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Toonhound presents...






      June/July 2008
 Extra! Extra! - Read all the Toon News!

    Bob's change of motion
Bob the Builder to be cgi...
    The DFC is VGI

   Celebrating a great new comic...

   Happy Birthday, old bean!
The Beano turns 70...

    A-Z with Garen

   Garen Ewing's daily toons...

    Worth a few bucks

   Potter painting sets a record...

    Sooty sold!
He's found a new owner...

    Bottled magic

   Summerton Mill on YouTube...

    Ivor's here!
   And The Hound is in love...  more »

   news archive »     interviews »      giveaways »

    Happy Birthday, old bean!    

    If you live in the UK, you will most certainly know that "The Beano" is
    officially 70 years old this week. And there are, quite rightly, celebrations
    aplenty, left, right and center.

    • Nick Park has talked about his Beano ambitions on
      the Beanotown web site...

    • The BBC have fanfared the comic's birthday, of course....

    • And The Scotsman has looked into its history...

    • The Cartoon Musuem are launching a Big Birthday Bash exhibition
      of original art from the comic...

    • Steve Holland has profiled the comic's first artist Reg Carter on his
       Bear Alley blog....

    • And Sky have put together an online Beano gallery...

    So what does The Hound have to say? - Well, I grew up in the 70's,
    and although I wasn't a regular reader of the weekly editions (I was
    a Fleetway boy, after all), there was nearly always a Beano Annual
    waiting for me on Christmas morning. Baby-Face Finlayson, Billy Whizz,
    Billy the Cat, The McTickles, Little Plum, Roger the Dodger, Grandpa
    and the rest. Each of these strips was rock solid, beautifully executed
    and presented in three-colour glory. I've returned to those annuals
    again and again over the years to admire the craftsmanship that went
    into them. I turned 40 this year - my own landmark date - and they're still
    with me, next to my computer, on myreference shelf. Old friends who've
    been with me for the best part of my four decades on this earth.

    The Beano's 70th Birthday edition!

    Wow. Four decades for me, seven for The Beano. I think that's what's
    so remarkable about the comic reaching this milestone year. The
    Beano has become part of the very fabric of modern-day Britain.
    It's not just a comic anymore. The world turns.. we've been to war,
    we've protested, we've grappled with the markets, we've gone global,
    we've wi-fied... and all along, The Beano has been there... A great
    many of us might never have even have read it, but we all know it's
    there each week, on the newsagents' shelves... It's forever in the
    background of our lives... like our favourite pub... like fish
    and chips...
                                                                    More: Beanotown


    A-Z with Garen    

    Garen Ewing is a fabulous comic artist-stroke-illustrator who works
    in the ligne claire clear line art style, as perfected on the continent
    by Hergé and his ilk. Now, fans of The DFC - the new subscription
    weekly which launched at the end of May - are soon to be treated
    to Garen's latest strip creation "Charlie Jefferson and the Tomb of
    Nazaleod", which makes that comic a must-have...

    But whilst we're waiting for Charlie to arrive, Garen's been playing
    a terrific daily game on his Facebook pages. He's been undertaking
    an A-Z of comic characters, as chosen by us - the folks who visit.
    It's not a competition, and there are no prizes. But jolly visitors get
    the chance to choose what the maestro draws each day, and that's
    a top prize in itself.

    The rules are simple. Each day, we move on to the next letter of
    the alphabet. Folks post the name of a relevant comic character
    they'd like him to draw, and the one with the most votes wins.

    Garen's using the game as a way of limbering up each morning.
    It's his way to get the old creative juices flowing. And the end
    results? - well - so far we've been presented with his unique
    representations of Axel Pressbutton, Billy the Cat, Captain
    Haddock, Dan Dare, Elektra, Faceache, Gaston LaGaffe,
    Hobbes (as in Calvin & Hobbes) and Iron Man. Now that's
    a varied bunch, eh? And it's bound to get even more varied,
    as more and more folks join in the voting system...

    Oh, and if you're looking for a more solid reason to participate,
    you might like to know that Garen's going to be donating all the
    original drawings to the Caption auction, which takes place in
    Oxford on 9th August. Any proceeds go to the Caption comics
    festival fund.
    This is a fun game from one of Britain's brightest artists. How bright
    is this man? Well, he's finally got a publishing deal together for
    his long-gestating wonder "The Rainbow Orchid". But that
    news needs a separate headline here, in order to give the strip
    and its creator the proper fanfare they deserve. "The Rainbow Orchid"
    has been on Garen's drawing board for far too long. It is, frankly, a
    masterpiece-in-waiting... Oh, but look at me... Already too excited...
    Heh... Calm down, Mr Hound, calm down...

                           More: Garen Ewing's A-Z of comic characters


    Worth a few bucks    

    A watercolour by Beatrix Potter has just been auctioned off at Sotheby's
    for a record-busting sum. "The Rabbit's Christmas Party" was painted
    in the 1890s, and like its title says, it depicts several rabbits getting
    aquainted at a seasonal gathering. It was one of a selection of
    Beatrix's works previously owned by her brother, Bertram.

    dEtail from "The Rabbit's Christmas Party" as painted by Beatrix Potter

    The picture had a catalogue estimate of between £40,000 - £60,000.
    But in the end, the hammer  went down at a whopping £289,250.
    And that makes it he most expensive book illustration ever
    sold at auction! 


    Sooty sold!  

    Remember last October's mellow yellow headline? Sooty, Sweep and
    Soo had been put up for sale by their owners, Bridgefilms/HIT Entertainment.
    Apparently, the fellow just didn't have enough to offer such a mega-size
    licensing firm - bless 'im.


    But us Sooty fans need fear no more, because a deal has now been
    struck, and he's about to get izzy, wizzy and busy with none other than
    his most recent human stage friend, Richard Caddell. Richard's been
    appearing alongside Sooty for the last decade, having taken over the
    role from Matthew Corbett, and now he's teamed up with his brother
    to purchse the rights for something approaching £1M. And he's got
    lots of plans for our favourite puppet pal. Which is super news
    indeed, because it means that 50 year old Sooty will still
    be with us for many years to come...

                                                                           More: Sooty


    Bottled magic   

    Oh, yes. Look what's turned up on YouTube. It's that "Bottle Organ"
    episode from the new series of "Summerton Mill" (as raved about,
    back in February).

    Summerton Mill is just a sublime series. And it kind of defies
    categorisation, in the way that it reaches out to everyone, big and
    small, old or young. And at the end of the day, nothing really happens.
    Well, not a big round story as such. Instead we're invited in to the
    valley to watch little moments in the lives of Dan, Fluffa, and Dr Naybhur
    and Mrs Naybhur. Actually, "moments" is rather non-committal. What
    we get are, in fact, pure trembling heartbeats of... I don't really know...
    innocence... and wonder... It's so hard to put in to words... but this
    series is like a warm hug from your parents or your loved one.
    There's so much heart here... It's a world away from any other
    series on the market right now. It's special and unique, and once
    you've seen it, you're not likely to forget it...

    And I'll shut up now, so's you can take a look for yourself!


                                                          More: Summerton Mill


    Bob's change of motion  

    Over the last decade, Bob the Builder has built himself an
    extraordinary worldwide franchise, based on his stop-motion
    exploits... Eight classic seasons... An eco-town spin-off...
    Four feature-length films... Four more specials... And more...

    But now, the building work has come to end. Or rather, it's come
    to its end in stop-motion form, with the news that his next
    series is to be produced as an all-CGI show. HIT Entertainment
    have just announced plans for SD Entertainment in LA to take
    over production duties  on the main show from the folks at
    HOT Animation - something that was flagged up on this site
    a while back, but which has now, almost inevitably,
    come to pass...

    Of course, the HIT publicity wagon is playing up the move.
    Bob's been with us for ten years, after all. It's time for a change.
    Something new. The change has only come about after eighteen
    months of research, and this CGI shift is intended to improve the
    emotional connection between the characters
    and viewers (C21media)...

    But you know, for this particular viewer, Bob was working just
    fine as he was. Stop-motion beguiles and delights. It draws an
    audience in with its magic in a way that can never be matched
    in a CGI production. For kids watching these shows, it's like
    seeing their own little model toys coming to life in front of their
    eyes. And in HOT's hands, Bob, Wendy, Spud and the gang
    completely bedazzled their audience...
    Look, there's a reason why adults and children will watch
    films like "Nightmare Before Xmas" or "Curse of the Were-Rabbit"
    over and over and over again, and why, forty years on, we're still
    watching those little worlds of Gordon Murray and the SmallFilms
    partnership. They have a unique fascination. The crew on these
    productions have to construct an entire bespoke world. All the figures, 
    all the props, the scenery, the minutiae have been built by human
    hands... And behold... they live, they breathe!... Oh...CGI just can't
    match that... even at its very Pixar-like best, the magic is different...
    the attraction changes... that unique and specific connection is gone...

    Now that's not to say that Bob's new show won't be fine and shiny.
    But it will no longer stand out from the crowd. It will no longer
    So certainly, we'll wish Bob all the very best. He's off on an a new
    adventure, and hopefully he'll be keeping his parent firm happy
    for years to come. But there's no escaping the fact that a
    siginficant portion of his audience will see things differently.
    In their eyes, Bob's laid his last brick, he's hung up his hard
    hat and sold-up his family firm...

                                  More: HIT Entertainment  HOT Animation

    The DFC is VGI   

    Yes, yes. The DFC was fanfared here mere days ago. But the first
    issue landed on The Hound's doorstep oveer the weekend, just
    demanding to be read and reviewed... and.. why, it's a darned
    triumph, so it is... This David Fickling Comic is Very Good Indeed!...

    The DFC is VGI!

    There's a great sense of style about this comic. It gets delivered in
    its own funky envelope, and when you extract your copy, you're
    immediately met with a handsome matt cover - full colour, of course -
    but completely different in tone to other weeklies past, or present.
    And the comic itself is A4 size. That, too, is new to this reader.

    That sense of style continues right through the first issue. The strips
    are terrfically varied. We open with Philip Pullman's contribution,
    "John Blake", which is illustrated by John Aggs. And it's a doozy,
    teasing us into its seafaring adventure in six splashy pages. It's a
    great way to start proceedings, and it feels like you're reading the
    beginnings of a fab graphic novel - something that's repeated later,
    with Kate Brown's "Spider Moon", with its sophisticated Manga
    stylings. These two contributions alone are woth the price of a
    subscription. Meanwhile, Sarah McIntyre deligts us with her
    bunny-hopping "Vern and Lettuce", and Dave Shelton's "Good Dog,
    Bad Dog" mixes lots of "ruff" humour into its ongoing adventure,
    and.. and...

    Frankly, this reader could rave about The DFC all day. But in
    short, there isn't a duff contribution here. Every strip stands out
    as being unique and stylish. And there's lots of variety on offer.
    There's also a wonderful maturity about the writing and the quality
    of the artwork - no surprise, really, when one considers the quality
    of the books which David Fickling and company have previously

    Is there a downside? - Well, it's possibly a little too safe for some
    readers. Mummy and Daddy may approve, but will your average
    kid on the street? And then there's the episodic nature of many of
    the strips. We get teasing pages of story that leave us dangling.
    But that one's answered by the fact that your subscription enables
    you to keep on reading, next issue...

    The folks behind The DFC have truly attempted something different
    here. They've tried bloody hard to reintroduce the concept of a
    weekly comic to a new generation of readers, and frankly, if this
    doesn't work - well - The Hound can't think of anything they could
    have done differently...

                                                                     More: The DFC     


    50 years of marmalade  

    Happy Birthday, Paddington!

    The little bear from Darkest Peru has, this month, turned fifty.
    And to celebrate, there have been lots of articles about the fellow
    and his creator Michael Bond. Paddington has popped up all over the
    place of late. He's starred in that campaign for Marmite, he's
    been granted his very own range of figures by the folks at
    Robert Harrop (on sale at Boojog), and best of all, an
    all-new Paddington book has just been published...

      "Paddington Here and Now" by Michael Bond

    In Paddington Here and Now our ever-young immigrant must
    finally decide once and for all where his "home" really is - which
    sounds jolly relevant and topical,eh?

    Of course, on the back of those books we had THAT series.
    You know, the FilmFair version, with our stop-motion star truffling
    his nose at the 2D cut-outs around him, as the late Sir Michael
    Hordern narrates. The series first launched over 30 years ago,.
    would you believe? - My, how time flies... And my, how Paddington
    continues to beguile and delight...

Paddington Bear

   Ivor's Here!  

    Back in March, you might recall, The Hound presented a giddy
    round-up of cartoon collectibles that were doing the rounds.

    Now many folks probably think these kind of articles are included just
    so this old dawg can make a quick buck-or-two out of his visitors.
    You know how it works. Plug a product, add a link with an affiliation
    code, and watch the pounds roll in... Blah, blah, blah...

    But it's not like that. Honestly. The Hound plugs these things
    principally because he's a fan. He's writing about the things that are
    on his own must-have shopping list, and if ever you needed proof that
    such a list exists then you need only take a look at this:

    "On The Railway" now appearing on THe Hound's living room wall!

    Oh yes. This is a thing of rare beauty. A special thing to hang on the
    wall and treasure for all time. It's my very own limited edition, Ivor the
    Engine print. "On The Railway" is hand-signed by Peter Firmin himself.
    And in a change to the original billing, it turns out there are only 100
    of these beauties available... which makes it even more desirable...

    Now this here print is on sale at the Animation Art Gallery. And if
    you notice, there's no affiliation code on the link. I'm plugging it
    because it's out there... because it deserves your attention...
    because your wall will be so lonely without one... The photo doesn't
    do it justice, of course. But believe me, the colours, the mount
    and that frame compliment each other just so perfectly... And like
    I've said before, if I'm jazzed for things like this, I'm pretty certain
    you'll be jazzed too...

    Well, aren't you?!   
    Till next time!

        Pooch says 'Stay tooned!'

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