Yet another creative discovery from the CTN Animation Expo: Meg Park, designer and illustrator. Or as she puts it on her personal web site, character designer and visual development artist. Besides examples of her work you’ll find a link to her Etsy Store where you can purchase various prints — many of them toony and anthropomorphic — as well as her art collection book, Fluff & Fangs.
The career of artist Brian Ajhar has already spanned three decades. He’s a character designer and caricaturist who has illustrated more than a dozen books — furry, human, and otherwise. Many of his sketches and character designs have been gathered together in three books: In Character Volumes 1 & 2, and Mugs & Beards. Currently he travels the country as a guest lecturer and instructor at numerous art colleges and animation events. Check out his web site and make sure to watch the YouTube video featuring a collection of his work.
Back in the Ren & Stimpy days of boffo animation (as opposed to the more sedate, cultured world of Adventure Time today. Right.), one of the more interesting and unusual shows lived on Nickelodeon of all places: Catdog, the story of a creature who was half cat and half dog… and both of them front ends! “Brothers Cat and Dog couldn’t be more different — Cat is clever and cultured, while Dog is a naïve but lovable goofball. But they definitely share one thing in common: a body! This crazy set of conjoined twins find themselves in all sorts of silly adventures, but through them all, the two misfits stick together…whether they like it or not!” Now Shout Factory have brought together all 68 episodes in one new DVD compilation, Catdog: The Complete Series. Check it out at their web site. You even get a poster!
Hillary Bradfield describes herself as an animator, comic creator, and storyboard artist. Most recently she’s spent her time working on Disney XD’s Randy Cunningham, 9th Grade Ninja. On her own though, she’s created a comic strip adventure called Hank the Horse over on her blogspot. Follow the adventures of a cranky equine as he’s dragged along on a wild adventure by a young lady — who happens to look a lot like Hillary draws herself. Some of her Hank comics have been collected on dead trees as well, and Volumes 1 & 2 are available on her blogspot also.
In 2010 Russia’s Centre of National Film gave the world Space Dogs, a CGI animated feature that celebrated the memory of Strelka and Belka (the first animals ever to survive a trip rocketing into orbit) by re-imagining them in a science fiction adventure. Now one of the same directors (Inna Evlannikova) has returned to bring us their further adventures in Space Dogs 2, also known as Space Dog: Adventure to the Moon. Epic Pictures has picked up international distribution rights for the film. According to their web site, the plot goes like this: “When the world’s most precious monuments disappear before everyone’s eyes, an unlikely team of two legendary Russian canine astronauts named Belka and Strelka, a heroic American monkey named Bonnie, and Belka’s brave teenage son Pushok jet off to the dark side of the moon to investigate the mystery.” The site also has a link to the trailer. Here’s another Russian film that is slowly making its way around North America in specialty screenings, so look for it. (It’s also available on DVD at least some places, apparently.)
Here’s something for Thanksgiving: More birds! Now it’s Quackers, a new CGI animated film on its way from Russia’s Rome Animation and Film Studio. (Rome or not, it’s from Russia.) “A conflict flares up between local Mandarin Ducks and the Military Mallards who land on the Chinese island, mistaking it for Hawaii. While the fathers fight and argue, Longway, the Emperor’s son, and Erica, the commander’s daughter, meet and become friends. The kids must ally all the ducks to battle their foe, the daunting Ms. Knout, who seeks to destroy the Sun.” Got all that? Directed by Viktor Lakisov and due in 2016, Quackers has its own official web site, as well as a preview video up on Vimeo.
It seems to be a hot time to re-imagine 1980’s toy and cartoon lines for a the new millenium. Next up? Popples. Here’s the pitch from the masters themselves, Saban Brands: “Popples are fun, lovable, brightly-colored and adorable creatures that transform from fluffy balls to furry friends and back again. Saban Brands will re-launch the franchise with a fresh and modern look for a new generation of kids. The launch will be paired with a line of consumer products including apparel, accessories, plush and more. Popples made its original debut in the U.S. in 1985 with a Saturday morning television show, followed by a successful toy line.” Saturday morning, eh? Are they gonna try to bring that back too? Either way, look for it at a TV or toy store near you in 2015.
More from MIPCOM. Aurore Damant is a former Gobelins student (if you don’t know who they are, every animation fan should!) who is now a professional character designer and art director. His latest project is called Zip Zip, produced in France by Go-N Productions. The premise is simple: A group of forest animals see that human civilization is encroaching on their habitat, and they figure if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. And so they conspire to disguise themselves as regular domestic house pets using zip-up costumes. Easy, yes? The show has debuted in France and it’s currently looking for international buyers to distribute it. Mr. Damant has several screen shots up on his blog to see.
The European artist Peyo (real name, Pierre Culliford) is well-known (or is it infamous?) as the creator of The Smurfs. But he also wrote and illustrated the adventures of a cat, known simply as Pussycat, for Spirou comics magazine. Now Papercutz (well-known as the publisher of Geronimo Stilton) have brought together Pussycat’s comics in one full-color hardcover collection. “This cat isn’t exactly the noble hunting type– he’d rather play a game of kickball with the resident mouse than chase after him– and most of the humor originates from his clever, yet often foolish ways of trying to get what he wants (e.g. milk and snacks).” You can pre-order Pussycat over at Barnes & Noble, and look for the book to hit stores this coming February.