Monday, March 3, 2008

News - 03/03/08...

The Full Iron Man Trailer!

Paramount Pictures and Marvel Studios have brought online the full new trailer for director Jon Favreau's Iron Man, kicking off the summer on May 2. The anticipated comic book adaptation stars Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeff Bridges.

The Animated Politics of Chicago 10

Joe Strike talks with Chicago 10 director Brett Morgan about his mash-up documentary on a watershed event of the 1960s.

Pitching and Catching at KidScreen

Adam Snyder reports from (and crashes workshops at) the 2008 KidScreen Summit, where children’s entertainment is king.

"Super Hero Saturday" Bringing New Series, Ending Old Ones

One superhero series will end, another begin, and a third return with a new episode on March 8 when KidsWB presents "Super Hero Saturday."

The back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back heroics start at 9:30am (ET/PT) with the new Legion of Super Heroes episode "In the Beginning," which details the Legion's formation. The story, by Steven Melching, has Legion members reminiscing about its foundation as they are trying to rescue R.J. Brande. James Tucker directs.

The premiere of The Spectacular Spider-Man will follow at 10:00am with "Survival of the Fittest," in which high school student Peter Parker must face both The Enforcers and Vulture. Victor Cook directs the Greg Weisman script, with Robert Englund playing the part of Vulture.

"Interactions" at 10:30am will have Parker trying to tutor Liz Allan (Alanna Ubach) while also battling Electro (Crispin Freeman). Troy Adomitis directs from a script by Kevin Hopps.

The first season of The Spectacular Spider-Man will air for twelve consecutive weeks on KidsWB. A second season is already in production.

As Spider-Man begins, The Batman will end with an hour-long event, "Lost Heroes," in which Batman, Robin and Green Arrow battle The Joining after it has kidnapped the Justice League members and transferred their powers into alien androids. In addition to the Justice League, the episode will feature appearances by Toyman, Mirror Master, and Dr. Hugo Strange. Stan Berkowitz and Alexx Van Dyne script and John Fang and Vinton Heuck direct. "Lost Heroes" will air at 11:00am.

Interview with Claymation pioneer Will Vinton

Filmthreat has an exclusive interview with Academy award winning Claymation pioneer Will Vinton wherein he reflects back on his early evolution as a filmmaker and animator. Vinton, who helped to perfect and commercialize the art, even holds a registered trademark on the term “Claymation.” In the interview, Vinton talks about various short films he worked on, including the 1975 Academy award winner Closed Mondays and also reveals what he has in store for the world, even after three decades of inspired productivity as the world’s foremost animation guru.

The Colored Cartoon

The Colored Cartoon: Black Representation in American Animated Short Films. 1907-1954. is an un-illustrated, 137-page survey of the black stereotypes and African American cultural influences in the Hollywood cartoons we all grew up with, and most of us still enjoy today.

Lehman goes out of his way not to applaud, criticize or denounce these films. He mainly reports in an even handed way, that they were made, what images they contain, and records any controversies surrounding them. Though he covers almost every black character I’m aware of (including Lantz’s L’il Eightball, Pal’s Jasper and Famous Studios’ Buzzy) he neglects to mention Chuck Jones’ Inki, a pretty significant character. And I’m not sure I agree with his assertions that Bugs Bunny’s personality was essentially a “black cultural characterization”. But overall Lehman did his homework, with considerable research on the NAACP’s protests against such cartoons as Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs and Scrub Me Mama With a Boogie Beat. For more info on this publication, visit the University of Massachusetts Press website.
(Thanks Cartoon Brew)

Showest Crowns Batman Director

Further legitimizing comic book-based superhero movies, cinema exhibition and distribution confab Showest has named Christopher Nolan Director of the Year, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The helmer first gained international attention with the hit indie thriller Memento, before tackling one of DC Comics’ top caped crusaders with Batman Begins. He has since returned to the Bat Cave to make The Dark Knight, which is slated for release on July 8.

Nolan has built a solid resume of successful films, including the 2002 remake of Erik Skjoldbjǽrg’s crime thriller Insomnia and the 2006 Hugh Jackman/Christian Bale vehicle The Prestige. With Batman Begins, he reintroduced the franchise with a more serious and believable story, eschewing the campiness that marks the ’60s television series and even Tim Burton’s 1989 film. Moviegoers will surely turn out in July to see one of actor Heath Ledger’s final performances as The Joker in Dark Knight.

Now in its 34th year, ShoWest is the most prestigious and longest running event for film distributors and theatre owners and operators. Taking place March 10-13 in Las Vegas, the show will inform attendees of the latest products and services, the newest technologies, industry happenings and upcoming films. Each year, the conference attracts more than 5,000 motion picture industry professionals.

Sega Teases Happy Tree Friends

SEGA of America has released assets form its upcoming video game based on Mondo Media’s cult hit animated series, Happy Tree Friends. Coming this spring, Happy Tree Friends: False Alarm is an Xbox Live Arcade and PC downloadable game that will feature the interactive debuts of favorite characters Lumpy, Nutty, Handy and others as gamers fight to save themselves and their cute, furry friends from comically gory deaths.

Created by Kenn Navarro and Rhode Montijo of Mondo Media, Happy Tree Friends began life as a series of animated shorts that built a following on the Internet and on the film festival circuit. The property, which has cute animal characters getting mangled in creative calamities, has aired on a number of broadcast outlets around the world, including MTV Latin America and G4 in the U.S. The series also remains popular on the web as the podcast logs approximately 1.5 million downloads per month on iTunes.

Sega has unveiled screenshots and a teaser trailer for Happy Tree Friends: False Alarm. See the screens below and view the trailer on AniMagTV (

Kevin Conroy to Appear in "Batman: Gotham Knights" Direct-to-Video Movie

At the end of a video interview about the Batman: Gotham Knights direct-to-video movie, DC Comics' Gregory Noveck stated, "I think fans will be happy with the return of Kevin Conroy." It is not clear from his statement whether this means Conroy will provide the voice of Batman again, or if he will simply have a cameo role.

The Dark Knight Compromises (A Look Inside the Anime Industry)

Rob Bricken has an insight response concerning why brilliant animation studios have been attached to the project, but not necessarily well known animators.

Here's something I bet you weren't wondering at all about: What, if any, sacrifices did D.C. Comics and Warner Bros. have to make to get the Gotham Knight anime made? You might have thought, since Warner Bros. has a large pile of money and had certainly handed it to the Japanese anime studios to create the six shorts that will make up the DVD, no sacrifice would need to be made. Let me assure you that is not true. I've been a pretty ardent supporter of anime, but after dealing with anime studios for the last six or so years, that kind of reasonable thinking will get you nowhere.

For instance, in the recent Gotham Knight press release, it's revealed that the scriptwriters for the shorts are Americans, including comics writers Greg Rucka and Brian Azzarello, screenwriters David Goyer and Alan Burnett, and The Dark Knight producer Jordan Goldberg.

Japanese directors hate hate HATE not having script control, and generally refuse to work on projects where they are creating everything themselves, no matter how large a pile of money has been offered, Generally, most U.S. companies that wanted an anime made by name directors had to let them do whatever they want, and just hope for the best (e.g., Animatrix, the Highlander anime). So I was not surprised to see the list of directors for the six shorts in the same press release (over on ANN):

The directors are Shoujirou Nishimi (Mind Game key animator, Tekkonkinkreet character designer and overall animation director), Futoshi Higashide (Giant Robo key animator, Saber Marionette J animation director), Hiroshi Morioka (.hack//SIGN unit director, Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE co-director), Yasuhiro Aoki (Animatrix's "Beyond" key animator, Tweeny Witches director) and Toshiyuki Kubooka (Gunbuster chief animation director, Giant Robo character designer).

Recognize any of those names? I don't, and I was paid to know 'em for about five years.

I don't think there's any reason for Batman fans to worry—the fact that D.C. is using the U.S. scriptwriters probably means there won't be any of the six shorts that's too awful (although it likely precludes an anime masterpiece as well). If D.C. had gotten folks like Oshii to direct the shorts, they would have lost any creative control, and we'd likely be getting two awesome but incomprehensible shorts, and four pieces of artsy nonsense. Besides, the animation itself will still be terrific no matter who directs it, since it's all being made by Production I.G, Studio 4C and Madhouse.

I bring this all up because I wanted to point out 1) why no-names are directing the most important anime of the year (at least in America), 2) I think D.C. and Warner Bros. made the right call, and 3) that the really good Japanese creators' need for total artistic control is costing both Japan and the U.S. some really awesome opportunities.

Could Cartoon Mishaps Really Happen?

MAN VS. CARTOON, a new unscripted series on TruTV (formerly Court TV) will attempt to uncover whether the stunts and shenanigans in cartoons could ever actually happen in the real world.

Six hourlong episodes have been ordered from Warner Horizon and Craig Piligian's Pilgrim Films & Television, and will draw upon Warner Bros. huge library of animation.

In keeping with the network's investigation-themed lineup of shows, the project will look into whether it's possible to build a human slingshot, for example.

"As you know, we have a lot of investigative programming on the air, and we thought this was a really interesting way to show the process of investigation," TruTV executive VP and GM Marc Juris told THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. "We'll see if these things are scientifically possible and, if so, how we can use this information."

MacFarlane To Spinoff Cleveland Brown Character

FAMILY GUY creator Seth MacFarlane, Fox and 20th Century Fox TV are developing a spinoff centered around Peter Griffin's neighbor Cleveland Brown, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER reports.

MacFarlane, Mike Henry (the voice of Cleveland) and writer-producer of FAMILY GUY and THE SIMPSONS alum Rich Appel (also executive producer and showrunner for MacFarlane's other Fox animated comedy AMERICAN DAD) are writing the project.

Accident-prone Cleveland plays off black stereotypes but is the most levelheaded among Griffin's three friends.

Fox is attempting to find another hit comedy for their Sunday night lineup. Other projects in the work include an animated version of THE PITTS from SIMPSONS vet Mike Scully, RELATIVE INSANITY from executive producer Jack Black and MOTHBALLS from Matt Silverstein and Dave Jeser (DRAWN TOGETHER creators).

FAMILY GUY went from a canceled has-been show to a mega-hit in 2005, growing to a $1 billion franchise with lucrative DVD and merchandise sales.

Toon Zone News Presents an Exclusive Look Behind the Scenes at "101 Dalmations"

In association with Walt Disney Home Entertainment, Toon Zone News is proud to present a selection of behind-the-scenes artwork from 101 Dalmations, the classic animated film from 1961 that is coming to Disney's Platinum Edition DVD on March 8, 2008.

In the late 1950's to early 1960's, Disney's feature animation studios were making a transition from their earlier, classic films like Snow White and Cinderella. They had begun to experiment artistically, partially due to the influence of a number of artists in the studio and partially due to cost-cutting measures. 1955's Lady and the Tramp can be considered the last of the "classic" Disney films, with traditional, fully-painted backgrounds and ink-and-paint animation (left). The look of 1959's Sleeping Beauty was heavily influenced by production designer Eyvind Earle, whose experiments are most visible in the color palette and backgrounds of the movie. Earle himself painted many of the film's backgrounds, using a radically different visual style and taking 7-10 days to paint backgrounds that used to take only one -- compare the background from a typical scene in Sleeping Beauty (right)
to one from Lady and the Tramp. The results were quite a departure for the studio, especially when compared with the older movies, and may have been a contributing factor to the film's disappointing box office returns. Sleeping Beauty was such a commercial failure on its initial release that it nearly bankrupted the studio.

Retreating to the earlier style that had defined the studio's output for more than 20 years was simply not an option, since the studio simply couldn't afford to. Luckily, the experiments of longtime Disney collaborator Ub Iwerks and 101 Dalmatians' art director Ken Anderson led to a breakthrough using new Xerox copying technology that allowed an animator's pencil work to be transferred directly to animation cels. The innovation automated what had been done laboriously by hand in earlier Disney films by the famous ink-and-paint divisions at the Disney animation studios. In addition to the cost savings, the process resulted in a radically different visual look to the films, replacing the softer, multi-colored ink lines with scratchier, harder-edged black lines that were closer to the work of the original animators. It was also this technology that allowed animators to apply regular dot patterns to the film's title characters -- another first for animated filmmaking that would have been impossible to do consistently by any manual process.

One of those animators was Marc Davis, one of Disney's "Nine Old Men," and it was his work that gave life to Cruella DeVil, 101 Dalmatians' unforgettable antagonist. Unlike the collaborative character animation efforts of earlier movies, Davis designed and animated Cruella single-handedly, with a fashion-designer friend unwittingly providing some of the inspiration for Cruella's explosive personality. In the novel on which the movie was based, The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith, Cruella is described as having, “dark skin, black eyes with a hint of red in them, and a very pointed nose...Her hair was parted severely down the middle and one half of it was black and the other white—rather unusual." To these were added a skeletal figure in a black sheath dress, a giant fur coat that quadruples her volume, and a perpetual cloud of toxic yellow-green smoke from her pink cigarettes. Davis gave Cruella a flamboyant flair that ensured her immortality in the ranks of Disney villains.

These previously unreleased images are early color model cels created by Davis in his development of Cruella DeVil for 101 Dalmatians, and were used to determine the final color styling for Cruella in her scenes of the movie. The images were all provided by Marc Davis's widow, Alice Estes Davis, a Disney Legend in her own right who designed costumes primarily for Disney's Imagineering group from the mid-1950's until her retirement in 1978. Click on any image to enlarge it.

Davis' work on Cruella was his swan song for Disney feature animation. Afterwards, he would move on to Disney's Imagineering group, providing story and character concepts for some of Disneyland's most beloved theme park attractions including the Enchanted Tiki Room, It's a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, and the Jungle Cruise.

Another of the artists who set the visual tone of 101 Dalmations was Walt Peregoy. Peregoy's early gifts for art seemed matched only by his impatience to study it formally, often opting for life lessons instead. He did take Saturday art classes as a boy, but dropped out of the 10th grade at the ripe old age of 17 to work as an in-betweener at Disney studios in 1943. However, he left the studio a little over a year later, working in odd jobs across the globe, traveling from California to a stint in the Coast Guard during World War II, then on to Mexico and Paris to study painting and sculpture. He returned to the Disney studio in 1951, working his way up in the studio until he was hand-picked by art director Ken Anderson to work on 101 Dalmatians.

His sole credit in the film is as the "Color Stylist," which belies the tremendous impact he had on the final look of the movie. Peregoy's unconventional style was a real departure for Disney feature animation, with its distinctive color palette and broad swaths of color that suggested shapes rather than firmly delineating them. One can almost feel Peregoy's glee at deliberately not painting between the lines. In his words, he would, "approach color freely – painting behind the Xerox overlay," which he felt "gives the work a free, almost watercolor quality." The powerfully personalized work that Peregoy did on backgrounds paired beautifully with the strong line of the new Xerox process, giving the backgrounds a flair to match the distinctive foreground characters.

Toon Zone News has been given some exclusive images of Peregoy's pre-production artwork on the film, many of which are included on the new Platinum Edition DVD art galleries. We have paired them with screen captures from the new DVD to illustrate how Peregoy's artistic style influenced the final film on-screen. Peregoy's art appears on the left, with the screen captures on the right. Click any image to enlarge it.

Below, Peregoy places his stamp on a typical London street.

The style on display in the painting can be seen in the opening credits, above, including the screen that has his own credit.

The church where Roger and Anita are married, as Peregoy envisioned it at left and in the final movie at lower left.

After the marriage, Roger, Anita, Pongo, and Perdita move into a quiet residential London neighborhood, painted by Peregoy at left and in the final movie at lower left.

A family of the 1950's, engaged in the latest activity of gathering around the TV for the evening. The Dalmatian family is of less direct interest than the living room around them.

Walking the dogs in a foggy evening in London. This is one of the most strikingly direct translations of Peregoy's work to the final screen image in 101 Dalmations.

At left, we see Peregoy's depiction of London's Regent's Park in the evening. The way the colors evoke nighttime inspires the image at lower left, as Pongo and Perdita begin their long trek to Northern England to rescue their puppies.

Wintertime in the British countryside, as seen by two dalmatians. The multiple gray tones of Peregoy's paint separate snow and sky, and the same trick is used wonderfully in the final film at lower left.

The flamboyant pose at left can only be Cruella DeVil, making a typically grand entrance into a very red room. The flamboyance is on full display as we see Cruella for the first time in the movie (center), but the multiple red tones were used in the film as Pongo and Perdita battle Horace and Jasper to rescue their puppies (lower left). The dominating red background tends to generates anxiety in viewers, and serves to heighten the tension of the scene.

Peregoy continued working with Disney for many years. According to Disney veteran Floyd Norman, Peregoy's color work would have defined the look of The Jungle Book if not for a personal veto from Walt himself, which triggered quite a vehement reaction from Peregoy. According to Norman, Peregoy was "one of the few Disney artists who had no fear of getting into the "Old Man's" face," and Peregoy himself freely admits his highly opinionated and assertive personality. He eventually went on to work for a number of other animation studios, including Hanna-Barbera, Warner Brothers, and Chuck Jones Films. Currently, he does his own work mostly in oil pastels, and his work is in high demand.

Marc Davis and Walt Peregoy were only two of the master artists who brought 101 Dalmatians to life. It was quite contemporary for its time, but the style of the movie gives it a powerful sense of time and place rather than making it seem dated today. Interestingly, Uncle Walt really hated the look of the film when he finally saw it, but at that point the film was already done. Luckily for the studio and for Ken Anderson, the movie was a huge box-office success, and all the films afterwards would use Xerox technology for the animation, up until computers replaced the Xeroxes for films like Beauty and the Beast in the 1990's. Still, 101 Dalmatians left an indelible stamp on the output of the Disney studio, and many of its innovations were never duplicated again in future Disney animated films.

All images in this article are © Disney unless otherwise specified. All Rights Reserved.

New Batman: Gotham Knight Images!

Click one each to see them larger:

Gerard Butler to Provide Voice in Anime Section of "Watchmen"

Actor Gerard Butler has stated to Empire magazine that he will be providing the voice for the captain character in a "Tales from the Black Freighter" sequence in the upcoming movie adaptation of the graphic novel Watchmen. According to Butler, the comic-within-a-comic will appear on screen "in the style of a Japanese anime."

Buddy Miles, Lead Voice of California Raisins, 1947 - 2008

Buddy Miles, renowned drummer for Jimi Hendrix's Band of Gypsys and founder of Electric Flag, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 60 due to congestive heart disease. After his pioneering work on the psychedelic blues-rock scene in the 1960's, Miles had a second career as the voice of the lead California Raisin in a series of stop-motion animated commercials that led to a series of albums.

DQ Ties Up with French Method

India's DQ Entertainment has purchased a 20% stake in France's Method Film, AnimationXpress reports. The tie-up is intended to strengthen a partnership that has already resulted in several coproductions.

Seth Green Talks About His Skywalker Ranch Adventures

Robot Chicken: Star Wars is coming to Canada, which occasions a Seth Green chat with celebrity-site Dose, wherein he describes, among other things, his tour of Skywalker Ranch:

"'Like, I wore Boba Fett's helmet, Indiana Jones' jacket. All this stupid **** you're not supposed to do if you're a professional person, running up and down the aisles with some stormtrooper guns going 'choo choo choo.' " (Those would be laser noises, for those of you who've never staged backyard versions of Return of the Jedi.)

Bandai Visual to Stream Episodes Online

Bandai Visual USA will begin streaming some of its episodes through its e-commerce site, the company announced yesterday.

Streaming will begin in late March with the first episode of HARUKA: Beyond the Stream of Time. Future titles will include true tears, Shigofumi: Letters of the Departed, and sola.

The company says further details and schedules will be announced shortly.

Join the Fight for Gotham City!

It looks like the viral marketing for The Dark Knight, which took a break after the new trailer and poster were revealed in December, is starting up again. If you head to, you'll see that Harvey Dent's campaign site is now asking for your e-mail address and phone number so that it can provide you with info on how you can help to change Gotham City. If you sign up, this is what you'll get in your inbox...

Citizens of Gotham! The future of our city rests in your hands!

Alone, we are helpless against the thugs and killers menacing our city.

Together, we have the power to take back Gotham.

In just a few days, you'll find out how.

Please, click below to verify your email address:


Keep an eye on -- and get ready to join a movement that will transform our city!

Stay tuned!

From the Department of Never Say Never (AKA Returning Favorites)

Heisei Democracy notes that according to Moon Phase Diary volume 14 of Trigun Maximum announced that a Trigun movie is in production. An original story by Trigun creator Yasuhiro Nightow will be scripted by Kobayashi Yasuko and directed by Nishimura Satoshi. The tagline for the MadHouse animated figure is "Vash vs. Wolfwood?! The familiar characters erupt on screen in an all-original Trigun story!"

The April issue of Dragon Magazine revealed that a new television anime based on the Slayers fantasy comedy/action is the works. The original story will be animated by J.C. Staff with director Takashi Watanabe at the helm.

A third anime based on teen relationship comedy School Rumble, titled Third Term DVDs, will be packaged with the Japanese release of volumes twenty one and twenty two of the manga.

Heisei Democracy reports that cover of the April 2008 edition of Comic Gum makes the announcement that girls fight meets Romance of the Three Kingdoms franchise Ikkitousen will be returning in a third series, entitled "Great Guardians"

Also, there are rumors of more Gurren Lagann.

Some ADV Back on Track

Anime News Network has found out that ADV Films Senior Vice-President of Sales and Marketing Mike Bailiff has sent an e-mail message to retailers to announce new shipping dates for a slew of titles that were removed from the company's website last month and then delayed.

The anticipated Devil May Cry and Gurren Lagann are not listed. The explanation for Devil May Cry absence could be that the first volume has technically already been release, but not explanations for the situation have been forthcoming.

Project Blue Earth SOS vol. 1
Kanon vol. 2
Kanon vol. 2 + Collectors Box
Kurau: Phantom Memory vol. 6
Moonlight Mile vol. 1
Tokyo Majin vol. 2
Tokyo Majin vol. 2 + Collectors Box
Welcome to the NHK vol. 3
Pumpkin Scissors vol. 3
The Wallflower vol. 2
The Wallflower vol. 2 + Collectors Box

5 Centimeters Per Second
Kanon vol. 3
Ah! My Goddess: Flights of Fancy vol. 6
Red Garden vol. 4

Project Blue Earth SOS vol. 2
Project Blue Earth SOS vol. 2 + Collectors Box
Venus Versus Virus vol. 3

Moonlight Mile vol. 2
Moonlight Mile vol. 2 + Collectors Box

SVP Mike Bailiff told Anime News Network "There have been no changes in ADV's corporate structure."

"There are a lot of parties involved in any anime production, and that can complicate even the best of negotiations. Frankly we had to keep quiet in the interest of resolving this situation as quickly as possible. My staff and I have been in touch with most of our retail partners, who have been remarkably patient and understanding."

"I understand fans' frustration - particularly those who follow the business of anime so closely. But this wasn't a situation that could be worked out over the Internet. I just hope fans understand that we're doing what we must to get back to the business of delivering first-rate anime. That's our focus. We'll be issuing further updates as we work through this backlog and establish fresh delivery dates for additional titles."

Latest From Oshii

A trailer for Mamoru Oshii's upcoming Sky Crawlers, scheduled for theatrical Japanese release on August 2, is screening on its site.

From AnimeNation and Tokyograph.
Mamoru Oshii (the Ghost in the Shell movies) and Shusuke Kaneko (director of the live action Death Note movies) will be directing episodes of TV Tokyo's the Takeshi Miike supervised, 51 episode live-action sci-fi detective drama Keitai Sousakan 7.
The series, which premieres April 2nd, revolves around a high school boy and his transforming cel-phone robot, and his six detective partners that fight against an internet-based criminal organization.

TOKYOPOP Expands on Labyrinth with Anthology relays that the Jim Henson/TOKYOPOP panel at Wondercon announced a new anthology collection based on Jim Henson's fantasy movie Labyrinth. The first volume of the anthology is scheduled for March 2009, with stories featuring characters Hoggle, Ludo, the Fierys and the Junk Lady, as well as stories related to Return to Labyrinth on top. Each story will feature different creators and styles. In other TOKYOPOP/Labyrinth news Jake T. Forbes and Chris Lie's Return to Labyrinth will continue with volume 3 in November 08 and volume 4 in Fall 09, following the release of the first volume of the Labyrinth anthology. The story that Forbes will be writing for the Anthology is about Jareth and Mizumi and shows how Jareth (David Bowie's character in the movie) becomes the Goblin King.

Hentai on Canada's Banned Import List

According to Anime News Network, the Canada Border Services Agency's October-December 2007 list named English localized hentai anime series Cool Devices and Words Worth as obscene under subsection 163(8) of Canada's Criminal Code. As such, the titles are prohibit from entering the country.

Other prohibited titles on the list include Eros Comix's Domin-8 Me!, Eros Comix's Sex Warrior Isane Extreme Number 22 and 23, Eros Comix's Super Taboo XXX, Icarus Publishing's Juicy Fruits, NuTech's Five Card Episode 2 and 3, Kitty Media's G-spot Express, Japananime's Hot Juicy Teacher, NuTech's Inma Seiden: The Legend of the Beast of Lust Episode 2 and 3, NuTech's Mija "Demon of Lust" Volume 2, Kitty Media's Elufina - Servant Princess, NuTech's Bizarre Cage Act 2, NuTech's Black Mail Volume 2, and Critical Mass Video's Venus Files.

The agency did rule about 15 Eros Comix titles, Central Park Media's Dominion Tank Police 1 and 2, NuTech's Imma Youjo: The Erotic Temptress Volumes I and III, JapanAnime's Legend of the Black Eye - Kokudohoh, NuTech's Kowaremono: Fragile Hearts Heaven 1 and 2, NuTech's Bizarre Cage Act 3, Kitty Media's The Hills Have Size, Anime 18's Venus 5, and Pink Pineapple's Welcome to Pia Carrot!! 2 as "admissible."

Criminal Code Subsection 163(8) reads: "For the purposes of this Act, any publication a dominant characteristic of which is the undue exploitation of sex, or of sex and any one or more of the following subjects, namely, crime, horror, cruelty and violence, shall be deemed to be obscene.

Cereal:Geek 3 Out

The third issue of 80's cartoon fan magazine Cereal:Geek. North American customers can buy it through Graham Crackers

Worth Checking Out

An English version of Akibablog has launched

G.D.H. has launched a "GON TUBE" Gonzo YouTube channel called at

jaPRESS ( Japanese Schoolgirl Inferno, Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms, Pure Trance) has launched an updated site. Speaking of Patrick Macias' work, The Real Shinjyuku Violence Legend

AniPages Daily on Tadanari Okamoto.

"The greatest filmmakers can create a transcendent experience in the viewer. Few filmmakers can do that for me, but Tadanari Okamoto is one of them. I think he's one of Japan's best artists of the last few decades, and he is by far my favorite independent Japanese animator."

Ed Sizemore on The Kennedy Center's Japan! culture + hyperculture festival

Manga Before Flowers - "Manga for Adults" (Part Two)

Via ComiPress The Busiest Mangaka Ever: George Akiyama

Comix Talk talks to Seven Seas' Adam Arnold

The Flipped manga column has a new home on Comics Reporter.

LA Times on geek tourist of Japan

Daily Mainichi on yuri (lesbian) work. For more on the topic, see Erica Friedman's Japanator, One Piece fans site has a great set of translated Q&A's with creator Eiichiro Oda here

Wood sculptures from Japanís Wonderfestival. Also 9 foot tall King Ghidorah

Mecha Mecha Media points out that Dark Horse has posted an extensive preview of action manhwa Shaman Warrior

FramesPerSecond on Early Japanese Animation: As Innovative as Contemporary Anime (part two). The site also looks at Mechadamia 2

Newsarama has spoken to Yoshinori Natsume (Togari) about Batman: Death Mask and voice actor Crispin Freeman

Canned Dogs on The problems that plague the eroge (erotic anime-style video game) industry

Subatomic Brainfreeze on Masamune Shirow flop Gundress

Star Cross Anime Blog has an interesting list of top movies and OVAs

Twitch has a new teaser for Soi Cheangís (Dog Bite Dog t) adaptation of SHAMO

Via, the original trilogy as it is told in American comics versus how it is told in manga (including Return of the Jedi from the underappreciated Hiromoto-Sin-Ichi)

Awesome Engine on running

Cartoon Brew look at Superjail

American Police

Right Stuf has launched a new yaoianime retail site. The Japanese word "yaoi" has evolved into a catch-all term Western audiences often use to describe titles with canon "male/male" relationships that were also originally marketed to girls and women in Japan and Korea.

Via Blog@Newsarama, artist Sean Galloway posted more of his character designs for the upcoming Spectacular Spider-Man animated series. The show debuts at 10 a.m. March 8 on The CW.

Also from the blog, how to draw the Venture Bros.

Warner Bros. Pictures Absorbs New Line

New Line Cinema is officially being absorbed into Time Warner, a move that has long been expected and many say is overdue. The company will now serve as a genre arm of Warner Bros. Pictures (much like Screen Gems at Sony) with a focus on horror, comedy and urban features.

In a move designed mostly to cut ballooning overhead costs, its expected that many of the 600 staffers working for the studio in its LA and NYC branches will be let go - amongst them the studio's creator Bob Shaye and topper Michael Lynne. Production President Toby Emmerich and Distribution Head Rolf Mittweg will stay on but will now serve under Alan Horn and Barry Meyer at Warners.

New Line will continue to have development, marketing and some distribution operations but those will be severely limited. The move also means that Warner's specialty film divisions Picturehouse and Warner Independent Pictures will also undergo some major restructuring.

New Line will also stop its longstanding practice of selling off international rights to finance films - a move that came significantly after "The Golden Compass" underperformed domestically but grossed big overseas. The project's failure was the last in a long line of problems that have plagued the company since the success of the 'Rings' trilogy. The move is not expected to affect the production of both "The Hobbit" films which will both got out under the label. The projects are targeting a Christmas 2011 and 2012 release.

In its time New Line has handled some of the more famous film franchises of the last few decades, most notably "The Lord of the Rings". They've also released the "Austin Powers," "Rush Hour," "Blade," "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," "A Nightmare on Elm Street," "Final Destination" and "Friday the 13th" film series as well as notable one-off pics like "Se7en," "Boogie Nights," "Wedding Crashers," "American History X," "Magnolia," "A History of Violence," "The Notebook," "Snakes on a Plane," "Mortal Kombat," "Glengarry Glen Ross," "Dumb and Dumber"" and "The Mask".

Their last official film as a full company is Will Ferrell comedy "Semi-Pro" which opened Friday, other upcoming Summer releases of theirs including the "Sex and the City" movie, the "Harold and Kumar" sequel, and "Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D" will be handled by the new division.

Wired's Oscars for Outstanding Achievement in the Art of the Movie Trailer

It's been seven years since the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences added a new category to the Oscar accolades: Best Animated Feature. We think it's time Hollywood created another: Best Movie Trailer. Thanks to the rapt attention they've gotten through YouTube, MySpace TV, and, coming attractions have evolved into a cinematic art form all their own. Many are better edited, scored, and art-directed than the films they're selling — not to mention that you can watch them online for free. The following Wired honorees are approved for most audiences.

Best Cinematography
Iron Man

Kudos to the San Diego Comic-Con attendee who managed to keep a camera phone steady during the entire two-and-a-half-minute trailer premiere and then immediately uploaded the footage to YouTube. Tony Stark's metal suit on a 4 x 5-inch screen with screechy sound was a revelation for geeks worldwide.

Best Adaptation
National Treasure: Book Of Secrets

While trailers occasionally include scenes that don't make it into the final release, the Treasure tease contained so much omitted footage that The New York Times wondered whether it upstaged the movie. Judging by this gem, trailers are the new director's cut.

Best Director
Tie: Sylvester Stallone (Rambo); Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood)

Before this spring, the only thing that Sly and P. T. had in common was coming within striking distance of Burt Reynolds' ferocious toupee. But both of these auteurs wisely decided to release very early (and very creepy) trailers directly to fan sites, rather than waiting to showcase them in theaters. As for which was more effective, it's a draw: Blood introduces Daniel Day-Lewis' John Huston-by-way-of-Mr. Burns accent, while Rambo features Stallone actually punching a guy's head off. So, you know what? You're both winners. OK? Now just don't hurt us.

Best Visual Effects

Few people even knew Cloverfield existed until its trailer materialized in front of Transformers last July. Once audiences saw the Statue of Liberty's head being rolled down a Manhattan street like a 7-10 split, Cloverfield became the most buzzed-about movie of the summer and a winter box office hit.

Best Film Editing
Knocked Up

Judd Apatow wasn't the first director to revive the red-band trailer, which allows violence, sex, and, here, Seth Rogen's foul mouth seemingly on repeat. But the racy Knocked Up preview was a must-rewind last spring, and now every release aimed at teens and twentysomethings includes a red version.

Best Picture
The Dark Knight

The online teaser for Chris Nolan's hotly anticipated sequel was a delectable treat for Batfans, but the six-minute "Prologue" shown before the special IMAX screenings of I Am Legend last December (featuring the late, great Heath Ledger's Joker redux) was a meal in itself. Here's to lengthy, tantalizing sequences becoming the future of coming attractions.


Seemingly the funniest and cartooniest animated projects nowadays are set in jails. There’s the Japanese CG series Usavich, which was written up here last month, and now there’s Superjail, an Adult Swim pilot from last spring which is being turned into a series.

Superjail is one of those rare pieces of animation that reaffirms my faith in mainstream industry animation. (A clip from the pilot episode is posted below; the full series premieres later this year.) At first glance, it’s an unlikely candidate for greatness: it is, after all, a Flash-animated show for Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. But Superjail defies all expectations, both for Flash and Adult Swim. Far from the typical Adult Swim fare of characters standing around with their lips flapping, this show takes advantage of the fact that it’s animated, packing every scene with outlandish visual gags, hilarious drawings, frenetic animation, bright colors and enough gratuitous cartoon violence to fill a thousand Popeye shorts.

The premise of the series is simple: Superjail is an ultra-violent prison complex run by a mad Willy Wonka-esque warden determined to “perfect the art of incarceration.” He is aided by a butch guard Alice, an alcoholic accountant Jared, and the punishing robot Jail-bot. Beyond this basic setup, anything goes. It’s a stream-of-conscious free-for-all that’s both exhilaratingly creative and guaranteed to offend. Heidi MacDonald of The Beat blog called the pilot “the most incoherent, violent and irredeemable thing I have ever seen.” Luckily for her, she hasn’t seen the actual show yet. I’ve managed to peep a bit more beyond the pilot and can say that the pilot is only a taste of what’s to come.The actual series is even nuttier and more insane.

Graphically, Superjail achieves a level of cartoon grotesquerie that would make Basil Wolverton blush. There are also hints of Mike Judge, Yellow Submarine, alternative comics, and Wes Archer’s classic short Jac Mac & Rad Boy . The results are grungy and raw; real cartoons by real cartoonists without any of the on-model fussiness and overcautiousness that hinders most of today’s TV animation.

Superjail is created by Christy Karacas, Stephen Warbrick and Ben Gruber. Karacas is directing the series and Aaron Augenblick, whose Augenblick Studios is producing the series, serves as the animation director. The stories are written by Karacas, Warbrick, Augenblick and other animators on the show, with the finished scripts penned by John Glaser and John Lee. A host of other fine cartoonists and animators are contributing to the series including Fran Krause, Will Krause, Jesse Schmal and M. Wartella.

The show also puts to rest the fallacy that Adult Swim shows are poorly animated because of their small budgets. The creators of Superjail have not only managed to deliver impressive animation on a standard Adult Swim budget, but they’re producing the series entirely in the US, from pre-production through final animation. New York-based Augenblick Studios is cutting few corners on the production, with little reliance on stock expressions and poses, and plenty of original drawing in every episode. Even the impressively laborious animated pan used in the opening titles is being re-animated for each episode with new backgrounds.

It’s refreshing to see a production that puts its budget back onto the screen and gives audiences quality that they can enjoy. I’ll try to write more about the studio’s production pipeline in the future, but suffice to say, Augenblick is one of the few studios that operates with a “no producers” policy.

Superjail will debut on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim line-up in summer ‘08 with an initial order of ten 11-minute episodes. Until then, check out some of the earlier shorts by Christy Karacas and Stephen Warbrick like Barfight and Space War.

A few preview stills from the series. Click on the pics for bigger versions.

(Thanks Cartoon Brew)

Animating From Behind Bars

Superjail is an animated series set in the cooler, but Brew reader Dominic Bisignano points out that there’s a non-profit organization called Giant Elephants Roam that teaches actual prisoners how to animate. The website features short animation tests created by inmates at the Antelope State Valley Prison in Lancaster, California, which is where the pilot program is currently underway. The program was conceived by CalArts student Vita Rabinovich. Below is an example of animation created by inmate “Doc.”

(Thanks Cartoon Brew)

Flip #11

There is a reason I plug Steve Moore’s online FLIP magazine every month: It’s damn good! The latest edition, now up, features the amazing DEAN YEAGLE discussing Zander’s Animation Parlour - with clips of several classic Jack Zander commercials (Freakies cereal, Good n’ Plenty candy, Crest Cavity Creeps, etc.); features on artist SUE BLANCHARD, illustrator RICHARD MORGAN and an interview with toy collector/creator/Pixar character designer JEFF PIDGEON. Go here and flip out!
(Thanks Cartoon Brew)


Review of the computer animation and motion-capture sci-fi anime film 'Vexille,' which tracks the efforts of a military unit's mission into an isolated, technology dependent Japan. With some generic, science fiction conventions, quality screenwriting and a good English voice-over cast, 'Vexille' is worth the watch. The film sports a clever but emotional lead female and her ponderings over humankind's inability to guide itself. 'Vexille' is distributed by FUNimation come May 2008.

Cars 2, Tron, Pirates 4 in 2011?

A regular contributor told Aint It Cool News ( that Disney is lining up sequels to Cars, Pirates of the Caribbean and National Treasure, as well as a stereoscopic 3-D reboot of Tron, for release possibly in 2011. We’re not sure how accurate this information is, but we’ll be sure to dig for more information on the return of Lightning McQueen and Light Cycles.

Pixar has historically been reluctant to make sequels, save for Toy Story 2 and the 3-D Toy Story 3, which is slated to come out in June of 2010. And while Cars was a fairly big hit, it seems unlikely that it would move ahead of the Oscar-winning blockbuster The Incredibles in the sequel line. Director Brad Bird has told us that he’s hammering out some ideas for a second Incredibles adventure, which is all but inevitable.

Word came out in September of last year that Disney was planning another Tron movie with commercial director Joseph Kosinski attached. Steven Lisberger, co-writer and director of the 1982 Tron, was named as a producer, along with Live Planet’s Sean Bailey. Eddie Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, writers on the hit ABC series Lost, were reportedly working on the script.

The first Tron starred Jeff Bridges as a video game programmer who gets sucked into an arcade machine and has to fight his way through a series of gladiatorial competitions in order to find his way out. The film is best known for being the first to rely on computer animation and digital environments. The property was later made into a hit video game by Bally Midway.

Grossing nearly $3 billion worldwide and yielding a treasure trove on home video and in licensing, The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has been Disney’s bread and butter for the past few years, but audience demand for Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow may have reached saturation point. Many critics thought the National Treasure property ran out of steam with the second installment, but it certainly made enough money to warrant a third.

GDH Goes GONZO on YouTube

GDH K.K., the parent company of Japanese animation powerhouse GONZO, has announced that it will produce an original program titled GON TUBE for broadcast on its official YouTube Japan channel, GONZO DOGA. The Japanese-language program launches today with clips from new GONZO animated titles.

Featuring Nana Kana, a voice actor duo consisting of Nana Inoue and Kanako Sakai, GON TUBE will be updated every Friday, providing the latest news and information on GONZO anime titles with staff and cast interviews, as well as updates on new and best-selling items at GONZO's official online store, GONZO STYLE. GON TUBE, which will partially stream on GONZO MOBILE, will also create and distribute original merchandise.

GONZO DOGA ( launched on YouTube Japan in June of 2007, offering video content from a number of GDH group companies. By adding GON TUBE to the mix, the company hopes to drive traffic while cultivating a new consumer segment by bringing its video content and related merchandising together in one program.

Blue Dragon Animated Series Coming To Cartoon Network

The highly anticipated BLUE DRAGON animated series will debut on Cartoon Network this spring, VIZ Media announced Friday.

The BLUE DRAGON series is based on the exclusive Xbox 360 videogame BLUE DRAGON, developed by Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of FINAL FANTASY, and features character designs by Akira Toriyama, the creator of the best-selling DRAGON BALL series of manga.

The animated series debuted in Japan on TV Tokyo on April 7, 2007 and is produced by Studio Pierrot, which is well known for its work on NARUTO and BLEACH, also licensed by VIZ Media.

The BLUE DRAGON animated series, with an anticipated TV rating of TV Y7FV, is a classic adventure story of magical Shadow powers, flying air fortresses, and unbounded heroism.

Brought together by fate, Seven Soldiers of Light must awaken the Shadow within themselves in time to overcome a despotic power and bring peace to their land.

Their ensuing journey through a rich fantasy world is also an internal journey to awaken the great power within each of them.

The 10 Lamest Cartoon Superheroes

Coming up with a new superhero cartoon is the easiest thing in the world. Just give your hero some extraordinary power and someone vaguely evil to punch and WHAM, you've got toy and cereal companies beating down your door to pay you to exploit bored children. Heck, you don't even need to think up an origin, as long as your name and opening credits explain the show to you. Birdman, Space Ghost, Captain Caveman... even kids whose brains were 90 percent sugar and marshmallow horseshoes could figure those guys out. But even with the sub-humanly low standards that used to exist in cartoons, animators were still sometimes able to screw up that simple super-formula. Here Jon Gutierrez lists the ten that even kids chewing on lead paint could tell were a bad idea.

Drew Struzan to do Hellboy II poster

Who is Drew Struzan you say? I guarantee that if you don't know the name, you have definitely seen his work. From CHUD comes this news for poster art fans:

Guillermo del Toro has announced that legendary poster artist Drew Struzan will be doing the art for Hellboy: The Golden Army, opening July 11th. We got a note from the big guy himself where he expressed his excitement about working with Drew again: "For me, Drew Struzan's work summarizes the power of cinematic storytelling. I eagerly await his first sketches for this HELLBOY: THE GOLDEN ARMY poster, and I am incredibly honored by the fact that Drew has agreed to collaborate with me again. Struzan's fans all over the world, rejoice and be prepared for another beautiful piece to come from the master's hands!!"

The two met last week to discuss ideas for the poster (and probably lots of other super nerdy stuff as well).

The man has done artwork on everything from The Great Muppet Caper to Temple of Doom to Harry Potter.

To learn more about Drew and see his portfolio, visit:

Broadway "Beast" Barbour jailed on sex charges

Actor James Barbour, who played "the Beast" in the Broadway version of Disney's Beauty And The Beast, was sentenced Friday to 60 days in jail and three years' probation for sexual encounters with a 15-year-old drama student.

Barbour, who appeared on Broadway alongside Grammy winner Toni Braxton, pleaded guilty as part of a plea deal to two misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a minor. He admitted that he fondled the student in June 2001 when she visited him alone backstage in his dressing room while he was 35 and starring in Jane Eyre at Broadway's Brooks Atkinson Theatre.

Barbour, 41, also admitted that the teen, an aspiring actress from New Jersey, visited him the following month at his apartment in Manhattan's Upper West Side, where there was more sexual contact. He knew at the time that she was 15, he told Judge Micki Scherer.

The charges are misdemeanors, so Barbour will not have to register as a sex offender.

The singing voice of the Mayor in the 2002 feature film Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights, he provided several voice roles (including a cop and a thug) on a guest spot in Eclipse, a 1996 episode of Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures.

Before the deal, the actor had faced charges of criminal sex act in the third degree. That felony is punishable by as many as four years in prison.

The victim, now 22, told the court before the sentence was imposed that she reported Barbour about two years ago, she had decided to live with the shame and guilt of her experience.

"I struggled with complete lack of self-esteem, panic attacks, and put considerable distance between my family and friends for years" because of his actions, she said. "I had always blamed myself and felt like I had done something wrong."

She said that she was pleased with the sentence. She expressed hope that the punishment "will prevent him from even thinking of touching another child again."

Barbour declined to speak when offered a chance to do so.

Barbour's lawyer, Ronald P. Fischetti, accused the victim of being the sexual aggressor and claimed that her acting career had gone skyward since she filed the complaint against his client.

Fischetti said that Barbour and the victim exchanged dozens of friendly e-mails -- many in which she thanked Barbour for his mentoring and help in meeting people -- for nearly four years after their last sexual encounter.

The lawyer admitted that his client, as an adult, should have sent the girl away, but stated that his client was no pedophile. Fischetti's comments in court caused the victim to cry and scream out in the Manhattan courtroom.

"That's not true!" she shouted.

In court, the victim read a statement attacking Fischetti's "ruthless defense tactics."

"It's no wonder more victims of sex crimes don't come forward. Not when they risk facing such brutal attacks," she said.

Outside court, Fischetti alleged that the victim cried crocodile tears. "She's an actress," he said. "This girl can cry on a moment's notice."

The victim said that she came forward with the sex abuse allegations in 2006 after hearing that another woman had accused Barbour of touching her as a teen as well. "When the idea that another girl could be going through what I had gone through, I felt obligated to come forward," she said.

Barbour initially denied the allegations, but pleaded guilty in Manhattan Supreme Court in January to two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

"When a 35-year-old man engages in sexual acts with a 15-year-old child, it is a crime, period," said prosecutor Maxine Rosenthal.

Culver City Art Gallery Hosting "Horton Hears a Who" Show in March

The Wonderful World Art Gallery will host a collection of never-before-seen art from Chuck Jones' 1970 animated adaptation of Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who, the gallery announced this week.

Attendees will receive a March issue of Animation Magazine; a limited number of guests will be able to purchase a copy of the Dr. Seuss book and have it signed by special guest June Foray; and two tickets to the upcoming feature film adaptation will be raffled off during the event.

The special show will be held on Friday, March 7, from 6:00pm to 9:00pm at the Gallery's Culver City location (9517 Culver Boulevard). A private screening of the Jones' film will be held at 5:30pm (RSVP required).

Guests can RSVP for the event at or email the gallery.

Justice League and the Canada Debacle Plus Major Script Changes

With the recent and honestly shocking news that Justice League is expected to be in production this summer the question still remains, Canada or Australia?

Just days before the trades came back with the news that Justice League was back, George Miller confirmed that the studio was looking at possibly going to shoot the film in Canada.

But did things change after the studio announced that it was planning to go in front of lens this summer?

We are hearing that Warner Bros. is currently trying to negotiate with the Australian Government to get a better tax break for the production but some of the production staff believe that Canada will end up winning over.

Regarding the status of the rewrites, we've been told the biggest problem with the current script was the lackluster third act. Apparently, the story has already been 100% reworked.

Also, the only department currently working on the film is the "art department" and apparently they are responsible for the major beats of the newly rewritten third act.

A few more new tidbits on the production…we are told some of the designs originally being considered for the look of the film have been described as "ultra-stylized".

And regarding the rumors that Batman and Superman had been removed from the story, "total b#**s*!@" is the exact response we received this afternoon from Australia.

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