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May, 2018:

More Adventures with the Illiop from Rillonia

We’re going to lift this one wholesale from Animation World Network, because it’s cool! “Alchemy II has teamed up with The Jim Henson Company to develop an animated fantasy adventure series for kids ages 3-7 based on the popular Teddy Ruxpin property. The new Teddy Ruxpin series will have an all-star team, including showrunner John Tartaglia (Splash and Bubbles, Johnny and the Sprites); producer Russell Hicks, the original head illustrator for Alchemy II during Teddy Ruxpin’s initial launch; global master toy partner Wicked Cool Toys; and The Jim Henson Company led by executive producers Lisa Henson and Halle Stanford. World-renowned Jim Henson’s Creature Shop will bring the series to life with its Emmy Award-winning Henson Digital Puppetry Studio (Sid the Science Kid, Word Party), which allows performers to puppeteer animated characters in real time allowing for more organic and natural movement. The new series will focus on important themes and skills like fostering self-esteem, empathy, and individuality.” Good stuff all, that.

image c. 2018 Alchemy II

Play Is Serious Business

More illustrated books for young folks, this time from a well-known writer in Hollywood. Toy Academy is a new series from Scholastic Books, written by Brian Lynch and illustrated by Edwardian Taylor. “Welcome to Toy Academy: Where toys learn to play. This is where action figures train to battle, stuffed animals study the art of the hug, and collectibles practice standing very, very still. Though Grumbolt isn’t really any of those things, he’s determined to fit in. But when the Evil Toy Academy threatens to bring down his school, it’s up to Grumbolt to go where no good toy has gone before and prove he’s truly a great toy after all. This laugh-out-loud chapter book by the writer of Minions and a writer of The Secret Life of Pets is a classic in the making.” You heard it here!

image c. 2018 Scholastic Books

Anyone Can Be Anything

And another self-published book we found through Xlibris, this one geared more toward young readers. What I Want to Be from A To Z is written and illustrated by Janis Arnold. We’ll let her describe it: “‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ At some point in their young lives, this question is heard by most children. My poetry book, What I Want to Be from A–Z, is a fun way to learn about a variety of careers. Each poem contains vocabulary that will help children learn about a career. When children become familiar with a rhyming book, they begin to make predictions, which is an important part of early reading skills. My two main characters are foxes—a female English red fox named Fiona and an American gray fox named Fernando. While reading through the book, the reader will view, on some of the poems, one of the foxes dressed up for that career.” It’s interesting (and rather heartening) to note that the pictures do not always conform to older ideals of what jobs are best for a man or a woman. Both these foxes seem equally capable of doing whatever they want!

image c. 2018 Xlibris

Teen Dragons in Trouble

Sounds like a bad romance novel but it’s not. Still, more dragons! Hadn’t heard of this before but we came across it at the LA Times Festival of Books. Dragon Time is a 2015 fantasy novel by John Doyal, published through Xlibris. “It started as a war between wizards on the planet Hector. Tulles wants change at all costs, and the Council of Wizards wants peace and stability. Add in two teenaged dragons stranded in world that they do not know and a group of orphans displaying signs of magic, and what do you have? The first war between nations in over two hundred years and the first war between dragons that this world has ever known.” Check it out over at Amazon.

image c. 2018 Xlibris

A Human Turned Into A Dragon. That’s Bad?

[Back from our first BLFC and we’ve got lots to talk about!]

Ryan Smith is the writer and primary artist behind Accursed Dragon, a series of fantasy graphic novels. Starting as a web comic in 2008, since 2011 he has self-published several paperbacks with the help of several Kickstarter campaigns. And as you can see at the official web site, Ryan started off using his own black & white art, but as the series has progressed he’s brought other artists on board and moved to full color. So what’s it about? “Rawn (a selfish young wizard) is introduced to Coven, a man cursed in the form of a dragon, and together they journey the war torn land of Ternia to find the cure!” Needless to say things get more complicated from there. Check out the first volume over at Goodreads.

image c. 2018 by Ryan Smith

STOP and Listen

At WonderCon we met an author named Julie Penshorn and learned about her book for young readers: The Barnyard Buddies STOP For Peace, illustrated by Jorry Keith. “The Barnyard Buddies are angry because King is taking all the space under the shelter. After they stop and breathe, and get guidance from a wise owl, they can hear how King is hurt and lonely and solve the problem. Children develop skills for anger management, empathy, and compassion… The delightful Barnyard Buddies engage everyone as they show how to use peaceful conflict resolution and dialogue for problem-solving! This rhyming, richly illustrated children’s book, for ages 3 to 8, conveys important social skills and anger management tools.” Now it’s available in paperback from Barnes & Noble.

[And with that, we’ll see you in a few days after BLFC!]

image c. 2018 Growing Communities

A Flying Ape with a Beak. Yes.

One of the things that was almost impossible to miss at WonderCon this year was a huge display booth for Genesis II, a full color graphic novel by Allen Ling and Christian Boe. It’s a science fiction story about genetic experiments gone very, very strange, but that barely scratches the surface. The booth display featured three of the principle weird creations from the story in larger than life size, sculpted by none other than Stan Winston Studios. The graphic novel is available now as a hardcover book, and also as a download for purchase. The creators plan to release a softcover version later this year. Visit their web site to see what we’re talking about — and to order your copy.

image c. 2018 genesisiicomics.com

Nick & Judy, Back in the Day

Many thanks to our friend KeiFox for pointing this one out to us. Here’s what we learned over at the Hollywood Reporter: “Fans of Disney’s animated 2016 hit Zootopia should prepare for a return to the animal metropolis this summer, with Dark Horse Comics releasing a brand-new graphic novel based on the movie as part of its new deal with Disney. Aimed at younger readers, Disney Zootopia: Friends to the Rescue will feature two stories spotlighting young versions of both Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde and taking place before the events of the movie. Judy has to save the day — and her friend Dinah — at the Bunnyburrow County Fair, while Nick has to put his (questionable) talents to good use to give his friend Hedy the best birthday party imaginable. Both stories are written by Jimmy Gownley, with art by Leandro Ricardo da Silva, colors by Wes Dzioba, and lettering from Chris Dickey. The 48-page title will also feature special features and story-related activities.” Look for it on September 12th.

image c. 2018 Dark Horse Publishing

Ready: Fight! Meow!

“My name is Arnel Baluyot, and I am a Portland-based illustrator specializing in art prints, inspired by pop culture.” A simple enough introduction from his web site, Ninjabot. One project in particular is of interest here though: Popcats Fighter, a new card game the artist is developing. (Official slogan: “Unleash The Furry!”) Here’s what he says: “PopCats Fighter is a strategic card fighting game where your inner PopCat can fight against your friend’s inner PopCat in a sweet 1v1 battle(or Tag Team 2v2 mode) by attacking them with some gnarly Move Cards until your opponent’s health goes down to zero! Unless of course they fight back with Action Cards that are designed to make the game fun, and fast! The better you do in the game, the more chances you will have to play some sweet Super Moves that will potentially make you the winner!” Got all that? Visit the web site to see more, and watch the Kickstarter campaign starting up in July.

image c. 2018 by Arnel Baluyot