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                                                                   August 2003
Extra! Extra! - Read all the Toon News!

Too hot to toon...
The heat is on for yours truly....  More...

   Snow joke
    Snowman cels snatched...

    A million BOOM-BOOMS

    Brush insured for £1m...

   Striker scores!

    Footy star gets his own comic...

    Creature feature

    Creature Comforts stars revealed...

    Were-voices are cracking

    Feature thesps announced...

    Sooty swept aside

    HIT to sell the yellow fellow!...

    Mr GlaxoSmithKline

    Mr Sneeze in trouble...

    Super news!

    SuperTed set to return...

    Mysteron Mayhem

    Captain Scarlet comic coming...

    Pope 'poon poo-pooed

    Popetown upsets the masses...

  Shake your bounty with Rick Cassman! Shake Your Bounty 
Rick Cassman talks
about Bounty Hamster...
   Hey Fresco! - A new Toonhound Q&A now online... Hey Fresco!
The Hound previews
J Edward Oliver's
top toon dinosaur...


   Snow joke

    Some sad news from TVC's London office over the weekend, as
    news breaks regarding the theft of a batch of 'Snowman' cels. At least
    18 original cels worth somewhere in the region of £20,000 have been
    stolen from John Coates' production headquarters. And what's more,
    police suspect the artwork was 'stolen to order'.

        Snowman art - gone for good?

    'The Snowman' was of course, TVC's classic award-winning adaptation
    of the Raymond Briggs picture book. Over the years the fondness for this
    feature has flourished around the globe and there are some serious
    'Snowman' collectors out there. The thing is, in recent years there hasn't
    been much original artwork for these folks to actually collect - most of the
    cels have either been sold or they've simply perished away. Indeed, the
    cels that were stolen over the weekend were due to be exhibited in Japan
    and Australia later this year.

    What's particularly worrying about this incident is the fact that it wasn't
    just some opportune theft. It's worrying that would-be art thieves might be
    planning a rash of similar robberies targeting other high profile studios.
    Maybe it was the work of some unscrupulous dealer looking to filter the
    artwork out to an unsuspecting purchaser. Maybe it was a fanatical
    collector operating on his or her own. So many maybes, and none of
    them good.

    Apparently, the animation art has been placed on a register of stolen art
    so there's a chance some honest dealer or gallery owner somewhere
    might spot them and report back to the authorities. But it's unlikely.
    One suspects these cels have simply been spirited away to the
    North Pole or beyond by now, never to be seen again...     

BBC News   Gentleman Briggs


   A million BOOM-BOOMS

    Well, hello! - Here's some news that will get you brush in a spin. It seems
    that 'foxtastic' of fellows Mr Basil Brush has recently joined a most exclusive
    Celebrity Insurance Club by having his famous tail insured to the tune
    of - get this - £1million...

      Basil Brush - Buy him at ToonsToGo for less than £1million!

    Entertainment Rights are said to have had a BasilSafe policy drawn up
    with Stoke Insurance Brokers. For a £1,000 annual premium, they've agreed
    to pay up £1m if Basil suffers permanent and total damage to his tail.
    The policy was put together on the back of Basil's forthcoming Roadshow.
    His tour begins in October and is due to take him to venues in Newcastle,
    Southampton, Sheffield, Manchester and Birmingham to promote a
    new 'Foxed' single, DVD and album. Apparently Basil is identified on the
    policy as being a 'Foxtastic Gentleman', and the bountiful contract puts
    him in line with other mega-insured celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and
    Michael Flatley...

    As Entertainment mention in their publicity, there really is only one
    Basil and no price is too high to ensure his well-being!...

                                                                       More:  Basil Brush


    Striker scores!

     Never mind Beckham's move to Real, the most exciting transfer deal
     this Summer has been Nick Jarvis' shift from the pages of 'The Sun' to
     those of his very own weekly comic!

     For those not in the know, Nick Jarvis is the star player in the long-running
     football strip 'Striker' which has been published in Britain's top tabloid newspaper
     for the best part of 18 years. Created by Peter Nash, the strip is a modern-day
     'Roy Of The Rovers' charting the life and times of the fictional football club
     Warbury FC. In recent years the presentation has shifted in to a high-tech
     3D format, with a full page presentation on Saturdays - very glossy and
     very popular with readers - and plans to expand the strip beyond the confines
     of the paper have been on the cards for a wee while now. Last year, Nash
     served notice to 'The Sun' of his intention to withdraw the strip this year.
     Then the 'Sunday Mirror' sports editor Steve McKenlay quit his post back
     in April to head the new 'Striker 3D' team.

     Apparently a late bid to tie the strip to the newspaper realm was made by
     Richard Desmond. He wanted to move the strip to 'The Star' and 'The Express'
     and to publish the stand-alone comic on behalf of the 3D team. But the
     terms were likely to hamstring the creative freedom of Nash and his crew.
     So now we have a very exciting wholly independent new comic on our hands.
     'Striker: The Magazine' will launch on August 28th in newsagents through-out
     the UK. The title will run to 32 pages each week, and will retail for a modest
     £1.00. Many news sites have reported that this will be the first stand-alone
     UK comic title to launch in nigh-on 25years. But of course, we all know
     better than that: What about 'Jackpot', 'School Fun', 'WOW!' and the rest.
     Anyway, what is true and notable is that this will indeed join a most
     exclusive crop of stand-alone titles currently published in the UK
     because only 'The Beano', 'The Dandy' and '2000ad' are still with us.
     All the other titles out there are corporate creations or tie-ins, aren't they?

     Stay tooned for a review here soon. And let's hope 'Striker' scores
     with the comics-buying public, eh?
                                                                             More:  Striker 3D    

    Creature feature

     Some fab Aardman news this month, as the studio begins the big media
     tour for their new 'Creature Comforts' tv series. As announced back in June 2002,
     13 x10min shows have been produced at the Bristol studio under the watchful
     eye of director Richard 'Golly' Goleszowski ('Rex The Runt'). The series is a
     follow-on from Nick Park's Oscar-winning original in which plasticene animals
     in a zoo talk about their lives and livelihoods in a series of candid interviews.
     It centred on the brilliantly simply device of having real voices from ordinary
     people emerging from each plasticene character. When coupled with those
     trademark exaggerated mouth movements the results were beguiling, charming,
     disarming and brilliant. The film later spawned an equally-successful series
     of Heat Electric adverts, continuing the concept and starring animals at home
     in their 'cosy' heated environments.

     Talking with Brian Appleyard of The Sunday Times newspaper, Park explains
     how he had ideas for more animal interviews floating around in his head for some
     time. That's why we now have talking walruses on an iceberg, a cow on a trapeze,
     a lolly-waving Octopus with a Brummie accent discussing his love of holidays,
     a family of sea anemones theorising on evolution, two slugs giving us their theory
     on alien morphology, a greyhound explaining racing strategy, plankton speculating
     the cosmos, a posh horse praising English food, and even two aliens admiring
     the British weather!

        Valiant, anyone...?

     But topping all of that was a most intriguing photo on the cover of the supplement
     in which the interview was published. As you can see, it depicts another
     character from the series, a bird-come-pigeon creation with WW1 flying
     goggles. Could this be a timely 'raspberry' to that high-profile toon 'Valiant',
     currently getting up to speed down at Ealing Studios...?

     Fab stuff, eh? - It looks like the Aardman gang have really thought outside
     of the box here. The 'Creature Comforts' concept was a winner back in 1990,
     and it looks like it's hitting the mark once again. Stay tooned for this new £3m
     series launching on ITV-1 this Autumn. Word is it's destined for an ideally-
     positioned Sunday evening slot too...

Aardman Animation


    Were-voices are cracking

     Just a little extra titbit from the Sunday Times interview with Nick Park.
     The Wallace & Gromit movie title change revealed last month is, as the
     world and his wife knows now, seemingly confirmed and in stone.
     Personally, The Hound doesn't much care for the new title - 'Wallace
     and Gromit and the Curse of the Were-Rabbit' - It's clunky, overlong
     and simply not as subtle or as clever as the titles of their previous films.
     Indeed, it smells of meddling marketing hands. The original title 'The Great
     Vegetable Plot' sounded far more in keeping with the W&G spirit...

     But, anyhow, disgruntlement aside, the tasty news is that according to
     that interview top thespians Helena Bonham Carter and Ralph Fiennes are
     adding their vocal talents to the toon, although there's no word yet on the
     characters they'll be playing. The film itself starts shooting in Bristol this
     October and, as many on the Aardman mailing lists will know, the company
     are still seeking experienced personnel in some key departments. So if you're
     a top animation specialist lounging around on some carefree sabbatical
     wake up and get your backside down to Bristol at once!...
Aardman Animation


    Sooty swept aside

     Brian Swann, the enthusiastic founder of Reaching Brand New Sooty Heights
     today steers us toward news from The Guardian concerning that yellow
     fellow Sooty. Sadly, Sooty's probably feeling rather green right now that
     he's been offloaded by his right owners - poor chap...

        Izzy-wizzy, goodbye Sooty?

     Sooty, Sweep and the gang have been around for half a century. They're part
     of the fabric of British life now, like Basil Brush, Andy Pandy and Bill & Ben.
     But according to the latest city news, rights-holders HIT Entertainment feel that
     the creation has limited international appeal and, more importantly, limited
     licensing potential. Most countries already have their own favoured glove puppet,
     it seems. The little bear therefore doesn't fit in to the bright new global world of
     'Bob The Builder', 'Thomas The Tank Engine' and friends. That's why they're
     putting the fellow up for sale.

     Now that's an interesting turn of events because surely, with a little imagination,
     some clever chappie could easily turn the character's fortunes around. Why
     couldn't Sooty be rolled out internationally, with a new 'Corbett' style human
     pal or pals for each new TV territory? Or how about turning back the clock
     a little and reworking the old TvTown Sooty concept. A new animated Sooty
     series could be created, along the same lines as Noddy and Toytown, or
     Larry The Lamb and Toytown, harking back to those comic strips and picture
     books from the 1960s - Cosgrove Hall have worked their animated magic
     on Andy Pandy and Bill & Ben and reinvigorated them for today's young
     audiences. An animated Sooty show seems to make sense to The Hound,
     at least...

     Of course Sooty still has potential. But this slice of corporate decision-making
     isn't about potential, it's all about attainment on a massive scale. HIT Entertainment
     is a now a huge global rights machines, operating on an unprecedented level.
     And that machine requires High-Grade fuel. Middle-performing creations and
     concepts simply won't satisfy the demands of the mechanism. And that's not
     to run down HIT in any way - rather it's a mark of their phenomenal success in
     the licensing world. The decision to drop Sooty doesn't mean the end for him, or
     Sweep or Soo. Rather, it's a golden oppurtunity for someone else to step in
     and - izzy-wizzy - get busy with the character...

                                                                      More:  The Guardian

    Mr GlaxoSmithKline

     Poor old Mr Sneeze. Not only is he forever battling his year-round sniffles
     in Coldland, he's now under investigation by a Government Watchdog who
     want to scrutinise his association with multinational pharmaceutical firm

       Poor old Mr Sneeze!

     The rumpus centres on a recent promotional Mr Men book written and
     illustrated by Adam Hargreaves and titled 'Mr Sneeze And His Allergies'.
     According to The BBC it was funded by GSK and shows us how, with some
     help from Little Miss Sunshine, Mr Sneeze is urged to take action against
     a suspected dose of hayfever. But alas, their good work is undone by the
     arrival of Mr Silly and his pet chicken, called Rover (!). After the story
     there are four pages of allergy information from Allergy UK and - this
     is the problem area - two pages promoting the use of GSK products.

     50,000 copies of the book have been printed so far this year and
     distributed to Tesco Clubcard holders, allergy road shows, allergy
     clinics and doctors surgeries. The book was approved by The Proprietary
     Association of Great Britain, which is responsible for checking marketing
     material from pharmaceutical companies. And what's more, they're standing
     by their decision to back the project, citing its confident public health
     message. But the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency
     aren't so convinced, because The Medicines Act of 1994 prohibits the
     promotion of medicines to children. Of course, GSK rebuke such

     This one might want to run, and run. But really, we hope it doesn't!

  The BBC   The Mr Men


    Super news!

     What's that in the sky? - Why, it's a Welsh crime-fighting superstar, returning
     to rescue us all from the perils of Texas Pete and his gang!

     SuperTed - set to return!

     That's right, folks, C21media report today that 'SuperTed' is indeed coming
     back to our tv screens, 14 years after his last appearance. The new show
     will be a co-production between Abbey Home Media and Mike Young
     Productions - Mike being the former business partner of Dave Edwards
     and Robin Lyons who together made up Siriol Productions. 'SuperTed'
     was the first extraordinary Siriol production scoring super success both
     here and abroad. The show was one of the first to air on then newly-launched
     S4C, it collected a BAFTA in 1987, and was the first external toon to be
     acquired by the Disney Channel. Three seasons were produced by
     Siriol. Then, in 1989 an all-new 'adventures of 'SuperTed' series went in
     to syndication in the States, courtesy of Hanna-Barbera. SuperTed still
     holds affection in many folks' hearts and indeed, there are numerous
     fan sites alongside the official site out there on the Great WWW.
     That's because the original was so well crafted, a quality teatime
     series that still sparkles...

     So what of this new show? - Well, 26x30mins are being planned, and the
     production will feature a new-look Ted, enhanced by some CGI magic.
     The show itself will be skewed towards a slightly younger demographic than
     before too, because today's kids are wee bit more sophisticated than they
     were back in the 80s. The budget appears to be coming in at $3 - $4m per
     episode. Which all sounds like jolly fun news, but what we still don't know
     is whether the entire gang will be returning. Will Spotty be there, alongside
     his pal? And what of Bulk and Skeleton? In the years since 'SuperTed' first
     aired we've lost the talents of both Jon Pertwee and Roy Kinnear. It will be
     intriguing to see who, if anyone, is brought in to replace these lost stars.
     And indeed, if any of the other original voice stars return to the show.
     But questions like that won't be answered for some time yet. The new
     series is still early in development, with scripts and storylines being
produced in time for MIPCOM in October, and MIP-tv next year with the
     aim of securing broadcasters and licenses for the project. But let's be
     honest here, this one will fly out of the sales rooms and away around
     the globe of its own volition, such is the brand awareness. Altogether
     now: 'Suuuuuuuuuper-Ted.....'

 C21media   SuperTed    Mike Young Productions


    Mysteron Mayhem

     Misc! Mayhem, the comics publishers behind the recent 'SuperCar', 'UFO'
     and 'Fireball XL5' releases/forthcoming publications are all set to continue
     their affair with Gerry Anderson now that they've announced plans for an all-new
     'Captain Scarlet' comic. The news was broken at the recent San Diego Comics
     Con and followed up on the regular Yahoo! group postings.

     Misc! Mayhem plan to delve into the dark side of Scarlet, exploring the
     psyche of a damaged hero who must repeatedly die an agonising death
     in order to be reborn as 'indestructible'. This intriguing notion was pitched
     to the publishers by John Petty, and is certainly in keeping with the
     themes of the original series.

     There's no word yet on a publication schedule, and indeed, no mention
     of any connection with the new CGI Scarlet series, currently underway at
     Pinewood Studios with Gerry himself at the helm. Stay tooned for more
     on this one in the the near-future...

                                            More:  Misc Mayhem   Fireball Comic news


    Pope 'poon poo-pooed

     'Popetown' is a forthcoming toon from BBC3 and Channel X, and true to its name
     it stars that infallible fellow The Pope and the rest of the Vatican in a satirical
     send-up of life, the universe, and the Catholic faithful. The star is Father Nicholas,
     a canny fellow constantly battling the helpless bureaucracy of this fictional
     town, in which The Pope is said to be depicted as a childish septuagenarian
     whose every fickle whim must be indulged and fulfilled. Amongst the star voices
     of this 10-part sitcom are Ruby Wax, Jerry Hall, Morwenna Banks, Kevin Eldon,
     Mackenzie Crook from 'The Office' and 'George Doors With The Scores' aka
     Matt Lucas from 'Shooting Stars'.

     Now this here lampooning toon isn't actually due to launch until early next year,
     but the production has been courting adverse publicity since it was announced
     back at the start of 2003, and what was a mumble of discontent back then is
     now becoming a clamour from certain circles to put the kibosh on this most
     unholy of projects. Indeed, according to this week's Sunday Times more than
     2,000 disgruntled Catholics have now put their names to a petition urging the
     BBC not to screen the series. They cite the fact that the BBC is a publically-funded
     body that has no business making such an irreverent and gratuitous attack on their
     faith. And the clarion call to arms is beginning to spread through churches all
     around the UK. Such is the concern that a meeting between the BBC and senior
     church figures has been scheduled later this month.
     Gosh, that thrusting young tv channel BBC3 enjoys courting  animated controversy,
     doesn't it? - 'Monkey Dust' has already had politically sensitive nerves jangling
     with its portrayal of pedophiles and psychos. It seems to be part of the brief.
     Now many folks without particular Catholic leanings would be sitting on the fence
     as they read about 'Popetown', wondering what all the fuss is about. After all,
     'Life Of Brian' was bathed in controversy, but that film never hurt anyone.
     Similarly 'The Last Temptation Of Christ'. And hells-bells, what about the
     continued anarchic brilliance of 'South Park' or indeed, 'Father Ted'?
     What makes 'Popetown' different is its unfortunate timing. Imagine if you'd
     pitched a similar toon project ridiculing Islamic or Muslim faith. There's no way
     it would have been commissioned. In the current climate, it's quite amazing to see
     'Popetown' getting the thumbs-up at all. And although the channel's 'daring'
     commission should be applauded, it's put the BBC smack bang in the middle
     of an unholy pickle jar.

     If you're going to deliberately woo controversy you've got to be very clever.
     Let's hope 'Popetown' is cleverer than Stephen Hawking at his cleverest. Or
     at least brilliantly funny, then this will simply be a storm in a Nun's teacup...

Popetown (coming soon)

Too hot to toon...      (11.08.03)

    Good grief. It's 100degrees out there and Yours Truly is embedded in his
    Elgin attic compiling information for this site. Now that's dedication for you!

    The success of the new-look site has been most encouraging so far, and my
    spirits have been lifted by a rather jolly site review on BBC News24 at
    the start of July. It's given me something to focus on as I mop the sweat
    from my keyboard, turn up the fan, and struggle to update once more
    via a desperately sluggish BT connection. I'd love to say all the updates
    will be finished by the end of August, but alas, it ain't goona happen.
    There's too much planned and my fingers simply can not type fast
    enough right now!...

    Stay tooned for the new Puppets section and first new pages, coming your
    way over the next few weeks, and another airbrushed addition to those
    Fleetway Interviews in the form of a Q&A with artist Steve Maher. Indeed,
    stay tooned for more of everything coming your way, including news of some
    hot new projects that are guaranteed to get your temeperature soaring -
    regardless of the season...

    Till next time!

        Pooch says 'Stay tooned!'     thehound@toonhound.com

  all characters coypright to their respective estates/creators     'Pooch' copyright / site copyright - F2000-2003