In addition to the industry-voted honors, each year the Annies celebrate several talented individuals with special honorary awards. This year, all four recipients had a history of anthropomorphic works of one sort or another. The June Foray Award (for service to the community and art of animation) went to veteran Disney producer Don Hahn, who of course helped to shepherd Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Beauty and the Beast, and The Lion King (among many other films) into existence. The Windsor McCay Award went to three individuals for their lifetime achievement in cartoons. Isao Takahata (co-founder of Stuido Ghibli with Hayao Miyazaki) is celebrated far and wide for anime films like The Grave of the Fireflies and The Tale of Princess Kaguya, but he also directed the tenuki adventure Pom Poko. (And, early in his career, he directed episodes of Panda! Go Panda!) Phil Roman founded his animation studio Film Roman in the 80’s, and they have since become famous as the home of The Simpsons and King of the Hill. But they are also the studio that gave us furrier works like Garfield and Friends, Cro, Mother Goose and Grimm, C-Bear and Jamal, and The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat. Finally, a special posthumous McCay Award was presented to the memory of Joe Ranft, Pixar Studio’s head of Story, who died in a tragic car accident ten years ago. Over the years Joe worked on numerous animated films at Pixar and Walt Disney Animation, but he may perhaps best be remembered as the voice of Heimlich the caterpillar in Pixar’s movie A Bug’s Life.
Once again your humble ed-otter was lucky enough to attend the Annie Awards for 2015, presented at UCLA’s Royce Hall on February 6th. Presented by the International Animated Film Society (ASIFA), the Annie Awards honor the best of the animation industry — as selected by members of that industry. Surprising no-one, the night belonged to Pixar’s Inside Out. (It has already won almost every major award it has been nominated for, and of course it’s nominated for an Oscar as well.) Inside Out won in the Best Feature categories for Storyboarding, Editing, Character Design, Music, Character Animation, Production Design, Voice Acting (Phyllis Smith as Sadness), Writing, Directing, and (of course) Best Animated Feature. Bing Bong himself even helped to present some of the awards. (*sniff* Bing Bong…) A few other features managed to sneak in awards, and some of them were even for animal characters! The Good Dinosaur won in the category of Best Effects Animation. (It’s been celebrated far and wide for its realistic backgrounds and water effects.) And The Revenant won Best Animated Character In A Live Action Production for the bear that nearly eats Leonardo DiCaprio. Over in the TV and other divisions, furries were well-represented in several award categories. Disney’s new Mickey Mouse Shorts won for Best Storyboarding, Best Music, and Best Editing. ASIFA favorites. Dreamworks TV had two wins, as Dragons: Race to the Edge won for Best Character Animation and The Mr. Peabody and Sherman Show won for Best Production Design. Previous Annie favorites Tumble Leaf and Wander Over Yonder won for Best Production for Preschoolers and Best Production for Children, respectively. Psyop (home of those infamous Orangina commercials!) won Best Commercial for their Coca Cola ad Man and Dog, and Best Animated Game went to the monster adventure Evolve from 2K. [To save space, tomorrow we’ll tell you about the special awards presented at the Annies — and why you should care!] You can find out more about all of these and more over at the ASIFA Hollywood web site.
And other places. Fluff Buddies describe themselves as “a team of two creative minds who adore the cute, fluffy and fun!” To that end they offer several lines of cute funny animal faces and poses on items like hanging charms, buttons, magnets, and (believe it or not) socks! You’ll find it all there on their web site.
Or so he says, anyway. “Physically incapable of not drawing.” You might be glad for this when you view the works of Nero O’Reilly with his decidedly modernist graphic arts style. He’s created several short comic-book style pieces with titles like Carnivore Planet, Red Rivers, and Crystal Wizard, as well as plenty of stand-alone art pieces in both color and black and white. Which you can view at this web site, Trumpet Shark. (Fair warning: Some of his works are of a decidedly adults-only nature.) His site also includes his personal store where you can pick up his works in print form, on buttons, or on stickers.
Fandom Fashions (“By Fans, For Fans”) have really upped their game recently. Their updated web site features many new designs for t-shirts and other handy clothing, with new designs covering many areas of fandom, pop culture, and yes, furry. Brought to you by none other than the artist known as Zhivago. (Whom, you may recall, was Guest of Honor at CaliFur 2015 — and whom you often see at many furry and comic book conventions.) Check it out.
Cynthia Read goes goes by the name of Sparky in Fandom circles, and fannish conventions are where you are quite likely to find her work. “Sparky’s Stitches is my small home-based business, mostly centered around machine embroidery, although I do dabble in other crafts.” Lots of embroidered patches for lots of fannish pursuits in fact — including fantasy, furry, My Little Pony, and more. In fact more recently she has branched out and created a line of My Little Pony themed hoodies. You can see them on her web site, and also see a big selection of her embroidered patches for sale at her Etsy Store.
Tiger Brand Clothing Company is a t-shirt creation outfit with some very furry leanings… both in messages and in graphics. Much of it decidedly silly (even the ones not featuring otters), with more new designs behind added all the time. They even sell specialty hangers! They have their own web site where you can purchase their current designs. And of course, keep checking back for more.
After becoming that much more well-known the world over (thanks to a certain hit live-action movie, we hear), both Rocket Raccoon and Groot (the talking tree) found time to star in their own full-color comic book series from Marvel. What fans wanted though, of course, was for them to team up again and bring more of their own special brand of mayhem to the galaxy. Wishes granted! Now Skottie Young (writer) and Filipe Andrade (illustrator) have returned with a brand new series called (what else?) Rocket Raccoon and Groot. And this time, Rocket is… an interplanetary crime boss? Say it isn’t so! See what they DO say over at the Marvel Comics web site, where they interview Mr. Young for his perspective on this. [And with that, we’ll see you after Further Confusion!]
Most nerdy people out there (you know who you are!) who are also fans of music are familiar with the works of Jonathan Coulton. Well now after a successful Kickstarter campaign, several of Mr. Coulton’s most famous songs have been mashed together into a brand new full-color comic book series, Code Monkey Save World — written by Greg Pak and illustrated by Takeshi Miyazawa. “A put-upon coding monkey teams up with a seething, lovelorn super-villain to fight robots, office worker zombies, and maybe even each other as they struggle to impress the amazing women for whom they fruitlessly long.” It’s available now and you can find out more over at Monkey Brain Comics.