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September, 2011:

An Elephant in a Fedora

You can’t get much more straight-forward than this description of Big City Otto: Elephants Never Forget. “Otto is a lumbering, sweet-natured elephant who can’t forget his childhood chum Georgie, a smiley-faced chimpanzee who was abducted and shipped away from their forest home by the mysterious and sinister Man with the Wooden Nose. Accompanied by a wisecracking but protective parrot named Crackers, Otto decides to hop a plane and look for Georgie in America. But once they hit the wild streets of the concrete jungle, Otto and Crackers court trouble at every turn — even becoming unwittingly involved in the seedy alligator underworld dominating the city sewers. And little do these out-of-place out-of-towners realize that they, too, are being doggedly pursued across the city — by the local police! Will the authorities catch Otto and Crackers? Will Otto and Crackers find Georgie? Who is the Man with the Wooden Nose? And what’s an elephant doing sporting a trench-coat and fedora?” It’s a brand-new softcover graphic novel written and illustrated by Bill Slavin, and recently published by Kids Can Press.

image c. 2011 Bill Slavin

Classic Comic Strips Collected

Fantagraphics Books has two new collected editions of famous and historically significant comic strips available. Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse brings together the 1930’s comic strips created by Floyd Gottfredson, newly edited by David Gerstein and Gary Groth. Besides nearly 600 pages of black & white Mickey Mouse adventures, each hardcover volume also features more than 50 pages of supplemental material including behind-the-scenes art, vintage publicity material, and commentary by Disney historians. Volume 1, Race to Death Valley, was released last June, and Volume 2, Trapped on Treasure Island, is coming this October. Then in December, be on the lookout for Pogo: The Complete Syndicated Comic Strips, Volume 1, “Through the Wild Blue Yonder” (whew!) by the inimitable Walt Kelly, of course. This hardcover edition goes back as far as the 1940’s Pogo strips, and also features a biographical introduction, an extensive glossary by comics historian R. C. Harvey, and a forward by the legendary columnist Jimmy Breslin.

Kiss Me, I Speak Latin!

The artist known as Kamui (apparently also known as Flossalot) has put together a collection of text t-shirts that announce to the world which non-human animal you identify with — by their scientific names. “Kiss Me, I’m Vulpes Vulpes” means red foxes, for instance. The “Linnaean Tees” collection includes a very wide list of species, and if your favorite isn’t there, the creator also offers to do custom one-offs. They’re all available as t-shirts or hoodies, in a wide variety of sizes and colors. You’ll find the collection at Red Bubble.

Zee Best of Pepe Le Pew

Thanks to the folks at Cartoon Brew and TV on DVD, we now know that the next release in Warner Brothers’ Looney Tunes Super Stars series will be Pepe Le Pew: Zee Best of Zee Best. In spite of what this single-DVD collection’s box cover says, it actually contains 17 cartoons: All 15 of Chuck Jones’ Pepe cartoons, a one-off directed by Art Davis (Odor of the Day), and one Tweety Bird cartoon (Dog Pounded, directed by Friz Freleng) in which Pepe makes a cameo appearance. Everyone’s favorite romantic skunk with zee accent of LOVE comes to DVD on December 27th.

image c. 2011 Warner Brothers

Epic Mickey’s Epic Graphic Novel

Who knew that the Ursa Major Award-winning video game Epic Mickey was also a comic book? My, it’s everywhere! Well, for those of us who wound up surprised as we are, Disney Press will be releasing the Disney: Epic Mickey graphic novel this October, in both hardcover and softcover editions. It collects all of the full-color Epic Mickey comic adventures, written by the famous comic book author Peter David and illustrated by Fabio Celoni and Paolo Mottura. In it you’ll be introduced to the magical realm of Wasteland and its inhabitants, including Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Gus the Gremlin, and the animatronic Donald, Daisy, and Goofy.

image c. 2011 Disney Press

Think Like A Pack

Science fiction fandom has been buzzing with the news that Vernor Vinge has finally written a sequel to his trail-blazing, award-winning 1991 novel A Fire Upon the Deep. In that book, we were introduced (among many other star-spanning concepts) to Tines World, a planet with dog-like inhabitants, where humans have taken root. The natives of this world are “intelligent” only in combination: Named “individuals” are actually small packs. Now, after 20 years, we return to Tines World with the new novel The Children of the Sky, coming this October from Tor Books. Here’s the publisher’s description from Amazon: “Ten years have passed on Tines World, where Ravna Bergnsdot and a number of human children ended up after a disaster that nearly obliterated humankind throughout the galaxy. Ravna and the pack animals for which the planet is named have survived a war, and Ravna has saved more than one hundred children who were in cold-sleep aboard the vessel that brought them. While there is peace among the Tines, there are those among them—and among the humans—who seek power…and no matter the cost, these malcontents are determined to overturn the fledgling civilization that has taken root since the humans landed.”