Italy appears to be the latest country vying to jump into the international animation pool — and it’s doing so with animated animals. According to an article in Variety, Ambi Pictures (currently producing a live-action film with Al Pacino called The Humbling) have announced their first animated feature, Arctic Justice Thunder Squad, directed by Matthew Lyon and animated in his native Canada. “The tale turns on a sinister walrus who plots to accelerate global warming and melt the Arctic Circle. A rag-tag group of inexperienced heroes, led by a fox, must come together to foil his nefarious plan and save the Arctic.” The producers, Andrea Iervolino and Monika Bacardi, are currently in America looking to secure funding and distribution for the film. So far, no word on a possible completion date for it.
Perfect Square and the makers of Bravest Warriors have teamed up to bring us two new hardcover books aimed at young readers — though grown-up fans of that Internet phenomenon are certain to find some surreal and interesting stuff as well. The star of it all? Catbug, “everyone’s favorite dimension-hopping adventurer”. In The Search for Catbug, we find that “Catbug ate some weird new cubes of food that caused him to lose what little control he already had over his jump abilities! Now he’s careening through dimensions, unable to stop! Help the Bravest Warriors travel the galaxy and find Catbug. Just don’t eat any of those cube snacks or you might end up lost too!” Simon & Schuster have a web site for it too. Meanwhile in Catbug’s Treasure Book “…we see the world from his perspective. A kind of scrapbook, the pages are filled with memories and souvenirs of his adventures with the Bravest Warriors, along with his playtime imaginings. There are also allusions to past episodes (Danny’s eyebrows taped to a page, for example), and hints at secrets not yet revealed.” We found this one over at Booksamillion.
Comic strip creator Dana Simpson (best known for the Ursa Major Award-winning Ozy & Millie) has a new on-line black & white comic, Heavenly Nostrils. (It’s up and running on Go Comics.) One day a little girl named Phoebe is out skipping stones on a pond — and she accidentally bonks a unicorn on the nose. By freeing that unicorn, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, from her reflection-induced staring spell Phoebe is granted one wish… and she wishes for herself and Marigold to be best friends. From there, things get complicated. Well now Andrews McMeel Publishing have released the first paperback collection of Heavenly Nostrils strips, appropriately enough entitled Phoebe and Her Unicorn. Check it out at Barnes & Noble.
Itty Bitty Bunnies in Rainbow Pixie Candy Land. Somehow you just know what something with a title like that is going to be like, yes? Well you’re right. “Take some time for an adventure to a magical world with two cute bunnies… two foul mouthed, drug using, butt-naked bunnies that go on adorably offensive, insultingly hilarious adventures! Your journey into off-color fun begins here, with this mix of Adventure Time and underground comix!” It’s written and illustrated in full color by Australian underground cartoonist Dean Rankine, and brought to us thanks to Action Lab’s Danger Zone imprint. Check out their Facebook page. Oh, and speaking of Danger Zone, they’ve also released the first four issues of Bo, Plushy Gangsta (by Pavel Balabanov) in a trade paperback, Kingdom of Bo.
The big-name comic book publishers like to do things big. Really big: Whole universes have been made and destroyed on a regular basis. Now DC Comics is on the move again with The Multiversity, a new full-color series that tells of a massive threat to all 52 of the known universes in the DC world. Created by superstar comics writer Grant Morrison (Animal Man and so much more…), the story goes like this: “The Multiversity is more than just a multi-part comic-book series. It’s a cosmos spanning, soul-shaking experience that puts YOU on the frontline in the Battle for All Creation against the demonic destroyers known as the Gentry! In issue #1, pencilled by superstar artist Ivan Reis (Aquaman, Justice League), President Superman of Earth-23 uncovers a threat to all Reality so apocalyptic it will take a team of incredible heroes from across the Multiverse to face it – including Captain Carrot, like you’ve never seen him before!” Oh really now? Over at The Escapist they have a more complete review of the series.
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.”