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    TheHound - an irregular round up of toon news and chatter from the uk                    November - 2002

    The Hound mourns the loss af a comics genius...

  Robert Nixon - R.I.P.
  The master artist of Roger The Dodger, Frankie Stein and more....
  After a BAFTA
  And the Toon Nominees are...  

  Legendary Stuff...

  Otherworld premieres...

  Thunderbirds not FAB?...

  More rumbles in the rumour mill...

  Animal tragic...
  Comic Coogan dissects the critics..

Robbie's been robbed...
Of his voice, at least...

Wallace & Gromit films shine...

Sites For Sore Eyes...
Blame it on Basil...


    Frankie Stein   Robert Nixon - R.I.P.

   Some desperately sad news for comics fans here with the announcement of
   the death of artist/cartoonist/illustrator Robert Nixon. Robert was a DC Thomson
   and Fleetway stalwart who started work on The Beano in 1964. Over the next
   thirty eight years he shifted between the two rival publishers bringing us the delights
   of numerous original and ghosted strips like Roger The Dodger, Little Plum,
   Lord Snooty, Grandpa, and Esky Mo for DC Thomson, Frankie Stein, Kid Kong,
   Gums, Soggy The Sea Monster, The Buytonic Boy, Hire A Horror, Family Trees,
   Laser Eraser, Stage School, Lolly Pop, Ivor Lott & Tony Broke, and Elephant On
   The Run for Fleetway. His personal favourite was Ivy The Terrible a strip he created
   for The Beano and was still regularly drawing up to his death on October 22nd,
   but he also held a particular soft spot for Frankie and Kid Kong...

      Kid Kong  The Buytonic Boy
   You could rave on about Robert's genius all day. The beautiful cartoon lines
   of his figures, whole bodied figures too, with a strong line of action through each.
   And the shading and detail of the panels. It was his toons that truly put the fun
   in Monster Fun - his munsters were lovable, never horrible. His colour skills were
   equally admirable. His covers for the Monster Fun and Shiver & Shake Annuals
   were simply fabulous. Comics fans point to his work on King Arthur And His
   Frights Of The Round Table - a lesser-known strip from Whoopee! - into which
   he poured an extraordinary amount of work and detail.

   Looking back through my comic collection for reference I came across Robert's
   Frankie Stein strip from Shiver & Shake #51 (23rd Feb 1974). In it, Frankie
   gulps down a bottle of 'cissy potion' and finds himself starring in a wild version
   of Swan Lake, together with a gaggle of equally 'cissified' animals from the
   local zoo. The final page is nothing short of breathtaking, it's focused around
   one giant central panel and it's absoloutely stuffed with critters, mayhem,
   and uproar as Frankie and the animals bring the theatre to the ground - hippos,
   a camel, an orangutan, an elephant, giraffe, a python, kangaroo, lion, and tiger.
   Each animal and person is meticulously finished, and each has his or her own
   specific line of action and interaction with the audience and auditorium.
   Truly, it's a work of art.

   Robert is survived by his wife and four children. He was also a lifelong friend
   of another multitalented toon star Trevor Metcalfe, whom he met when they
   both applied for work at a lithographic company back in the early 1960s.
   Trevor too must be devastated by the loss of his pal.

   Robert Nixon is a name to place in the cartoon firmament alongside the late
   great genius of Ken Reid, Dudley Watkins, and Reg Parlett. He may no longer
   be with us but his work will shine brightly like a guiding star for comics fans
   around the world...

   Many examples of Robert's IPC work can be seen on Fleetway St. Elsewhere, 
   The Guardian has published a full obituary here:


       Angelina, Bob, Andy, Eddy and Bear - all up for a BAFTA...  After a BAFTA...

   Well it's official. Awards Season is now well and truly open with the recent
   announcement of Nominees for the Children's BAFTA Awards. And me-oh-my,
   it's going to be a right royal toon battle this time around. The Children's BAFTAs
   have been running since 1995, parallel to the main Movie/TV/Technical Awards.
   Gongs are given out to Best Children's Drama Series, Feature Film, TV
   Presenter and more, including the two main categories of concern for toon fans:
   Animation and Pre-School Animation. This year sees prim and proper Angelina
   taking on The Cramp Twins, and Bob, Andy and Eddy go head-to-head. Here
   are the toon Nominees...


    Ginger Gibbons, Roger McIntosh
    Grand Slamm Children's Films/CiTV

    Edwina Von Stiegler, Anthony Lucus 3D Film Production for SBS on
    behalf of Children's Television Trust International/C4

     Peter Völkle, Carole Weitzman, Brian Wood
     TV-Loonland/Cartoon Network

     David Rane, Tim Fernée Moving Still Productions in ass. with S4C/C4

   Preschool Animation:

     Jean Flynn, Tim Harper
     Cosgrove Hall Films/CBBC

     Jackie Cockle, Sarah Ball
     HOT Animation/CBBC

     Chris O'Hare, Tony Collingwood
     Collingwood O'Hare Entertainment/CiTV

      Robin Lyons, Les Orton
      Siriol Productions/S4C

    So who is your money on?
- In the Animation category, The Hound smells a win
    for Angelina. The series is very sweet, with BAFTA favourite Dame Judi Dench
    in the cast, and it's a delightfully unsophisticated series. No flashy techniques,
    just simple stories, simply told. The Cramp Twins is fab too, with some terrific
    animation design - all those 'floating' movement lines - but it's 'American' tone
    may hamstring its success. Will the board lean forwards to The Cramps, or
    stay reserved and pick the Ballerina...?
    As for the Preschool section. Gosh, this one is really up for grabs. All four
    Nominees come from first class animation stables, and all four are equally
    award-worthy. Collingwood O'Hare picked this award up last year for Animal
    Stories, so I have suspicion they may be unlucky this time around. Incredibly,
    Bob The Builder hasn't won this award before even though it's had prior nominations.
    Maybe this is Bob's year. Or should your money be on Cosgrove Hall's fab
    Andy Pandy update? It's certainly a great show, and Cosgrove have yet to pick
    up a Preschool BAFTA - a real surprise, given their top status in the industry.
    And then there's Siriol, another iconic animation studio who've carved a niche for
    themselves over the years. Nope. It's just too close to call here...

    Here's BAFTA's full list of nominees in all categories. It's great to see Pepper's
    Ghost getting a nomination in the Interactive category. Their Tiny Planets concept
    has been beautifully executed. It would be dandy to see them rewarded. The
    International Series category finds Angela Anaconda thumbing her nose at the
    Cubix robots. And Mike and Sully and the staff of Monsters, Inc are in with a
    shout for Best Feature Film. Who will the winners and losers be? - We'll find out
    November 24th...


     Otherworld - now on release!   Legendary Stuff!

    Now this one's crept up on us with little fanfare. What we have here is a
    brand new animated feature courtesy of S4C Wales. It's called Otherworld
    and it's an adaptation of the legends of The Mabinogi. The film is a 2D feature
    with live-action wraparounds, and a 90 minute running time. It follows the
    adventures of three teenagers, Rhiannon, Lleu and Dan who one May Eve
    stumble across the legendary golden doorway to The Otherworld shimmering
    beneath the water off the Welsh Coast. The trio find themselves transported
    back into the incredible medieval world of The Mabinogi where they must
    each sort out their personal conflicts, whilst endeavoring to survive in a
    realm built on conflict, fate and magic...

    Otherworld is brought to us by producer Naomi Jones and director Derek
    Hayes of Cartwn Cymru. They previously steered The Miracle Maker on to
    our screens. Once again they worked alongside Christmas Films in Moscow
    and MPC in London - the latter helping to integrate various CGI elements
    into the traditional animation. The film's voice talent includes Ioan Gruffudd
    (Hornblower), Matthew Rhys, Jenny Livsey, Daniel Evans, Phillip Madoc,
    Rhys Ifans and Paul McGann...

    Y Mabinogi, as it's known in Welsh, in only getting a limited theatrical release.
    In the same way that Miracle Maker was marketed and screened for specific
    religious groups, so Otherworld has been scheduled to screen in specific
    Welsh venues - from Aberystwyth to Llanfyllin between November and
    January. S4C's official site gives you all the screening dates. Like I say,
    dates and venues are limited so if you want to catch this on a big screen
    I'd make a beeline for them now. It certainly looks like an interesting
    Check out the official Otherworld site for more:


     Thunderbirds movie not so FAB?

    Ooh-eck. That negative rumble in the rumour mill about the new Thunderbirds
    movie simply refuses to go away. The latest mutterings have arisen from a brief
    article published in a recent edition of SFX magazine. According to director
    Jonathan Frakes, the live-action film will feature a new - yet-to-be-revealed
    sixth Thunderbird vehicle. That's right, a Thunderbird 6.

     Thunderbird 6

    Mr Frakes appears to make no reference to a certain previous Thunderbird 6,
    the Gypsy Moth plane that stole the title of the second Thunderbirds film
    back in the 1960s. Surely, as the man at the helm, one would make it a
    duty to glean all the information one can about the series history and
    development. It certainly appears to be an incredible oversight. Still, these
    quotes, quips and pieces do have a habit of being taken out of context.
    The Hound here remains positive that common sense will prevail, all those
    script trouble
s will be pushed into the past and a hit film will be born.
    And if you believe that, you'll believe that Tracy Island really exists.
    Oh well, maybe the newly-announced Captain Scarlet feature will fulfill
    its potential...?

      Animal tragic...

    Ananova has been dissecting some interesting news stories recently regarding
    a forthcoming animated series from comic Steve Coogan and his production
    company Baby Cow. 'I Am Not An Animal' features a gang of laboratory animals
    in a vivisection lab enjoying a pampered lifestyle until they are 'liberated' by a
    gang on animal rights activists and find themselves adrift and ill-equipped
    in an 'alien' environment. The series has been scripted by BAFTA-winning
    comedy writer Peter Baynham (Alan Partridge, Friday Night Armistice), with
    the animation being helmed by Tim Searle. The series stars include a horse,
    a cat, a dog, a monkey, and a sparrow. Their voices are to be provided by
    Mr Coogan, Julia Davis, Kevin Eldon, Arthur Matthews and Amelia Bulmore.
    The BBC has high hopes for this 'darkly entertaining' adult series of 6 x 30min
    episodes. Trouble is, those pesky antivivisection groups don't appear to share
    The Beeb's enthusiasm. Indeed the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection
    (BUAV) have been particularly vocal in their opposition to the proposed series,
    concerned that vivisection is not a suitable subject for comedy. And of course,
    Baby Cow have calmly requested that they and the rest of the naysayers out
    there simply wait and see before they judge the production...

    Personally, The Hound reckons all this debate is misguided. What's frustrates
    more is the BBC's decision to throw money and weight behind this show when
    they patently couldn't give a damn about animation. Look at the way they
    handled Aaagh! - It's The Mr Hell Show, Rex The Runt and even crossover
    series like The Big Knights. Yes, it's a familiar war-cry from yours-truly, but
    it's true. Even The Simpsons, those BBC ratings-toppers, get pulled and pushed
    from pillar to post with episodes repeated ad-inifinitum, dropped at the last minute,
    and new episodes slipped into schedules with ne'er a warning. The Hound reckons
    those BBC execs could do with a bit of dissection themselves to establish just
    how the commissioning and scheduling process works...

    Which all rather skirts the issue that 'I Am Not An Animal' certainly sounds like
    something to shout about. Heck, any animated series commission of this
    sort should be trumpeted. And be honest, this is Mr Alan Partridge's company
    we're talking about, working with talent from Big Train and more - it could be
    very funny. Let's wish Baby Cow well with their production. 'I Am Not An
    Animal' will start messing with our minds some time next year...

    Keep up to date with the lab experiments:


    Robbie's been robbed!

    Here's some interesting news. Remember that BBC animated special Robbie
    The Reindeer In Hooves Of Fire? - You know, the one lots of reindeer competing
    in a grand race, and competing for the affection of a little doe deer - the one
    with the voices of Robbie Williams, Jane Horrocks, Steve Coogan, Ricky
    Tomlinson and even daring Des Lynham on the soundtrack. Well, they're not
    there any more in the American version!

    Robbie gets its tv premiere Over The Pond on December 13th, courtesy of
    CBS, almost two years after its first UK screening. And in that intervening
    time the Powers That Be have decided to replace the stereotypical Brit voices
    with some names more familiar to Americans. Hence we have Hugh Grant
    and Britney Spears in the lead roles now, with Ben Stiller, James Woods
    and Jim Belushi in support. Which all makes sense, from a broadcasting
    point of view, but it might be raising an eyebrow-or-two over at Pathe
    Films. How so? - Well Pathe are currently knee-deep in sugarlumps and
    flowers putting together the new CGI Magic Roundabout movie (see last
    month). And who is the star voice of Dougal in that film? - Why, it's that
    British crooner Robbie Williams. Robbie's nudged the charts a few times
    over in the states, but he's yet to turn into the kind of Pop God he's become
    everywhere else in the world. The video for his new single is very America
    -friendly and should certainly help raise his profile higher - but will the same
    fate befall his Magic role, or is it all just swings and roundabouts (groan)...?


      Wallace & Gromit  Soccamatic-tastic!

    Just a little space left to nudge you towards those very-well publicized
    new Wallace & Gromit short films, now up and running at various sites on the
    Great WWW. For those of you living on another planet for the last month,
    Aardman Animation's plasticene stars have at last returned for our viewing
    please - albeit in limited form. In all 10 new Cracking Contraption shorts
    have been created showcasing a variety of stupendously-daft inventions
    created by that ever-keen inventor Wallace. The films are a taster of sorts,
    to keep our appetites whetted prior to completion of the first feature-length
    Wallace and Gromit adventure in 2004. You can view the first, 'Soccamatic'
    for free right now here. All the films can also be viewed online, for a small
    subscription fee, courtesy of AtomFilms. Alternatively you can wait for
    the entire series of films, screening soon on the BBC. Or indeed, true fans
    like The Hound here can order them on one single DVD, with a few extras,
    direct from Aardman Animation.

    So what's the verdict? - How do the dynamic duo shape up? - Bloody
    brilliantly, of course. 'Soccamatic' is a hoot, beautifully presented and
    edited as one would expect and there's some fascinating detail in the
    grass of the local park and the background detail. Wallace and Gromit
    have lost none of their appeal. They're a plasticene Eric and Ernie, or
    Vic and Bob, you just can't fail to love 'em still. It's been too long waiting
    for their return, it really has. Roll on the feature film, we say!


    Basil Brush - still the nation's favourite... Sites for sore eyes...

    Uh-oh spaghetti-oh! - This month's news was a tad late, wasn't it? Well don't
    blame The Hound, blame Basil Brush. Mr Brush has proven to be an
    exceptionally popular boy recently. Since his new series 'Foxed' started on
    the BBC we've been inundated with orders for Talking Basil Toys over on our
    webstore ToonsToGo. The demand has kept yours truly totally tied up
    processing orders and taking delivery of a shed-load of new stock for
    the last month - finding time to update Toonhound has proven nigh-on
    impossible. It's funny, really. There was that big campaign last month
    denouncing the new-look fox as being 'fat' and 'too camp'. Anyone would
    have been forgiven for thinking he was flop. But that's simply not so.
    Our toys have flown out of the door since his return. It's extraordinary.
    Which just goes to show how much tattle the national press pushes...

       Till next time!

Pooch again!    



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