According to our friends at CartoonBrew, in addition to the four new animated TV series announced recently by Netflix (and discussed here as well), the network has added an additional three new animated shows that are squarely aimed at the preschool set. One of them, at very least, is especially anthropomorphic: “Arriving worldwide in 2016 exclusively on Netflix is the Jim Henson Company’s Word Party. Produced through Henson’s digital puppetry studio, Word Party’s 11-minute episodes follow the adventures of four baby animals, whose singing and dancing aims to help build the vocabulary skills of its preschool viewers. Jim Henson Creature Shop’s digital puppetry innovation ‘allows puppeteers to perform digitally animated characters in real-time, enabling the animation to be more lifelike and spontaneous.'” Watch for it next year.
This July look for an interesting new hardcover book from Boom! Studios: The Art of Mouse Guard, 2005 – 2015. “Celebrate the first 10 years of a comics classic from the very first sketch. For the first time since the series debut, David Petersen’s process for creating the world of Mouse Guard and bringing it to life in stunning illustration is documented in exquisite detail. With never-before-seen sketches; 100 pages of full-color, oversized artwork; and commentary from colleagues, collaborators, and Petersen himself, readers and fans get an unprecedented look behind-the-pages at how their favorite characters and adventures were born.” Those colleagues and collaborators include folks like Mike Mignola, Stan Sakai, Geof Darrow, and many others. You can find out more over at the Simon & Schuster Digital Catalog site.
Well before the current incarnation, and even before his unfortunate association with a famous bad movie, Howard the Duck was… one of Marvel Comics’ strangest characters, created and written by Steve Gerber and illustrated by a parade of artists… perhaps most famously, Frank Brunner. Well now this July Marvel is putting together a good part of the cosmic fowl’s early adventures in Howard the Duck: The Complete Collection. ” Howard the Duck takes an adventure into fear when he is plucked from Duckworld and finds himself on Earth, bill to proboscis with the melancholy muck-monster Man-Thing! Stuck here on a planet of hairless apes, the furious fowl forges a future for himself in, of all places, Cleveland. But the would-be Master of Quack-Fu will have his wings full hanging out with Spider-Man and waging ‘waaaugh’ with madcap menaces like the Space Turnip, the Cookie Creature, the Beaver and Doctor Bong. Will that earn him a spot on the Defenders?” We’ll soon find out! Other fine illustrators you’ll find in this more-than-400-page full-color trade paperback (and this is just Volume 1!) include Val Mayerik, John Buscema, Gene Colan, and Sal Buscema. Barnes & Noble has more.
Recent announcement from D23, the officially-sanctioned Disney fan club: Following the success of the first 5-issue miniseries (and the subsequent graphic novel compilation), Figment will return this fall in a brand-new full-color series from Marvel. “Figment 2 will be written by Jim Zubkavich (aka “Jim Zub”) and penciled by Ramon Bachs, and it’ll pick up where the first series left off—but in a totally different time period. When last we left our intrepid hero Figment and his pal Dreamfinder, they’d saved the world and were awarded for their good deeds by being stuck out of time for a century. As Jim Zub explained to our pals at the Disney Parks Blog, ‘[The pair is] now in the modern world, and they’re going to discover that a lot of things have changed in their absence… Couple that with a young dreamer inspired by the Academy Scientifica-Lucidus and a dark threat from an unexpected source, and we’ve got all the ingredients for high adventure’.” Check out D23 for more information.
Eric Goldberg is a supervising animator at Walt Disney Pictures, well known for his work on such classic cartoon films as Aladdin, Hercules, and Fantasia 2000. He also recently began a stint as an artist-in-residence instructor for character animation at the University of Southern California (USC). For the opening of a new Disneyland in Shanghai, China, Mr. Goldberg helped to decorate one of the restaurants by drawing a series of Disney characters in the caricature style made famous by restaurants like The Brown Derby and Sardi’s in Hollywood. In fact, Mr. Goldberg wound up drawing nearly 200 pictures for the project! Now no less than 180 of these black & white illustrations have been gathered together in a new hardcover book — An Animator’s Gallery: Eric Goldberg Draw The Disney Characters from Disney Editions. According to an article at Stitch Kingdom, “Fans of all ages, and from all over, can enjoy Eric’s playful portraits, starting with Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and Mickey Mouse from the Company’s early days through Anna and Elsa from Frozen. Bonus sections will even feature some of the most beloved characters from Pixar (Toy Story, Cars, Monsters, Inc.) and live-action films (Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, Pirates of the Caribbean).” Featuring text by fellow Disney animator David Bossert and a foreword by John Lasseter, An Animator’s Gallery will be available this September.
Far Out Fairy Tales is a new, very odd graphic novel series for young readers from Stone Arch Books. And at least one of them is of note to furry fans: In Super Billy Goats Gruff, the three brothers named Gruff head off to get themselves some grass… and wind up trapped inside a video game! Now they face evil trolls with the powers of a warrior, a wizard, and a ninja! All brought to you in full color by writer Sean Tulien and illustrator Fernando Cano. It’s available now, and Capstone has more.
One of several Pokemon-wannabe series that appeared in the wake of that series’ massive success, Monster Farm (aka Monster Rancher for the US release) is one of a select few that made it to American shores in translated form. Now Discotek Media have release Monster Farm: The Complete Series on DVD. The story “… follows a boy named Genki Sakura, who is an avid player of the Monster Rancher video games. After winning a tournament hosted by the game’s creators, Genki wins a special CD that he can use to unlock a special monster in his game at home. However, upon using this disk in his game console, he finds himself transported to a world of monsters that, much like Genki’s game, are given life by scanning special stone disks within temples. There he meets a girl named Holly, who is seeking a stone disk containing a legendary Phoenix that will save the land from the tyranny of an evil ruler named Moo. While attempting to use the disk to try and release the Phoenix, they instead bring forth a different sort of monster, which Genki names ‘Mocchi’. Wanting to free the land from Moo’s rule, Genki, Holly, Mocchi and their other monster companions set forth on a quest to find the stone disk that contains the Phoenix!” Got all that? Good! Check it out over at Previews.
Caterwall is a fantasy comic series created, written, and illustrated by Spain Fischer. It’s had a convoluted creation and release history, on line and on paper, but now Sofawolf Press is offering the first of three planned full-color graphic novels. It’s called Caterwall: The Isle of Manx and it’s available in both hard and soft-cover editions starting this July. The story? Pax is a young cat in the peaceable Kingdom of Katia. He’s determined to become a noble, heroic knight like his famous father — but his antics and attitude mostly get him in trouble, and eventually get him banished. But he and his rag-tag band of friends are still determined to help the nearby dog kingdom in their war against the wolves of the north. Find out more over at the Sofawolf Press web site.
The future can be scary — and welcome to it! Writer Brian Ashcraft notes in an article at Kotaku.com that he’s not very thrilled with the re-design of the characters for the upcoming CGI feature version of Ganba no Bouken (also known as The Adventures of Ganba). If you didn’t know, Ganba no Bouken was originally an anime TV series in the 1970’s about a rat and his rodent companions who sail off on adventures while trying to avoid a terrifying white weasel. In the 1980’s the series was made into a popular 2D anime feature as well. The article includes a trailer for the CGI version. See what you think.