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The Horse Returns

Took ’em a while, but Dreamworks have finally brought us more adventures with Spirit, star of the 2002 2D animated feature Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. Animation Scoop has a recent article introducing us to Spirit Riding Free, a new DreamworksTV animated series coming to NetFlix on May 5th. The story and characters are considerably different from the animated feature this time around: “When city-turned-country girl Lucky meets a wild mustang named Spirit, she feels an instant connection to the untamable horse. A courageous and natural-born leader, Lucky navigates this new world with her two new best friends, Pru and Abigail by her side. The trio embark on thrilling adventures, find genuine friendship, and discover what it means to be free!” No sign of Matt Damon to be found. Anyway, visit the article to see a trailer for the series.

image c. 2017 DreamworksTV

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The Annie Awards for 2016

Your humble ed-otter journeyed to UCLA for the 44th annual Annie Awards — the Oscars of animation, presented by ASIFA-Hollywood. As expected (or hoped by many furry fans!), Zootopia dominated the evening in the feature categories, taking home Annies for Storyboarding, Character Design, Writing, Directing, and Best Feature. It was not a sweep, however, and Kubo and the Two Strings was not far behind: It won awards in the feature categories for Editing, Character Animation, and Production Design. Voting for the Best Voice Acting in the feature category resulted in a tie, shared by Auli’i Cravalho for Moana and Jason Bateman for Zootopia. A new category, Best Independent Feature, was won by the subtly anthropomorphic film The Red Turtle. Disney’s film The Jungle Book won an Annie for Character Animation In A Live Action Production (though it’s still controversial if the film counts as that). Best Short was won by Pixar’s popular birdie film Piper, while Best Student Film went to a European short about dinosaurs called Citipati. Over in the TV broadcast categories the most popular winner of furry interest seemed to be Dreamworks’ Trollhunters, which won for Storyboarding, Character Design, and Character Animation. The Best Television Production for Preschool Children went to Tumble Leaf, while the Best TV Production for Children went to to Adventure Time. Visit the Annie Awards web site for a complete list of the nominees and winners. Congratulations to all!

image c. 2017 Walt Disney Animation

Monsters and Mayhem

Paul Schoeni is an artist, illustrator, and animation designer who has spent much of his career working for Dreamworks Animation. According to his web site, the films he’s worked on have included Kung Fu Panda, Monsters vs Aliens, Megamind, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Shrek Forever After, The Croods, Turbo, Trolls, and The Boss Baby. He works in 2D and 3D on computers, but he also has a passion for working with good-old pencil and paper. Not to mention that he has a very distinctive art style! At his Shop you’ll find his sketch book called Monsters and Mayhem for sale, plus many examples of his other works.

image c. 2016 by Paul Schoeni

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Dragons To The Rescue

Like many other fans, we were disappointed to recently be informed that Dreamworks Animation has pushed back the release date of How To Train Your Dragon 3 again — this time to the spring of 2019. But in the meantime came some good news: Early next year Dark Horse Press is releasing a new full-color graphic novel, How To Train Your Dragon — The Serpent’s Heir. “Picking up just after the events in How to Train Your Dragon 2, Hiccup, Astrid, and company are called upon to assist the people of an earthquake-plagued island. But their lives are imperiled by a madman and an incredible new dragon who even Toothless—the alpha dragon—may not be able to control!” The big news is that Dean Deblois, who has worked on the Dragons movie series as both writer and director, is one of the co-scripters of this new graphic novel (along with Richard Hamilton). Hollywood Reporter has an interview with the creative team.

image c. 2016 Dark Horse Press

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Animation Fans Like Zootopia

Recently the International Animated Film Society (ASIFA) announced the nominees for the Annie Awards of 2016, celebrating the best in animation in all media. Perhaps surprising no one, Zootopia topped the list with 11 nominations in 10 categories — including Best Feature Film, Best Writing, Best Directing, Best Editing, Best Production Design, Best Character Design, Best Voice Acting, Best Effects Animation, Best Storyboarding, and two nominations for Best Character Animation. The Annies being widely acknowledged as “the Oscars of Animation” means that Zootopia is now considered to be a front-runner for the Best Animated Feature Film at the actual Oscars — if not more categories as well. Interestingly, one thing that was a surprise was that Zootopia’s biggest competition at the Annies is not Pixar favorite Finding Dory (which was nominated in only four categories) but Laika’s most recent stop-motion film, Kubo and the Two Strings — which was also nominated in 10 categories. Other films of Furry interest that received nominations include Kung Fu Panda 3, The Red Turtle, The Secret Life of Pets, The Jungle Book, Sing, and Storks. Over in the TV category the anthro-themed nominees included Bojack Horseman, Peg + Cat, Puffin Rock, Tumble Leaf, Elena of Avalor, and long-running favorites like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Adventure Time, and Wander of Yonder. Plus many other nominees in many categories, including the avian favorite Piper for Best Short. Read all about it over at the Annie Awards site. The awards will be presented at UCLA on February 4th next year. (And don’t forget — soon it will be time to nominate the Ursa Major Awards too!)

image c. 2016 Disney Animation

image c. 2016 Disney Animation

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Outlaw, Hero, Purr-amour!

Looks like the mutual orbiting of Titan Comics and Dreamworks Animation continues…! Now they bring us Puss in Boots, a new full-color series hitting the shelves later this month. From the preview over at Flickering Myth: “Short of money and with a long milk tab to pay, Puss answers an advert that takes him out to sea with a cranky old owl on a pea-green boat. But if you think you know how this fairytale ends… think again! Flying fur balls and derring-do abound! See you on the poop deck! The Adventures of Puss in Boots is written by Max Davidson (Home, Simpsons Comics) and Chris Cooper (Star Trek: Starfleet Academy, Excalibur) with art from Egle Bartolini (Penguins) and Dave Alvarez (Looney Tunes, Animaniacs).” Read it, if you dare!

image c. 2016 Titan Comics

image c. 2016 Titan Comics

No More is Need for Sad-Mad

Over at Animation Scoop they have word about a new TV series adapted from Dreamworks Animation’s successful (some might say keester-saving) movie Home. “Developed by Ryan Crego (Sanjay and Craig, Shrek Forever After) and Thurop Van Orman (The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack), and executive produced by Ryan Crego, DreamWorks Animation’s Home: Adventures With Tip & Oh, an all-new Netflix Original Series, answers the question: What happens after a misfit alien conquers Earth, befriends an adventurous teen girl named Tip and together they save the day? Picking up where the hit 2015 animated film left off and building upon their enduring friendship, this animated buddy comedy follows fearless Tip and overenthusiastic alien Oh, as they navigate the combined human and alien culture they live in, finding adventure everywhere they go… The first season will be available exclusively to Netflix members in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, the Nordics, Benelux, and France beginning July 29.” Heard it here did you.

image c. 2016 Dreamworks Animation

image c. 2016 Dreamworks Animation

Back to Save Your Tail Feathers

Everyone’s favorite insane seabird super-spy squad is back again in a new 4-issue full-color mini-series, Penguins of Madagascar: Elite-ist of the Elite. “It’s the start of a senses-shattering four-part Penguins of Madagascar epic story! An army of robots threatens to take over the world – and only our four feathered friends can stop them!” Taking a spin on Dreamworks’ (not as successful as they had hoped…) Penguins animated feature, the comic also includes back-up stories with the baby penguins and The North Wind. Written by Cavan Scott and illustrated by Lucas Ferreyra, this new series hits the shelves in March. Check out the alternate covers and more at Titan’s Tumblr page.

image c. 2016 Titan Comics

image c. 2016 Titan Comics

Furry Winners at the Annie Awards

Once again your humble ed-otter was lucky enough to attend the Annie Awards for 2015, presented at UCLA’s Royce Hall on February 6th. Presented by the International Animated Film Society (ASIFA), the Annie Awards honor the best of the animation industry — as selected by members of that industry. Surprising no-one, the night belonged to Pixar’s Inside Out. (It has already won almost every major award it has been nominated for, and of course it’s nominated for an Oscar as well.) Inside Out won in the Best Feature categories for Storyboarding, Editing, Character Design, Music, Character Animation, Production Design, Voice Acting (Phyllis Smith as Sadness), Writing, Directing, and (of course) Best Animated Feature. Bing Bong himself even helped to present some of the awards. (*sniff* Bing Bong…) A few other features managed to sneak in awards, and some of them were even for animal characters! The Good Dinosaur won in the category of Best Effects Animation. (It’s been celebrated far and wide for its realistic backgrounds and water effects.) And The Revenant won Best Animated Character In A Live Action Production for the bear that nearly eats Leonardo DiCaprio. Over in the TV and other divisions, furries were well-represented in several award categories. Disney’s new Mickey Mouse Shorts won for Best Storyboarding, Best Music, and Best Editing. ASIFA favorites. Dreamworks TV had two wins, as Dragons: Race to the Edge won for Best Character Animation and The Mr. Peabody and Sherman Show won for Best Production Design. Previous Annie favorites Tumble Leaf and Wander Over Yonder won for Best Production for Preschoolers and Best Production for Children, respectively. Psyop (home of those infamous Orangina commercials!) won Best Commercial for their Coca Cola ad Man and Dog, and Best Animated Game went to the monster adventure Evolve from 2K. [To save space, tomorrow we’ll tell you about the special awards presented at the Annies — and why you should care!] You can find out more about all of these and more over at the ASIFA Hollywood web site.

image c. 2016 Pixar

image c. 2016 Pixar Animation