John Stevenson co-directed the first Kung Fu Panda movie (along with Mark Osborne), and for that he received an Annie Award and an Oscar nomination. Now a relatively small film company, Unified Pictures, has hired Mr. Stevenson to direct their first foray into CGI animation: A feature film inspired by the story of Noah’s ark. According to an article in Variety, “The animated comedy adventure tells the story from the point of view of the animals and follows an outcast aardvark who becomes the reluctant leader of a ragtag group of misfit animals”. (Hmm, have these folks heard of El Arca?) The as-yet-unnamed film is being written by Philip LaZebnik (Disney’s Mulan and Pocahontas) and Glen Dolman (a writer of several TV series). It’s currently slated for completion in 2016.
You might have heard that Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai is turning 30, yes? The word is getting around. Well in celebration of this milestone Dark Horse Press will release The Usagi Yojimbo Saga, a collection of more than 600 pages coming this October. It brings together Usagi Yojimbo Volume 2 issues 1 thru 16 and Volume 3 issues 1 thru 6, as well as a full-color cover gallery. Check out the Dark Horse web page to find out more. Saga will be available as a (very thick!) trade paperback, and also in a limited-edition hardcover version (only 900 will be made!) signed by Stan Sakai himself.
At this year’s San Diego Comic Con there was a 30 year celebration of Usagi Yojimbo — created by Stan Sakai, of course. One of the items featured during the event was a screening of Usagi Yojimbo: The Last Request, an animated short film created by Lintika Films (using both 2D and stop motion techniques) and directed by Roel Robles. The big news is that Mr. Sakai was impressed enough with the project that he has allowed the studio to use Last Request as a proof-of-concept film for a possible Usagi feature. Now they’re out seeking funds to work on that project. Over at Cartoon Brew they have an article about the project that also includes a link to the short.
Well not really (at least the last bit). This September Boom! Box Studios brings us the premier of Teen Dog, a new full-color comic book series by Australian web cartoonist Jake Lawrence. Here’s an introduction from the web site Comic Vine: “Teen Dog is the cool guy you always wanted to be in high school, à la Michael J. Fox and Ferris Bueller, except he’s a dog in a rad denim vest. Each issue contains short vignettes featuring Teen Dog, his best friend Mariella, Thug Pug, Sara the star quarterback, and many more. Teen angst and whimsical adventures collide in this new series that combines the feel of John Hughes movies with ‘90s Nickelodeon cartoons.”
Chris Callahan is a writer and artists who has worked for several years in the animation industry. Evidently, he has something to say about it… Check out his new comic book creation, Robochuck: “With the introduction of computer-generated characters, the World Of Entertainment”s population is now sharply divided between two types of cartoon characters: the Flats and the CGs. In Flattown, Robochuck is the only CG character most of his neighbors know. He dreams of restoring his city to its glory days, when flat toons like his adoptive father, Inksplat MaGee, were the world’s biggest stars. However, one person in the World of Entertainment will do anything to keep that from happening. As Chairman of Piczar, Don Masshurter developed the computer technology that changed the landscape of animated entertainment, and he will stop at nothing to protect his new reign…” Nope, no reflection on the real world here at all, nope. So go ahead, check out the Robochuck web site. We won’t tell anyone!
John Uhrich is a professional illustrator. His motto is “Have sketchbook, will travel.” Recently on his art blog, Duck Duck Gorilla (yes, that’s the name!) he’s been trying his hand at a new on-line comic strip, Live Bait. Two talkative birds doing what John considers one of his more prominent skills: Geeking out about comics and fandom.
Author Tonton Jim appeared on the scene recently with a new series of books called Hound’s Glenn. The titular neighborhood is a place where families of dogs and wolves live and work — evidently, families of other species live in other neighborhoods — and the stories feature the daily adventures of a group of young canines growing up. Aimed at young readers and adults alike, each book features watercolor illustrations by the artist E. Felix Lyon. The first book, Max and the Lowrider Car, introduces us to Max. He’s a fifth-grader wolf cub with a simple-sounding assignment from school: Find something amazing in town to write about. He finds it in the local auto customizing shop, and soon Max and his friends (and family) are off on an adventure seeking old boring cars to bring back to shiny new life. The book is available on Amazon now, published by Dayton. The second book in the series, Harold and the Hot Rod, is coming soon. Hmm, are we sensing a theme here?
From the Booklist write-up on Amazon, here’s a quick introduction to The Creature Department by Robert Paul Weston: “Elliot is overjoyed the morning his uncle, professor Archie Von Doppler, invites him to tour the supersecret invention lab at DENKi-3000, a company famous for its unusual, logic-defying products. But the secrets are more super than Elliot had hoped. The professor’s lab is staffed entirely by fantastical creatures—a French-speaking, bird-size fairy-bat; a giant dreadlocked salamander; and a librarian with three dragon heads atop octopus legs; etc.—whose otherworldly technology gives DENKi-3000’s inventions their astonishing appeal.” But all is not well, of course, and Elliot soon finds himself charged with protecting his new monster friends and their invention lab from an evil corporate takeover. It’s all in this new illustrated book published by Razorbill. It even has its own web site, complete with monster animation.
We couldn’t do any better than the actual title here. “Did you enjoy stepping on bugs as a child? Have you ever lit one on fire with a magnifying glass? What if all those bugs could come back from the dead? Don’t Let the Dead Bugs Bite! is the tale of a community struggling to rid itself of troublesome bugs that have come back to haunt their once peaceful town. This exciting story will capture children’s imaginations and may make them think twice before stepping on that next bug.” This new full-color book was written and illustrated by Stephen Zmina. As you can see from the official web site, there’s quite a roster of well-known celebrities who’ve read and endorsed the book! Be sure to check out the horror-movie-style book trailer too.