have surpassed even themselves with their recent
DVD release. Now before we go any further, the
series in question
has been out on disc before, but frankly, as soon as
you clap eyes
on Network's version you'll want to consign your
to an eBay dumpbin. So without any further ado, ladies
boys and girls, feast your eyes upon the unbounding,
of the Fireball
XL5 special edition DVD box-set.
Network have remastered and restored all 39
classic black and white
episodes of Gerry Anderson's hit
series. And they've wrapped them up
in a package that resembles those equally memorable
and mags of the period. Plus, they've gone that
extra mile to bring us a
spaceship load of extras which include two very
tv ads and promos, and behind the scenes footage
of TV Comic artist Bill Melvin
hard at work on his strip version. There's also
a rather dandy little booklet
written by tv historian Andrew Pixley. But, but,
but.. best of all... there's a
one-off inclusion that will blow your strings
off. It's a colourised edition
of the episode "A
Day in the Life of a Space General". And it's
just stunning. Seeing Steve Zodiac and co. blasting
off in vivid
technicolour... well.. it makes you cry for what
might have been...
still could be, even, if the desire and money
is out there somewhere
in Sector 25...
Oh, this is terrible news. John
Ryan has died. Finding the right
words to say here is so very difficult... John
brought us the caption-filled
joys of Captain
Pugwash, Sir Prancelot
and Mary, Mungo and Midge,
of course. But let's not forget Harris Tweed from
Eagle, and those
Crockle and Tiger-Pig storybooks, and those Ark
and... Oh, stuttering starfish, this is so sad...
If, like The Hound, you grew up in the 70's, John
Ryan's tv treats are
etched indeliby upon your mind. Those cardboard
creations, talking in
"real" time. They may have been ridiculously
simple by design, but the
results were just so immediate and beguiling. Why,
this was the kind
of animation you could do at home. Yes, it was
cheap. But it was
inspiring. It was brilliant.
In the early 80's we got to see the
genial face behind these fabulous
creations. And what a lovely man he was. A Tony Hart-type.
father-figure to look up to and admire. It's no
wonder that, when those
Myths began to surface, John took great offence.
It was a cheap shot across the bow of a man who
hurt a fly. Indeed, as the Ark Stories showed us, he
was a very religious
man. He drew picture stories about David &
Goliath and Daniel and
continued to draw cartoons for the likes of "The
well into his old age.
Okay, so The Hound just isn't very good at this
obituary stuff. It's so
hard to separate one's emotions from proceedings.
And others can
put the words together so
very much better. So let's just pause
and reflect for a while, as we savour the joys
of The Hound's favourite
John Ryan gem. "The Adventures of Sir Prancelot"
just had that
snazzy, jazzy something that made it fabulous.
It's the show that
most casual cartoon fans seem to overlook, but
this young viewer
lapped it up. He bought the little tie-in picturebooks,
and the puzzles and he's often heard asking why-oh-why
hasn't had a proper DVD release... But there you are...
encapsulates all the themes of John's work. It's
witty, and features
some topical titters as it attacks the castle
bureaucracy, and John's
faith is to the fore, as Sir Prancelot and his
entourage embark on their
rambling Crusade across the Continent...
Engines of Enchantment (24.07.09)
Cartoon Museum are staging a phantasmagorical exhibition this
Summer. "Engines of Enchantment: The Machines
and Cartoons of
Rowland Emett" does exactly what it says
in its title, and shines a
spotlight on the incredible and inspired designs,
contraptions of Frederick Rowland Emett (1906-1990).
There will be
lots of artwork on show, naturally, but better
still, alongside the
pictures there will be:
fantastic whirring winking machines, including
three created for the classic children’s film Chitty
Chitty Bang Bang, in 1968..."
Emett engines, in real life? - That's fab, that
is. His designs are
just plain bonkers and brilliant. They're
spidery things, all struts and
fretwork and peddles and propellers that feel like
the offspring of a union
between Heath Robinson and Ronald Searle. Emett's admirers
Matt Groening, who chose "The Cartoons of Rowland
Emett" as one of
his top 100 things in the world. And Wilf
Lunn must surely be a fan, too.
The exhibition runs from 28th July to 1st November
2009, at The Cartoon
Museum, 35 Little Russell Street, London - just
round the corner from
the British Museum...
Patrick Reynolds has been creating some very desirable
and very, very limited edition DC Thomson
screenprints over the last
couple of years, reproducing some classic
Beano, Dandy and
Commando characters and panel art from the past
colour prints. They look simply fabulous,
...And it seems that David Sutherland concurs,
because he's just
put his signature to a small selection of
editions featuring his Beano
artwork. He's signed screenprints featuring Dennis
the Menace, the
Bash Street Kids, Teacher and Biffo the
Bear, including that
Warhol-like homage, above, in which John
has taken one of his
Dennis heads and multiplied it into something
very striking indeed.
There's something so compelling about all
these prints, there really is.
When those panels are blown up and isolated from
the rest of their
original strips they take on a whole new
meaning. This one of
Desperate Dan is The Hound's favourite:
You can purchase these direct from John's
as well as a
selection of fine art emporiums...
Time now for a fluffy fanfare, because Jason
Tammemagi wants to
let the world know that Fluffy
Gardens, the series he created and directed
Animation is finally going to get a terrestrial airing, here
in the UK. It's aired before, of course,
on Cartoonito. But now all
40 of the original episodes have been bought
for GMTV's morning
block, on ITV, which means that all those fluffy
Paolo the cat, Mavis the pony, Tooty, Wee
Reg and the gang
will soon be seen by lots more little people!
Better still, Jason tells us he and Monster
Animation are now
putting together 40 more stories for a brand-spanking
series. And that's fab and fluffy news indeed.
As you might know,
The Hound has a huge soft spot for this one.
Fluffy Gardens just has
that indefinable magic quality about it
that makes it feel so very
precious and special...
How sad it is to witness the demise of The DFC
- in its current guise,
at least. It appears to have been a victim of
these uncertain times,
more than anything else. But undoubtedly, it's
been a huge jolt in
the arm for the UK comics scene, and it's brought
a wealth of cartoon
talent out of the small press woodwork and into the
Which is something to celebrate. Why, even The Hound has
enough to dust down his old drawing board. And if The Hound's
been inspired, well, you can bet a whole bunch
of those DFC subscribers
have also got themselves worked up enough to pick up
If you think back to the giddy heydays of DC Thomson
those top weeklys stuck quite religiously to a house "style"
their strips. But The DFC has bravely presented
an array of styles and
tones to its readership. Each strip has had its
own voice. That's been
so exciting for this reader to see. And inspiring,
because it encourages
folks to think outside the box, as it were... Look
at this... Look what you
can do... The possibilities are endless...
Who knows, maybe a whole new generation of cartoonists
will look back upon those 43 issues of The DFC
as being the
birth-point of their career...