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And They Can Talk To Him… and Her

Another obscure animated feature we found through Animation Magazine — this one from Latvia, of all places. Jacob, Mimmi, and the Talking Dogs is a new feature film from Atomart Studios, directed by Edmunds Jansons. It’s based on the book Dog Town by Luīze Pastore, and animated in an interesting combination of cut-out style and 2D CGI. “When Dad brings Jacob to spend summer in one of the city’s suburbs, the boy not only discovers an environment never seen before, becomes acquainted with his cousin, the smarty-boots Mimmi, and his uncle, the former seaman Eagle, but also makes friends with Boss, the leader of a horde of talking homeless dogs. Will Jacob and Mimmi succeed to make friends and together with the talking dogs rescue the place from the rich Lord Pie who has plans to convert the romantic wooden house neighbourhood into an impersonal glass skyscraper area?” The official web site has clips in the original Latvian, but there’s an English language trailer up on Vimeo too.

image c. 2018 Atomart Studios

Not One But Two Dragon Films

We missed the announcements of these animated films last year, but now we’ve found them thanks to Animation Magazine. Both are adaptations of popular children’s literature, and both of them are international co-productions. Dragonkeeper (based on a series of books by Carole Wilkinson) comes to us from China Film Group and Spain’s Dragoia Media.  According to Variety, “Set during the Han Dynasty in a magic, epic and classic China… the first Dragonkeeper installment turns on the adventures of Ping, a slave girl so humble that she thinks she doesn’t deserve a name. Yet she finds the courage to become a true Dragonkeeper, helping the ancient last imperial dragon, Long Danzi, in its quest to transport a dragon egg across China to the coast, the only place it can hatch.” Then there’s Dragon Rider, based on the book by Cornelia Funke (Inkheart) and produced in cooperation between Germany and the UK. (It’s being adapted by Johnny Smith, writer for the original Gnomeo & Juliet.) Again, from Variety: “High-end by European standards, the 3D children’s fantasy adventure turns on Firedrake, a young silver dragon, Sorrel, a mountain brownie, and Ben, a human orphan who search among the highest Himalayas for the Rim of Heaven, which can offer sanctuary for Firedrake’s kin, whose valley is made uninhabitable by a dam.” No word yet on a planned release date for either film.

image c. 2018 Dragoia Media

Little Dino Lost

The June/July issue of Animation Magazine features a huge list of upcoming animated films in production all over the world. Including one from Poland: “Human Ark, one of Poland’s leading animation studios, has launched a new animation test for its new animated feature comedy Diplodocus. The movie is a family comedy inspired by classic 1980s comic books by the cult Polish author Tadeusz Baranowski, which have sold over 2.5 million copies. It tells the epic adventure of a little dinosaur, who has to find his missing parents and discovers that he actually lives inside of a comic book. The project is the second feature-length animated film by Wojtek Wawszczyk (George the Hedgehog), who also wrote the script in collaboration with Mark Palmer (The Penguins of Madagascar, Monsters vs. Aliens, and Kim Possible). Set for completion in 2020, the movie is the biggest 3D CGI production for children ever produced in Poland.” The article in Animation features several illustrations from the film, and Human Ark has also produced a promo clip on Vimeo.

image c. 2018 Human Ark

These Rabbits are Dynamite!

Here’s another project we found out about through Animation World Network: “Fox Family is prepping children’s book The Royal Rabbits of London as a hybrid CG-animation/live-action feature film, Variety reports. Screenwriter Will Davies, whose credits include Flushed Away, Puss and Boots, How to Train Your Dragon, and the forthcoming Abominable, has been hired to write the script. The Royal Rabbits of London is based on the 2016 children’s book written by husband-and-wife team Santa Montefiore and Simon Sebag Montefiore… There’s no word yet on where the animation will be produced. The story introduces the Royal Rabbits of London, who have secretly protected England’s Royal Family for centuries. When a small country rabbit uncovers an devious plot against the royals, he travels to London to warn the protective order.” Not to leave it out: The book was illustrated by Kate Hindley and it’s available at Barnes & Noble.

image c. 2018 Aladdin Publishers

A Cat For Our Times

So Animation Magazine lead us to discover Krocchi the Street Cat, a new animated character brought to us by Nurue in Japan. Here’s what they say: “Krocchi is a tough cat who’s seen a lot, a new type of hero for children who teaches them to have a strong heart that never gives up, no matter how bad things get. Through this series children will learn creativity, and how to invent games with natural materials like grass and plants. And by dancing with Krocchi, they can have fun exercising too.” Besides the animated series for preschoolers, Nurue has also created a line of Krocchi artwork and plush toys.  Currently they’re seeking international distribution, and they’ve had some success in Asia.

image c. 2018 Nurue, Inc.

Art for the Endangered

Here’s what we learned at Comic Con: “Expedition Art is a team of artists who have joined together to raise awareness for wildlife and nature conservation initiatives through art.” To that end they have created the book In Danger, a collection of art designed to raise awareness (and funds!) for endangered species the world over. And what a collection! Black & white and color works from no less than 51 artists, including among them: Aaron Blaise, Bobby Chiu, Iain McCaig, Joe Weatherly, Terryl Whitlatch, and many many more. Visit their web site to find out how to order your own copy.

image c. 2018 Expedition Art

Big Dino, Little Dinos

Here’s a new TV series we found out about through Animation magazine: Gigantosaurus, produced by Cyber Group Studios. “Growing up in the Cretaceous is no mean feat for kids! New volcanoes popping up all the time, long-necked brachiosauruses, meteor showers, enormous triceratopses and… the big bad Gigantosaurus, as the kids would say. Gigantosaurus isn’t actually very well-known but the mere mention of his name is enough to conjure up a range of (conflicting) emotions in our four young (dinosaur) friends: Fear (Bill), fascination (Rocky), laughter (Tiny), and scientific interest (Mazu). In short, Gigantosaurus represents four different ways of finding out more about the world when you’re between 4 and 6 years old.” According to their web site it’s all “based on a book written by the multi-awarded children novelist Jonny Duddle”. Gigantosaurus has already been sold to Disney Junior for worldwide distribution, and it’s in production now. And as you can see from their site, Cyber Group Studios have several other shows of furry fan interest in production as well.

image c. 2018 Cyber Group Studios

Life is Hard and Then You Die

Thanks to a friend we came across The Gnoll Credo, a novel by J. Stanton. Here’s what the author has to say about it: “There are no such things as gnolls, they never kill and eat people, and they can’t read or write — much less write something so stark, so raw, so beautifully bleak. Right? Because if there were, someone might have risked a violent and painful death to find them, study them, and bring back this book. Then you might read it.” So here is a story about someone from the outside world visiting these famously ruthless giant hyena-like warriors… and learning more about them they either side ever thought possible. You can find the book in paperback over at Barnes & Noble.

image c. 2018 Forgotten Realms

The Little Creatures Don’t Know They’re Ugly

Looks like the popularity of the Uglydolls plush toy line continues to grow. After a graphic novel series several years ago, now there’s a new TV series in production for the Hulu network. According to an article at Deadline, STX will be producing the TV series and also has exclusive rights to the feature film which is also in production (and has been for some time). “Created as a plush toy line by David Horvath and Sun-Min Kim, the Uglydoll brand quickly gained a cult following around the world and was named Toy of the Year by the Toy Industry Association in 2006. Uglydoll characters are distinct for their endearing ‘ugliness’, in a wonderful ‘uglyverse’ where differences are celebrated and embraced.” Look for both the feature and the series in 2019.

image c. 2018 STX