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                                                                     December 2004
Extra! Extra! - Read all the Toon News!
Snotty New Year!
The Hound watches Xmas from his bed...   More...

   Snap, Crackle and Boing
Zebadee in your cereal...

    Striker goes to War

Striker 3D bring us War of the Worlds...

    Gather round Five
Old Bear on tv again...


Roger Moore's toon debut...

    No brush off...

Brush Head's a winner too...

      news archive »      interviews »      Peppa Pig Q&A »

   Snap, Crackle and Boing

    T'was the night before Christmas, and all through the house not a creature
    was stirring... apart from some hungry chap partaking of a very noisy bowl
    of breakfast cereal:

      Magic Roundabout pencil toppers in boxes of  Rice Krispies

    Yep, now you can treat yourself to a serving of Snap, Crackle and Pop with
    added "Boing!", because Kellogg's have just begun to roll out their "Magic
    Roundabout" movie promotion in the UK. Round and About Pencil Toppers
    are being given away in special packs of their cereal, and you can collect
    Zebadee, Brian, Dougal, Dylan, Ermintrude and - interestingly - Zeebad.
    That's particularly interesting because, up until recently, the evil character
    in the movie was being referred to as Zeebadee.

    Anyway, away from cereal boxes, there's been one final piece of casting news
    this week. Comedian-turned-actor Lee Evans has been unveiled as the voice
    behind the Train character in the production that's positively groaning with its
    Big Name cast.

    The long-awaited CGI "Magic Roundabout" film from the bolexbrothers and
    company arrives early next year, and two trailers are online and viewable here.
    It's going to be a tough sell for folks abroad, unfamiliar with the series. And
    even here in the UK, we have a generation who are only peripherally familiar
    with Dougal and the gang. So what does one make of the trailerrs?
    Well, it's difficult to decipher. The promotion has been skewed towards quick
    cuts, anarchic action and throwaway lines on a crazy runaway train ride - which
    is about as far removed from the gentle wit of the Magic Garden as one
    can possibly get. But you've got gotta do what you've gotta do to get your
    audience enthused, and bottoms on cinema seats when the movie opens.
    The finished film could be a wholly different prospect...
    Keep your springs crossed, folks!

 Magic trailers


   Striker goes to War

    No one would have believed, in the last days of 2004, that Pete Nash and his
    talented team at Striker 3D were putting together an incredible plan to bring
    Jeff Wayne's classic musical version of "War of the Worlds" in to a full-blown
    3D comic format...  

    Oh, okay. I'm no Wells, but you get the gist. This is exciting news, indeed.
    And it's no fantasy. Whilst Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg are running
    around America, creating their modern movie retelling of this classic novel,
    the folks at Striker Comic have this week announced that they have snatched
    the exclusive worldwide comic and graphic novel rights to Jeff Wayne's
    musical version of the story, set firmly and faithfully in the Victorian era.
    The plan is to launch the comic at the same time as the alternative Dreamworks
    movie hits our cinema screens. It will also tie in with Sony's plans to launch a
    remastered version of the Wayne album next Summer, as well as a proposed
    stage tour.

    The story will be serialised in a series of monthly comics, produced in fabulous
    full 3D like Striker, and it will initially stay very close to the Jeff Wayne version.
    But we're being promised that it will be "dramatic, atmospheric and genuinely
    terrifying" and that there will be at least one slight story variation which will focus
    on Victorian London's newly-built Underground system, where hundreds of
    people have escaped to seek refuge from the black gas.

    The schedule will see that first story  taking around 6 issues to tell. This will then
    be compiled into a graphic novel release around Christmas 2005, whilst the comic
    continues off into new dramatic directions. And outside of the UK, Dark Horse
    Entertainment have first option on the title for the USA...

    And this all means that, comics fans in the UK have some major news to
    celebrate. If everything comes together as planned and the title is a hit, we
    could see Striker 3D Plc turning into a serious comics player, which would be
    just reward indeed for all of the energy and effort Mr Nash and his team have
    put into their vision over the last 18 months..

    Keep watching the skies!

                                                                        More:  Striker 3D


   Gather round Five

    Just a quick snippet to remind everyone that Optomen/Ealing's charming,
    and much-loved little series Old Bear and Friends is back on our screens.
    The series is screening daily at the admittedly ungodly hour of 6.30am,
    from December 6th till Christmas, as part of Five's "Milkshake" morning
    programing schedule. Hmm. One for the video, probably.

     Old Bear - now on Five

    "Old Bear and Friends" was faithfully adapted from the books by Jane Hissey,
    and the 39 episodes and one-off Christmas special collected many plaudits,
    including a 1993 BAFTA.
I still get regular emails about the series, which
    suggests that many folks will be pleased to see
the toys get a dusting
    down again...



    Now pay attention, producer Olly Smith has been in touch this week with
    some top toon news. It concerns his new short toon, a former Bond star,
    a silly title-twist and, hopefully, lots of fundraising for UNICEF.

    The Fly Who Loved Me

    "The Fly who loved me" features Sir Roger Moore is his animated debut.
    It's been written and produced by Olly and directed by his good pal Dan
    Chambers (of Adrenalini's fame). This one's all for charity, folks, so the film
    is tied in with UNICEF's online shop and also to Sir Roger Moore’s website
    Sir Roger and UNICEF being very much intertwined. Here's the publicity blurb:

     "With his reindeer laid up on the sofa, Father Christmas despairs
      of getting presents to the children this year…. until a determined
      fly from his bin insists on taking over the job.

     To spread a jolly jolt of Christmas cheer, The Fly Who Loved Me
     will be available to watch free of charge on the web at
     www.flywholovedme.com from 9am on Friday 10th December..."

   Sounds intriguing, eh? Well, further to that initial spiel, Olly has passed on lots
   more exclusive info for us direct from the edit suite. So here's the history behind
   this new toon project:

    "Dan Chambers made a short cartoon called "Roger Moore's Requiem"
     and released it onto the internet. Roger was sent the animation
     through a series of serendipitous quirks and loved it. He emailed Dan
     thanking him for the left-field tribute, and as a huge fan of Roger's,
     I seized the opportunity to collaborate with Dan on our first project
     with Roger: "Sir Roger Moore: Spaceman". We made the pilot for this
     10x3 minutes series with the support and kind help of Gareth Owen
     (Roger's PA). Dan and I flew out to Monte Carlo feeling suitably
     thrilled and awestruck to record the voice track with Roger and
     found him to be a magnificent voice artist and a very warm person.
     We both came away inspired by Roger's dedicated work for UNICEF
     and resolved there and then that we wanted to support his work in
     any way that we could. I burrowed into my office and scribbled a
     script for the new cartoon...

     The idea for this cartoon is to entertain a worldwide audience and
     offer a link back to UNICEF's website where they can find info on
     UNICEF and purchase Christmas cards, wrapping paper, e-cards
     and a whole host of festive paraphernalia...

     We had great fun recording the voice track with veteran sound
     engineer David Thomas who has done an outstanding job for the
     project. Roger gave a magnificent performance as Father Christmas
     and I performed opposite him as the Fly. A total joy. Dan then set
     to work working day and night in addition to his day job at Tiger
     Aspect to direct and animate the cartoon. My thanks to him are
     just huge, he's an amazing director with a unique vision, a hilarious
     friend and a privilege to work with. We were helped by Dan's work
     buddies Tim Fehrenbach and Sam Wooldridge who assisted with the
     animation. We're very nearly finished the final edit so I'll have to
     dash to ring Dan and see where we're at..."

    Phew-ee! - So there you have it. All the info on "The Fly Who Loved Me",
    straight from the horse's mouth. Or should that be "fly's"? Anyway, drop
    everything and drop by their web site on the 10th. Dan's solo toons are
    regularly fabulous, so Dan + Olly could be an even bigger delight.
    And hey, it's all for charity folks!

                                                                  More: The Fly Who Loved Me


   No brush off...

   Hmm. Methinks I was a tad biased the other day, with my report on this
   year's children's BAFTAs. In my enthusiasm to applaud the success of
   "Yoko! Jakamoko! Toto!" I somewhat overlooked the night's other animated
   triumph, in the form of "Brush Head".

   At first glance, "Brush Head" appears to be an All-American toon creation
   from Disney. It's the reason I overlooked its nomination, at least. But although
   the copyright credits The Walt Disney Company, the toon itself is developed,
   written and produced right here in the UK, courtesy of Dandy Productions,
   in conjunction with the UK Disney Channel. And it's arch, anarchic fun starring
   an edgy big-haired title character in various fast-paced teasers.

   Dandy Productions are Andy Williams and Dan Berlinka. They're a fairly
   new outfit who previously brought us the exploits of the dinosaur dude Raoul.
   Their web site fills you in on their background, and furnishes us with a handful
   of "Brush Head" mini toons to view online. So if, like me, you haven't caught
   this top toon you might want to mosey on over there, because their creation
   deserves every inch of its BAFTA success, and Dandy Productions look
   like being the next Bright Things of Brit Animation!...

Dandy Productions


   Snotty New Year!  

    Some Christmas this has been.
The only thing Santa brought me this year
    was a rotten bout of flu. I was forced to my bed on Christmas Day, and
    haven't properly emerged even now, on New Year's Eve...

    Oh well. Being in bed has at least given me the chance to catch up on some
    Christmas tv. Although there wasn't that much to get excited about this year.
    "Jack Frost" was an interesting new toon on BBC1. It was adapted from the
    picture book by David Melling, and it looked great, with its goblin characters 
    stepping off the page and into a painterly 3D world. But the story was slighter
    than slight, and the finished tale didn't quite come together in the way that I
    hoped. But full marks go to the animation, and the music - especially Kate
    Rasby's song contribution. I think it might grow on me with a repeat visit.

    ITV presented us with Michael Foreman's tale of "The Little Reindeer". This
    is a popular book, and Foreman a very popular and familar artist. The toon did
    exactly what it said on the tin, but somehow seemed to be very short on
    atmosphere. I wasn't moved, at least. Although I couldn't really move far,
    being wrapped up in my duvet and all...

    Leave it to the true blue classics to stirr the Christmas cockles. Channel 4
    brought us "The Snowman" and "The Bear" again, and both underlined their
    superiority over the schedules. If anything, I've fallen even more for "The Bear"
    which has a darker, more complex appeal than its predecessor and a
    splendid intensity to stirr my flu-filled head. "The Snowman" will always
    have its place, of course, but "The Bear" is a wilder ride.

    And now 2005 is on our doorstep. As soon as I'm well enough to let the
    year in I'll take a look at what's in store for us. Right now, though, I'm not
    looking beyond my next Lemsip...

    Till next time!    

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

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