Designer, author and all-round top toon talent
Curtis Jobling is
currently putting the finishing touches to
"Frankenstein's Cat", a
new 30 x11mins series that's all set to hit the
BBC this Autumn.
The patchwork moggy in question here is known as
Nine, and the
series follows his antics and adventures with
a girl called Lottie.
As voiced by Celebrity comedian Joe Pasquale,
Nine has the
unenviable bad habit of coming apart at the
seems, usually at
the most inopportune times...
As part of the buildup to the series launch,
Curtis has been busy
preparing a series of 9 (or should that be
"Nine"?) limited edition
giclee prints for folks to purchase and drool
over, and he's just
posted the first bits of preparatory
art on his
fab little blog. Each
piece is centered around a favourite episode
title, with Nine and
Lottie and their munster friends and foes.
And my, they're
shaping up very well indeed...
And whilst we're referencing Mr Jobling, it's
great to see another
of his projects, "Bob the Builder"
finally getting a proper DVD
the Builder - Series 1
was released a couple
of weeks ago, and will hopefully usher in a complete
run the show.
That's something us completists have been clamouring
we've had to make do with no end of hatcheted compilations,
So Dan Dare is in
the news again this week. It appears that Richard
Comics are set to publish a new monthly comic
series, written by Garth Ennis ("Preacher",
"Hitman" etc) and drawn
by Gary Erskine, and it's said to be just
the forerunner to a big new
revamping/relaunching for the heroic space Colonel.
Mr Branson is
something of a Dare fan, we're told, with several
original pieces of Dare
artwork on show in his Virgin Atlantic lounges.
What's more, a live-action
film adaptation is in the works as you
read this, with Virgin working
closely with CAA in the States to package
and promote the proposed
movie franchise to Hollywood...
But even though this is all exciting stuff, it's
a little hard to get too
worked up. That's 'cos poor Dan has seemingly "returned"
over the years. Latterly, we've had a
90's comics reimagining from Grant
Morrison and the short-lived CGI
series, plus all those ongoing
announcements concerning a Dan Dare theme park
proposal. It leaves
one wondering why it is that none of these
happenings have quite caught on with the wider
public. So what's
changed now. Why is this new Virgin push going
to succeed when
so many others have fallen short?
You see, there's an ongoing problem here.
For folks of a certain
age (older than The Hound, thank you) Dan's
arrival on the 50s comics
scene was akin to a sci-fi explosion in their
young lives. Bang! - There
he was - a pioneering new hero, traversing
the spaceways of the future
in glorious technicolour panels... Frank Hampson's
strips were, and
still are, magnificent works of art to drool over.
Most of the folks
keeping Dan alive hail from that original era.
Branson too, counts
himself as a paid-up member of the original
Dare fan club. But the fact
is these folks are clinging to the coat-tails of
their comics nostalgia.
Dan Dare was a hero for a particular moment in
our post-war history.
Only, the world has moved on. There are new heroes
for us to embrace.
Elaborate sci-fi tales and sophisticated science-fantasy
now fill our cinema screens. Today's generation
of kids have their
own new brooding comic heroes; their own X-box
and PlayStation stars
to oggle at. Dan Dare today has lost his relevance.
Even the name is
somewhat clunky. It harkens back to a past
world of intrepid comics
heroes which today's audience neither recognises,
nor - and it's
painful to have to say this - appreciates.
So Dan Dare is returning again? - Well, let's
hope this time they can
seize the imagination of the wider public.
Certainly, Garth Ennis is a good
choice of writer for the new comics. Let's hope
he can put a spin on the
concept to make Dare relevant once more. And not
only relevant, but
desirable, so the calling for an all-new Dare
becomes a clamour. It's a
tough ask. But we'll see how things are shaping
up come November,
when the title launches...
Look out, folks. There are unseen dangers
lurking in the depths of
morning cereal bowl. There
are sugar-frosted smiles, and fast food
freaks down there, just waiting to reel in the
Yes, the perils of cartoon promotions and
tie-ins are back on the
menu, thanks to this
latest Which? report. Only, do we really need
another organisation or body to jump on this runaway
When The Hound was still a young pup he was
surrounded by the
likes of Klondike Pete, Tony the Tiger, Honey
Monster and the
Treborland gang. They were jumping up and down
on his television,
and grinning in the pages of his weekly comics,
and all of them
were pestering him to purchase and devour
their sweet delights.
But you know, there was there was an Evil Villain
ready to thwart these Super Sugary Heroes
at every turn.
And that was my Mother.
Nowadays, Mums and Dads appear to be complicit
bodies and organisations demanding change.
There's no doubt
that the word "no" doesn't appear
to mean what it used to, when
parents are faced by cartoon smiles and fun
in every aisle of their
local supermarket. Maybe they should just
try a little harder to
rebuttal, rather than taking the softer option
of banning all things
for everyone. Yes, this sugarcoated confectionery
is bad for you.
Yes, it's encouraging an awful lot of childhood
obesity here in the
UK and indeed, around the world and some reining
in is most
certainly required. But even so, thanks to
a good firm "NO" from
my Mum, and Dad, and a bit of proper food
particular Hound didn't do so bad...
...Which leads us neatly into a bit more toon
food news, regarding
the chap who seems to be jumping all over
the sweet, sweet heart of
this most topical of debates. You see, Aardman
Animation have just
announced that they're teaming up with celebrity
Oliver to bring us a toon series about his
youthful cheffy exploits
with a group of happy-go-lucky pals. No one's
"Little J" yet, but with
exposure like this, and such a topical
theme, it's surely won't be long until Mr
Oliver's topping the
teatime schedules and helping to promote his very
of tasty low-sugar treats to the same tykes
he's been trying
to protect. That is, of course, if there are
any tv slots left in which
to broadcast his new toon. After all, it's
this selfsame junk food
advertising ban that's playing a major part
in the demise of the
kids tv schedules here in the UK...
Just for you...
Just because it's Friday...
Just because it's there...
Here's a lovely little trailer-come-promo
for Jason Tammemagi
and Monster Animation's delightful new series,
And if that's got you all fluffy and excited,
then make sure you tune
in to Cartoonito in the UK, where the show's
currently airing thrice
daily. What's more, the episode "Tooty the
Elephant" has just been
selected for inclusion in this year's Prix
Danube - which is a jolly
prestigious nomination, so it is. "Fluffy
Gardens" is a delight from
start to finish and it deserves all the praise
it can get its soft little paws upon...
Random House have just launched a rather jolly
budding graphic novelists. If you've got the
inspiration, they want
you to create a single-page tale to titilate
their panel of judges, and
they've got a £1000 top prize on offer.
More importantly, the winner
gets to see their creation printed across
a full page of "The Observer"
The judges - including the likes of Nick Hornby,
and Paul Gravett of Comica - are looking for
a self-contained tale,
so there's no point submitting a sample from
your 200-page uberwork.
They want just one page. And if you win, you'll
no doubt be buying lots
of copies of "The Observer" on the
14th October, 'cos that's the
day they'll be publishing the winning entry
in all its glory. As for
the prize-giving itself, that takes placeat
the Comica Festival at
London's ICA on the 20th October.
You'll find more info on the rules and prizes
and whatnot, on the Random
House web pages. And you've got until Monday 3rd Sept.
to complete and submit your one-page masterpiece!...
The reach and range of this place never ceases
to amaze. In the last
few years there's been a veritable explosion
of new folks entering the
realms of the web with their own self-created
and maintained sites
and blogs and info pages, and almost every
time The Hound logs on
it seems that someone else has popped up online,
waving their flag
and sharing a wealth of wonder about themselves,
their work and their
Want some examples? - Well, one of the more
recent has been the
official web site for Curtis Jobling, erstwhile
designer of "Bob the Builder"
and creator of the soon-to-be-huge "Frankenstein's
Cat". Curtis has
jolly informative blog for a wee while, but now he's
branched out into a
fully-fledged web site all about his creative
Then there's Laura Howell, a rather talented
lady who's recently
turned her talents to "The Beano".
Her web site
has been growing
nicely all year and is an excellent showcase for
her work. Laura's
a star in the making methinks...
And right over the other side of the great
comics spectrum we
have Mr Chris Weston. Chris is something of
a Comics God, really.
His work for the Big Comics Boys - Marvel
DC, 2000ad and almost
everything inbetween continues to make us lesser
with delight and envy. Chris not only has
his own web
site, but he
also has a
very fine blog, keeping us all smack-bang up to date
with his day-to-day endeavours...
Meanwhile Jason Tammemagi, the friendly fellow
bringing "Fluffy Gardens" to life,
has been maintaining a
suitably fluffy blog
in the run up to the series' launch on Cartoonito (it's on at 6.45am,
9.30am and 6.45pm, so set your video, Freeview
box or DVD!)...
How ironic that, as these talented folks pour
their online prescence, so Big Business seems
to be floundering.
There are far toom many companies out there,
sinking big bucks into
bland, corporate spaces. Take Cosgrove Hall. Now
here's a big name
company with a wealth of wonderous productions
to their name.
For months now, we've been promised a shiny
new company web
site "coming soon!" Only, the
finally appeared doesn't
really do justice to the studio at all. Sure, it
teases us with its delights,
but its content is - well - rather weedy
right now. Of course, it's early
days with this one; the site has only recently
gone live. But if it were
me, I'd have made sure all the series detail, programme
and background wonders were correct and present
from the reboot
date. As it stands, despite the gee-whizz whistles
and bells, there's
a rather corporate feel about the place, as if
the site is talking down
to its visitors. It's such a contrast to the
sites and blogs identified
earlier in this commentary.
Folks, it's the personal touch that grabs
the visitor. It's why the web
can be so completely addictive as you hop
around, peeking through
all those little windows into the lives of
your favourite artist and creators
and seeing what makes them tick. And I'd like
to think Toonhound is
run like that too...