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October, 2009:

Zipper Heads?

And now for something completely different… from China no less. The Zip-A-Gang is a new puppet TV series (and merchandizing line), produced in Hong Kong, that is looking for markets in Europe and North America. From their publicity material:  “Meet the Zip-A-Gang, a zany bunch of mischievous rascals who live beyond the Milky Way, on the planet of Zip, in the bustling Zip-A-Ville hamlet of Zip-A-Town. The Zip-A-Gang live, eat, and breathe in a fantasy world of zippers! Doors, roads, and even their teeth zip and un-zip!” Hmm, for a group from a planet “beyond the Milky Way”, an awful lot of the characters sure do resemble Earth animals. And yes, all of them have zippers for teeth — even though several of them are birds! If you want to make sense out of any of this, try heading over to the Zip-A-Gang web site. Or else, just keep  your eyes on the TV… and your local department store shelves.

Total Television Productions

Fans of classic TV cartoons and funny animals will probably be familiar with characters like Underdog, Tennessee Tuxedo, and the GoGo Gophers. Well, they’re all from one place: The creative minds behind Total Television Productions.  Now comics and animation historian Mark Arnold (The Best of the Harveyville Fun Times!) has written Created and Produced by Total Television Productions, a new softcover book available from BearManor Media. In this book you’ll find rare production artwork and storyboards, as well as reminiscences from TTV’s founders.

Look Out! It’s Mr. Wiggles!

What, you haven’t met Mr. Wiggles? Well, maybe you’re safe then. Creator/writer/artist Neil Swaab describes the adventures of Mr. Wiggles like this: “Join the loveably deviant teddy bear and his human companion as they navigate a world of addiction, sex, psychosis, and dangerous obsession, discovering humor in the most unlikely (and sometimes unwanted) places”. Now Mr. Swaab has released Rehabilitating Mr. Wiggles Volume 3, the third collection of his popular full-color alternative comic strip. It’s available in softcover from Neil’s web site.

Odd and the Frost Giants

Simply put: Neil Gaiman has done it again. Done what? Another new fantasy novel for young readers, that’s what. It’s called Odd and the Frost Giants, and the description on goes like this: “In this inventive, short, yet perfectly formed novel inspired by traditional Norse mythology, Neil Gaiman takes readers on a wild and magical trip to the land of giants and gods and back. In a village in ancient Norway lives a boy named Odd, and he’s had some very bad luck: His father perished in a Viking expedition; a tree fell on and shattered his leg; the endless freezing winter is making villagers dangerously grumpy. Out in the forest Odd encounters a bear, a fox, and an eagle—three creatures with strange stories to tell. Now Odd is forced on a stranger journey than he had imagined—a journey to save Asgard, city of the gods, from the Frost Giants who have invaded it. It’s going to take a very special kind of twelve-year-old boy to outwit the Frost Giants, restore peace to the city of gods, and end the long winter. Someone cheerful and infuriating and clever . . . Someone just like Odd .” The book is illustrated by Brett Helquist, and now it’s been published in hardcover by Harper-Collins.

Play the Game. Then See the Movie. Soon…

Elysian Tail is a new creative property (with some decidedly anthropomorphic touches) from Dean Dodrill and Humble Hearts. Here’s how they describe it on their web site: “Elysian Tail is a series of loosely interconnected stories in the beautiful yet dangerous world of Falana, told across several mediums. At the moment they consist of a film and video game, both in production. The web site will eventually feature an in-depth look into the stories, world, and characters of Elysian Tail, and feature an ever growing gallery of artwork and media. The news page will serve as a production diary, and give insight into the creation [of the game and film]. ” First up the movie: “Elysian Tail is a traditionally animated feature film. The film follows a young girl, Bonnie, who must help her reclusive friend Leddinger rescue his daughter Tika, and in the process bring order and life back to their dying world. With the aid of an ancient sword, Leddinger must thwart a regime bent on taking over the lost kingdom of Elysium. As their adventure unfolds, Bonnie learns of the incredible potential not only within Tika, but in herself as well.  This film is currently in production, with release to be announced. ” First up though is the game, which has already been making the rounds on the Internet: “Dust: An Elysian Tail is  a 2D action-RPG video game created for the Xbox 360 platform, and available soon as a downloadable title. It has won the grand prize in Microsoft’s 2009 Dream.Build.Play competition. Set in the beautiful yet mysterious world of Falana, this game chronicles protagonist Dust’s journey to liberate an oppressed village, and rediscover his past. He is aided by an ancient sword, Ahrah, and his helpful if unreserved sidekick, Fidget. Meticulously hand-animated and painted, this episode of Elysian Tail welcomes exploration, platforming, and above all else, mastery of a fighting system that rewards skilled gamers.” You heard it all here, people. Check it out.

Anthro Calendars for 2010

It’s that time of year when next year’s calendars start showing up, in your local bookstore, all over the malls… and on the Internet. Two of particular note for Furry Fans are Rare — The Unusual Anthro Calendar and The Werewolf Calendar, both of them created by a variety of artists. Rare is a collection of full-color artwork featuring anthropomorphic versions of animals that don’t get drawn as often, like pandas, okapi, jaguarundi, and so forth. It features artwork from Ashalind, Qzurr, Alector Fencer, Balaa, Sekhmet, Nimrais, Katie Hofgard, Synnabar, Mondeis, Heather Bruton, Katrine Hagman, and Char Reed. Only 180 copies of the calendar have been made, so make sure to pre-order yours here. Meanwhile, The Werewolf Calendar is, of course, made for you fans of lycanthropic lupines. It features full-color art by Balaa, Dark Natasha, Goldenwolf, Khaosdog, Loba North, Myenia, Rayndancer, Synnabar, Therese Larsson, Thornwolf, Vantid, Zakka, and Zowolf. Like Rare, it’s available for pre-order on-line… and like that calendar, only for a limited time.

Disney Goes Boom!

As we noted early this year, Boom! Studios have landed themselves some plum tie-in comic titles recently, especially those from the Disney, Pixar, and Muppet lines. Now comes the word that Boom! will be handling the titles that Gemstone made famous over the decades: Uncle Scrooge and Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories. Perhaps one of the biggest things (literally!) to come out of this is The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, Volume 1. This 112-page full-color hardcover collection brings together Scrooge stories written and illustrated by comics legend Don Rosa. See how Scrooge McDuck earned his infamous “Number One Dime” and began to build his vast fortune! Keep up with these and many more titles at the Boom! Studios web site.

The Return of Far West

How do you take Far West even farther? How do you make Bad Mojo even badder? You do it in full color, that’s how! Far West, of course, is the creation of writer and comic artist Richard Moore — creator of Boneyard and The Pound. It tells the story of Meg, an elven bounty hunter, and her tireless friend Phil, a talking bear, as they ply their trade in a magical Old West unlike any you’ve seen before. Bad Mojo was a popular black & white two-issue Far West miniseries, and now Antarctic Press is re-releasing it in full color as Badder Mojo, a single 48-page graphic novel. In this story, Meg and Phil must split up to track their quarry through the Deadlands, a region of bad magics and perpetual twilight. But then when they discover that a malevolent trickster spirit named Kodiki is after the both of them, it becomes less about the quarry and more about survival!

Bunny Suits and Giant Talking Ducks

Dee sees giant talking ducks, and Bunny Boy is called that because he’s worn the same Halloween costume for years. Now they’ve become teenagers, and they think it’s time to change the world’s view of them. But then the giant talking ducks become real, and monstrous, and Bunny Boy meets up with talking, winged cats… It’s all part of the strange, strange world of Weird Fishes, an on-line comic written and drawn by Jamaica Dyer. Now Slave Labor Graphics has released the first Weird Fishes collection of black and white strips as a softcover graphic novel.  You can find out more about the book and the comic strip at the Weird Fishes web site.