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From Back To Front

Honestly, we never knew this was back there — and now here it is right in front of us! Turns out that Aspen Comics have been running a series for young readers called Aspen Mascots as back-up stories in other comics for some time now. Finally, they have gathered them all together and put them out in Aspen Mascots: The Complete Collection. “Aspen Comics’ most popular mascots, critters and creatures star in this all in one jam-packed comic, coloring and activity book! Join Wormier, a fearless millipede, along with his lovable sidekick Griff, as they plot to go back in time in order to reverse the destruction of his worm village! Along the way, the pair will discover different eras, allies-and enemies! Plus, with over 5 incredible bonus stories, readers and fans alike will be able to color in the fun with added puzzles, exciting activities and a whole lot more!” Take a look over at Comixology.

image c. 2019 Aspen Comics

Ponies… In… Spaaaaace!

Yes that trope gets used a lot, but anyway… Word has slipped out that Hasbro is hard at work on a sequel to the 2017 animated film My Little Pony: The Movie. According to the Idea Wiki, the plot goes like this: “A giant whirlwind sends Onyx Star, Adonis, the weasels, Nike, Discord and the ostriches to outer space and they need to get back home to Equestria. Along the way, they meet new friends who were also stuck in space years ago, space animals, and evil alien ponies who wanted to capture Onyx and his friends and destroy the Earth with a reliquary-cannon after Groff, Maxil, Zio and their minions sold all of their souls for it.” Got all that? They go on to say: “The film is produced by Allspark Pictures and DHX Media, with animation created once again using Toon Boom Harmony, and is scheduled to be released theatrically on October 2, 2020 in the United States by Lionsgate. It also marks the 10th Anniversary of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.” Series favorite Jayson Thiessen is directing again.

image c. 2019 IDW Publishing

Apes of War

Evidently this has been a thing for a while, but somehow we missed it. Now, thanks to Oni Press, it’s all together in one place. “Brahm Revel’s critically-acclaimed series is collected for the first time in one volume in the Guerillas: Omnibus Edition! Private John Francis Clayton is on his first tour of duty in Vietnam, facing death at every turn in the middle of a war he doesn’t understand. Clayton is just trying to stay alive when he encounters an elite platoon of…. simian soldiers?!? This squad of chain-smoking chimps is the most dangerous fighting force in the jungle… but whose side are they on?” Find out when this hits the shelves in late March.

image c. 2019 Oni Press

The Nuts Are Back

More from Animation World Network: “Feature animation studio ToonBox Entertainment and Canadian production company Pipeline Studios have announced the creation of a new joint venture. Their first project is Nut Jobs, a 2D-animated series for kids ages 6-11 based on The Nut Job, the hit animated feature film franchise that took in $120 million at the international box office. The production companies have been working in development on the series and have tapped Emmy Award-winning industry veteran and Grant Moran to spearhead these efforts. Moran, who will serve as the showrunner for the TV series, previously served as Executive Director in Charge of Production at Nickelodeon.” No word yet on any release date, but stay tooned.

image c. 2019 Toonbox Entertainment

The World in Black and White?

A very… unusual anime feature is heading to our shores this spring. “Los Angeles-based Eleven Arts Anime Studio has set April 12 as the theatrical release date for the sci-fi coming-of-age animated feature, Penguin Highway, which it will be distributing in the U.S. and Canada. Directed by Hiroyasu Ishida, the film won the Axis: The Satoshi Kon Award for Excellence in Animation award at the Fantasia International Film Festival for best animated feature and has also been nominated for the Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year. The film will screen with the original Japanese dialogue with subtitles as well as the English dub. In the film, budding genius Aoyama is only in the 4th grade, but already lives his life like a scientist. When penguins start appearing in his sleepy suburb hundreds of miles from the sea, Aoyama vows to solve the mystery. When he finds the source of the penguins is a woman from his dentist’s office, they team up for an unforgettable summer adventure!” Got that? Read the article at Animation World Network for more, including the trailer.

image c. 2019 Eleven Arts

The World of the False Dawn

Also at Further Confusion we learned about Shard, a fantasy role-playing game with a considerably anthropomorphic bent. The creators, Shard Studios out of Austin, Texas, we running several games to introduce new players to the system. Here’s what they have to say on their home page for the game: “Shard Studios invites you to enter the fantastic world of Dardunah, the vast shard of a shattered realm, as presented in the colorful pages of the Shard RPG! Many years in the making, this system allows players to choose from a wide variety of animal people who are the main cast of the many adventures this otherworldly setting offers. Skyships glide through shimmering clouds past majestic crystal peaks. Giant insects prowl alien jungles or lurk in the sparkling emerald seas. Warriors with blades of diamond and amber duel across crimson sands. And mystics chant in shadowy chambers as their spirits wander abroad.” There are several books of game play and background available now.

image c. 2019 Shard Studios

The Annie Award Winners for 2018

Your humble ed-otter and his mate got a chance to attend the Annie Awards at UCLA’s Royce Hall recently. Presented annually by ASIFA-Hollywood, the Annie Awards are considered by many to be the Oscars for animation, voted on by folks who work in the industry. And once again, there was plenty of anthropomorphic content to be found among the winners. By far, the big winner of the evening was Sony Pictures’ Spider Man: Into The Spiderverse. The surprise hit from last December not only won the coveted Best Animated Feature trophy, but also took home the Feature awards for Directing, Writing, Character Animation, Character Design, Production Design, and Editing — winning all seven categories in which it was nominated. (Go, Spider-Ham!). Ralph Breaks The Internet had to settle for only one award in Feature Effects Animation, while the 2D animated sequence in Mary Poppins Returns got the awards for Animated Special Production and Character Animation In A Live Action Feature. Also taking home one award was Wes Anderson’s Isle Of Dogs, which got the award in Feature Voice Acting for Bryan Cranston’s performance as Chief. Over on the TV/Broadcast side of things, the big winners were Hilda from Netflix (taking home awards for Best TV Series For Children, Writing, and Character Animation) and Disney’s Mickey Mouse (with trophies for Music, Storyboarding — tied with Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — and Directing). In TV Character Design, the Annie went to a very anthropomorphic episode of Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure called “Freebird”. Bojack Horseman did well, winning for TV Voice acting (Will Arnett as Bojack) and Best TV Production overall. Dreamworks’ Tales of Arcadia: Trollhunters won the trophy for Best TV Effects Animation. The award for Best Commercial went to “There’s a Rang-Tan in My Bedroom” (produced for Greenpeace), and the first winner of the brand new Best Virtual Reality award was Crow: The Legend (which we’ve talked about before!). Finally, the Ub Iwerks Award for technical achievement went to the developers of the open source software known as Blender, which of course many furry creators have also used extensively. To see all the winners visit the Annie Awards web site — and remember, nominations for the Ursa Major Awards close on February 16th!

image c. 2019 Sony Pictures

Nikki from Dave!

Nikki M is an illustrator we met at Further Confusion this year. Here’s what she has to say about herself: “My name is Nichole (you can call me Nikki!) and I am an illustrator/general artist based in Los Angeles CA. I graduated in 2015 from The Dave School, with experience in 3D and visual effects. My focus and passion lies in design, illustration and digital painting. Working with colors and seeing a character come to life before my eyes is what brings me pure joy. I currently am working as a freelance artist, and am open to take on any challenge that’s thrown my way!” Check out her Gallery, and keep an eye on her web site — she’ll have a Storenvy store set up soon to sell prints, pins, and other art stuff.

image c. 2019 by Nikki M

In a Great Big Monster’s Garden… in the Shade

The artist known as AshG is an active-duty member of the U.S. Navy, often deployed on ships at sea. But somehow she still finds the time and energy to create Monster’s Garden, a full-color on-line comic. It tells the story of Kilo Monster, a championship fighter (and reptile) who is thrown out of his homeland.  Now he lives his life for the protection of his friends (human and otherwise) and the peace of his home garden. The official web site includes a link to AshG’s Society6 store of art prints and other items.

image c. 2019 by AshG