Monday, 31 December 2012

Happy 2013

Thanks to everyone's support and interest throughout 2012. Here's to further Blog Posts in the New Year. Stay groovy!

Monday, 24 December 2012

Merry Catmas


Many thanks to all who have followed and commented on my blog throughout 2012. Here's to plenty more in the long run!

Here's wishing you all a Happy New Year. God Bless, and all that jazz =)

Saturday, 22 December 2012

The Willows In Winter (1996)

Even though my heart will always remain true to Cosgrove Hall's adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's timeless Wind in the Willows, William Horwood's sequels should receive equal admiration for capturing the original spirit of Grahame's characters and text. Each little hidden gems in their own way, intertwined with flawless continuity.

In fact, the first sequel penned by Horwoods, The Willows in Winter, was adapted for animation by HIT Entertainment and TVC for Carlton UK, just over a year after they had brought to life their vision of the first original book - and with its beautiful hand-drawn animation and well-chosen cast, it has in itself remained a much-loved favourite to many since.

Featuring the voices of Alan Bennett, Michael Gambon, Michael Palin and the ever-enthusiastic Rik Mayall!


Friday, 21 December 2012

The Raggy Dolls - Christmas and Swans

Yes, even Melvyn Jacobson's most-endering characters celebrate Christmas. However, as The Winter Swan proves, sometimes the best winter-themed episodes don't always have to focus on Christmas... ;-)


Hope your Christmas will be Merry and Bright!

***SORRY! EPS CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE***

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Thursday, 20 December 2012

TUGS - Bigg Freeze

While many loyal fans of TUGS aren't entirely sure of the exact order the 13 episodes were originally broadcast, a few are entitled to agree that this serves as a fitting finale than anything else. The last two words "Goodnight Vienna" comes from a little-known expression meaning, literally, "it's all over."

Confidentially, it's also the name of one of Ringo Starr's solo albums.

So while it's not a Christmas-focused blog post, it's still a treat the whole year round!


Oh, and in case you're wondering, the singer at the very end was Sue of Sue and Sunny fame.

LINKS OF INTEREST:
TUGS on Toonhound
Bigg City Port Fansite
TUGS Audio Productions

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The Story Store - Music and Moonlight

Whenever we watch a Christmas animated special, you may notice that many fall into a similar pattern - that the main character/s either have to save Christmas / Santa or learn that Christmas doesn't come gift-wrapped. Clich├ęd as they may seem, there are plenty that manage to twist either format into a fresh new approach - while others become preachy as preachy can be...

This Christmas Special definitely falls into the "fresh" approach. And it's all thanks to one man.

As Brian Trueman had for many of Cosgrove Hall's shows (and more), Joe Austen was a vital contributor to Storyland Ltd. During his time with the company he had created, written and illustrated just about everything for Storyland; some that sadly did not get enough establishment to be developed further (Bud, Atoz) while those that did became true little gems to those who remember them - these being The Magic House and The Story Store.
The company, in a desperate attempt to regain focus from today's generation, even snapped up the rights for Biker Mice From Mars...but that's another story.

The Story Store focused mainly around George, and his small assistant Pip, as they managed the magical products of the Story Store to their local customers, like a charming old-fashioned corner shop - from the exemplary Granny Clump and her idiotic grandson Sammy, to Victoria Pumpkin the Dancing (and accident-prone) young hippo.
Despite having a 13-episode run in 1995 on the CITV, the charm of Joe's imagination and the craftsmanship of the stop-motion models (by Mackinnon and Saunders, I believe) remains as fresh as ever. A brilliant series that ought to resurface even for a mere DVD release at least.

Even so, Joe got the chance to present a Christmas Special for 2002. While the TV Series had been narrated by the gentle Alan Bennett, Rory Bremner was called upon here when Bennett was taken ill. And thanks to everyone's efforts at Storyland Ltd, it retains all of the magic of the Story Store and more - there is a message somewhere like all Christmas Specials, but it's woven so delicately in this delightful tale that you'd hardly even notice ;-)


LINKS OF INTEREST:


Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Snuffy Smith - It's Better To Give

Even in Hooter Holler, Christmas is as celebrated as anywhere else!
 
Snuffy Smith (and Barney Google) had been adapted for animation and live-action respectively a few times in the past - in the late 1920's by Barney Hellum for F.B.O Pictures, then in the mid 1930's by Charles Screen Gems Studios through Columbia Pictures. But it was Paramount Cartoon Studios in the 1960's where Snuffy and Barney held their ground in the medium.

Part of the King Features Trilogy (one out of three comic strips to be animated, the other two being Krazy Kat and Beetle Bailey), Snuffy Smith ran for 50 episodes and featured the vocal talents of Paul Frees and GeGe Pearson. The entire series can be found in the Advantage Cartoon Mega Pack on DVD if one is fortunate enough to come across it.

But here's a festive episode for y'all t'enjoy. Great Balls o' Fire!



Saturday, 15 December 2012

CITV - No School like the Old Skool

This year has seen a number of anniversaries, achievements and landmarks celebrated - but for us British, this is one celebration to round off 2012!
Children's ITV - once an after-school programme block and now it's own dedicated Digital Channel - is to celebrate its 30th anniversary with a special documentary in January and an entire weekend of classic shows to air. Featuring old friends like Danger Mouse, Count Duckula, The Raggy Dolls, Children's Ward, Fun House, Huxley Pig and plenty more.


TBH, I'd love to see an Old Skool block become a permanent staple in CITV's schedule. As a child of the late 80's myself, so many of its programmes still hold up against all the merchandise-driven, celebrity-hyped madness of today - which while rakes in the quantity are fleeting in quality. Nostalgia is wonderful stuff that should be cherished than cashed-in or thrown out as this intriguing little article might explain.

And earlier this month, we have seen an example of history being remembered when animation veteran Brian Cosgrove was (finally!) awarded his BAFTA Special at the British Academy Children's Awards - which you can view in full coverage here:



So until January rolls in, relive further memories by viewing a wide selection of UK shows from this special - if lengthy! - little playlist =)




LINKS OF INTEREST:

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Walking In The Air Again...

Despite downsizing the amount of animation for children in the last dozen-so years, the only time Channel 4 airs animation that is NOT "the Simpsons" is, naturally, during Christmas - where we're treated with repeated airings of Olive the Other Reindeer, Famous Fred, Little Wolf's Book of Badness and, best of all, The Snowman. Undoubtedly one of Raymond Briggs' most timeless stories brought to animation.

But this year, in honour of its 30th anniversary, Channel 4, with Lupus Films, are treating us with a surprising sequel to the original... "and this time, he's got a new friend..."

The Snowman and the Snowdog!


LINKS OF INTEREST: 

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Christmas Colours


In case you're curious, there's a reason of sorts behind the green patch here:

Many folks may not realise that, once upon a time, Father Christmas's trademark colour used to be Green. It was only when Coca-Cola and others got involved somewhere in the 30's that a marketing plan of the time saw Saint Nick changed to Red instead. So that's my little nod here.

Least that's what I heard anyway. But this web page from the BBC might help explain things more clearly.


PS: only 24 more shopping days 'till Christmas! =P

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Mike Pearse - Early Days at Bash Street

Before the fantastic Football Special (which I may also blog about for the New Year!), Mike Pearse began treading his toes in the Beano by reintroducing the Three Bears. But on a few occasions he appeared to have stepped in for David Sutherland, long-standing artist for the Bash Street Kids. When I first read these, while the characters remained semi-faithful to Sutherland's designs, I knew straight off the bat that the familiar style of humour was vastly different. It felt.....fresh =)

Not sure even most Pearse fans would remember these, but in case you've forgotten, here's a little reminder. I'll tell you this, though: scanning / editing / restoring double-paged comics is not easy!

Published in Issue No.3001, January, 2000:

Published in Issue No.3003, February, 2000

Monday, 29 October 2012

Green Fox


Because foxes are lovely creatures. This one's thinking green ;-)

Friday, 26 October 2012

Mike Pearse - Frightfully Good

If you've already familiarised yourself with Mike Pearse's Halloween story, "A Nightmare on Bash Street", then here's some other selections in the run-up to October 31st - all drawn, once again, by the hilarious chap himself.

The 3 Bears, Ma, Pa and Ted, get more than they bargained for - from Issue No.3004, February 2000 - with Pa's new hobby...

...and then again in Issue No.3020, June 2000 whilst hiding out from Hank.

And just for kicks, here's a Bash St. "Singled Out" strip from Issue No.3319, March 2006.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Kangaritch


This is why Ostriches and Kangaroos oughtn't breed - they'd get dreadful whiplashes in their necks with every bound for one...!

Friday, 5 October 2012

B.C - Another Page out of History

There's no denying at all that Johnny Hart is, was and still is one of the greatest comic strip artists that lived. His surreal comedy and fun drawing style for his comic strip, B.C, just seem to beg to be animated - in particular his Sunday strips, which feel like you're observing the storyboards for a cartoon short. Anyone who could get so much mileage from a prehistoric setting for nearly 50 years must obviously have a very strong gift for humour. From cavemen to various animals, every character in the strip just seem to leap off the page while you're helpless with giggles.

That is why I feel, out of all the comic strips and comic books brought to animation, Johnny Hart's B.C just had it too short. Surviving today from ageing VHS cassettes by two sole specials and a series of commercials, including those for Action Corps. Personally speaking, while they're all fantastic each in their own way, I think The First Thanksgiving truly nailed it in terms of bringing Johnny's characters and wild humour to the small screen - all thanks to, among others, Abe Levitow's streamlined direction and vocal talents from Daws Butler, Don Messick, Bob Holt and Joanie Sommers. A Special Christmas, which focused a tad more on the religious / seasonal aspect, didn't have as much energy as the former but still maintained many of Hart's wit and wisdom.

All the same, going by the care and quality of the above, it was evident that there was still steam in the old stone wheel yet. Rather a shame because I felt there might have been so much more that B.C could have brought to the animation table.

And unlike the endless list of Peanuts Specials and TV Seasons (Sorry Schultz, Sorry Melendez!), Hart - and co-writer Jack Caprio - at least created wholly original material than reusing the same gags strip-from-strip. Just sayin'...



Johnny Hart passed away in 2007, but his characters and legacy live on thanks to grandsons Mason and Mick Mastroianni and Hart's daughter Perri, who also draw Hart's other famous strip "Wizard of Id". Say what you like about their handling of both strips, but they still make me laugh as hard as Johnny ever did. Besides, it still pays to have family or friends who know what to do with someone else's creation than those who don't...


LINKS OF INTEREST


Saturday, 29 September 2012

Arts - July 2012

About time I started uploading some artwoiks here again =P

A few selections I drew whilst on holiday this year.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Animalympics (1980)

Well, the London 2012 Olympics may have long since finished, but for this animated movie the Olympics keep going on forever ;-)

Animalympics, created by Lisberger Studios, was originally broadcast for NBC's summer Olympics coverage, released as two separate specials (Summer and Winter respectively). Although intended for a theatrical release, it never really found widespread fame until Warner Bros released it for home video, and in later years it saw sparing repeats on Disney Channel USA.

I haven't seen this movie since I was at least 12, but having viewed it again with fresh eyes I've come to fully appreciate every moment of this. Every carefully-timed scene, every tone in each character voice, even the psychedelic music sequences of the 80's. A fantastic parody / homage to the Olympic games, it features a variety of talent and future big-name stars;

  • For voice-acting we have Billy Crystal (Monsters Inc), Harry Shearer (The Simpsons), Gilda Radner and Michael Fremer.
  • Music and songs by Graham Gouldman.
  • Animation by, amongst many others, Brad Bird, Dan Haskett, Roger Allers, Chuck Harvey and John Norton.

It's still laugh-out-loud hilarious as ever to me, and it's little wonder why many still recall it fondly today. With great animation, fun characters and their engaging storylines, who wouldn't?

Or if you can't afford the DVD from Play.com, view it in its eternity below (while it's online).



Friday, 21 September 2012

Chuck Jones' Centenary

One of Warner Bros' most renowned directors of all time has finally reached his 100th birthday. From his early "Disney-esque" days with Sniffles the Mouse right to the very last with Thomas Timberwolf, Chuck, along with his own cast and crew - consisting of Mike Maltease, Maurice Noble, Ken Harris and Abe Levitow - have demonstrated his impeccable comedy timing and fantastic facial expressions. During his lifetime career, among many of his creations, the Road Runner and Wile. E. Coyote have become his most famous to date. And it's evident why!


Celebrate his 100th birthday by watching the playlist below - including a snippet of his collaboration with Cosgrove Hall Films' "Peter and the Wolf"!



OTHER LINKS OF INTEREST:


Friday, 7 September 2012

A lot of Pageviews 0_o

Wow...I've just realised that this little ol' blog of mine has succeeded past 1,00094 pageviews since first starting out on this day three years ago (2009).

Quite pleased with that, really - but I couldn't have got so many or posted as much since then without the support and full backing from friends, watchers and fellow animation fans. Life for me has been quite rough this year, but now I'm reminded why I'm going to carry on carrying on for the benefit of you lads and lassies. And the hopes that one day, my talents will take me further still. Or failing that, continue keeping the obscurest of shows fresh and alive for today's youth.

In short: THANKS!!!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Blimey! It's a New-Look Beano!


In comparison to the Dandy's move as a digital comic, here's a optimistic review on The Beano's latest revamp by long-standing comic artist Lew Stringer (who has also drawn strips for both comics among many others over the years). Best part of it has to be Dennis reverting back to his old Menacing self rather than keeping in-link with the current animated series on CBBC. Oh rapture! :D

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Keep the Dandy Handy - while you can

Back in November 2010, I shared my disdain thoughts about the Dandy's revamp - how it became far more celeb-centred and many old favourites (bar Desperate Dan, Korky and Bananaman) being dropped. And recently, I was rather saddened - but not surprised - to hear that DC Thomson are going to cease publishing the comic as of December this year.

The Dandy has been in competition with "rival" The Beano for decades, and its popularity since two years ago has declined by trying too hard to please today's generation with pop culture humour. More to the point, the characters they had already were strong enough to hold for themselves - Beryl the Peril, Cuddles and Dimples, Dinah Mo - and doing away with so many so soon has not done it any good.

However, it is not the end for the Dandy. "Exciting plans", according to The Sun, reveal that the comic will hopefully find new life online, similar to superstore Woolworths methinks. But the fact that the Beano has been reprinting the classic Bananaman comics in recent months is proof enough that the writing was on the wall for the Dandy's future.

It's a shame because I've kept in quiet range with some of the current Dandy artists on their upcoming works. And a few of them, including Andy Fanton - of George Vs. Dragon, Boo! and Carrotry Kid fame - have tried making a better effort of reintroducing some older characters back for today's generation, which have seen brief returns of Bully Beef and Chips, Harry and his Hippo, even Greedy Pigg.

And in honour of it's 75th anniversary, the 2013 Dandy Annual is going to pay host to a barrel-load of old faces including Smasher, Winker Watson and Julius Sneezer. So it's likely that this might be the last time we'll ever see the Dandy in full print - one thing for sure, I'm going to snap a copy while I can to ensure the oldies won't be forgotten again.


LINKS OF INTEREST:

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Happy Birthday, Sooty!

Though he may always be 5 years old in TV Land, in reality Sooty is 64 years old today - and still going strong thanks to Richard, Matthew and Harry :)

I'm not sure if anything is planned for his 65th next year, but for now you can view the 50th anniversary documentary (uploaded by the Sooteries Channel), which aired on ITV back in 1998 - around the time when Matthew Corbett retired from the series under the name "Sooty and Co":



And when you're done, you can either read my review on the 2011 Sooty series, or revisit a few classic episodes from the playlist below!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Mike Pearse - Finders Keepers

In honour of the London 2012 Olympics, here's another fab Mike Pearse story from mid 2000 (when the Millennium dome was still "new" at the time):