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                                                                     May 2005
Extra! Extra! - Read all the Toon News!
Lights! Camera!
The Hound gets clicking...    More...

   Carrot's patch
The Carrotty Kid's secret Dojo...

    Mission accomplished
The Secret Show is commissioned...

    A freakin' film
Dave Borthwick's Freak Bros. movie...

   Aardman a-Go-Go

    Wallace & Gromit & Cavemen...

   Return of the Spider

    Spider, Harry, and more from Silver Fox...

   Skwigly diddly

    Skwigly Magazine is here...

    Struck off!
    Striker comic folds...

    Super stuff
    Early Anderson DVDs...

     last month's news »        news archive »      interviews »

   Carrot's patch 

    Here's another "action-packed" update for you now, regarding "The Carrotty Kid".
    You may recall Andrew Fanton revealed his high-kicking plans for this new
    orange superstar last June. But just to remind you, the Carrotty Kid is a Kung-Fu
    carrot. He's the pupil of Master Che-Ri, and together, their ongoing mission
    is to thwart the dastardly Cornelius Cobb, or any other foolish fruit or veg
    seeking to overrun Legume City.

     The Carrotty Kid!

    Those splendid fellows at Cosgrove Hall are hoping to bring the Kid to life
    for Andrew, if the broadcast deals fall successfully in to alignment. But
    to help the cause, and get us all frothing with orange glee for the fellow,
    Andrew has been busy putting together - Ssh! - the Carrotty Kid's Super
    Secret Dojo. You'll find character guides, an intended episode guide and
    more, should you care to explore. Best of all, though, are three ickle
    movie clips for our viewing pleasure, showing the Kid and Che-Ri in
    animated action (just click on the sun image, on the front page).
    Yes, yes, yes, the clips a minuscule, but you have to admit it's
    particularly great, seeing and hearing Burt Kwouk as Che-Ri.
    Wise Man say, this carrot could kick, given the chance....

The Carrotty Kid


   Mission accomplished 

    Remember The Secret Show? - Collingwood O'Hare's series proposal
    pitched Professor Professor (no, that's not an error) and super secret
    agents Victor Volt and Anita Knight against the forces of evil, in an
    action-packed package stuffed with gadgets, gags and goofiness.
    The pilot episode pitted the team against the fantastically fortunate
    Lucky Leo (voiced by Stephen Fry, no less), and it was a hoot.
    Tony Collingwood and his team took their project to Cartoon Forum
    last year, on a mission to get a juicy series commission...

     Ssh! - Here are some top secret images from "The Secret Show "...

    Well it's no secret to reveal that CBBC have just acquired 52 episodes
    of the show (52 x 13mins in total). Which is bally-brilliant news indeed.
    Now we can look forward to a plethora of moustache-twirling villains,
    high jinx, high kicks and stiff upper lips. "The Secret Show" mixes
    James Bond with Austen Powers and number of ITC-style spy shows
    into one colourful whole. I said it before, and I'll say it again. We do
    the whole "preschool" thing supremely well, here in Blighty. But that
    genre's success seems to have come at the expense of others.
    "The Secret Show" should put the "action" genre well-and-truly back
    on the animation map...

                             More:  Some Secret images!   Collingwood O'Hare


   A freakin' film 

    Cannes has certainly proven to be a hot ticket for Brit animation this
    year. First we had a shed load of Aardman news to get excited about.
    And now, fans of the bolexbrothers will probably be tripping with glee
    when they hear that Dave Borthwick's team are following up their
    reinvisaging of The Magic Roundabout with a long-planned
    "Fabulous Furry Freak Bros." movie.

    "Grass Roots: The Movie" takes the trippy, freaky Freak Bros. from Gilbert
    Shelton's Underground comic strips and drags them in to the modern world
    in a plot featuring cannabis plants which have been genetically modified
    as part of a sinister government plot to take over the market.

    Borthwick mentioned the project during an interview for the BBC's "Imagine"
    arts series way back in December 2003, but the movie is only now being
    touted around the film markets. Celluloid Dreams are handling international
    sales and they are showing off a promo reel and first draft with the aim of
    securing the $22.5m required to get it up and running and in to cinemas.

    "The Freak Bros." are controversial characters. Freewheelin' Frank, Phineas
    Phreak, Fat Freddy, and Fat Freddy's cat have been getting up to all sorts
    of high spirits since 1967 in a continuing series of strips from Rip-Off Press
    They're poster-boys for potheads everywhere, and a Freak Bros. film has
    been mooted before this. Back in 1999, Film Roman announced their
    intentions to animate the gang, but the film never materialised. Let's
    hope the bolexbrothers manage to get theirs together...

                                                                  More: bolexbrothers


   Aardman a-Go-Go 

    Seems the Aardman/Dreamworks media wagon is well and truly off and
    running now, with Cannes hosting the first big press splash for the
    forthcoming "Wallace & Gromit" movie.

    On Thursday, festival folk were greeted with the slightly ominous sight
    of a thirty foot high inflatable Gromit, posing for photos with the key
    production personnel. The promotion came hot on the heels of the
    unveiling of the first teaser poster for the movie (Coming Soon has a
    picture for you). And on top of that, comedian Peter Kay has also
    been added to the fanfared voice cast, alongside Helena Bonham
    Carter and Ralph Fiennes.

    Prior to this week's splurge, an official W&G website has been unveiled for
    our perusal, and there was some very clever target marketing going on Stateside,
    a month-or-two ago, with a tie-in promotion at the big Westminster Dog Show
    (you can view the results on their official site). What's more, the US Master
    Toy License for the movie has been granted to McFarlane Toys, so we can
    expect some delicious collectables akin to their fabulous first "Shrek" toys,
    or those "Movie Maniacs". And all of this is happening for a film that's not
    with us until October 7th.

    At yesterday's press call, Dreamworks producer Jeffrey Katzenberg dangled
    the carrot of a second "Wallace & Gromit" movie under everyone's nose,
    should the first prove a hit. But let's be honest here, that one's got to be
    a cert. "Curse of the Were-Rabbit" is looking absolutely fantastic...

    Meanwhile, rolling in on the coat tails of Wallace, Gromit and their furry
    friend (or fiend?), comes the announcement of another Aardman film project.
    "Crood Awakening" is being written by comedian/actor/all-round funny man
    John Cleese and it appears to be a kind of cross between Gogs and Asterix
    the Gaul. It's billed as a prehistoric comedy adventure about a culture clash
    between two tribes of cavemen. The first is comparatively evolved, whilst the
    other remains somewhat underdeveloped. It's being suggested that one tribe
    might be considered as being essentially English in nature, whilst the other
    is of French origin, with all the culture clashes between them that might entail.
    The film will go into production after Flushed Away...

    Bloomin' eck! - Aardman really are pushing the boat out on all fronts at
    the moment, with all this film action sitting alongside the ongoing television
    projects ("Planet Sketch", "The Gigglers", and the rest). But who's
    complaining? - You can surely never get enough of Aardman's stuff...
                                                                 More: Wallace & Gromit  


   Return of the Spider 

    The fine folks at Silver Fox Films have been in touch this week, to keep
    me and mine abreast of their current happenings. Those happenings
    include a bucketful of production duties on "Harry and his Bucket Full
    of Dinosaurs", more ripples in the CGI pond that is "Water Warrior",
    and some particularly exciting Spider news...

    First up, there's "Harry". Work is nearing completion on this 52 x 11mins
    series. Silver Fox Films have team with Collingwood O'Hare and CCI
    Entertainment for this one. It's based on the books by Ian Whybrow
    (Little Wolf) and Adrian Reynolds, about a boy who owns a bucket full of
    living, plastic dinosaurs - hence the title! Harry's show was only officially 
    announced last July, so the turnaround's been rather nippy, and it will
    be hitting our tv screens very soon.

    Then there's "Water Warrior", the film which now has a noticeable title
    change, dropping its "Warriors" plural from the past. The film is inching
    its way towards production, a hop, step and a lilly pad at a time, but
    we're told that it's still very much a going concern. Certainly, if the
    production art at the the Silver Fox web site is anything to go by,
    we'll be in for a treat - eventually!


    But right now, the big news for many of you will be an update regarding
    the return of "Spider". It's been fourteen years since this little show with
    a big heart aired on the BBC. "Spider" was exquisitely presented, with a
    soft-crayoned star and musical musings tinged with melancholy. The
    DVD came out last year and we've sold lots of copies of it via our Amazon
    links - which just proves its ongoing popularity. Silver Fox is currently
    developing "Spider's Silly Show" which will extend the format from 5mins
    to 11mins. The new production will feature music, stories, facts and
    puzzles and will be hosted by Andrew Sachs. What's more, there are
    a whopping 52 episodes being planned - 52 seemingly being the
    commissioners' favourite number nowadays, when it comes to
    the preschool arena...

    So what's that, 104 episodes and a CGI feature coming our way?
    Not to mention those Lemmings. Suffice it to say, Graham Ralph and
    company have been rather busy, and will continue to be so for
    a good while yet. Altogether now: "I'm just a spider..."

Silver Fox Films

   Skwigly diddly 

    So there we are, with news of a top title about to fold (Striker - see below),
    when along comes Skwigly to brighten the day. Skwigly Magazine is the
    brainchild of David Smith, the talented chap who runs Skwigly.co.uk, and
    David's ambitious plans for his site and magazine were fanfared back
    in January...

      Skwigly - Buy yours now!

    Issue one of Skwigly: The Big Animation Magazine is available now,
    and its 68 glossy colour pages include a feature on the making of "Valiant",
    a chat to "BB3B" director Iain Lauchlan, another with animator Richard
    Bazley, a guide to storyboarding, animation news, competitions and
    reviews - indeed, plenty to get your toon buds suitably tickled, and
    all for the ludicrously low price of £3.50 (or £2.50, if you buy online!).

    Best of all, though, is the first issue exclusive featuring info on a
    hot new puppet project called "Project Cobra". Sean and Barrie Robertson
    are putting together a Gerry Anderson-style, sci-fi series with stringless puppets,
    which looks utterly FAB. It's an interesting developement, given that Carlton
    experimented with a similar kind of update for "Thunderbirds", just before
    the live-action film crashed and burned. The "Thunderbirds" test reel was
    extraordinary, and frankly, they were mad not to have taken it further.
    But budgetary fears, and low-tech nervousness got in the way. Since
    then, "Team America" has assaulted our systems, and now "Project
    Cobra" looks to have leapfrogged the Tracy family into the production
    spotlight. It's a facinating new project. But if you want to know more,
    hey, you'lll just have to buy yourself a copy of Skwigly!...

                                                                              More: Skwigly

   Struck off! 

    Muddy Mildred! - Striker comic is soon to be no more. In his current editorial
    creator/owner Pete Nash has announced that the title is to fold next week,
    with issue #87 being the final edition of this groundbreaking publication.
    There's no more Extra Time, no Golden Goal. The dream, it seems, is over
    far too quickly...

      Striker #86 - the penultimate issue!

    Striker was launched in August 2003 as the UK's first all-CGI comic and it
    followed the extraordinary escapades of a fictional football team - Warbury
    Warriors - their manager, chairman and colourful associates, girlfriends and
    foes on and off the pitch. It was launched on the back of a hugely-popular
    run in "The Sun", and despite numerous underhand shenanigans, shortfalls
    and let-downs the comic still managed to pull together a loyal team of weekly
    supporters and subscribers, who even went so far as to invest in a extraordinary
    shares issue, to try and ensure a permanent future for the title.

    But according to "Nashy", Striker simply hasn't turned the corner. Folks
    haven't bought advertising space and sales have been flagging. Rather than
    limp on, hemorrhaging readers and cash, he's decided to pull the plug, whilst
    there's still time to salvage some kind of alternative future for his dream team.

    Striker's closure is a huge blow to comics fans. It is/was such an innovative
    title, a footy comic in name, but not necessarily in nature because the football
    scenario was merely a backdrop to some splendid soap operatics, wry adult
    humour and over-the-top storylines which reached out to readers far beyond
    any footy stadium. Why is hasn't succeeded remains a mystery. Perhaps it
    was Striker 3D's independence that proved the downfall? Nashy and his team
    were coming out of left field. They refused to cow-tow to the "suits" as they
    pursued their bold new vision, and they always put their readers first.

    So Striker joins the long list of titles in that great comics heaven.
    As for Striker 3D, though, no future has been confirmed, which means we
    can keep our fingers crossed for that The War of the Worlds adaptation.
    And who knows, maybe Mick Jarvis and Eric -"Muddy"- Openshaw will
    resurface in some other newspaper, or in graphic novel format. It's a game
    of two halves, after all. And Warbury surely deserve some consolation for
    their superhuman  efforts...

                                                                        More: Striker 3D


   Super stuff 

    If you're a Gerry Anderson fan (heck, aren't we all?), here's some news to
    really get your strings in a tangle of excitement, because the fine folks at
    Network home video have put together three fantastic DVD releases
    for your purchasing pleasure.

    Supercar and Torchy on DVD

    "Supercar", "Torchy the Battery Boy" and "Four Feather Falls" take
    us right back to those early Anderson days, to a time when space
    chimps, topsy-turvy toys and feathered cowboys ruled the television and
    the digital delights of CGI were a galaxy away in the future.

    Network have done a fine preservation job on these three, which is just
    as well, because with three chunky disc sets arriving so close to one
    another you'll have to dig rather deep into your wallet. Supercar is a
    six disc extravaganza, featuring all thirty-nine episodes, and Torchy is
    a two disc affair. Those two have already been released, but next
    Monday (9th May), the folks from Four Feather Falls join the rosta,
    roaming over four more discs. That's a whopping twelve discs to
    string you along!

    Yes, Network have really carved themselves a niche in the video market of
    late, with these Anderson shows joining the previously-released delights
    of Cloppa Castle and Potty Time. It's great to see all these shows finally
    escaping on to DVD. The only problem is finding the time to watch
    all this stuff!...


   Lights! Camera!   

    You know, there's more to birthdays than just scrummy cakes.
    This year, the Hound finally got a decent digital camera. And the
    first results are already making themselves known on the site.

    Now some folks may mock my efforts over at Bunty's Booty and Cracking
    Collectibles. But you know, this site attempts to cover all aspects of
    British toondom, and many fans will you tell, collecting comes hot on the
    heels of their appreciation for a character, creation or series. A good
    character licence can extend adoration and awareness ad infinitum,
    as well as making a shed-load of revenue for the rights owners.
    And frankly, no one has done it better than Aardman here in the UK.
    As I say elsewhere, they've given us a fantastic array of licensed goodies,
    with ne'er a dodgy character likeness in sight. Bunty's Booy and
    Cracking Collectibles are there to chronicle these splendid efforts for
    others to envy and copy, or simply to drool over. They're also there
    as a checklist for collectors who can see what they have or haven't
    got, go forth and tick the boxes on their own collection.

    In Aardman's case, the imminent arrival of the Wallace & Gromit movie
    is going to be very interesting. "Chicken Run" goodies saturated British
    High Streets back in 2000. And before that, of course, Wallace & Gromit
    had shop tills ringing around the country. Will we see a repeat for
    "Wererabbit"? An official W&G shop has already popped up online, and
    the PR department have recently announced that McFarlane Toys
    hold the US Master Toy Licence, which guarantees at least one
    collection of figures to make collectors weep. Only time will tell.
    Meanwhile, with Bunty's Booty now spruced up and almost up to speed,
    the Hound can turn his attention to those Cracking Collectibles. You
    should stay tooned for a stack of updates, new photos and info over the
    coming weeks. And as the countdown to the new film continues, a
    new "Wererabbit" off-shoot may also be in the works - if my wallet
    can handle it....
    Till next time!    

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

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