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Rat

Highway Rat, Highway Rat, Riding Through The Land…

According to Beyond The Cartoon, Magic Light Pictures have announced they are adapting another popular children’s book for animation: In this case, The Highway Rat by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. “Directed by Jeroen Jaspaert (Stick Man), the half-hour animated special follows the tale of a greedy rat who tyrannizes animals along the highway, as he steals their food at every opportunity: Clover from a rabbit, nuts from a squirrel, a leaf from some ants… he even steals his own horse’s hay. However what he really craves are cakes and all things sugary, and it’s his sweet tooth that finally leads him to a sticky outcome.” Magic Light have become known for adapting books by Dondaldson and Scheffler, including popular favorites The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child. The Highway Rat is being animated by Triggerfish in South Africa, and it’s set to premier in the UK on BBC One for Christmas in 2017.

image c. 2016 Magic Light Pictures

image c. 2016 Magic Light Pictures

Ganba, You’ve Changed!

The future can be scary — and welcome to it! Writer Brian Ashcraft notes in an article at Kotaku.com that he’s not very thrilled with the re-design of the characters for the upcoming CGI feature version of Ganba no Bouken (also known as The Adventures of Ganba). If you didn’t know, Ganba no Bouken was originally an anime TV series in the 1970’s about a rat and his rodent companions who sail off on adventures while trying to avoid a terrifying white weasel. In the 1980’s the series was made into a popular 2D anime feature as well. The article includes a trailer for the CGI version.  See what you think.

image c. 2015 Kotaku.com

image c. 2015 Kotaku.com

Smile at the Rat

Note from the publisher, Alternative Comics. First, a bio of the creator: “Raoul Vezina (1948-1983) was a brilliant cartoonist who came out of the underground tradition and put his own mark on the indie comics of the early 1980s in a handful of titles.” And what’s he best known for? “Crisply and energetically drawn, snappily written, filled with pop culture references, and always funny; Raoul Vezina’s Smilin’ Ed comics were a breath of fresh air when they first appeared thirty-five years ago. All the original comics are collected here for the first time.” Including sixteen pages in full color, this 160-page trade paperback collection will be on shelves later this month.

image c. 2015 by Raoul Vezina

image c. 2015 by Raoul Vezina

Mom and Dad are Rats

Canadian artist and writer Eric Orchard makes quite a big splash with his first graphic novel, Maddy Kettle: The Adventures of the Thimblewitch. This is from Previews: “Maddy is an eleven year old girl with a pet toad named Ralph. And they’re on a rather big adventure right now, as her parents are currently kangaroo rats – having been put under a spell. On their way to find the Thimblewitch to sort everything out, they battle Spider Goblins and befriend two endearing Cloud Mappers, Harry the bear and Silvio the raccoon, who help them get where they’re going. We won’t tell you what happens next, but we can assure you that it’s a beautiful and magical ride.” Top Shelf Productions will release this full-color all-ages fantasy in trade paperback this October.

image c. 2014 Top Shelf

image c. 2014 Top Shelf Productions

Watch Out For The Surly Squirrel

Trailers have begun to show up in the theaters for The Nut Job, a new animated GCI feature coming out this January. It’s based on a 2005 original animated short by director Peter Lepeniotis (Disney’s Dinosaur, Fantasia 2000) called Surly Squirrel (which you can still view on YouTube). The Nut Job tells the story of Surly (now here voiced by Will Arnett) and how he gathers together a rag-tag band of rodents with the intent of knocking over a local nut store. Needless to say, things become much more complicated — as you can see in the trailer. Interestingly, this project has been brought about almost entirely by independent studios and smaller companies. The film was produced by Toonbox Entertainment,  Red Rover International,  and Gulfstream Pictures, and is being distributed by Open Road Films.

image c. 2013 Toonbox Entertainment

A Rat, a Pig, and a Lawyer Walk Into a Space Bar…

Pearls Before Swine is a full-color on-line comic strip written and illustrated by Stephan Pastis — who was formerly a lawyer in California.  “At its heart, Pearls Before Swine is the comic strip tale of two friends: An arrogant Rat who thinks he knows it all and a slow-witted Pig who doesn’t know any better. Together, this pair offers caustic commentary on humanity’s quest for the unattainable. Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams says that Pearls is ‘one of the few comics that makes me laugh out loud.'” Well there you have it. There have been several paperback book collections of Pearls Before Swine comic strips; the latest one, Rat’s Wars, is coming from Andrews McMeel Publishing this October. Check it out over at Amazon. And check out the comic itself over at GoComics.

image c. 2013 by Stephan Pastis

Rodent vs. Rodent

The Nut Job is a new CGI animated feature film that was announced in Animation Magazine’s 2012 calendar. It’s being produced by Toonbox Entertainment and Red Rover International, who are hoping to release it next summer. The director is Peter Lepeniotis, who first introduced his character Surly the Squirrel in a 2005 animated short film titled, appropriately, Surly Squirrel. In this new feature film, Surly and his rat buddy (named Buddy) must contend with a new group of rodents who invade their city park home. Not a lot to go on yet, but the film does have an entry up on IMDB, and Toonbox also has an web page for the project. Word is that The Nut Job may be developed into a TV series also.

image c. 2011 Toonbox Entertainment

A Farewell to Redwall

News has come out that Brian Jacques, creator and writer of the wildly-popular Redwall series of anthropomorphic fantasy novels, died on February 5th. He was 71. First published in 1986 (initially by Beaver Books), the Redwall series tells the tale of Redwall Abbey, a medieval monastery run by mice, which also includes a host of other species common to England and much of Europe (such as rabbits, otters, squirrels, and badgers). The main story arc follows the adventures of a young mouse named Matthias, who discovers that he is in fact the descendant of a great mouse hero known as Martin the Warrior. This knowledge comes in handy when Matthias learns he must help defend Redwall against all manner of “evil” creatures, such as rats, ferrets, foxes, and so on. (Species tend to be either “good” or “bad” in the Redwall universe, with little or no individual exceptions).  From that first book, the series has gone on to achieve international acclaim and awards, with a new book coming out almost every year. Brian Jacques was famous for his background as a member of the working class in Liverpool, England. Among his many jobs was driving a milk delivery truck, and one of his stops included a boarding school for blind students. It was during his visits there that Mr. Jacques began to tell the stories that would become the Redwall series — making the details especially vivid to entertain his young, blind listeners. The Rogue Crew, which will be the last Redwall book written and published by Brian Jacques, will be on the shelves this May.