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A yellow collectible fellow is he - SpongeBob's at ToonsToGo!



                                                                   December 2003
Extra! Extra! - Read all the Toon News!
Wrapping up ...
Happy holidays one and all!....  More...

    Not so Dandy
    DC Thomson to drop top title...?

    Oh Fungus, where art thou?

    Bogeyman slips from schedules...

    Park's plasticene pals

    'Were-Rabbit' folk revealed...?

    Valiant voices

    CGI cast announced...

    Bob builds a BAFTA!

    And Hilltop comes top too...

    Perky passes on

    Voice of tv piggy dies...

     Roger Mainwood - The Main Man! THE MAIN MAN
The Hound talks about 'Meg and Mog', 'Metalheads'
and more with Roger Mainwood!...


   Not so Dandy

    Some depressing chatter being picked up on Al's Comics UK forum over
    the last month. The word amongst the wise is that publishers DC Thomson
    may be on the verge ditching 'The Dandy' from their weekly comics run and
    leaving 'The Beano' standing alone as their sole surviving weekly comic.
    Certainly, these look like being 'desperate' times for this top title...

       Dan getting 'desperate'...

    'The Dandy' and 'The Beano' have been with us for the best part of
    a century now, and they've become as institutionally British as fish'n'chips
    and tea and crumpet. 'Keep a Dandy handy' is the phrase we know and love,
    and many of us have over the years. But there aren't so many doing that now.
    Circulation guestimates seem to be varying widely, from 20,000+ to 100,000+
    copies being sold a week, but everyone confirms that sales have certainly
    been in decline of late.

    Funnily enough, up until recently there was talk of 'The Dandy' being revamped
    and reinvigorated for 2004, but everything seems to have turned heels over
    noggin in the last few weeks. Now the title appears to have been dropped
    from publishing lists from February 2004 and its future hangs in the balance.
    Will it resort to ongoing reprints and reruns, a la Fleetway and their 'Buster'
    comic back in the 1990s? Will it be merged with its more popular brother
    'The Beano'? Or will Desperate Dan, Corky The Cat and the gang simply be
    filed away in that great comic character library in the sky...?

    Who knows. But anywhichway you care to look at it this is a desperately sad
    turn of events for comics fans, especially given the recent success stories
    of 'Striker 3D' and 'Lucky Bag Comics', both of whom have carved themselves
    a tidy niche in the comics world and given much hope that a comics
    revival could be getting underway at last. Certainly too, the artistic talent is
    still out there and chomping at the bit for work.

    The regulars at Al's excellent comics site are united in their efforts to
    try and persuade DC Thomson away from such a dramatic act, but in
    the end, only bumper sales count in a business environment and 'The
    Dandy' simply isn't getting them - or at least, getting enough to satisfy
    the demands of its Dundee publisher. Mind you, a spin through recent
    editions of the title points to a rather jaded comic. 'The Dandy' has simply
    lost its joie de vivre. It feels like many of the strips are only there to fill the
    pages, or aid in the promotion of the latest toy or confectionery line.
    (Witness six pages devoted to a rotten 'Beanotown Racing' promotion
    recently). At least the likes of 'Lucky Bag' wears its heart on its sleeve
    - or rather - it's sweets in its bag...

    And here's one final thought to get you quaking in your quilts this Christmas:
    If 'The Dandy' is teetering like this, how soon before 'The Beano' slips to
    edge of a similar comics crevasse...?

    The Hound will be keeping his fingers crossed for the comic. And so should
    you. Keep a Dandy handy now - before it's too late!

The Dandy  ComicsUK

   Oh Fungus, where art thou...?

    Now here's a curious omission from the UK's Christmas broadcast
    schedules: 'Fungus The Bogeyman'.

     CGI Fungus - coming soon?
    First published back in 1977, Raymond Briggs' 'Fungus The Bogeyman'
    introduced us to the foul festering race of Bogeymen who dwelt below
    ground, and whose daily return included making visits above ground to
    spook us surface dwellers with their noxious gases and emissions.
    Many folks have found inspiration from the character - amongst them
    Sir Paul McCartney, who penned the song 'Bogey Music' in Fungus'
    honour. And there there's Yours Truly who, of course, features Fungus
    in his Gentleman Briggs mini site section here at Toonhound.

    Way back in May 2002, the BBC put to bed years of speculation when
    they announced their plans to film a TV mini-series of the book. At the time,
    a broadcast slot of January 2003 was penciled in, but alas, this date
    came and went without a hint of slime or bogey.

    Step forward to April this year, and here again were the BBC heralding
    the imminent arrival of their said production. As The Hound reported,
    Fungus was to be brought us to us in glorious green CGI, and directed by
    Stuart Orme via a script from Mark Haddon, author of much lauded and
    admired novel 'The Curious Incident Of The Dog in The Night-Time'. The
    production was to star Fay Ripley and Martin Clunes as the father and
    mother of a young girl who gets trapped with Fungus in Bogeydom.
    The BBC told us the show would be ready for broadcast for some time
    in the autumn, and Abbey Home Media were crowing about having
    picked up the home video rights for the UK and Australia - which was 
    all jolly exciting...

    ...Until, autumn came, and poor Fungus didn't show up on the schedules.
    But we did get another teaser from the  BBC press office. In their Autumn
    press pack they posted a synopsis of the series, confirmation of the star
    names involved and the star writer adapting the work, and - most
    importantly - a new broadcast schedule. Now we were told the mini-series
    would reach our screens over Christmas 2003, with lots of slimey shenanigans
    scheduled around the broadcast between 29th December and 4th January.
    What's more, a quick check on various video sites confirmed and indeed,
    still confirm, a December 27th home video/DVD release too...

    ...Which brings us up to Christmas 2003 itself, and the holiday schedules
    now set in stone for all to view in the festive edition of 'Radio Times'.
    But - woe! - there's no hint of Fungus within its many pages. Not a single
    ball of bogey, nor dribble of slime. Fungus, it seems, has slid out of the
    schedules back down his bogeyhole. So when can we expect the not-so-jolly
    green giant to finally appear on our screens, and what about that there
    video release?

    Well, the series has certainly been filmed. Or at least, principal photography
    has been completed. But a little bird tells me that the production has had
    a bit of bumpy ride, technically speaking. A CGI Fungus was always going
    to be a complex undertaking, and those technicalities, coupled with a
    somewhat restrictive budget have, I hear, set the project on the back foot
    again. That means no Fungus for Christmas, on TV or video. From what I've
    been able to ascertain the bogeyman is still coming - of that there's no doubt.
    But I've a sneaky suspicion he won't be with us until later next year now. In
    fact, you can already see him being lined up for Easter, provided there are
    no more slime-ups with the production schedule - Let's keep our filthy
    fingers crossed for this much-delayed venture...

Gentleman Briggs


   Park's plasticene pals

    Oh, what a treat for toon fans last night. Alan Yentob's documentary slot
    on BBC1, 'Imagine', this week looked at the history of animation and the
    shift from drawn animation to computer work. 'From Pencils To Pixels'
    featured clips and interviews with numerous professionals, from John
    Lasseter to Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, and clips from 'Spirited Away',
    'Back In Action', 'Toy Story', 'Gertie The Dinosaur', 'Little Nemo In Slumberland'
    and many more, and it was a most intelligent and informative production...

    But best of all for us News Hounds, tucked away within its fifty fab minutes
    was an interview with Nick Park in which he discussed the development of his
    plasticene pals Wallace and Gromit and his appreciation for Miyazaki. And there
    on the desk beside him we were given tantalizing glimpses of characters evidently
    from 'Park's new Wallace and Gromit film'...

      'Imagine' - talking to Nick Park...    'Imagine' - shots of some 'Were-Rabbit' folks?

    Are Lady Tottington or Victor Quartermaine here? - No names were given,
    and interestingly, no 'Were-Rabbit' title named, but Yentob's voiceover told
    us he was speaking with Nick a day before filming was to begin on the
    movie. And Park himself teased us with the notion of it being an old-fashioned     Hollywood horror film set in the wilds of north-west England. Something
    we already knew, of course, but - oh - how frighteningly fun it all sounds.
    Maybe these were merely background characters, or mock-ups, or
    prototypes. Who knows. It's still cracking stuff!...


   Valiant voices

    Chocks away, everyone! - Vanguard Animation have at last officially
    announced the lineup of voices for their CGI feature 'Valiant'. The film
    focuses on the exploits of a lowly wood pigeon with aspirations to join
    the ranks of the elite Royal Air Force Homing Pigeon Service during

    As mooted just over a year ago Ewan McGregor will be voicing the title
    character, with Sir Ben Kingsley portraying falcon leader General Keyserlingk.
   Jim Broadbent, Rupert Everett, Hugh Laurie, John Hurt and Ricky Gervais
   are also on board.

   The film itself is now in production at a new CG studio complex at Ealing,
   with Gary Chapman directing, and John H Williams of 'Shrek' fame producing.
   They are now shepherding a crew of 95 through the production process,
   with an eye on completion some time around December 2004...

Vanguard PR


   Bob builds a BAFTA!

    Well now, Sunday night (30th November) was most definitely a night
    to remember for Bob The Builder because - at last - after several attempts,
    the jolly Christmas special 'Bob The Builder: A Christmas To Remember'
    picked up a Children's BAFTA mask for Best Animation.

     Remember Bob?

    Bob's win came at the expense of Toonhound fave, 'Bounty Hamster', and
    even more a surprise, beat Cosgrove Hall's 'Albie' too. Maybe that one already
    had enough trophies to be getting on with? But what the heck, 'A Christmas
    To Remember' is very touching, and if you can ignore the associated hype
    you'll find a top-quality production there - well done, Bob, HIT and HOT

    And well done Wales too. Or rather, well done the Welsh animation
    industry, because Cardiff's Siriol Productions picked up the Best Pre-School
    Animation BAFTA for 'Hilltop Hospital' and S4C guru Christopher Grace
    was presented with a special award for his contribution to children's
    programming over the last thirty years.

    Siriol's win stopped Collingwood O'Hare's from collecting three shiny
    awards in a row. It was Siriol's third BAFTA, coming some 16 years
    after their first award for 'SuperTed' and eleven years after their Cymru
    BAFTA win for 'Under Milk Wood'. Tony Collingwood lost out with his
    second nomination too, for his writing achievement on 'Yoko! Jakamoko!
    Toto!'. This time, knights-in-armour spoof 'Sir Gadabout' won the vote.
    Still, it was rather smart him getting a nomination alongside three
    live-action series...

    The Welsh animation industry must be jubilant right now, with this year's
    wins following last year's triumph for 'Sir Gawain And The Green Knight'
    (Best Animation 2003) - hoo boy-o!...



    Perky passes on

     Sad to hear about the death of Michael John last week. For years, Michael
     was the voice of Perky Pig - or if you like, one half of 'Pinky & Perky' the
     all-singing, all-dancing, all-fooling pigs brought to life by
Jan and Vlasta Dalibor
     back in the 1950s. Michael's partner-in-squeaky-pitched vocals was Charles 
     Young and together they sang their way through who-knows-how-many shows
     and associated recordings. By the way, Perky was the blue one, just in case
     you can't tell them apart!...

      Farewell Perky!

     'Pinky & Perky' knocked those 'Pop Idol' wannabees into a cocked hat,
     with hit after hit - both in the singles and album charts. They released some
     16 albums in all. And those original shows were very funny - surprisingly so
     still today. The Just Group had plans to bring them back a couple of years
     ago (May 2000, July 2001), but their misguided effort never made it to
     our screens...


   Wrapping up...   (23.12.03)

    Well, Christmas is upon us and it's time for Yours Truly to take a well-earned
    break. Updates and additions will be slow over the festive period, but never
    fear, normal service will resume from January 5th (or at least, as near to
    normal as things ever get round here!).

    The TV schedules are, as always, stuffed-to-busting with top toons to catch
    up with, so you can expect a steady trickle of new additions in the Toonhound
    indexes upon The Hound's return.

    Have a great Christmas and New Year one and all. And here's to a
    toon-tastic 2004...

    Till next time!

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

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