Monday, 9 March 2015

Bunny Nibbles

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Brother and Sister Designs

Someone had written several stories for children. Same someone was looking for an illustrator. I applied with these designs. Haven't heard back since. So here they are!

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Just So Stories (1991)

Personally speaking, it seems a little unfair that of all the books and stories written by Rudyard Kipling, the only one film-makers seem to be interested in adapting is 'The Jungle Book'. Even before Disney's 1967 animated feature became widely recognised, the story of Mowgli has been told and retold in live-action, audio, theatre and various animated forms from Animé to CGI, as well as earning itself a lesser-known sequel 'The Third Jungle Book'.

With this in mind, anyone would think that Jungle Book was the only story Kipling had ever written. Very rarely has anyone else attempted to adapt any of his other tales - small exceptions being Chuck Jones, who took a stab at The White Seal and Rikki-Tikki-Tavi sometime in the 70's.

Born in Bombay during the late 1800's, Kipling spent much of his life writing poems of British Soliders in India as well as various stories for adults and children - The Day's Work, Rewards and Fairies, Puck of Pook's Hill - but his most famous collection of tales has been the 'Just So Stories'.

My copy of the Just So Stories - printed in 1987
First published in 1902, these twelve stories told how things in this world came to be as they are, to be "just so". It mostly tells how particular animals were given their distinctive traits - How the Leopard got his Spots, How the Camel got his Hump and How the satiable Elephant's Child got his Trunk. But some stories featured a little cave girl called Taffy, which told how she and her Father created the first alphabet. It is said that Taffy was based on Kipling's own daughter, Josephine.

Each story has its own flavour, inspired by Kipling's travels across the world - family holidays in South Africa, seeing the shores of Arabia from a ship's deck and even brief visits to Australia. These have been enjoyed by children and adults alike, and have rarely been out of print since.

Long before my Grandparents gave me their copy of the original book, which sits with pride on my book shelf, I became aware of the Just So Stories by a little-known animated series on the BBC in the early 90's.

This particular series was adapted by Timothy Forder, who also directed the episodes - though much of Kipling's detailed and colourful descriptions had to be edited to fit within the 8-minute format, what was televised was still adapted fairly well. The animation itself isn't anything grand, but basic enough for its intended audience to enjoy.
'The Butterfly That Stamped'
Curiously, the company who made the series, Bevanfield Films, seemed to have done a lot better here than when they tried to make their versions of Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast at about the same time, shortly before going bankrupt for reasons as yet unknown...
'The Elephant's Child'
However, as with most animation companies, at least there are other positive aspects when the visual quality is somewhat lacking;
  • The music composed by Kick Productions is delightfully catchy and suits the timeless feel of Kipling's stories well. 
  • The narration by Geoffrey Matthews is enjoyable where, next to his variety of voices, he also throws in aside mutterings and improvisations for the characters, leading or secondary.
  • And the background artwork - let's take a moment to marvel at the quality put into them here by one Ian Henderson;
Sadly, this particular animated series is one of the hardest to find. Even the DVD which was released in 2001 seems to have disappeared without trace...and which I was fortunate enough to have found a copy somewhere online. The only signs that this series existed are VHS cassette covers scattered across Amazon and a recreation of the theme tune...

Perhaps one day, Classic Media might be tempted to reissue the DVD. But for now...who knows?

'How the Whale got his Throat'