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Little Bird Lost

Pete Oswald is a very busy production designer and illustrator. Recently he and his team were responsible for lighting and set design on The Angry Birds Movie. And from his web site: “As a character designer and concept artist, Pete has helped to uplift many of the most successful animated franchises. Among other projects, Pete has worked on Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 1 & 2; Hotel Transylvania; and the Oscar® nominated ParaNorman, for which he earned an Annie Award nomination.” Even with all that going on, Mr. Oswald finds the time to illustrate books for children as well.  Recently he completed one called Mingo the Flamingo (written by Justin K. Thompson and published by Harper Collins). “A hilarious picture book about a flamingo named Mingo who is ready to fly but gets lost from the rest of the flock during a terrible storm. To make matters worse, when he crashes, he completely forgets who he is and where he belongs. With the help and training from some new friends, he must find the strength to make it back home and reunite with his family.” Pete also worked with writers Laura Lyn DeSiena and Hannah Eliot to create a series of “Did You Know?” books — Hippos Can’t Swim and Other Fun Facts being one of them. Also available at his web site.

image c. 2017 Harper Collins

Kitten Wanna Play

Victoria Ying is an author and illustrator. Her web site has this to say: “She started her career in the arts by falling in love with comic books, this eventually turned into a career working in Animation… Her film credits include Tangled, Wreck it Ralph, Frozen, Paperman, Big Hero 6, and Moana.” Recent she completed Meow!, her first children’s book. “Meow! is a charming, mostly wordless picture book about a feisty young kitten who gets frustrated when her family is too busy to play. Featuring expressive art and sparse text, this fun read-aloud will allow parents and kids to creatively tell the story by expressing just one word in lots of different ways. This sweet and clever picture book is sure to charm readers through to the final purr.” Ms. Ying also illustrated Not Quite Black and White, written by her brother Jonathan Ying. “Silly animals star in this lively picture book that introduces colors in a unique and catchy way. Have you ever seen a zebra wearing pink polka dots? Or a penguin with bright-yellow boots?” Both of these are available on her web site.

image c. 2017 by Victoria Ying

Don’t Be Chicken! Oh, Wait…

Elise Walters is an animation artist who creates concept art and storyboards. If you check out here Weebly web site you’ll find at least a couple of her personal animation projects are especially anthropomorphic. “My Pet Shisa is a short animation about a young man in college who suddenly finds himself stuck with a young creature from Okinawan mythology: A Shisa!” Then there’s Benny Bantam: He’s “… a retired cartoon from the 1920s that suddenly finds himself having to cope with the modern world when his studio wants to revive his show for a new generation!” Plus many other projects and shorts that she created.

image c. 2017 by Elise Walters

Before He Stormed Heaven

Grace Kum is a visual development artist and illustrator whom we met at the CTN Animation Expo. Recently she’s worked on Disney TV’s Big Hero 6 series, and various series for Dreamworks TV too. We’re spotlighting her because in her free time she’s been working with Dahyeu Celine Kim on a project called Higher Than The Sky, which they describe as “a prequel to Journey To The West” — which is, of course, the most famous story of the legendary Monkey King. According to Grace’s web site, this project is ready to get up and running again.

image c. 2017 by Grace Kum

Remember: Food Over Fighting!

Recently at CTN Animation Expo in Burbank we came across an artist named Donna Vu. She is the lead artist and art director on Dragon Roll, an on-line game published by Sleepless Skink Productions in 2016. According to their web site, it goes like this: “Fun Guo and Shiu Mae [a pair of young dragon siblings] are on an adventure to get their uncles and aunt back from their homes. After a fight, while preparing their dad’s surprise birthday party, they all go their separate ways. Now they must find and remind them of the important roll that family plays in all our lives, all before their dad gets home.” Remember to visit Donna’s web site too, as she has lots of development sketches for the game.

image c. 2017 SSP

Fantasy From Reality

April Solomon is a second generation artist (her father, David Solomon, has had paintings displayed in the Smithsonian Institution) who specializes in fantasy works and fantasy creatures. In her case though, it’s fantasy creatures informed by a well-researched reality. According to her web site, “Studying both animal and human anatomy is a constant perseverance to help design a more believable fictional creature. Her inspiration and reference comes in all forms; such as bones and muscle tissue, colorful birds, ambient fish, flowering plantlife, skin tearing sharp toothed animals, and anything else that may find its way into her field of vision that well spark the glow of inspiration.” To that end, she sketches and paints plenty of real-life animals as well.

image c. 2017 by April Solomon

Wear That Fur (without guilt!)

Furescent (also known as Anastasia Wilson) is a very busy crafter who describes herself as a furry, a cosplayer, and an artist. Over on her Etsy page you can see her works — she not only makes fursuits but also fleece hats, hoodies, onesies, and kigurumis. (Don’t we live in wonderful times with wonderful words?)

image c. 2017 by Furescent

The Annie Award Nominations for 2017

Recently ASIFA-Hollywood announced the nominees for the 2017 Annie Awards — considered to be the Oscars of animation, and often predictors of other upcoming awards. 2017 was nowhere near as furry as 2016, but there are quite a few furry (and more generally anthropomorphic) items scattered throughout the nominees. Cars III is up for Best Feature, as well as Animated Effects. Despicable Me III is also nominated in those categories, as well as Character Design (everybody still loves the minions…). Big Bad Fox from Europe is nominated in the somewhat-new category of Best Independent Feature, as well as Character Animation and Best Directing. The “Special Production” category has several anthropomorphic nominees including the Imaginary Friend Society series, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure (also nominated for Animated Effects and Music) and Pig: The Dam Keeper Poems. Though they’re not up for Best Feature, Ferdinand and The Star are both up for Best Editing, plus Production Design (Ferdinand) and Storyboarding (The Star). The furriest Short Subject nominee is the stop motion film Hedgehog’s Home — unfortunately, in spite of its title, Son of Jaguar is not a furry thing at all. It’s interesting that the entire Animation In A Live Action Feature category is all entries with anthropomorphic interest: Game of Thrones, Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, Kong: Skull Island, Valerean and the City of a Thousand Planets, and War for the Planet of the Apes. Likewise you’ll find a lot of anthropomorphic interest in the Best TV Series for Pre-School Children (Mickey and the Roadster Racers, Octonauts, Peg + Cat, The Stinky & Dirty Show, and Through The Woods) and Best TV Series for Children categories (Buddy Thunderstruck, Lost in Oz, Niko and the Sword of Light, Tangled the Series, and We Bare Bears). Buddy Thunderstruck is also up for Character Design, as is Danger & Eggs and Trollhunters. Of course Trollhunters is making a good show on its own, with nominations for Direction, Storyboarding, and Writing. Over in the Best TV Series for Adults the furriest thing is Bojack Horseman, which is also nominated for Voice Acting and Editing. The Disney Mickey Mouse series is quite popular, as shown by the nominations for Direction, Music, Production Design, Storyboarding, Voice Acting, and Writing! Finally, several shows we know and like are nominated in one category each, including Dragons: Race to the Edge (Best Direction), Tumble Leaf (Best Music), Pickle & Peanut (Best Editing), Amazing World of Gumball (Best Voice Acting), and Dinotrux (Best Editing). Whew!  Got all that? The Annie Awards will be handed out at a gala ceremony on Saturday, February 3rd, 2018 at UCLA.

image c. 2017 Netflix

Just a Bunch of Crazy Animals

Chris Lovejoy is an artist and animator who works in a variety of media, as you can see on her web site. Recently she’s been working on a new on-line comic called Trash Cat, featuring the adventures of a young opossum named Mishka. The comic updates several times a week, so make sure to keep up.

image c. 2017 by Chris Lovejoy