Monday, February 16, 2009

News - 02/16/09...

Obama’s Elf by Michael Schlingmann

London-based animator Michael Schlingmann (previously on Cartoon Brew) created this funny 20-second animated pun. The animation is perfect.

(Thanks, Uli)

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Pooh diapers — and a rectal thermometer!

This week marks the anniversary of one of our most popular posts: the one about the Spongebob Squarepants Musical Rectal Thermometer. Nothing I find in the super-market again can ever top that.

However, last night I found myself at an overstock outlet store, Big Lots, and lo and behold: a Disney Pooh Rectal Thermometer! It doesn’t play the theme song in your ass like the Spongebob product does - but otherwise its a perfect match of character-to-merchandise! It’ll go great with the Pooh Huggies diapers and Looney Tunes Baby Wipes I also found.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Partly Cloudy to accompany Up

Partly Cloudy is the name of Pixar’s latest short that will be showing in front of Up starting May 29, reports UpcomingPixar. The short is directed by Peter Sohn who voiced Emile in Pixar’s Ratatouille.

From Inside

Via Boing Boing, we hear about From Inside, a new animated short feature film by John Bergin based on his graphic novel of the same name, a story about pregnancy symbolised by a massive, home-destroying freight train. Here's Gareth Branwyn describing it:

From Inside has always been a film, even when it was a comic book. When I first got the galleys and began thumbing through it, I saw storyboards, I saw frames and camera angles, I saw sweeps and transitions. The experience on the page was very cinematic. So it makes sense that John would want to go the other way and make a film that feels like reading a comic book in motion. And no, we're not talking about a comic book being adapted to the big screen as a full-blown animation. John worked with the original art from the book and did the ol' Ken Burns Effect on the panels, adding some animation elements, and 3D models and set pieces. The result feels like a mash-up between a static comic book, a pop-up book, and full-blown 3D animation. Its "bookness" is more intact than other comics made into films.

And here's the trailer, which looks glorious.

Christian Bale Goes Bat S**t on Peter Griffin!!!

Christian Bale went crazy berserk on Peter Griffin -- seriously -- and by some crazy twist of fate, TMZ got our hands on the most friggin' sweet ass unedited clip you've ever heard. WARNING: Video contains explicit language.

The full "Family Guy" episode aired Sunday 9/8c on FOX.

(Thanks TMZ)

Peter Gabriel Won’t Play WALL•E Song For Oscar

Singer and songwriter Peter Gabriel has decided not to perform “Down to Earth,” his Oscar nominated song from the Pixar-Disney animated featured WALL•E, due to a dispute with producers.

According to Deadline Hollywood Daily, Gabriel took issue with the three Oscar-nominated songs being performed as a medley in which “Down to Earth” was to be heard for only 65 seconds versus 90 for the other two nominees.

The medley was reportedly a move on the producers’ part to rein in the length of the Oscars broadcast.

Gabriel co-wrote the music for the song with Thomas Newman, and wrote the lyrics himself. No word was forthcoming on who would perform the song in Gabriel’s place.

Keyframe Works Up Peggy, Cuddly Wuggleys

Keyframe Digital Productions is developing two new children’s animated series, Peggy’s Little Harbour and Cuddly Wuggleys.

Peggy and Wuggleys
are aimed at preschoolers, with Peggy slated to be launched through a Canadian broadcaster already in talks for the series, and then expand to the United States, Europe and Latin America.

Peggy follows the adventures of a little girl living in a lighthouse on Canada’s Atlantic Coast who sets out to explore the world with the help of her dog, Droolie.

Cuddly Wuggleys follows the adventures of five plush toys in a children’s day care center that come to life each night after the children have gone home.

Keyframe also is developing with Ireland-based Kavaleer Production another series, called Sock Monsters.

Sherman Gives Voice to Alzheimer’s Fight

Dina Sherman’s voice has earned her a career on such animated fare as Naruto and Digimon—but its real power is just now being felt in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.

The voice actress is donating 50 percent of her net earnings this year to the Alzheimer’s Association. Sherman’s battle is personal—both her grandmothers died from the disease and her mother works with placing seniors in care facilities in Orange County.

The idea of contributing half her earnings came about as she struggled to find time to volunteer. “My husband came up with the idea of combining work with supporting a worthy cause. I loved the idea. I am passionate about my work and I am determined to make a difference, so we decided to ‘put my money where my mouth is,’ so to speak,” she says.

Sherman says the effort has rubbed off on others in all the right ways. “My agent Wes Stevens at Vox, Inc. is so supportive that he is even donating 50% of his commissions from my work,” she says. “It's amazing to do something that feels right and is bigger than me. There are quite a few people with projects in the works who want to find a way to book me and support this cause.”

So far, Sherman says she’s booked three jobs since starting the campaign, which is still in its earliest stages. “I haven't had an increase in pay or matched funds yet, but there is still time,” she says. “I have many more plans and ideas to continue to raise funds and awareness.”

For updates on Sherman's compaign, check her site at

In the category of "Is there any demand to see this made into a film?" -

They're Making A "Stretch Armstrong" Film

"Bruce Almighty" scribe Steve Oedekerk is set to pen the superhero comedy "Stretch Armstrong" for Universal Pictures reports Variety.

The toy, a 13-inch, blond-haired muscled figure whose limbs could be stretched to nearly four feet, was launched by Kenner in the '70s.

Disney tried to make the film back in 1998 with Danny DeVito and later Jackie Chan.

Brian Goldner and Bennett Schneir will produce the new film which joins the likes of other Hasbro properties like Monopoly, Candyland and Ouija being developed at Universal.

Introducing PETER MOEHRLE!

I am truly delighted to share a sampling of animation background art, provided directly by artist Peter Moehrle! He is a truly masterful animation background artist, with a dazzling style and resume to match. He trained all the background artists on Disney Studio's LILO AND STITCH in the fine art of watercolor backgrounds.

In addition to LILO AND STITCH and MULAN, Peter has worked on a variety of non-Disney projects. He is incredibly talented. His background art is expressive and marked by great nuance, texture and style.

Here is a sampling from Peter's brilliant portfolio:

ROCK AND RULE (1983, from Canadian animation studio Nelvana)

These, from MULAN:

These, from LILO AND STITCH:

More of Peter's art can be seen at:

Thank you Peter, for sharing your work with us!

(Thanks Animation Backgrounds)

EXCLUSIVE: ‘Tales Of The Black Freighter’ Trailer — Get Your First Look Here, ‘Watchmen’ Fans!

“Watchmen” hits theaters March 6, but today MTV Splash Page has your first look at one of the most eagerly anticipated elements of Zack Snyder’s adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ graphic novel. We brought you the DVD and Blu-Ray specs last month for “Tales of the Black Freighter,” the animated story-within-a-story pulled from the pages of “Watchmen” and featuring the voice of Gerard Butler, and now MTV has your exclusive first look at the trailer for the feature.

You can check out the trailer here, or head over to for High-Def version.

“Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter & Under the Hood”
hits shelves March 24, 2009 — but that’s not all the “Watchmen” news we have for you.

Just this week, we told you how you could be a part of a special early screening of
“Watchmen” and brought you a pair of new “Watchmen” television ads, along with a play-by-play breakdown of the footage from the “Watchmen” panel at New York Comic Con.

And be sure to watch MTV's
“Watchmen”-themed movie show “Spoilers” Feb. 21 at 8 PM, where the entire “Watchmen” cast will join MTV in presenting exclusive new looks at “Watchmen” (of course), “Star Trek,” “Transformers 2,” “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” and “Land of the Lost.”

‘Iron Man 2’ Casting Campaign: Eliza Dushku Wants To Be The Black Widow

Thursday, MTV Splash Page lamented the lack of “Iron Man 2″ movie news, but it looks like Eliza Dushku has come to the rescue. The star of Joss Whedon’s “Dollhouse” television series kicked off an Internet campaign Thursday on the Howard Stern show to get her a role in “Iron Man 2” — and not just any role. She wants to play The Black Widow.

“They’re doing ‘Iron Man 2,’ and I’m so perfect for the Black Widow character, that they just need to get into it,” said Dushku. “They need to understand… I just learned Russian because I had to play a Russian girl in ‘Dollhouse.’ Maybe we could all tell them. Lets get on a Black Widow Iron Man 2 campaign.”

Theoretically, it seems like it could happen, since previously announced Black Widow actress Emily Blunt has scheduling conflicts that could endanger her role in the blockbuster’s sequel. In fact, this could be an ideal situation, considering Dushku already has the Russian down and the fighting skills (check her out as troubled vampire fighter Faith in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”).

Even without Dushku throwing her hat into the ring, it’s been a roller-coaster ride for “Iron Man 2” in 2009. Gwyneth “Pepper Potts” Paltrow recently told MTV News she hasn’t seen an “Iron Man 2″ script yet, while Robert Downey Jr. blew significant casting speculations out of the water when he told us Mickey Rourke is not playing the Crimson Dynamo. Meanwhile, Samuel L. Jackson hinted that he might not reprise his role as Nick Fury in any Marvel movie.

Despite all of the uncertainty, however, we tend to be of a similar mind as “Invincible Iron Man” writer Matt Fraction, who told MTV after a meeting with the “Iron Man 2″ filmmakers that he’s quite sure it will be “a hell of a movie.”

Scarlett Johansson to Star in Iron Man 2?

Entertainment Weekly is reporting the rumor that Scarlett Johansson is in discussions with Marvel Studios to replace Emily Blunt for the role of Russian superspy Natasha Romanoff, who doubles as Black Widow, in Iron Man 2.

Blunt's commitment to 20th Century Fox and the studio's upcoming
Gulliver's Travels may prohibit her from co-starring in the superhero sequel.

Marvel will not confirm, but sources tell EW that Johansson has indeed met with the filmmakers and is interested in taking the role. Blunt's reps are still trying to make both projects work, but
is further along, with a start date of April 15. Iron Man 2 still doesn't have a shooting script and a start date has not yet been determined.

The Rock In Jonny Quest Movie

Moviehole sent Robert Sanchez over to meet The Rock a few weeks back at the “Race to Witch Mountain” Junket.

Always wearing the scoop badge, Robert came back with an exclusive bit of upcoming film news : Seems Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, “Race” director Andy Fickman, and “High School Musical” moppet Zac Efron are teaming up for a feature film version of the cartoon classic “The Adventures of Jonny Quest”!

For those that don't recall, the animated series (first aired in the 60s) told of a boy, 11-year-old Jonny, who accompanies his father, Dr. Benton Quest, on extraordinary adventures. Fearing Jonny could end up in the wrong hands, a special agent / bodyguard / pilot from Intelligence One Government, Race Bannon, is hired to guard and train him.

Zac Efron will play the title role, with Dwayne Johnson as his Race Bannon.

‘’ I love the script, I love working with Andy...’’, Johnson tells Moviehole. “I don't know if you've read the latest [draft] but it's awesome and it's badass and I haven't read, this is what I told everyone over at Warner Bros., and I love the studio too by the way, you know, I had my experience with them with Get Smart and they were great, I hadn't read an action script like that in a LONG time. And that action was unbelievable. That will happen.’’

Johnson confirms that he’ll be Race Bannon, and that rumours suggesting Zac Efron might be Jonny Quest are on the money. Efron isn’t a lock though – and Johnson’s all ears. You see, in the source material the character is only twelve years old, but Efron’s 17. ‘’I loved Jonny Quest when I was a kid. If you go a little older, it gives you more, it allows you to just gives you a bit more, you know. But then you want to honor it too, so... “

PorchLight to Turn Bella Sara Horse Card Game into Animated TV Series, Film

PorchLight Entertainment and Hidden City Games have entered a partnership to turn the Bella Sara games into an animated TV series and a feature film. Bella Sara's horse-themed, fantasy-driven backstory has made it the most successful trading card game developed for girls. The series will be targeted for kids aged 6-11, although no release date was made available.

The Anime Business

Via Anime News Network
GDH has announced pans to restructure animation studio Gonzo (Speed Grapher, Afro Samurai, Basilisk) in order to return the division to profitability within five years. As a reacting to slowing DVD sales, staff will be reduced from 130 to 30. With that limited staff, Gonzo will not be able to be the solo producer of anime. For more, see hereQA


Namco Bandai has announced a reorganization which will put six departments under the Bandai Visual anime branch, including the Gundam department, the high-end department, the character department, the anime department, the film department, and the music department. Satoshi Kono will be in charge of the reorganized content division. Minoru Takanashi will continue to head up the content division's development unit. Satoshi Kubo will be the chief producer of the Gundam department, while Koichi Ueyama will be the chief producer of the high-end department. Chief producers Kenji Hamada, Atsushi Yukawa, Katsuji Umezawa, and Hiroyuki Takano will head up the character, anime, film, and music departments, respectively.

Digital Distribution News

Bandai Entertainment has begun streaming anime, starting with Code Geass on YouTube

Five episodes are currently available. Mobile Suit Gundam 00 is scheduled to be added later.


FUNimation has announced that they are growing their online video service on a weekly basis.

New this week: high-quality, full-length and subtitled episodes from the Japanese animated series Ouran High School Host Club, Romeo X Juliet, Shikabane Hime and Gad Guard -- some available with the option to download-to-own.

Also added are English dubbed episodes of Ah! My Goddess Season 2, Full Metal Panic and the movie Vexille.


Naruto Shippuden ep. 95 is being offered on Joost here
At the Leaf Village Naruto is busy training with Gamakichi and Gamatatsu. But when he learns that Kakashi and the others are out on a mission to locate Orochimaru’s hideout, Naruto rushes to ask Tsunade if he can join the mission.

Sony Music Japan will offer the eighth Naruto ending, "Bacchikoi!!! by Devparade on iTunes


Department of Alchemy on YouTube, Fansubs, and a Conflict of Copyright, including an interview with Interactii, one of the members of the popular fansubbing group Dattebayo Fansubs, concerning reservations about fansubbed anime being posted to YouTube

Q: Can you comment on the fact that Dattebayo, while fansubbing is technically illegal, [is] asking YouTube to follow through with legal actions…

Yeah, the reason that we do that is because we believe that having some level of control over the material is very important. So if it is asked of us to stop, we can try to stop as best as possible. And YouTube is so uncontrolled in its methods of distribution and it’s so accessible — it’s accessibly accessible — by my viewpoint. And so our goal is just to reduce that. And it’s also kind of to protect the interest of the show, because it’s not good for that to be on YouTube. Anime companies don’t want it, fansubbers and fansubbing groups don’t want it… we’re all working towards that same kind of goal.


Anime content streamer CrunchyRoll has become the first American/non-Japanese owned company to join to become an associate member of the Association of Japanese Animations (AJA)-the Japanese industry group consisting of animation production companies that works on issues surrounding the animation industry.

Crunchyroll will join the AJA as an associate member along side other current existing associate members including CoMix Wave Films Inc., COLUMBIA MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT, Inc., THINK Corp, GENEON ENTERTAINMENT Inc., Sony PCL Inc., Sony Music Communications Inc., BANDAI CHANNEL CO., LTD., and full members consisting of such industry giants like Aniplex Inc., GAINAX Co., Ltd, GONZO K.K., SUNRISE Inc., Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions Co., LTd., STUDIO GHIBLI Co., LTd., TEZUKA PRODUCTIONS Co., Ltd., TOEI ANIMATION CO., LTD, BANDAI VISUAL Co., Ltd., PIERROT Co., Ltd., Production I.G., Inc., BONES, Inc. and MADHOUSE, Inc.

Crunchyroll reportedly aims to register 40,000 paid subscribers over the next three years.

Hollywood Adaptations

Live action Blood: The Last Vampire teaser

Via Anime News Network
Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama commented on the live action adaptation of his manga

"As the original creator, I had a feeling of "Huh?" upon seeing the screenplay and the character designs, but the director, all the actors, the staff, and the rest are nothing but "ultra" high-caliber people. Maybe the right way for me and all the fans to appreciate it is as a new Dragonball of a different dimension. Perhaps, this might become a great masterpiece of power! Hey, I look forward to it!!"

The live action adaptation of Dragon Ball opens in Japan on March 13, in advance of the April 8 US opening.

The Japanese trailer

Upcoming in Japan


Higashi no Eden ~ Eden of the East (the new Production I.G anime, in addition to the TV series, an anime movie is the works)
Romi Paku and Rie Kugimiya (Ed and Al Elric) are confirmed as reprises the voice roles of the anime's protagonists
Tsubasa Shunraiki OVA


Chi’s Sweet Home, based on the seinen manga about a kitten, and relationship comedy Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu will be getting second seasons

Via Anime News Network

To mark the 20th annversary of the broadcast of Dragon Ball Z, Fuji TV's Japanese network of affiliates in HD will be broadcasting a digitally remastered HD version of the classic fight anime starting on April 5th. Re-edited, re-recorded version the end them will be produced with the cast led by Son Goku's Masako Nozawa.

RPG Tales of Vesperia will be adapted into an anime movie with Kanta Kamei directing

According to rumor, “bishoujo violence” post apocalyptic action comedy manga Needless will be adapted into anime by Masayuki Sakoi (Kamen no Maid Guy, Strawberry Panic!).

A second second series of
Negima! Magister Negi Magi original anime DVDs (OADs) will be bundled with limited editions of four manga volumes. Akiyuki Shinbo will direct the animators at SHAFT as he did for the first Maho Sensei Negima! ~ Shiroki Tsubasa~ ALA ALBA OAD

Via Gundam | News
Volume 3: “Odessa, Storm of Iron!” of MS IGLOO 2, the CG animated telling of the original Mobile Suit Gundam's One Year War from the perspective of the antagnists will be released on April 24th.
The theme song will be NO LIMITS 8 by Tada

Worth Checking Out...


Reverse Thieves on Death in Anime

Geek Dad lists Movies for Budding Anime Geeks (all Miyazaki)

Anime Academy on the awesomely strange Lupin III: Red vs Blue

Behind the scenes on the Akira Blu-ray


Girl clips from Studio 4C's Street Fighter IV work

Godzilla: The Art of Takashi Minamimura

From Yamato with Love

Photo's of Sunrise's studio

The opening for the anime adaptation of Osamu Tezuka's The Three Eyed Boy

Super Robots ops

Fan Doctor Who anime

Kemonozume: Style + Substance?

Then, there's the viral Kemonozume clip, if you haven't seen it


Commemorating Osamu Tezuka

Obama endorses pachinko

Ghibli animated a music video

Newsarama Interviews Steve Blum on Being "Wolverine For Life"

Newsarama's Animated Shorts has spoken with voice actor Steve Blum about his career and his current status as "Wolverine for Life," appearing in the Hulk Vs. direct-to-video movie and the series Wolverine and the X-Men. Topics discussed are how he broke into the voice acting business, the breadth of his roles, how being TOM for Cartoon Network's Toonami block led to some surprising fan mail, and what it's like to be the best there is at what he does when what he does isn't very nice.

"Dora the Explorer" receives NAACP Image Award

The 40th NAACP Image Awards, held in Los Angeles on the twelfth of February, presented the award for Outstanding Children's Program to Nickelodeon's Dora the Explorer. The full press release follows.



NEW YORK– Feb. 13, 2009 –Nickelodeon’s Dora the Explorer and Keke Palmer, star of the network’s hit tween comedy series, True Jackson, VP, were honored by the NAACP at the 40th NAACP Image Awards during the 40th Annual Awards ceremony in Los Angeles on Feb. 12. Dora the Explorer took home the award for Outstanding Children’s Program and Keke Palmer won for Outstanding Performance in a Youth/Children’s Program Series or Special.

Launched in 2000,
Dora the Explorer is the number-one preschool program on all of television in the US (source: NMR: 12/31/07-12/14/08), and has been honored with a Peabody Award (2003), three Imagen Awards (2001-2003); a Gracie Allen Award (2004-2005) and an Alma Award (2002). The series, created by Chris Gifford, Valerie Walsh Valdes and Eric Weiner, is designed to actively engage its audience in an interactive quest using a variety of learning techniques. Dora the Explorer is syndicated to TV broadcasters in 125 markets, translated in 24 languages and is available in consumer products in 32 territories.

Keke Palmer, star of Nickelodeon’s
True Jackson, VP, has established herself as one of the fastest rising young stars of her generation, with credits that span film, television, and music. Her performance as the title character Lions Gate Films/Starbucks Entertainment’s Akeelah and the Bee garnered a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Motion Picture. Palmer now lends her unparalleled talent to the role of True Jackson, a teenage student tapped to head the youth division of a major fashion label. Created and executive produced by award-winning broadcast comedy veteran Andy Gordon (NewsRadio, Just Shoot Me!, Mad About You), True Jackson
, VP is cable’s second highest-rated show for kids 6-11 and tweens 9-14 on Saturday nights.

Nickelodeon, now in its 30th year, is the number-one entertainment brand for kids. It has built a diverse, global business by putting kids first in everything it does. The company includes television programming and production in the United States and around the world, plus consumer products, online, recreation, books, magazines and feature films. Nickelodeon’s U.S. television network is seen in more than 98 million households and has been the number-one-rated basic cable network for 14 consecutive years. For more information or artwork, visit Nickelodeon and all related titles, characters and logos are trademarks of Viacom Inc..

"Acting for Animation" at Woodbury University on February 21, 2009

Woodbury University and ASIFA-Hollywood will be hosting several new animation-related events at the Fletcher Jones Foundation Auditorium, with the first being an "Animation Salon" on February 21, 2009, at 8:00 PM, on the topic of "Acting for Animation." Among other topics, the seminar will examine the nature of acting in live-action and animation, the differences between the two, and what constitutes a good animated acting performance. The event's special guest will be Eddie Fitzgerald, story artist on Ren and Stimpy and creator of Uncle Eddie's Theory Corner.

A trailer for the event has been made available. The full press release follows.

Woodbury University has graciously invited ASIFA-Hollywood to host events at their newly opened Fletcher Jones Foundation Auditorium. For the next several months, the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive will be hosting Animation Salons on the third Saturday evening of every month. These events are free and open to the animation community.


Jean Francois de Troy, "Reading from Moliere" 1728

On Saturday, February 21st at 8pm, we will be holding an Animation Salon on the subject of...

Acting For Animation

What is "acting"? What constitutes a well acted performance?

What are the differences between acting for animation and acting in live action?

Are there things that can be easily done in live action that can't be done as effectively in animation?

Are there are other ways to convey mood, emotion and personality besides acting?

What sort of inspiration did golden age animators look to for creating an animated performance? What do these models of pantomime acting have to inform modern animation?

Who was the greatest actor of all time? Was it John Barrymore who received acclaim for his performances in Hamlet and Richard III?

...Or was it the "wascaly wabbit", Bugs Bunny?

Acting For Animation Teaser Video
John Barrymore "Twentieth Century (1934)
Bugs Bunny in "Tortoise Wins By A Hare" (1943)
(Quicktime 7 / 6.7 MB)

We'll be discussing and screening examples related to these and many more topics at Woodbury University on February 21st. I hope you can join us.


Joining us for this Animation Salon will be cartoonist Eddie Fitzgerald, the creator of Uncle Eddie's Theory Corner and story artist on Ren & Stimpy. Eddie will be screening one of his favorite films and sharing his theories on acting and building a characterful performance.

Don't miss it!

Animation Salon: Acting For Animation
February 21st, 2009 8pm
Admission FREE to the animation community
Woodbury University
School of Business / Fletcher Jones Foundation Theater
7500 Glenoaks Bl
Burbank, CA 91510
(Click for printable map)

NY Times on "Sita Sings the Blues;" Airing on NY PBS Station on March 7, 2009

The New York Times has taken a look at Nina Paley's film Sita Sings the Blues, her animated movie that adapts the Hindu epic The Ramayana with events in her own life set to the music of 1930's blues singer Annette Hanshaw. The article follows the painful divorce from her husband that led to the making of the movie, how the short film "Trial by Fire" led to Sita Sings the Blues, and the wide critical acclaim it has received, only to be held up for wide release due to music licensing issues. Making the movie has left Paley more than $20,000 in debt, and the rights holders for the songs used are asking for a prohibitive amount of money for the rights.

According to the article, an exception in the copyright laws will allow Sita Sings the Blues to be screened on WNET, New York's PBS affiliate, on March 7, 2009, after which the movie will be available on the WNET website.

Marvel Animation Age Talks with Kaare Andrews on "Hulk Vs." Cover Art

The Marvel Animation Age has spoken with artist Kaare Andrews about his covers for the Hulk Vs. direct-to-video movie, digging into how he got the assignment to do the cover, what he aims for when he is putting a cover together, and his feelings about the movie. The article also includes several pieces of concept artwork and alternate ideas for covers.

Kaare, for those who may not be familiar with your work, care to provide us with some of your background?

Sure. Well, I'm a writer and artist in the comic book world who has mostly worked with Marvel Comics for about 9 years now. I'm most known for my work on two years of crazy Hulk covers and a Spider-Man mini-series that I wrote and drew called Spider-Man: REIGN. I'm also known for drawing in a wide variety of styles. Basically, I approach each project as a chance to try something new and while it's not really the norm in this industry, it's a way to keep it fresh and challenging.

Before we look at the Hulk Versus cover, I have to ask about your stint as The Incredible Hulk cover artist. You managed to make each cover to that series unique and different, showing an incredible amount of flexibility when it comes to style. They ranged from original works to brilliant homages While this may be an impossible question to answer, but how did you come up with those amazing covers? Is there a cover that stands out as your favorite.

There really was no plan to create such an eclectic run on the Hulk covers. It happened very organically and the first few covers were very 'normal' and included an homage to a classic Jim Steranko cover, who is one of my favorite artists of all time. Then one day when I handed in some layout ideas to my editor Axel Alonso I included a riff off of a Norman Rockwell cover that I had been staring at that day. I thought it would be fun to try to emulate the way he paints and it was a fairly humorous cover. I didn't expect Axel to approve it but he did and that started the whole ball in motion. Soon enough I was homaging or stealing my favorite posters, children's book covers and cereal boxes. I was experimenting with crazy techniques too.

One cover I made by sculpting a life size head of the Hulk in clay, casting it in resin and painting it and photographing it. I was basically living out a childhood dream of becoming a make-up artist. The problem was that I was using crazy toxic materials in my one bedroom apartment and almost killed myself. And all the materials cost so much money that I'm not even sure I turned a profit. But it was great fun. I love experimenting. I would say that my favorite Hulk covers from the past were my Where The Wild Things are homage and my cereal box cover. Those are the ones I enjoy signing the most anyways. I think it's very telling when you draw from the things you love. It shows in the work. And when I was a kid I loved that book and I loved cereal.

When approaching a canvas, whether it¹s for a comic cover, interiors, etc., what is your thought process before putting brush to paper (or the computer equivalent)? Based on your work for such titles as Wolverine (in reference to issue #32) and Spider-Man: Reign, you seen to have a specific idea of what you¹re aiming for when you approach each new project.

I ask myself two questions. What will make me want to draw this story? And is it appropriate to the story itself? There are so many different ways to do things. It's much more marketable to create 'one look' and then spend the rest of your life refining or building on that one look. But as you can see from my toxic Hulk mask story I seldom worry about turning a profit and I seldom worry about my health. I just try to find a reason to love what I do. And that reason has to continually change and evolve. My one rule is this: I must keep the same style for the life of the project. This rule of course doesn't apply to covers but for the interior art it needs to live in the same world.

I constantly meet people who love my really cartoony look that I created for Spider-Man Manga or X-Men Unlimited and could care less for my hyper-realistic painted style. And I constantly meet people who hate that cartoony stuff and prefer my painted style or my more traditional pen and ink style. But if you look at every great artist they are constantly evolving. I'm talking about Madonna or Darren Aronofsky or the like... It's a bit of a trap to try to become great at something but I want to at least travel on the same road as artists I admire. Keep each chapter in my work fresh and surprising. It doesn't always work out in the end but it is the journey that is important to me.

On that note, providing the artwork for the Hulk Versus packaging seems like a natural fit. Were you approached for this task or did you seek it out? If you were approached, why do you think Marvel wanted you for this task?

I believe the very exuberant Craig Kyle at Marvel Animation (and now Marvel Studios) is to blame. It was a great fit for me because of my history with both the Hulk and Wolverine and my Norwegian heritage, which is to blame for my crazy first name. I'm not sure why they wanted me but I was happy for the job. I'm a bit of a DVD collector and I'm very excited to see the work on the racks of shelving.

What were your expectations and what were you hoping to achieve when coming up with the artwork for this release?

Well, I had been away from my cartoony styles for a little too long and knew immediately what I wanted to do. There was some back and forth on this project as there literally is a committee of people approving the cover from Lion's Gate and Marvel but in the end we came back to the look I first envisioned. I mean, I always feel I could have drawn things better or what not, the curse of all artistic endeavors, but that is simply your brain trying to make you better for the next time round but I really am quite happy with how things worked out.

You drew a host of different images for this title, including very different approaches for the Two-Disc DVD/Blu-ray and Single-Disc releases with one having a more painted feel and the other more of a linework feel. Did you have difficulty having to come up with these different images that also had to stay true to the content within?

Craig Kyle had assured me early in the process that I was to not worry about following the style of the cartoon inside and to showcase my own look. He was very faithful to his word and I have to give him a lot of credit for that. The only concession I really had to make was giving Hulk pupils. Normally I don't do it as he looks much more INCREDIBLE and SCARY without them but I think that was a note from Lion's Gate that we had to address. And really, I draw it such weirdly different ways that the final covers don't actually look that different from one another to me. Very similar shapes anyways, just different rendering techniques.

How do you feel about the final look to the packaging and your artwork for Hulk Versus.

Amy Texture at Lion's Gate did a crazy job with the foil, embossing and ventiuclating (I may have just made that verb up). I have never had a project printed with so many different processes. I love it!

Do you have any unused designs or concepts for the Hulk Versus packaging that you¹d like to share?

Oh goodness. Yes. Hah! Take a look at some of the layouts I created for

Did Marvel give you a chance to see Hulk Versus and, if so, any thoughts on the animated feature?

Both Lion's Gate and Marvel were really amazing at setting up a screening for me. I saw it projected in the theatre at Lion's Gate in L.A. It was so helpful and thoughtful. They really made me feel like I could contribute to the project.

As we start to slowly wrap this up, are there any upcoming projects you¹d like to let us in on, both comics-related and non-comics-related? Will you be perhaps getting behind the camera again for any Canadian or international projects?

Oh goodness, yes! I am SO BUSY. It's crazy. But I am forbidden from talking about anything right now. Needless to say I will continue to work with Axel at Marvel on some great projects and I am returning to some film work as well. I wish I could say more...

In closing, do you have any final thoughts to share on this project, especially as momentum continues to build up to the January 27th, 2009 premiere of the animated feature?

This is a great DVD. I am very proud to be a part of it all and when I saw it advertised on Spike during the UFC Countdown I flipped. I'm such a huge UFC fan! I love when the comic book world and the normal world collide. I think everyone is going to be surprised by how much effort has been put into the the actual films. I know I was!

Dollhouse premiere ratings even worse than expected

Friday night death slot indeed.

The series premiere of Joss Whedon's Dollhouse was seen by just 4.7 million viewers on Friday night and earned a 2.0 preliminary adults 18-49 rating and 6 share, below even the network's modest expectations for the series, the Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reported.

Dollhouse was beaten in the 9 p.m. hour by ABC's Supernanny (8.5 million viewers, 2.2/7) and is the lowest-rated drama series premiere on a major broadcast network this season, aside from NBC's now-defunct Crusoe, the site reported.

was paired with the midseason return of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which moved from its previous Monday-night timeslot, and that show also saw its ratings fall: 3.7 million viewers, for a 1.3 rating and 5 share. Terminator came in third place in the hour and hit a series low (by like 27 percent), Live Feed reported.

beat NBC's Howie Do It, but not by much. Both CBS' Ghost Whisperer (8.9 million, 2.4/8) and ABC's Wife Swap (4.3 million, 1.5/5) did better.

Fox had hopes at least of coming out ahead of ABC's reality block. But
Terminator was sinking in the ratings earlier this season, and Dollhouse
has suffered from negative buzz and creative trouble for months.

Who's afraid of "Beowulf"? Wisconsin parents are

School administrators in Menasha, Wisconsin are reviewing district policy on in-class movies after the local high school scheduled a screening of Warner Bros.' motion-capture Beowulf, which includes an animated nude scene with Angelina Jolie.

Eric and Gail Hjortness received the list of movies that their daughter would see in her World Mythologies class. They spotted Beowulf and hoped it wasn't the 2007 version.

"I was like, OK, which one is it, but there's really no description on there to tell us which one it is," Gail Hjortness told WBAY, ABC's TV affiliate serving northeastern Wisconsin.

The 2007 version of Beowulf, based on the Old English epic poem, incorporates animation of real-life actors. One scene shows an animation of Jolie nude and seducing another character.

"They say the reason it was PG-13 was because it was animated," said Eric Hjortness, who brought the video to a school board meeting this week and offered to show it to the board.

"In the movie, it's about a one-minute scene, full frontal nudity," he told the Appleton Post-Crescent. "The woman walks around a man and makes a very concerted effort to seduce him and succeeds.

"It doesn't leave much to the imagination. It was quite erotic."

To ensure that their daughter, a junior, wouldn't see the animated Beowulf -- which Menasha students haven't seen yet -- the parents chose to have her do a different assignment, which district policy allows.

"My hope would be parents start realizing they need to participate and be involved in the school district," Eric Hjortness said.

He added that he met with the class teacher and Menasha High School principal Larry Haase, but was told that parents "have absolutely no say" over curriculum and could not discuss moral issues or alternatives. Going to the board was the only choice, he said.

Hjortness was supported by his wife Gail and another parent at the board meeting. He said that their daughter was told alternative assignments involve writing. "Why should she get punished for not going to the movie?" he asked.

The parents also expressed concern that a student whose parents refuse permission to watch a film in class could suffer social repercussions.

"I think we want to seriously look at whether we want Hollywood to define parental morality," the dad said. "I'm a concerned parent and I'm disturbed at the checks and balance I'm seeing."

According to Haase, it was always planned to screen an earlier film adaptation of the Anglo-Saxon epic. "I'm guessing, I think it was the late '50s, early '60s" version, Haase said.

The Hjortnesses went to the school board, to ask about the larger issue of whether parents and morality have a role in the district's decision-making process.

District policy already requires PG-13 movies to receive advance parental permission. The district now will list the version of each movie being shown.

"Parent input is always valued," said Haase. "The difficult part is trying to maintain an ability for students to learn that isn't clouded by a particular parent's viewpoint."

"If they were not willing to support it, then the district has an obligation to provide alternative assignments for students in regard to that," said schools superintendent Keith Fuchs. "Our discussion with the high school will be taking a look at those movies to see whether they have a specific purpose and intent for that particular class," he said after the meeting.

As well, Fuchs said, administrators will "identify potential alternative assignments for students who may opt not to watch those movies."

School board president Sue Gielau asked Fuchs and Haase to report back to the board after reviewing the concerns.

DreamWorks Animation's Bankroller Bows Out

One of the big players that helped launch DreamWorks back in the heady, boom-boom nineties -- has carried the last of his DWA chips to the cashiers window:

Paul Allen, [co-founder of Microsoft] has cashed out of DreamWorks Animation, the latest move in the billionaire's reshuffling of his media assets.

According to a regulatory filing, Allen had no stake in DWA as of Dec. 31, whereas he owned more than 18% of the company a year before ...

As for Allen, he is ending an equity arrangement with DreamWorks that began with its launch in 1994 with $500 million of Allen's money along with $100 million combined from Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen.

One reason DWA was carved out of the live-action studio and taken public was in order to allow Allen a more lucrative and efficient way to reap the benefits of his investment.

In this time of turmoil and trouble, it's nice to see somebody actually make a profit on an equity deal.

Of course, Mr. Allen would likely have made more money if he had exited before the big meltdown. Happily, he still has several billion dollars to see him through the current tough times.

It's good to know he has a cushion.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

New Dragonball Poster Revealed!

I'm not sure where this poster came from. My boss was very cryptic in his e-mail saying it was from someone named Paulywallnuts. I'm not sure who this Mr. Nuts is but he makes a mighty fine poster. Well, mighty fine if you're into Dragonball.

Before I show the new poster, can someone please explain to me what the f*** this Dragonball thing is all about? Because I don't get it. It's a dude who has dragonballs and shoots them at people? Or he owns a dragon with enormous balls? Or he has balls the size of a dragon's? What's the deal, readers? Educate me. I'm an idiot who is too lazy too look this stuff up on Wikipedia.

Anyways, here's the poster. Enjoy.

(Thanks Latino Review)

Profit for Nickelodeon's owner takes 69% nosedive

Viacom Inc., the corporate owner for such animation conduits as Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures, Comedy Central and MTV, announced Thursday that its fourth-quarter profit fell 69%, partly due to declining advertising and home entertainment revenues brought on by the recession.

The New York-based company said that it it earned $173 million (28 cents per share), down from $559.5 million (86 cents per share), in the same quarter a year ago. Revenue stayed the same at $4.24 billion, with advertising sales falling 3% to $1.35 billion.

However, theatrical revenues grew 28% to $350 million, aided by the box office success of Paramount's Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. The animated feature film was produced by DreamWorks Animation, which is distributed by Paramount.

Filmed entertainment revenues dropped 2% to $1.81 billion in the fourth quarter, mainly due to a 6% fall in DVD sales to $1.02 billion -- this despite such strong video releases as Kung Fu Panda. Viacom's film division, which owns Paramount, has reduced the number of films that it plans to release annually by about six to 20.

"The home entertainment market, as the most important revenue driver for the industry, was hit by the downturn at retail," Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman said during a conference call with analysts.

The biggest theatrical release of this year's first quarter will be DreamWorks Animation's Monsters vs. Aliens in late March.

Dauman said that advertisers continued to withdraw from its cable networks, though less than they have from such other media as local TV stations.

"It is clear that while as cable network owners we are in a more favorable media segment than most, advertising (comparisons) are likely to get worse before they get better," he said.

Dauman predicted that restructuring will save $200 million this year.

While advertising fell at Viacom's media networks, revenue rose 1% to $2.48 billion as fees from cable and satellite operators increased 12% to $667 million.

Shares rose 66 cents (4.2%) to close Thursday at $16.29. Shares are down 62% from their peak last year of $42.54.

"Mary and Max" wins special mention in Berlin

Australian clay-animated feature film "Mary and Max," about the unlikely friendship between two pen pals, received a special mention at the Berlinale's Generation 14plus youth film section.

Directed by Adam Elliot, Mary and Max is voiced by Philip Seymour Hoffman, Toni Collette and Eric Bana, among others. It's the tale of the lifelong pen-friendship between Mary Dinkle, a lonely eight-year-old girl living in suburban Melbourne, and middle-aged, autistic New Yorker Max Horovitz. Spanning 20 years and two continents, Mary and Max's friendship survives much, much more than the average diet of life's ups and downs.

"It is ironic, endearing and has an unrivalled aesthetic," the jury said of the film. "Who am I and why am I? What is the meaning of friendship and how do I find my way to love and to my own self? Five years of production at the rate of five seconds a day definitely paid off!"

Through Melodrama Pictures, Mary and Max's production company, Elliott directed the Oscar-winning 2004 animated short Harvie Krumpet.

Also receiving special mention at the Berlinale was Scandinavian animated short film Slavar, a documentary about child slaves in Sudan. David Aronowitsch and Hanna Heilborn were the directors.

"The media usually illustrates war themes with pathetic and horrendous pictures. This film abstains from using such a shock tactic and relies on contrasting visual effects and the expressive voices of children who we assume have survived more than they have lived," the jurors said.

The Generation 14plus awards ceremony took place Friday, a day before the Berlinale's official competition awards show. The Berlin film festival ended Sunday.

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