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       May 2006
 
 Extra! Extra! - Read all the Toon News!


    Writing for Animation
 
  Alan Gilbey's masterclass...  

    Rogue Game
 
  Rogue Trooper is a blast...  

    A history book

   The history of Halas & Batchelor...

   A timely release
    Wind in the Willows on DVD...


   Lights! Camera! Info!
   Toonhound keeps on growing...   more »
 

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   Writing for Animation  (25.05.06)


    Has the year turned already? - It seems only yesterday I was giving
    Alan Gilbey's mini-masterclass a plug. But here we are, twelve months
    on and Alan is all set to return with his very special three-day Summer
    School for budding animation writers, 26th-28th July.

    For those of you who don't know, Alan Gilbey is an award-winning
    writer and friend of Toonhound. I'll let the press blurb tell you more:

    "Alan is a screenwriter, show developer and cartoonist,
     who for nine years was one half of Peafur Productions,
     possibly the most successful animation writing partnership
     in Britain. Projects he scripted have won many awards,
     including two Baftas. He is currently script consultant for
     Channel Fourís Animator In Residence and Mesh schemes..."


    And that's just the half of it. Take a look at his colourful web site and
    you'll unearth his current duties revamping "Pinky & Perky", trivia games,
    handy downloads for writers and more.

    Anyway, last year, Alan started a popular short course on the subject
    of animation writing, at the Bristol School of Media, Art & Design.
    Places were tight then, and they're tight this year too - there are only
    10 available - but if you care to part with your hard-earned cash, you'll
    find yourself enrolled in a very stimulating event. Over the three days,
    Alan takes his students through the creation of an animation script,
    investigating the storytelling, plots and plotting, through group activities,
    silly games and even watching the occasional cartoon.

    The Hound received some very positive feedback from folks who went
    last year, so the course comes highly-reccomended. And what's more,
    those of you on a tight budget may well be entitled to a tidy discount on the
    course fees. Take a look at the course page for all the info. And book your
    place soon!

                                       More:
Writing for Animation  Alan Gilbey

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   Rogue game  (22.05.06)


    I've just been giving my keyboard a serious pounding with the new
    game (or "nu" game, even) from Rebellion and Eidos. Rogue Trooper
    is adapted from the classic Dave Gibbons creation from "2000ad" starring
    the last surviving GI - "Genetic Infantryman" - of Nu Earth. And it's a
    blue bio-chipped blast.

     Rogue Trooper - available now!

    Our Trooper and his pals, Bagman, Gunnar and Helm, stalk some pretty
    grim environments, generating chaos everywhichway. It's rather atmospheric
    too, with some great sound fx whumping through my PC speakers. Fans of
    the strip should get quite a thrill from the cut scenes, and stylings, and clearly
    a lot of care has gone into the design. Okay, so the game isn't particularly
    groundbreaking, it's just a third-person shoot-em-up and it's fairly short too,
    as games go - but it's a marked improved on the underwhelming
    "Dredd Vs Death" that we were saddled with a few years ago, and
    will hopefully lead to a succession of ever-better games from the
    "2000ad" stable...

    Of course, staring at a blue bio-chipped butt may not be your "thing".
    So how about Lara Croft? As most of the world knows, she's just leapt
    back on to our gamestations in Tomb Raider: Legend, to remind us
    just how a third-person game should be done...

                                                        More: Eidos Interactive

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   A history book (19.05.06)

    Due for publication in June Halas and Batchelor Cartoons: an Animated
    History looks like it might be the definitive guide to this vital and extraordinary
    British studio. It's being written by Vivien Halas and Paul Wells, with contributions
    from Richard Holliss, Jim Walker, Giannalberto Bendazzi and John Canemaker,
    and there's even a foreword from Nick Park.

      "Halas and Batchelor: an Animated History" - available via Amazon.co.uk

    The book promises to explore the studio's art and legacy in depth, which
    makes it a must-have for animation historians, students and fans. Halas
    and Batchelor were at the forefront of our animation industry for so very long.
    Tony Guy, Bob Godfrey,
Arthur Humberston, Harold Whitaker, Nick Spargo,
    Digby Turpin,
Roger Mainwood, Tony White, Ginger Gibbons - the folks
    employed by the studio over the years read like a "who's who" of the
    British animation industry. Indeed, for a considerable period in the 1940s
    50s, and early 60s Halas and Batchelor almost was the industry....

   "Halas and Batchelor Cartoons: an Animated History" runs to 240 pages,
    and it's being published by Southbank Publishing, on or around 22nd June.

                                                           More: Halas and Batchelor

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   A timely release  (14.05.06)


    Here in north-east Scotland we've had a very late Spring. But at last
    the trees have bloomed and they're beginning to shed great pink and white
    tears that carpet the parks. Sticky catkins cling to your shoes, and
    great green leaf buds are bursting forth from every branch...

    It's all rather poetic, actually, and leads us in to a rather timely new release
    from the folks at Fremantle Entertainment, because they've just presented
    us with a very desirable - and similarly overdue - boxset of discs starring
    Mole, Ratty, Badger and the ubiquitous Toad in Cosgrove Halll's "Wind in
    the Willows".

      Wind in the Willows: The Four Seasons - available now!

    Wind in the Willows: The Four Seasons is a splendid release, with
    some top seasonal episodes and attractive menu screens. There are
    discs for Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter and the selected episodes
    certainly capture something of the mood of each season. This really
    is a timeless series. Ian Carmichael's glorious narration leads us through
    the fields and hedgerows to the riverbank and beyond, into a series of
    meandering stories, cosy tales, and seasonal hijinx punctuated by Toad
    and his flamboyant antics and mishaps, or the scandalous behaviour of
    those wiley weasels. Has there been a better adaptation?

    No doubt there'll still be naysayers out there, bemoaing the lack of
    a proper series release here in the UK (Series one and two have been
    available in the States for a year). They'll bemoan the lack of extras
    on this set, and the fact that these same compilations were previously
    available on VHS. But The Hound will let any complaints glide by, like
    those golden days on the river - it's just such a pleasure to get this
    lauded series on a UK disc, some way, some how...

    This year marks Cosgrove Hall's 30th anniversary in the business, and to
    celebrate, Fremantle have a top slate of titles lined up for release - though
    they're keeping details under wraps at the moment, as a birthday surprise.
    The Hound is hoping dearly that some of the earlier series get a look in
    at last. Maybe even those Stop Frame productions, Sally and Jake,
    and The Magic Ball. Oh, and how about The Talking Parcel, or those
    not so-Creepy Crawlies?

    Well, whilst we dream to see such shows, let's not forget that two other
    Cosgrove Hall creations have recently snuck onto the market. Alias the Jester
    crashlanded in January, and those
Avenger Penguins roared up in March.
    courtesy of Delta Music. But the Hound simply hasn't the energy to expend
    on that time-twisting star or those diesel-fueled birds. He'd rather kicks his
    heels in a Spring meadow, with his pals from the Riverbank...

    "Flow river flow to new adventure..."

    
                                                                More: Cosgrove Hall

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   Lights! Camera! Info!  
(13.05.06)

    Over the years, Toonhound has grown substantially. It was originally
    a simple cartoon hub, a place for links and site reviews on the web
    in a pre-Google era. Then the index pages expanded. New indexes
    developed, and a clutch of mini-sites appeared and sprawled out
    over one hundred, two hundred, three hundred pages and beyond...

    Nowadays, the emphasis has shifted from links to information. Pages
    have grown to encompass more credits, extra background info, criss
    crossing information and DVD links. And a good many folks tell me
    they are using the site as a cartoon database, in much the same way
    as they use the IMDB, or the BCDB. Which explains why we now
    have the latest addition: Broadcast info. Yep, your truly is currently
    updating all those TvToon pages to include details of series premieres
    and air dates, where ever I have them. It's an anal addition, I know,
    but it's something you folks have specifically requested. Seriously,
    it's been a regular feature in my Inbox, alongside requests for
    multi-region DVD links, where applicable (which is another
    request I'm currently fulfilling for you).

    But - and it's a big "but", I know - the expansion and development of
    the TvToons section is coming at a price, because the comics section
    of the site has been woefully neglected of late. Sadly for comics fans
    (and to a lesser extent, puppet fans) those animated series simply have
    to dominate the site right now. They've always received the bulk of
    Toonhound's traffic, and generated the biggest feedback. But I
    promise, I promise, I promise to start attacking the comics section
    with a vengeance just as soon as I've cleared the bulk of the
    TvToons pages.

    All I can say is "keep the faith". I have a dream in my mind's eye.
    One day, every index here will be as encompassing as the TvToons
    and Movietoons sections. And every page will be as up-to-date and
    informative as the current crop of pages. But it's a hell of a lot of work
    for one hound, tapping away on a lonely keyboard, whilst juggling a
    mortgage, wife, two young Springer Spaniels and a misfiring
    creative career!
         
    Till next time... 

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


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