Stephen Amell Joins "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2"
Business | Indian digital comics and animation producer Graphic India has raised $2.8 million in seed financing, led by CA Media, the Asian investment arm of the Chernin Group (which previously acquired “a large minority stake” in the company). Founded in 2013 as a subsidiary of Liquid Comics, Graphic India is perhaps best known for the Stan Lee-created Chakra: The Invincible. The funding will be used to create content in English, Hindi, Tamil and other Indian languages for mobile devices. [Variety]
Creators | Geoff Johns says he returned to Superman because he was interested in giving the Man of Steel a new confidante: “When I was just thinking about the character and thinking about the story possibilities, every time my brain started to picture him talking to somebody with a problem he was having … or dealing with Clark and Superman, it always was just with another superhero. I quickly realized [Superman] didn’t really have anyone normal in his life that he could talk to again, because no one knew his secret.” The other reason: The opportunity to work with John Romita Jr. [Comic Riffs]
Marvel and Disney hope to reach a broader audience with products tied to Avengers: Age of Ultron, which means more items that appeal to women and fans of individual superheroes.
“For the first film, we primarily focused on the Avengers property and the group shots,” Paul Gitter, Disney Consumer Products’ senior vice president of Marvel licensing, tells Variety. “Now we’re broadening the line and scope to create SKUs that focus on the team and the individuals characters, as well.”
It’s probably safe to assume that director Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will be pretty dark (spoilers!), with the Dark Knight going toe-to-toe with the Man of Steel until they begrudgingly form an alliance, comic book-style, against a common foe. However, it might be a refreshing surprise if the World’s Finest duo were instead depicted more like competitive, immature friends whose annoying rivalry has gotten a little out of hand.
You may recall those stylish DC Nation animated shorts by Robert Valley featuring a sunglasses-wearing Wonder Woman who cruises around in a classic Dodge Charger, fights a rollerskating Giganta and rescues a clueless Steve Trevor. If you don’t, you should watch them immediately (below), because they’re terrific — but also because DC Collectibles has unveiled a Wonder Woman statue based on Valley’s design.
Details are scant, but we know that it arrives this fall as part of the Wonder Woman: The Art of War line … and it’s pretty great-looking.
LeSean Thomas’ fabled fantasy Cannon Busters series may finally be returning, only this time in animated form.
The TV animation producer/director/artist has launched a $120,000 Kickstarter campaign to fund an eight- to 10-minute animated pilot for Cannon Busters: The Animated Series, featuring contributions from the likes of Joe Madureira, Thomas Romain and Tim Yoon.
Awards | Alexis Deacon has won the 2014 Observer/Cape/Comica graphic short story prize for “The River,” “a luscious, tangled, whispering kind of story” that earned him £1,000 (about $1,611 U.S.). The runners-up were Fionnuala Doran’s “Countess Markievicz” and Beth Dawson’s “After Life.” The short-story competition has been held annually since 2007 by London’s Comica Festival, publisher Jonathan Cape and The Observer newspaper. [The Observer]
Publishing | Mark Peters spotlights Archie Comics’ recent transformation from staid to startling, with titles like Afterlife With Archie and the new Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. [Salon]
Classic Tom and Jerry cartoons are now accompanied by disclaimers on Amazon Prime and iTunes warning viewers of “ethnic and racial prejudices,” BBC News and TheWrap report. However, the wording is similar to that accompanying some of the DVD collections, indicating the decision was made by Warner Bros., and not by the two online retailers.
“Tom & Jerry shorts may depict some racial and ethnic prejudices that were once commonplace in American society,” the Amazon label reads. “Such depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. While not representing the Warner Bros. view of today’s society, these cartoons are being presented as they were originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming that these prejudices never existed.”
If you were as bowled over as I was by Alexey Zakharov’s gorgeous 3D-animated Futurama introduction we spotlighted last month, you’ll be equally impressed by the artist’s new video, which shows how he created the sequence using 3ds Max, Nuke, Photoshop and After Effects.
Particularly fun, as you can see in part in the image above, is how Zakharov combined in image of Futurama’s Mom and a photo of Meryl Streep to create the holographic ad for Mom’s Old-Fashioned Robot Oil. I guess she is the most versatile actress of her generation!
Watch the original sequence, and the making-of video, below.
Disney has announced it will bring Big Hero 6‘s Baymax and Hiro Hamada to Disneyland and Walt Disney World this fall to greet fans as part of a promotional push for the animated film.
Although Captain America, Thor and Iron Man have previously appeared at Disneyland, this will be the first time Marvel characters have greeted visitors at Disney World.
It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly a year since Futurama ended (again), but if the series still holds a Bender-shaped place in your heart, you’ll likely appreciate this: Alexey Zakharov has created a gorgeous 3D-animated “test shot” of the Planet Express ship soaring over New New York (note the hologram ad for Mom’s Old-Fashioned Robot Oil).
On Behance, Zakharov also shows off some equally beautiful illustrations of the cityscape and ship (if you squint, you can even see a tiny Leela in one).
Peugeot pays tribute to a Hanna-Barbera classic with a fantastic TV commercial for its 208 hatchback that brings the animated Wacky Races to life.
In case you weren’t around in the late 1960s for its initial airing, or haven’t caught reruns on Boomerang, Wacky Races featured 11 cars going up against each other in road rallies across North America to win the title of World’s Wackiest Racer — at any cost. This being the ’60s, these weren’t just any cars, or any drivers, but rather an assortment of bizarre, usually dirty-dealing, characters that included the villainous Dick Dasterdly, with his snickering dog-henchman (hench-dog?) Muttley, the cavemen Slag brothers, the Gruesome Twosome with their stylized hearse, the Southern belle Penelope Pitstop, and the pint-sized gangsters the Ant Hill Mob.
All of them can be seen in the TV spot below, which was directed by Antoine Bardou-Jacquet for Young & Rubicam Brasil.
Conventions | Organizers of the growing Asbury Park Comicon have announced that, after three years, they’re relocating the New Jersey convention to the Meadowlands Exhibition Center in Secaucus and renaming it East Coast Comicon. Founders Cliff Galbraith and Robert Bruce say the nearly 40-mile move was triggered by a sharp increase in rates at the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel in Asbury Park, but the hotel’s manager thinks it’s because the venue couldn’t accommodate the dates requested by organizers. The inaugural East Coast Comicon will be held April 11-12, 2015. [Asbury Park Press]
Passings | Amadee Wohlschlaeger, who drew the comic strip Weatherbird for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for 70 years, has died at age 102. Weatherbird, which debuted in 1901, is the oldest continuously published comic in the United States, and Wohlschlaeger (who went by just his first name) is one of just four cartoonists to draw it. He was named one of the top 10 sports cartoonists in the country, and his drawing of Stan Musial inspired the statue at Busch Stadium. [KSDK]
Nickelodeon for the first time will hold an open call for original animated projects next month at Comic-Con International.
“Performance art, costumes, story boards, video, a sketch on a napkin — we’ll look at it all,” Russell Hicks, Nickelodeon’s president for content development and production, told The New York Times. “We’re not looking for these shorts in and of themselves to become shows. That’s too much pressure. What we’re looking for is raw talent.”
More than a year ago, James Harvey took Ryan Humphrey’s idea of a Simpsons/Akira mashup and ran with it, launching an ambitious jam project in which artists — 768 in all — would recreate every page from Katsuhiro Otomo’s pioneering cyberpunk epic using characters from Matt Groening’s beloved animated series. That’s the story of Batkira, a sprawling, loving tribute to both creators that received its own gallery show last month at Floating World Comics in Portland, Oregon.
It’s been a long time coming, but Eric Powell has offered an update on the Kickstarter-funded story reel for a CG-animated adaptation of The Goon, teasing, “we continue to inch closer to our final goal of Franky, via Paul Giamatti, screaming ‘KNIFE TO THE EYE!’ in theaters world wide!”
“I have seen about 90% of the story reel footage, and I’m super proud of the efforts of everyone involved,” he wrote Wednesday on the Kickstarter page. “Everyone remains just as passionate as ever to get this film completed, and it shows in every frame of the story reel. We still have hurtles [sic] to cross, but armed with this story reel and your overwhelming support, we remain confident we will find the right home for this film.”