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It’s Not Fair Penguins Can’t Fly

An unusual new graphic novel from Fantagraphics Books: Penguins by Nick Thorburn. “Told almost entirely without words, Penguins is one of the most playfully original graphic novels in recent memory… relying on visual expression and the physical movement of his penguin characters, as well as the formal properties of sequential drawings (with penguins routinely moving within and without each page’s panel borders), Penguins is a series of interconnected short strips that, without words or human characters, does more to showcase the breadth of emotion we as humans experience than most prose novels.” It’s available now in hardcover from Amazon.

image c. 2018 Fantagraphics Books

All The World Shall Be Your Enemy

How on Earth did we not hear about this coming up? Well thanks to The Nerdist we did — and just in time too, as the newly-animated Watership Down is due very soon! “The BBC and Netflix are releasing a new CG-animated version this Christmas, and in order to more accurately portray the book, it’s going to come in two feature-length installments. The cast was already all-star, with James McAvoy as refugee rabbit leader Hazel, Nicholas Hoult as the psychic runt Fiver, John Boyega as the intimidating fighter Bigwig, Olivia Colman as bereaved doe Strawberry (a gender-flip from the book), Ben Kingsley as villain General Woundwort, Tom Wilkinson as doomed elder Threarah, and Taron Egerton as the rabbit Christ-analogue El-ahrairah (meaning “prince with a thousand enemies”). But now, via an official BBC announcement, they’ve revealed even more: Peter Capaldi will play the bunnies’ seagull ally Kehaar, Daniel Kaluuya is warren destruction survivor Bluebell, and Rosamund Pike is the Black Rabbit of Inle, a death/Satan figure and counterpart to the rabbit deity Frith.” All that plus director Noam Murro, the man behind 300: Rise of an Empire. Look for it on Netflix this coming December.

image c. 2018 BBC

Three To Dream

Thanks to our friends at Animation Scoop, we found out about three new animated TV series that Dreamworks Animation is producing for Netflix. And guess what?  All three of them are anthropomorphic! First up is Archibald’s Next Big Thing, coming in 2019. “Inspired by the critically acclaimed children’s book from Tony Hale, Tony Biaggne, and Victor Huckabee, Archibald’s Next Big Thing follows the adventures of Archibald Strutter, a chicken who ‘yes-ands’ his way thru life. Though living in the moment often leads him astray, Archibald always finds his way back home.” Then in 2020 look for this: “Welcome to Gabby’s Dollhouse, the preschool show with a surprise inside! Created and executive produced by Traci Paige Johnson (Blue’s Clues, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood) and Jennifer Twomey (Blue’s Clues, Team Umizoomi), Gabby’s Dollhouse is a mixed media series that unboxes a surprise before jumping into a fantastical animated world full of adorable cat characters that live inside Gabby’s dollhouse.” And finally in 2020: “All aboard to DreamWorks Rhyme Time Town, where Daisy the Puppy and Cole the Kitten are ready to guide young children through a colorful and adventurous world filled with nursery rhymes and imaginative play.” Stay tooned!

image c. 2018 Dreamworks Animation

The Bird Pays Him Back

The King of Birds is a new hardcover graphic novel, written and illustrated in full color by Alexander Utkin. It’s published by Nobrow Press: “The King of Birds has victoriously defeated the King of Animals, but he is left gravely injured. He promises a merchant a great reward if he can nurse him back to health. Upon his recovery, they travel far across the land to the domains of the King’s three sisters to claim the merchant’s prize… but can his sisters overcome their greed and give up that which is most precious to them?” This is the first story in the new Gamayun Tales series of Russian folk tales — hosted by the titular Gamayun, a human-faced bird who tells stories. Check out the review over at Broken Frontier. The book is available now.

image c. 2018 Nobrow Press

Birds Sing. A-Ding-A-Ding.

Even more recent news from Animation World Network: Now we hear about a new musical animated TV series for preschoolers called Do, Re & Mi, currently starting production. “Created by Jackie Tohn (Glow, A Futile and Stupid Gesture, American Idol) and Michael Scharf (Moon and The Son: An Imagined Conversation), every episode of Do, Re & Mi starts with an adventure and ends in a song, featuring original tracks performed by Kristen Bell (Princess Anna in Disney’s Frozen), Tohn, and other surprise guests… Do, Re & Mi is about three birdy best friends named Do, Re & Mi who live in a world filled with rhythm, beats and melodies. Along with their day-to-day adventures, the characters model ways for parents and young kids to talk about music and connect these ideas to their social-emotional development.” [ Fun fact: Ms. Bell actually had one line in Zootopia, as Priscilla the sloth. ] No word yet on a planned release date.

image c. 2018 Gaumont

Help Make More Furry Animation

Alexander Henderson is head of a team of animators and film-makers with experience working for Disney, Netflix, and Amazon. Their first completed short film is called Breathing Space, which you can find on YouTube — and which just happens to have some anthropomorphic interest in it too! Now they’ve created a Kickstarter campaign to help finance their new film concept. “The Rhino and the Oxpecker is an action-adventure cartoon, featuring the story of Niles, a blind mercenary rhinoceros, and Redford, his neurotic-but-trusty guide bird. With Red acting as the eyes, ears, and brains of the duo, and Niles handling the action, the two work together to survive predators, poachers, and anything else the jungle can throw at them. That is, provided they can survive each other.” They’re trying to reach their current goal before Halloween, so hurry!

image c. 2018 by Alexander Henderson

Animals on the High Seas

At San Diego Comic Con we came across an artist named Krister Eide. According to her web site, “When he’s not drawing or painting, he helps injured animals return to health at a wildlife rehabilitation center.” We like that! Her Etsy Store has several of her illustrations on cups, prints, and other items, but the web site also has illustrations from her “passion project”: An all-animal version of Jules’ Verne’s classic 20,ooo Leagues Under The Sea. Let’s “sea” where that goes…!

image c. 2018 by Krister Eide

Hoo Goes There?

Here’s a very unusual graphic novel which comes to us courtesy of Action Lab, called The Ghost, The Owl. “On a cool evening on the swamp, a figure appears dancing across the water. A human figure, but far from a human form. A Ghost, a young girl spirit that seems to have lost its way. A good Samaritan owl decides to help against the wishes of his animal brethren. What mysteries does the ghost girl hold the secrets to and what will happen when she and the owl unlock them together? Will they find out what happened to her? Will she find her way to where she needs to be? What will happen to the animals in the swamp and surrounding forest?” Written by Franco and illustrated by Sara Richard, it’s available now at Barnes & Noble. Meanwhile there’s a preview over at Comicsverse.

image c. 2018 Action Lab

 

Birds of a Feather, Hiding Together

We learned about this through Cartoon Brew, though it’s been turning up in multiple places. It seems that the Disney Company has produced a new animated TV series based on the 1944 Donald Duck feature The Three Caballeros.  But here’s the strange thing: The new series, Legends of the Three Caballeros, is only available through the Disneylife app — and only in the Philippines to boot. From the CB article: “Frank Angones, a co-producer on the new Ducktales, further commented on his Tumblr that the show has been finished for a while, even before the new Ducktales reboot was produced. He added, ‘It feels sort of like an alternate universe rooted more in the old Donald shorts than anything Barks-related – there’s no sign of Scrooge, the nephews, Gyro, Duckburg, lots of humans everywhere, etc., with April, May, and June standing in for the kid protagonists.'” 2019 is the 75th anniversary of the original film, so folks are hoping Disney will be inspired to release this new series in other parts of the world. Would you look at that: For once, we’re not the only ones whining about cool animation we can’t see in this country!

image c. 2018 Disney Interactive