T'was the night before Christmas, and all through
the house not a creature
was stirring... apart from some hungry chap partaking
of a very noisy bowl
of breakfast cereal:
Yep, now you can treat yourself to a serving of
Snap, Crackle and Pop with
added "Boing!", because Kellogg's have
just begun to roll out their "Magic
Roundabout" movie promotion in the UK. Round and
About Pencil Toppers
are being given away in special packs of their
cereal, and you can collect
Zebadee, Brian, Dougal, Dylan, Ermintrude and
- interestingly - Zeebad.
That's particularly interesting because, up until
recently, the evil character
in the movie was being referred to as Zeebadee.
Anyway, away from cereal boxes, there's been one
final piece of casting news
this week. Comedian-turned-actor Lee Evans has been
unveiled as the voice
behind the Train character in the production
that's positively groaning with
Big Name cast.
The long-awaited CGI "Magic Roundabout"
film from the bolexbrothers and
company arrives early next year, and two trailers
are online and
It's going to be a tough sell for folks abroad,
unfamiliar with the series. And
even here in the UK, we have a generation who
are only peripherally familiar
with Dougal and the gang. So what does one make of
Well, it's difficult to decipher. The promotion has
been skewed towards quick
cuts, anarchic action and throwaway lines on a
crazy runaway train ride - which
is about as far removed from the gentle wit of the
Magic Garden as one
can possibly get. But you've got gotta do what
you've gotta do to get your
audience enthused, and bottoms on cinema seats
when the movie opens.
The finished film could be a wholly different prospect...
No one would have believed, in the last days of
2004, that Pete Nash and his
talented team at Striker
3D were putting together an incredible plan to bring
Jeff Wayne's classic musical version of "War
of the Worlds" in to a full-blown
3D comic format...
Oh, okay. I'm no Wells, but you get the gist. This
is exciting news, indeed.
And it's no fantasy. Whilst Tom Cruise and Steven
Spielberg are running
around America, creating their modern movie retelling
of this classic novel,
the folks at Striker Comic have this week announced
that they have snatched
the exclusive worldwide comic and graphic novel
rights to Jeff Wayne's
musical version of the story, set firmly and faithfully
in the Victorian era.
The plan is to launch the comic at the same time as
the alternative Dreamworks
movie hits our cinema screens. It will also tie
in with Sony's plans to launch a
remastered version of the Wayne album next Summer,
as well as a proposed
The story will be serialised in a series of monthly
comics, produced in fabulous
full 3D like Striker, and it will initially stay
very close to the Jeff Wayne version.
But we're being promised that it will be "dramatic,
atmospheric and genuinely
terrifying" and that there will be at least one
slight story variation which will focus
on Victorian London's newly-built Underground
system, where hundreds of
people have escaped to seek refuge from the black gas.
The schedule will see that first story taking
around 6 issues to tell. This will then
be compiled into a graphic novel release around
Christmas 2005, whilst the comic
continues off into new dramatic directions. And outside
of the UK, Dark Horse
Entertainment have first option on the title for
And this all means that, comics fans in the UK
have some major news to
celebrate. If everything comes together as planned
and the title is a hit, we
could see Striker 3D Plc turning into a serious comics
player, which would be
just reward indeed for all of the energy and effort
Mr Nash and his team have
put into their vision over the last 18 months..
Just a quick snippet to remind everyone that Optomen/Ealing's
and much-loved little series Old
Bear and Friends is back on our screens.
The series is screening daily at the admittedly
ungodly hour of 6.30am,
from December 6th till Christmas, as part of Five's "Milkshake"
programing schedule. Hmm. One for the video, probably.
"Old Bear and Friends" was faithfully
adapted from the books by Jane Hissey,
and the 39 episodes and one-off Christmas special
collected many plaudits,
including a 1993 BAFTA. I
still get regular emails about the series, which
suggests that many folks will be pleased to see
the toys get a dusting
Now pay attention, producer Olly Smith has been
in touch this week with
some top toon news. It concerns his new short
toon, a former Bond star,
a silly title-twist and, hopefully, lots of fundraising
"The Fly who loved me" features Sir
Roger Moore is his animated debut.
It's been written and produced by Olly and directed
by his good pal Dan
Chambers (of Adrenalini's
one's all for charity, folks, so the film
is tied in with UNICEF's online shop and also
to Sir Roger Moore’s website.
Sir Roger and UNICEF being very much intertwined. Here's
the publicity blurb:
"With his reindeer laid up on the sofa,
Father Christmas despairs
of getting presents to the children this
year…. until a determined
fly from his bin insists on taking over
To spread a jolly jolt of Christmas cheer, The
Fly Who Loved Me
will be available to watch free of charge
on the web at www.flywholovedme.com
from 9am on Friday 10th December..."
Sounds intriguing, eh? Well, further to that initial
spiel, Olly has passed on lots
more exclusive info for us direct from the edit suite.
So here's the history behind
this new toon project:
"Dan Chambers made a short cartoon called
"Roger Moore's Requiem"
and released it onto the internet. Roger was
sent the animation
through a series of serendipitous quirks and
loved it. He emailed Dan
thanking him for the left-field tribute, and
as a huge fan of Roger's,
I seized the opportunity to collaborate with
Dan on our first project
with Roger: "Sir Roger Moore: Spaceman". We made
the pilot for this
10x3 minutes series with the support and
kind help of Gareth Owen
(Roger's PA). Dan and I flew out to Monte Carlo
thrilled and awestruck to record the voice track
with Roger and
found him to be a magnificent voice artist and
a very warm person.
We both came away inspired by Roger's dedicated
work for UNICEF
and resolved there and then that we wanted to
support his work in
any way that we could. I burrowed into my office
and scribbled a
script for the new cartoon...
The idea for this cartoon is to entertain a worldwide
offer a link back to UNICEF's website where they
can find info on
UNICEF and purchase Christmas cards, wrapping
and a whole host of festive paraphernalia...
We had great fun recording the voice track with
Thomas who has done an outstanding job for the
project. Roger gave a magnificent performance
as Father Christmas
and I performed opposite him as the Fly. A total
joy. Dan then set
to work working day and night in addition
to his day job at Tiger
Aspect to direct and animate the cartoon. My
thanks to him are
just huge, he's an amazing director with a unique
vision, a hilarious
friend and a privilege to work with. We were
helped by Dan's work
buddies Tim Fehrenbach and Sam Wooldridge who
assisted with the
animation. We're very nearly finished the final
edit so I'll have to
dash to ring Dan and see where we're at..."
Phew-ee! - So there you have it. All the info
on "The Fly Who Loved Me",
straight from the horse's mouth. Or should that
be "fly's"? Anyway, drop
everything and drop by their web site on the 10th.
Dan's solo toons
regularly fabulous, so Dan + Olly could be an
even bigger delight.
And hey, it's all for charity folks!
Hmm. Methinks I was a tad biased the other day, with
my report on this
year's children's BAFTAs. In my enthusiasm to applaud
the success of
"Yoko! Jakamoko! Toto!" I somewhat overlooked
the night's other animated
triumph, in the form of "Brush Head".
At first glance, "Brush Head" appears to be an
All-American toon creation
from Disney. It's the reason I overlooked its nomination,
at least. But although
the copyright credits The Walt Disney Company, the toon itself
written and produced right here in the UK, courtesy
of Dandy Productions,
in conjunction with the UK Disney Channel. And
it's arch, anarchic fun starring
an edgy big-haired title character in various fast-paced
Dandy Productions are Andy Williams and Dan Berlinka.
They're a fairly
new outfit who previously brought us the exploits of
the dinosaur dude Raoul. Their
web site fills you in on their background, and furnishes us with
of "Brush Head" mini toons to view online. So
if, like me, you haven't caught
this top toon you might want to mosey on over there, because
deserves every inch of its BAFTA success, and Dandy
like being the next Bright Things of Brit Animation!...
Some Christmas this has been. The
only thing Santa brought me this year
was a rotten bout of flu. I was forced to my bed
on Christmas Day, and
haven't properly emerged even now, on New Year's
Oh well. Being in bed has at least given me the
chance to catch up on some
Christmas tv. Although there wasn't that much
to get excited about this year.
"Jack Frost" was an interesting new
toon on BBC1. It was adapted from the
picture book by David Melling, and it looked great,
with its goblin characters
stepping off the page and into a painterly 3D world.
But the story was slighter
than slight, and the finished tale didn't quite
come together in the way that I
hoped. But full marks go to the animation, and the
music - especially Kate
Rasby's song contribution. I think it might grow on
me with a repeat visit.
ITV presented us with Michael Foreman's tale of
"The Little Reindeer". This
is a popular book, and Foreman a very popular
and familar artist. The toon did
exactly what it said on the tin, but somehow seemed
to be very short on
atmosphere. I wasn't moved, at least. Although I couldn't
really move far,
being wrapped up in my duvet and all...
Leave it to the true blue classics to stirr the
Christmas cockles. Channel 4
brought us "The Snowman" and "The
Bear" again, and both underlined their
superiority over the schedules. If anything, I've
fallen even more for "The Bear"
which has a darker, more complex appeal than its
predecessor and a
splendid intensity to stirr my flu-filled head.
"The Snowman" will always
have its place, of course, but "The Bear"
is a wilder ride.
And now 2005 is on our doorstep. As soon as I'm
well enough to let the
year in I'll take a look at what's in store for
us. Right now, though, I'm not
looking beyond my next Lemsip...