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

     Pigeons, Vegetables, Flowerpots and a
     Hellishly-exciting offer this month...

 Valiant Flies!

 New cgi film for Ealing...

 Tortoise Vs Vegetables

 Dreamworks schedule

 Blaise-ingly Fast

 Modesty film shot in

 Comforting News

 Park's Creatures set
 for new series...

 Lucky Chap
 Mark Bennington bags
 a new comics gig...

 Top Of The Pots
 Bill & Ben are chart-bound...

 Hell, It's back

 Mr Hell returns, thanks
 to you...

 Artwork From Hell

 Mr Hell is coming to

Amazing Adrenalini Brothers

Linking you to a Poxing Pesky Q&A...

The Hound talks to
David Hodgson
and Nick Ostler
of The POX...


 Sites For Sore Eyes
 Signing off with an  apology...


       Valiant flies!

      Sound the trumpets! - Bang the drums! - The big toon news from Cannes
      this year was the announcement of an all-new, big-budget cgi feature winging
      its way to the uk. Now there's a headline we've been waiting to post!

      Valiant is to be a $40m animated production from newly-launched sales
      outfit Odyssey Entertainment. Am I right in thinking this will be the first
      such film made over here? - Wow! - There's been lots of talk about such a
      thing, and several big projects are on the cusp of production, but this one
      seems to have scraped past the post ahead of them...

      Apparently, Valiant tells the tale of a 'lowly wood pigeon who aspires to
      the prestigious position of a messenger homing pigeon in the Royal Air
      Force in WW2'.
The movie is to be directed by Rob Letterman (Los Cringos)
      from a script by George Webster. John Williams, the US producer of Shrek
      and Jackie Chan film The Tuxedo, is producing Valiant with Barnaby Thompson,
      co-head of Fragile Films, one of the owners of Ealing Studios. The project is
      actually reuniting Williams with Odyssey's MD Ralph Kamp. The duo were
      previously entwined on Spiceworld, An Ideal Husband and Kevin And Perry
      Go Large...

      Well, I must say, It all sounds very exciting, and The Hound here is keen to
      champion each and every animated British feature going into production, but
      there is just a teeny-tiny niggle here with this one. I mean, try as I might, I just
      can't shift the taste of chicken from my tongue. Chicken Run, that is, with
      Fowler, Hut 17 and all that 'back in my RAF days...' banter. Oh, and there's
      the Aardman pigeon in the current PG-Tips ads...

        Aardman's PG-Tips advert

      ...But what am I thinking? I'm sure the talent involved in Valiant are all-too
      aware of that fact and have distanced their project from any such similar
      scenarios. Actually, the whole RAF/dogfighting/war business lends itself
      to some fabulous designs and concepts - there could be a real edge to
      proceedings here. I wonder what level they're pitching at with this? - It'll be
      fascinating to see quite what is intended...

      Whatever the similarities or differences or whatever, this is a grand
      announcement, made all the more grander by the fact that the film is to
      be made at a brand new animation/digital facility being constructed at
      that olde stalwart Ealing Studios. And it's on the fast track, too, with
      production expected to start this Summer, ready for a Summer 2004
      delivery. Valiant does indeed sound like a Valiant production, and you
      can bet there'll be plenty more news on this one here at Toonhound
      right the way through production...

     Wallace & Gromit  Tortoise Vs Vegetable

      Speaking of animated features, The Hound was spinning through the
      regular weekly round-up of movie toon news from Oliver Moreaux's excellent
      Animated Movies, when he spied an interesting change in schedules.
      According to Dreamworks' latest release plan, Aardman Animation's
      hiccuping Tortoise And The Hare film (or Tortoise Vs Hare, depending on
      where you read about it) has officially slipped back a year to a 2005 release
      date. A real shame, then, but no surprise really, when one recalls the script
      problems which put the production into hiatus for a wee while. Let's hope
      it bounces back bigger and better than before....

      ...In the mean time, let's put a positive spin on things. What has been
      overlooked is the fact that this schedule now confirms, officially, that the
      next Aardman feature we'll see on the big screen will be unequivocally,
      absoloutely that grand-spanking Wallace & Gromit movie we've all been
      so desperate for. That's right, Wallace & Gromit: The Great Vegetable Plot
      is scheduled for a release in November 2004. Okay, okay, so that's still two
      whole years away, but it's pretty darned exciting nonetheless. Or maybe
      I'm just too keen for my own good - *sigh* - Still, Tortoise or Vegetable
      either one will get The Hound's whistle well and truly whetted...

      Stay tooned to all things Aardman-esque at their official site:

      Modesty Blaise - the original movie...   Blaise-ingly fast...

From movie toons to toon movies now, with some most interesting news
     about the live-action Modesty Blaise film, as featured in our last edition.
     Modesty's creator Peter O'Donnell has recently been in touch with a
     Modesty chatgroup reporting on the feature. It seems that rights owners
     Miramax have rushed through the production of My Name Is Modesty.
     And when I say 'rushed', I mean 'rushed'. Director Scott Spiegel apparently
     shot the thing in Bucharest in just over three weeks - Yikes, now
     that's a mighty-fast turnaround!

     Apparently, the film is intended as an 'introduction' to the Modesty character,
     and stars British actress Alexandra Staden. Now Peter is very careful not
     to slate or, indeed, even properly comment on the project, he just passes
     on the facts of the case for visitors to digest. But it doesn't sound
     terribly good, does it? Indeed, as others have mentioned, it sounds awfully
     familiar to the Roger Corman/Fantastic Four fiasco a while back. In that
     particular instance Mr Corman hastily shot and canned a low budget
     adaptation of FF so as to fulfill contractual obligations. And now here's
     the mighty Miramax, coming to the end of their period of ownership of
     a potentially hot property, seemingly struggling to pin down the creation -
     so they shoehorn a 'film' through the production mill, maybe to maintain
     control, maybe just to rough-up the playing field for anyone following on.
     Who knows? - Maybe this could be a low-shooting hit, scoring off a hip
     and happening audience. Just like Peter, I'll leave you to ponder and
     pontificate that one for yourself...

     Check out more on Modesty's world over on the Toonhound
     Modesty Blaise page...

     And here's the Yahoo! Group address - the first place to go to catch
     up with Blaise talkback, chatter and discussion:


     The original Creature Comforts...  Comforting News...

     Back to Bristol we go, and here's more very exciting news from Aardman - just
     breaking as this page was posted. Apparently ITV1 have commissioned a
     brand-new series of Nick Park's Academy Award winning Creature Comforts.
     The new £3m series will consist of 13 x 10min episodes shot in the same
     fashion as the fabulous original - taking vox pops on the street and editing
     them to work with animated animals in domestic situations. The feeling
     from both Mr Park and ITV was that there was was still plenty of territory
     to explore with the concept. And I guess you'd have to agree with that...

     Gosh, it just shows you the longevity of this fine creation, and it's another
     bold step into animated territories by the folk at ITV, coming on the back of
     Mr Bean - The Animated Series and 2DTV. Interesting, though, that in
     spite of the 'boldness' on display again - a big commission from a
     broadcaster not usually connected to the genre - it's still a very 'safe' move.
     There must be umpteen animation studios out there with a yearning to
     see their wholly original projects getting a break, only to be silenced by
     what is, in reality, a very bankable, risk-free commission again....

     Still, I'll be glued to my screen when this one arrives, and I'm sure you
     will be too. And that absolutely justifies the commission doesn't it?

     Nick Park's page in the Toon Gods section is screaming out for
     an update, but here it is anyway...


    Memory Banks - from Whizzer & Chips   Lucky chap...
     Comic artist Mark Bennington got in touch with site recently. Mark is a
     former Fleetway artist, employed during the 'latter years' of the Fleetway
     fun comics, from 1985 onwards.
His creative talents brought us Blub The
     Sub, The Savers, Lucy Lastic, Stupid Street, Judge Dudd, Captain Crucial
     and most famously, Whizzer And Chips star Memory Banks. He also wrote
     scripts for Buster, X-Ray Specs, Chalky and more. That's quite a CV, eh?
     - Well, there's a Toonhound Q&A page with Mark coming very soon. But in
     the mean time, he's been tipping me off about a very 'lucky' gig he's just got,
     working on a brand new Fleetway-style comic for Lucky Bags...

     Lucky Bag Comic is due out late June - around the 29th. According to
     Mark it's a 32-page monthly in the Buster vein, and comes as a complete
     package with those Lucky Bags of sweets and goodies you see in
     Woolworths. You know the ones - big A4-size bags of  sugar-filled delights.
     So, okay, this one is aimed primarily at younger kids, but it's an interesting
     tie-in, none the less, and it will be intriguing to see how much room the
     artists are given to manouevre and how much of 'corporate' thing the comic
     actually is. Certainly, I'll be buying the first few issues (I've got a famous
     sweet tooth)...

     Of course, comics fans are desperate for a return to the Fleetway heyday
     of several weekly titles filled with glorious original strips but the world has just
     evolved too far for this to ever be a reality again. It boils down to two words:
     expense and perception. The former refers to the cost of commissioning
     original strip art nowadays. It's bloody expensive. As for the latter, well, the
     perception of the market has changed enormously, at least in investors'
     eyes anyway. The perception is that today's kids are only interested
     in 'lifestyle' magazines, or tie-in publications. Of course, the counter
     argument is that if you don't give them the choice they won't know any
     better. Personally, I think backers are maybe being too cautious. If
     someone was to invest properly in the genre, who knows, the gamble
     could reap big rewards. That's why Lucky Bags Comic could prove very
     interesting. It could nudge the doors of speculation open a wee bit, or it
     could bolt them closed once and for all for another generation. We'll find
     out at the end of June, won't we...?

     In the mean time, you can revel in the delights of the past
     over on Fleetway St....

    Bill & Ben - Flobbadancing up the charts...  Top Of The Pots...

      Meanwhile, over in the potting shed much 'flobbadobbing' is afoot with the
      evergreen Bill & Ben. The new Cosgrove Hall version of Bill & Ben has been
      cracking; faithful to its source material, but fresh and fun for a new young
      audience. And the Beeb obviously think so too, because, following in the
      steel-toed bootsteps of Bob The Builder, The Tweenies and the Lampies,
      the Flowerpot Men are set to release their first single this month.

        Talking Bill...    Talking Ben...

      'Flobbadance' is out very soon, with talk of an album to follow. Although
      one would have thought all that 'flobbadobbing' will have worn a bit thin
      after one track, let along a dozen more. Anyway, Bill & Ben's chart drive
      is just the tip of a wave of new merchandise hitting stores this Summer,
      building on last year's successes. We've stocked up with 'talking' Bill
      & Ben toys over at ToonsToGo and - shameless plugs aside - I have to
      say they're cracking collectibles, full of gabble and chatter...


      'And it came to pass...'  HELL - it's back...

      'And it came to pass that a petition will be signed by numerous individuals,
      and that which we know as the broadcasting authorities will heed its words....'

      Remember that online Mr Hell petition I mentioned last edition? - You know,
      the one begging broadcasters in the UK to bring back Mr Hell and screen
      the first series properly... Well would you believe it but over 400 people have
      signed the thing now, and I'll be darned if someone in authority hasn't read
      it and rescinded. That's right folks, Mr Hell is back on our screens...

      ...In Australia! - God-darn it, at least someone's listened. I'm very happy
      for our boomerang buddies, I truly am. It seems broadcasters do listen
      sometimes. But only Southern Hemisphere ones - *sigh*

      Keep those signatures coming folks:


      Aaagh! - It's The Mr Hell Show  Artwork From HELL... 

      Erm, actually, whilst we're plugging a terrific little horny show, can we
      sound off just one more time? - You see, we've got a bit of a scoop
      going on courtesy of Mr Hell and ToonsToGo. Not only are we the first online
      store to stock those fab Animated Mr Bean Teddy toys, we're also lining
      up the hottest - nay, hell-est - collectibles this side of the Underworld.
      I mean, how does an original piece of Aaagh! - It's The Mr Hell Show artwork
      grab you...?

      That's right, yours truly has entered into a devilish pact with Mr Hell's
      producers Peafur Productions and Sextant Entertainment. We'll soon
      be stocking one-off pieces of 100% red-hot original series artwork, from
      the pen of designer Barry Baker - Buy a dozen! - Get 'em framed! -
      Wow your friends! - And you can 'wow' folk even more when we reveal
      the knockdown price of these originals: Not £200, not £100, nay - not
      even £50. These highly desirable babies are being put up for sale for
      a cool £19.90 each!

     Aaagh! - It's The Mr Hell Show is of course, a computer-based production.
     But even a computer needs feeding original art once in a while. And that's
     where the likes of Mr Baker step in. Hundreds - nay - thousands, even, of his
     drawings were eaten by the animation machines during production of the show.
     These babies are plain pencil sketches on animation paper, pre-scanning,
     pre-colouring, pre-everything - the raw food for the whirring, munching,
     animation machines to sup upon. Naked art, ready to frame for your wall
     or line your litter tray. But hey, think about it. £19.90 buys you a flaming-hot
     collectible piece of animation history to cherish - who says we don't look
     after you here...?

     If you're interested in purchasing one of these delectable collectibles,
     drop us a line. And if you're not. Hell, we'll send Serge The Seal Of Death
     round to 'encourage' you...



    Oh my, I've been naughty recently haven't I? - Firstly, this little toon news
    section sort of 'skipped' a month, didn't it. That's simply down to time, and
    a lack of it. I've been buried with work both here and on ToonsToGo. That
    also accounts for the fact that my promised pages on Wallace & Gromit
    for the Movie Toon Guide also didn't materialize - but they are on their
    way (honest)...

    Some of you may recall the two oft-promised interviews with Peter Maddocks
    and Colin Whittock, also supposed to be coming your way soon. So where
    are these two dynamic Q&As? - Erm, on their way, like I said. At least,
    I've been promised that they are. The thing is, I never push when it comes
    to these things. Interviewees can take as long as they want to reply, so they
    can slot me in around their vastly more-important schedules. Heck, the
    last thing I want to be is an irritant. The consequence of that approach is
    that things can take time to come together. But - hey - that really isn't a
    problem. The wait is invariably worth it's - um - 'weight' in gold. I'm just
    thrilled to have been granted a window of discussion with these people.
    And judging by the feedback, so are you. So like I say, they're coming,
    maybe, possibly, soon - 'ish'...

    But the Q&A with artist Mark Bennington is completed, sealed, finished
    and ready to post on the site. In fact, it's the next thing for me to do.
    So why am I sitting here typing this drivel? - Hmm - I'll sign off now...

    Till next time!

Pooch again!    




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