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Fantasy

Little Frog with Big Dreams

At San Diego Comic Con we came across the works of Shelley Daniels Lekven and her new book Lily Pond. Here’s what her web site says about it: “Elaborate illustrations and fabulous frogs fill this charming picture book about a little frog’s daydreams and hopes for her future. The scenes were created from colored modeling clay by Shelley Daniels Lekven, a character sculptor on The Nightmare Before Christmas and Toy Story and sculpting supervisor on James & the Giant Peach.” And speaking of (two of!) those movies, here’s what director Henry Selick had to say: “On the eve of her eighth birthday, a young frog dreams of her future in Shelley Daniels Lekven’s new book, Lily Pond. Ms. Lekven’s remarkable illustrations – all sculpted by her hand in colored clay – are eye-opening works of wonder and imagination that should make this sweet tale a children’s book classic.” After a successful Kickstarter, Lily Pond is available from Claytown Press. The web site has a video about how the book was made, too.

image c. 2018 Claytown Press

Real Life Needs A Little Magic

Another illustrator we came across at San Diego Comic Con. Ash Evans is an artist and designer who refers to her work as “The Art of Happiness”. Steeped in fantasy, her paintings feature not just animals in general but special creatures like Fortuna the Cat, the Mewnicorns, the Zodicats, and the Kit-teas. (Yes, there’s a feline theme going here!) All of these are available as prints and a variety of other products you can find at her wet site.

image c. 2018 by Ash Evans

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

It’s Good To Have A Friend

And more, this time from both Animation Magazine and Variety: “Russia’s animation powerhouse Riki Group has teamed up with New York’s 3 Beep to work on the upcoming CG-animated feature My Friend Finnick. The comedy, which was presented at Cartoon Movie this year, follows the adventures of a ten-year-old American girl who moves with her family to Scotland and befriends a Finn, a magical and mischievous spirit who lives in her new house. When the young girl goes missing. the Finn sets out to rescue her, but in doing so he puts himself in danger. The movie, which is budgeted at $7 million, is in development, and is due to be released in 2020. It is being directed by Riki’s Denis Chernov (Kikoriki movies) and written by Chernov, Tatyana Belova and 3 Beep’s Tim Werenko (Pokemon, The Winx Club, Snow Queen 3).” Fortunately for us, Riki Group has been getting better at securing distribution in North America.

image c. 2018 Riki Group

Talking to Animals Empowers

Here’s an interesting story. Animation Magazine guided us to Miss Camel, a new animated feature. Deadline reported it like this: “Wadjda writer-director Haifaa Al-Mansour, Saudi Arabia’s trailblazing first female filmmaker, is setting up female empowerment animation Miss Camel at LA-based animation hub ShadowMachine, producer of Netflix’s Bojack Horseman and Cartoon Network’s Robot ChickenMiss Camel, the story of a Saudi teen named Hayla who will do anything to escape her arranged marriage and fulfil her goal of attending art school outside of Saudi Arabia, won the IWC Filmmaker Award, worth $100,000, at the Dubai International Film Festival in December… According to the film’s synopsis, while scheming to make her way to the in-person interviews for the art college in a neighboring Gulf state, Hayla makes a startling discovery at her cousin’s wedding: She can talk to animals.” No more news yet, but we’ll let you know as soon as we do when the film is set to be released!

image c. 2018 GoodFreePhotos.com

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

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

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