Some desperately sad news for comics fans here with
the announcement of
the death of artist/cartoonist/illustrator Robert Nixon.
Robert was a DC Thomson
and Fleetway stalwart who started work on The Beano
in 1964. Over the next
thirty eight years he shifted between the two rival
publishers bringing us the delights
of numerous original and ghosted strips like Roger The
Dodger, Little Plum,
Lord Snooty, Grandpa, and Esky Mo for DC Thomson, Frankie
Stein, Kid Kong,
Gums, Soggy The Sea Monster,
The Buytonic Boy, Hire A Horror,
Stage School, Lolly Pop, Ivor
Lott & Tony Broke, and Elephant On
The Run for Fleetway. His personal favourite was Ivy The
Terrible a strip he created
for The Beano and was still regularly drawing up to his death
on October 22nd,
but he also held a particular soft spot for Frankie and Kid
You could rave on about Robert's genius all day. The
beautiful cartoon lines
of his figures, whole bodied figures too, with a strong line
of action through each.
And the shading and detail of the panels. It was
his toons that truly put the fun
in Monster Fun - his munsters were lovable, never horrible.
His colour skills were
equally admirable. His covers for the Monster
Fun and Shiver & Shake
were simply fabulous. Comics fans point to his work on King
Arthur And His
Frights Of The Round Table - a lesser-known strip from Whoopee!
- into which
he poured an extraordinary amount of work and detail.
Looking back through my comic collection for reference I
came across Robert's
Frankie Stein strip from Shiver & Shake #51 (23rd
Feb 1974). In it, Frankie
gulps down a bottle of 'cissy potion' and finds himself
starring in a wild version
of Swan Lake, together with a gaggle of equally 'cissified'
animals from the
local zoo. The final page is nothing short of breathtaking,
it's focused around
one giant central panel and it's absoloutely stuffed with
and uproar as Frankie and the animals bring the theatre
to the ground - hippos,
a camel, an orangutan, an elephant, giraffe, a python, kangaroo,
lion, and tiger.
Each animal and person is meticulously finished, and each
has his or her own
specific line of action and interaction with the audience
Truly, it's a work of art.
Robert is survived by his wife and four children. He was
also a lifelong friend
of another multitalented toon star Trevor
Metcalfe, whom he met when they
both applied for work at a lithographic company back in the
Trevor too must be devastated by the loss of his pal.
Robert Nixon is a name to place in the cartoon firmament
alongside the late
great genius of Ken Reid, Dudley Watkins, and Reg Parlett.
He may no longer
be with us but his work will shine brightly like a guiding
star for comics fans
around the world...
Many examples of Robert's IPC work can be seen on Fleetway
The Guardian has published a full obituary here:
Well it's official. Awards Season is now well and truly
open with the recent
announcement of Nominees for the Children's BAFTA Awards.
it's going to be a right royal toon battle this time around.
The Children's BAFTAs
have been running since 1995, parallel to the main Movie/TV/Technical
Gongs are given out to Best Children's Drama Series,
Feature Film, TV
Presenter and more, including the two main categories
of concern for toon fans:
Animation and Pre-School Animation. This year sees prim
and proper Angelina
taking on The Cramp Twins, and Bob, Andy and Eddy go head-to-head.
are the toon Nominees...
Ginger Gibbons, Roger McIntosh
Grand Slamm Children's Films/CiTV
BOOK BOX: ANIMATED TALES OF THE WORLD - BAD BABY AMY
Edwina Von Stiegler, Anthony Lucus 3D
Film Production for SBS on
behalf of Children's Television Trust International/C4
THE CRAMP TWINS
Peter Völkle, Carole Weitzman, Brian Wood
THE ENGLISH PROGRAMME: SIR GAWAIN & THE GREEN KNIGHT
David Rane, Tim Fernée Moving Still Productions
in ass. with S4C/C4
Jean Flynn, Tim Harper
Cosgrove Hall Films/CBBC
BOB THE BUILDER
Jackie Cockle, Sarah Ball
EDDY & THE BEAR
Chris O'Hare, Tony Collingwood
Collingwood O'Hare Entertainment/CiTV
Robin Lyons, Les Orton
So who is your money on? - In the
Animation category, The Hound smells a win
The series is very sweet, with BAFTA favourite Dame Judi Dench
in the cast, and it's a delightfully unsophisticated
series. No flashy techniques,
just simple stories, simply told. The Cramp Twins is
fab too, with some terrific
animation design - all those 'floating' movement lines
- but it's 'American' tone
may hamstring its success. Will the board lean
forwards to The Cramps, or
stay reserved and pick the Ballerina...?
As for the Preschool section. Gosh, this one is
really up for grabs. All four
Nominees come from first class animation stables,
and all four are equally
award-worthy. Collingwood O'Hare picked this award
up last year for Animal
I have suspicion they may be unlucky this time around. Incredibly,
Bob The Builder hasn't won this award before
even though it's had prior nominations.
Maybe this is Bob's year. Or should your money
be on Cosgrove Hall's fab
Andy Pandy update? It's certainly a great show, and
Cosgrove have yet to pick
up a Preschool BAFTA - a real surprise, given their
top status in the industry.
And then there's Siriol, another iconic animation studio
who've carved a niche for
themselves over the years. Nope. It's just too
close to call here...
full list of nominees in all categories. It's great to see Pepper's
Ghost getting a nomination in the Interactive category.
Their Tiny Planets concept
has been beautifully executed. It would be dandy to
see them rewarded. The
International Series category finds Angela Anaconda
thumbing her nose at the
Cubix robots. And Mike and Sully and the staff of Monsters,
Inc are in with a
shout for Best Feature Film. Who will the winners and
losers be? - We'll find out
Now this one's crept up on us with little fanfare.
What we have here is a
brand new animated feature courtesy of S4C Wales.
It's called Otherworld
and it's an adaptation of the legends of The Mabinogi.
The film is a 2D feature
with live-action wraparounds, and a 90 minute
running time. It follows the
adventures of three teenagers, Rhiannon, Lleu
and Dan who one May Eve
stumble across the legendary golden doorway to The
beneath the water off the Welsh Coast. The trio find
back into the incredible medieval world of The
Mabinogi where they must
each sort out their personal conflicts, whilst
endeavoring to survive in a
realm built on conflict, fate and magic...
Otherworld is brought to us by producer Naomi
Jones and director Derek
Hayes of Cartwn Cymru. They previously steered The
Miracle Maker on to
our screens. Once again they worked alongside Christmas
Films in Moscow
and MPC in London - the latter helping to integrate
various CGI elements
into the traditional animation. The film's voice
talent includes Ioan Gruffudd
(Hornblower), Matthew Rhys, Jenny Livsey, Daniel
Evans, Phillip Madoc,
Rhys Ifans and Paul McGann...
Y Mabinogi, as it's known in Welsh, in only getting
a limited theatrical release.
In the same way that Miracle Maker was marketed
and screened for specific
religious groups, so Otherworld has been scheduled
to screen in specific
Welsh venues - from Aberystwyth to Llanfyllin
between November and
January. S4C's official
site gives you all the screening dates. Like I say,
dates and venues are limited so if you want to
catch this on a big screen
I'd make a beeline for them now. It certainly
looks like an interesting
Check out the official Otherworld site for more:
Ooh-eck. That negative rumble in the rumour mill
about the new Thunderbirds
movie simply refuses to go away. The latest mutterings
have arisen from a brief
article published in a recent edition of SFX magazine.
According to director
Jonathan Frakes, the live-action film will feature
a new - yet-to-be-revealed
Thunderbird vehicle. That's right, a Thunderbird 6.
Mr Frakes appears to make no reference to a certain
previous Thunderbird 6,
the Gypsy Moth plane that stole the title of the
second Thunderbirds film
back in the 1960s. Surely, as the man at the helm,
one would make it a
duty to glean all the information one can about
the series history and
development. It certainly appears to be an incredible
oversight. Still, these
quotes, quips and pieces do have a habit of being
taken out of context.
The Hound here remains positive that common sense
will prevail, all those
will be pushed into the past and a hit film will be born.
And if you believe that, you'll believe that Tracy
Island really exists.
Oh well, maybe the newly-announced
Captain Scarlet feature will fulfill
has been dissecting some interesting news stories recently regarding
a forthcoming animated series from comic Steve
Coogan and his production
company Baby Cow. 'I Am Not An Animal' features a
gang of laboratory animals
in a vivisection lab enjoying a pampered lifestyle
until they are 'liberated' by a
gang on animal rights activists and find themselves
adrift and ill-equipped
in an 'alien' environment. The series has been
scripted by BAFTA-winning
comedy writer Peter Baynham (Alan Partridge, Friday
Night Armistice), with
the animation being helmed by Tim Searle. The series
stars include a horse,
a cat, a dog, a monkey, and a sparrow. Their voices
are to be provided by
Mr Coogan, Julia Davis, Kevin Eldon, Arthur Matthews
and Amelia Bulmore.
The BBC has high hopes for this 'darkly entertaining'
adult series of 6 x 30min
episodes. Trouble is, those pesky antivivisection groups don't
appear to share
The Beeb's enthusiasm. Indeed the British Union for
the Abolition of Vivisection
(BUAV) have been particularly vocal in their opposition
to the proposed series,
concerned that vivisection is not a suitable subject
for comedy. And of course,
Baby Cow have calmly requested that they and the rest
of the naysayers out
there simply wait and see before they judge the production...
Personally, The Hound reckons all this debate
is misguided. What's frustrates
more is the BBC's decision to throw money and weight
behind this show when
they patently couldn't give a damn about animation.
Look at the way they
handled Aaagh! - It's The Mr Hell Show, Rex The Runt
and even crossover
series like The Big Knights. Yes, it's a familiar war-cry
from yours-truly, but
it's true. Even The Simpsons, those BBC ratings-toppers,
get pulled and pushed
from pillar to post with episodes repeated ad-inifinitum,
dropped at the last minute,
and new episodes slipped into schedules with ne'er
a warning. The Hound reckons
those BBC execs could do with a bit of dissection themselves
to establish just
how the commissioning and scheduling process works...
Which all rather skirts the issue that 'I Am Not
An Animal' certainly sounds like
something to shout about. Heck, any animated series
commission of this
sort should be trumpeted. And be honest, this
is Mr Alan Partridge's company
we're talking about, working with talent from
Big Train and more - it could be
very funny. Let's wish Baby Cow well with their
production. 'I Am Not An
Animal' will start messing with our minds some time
Keep up to date with the lab experiments:
Here's some interesting news. Remember that BBC
animated special Robbie
The Reindeer In Hooves Of Fire? - You know, the
one lots of reindeer competing
in a grand race, and competing for the affection
of a little doe deer - the one
with the voices of Robbie Williams, Jane Horrocks,
Steve Coogan, Ricky
Tomlinson and even daring Des Lynham on the soundtrack.
Well, they're not
there any more in the American version!
Robbie gets its tv premiere Over The Pond on December
13th, courtesy of
CBS, almost two years after its first UK screening.
And in that intervening
time the Powers That Be have decided to replace
the stereotypical Brit voices
with some names more familiar to Americans. Hence
we have Hugh Grant
and Britney Spears in the lead roles now, with
Ben Stiller, James Woods
and Jim Belushi in support. Which all makes sense,
from a broadcasting
point of view, but it might be raising an eyebrow-or-two
over at Pathe
Films. How so? - Well Pathe are currently knee-deep
in sugarlumps and
flowers putting together the new CGI Magic Roundabout
movie (see last
And who is the star voice of Dougal in that film? - Why, it's that
British crooner Robbie Williams. Robbie's nudged
the charts a few times
over in the states, but he's yet to turn into
the kind of Pop God he's become
everywhere else in the world. The video for his
new single is very America
-friendly and should certainly help raise his
profile higher - but will the same
fate befall his Magic role, or is it all just
swings and roundabouts (groan)...?
Just a little space left to nudge you towards
those very-well publicized
new Wallace & Gromit short films, now up and
running at various sites on the
Great WWW. For those of you living on another
planet for the last month,
Aardman Animation's plasticene stars have at last returned
for our viewing
please - albeit in limited form. In all 10 new
Cracking Contraption shorts
have been created showcasing a variety of stupendously-daft
created by that ever-keen inventor Wallace. The
films are a taster of sorts,
to keep our appetites whetted prior to completion
of the first feature-length
Wallace and Gromit adventure in 2004. You can
view the first, 'Soccamatic'
for free right
now here. All the films can also be viewed online, for a small
subscription fee, courtesy of AtomFilms.
Alternatively you can wait for
the entire series of films, screening soon on
the BBC. Or indeed, true fans
like The Hound here can order them on one single
DVD, with a few extras,
direct from Aardman
So what's the verdict? - How do the dynamic duo
shape up? - Bloody
brilliantly, of course. 'Soccamatic' is a hoot,
beautifully presented and
edited as one would expect and there's some fascinating
detail in the
grass of the local park and the background detail.
Wallace and Gromit
have lost none of their appeal. They're a plasticene
Eric and Ernie, or
Vic and Bob, you just can't fail to love 'em still.
It's been too long waiting
for their return, it really has. Roll on the feature
film, we say!