Like some derring Grand Master at the chess
board, Japan's Studio
Ghibli have made a bold move for the rights
to British author Diana
Wynne Jones' classic kids' novel 'Howl's Moving
Ghibli, of course, are riding high on the phenomenal
success of their latest animated feature 'Spirited
is still breaking records in Japan. And 'Spirited', of
in the footsteps of 'Princess Mononoke' which held
all those records
that the director of 'Howl' is not to be Miyazaki or Takahata,
the two master animators and Studio Ghibli co-founders,
Hosoda, a veteran with rival Toei Animation. Hosoda's
include the popular Digimon franchise. That's because
is Miyazaki's last ever feature; he's now announced
retirement from feature animation...
The Ghibli Studio has an ongoing distribution
deal in the west
with Disney, but theatrical prospects for 'Spirited'
look bleak after
the debacle over 'Mononoke'. Disney had the movie
english using some prominent Holywood talent
Billy Crudup...) but failed to construct the
right kind of promotional
support for the release. As a consequence, the
theatrical feature ever to come from Japan barely
the surface of the US box office. Right now,
there are no plans
to release 'Spirited Away' in american cinemas
- incredible, eh?
Wynne Jones has been picking up a barrow-load
of new sales for
her classic titles on the back of 'Harry Potter'.
Her titles have been
spledidly repackaged with bold, colourful covers
positioning in the major bookstores. 'Howl's
Moving Castle' tells
of a cursed girl called Sophie who must go to
abode for help to remove the spell. There she
Howl's fire demon who may be able to assist
her, only he has
a contract with Howl. If Sophie can break the
can take away Sophie's curse. The book also
has a sequel,
'Castle In The Air'...
So what's the Big Deal about this aquisition?
- Well, think about
it. Ghibli's films have been woefully mis-treated
in western cinemas.
Now they've picked up such a high-profile western
and Britain and the rest of the world will have
to sit up and take
notice. And maybe, even, Disney will have to
re-think their plans
for 'Spirited Away'...
You can get the lowdown on 'Spiried Away' here:
Channel 4's Top 100 Kids' Shows night
hit our screens Bank
Holiday Monday, 27th August and stirred
up an awful lot of
feedback and discussion, as one would
Apparently some 200,000 people voted in
all. It was no surprise
to find that 'The Simpsons' came out on top,
with 'DangerMouse' the
highest-rated Brit show. But how about
a borderline kids' show like
'Dr Who' coming in at number eight, and
the fact that classic
series like 'Stingray', 'Ivor The Engine' and
'Henry's Cat' didn't
even make the list at all?
The evening followed the pattern of previous
Top 100's. There
were a stack of clips cobbled together
with mocking links,
the same glib talking heads and, somewhere
in the middle, a few
golden nuggets for true enthusiasts to
savour. Like Peter Firmin
on camera for the first time in eons,
with the original Bagpuss
figures and set. Like Nick Park enthusing for
Noggin The Nog
and the whole Smallfilms oeuvre. And that fabulous
about Fenella's anti-Semitic spellbook in Chorlton
And the rest of it? - Well, Jamie Theakston
was an odd choice
for presenter and somehow the thing never quite
clicked in the
way that the Graham Norton 100's did. It lacked
that camp, kitsch
enthusiasm. Much was passed-over (We had
just 5 seconds from
Roobarb) and yet again their were just
too many c-list celebrities
talking about material they knew precious little
about - like Ricky
Gervais recalling the olde Pugwash double
The exception was Jill from the Tv Lounge
website. She was
brought on camera to expound her sociopolitcial theories
Bagpuss and such, and she projected herself
very well I thought.
Encouraging to see how you can get noticed
with these here
website thingys after all...
But now to the bad side, and one sequence
really did 'stand out'.
Why oh why did they include that bathtime
scene with Sooty and
Sweep? The offending piece involved Sooty,
Sweep in a hot tub
with a third bear head whilst Mr Theakston
purred about the
subliminal naughtiness apparent in many
kids tv programmes.
Frankly, I'm amazed and apalled that this
was allowed to happen -
seriously, Sooty is an ongong children's
creation still as popular
with 5-10 year olds today as he ever was. What
on earth would
you say to a child who had stayed up late
to watch their favourite
bear on tv? - Don't get me wrong, I love
stuff that offends the morale
majority, but this was just plain crass...
Actually, this highlights what is becoming
problem with this new wave of retro-nostalgia
for kids shows and
cartoons. Bringing back your tea-time
favourites is all well and
good, but do we have to degrade them into
copies of their former selves? - Take
the new-look Pinky & Perky.
The brief clip from what looked like their
oft-heralded new show
appeared to be aimed at knowing, goofy
adults but was really
just plain naff. Talk about wasting the potential
classic characters. Why can't they be
given back to a new generation of kids?
The Beeb have got things right with their fantastic
of 'Noddy' and 'Bill And Ben', courtesy of
Cosgrove Hall and some
careful decision-making. 'Andy Pandy' looks like
it might be adapted
with equal success. Those shows will run and
run for as long as the originals. Please
guys, think about the creation, put something new
into the concept, don't just milk the poor
things dry - you're disfiguring
a magical piece of our childhood - *sigh*
C4 have posted the full 100 here:
And don't forget Jill and Stephen's excellent
enough of all this yaffle. Let's move on to some real
Flags at the ready, and all that.
Winchester Films' new animated
adaptation 'Christmas Carol: The
Movie' gets its World Premiere,
15th September at the Toronto Film
Promotional posters tell us that
this one's 'for everyone who loved
The Snowman', and moves the spotlight
away from the familiar
image of Scrooge by focusing in
on Tiny Tim and the two mice
who lead us through from the live-action
into the animated tale...
The film and the tie-in single from
Kate Winslett (detailed last time)
are launched in the uk at the end of
November. Meanwhile, you
can pick up all the info on this
Brit flick here:
Blimey, it looks like Bob's spending
all his time making records
instead of actually building anything.
Not content with two #1
hits our jolly fixer is trying to
make it a safety-hat trick with
another Christmas release this year.
He's just recorded a new
version of 'Crocodile Rock' , with
Mr Rocketman himself,
'Crocodile' is being produced for
the Xmas special, currently
being animated as you read this.
Apparently Elton steps in
to fill the shoes of Chris Evans'
character Lenny Lazenby
after he loses his voice just before
the big Christmas bash.
Noddy Holder and Alison Steadman
are also being lined up
as guest voice artistes on the show...
Bob's first release 'Can We Fix
It?' proved to be the biggest
selling single of last year.
His version of 'Mambo #5' has just
leapt into the number one slot,
outselling boy band Blue, and
now there are equally high hopes
on him rockin' his way to
a second succesive Christmas #1
too. But he'll have
a fight on his hands with Kate Winslet's
ballad from the
animated 'Christmas Carol:
The Movie' also being tuned for
a big December push (see The
Hound - July edition)
can rock with Bob right now at his official site:
Following the flood of bad publicity about
the stoppage on
Aardman's new feature film, the company
have moved swiftly to
redress the balance by hiring new screenwriters
the project back online again - Great
As you may recall, 'Tortoise And The Hare'
was the second
film to be produced under the deal with
was being directed by Richard Goleszowski
(Rex The Runt),
with Peter Lord producing and Nick Park
a bit further back
as an exec. on the film. Work was halted
in July with the
finger pointed at script problems and
90 crew members
were temporaily laid off...
Now Rob Sprackling and John Smith, 'two
of the UK's hottest
script talents', have been appointed to the
two wrote Hallmark Entertainment's forthcoming
England Manager', for director Steve Barron
Ninja Turtles'). Sprackling also directed
the 1998 short 'The Green
Monkey'. Aardman's spokesman David Rose has
about the duo's talents and how the studio
has been tracking
them for quite some time. They'll be taking
over script duties from
Karey Kirkpatrick and Mark Burton - Karey, of
Aardman's abulous first feature 'Chicken Run'.
All-in-all the hiatus
is expected to last a maximum of 6 months,
with the finished film
on schedule for release in 2003...
So all looks set to end well. And you
know, a hiatus like this is not
uncommon in animation. Look at 'Emperor's New
Groove' for proof
of that: re-made, re-titled, and re-scored. I
feel sorry for the original
scripters, getting all that bad press, but
you know, it probably won't
have been their fault anyway. Often problems
only arise when you
get to the shooting stage, even though that
shooting draft make
be stunning on paper...
It's all been handled so professionally
by the Studio, who saw
sense not to fast-track Nick Park's Wallace
& Gromit movie,
in spite of all those wild rumours...
Most Toonhound regulars know that I've a
soft spot for that
Gentleman Genius author and illustrator
Raymond Briggs -
He of 'Fungus The Bogeyman' and 'The Snowman'
(Hell's bells, there are links to my mini-site
all over the place!)
Anyway, there I was bemoaning the lack
of projects from the
Great Man of late when - lo and behold
- three spanking new
happenings land in my lap at once. Yes,
that's right, three:
First up is Briggs' 'Ug: Boy Genius Of
The Stone Age' a new book
detailing the life of a Stone Age lad
with a curious mind and a head
for invention, which he uses to modify and
improve things around
the family cave. More than anything Ug wants
to re-invent the
horrible stone trousers he has to wear, but
there are a number of
obstacles in the way of his desired garment
goal. It's published
by Jonathan Cape and in shops now....
Also imminent is 'The Adventures Of Bert'.
This is a
collaborative effort between Briggs and
children's author Allan Ahlberg ('Peepo!',
'The Jolly Postman').
Bert is described as being 'a sublimely
comic, hapless and
harmless nincompoop'. Basically he's as
mad as a coot and
turns even the simplest of chores, like
putting on a shirt, in to
a disaster. But somehow Bert's got married
to Mrs Bert,
and somehow they have a Baby Bert. It's
aimed at little kids,
is this one, with simple text and bold
illustration. Readers are
are asked to turn the pages quietly, so
as not to wake Baby
Bert, whilst all the while big Bert somehow
turns the most
innocuous of household happenings into
a series of disasters.
This one's a Viking Children's Book, also
out early September...
Then, in November, we have Briggs' 'Ivor'.
He's an invisible giant
who comes to live with young John and
his family. He's a
mischievous sort, sometimes helpful, often
plain childish and
badly behaved. Finally, John asks his
invisible friend to leave.
And that's when the big man reveals a
'Ivor' looks like being a return to those familiar
Briggs themes of
special childhood friendships, with an injection
of social commentary,
particularly similar to 'The Man' perhaps? -
Also, interestingly, it's
a Channel 4 book release which means it may
be a tie-in to a
tv production? If it is, I haven't heard even
a peep about it, but
you can bet I'll be asking around everywhere
to find out if it is...
eh? - You wait ages for a new project, then three come
along at once. This handsome trio can be ordered
now, via the fine folk at Amazon...
I'll keep you posted about 'Ivor', anyway. Meanwhile
for all other
things Briggsian check out my Gentleman
Briggs pages ...
HOUND: PAST EDITIONS
Now I don't like to brag, as you know, but I couldn't
blowing my own wee trumpet over the most recent
of this here web site. It comes from The
and their Filmunlimited section, who placed this here
review on their front page:
'The depth of information on this regularly updated
to the history of British cartoons is incredible.
about the most important animators, a complete list
animated films, plus all your favourite TV series and
too. And if by any chance you can't find what you want
there are lots of links to other great sites as well...'
What can I say? - A little bit of appreciation
once in a while
works wonders, I tell you. Anyway, The Guardian's
is, of course, stuffed with up-to-date film features
each week at:
And that's quite enough trumpet-blowing for now...
September sees the welcome return of Claire Hamilton
site after a lengthy hiatus, now with lots more
toons, pics and pieces very smartly presented.
Links will be
added to relevant index pages in the fullness of time.
assures me things are more permanent now!
Ben Clarke's KTVA-UK
is also getting better by the month.
It's a great place for pinning down the serious
your favourite toons. No pics, just good solid
detail for those
who need it - like yours truly...
for Toonhound, well, stand by for another exclusive Q&A
coming your way very soon. This time the spotlight
upon British comics genius and former Fleetway
Trevor Metcalfe, the name behind Sweet Tooth,
Ltd, Birdman & Chicken, Ad Lad and a whole
host of strip stars
from Whizzer & Chips, Cor!, Whoopee! and the
rest of those
weeklies. Trevor fills in the detail on those Fleetway
days, and gives us the lowdown on his current projects.
Sweet stuff, eh?
Well here's more: I've several new tvtoons ready
to index, a
number of mini-movie toons all prepped and waiting,
plus a whole
heap of scans lined up for the expansion of Bunty's
- well, I ask you - how many more reasons do you need
bookmark this site?
- Till next time!
& TANGLED HARE - JULY 2001
ROUNDABOUT MOVIE - JUNE 2001
CAROL MOVIE - APRIL
& MARGARET SPECIAL - FEB 2001
HELL SHOW SPECIAL - JAN 2001