool to share with the world.” To that end they make not only dragons and fantasy creatures (both funny and serious) but lots of real-life animals as well. And all of them are available on line.
image c. 2017 Safari Ltd
Another discovery from the recent Long Beach Comic Expo. On his web page, here’s how this artist describes himself: “Walter De Leon is an artist in the entertainment industry working on various video games and animated properties for clients such as Disney and Stan Lee. In his free time he would create and come up with various ideas for books in the hopes to inspire others to get out there with their own ideas.” To that end he started Voolah Voolah Press as a vehicle for his own illustrated stories and sketchbooks. He is also looking for other creative people to join the fold! His own books include titles like Bunny Chop!, Dear Mr. Bear, and drawing portfolios of birds, dragons, and monsters.
image c. 2017 Voolah Voolah Press
Like many other fans, we were disappointed to recently be informed that Dreamworks Animation has pushed back the release date of How To Train Your Dragon 3 again — this time to the spring of 2019. But in the meantime came some good news: Early next year Dark Horse Press is releasing a new full-color graphic novel, How To Train Your Dragon — The Serpent’s Heir. “Picking up just after the events in How to Train Your Dragon 2, Hiccup, Astrid, and company are called upon to assist the people of an earthquake-plagued island. But their lives are imperiled by a madman and an incredible new dragon who even Toothless—the alpha dragon—may not be able to control!” The big news is that Dean Deblois, who has worked on the Dragons movie series as both writer and director, is one of the co-scripters of this new graphic novel (along with Richard Hamilton). Hollywood Reporter has an interview with the creative team.
image c. 2016 Dark Horse Press
Just look at what he gave up… Word has come down thanks to Animation World Network (and other sources) that Fox Studio has given the green light to a new live action / CGI hybrid production of Puff The Magic Dragon. Based on the 1962 song made famous by Peter, Paul, and Mary, “It tells the story of the ageless dragon named Puff who lives by the sea in the fictional land of Honalee. His playmate, a little boy named Jackie Paper, grows up and loses interest in the adventures of childhood and eventually leaves his imaginary dragon behind.” The new film project is set to be directed by Mike Mitchell, who recently directed the hit musical fantasy film Trolls for Dreamworks.
image c. 2016 Cherry Lane Music
Thanks to Animation News Network we found out about an article over at the Hollywood Reporter. It seems that Mark Osborne (director of Kung Fu Panda and the recent film The Little Prince) has been tapped to finally adapt Jeff Smith’s award-winning comic Bone for the cinema — not just as one animated movie, but an entire trilogy to be produced by Warner Brothers. “The comic told of three Bone cousins — Fone Bone, Phoney Bone and Smiley Bone, all small, bald and human-like creatures with big noses — who are separated and lost in a vast uncharted desert after being run out of Boneville. One by one they find their way into a deep forested valley filled with wonderful and terrifying creatures. The comics were published from 1991 to 2004 and then rediscovered by a new and more mainstream generation when Scholastic began releasing them in graphic novel form.” Adam Kline is writing the script for the first film, along with Mr. Osborne, and Animal Logic (Happy Feet) are involved as well, so expect some top-notch CGI. We’ll let you know when we find out a release date.
image c. 2016 by Jeff Smith
A lot of animation fans who weren’t around in the late 1960’s (or who weren’t watching cartoons regularly yet!) may not remember the very, very strange Depatie-Freleng series called Here Comes The Grump. Well now according to Cartoon Brew there’s going to be a new CGI version of the series and a CGI movie to kick things off — thanks to Mexico’s Anima Estudios, which previously brought us the CGI Top Cat movies a couple of years ago. As for Here Comes The Grump, “The film tells the story of teenage boy Terry who has been transported to a magical land where he and some new friends must defeat a mean-spirited wizard called The Grump.” There’s some well-known talent behind the film: “Here Comes the Grump is based on a script from Jim Hecht (Ice Age: The Meltdown) and designs by Craig Kellman (Madagascar, Sausage Party, Samurai Jack, Hotel Transylvania). It is being directed by Andres Couturier, who also helmed Anima’s 2015 feature Top Cat Begins.” No word yet on any distribution planned for North America. Besides the grumpy wizard’s rather klutzy dragon, the Grump’s world features many fantastic creatures — and some that likely will only make sense if you’ve been chemically enhanced. Maybe.
image c. 2016 Anima Estudios
Skylanders Academy is a new CGI animated series set to premier this month on Netflix. According to the Skylanders Wiki (yes there is one), the series is being produced by Activision Blizzard Studios under the guidance of Eric Rogers (writer on Futurama). Spyro the dragon, Eruptor, and Stealth Elf study to use their diverse powers to protect their world from the evil forces of Kaos and the Doom Raiders. Look for it October 28th, and check out the trailer on YouTube.
image c. 2016 Activision Blizzard
Humanoids is a well-known publisher of hardcover graphic novels in Europe. Now they have brought Brussli: Way of the Dragon Boy to North America. “Beak-faced Brussli is bullied by the village children. Curious about his true origins, the dauntless ‘Dragon Boy’ sets off on a quest of adventure and discovery. What he finds, however, turns his world upside down and puts him face-to-face with a unique cast of fantastical fairies, talking rabbits, wily wolves, battle-hardened nuns, demonic beings, and much much more, in this hysterical and heartwarming comedy adventure. ” It’s written by Jean-Louis Fonteneau and illustrated in full color by J. Etienne. Over at Doom Rocket they have a much more detailed preview to look at.
image c. 2016 Humanoids