Now it seems that Amazon has gotten on the bandwagon of downloadable original programming for kids. Premiering earlier this month was their latest series called Wishenpoof, about a little girl with the power to make her wishes come true. From Marketwatch.com: “Created by Angela C. Santomero (Blue’s Clues, Creative Galaxy, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Super Why!), and produced by Out of the Blue Enterprises, Wishenpoof is an animated preschool series that revolves around Bianca (Addison Holley, Annedroids, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood) as she solves life’s problems in her own creative ways because with magic, or without, we all have the power to make good choices.” Bianca’s constant companion throughout her adventures is a plushie known as Bob the Bear. Wishenpoof is available as a free download to subscribers of Amazon Prime.
Somehow Marvel Comics sneaked this one by us. Howard the Human is out on shelves right now as part of their Secret Wars mega-series. “The story [finds] Howard, formerly a Duck, as a human being. What’s more, Howard will be the only living homo sapien in a city filled with animals. Talk about a role reversal. But that doesn’t mean Howard will have a ho-hum adventure. The former fowl will see plenty of cases as a private investigator, all while dodging bullets and crossing paths with a murderous anthropomorphic animal. Or, as Howard calls it, Monday.” This full-color one-shot was written by Skottie Young (well known now for Rocket Raccoon) and illustrated by Jim Mahfood. Read the interview with Skottie over at Comicbook.com.
And once again Disney Junior keeps marching forward with Goldie & Bear, a new CGI series that is coming as a downloadable app in September and then a TV series later in the year. According to the article in Variety: “Each episode of the new program, which will debut on Disney Junior in November, includes two 11-minute stories that show Goldie and Bear — reunited after an infamous ‘porridge incident’ — in the midst of escapades with their neighbors in Fairy Tale Forest, all of whom have roots in familiar storybook figures. The protagonists might help Jack and Jill get up a hill or ask the Big Bad Wolf to consider others’ feelings before blowing down the houses of those who reside within.” The article also features interviews with Disney Junior folks and a preview video.
The Walt Disney Company found great success with their Palace Pets app — a down-loadable spin-off of the endlessly-profitable Disney Princess line, this time for younger kids. The idea is that each of the famous Disney Princesses has a cute funny animal pet, and they (the pets that is) often meet up and go on adventures together. Well the success of that app lead Disney to now create Whisker Haven Tales, a series of cartoon shorts airing on Disney Junior. Check out the Disney Wiki article to learn more about it, or take a look on YouTube for one of several official uploads from Disney Junior.
According to Cartoon Brew, Lionsgate Features is set to release their next animated feature, Norm of the North, on January 15th, 2016 — which would put it in direct competition with the planned release of The Nut Job 2. Lionsgate, of course, is best known in animation circles for the Alpha & Omega films as well as (shiver!) the infamous Food Fight! movie. This time around they present the story of Norm, a polar bear who travels to New York City to try and save his arctic home from development… but winds up distracted by the glamour and glitz all around him. (Sort of “The Bear Who Fell To Earth”.) Directed by Trevor Wall, Norm of the North stars the voice of Rob Schneider (Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo). The article at Cartoon Brew includes the first trailer.
It’s no news to anyone by now that Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai is not only one of the most celebrated anthropomorphic comics ever, but one of the most celebrated comics, period! Well now Dark Horse Press have announced that the ronin rabbit’s adventures will soon be presented as they deserve: Bigger, and in full color! No, not a Usagi animated film (yet), but use this to tide you over: The Usagi Yojimbo Gallery Edition, Volume 1. This large format hardcover (12 by 17 inches) features the Usagi origin story Samurai as well as the very first Usagi comic, plus never-before-seen artwork and a new introduction by Stan Sakai. Check it out over at Barnes & Noble.
Clangers was a much-loved children’s TV series from the United Kingdom that originally ran from 1969 to 1974. It starred a set of little pink fuzzy creatures who most resemble elephants crossed with mice. They live on an alien world and speak only in swooping whistles — which were usually translated for the young audience by the narrator. Well now the BBC have brought back The Clangers for a much newer generation as part of Sprout, their programming line-up for children. Just like the old version, the new Clangers is created through stop-motion animation of actual fuzzy figures, and now the new episodes are narrated by Michael Palin (of Monty Python) in the UK and none other than William Shatner (!) for release in North America. Sprout has a special web site just for The Clangers so take a look to find out more.
Rachel Dukes is a busy comic book illustrator who works for Boom! Studios on titles like Garfield. But in her “free time” she’s also busy being the best human friend of her own cat named Frankie. She’s spun off Frankie’s adventures around the house into her award-winning on-line comic strip, Frankie Comics. You can see the latest at her web site. There you’ll also find a link to her publishing company, MixTape Comics, where she sells not only paper collections of Frankie Comics but also posters, buttons, stickers, and other Frankie goodies.
The world of Virtual Reality entertainment keeps moving ahead. (By leaps and bounds, or by steps and stumbles? Depends on who you talk to.) Recently Cartoon Brew put up an article about Henry, “an Immersive Virtual Reality short”. “On the surface, Oculus Story Studio’s new 12-minute short film Henry is a sweet story about a lovable hedgehog who just want to make friends, but can’t stop spiking whatever he hugs. ” But actually, it’s one of the first animated films ever created for the environment of the Oculus Rift head-set. Once “inside”, viewers can either watch Henry’s story — as he attempts to hug flying balloon-puppies with disastrous results — or explore the levels and rooms of Henry’s tiny home. Or both. There’s a non-Oculus “making-of” video that explains it more.