Uh-oh. Time to start clearing some wall space,
because The Animation Art
Gallery have just added another fine selection of prints to their
Mr Men & Little Miss art programme...
There are eight new Book Scenes in the range,
and they're taken from the
original maker pen illustrations, as created
by the late Roger Hargreaves.
These are the toons that folks of a certain
age know and love so much,
just as they featured in those first Thurman
books, and the gallery
have been working closely with rights holders
Chorion, the publisher
FL!P Editions Ltd and, of course, Adam Hargreaves
in order to choose
what they think are the best pieces. Each
edition features a double-page
spread, with the text on one side and the appropriate illustration
And they're fab. And Mr Toonhound wants them
all. But he's going to
have to choose between Mr Tickle, Mr Lazy, Mr Funny, Mr
Mr Noisy as well as Little Miss Trouble, Little
Miss Naughty, and Little
Miss Giggles. Plus there are the previous editions of
Mr Messy, Mr Greedy,
Mr Bump, Mr Strong and Mr Silly. Each piece measures
20"x12" and is
restricted to just 200 editions.
no! - According to the Manchester
Evening News, stop-motion
experts HOT Animation look like they're about
to be scaled down
significantly, or worse, closed down altogether...
is simply terrible news, and it couldn't have come at a worse time.
The UK animation scene is currently in turmoil,
with the ongoing battles
twixt OfCom and the fast food industry, and
the all-round scaling back
of children's tv broadcasting leaving many
an independent in a perilous
position. The thing is, HOT Animation aren't small-fry.
They're one of
the biggest and brightest UK stars. This is, after
all, the team who've
brought us the joys of "Pingu",
Rubbadubbers" and most notably,
"Bob the Builder".
Yes, Bob the
Builder. Let's focus on that. Bob's series and films
are just the best. Not just for the here and now,
but for all-time. Each
story is so beautifully presented and immaculately
there'll be folks out there who may dismiss the
character as a one-hit wonder,
they overdosed on the hit single and its accompanying
press a few years
back and they think Bob had his five-minutes
of fame and Jumped the
Shark, so to speak. But as anyone with a young
family can tell you,
Bob's still building a brilliant series. He's continued to
make new friends
and employ new vehicles. He's moved to Sunflower
Valley and alongside
these ten minute endeavours he's built up the most
BAFTA-winning movie collection. Bob's tie-in
films are completely
beguiling. They really are miniature movies.
The design, the lighting, the
costumes and props, the little character traits
revealed in the exquisite
interplay - oh - it's all so very special indeed.
These aren't just throwaway
DVD releases. They're timeless films
which will play forever.
So you see, that MEN news article is a calamity.
How sad for the
oh-so-talented team who pour their heart into
these films. The Animation
Rumour Mill suggests that Bob is about to
be farmed off to a Far East
firm, where he'll be transformed into a computerised
right, folks, a CGI Bob the Builder may be
coming our way.
Can you believe it?
The Hound is struggling to find the right
words here, but the point is,
the continuing popularity of Bob the Builder isn't
just down to the writing
and stories, or in the clever way that HIT
have marketed the characters to
the world. It's so much more involved. Someone
obviously thinks you
can just pick up a scenario and drop it into the
lap of a cut-price studio.
But you can't. HOT Animation are Bob's beating
heart. They've built his
success, frame by painstaking frame. They've put together
team of craftsmen and women to do it, and most
made a whole lot of money for their parent company
in the process.
But evidently, that's not enough. In today's
Preschool Business World
characters are simply commodities. There are
always ranks of
investors seeking bigger and better returns. They
are akin to hungry
chicks in a nest, with their mouths ever open
for more, more, more
and faced against that kind of financial opposition,
a team of
bespoke craftsmen like the folks at HOT don't
really stand much
of a chance...
Thomas the beloved Tank Engine is to get a
new voice, we're
Yes, apparently, former Bond star Pierce Brosnan
has just agreed to
narrate a new batch of remote controlled films
and series starring our
favourite Sodor engine, for HIT
Entertainment. Brosnan follows in the
droll footsteps of Ringo Starr and Michael
Angelis, here in the UK.
They gave such a distinct tone to Rev Awdry's
chuffing stories. Some
folks found them grating, but The Hound reckons
they were wonderfully
distinct. It will be fascinating to see -
or rather, to hear - what Mr Brosnan
does with the role.
We'll hear Pierce first on "Thomas and Friends:
The Great Discovery",
a film special which comes to DVD in autumn
2008. Two more
specials and three new series of adventures
are also in the
you sitting comfortably? - Then we can open the gate to a
wonderfully quirky new series of stories from Monster
"Fluffy Gardens" has been created, written
and directed by Jason
Tammemagi whose name you might well recognise from
Roobarb and Custard
Too. Jason mentioned his fluffy new project when we
talked a wee
while back. But he failed to mention just how fabulous
this new toon series was going to be...
"Fluffy Gardens" introduces us to a host
of soft and silly animals.
There's Paolo the clever cat, Mavis the pony who's
quite injury prone,
Floella the partially-sighted fruitbat, Colleen
the stargazing cow,
and so many more. Each animal has his or her very
own story told
with great skill by Michael Maloney. His voicework
here is superb.
And the simple animation is a joy. Indeed, "Fluffy
back to the little worlds of Roger Hargreaves. There's
a dash of
the Mr Men
in there, and Timbuctoo. You can even hear it in
that parping theme tune. But it's not a copy. These
characters stand on their own two feet. They're
cosy and quirky
and destined for greatness.
The show's already airing in Ireland on RTE, and
in Australia on ABC.
Here in the UK it will air on Cartoon Network's new Cartoonito
from next month. Meanwhile, you can catch up with
the animals online
on their official site. And better yet, you can view
an entire episode online
for yourself, right now, so you can see exactly what
The Hound is raving about!...
Pat's about to get a brand new delivery round, thanks to the
folks at Entertainment
Rights. His next series is going to see him promoted
from the gentle vale of Greendale to the hustle
and bustle of a big town.
"Postman Pat: Special Delivery Service"
starts on BBC2 next year and
is set to feature a host of new characters, new
vehicles, and some revved
It's an obvious progression for our favourite Postman,
after having spent
so much time midst the drystone walls of Greendale. But
going to a bustling market town, rather than a full-on
big city? Pat's
laid-back whistling charm has always been at the
heart of the show.
We certainly don't want to see him stressed out
by the rigours of his
new environment. The Hound would suggest that Pincaster
favoured new location. It's the town at the far
end of the Greendale Light Railway,
from whence hail Ajay Bains and family...
Pat started delivering those Greendale letters in
1980, and in 2003 his
round got bigger and brighter in a revamped new
series. His progression
mirrors that of his big tv rival Bob the Builder, who's
been given regular
new assignments, and has recently been undertaking
a big new housing
scheme in Project:
Build It. And it's great to see these top toon stars
staying ahead of the game...
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...