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October, 2013:

Barking and Bravery in Battle

Now and then we like to spotlight something involving real-world animals — especially when they’re doing something that, while maybe not anthropomorphic, definitely feels like something you wouldn’t expect animals to do. Dogs of War is a new full-color graphic novel, coming very soon from Graphix Press in softcover and hardcover editions. From Mile High Comics, here’s the blurb: “Dogs of War is a graphic novel that tells the stories of the canine military heroes of World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War. This collection of three fictional stories was inspired by historic battles and real military practice, and each story tells the heroic adventures of a soldier and his service dog. Based on the real-life roles of military dogs that served as Red Cross rescuers, messengers, scouts, search-and-rescue teams, sentries, and mascots, Dogs of War captures both the adventure and the devastation brought on by war, as well as the celebrations of life and friendship between boys and their dogs.” Dogs of War was written by Sheila Keenan and illustrated by Nathan Fox.

image c. 2013 Graphix Press

Silent Dreams Will Haunt You

Here’s another of those “How did we miss this?” kind of things: Some of you might be familiar with the surreal works of Jim Woodring, especially his wordless funny animal comic Frank. Based on his own colorful dreams (and, some would say, rather scary dreams!), Frank follows the adventures of a “generic anthropomorph” (to use the creator’s words) across a surreal landscape known as The Unifactor. Well in 2011, Jim Woodring completed his first graphic novel starring Frank,  Congress of the Animals. Frank’s world becomes even stranger, if possible, when he is forced to venture outside of the frightening yet familiar realm of The Unifactor and into the larger world around him. Fantagraphics is again offering this full-color graphic novel in hardcover at Amazon and other sellers. Attention Deficit Disorderly has an extensive review as well — one likely to make your head spin in fact.

Image. c. 2013 Fantagraphics Books

Adventures at the Dawn of Time

Last year, Garth Ennis (Preacher) and Rob Steen (Flanimals) ran a successful Kickstarter campaign for their illustrated book for young readers called Erf. The final book was presented to contributors. Now Dynamite Entertainment is putting out a mass-market edition of Erf later this month in hardcover. “Set at the dawn of time, ERF introduces its titular character and his three amphibious friends – Figwillop, KWAAAH, and the Booper – as they take their first nervous steps out of the ocean. Their exploration of exciting new lands beyond the shore leads to a confrontation with the mighty Colossux, a terrifying creature lurking in the prehistoric jungle. What follows is an evolutionary tale of love and loyalty for readers of all ages.” Check out the preview at Bleeding Cool.

image c. 2013 Dynamite Entertainment

Keeping Your Childhood Friends in Line

It seems that not all our imaginary friends have found a safe home like Foster’s. And so it falls upon agents Dave and Terry and the crew of I.M.A.G.I.N.E. to keep things cheery for the world and safe for children. That’s the idea behind Imagine Agents, a new full-color comic book mini-series from Boom! Studios. You see, adults cannot perceive a child’s imaginary friend (referred to as a ‘figment’ in this world), unless they have the special equipment that our trusty agents from I.M.A.G.I.N.E. employ. Check out the preview at Comic Book Resources and it’ll all make a lot more sense. Imagine Agents is written by Brian Joines (Noble Causes) and illustrated by the artist known as Bachan (Justice League). Look for it starting later this month.

image c. 2013 Boom! Studios

He’s Getting Stuffed Again

Seth MacFarlane and Universal Pictures have announced that the sequel to the wildly popular 2o12 movie Ted will be released to theaters on June 26th, 2015. It’s simply called Ted 2. Once again Seth MacFarlane will direct and star as the voice of Ted, the foul-mouthed talking teddy bear, and Mark Wahlberg will reprise his role as Ted’s grown-up childhood human friend. That’s about all we know about it so far — other than the fact that the sequel will also be R-Rated! The original Ted, of course, was nominated for an Ursa Major Award for Best Anthropomorphic Feature.

image c. 2013 Universal Pictures

A Beastly Tarot Deck

Victoria Gannon is a self-taught artist who creates works under the name of Leptailurus. For a long time she has toyed with the idea of creating her very own Tarot deck, and now she has begun work on that very project. Savage Divination is its name, and it’s “a full 78-card tarot deck inspired by myth, lore, and legend focusing on the profound spiritual connection between man and beast”. For a little more than one week from now, Leptailurus is running a Kickstarter campaign to finance the creation of the final product, including the rendering of the art and the printing of the cards — with lots of perks for contributors, including original sketches and prints of the various cards themselves. There’s a video at the Kickstarter page explaining it all, and showing many more examples in completed and work-in-progress form.

image c. 2013 Leptailurus

A Wolf, His Mate, and Their Cubs

Turns out that the original Alpha and Omega (from 2010) was successful enough to “spawn” a sequel — at least a 44-minute direct-to-video sequel, Alpha and Omega 2: A Howl-iday Adventure. According to Cartoon Brew (never very kind to standard Hollywood fare), the sequel is again directed by Richard Rich. It was animated in India. In this new film, the wolves Humphrey and Kate strive to bring their cubs — Stinky, Claudette, and Runt — a happy season at Christmas time. The preview trailer is up now on YouTube. Look for the DVD from Lionsgate, coming to your local store on October 8th.

Image c. 2013 Lionsgate Pictures