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Three months after teasing he would give in to pressure and use Kickstarter to help fund the stalled CG-animated adaptation of his comic, The Goon creator Eric Powell launched the campaign this morning. Although the film’s budget has been pegged at $45 million, the drive’s goal is $400,000 to pay for a feature-length story reel to shop around to studios.
Billed as an effort by Powell, producer David Fincher, Blur Studio and Dark Horse Entertainment, the campaign asks fans to “Help us make a NEW KIND of animated film … one that’s LOUD, VIOLENT and OFFENSIVE TO YOUR GRANDMA.”
Announced in 2008, the animated movie has been slow moving as the producers searched for financial backers. “The Goon is in the exact same position it’s been in for the past couple of years,” Powell said in January. “Prepping the design and script while searching for funding.” About a year ago, the cartoonist shared well-received test footage that featured the voice talents of Clancy Brown and Paul Giamatti, who are set to return for the story reel and the eventual feature.
This weekend, fans of Masters of the Universe, She-Ra: Princess of Power and ThunderCats will descend on Torrance, California, for the second annual Power-Con/ThunderCon, an event devoted to the 1980s media franchises.
While much of the programming is dedicated to the toy and animation aspects of the pop-culture mainstays, there are panels devoted to the He-Man and She-Ra minicomics (they came with the original action figures) and the ThunderCats comics, “the Art of Eternia,” MVCreations (which created He-Man comics from 2002 to 2004), and the rarely seen He-Man newspaper comic strips.
Comics guests include Blond, Shannon Eric Denton, Leanne Hannah, Larry Houston, Josh Howard, Pepe Moreno, Tone Rodriguez, Nei Ruffino, Mark Dos Santos, Tim Seeley, Felipe Smith, Matt Tyree, Anthony Washington and Dave Wilkins.
Power-Con/ThunderCon kicks off Saturday morning at the Torrance Marriott South Bay and continues through Sunday.
While comics fans may miss seeing new work from Joshua Middleton on comics shelves (the covers to Sword & Sorcery and Before Watchmen were nice!), there’s some consolation in knowing that although the artist isn’t actively illustrating comics he is keeping within the superhero landscape. Middleton recently posted some landscape designs he created for Warner Bros. Animation’s Green Lantern: The Animated Series, which he worked on for some time. What he’s revealed so far is his renditions of Oa, interplanetary headquarters of the Green Lantern Corps. In his brief post, Middleton explains some of the obstacles from an art direction standpoint to the Green Lantern concept and how he overcame them for his work on the series.
“One major problem from an art direction perspective, with Green Lantern: The Animated Series and anything Green Lantern in general, is the overabundance of green,” Middleton writes. “It can be difficult to come up with nice color palettes when everybody and everything in the scene is glowing green. Matters were not made better with the introduction of Red Lanterns, as we now had the world’s weirdest Christmas to deal with.”
Tobey Maguire’s Material Pictures is teaming with Fox Animation and Wedgeworks to adapt Doug TenNapel’s latest project Cardboard (I reviewed the graphic novel last month). TenNapel himself will executive produce alongside Material Pictures, with Fox Animation Chris Wedge also producing. Wedge directed the first Ice Age, and has been the voice of Scrat the squirrel throughout the hit series. He also executive produced Ice Age: The Meltdown.
According to Variety, Wedge may also direct the film, and if the project moves forward there’s a possibility that Maguire will voice one of the main characters (most likely Mike, the out-of-work dad who buys his son some magic cardboard for his birthday).
Comics and cartoons have been inexorably linked since their foundations in the early 1900s, and we’ve seen everyone from Winsor McCay to Charles Schulz to Judd Winick jump back and forth between animation and comic books. And now one die-hard fan of the legendary cartoon series Looney Tunes is dusting off the under-appreciated history of Bugs Bunny and pals in comics form for a new blog called Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Comics.
“Ever since the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes [animated]series began in 1930, the characters have had a side career in comics, both newspaper strips and comic books,” writes Matthew Hunter. Looney Tunes first hit comics in 1941 under the auspices of Western Publishing’s Dell Comics, and for more than 40 years published a variety of titles featuring the stars of the brand. After that company shuttered in the ’80s, DC Comics — its parent company Warner Bros. owns the properties — took over and continues to publish them to this day.
Since Hunter launched his blog in May, he’s posted a number of great (and not-so-great examples) of Looney Tunes in print, with everything from 1940s Dell strips all the way to present-day DC work. Definitely great for some Saturday afternoon reading — or ready any time, for that matter.
Although it’s often been said that the Man of Steel, with his god-like powers, can be difficult to relate to, many a dog owner have found themselves in the same place as the Last Son of Krypton in Superman’s Best Friend, the beautiful and mesmerizing animated short film by Brent Underhill. The premise is simple: Superman arrives at the Fortress of Solitude to discover Krypto waiting, in dire need of a walk. The execution, however, is hilarious, if perhaps a bit not safe for work for those squeamish about the detailed depiction of a (super-) dog answering the call of nature.
The inarguable success of Marvel Studios has Hollywood’s attention. In an industry forever nervous about new ideas, the strategy impulsively becomes how to duplicate it.
DreamWorks Animation’s $155 million purchase of Classic Media was inspired, at least in part, by the record-shattering performance of Marvel’s The Avengers, DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg told Reuters. And similar to Marvel’s pre-Iron Man days, Katzenberg sees this as a strong opportunity to farm out the newly acquired characters to other studios for adaptation. Aside from its Mr. Peabody & Sherman 3D movie already in the works, DreamWorks has no plans to create new live-action features based on the Classic Media characters. But the small screen may be another matter: The studio is setting up its own television or Internet channel, but whether this is to re-run classic episodes, like Cartoon Network does with Boomerang, or for new series is still unknown.
“A channel is one of the many opportunities we see for combining the DreamWorks brand with this extraordinary library of characters,” Katzenberg said. “It could be a domestic cable channel, international, even an Internet channel.”
But more immediately, the purchase provides DreamWorks additional leverage as it negotiates to renew its distribution deal with Paramount Pictures.
All of this studio-driven activity around comic book properties sounds great, but where does that leave the comics themselves? Will DreamWorks open a comics publishing company? Will Doctor Solar be reunited with the recently revived Valiant Universe? Will The Lone Ranger vanish from Dynamite Entertainment’s line-up? What about Ape Entertainment’s Casper the Friendly Ghost and Richie Rich relaunches? Will the world finally get a new Fat Albert comic?
After submitting an offer last week, DreamWorks Animation announced this morning it has bought Classic Media for $155 million. The purchase brings with it comics, cartoon and television properties as diverse as Casper the Friendly Ghost, Rocky and Bullwinkle, The Lone Ranger, Where’s Waldo?, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and the licensing and production rights to Gold Key characters like Magnus, Robot Fighter, Doctor Solar, and Turok, Son of Stone.
“Classic Media brings a large and diverse collection of characters and branded assets that is extremely complementary to DreamWorks Animation’s franchise business, and we plan to leverage it across our motion picture, television, home entertainment, consumer products, digital, theme park and live entertainment channels,” DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg said in a statement. Founders and co-CEOs Eric Ellenbogen and John Engelman – seasoned executives with over 20 years of industry experience and a proven track record of success in managing high-quality content – have built an amazing team at Classic Media and are a welcome addition to the DreamWorks Animation family.”
Classic Media was founded in 2000 by former Marvel Entertainment CEO Ellenbogen and former Broadway Video executive Engelman, who spent much of the next decade acquiring the entire, or partial, libraries of companies like Rankin/Bass, Filmation, Harvey Comics and Jay Ward Productions, and ancillary rights to Golden Books properties, Tribune Media Services comic strips and World Events Productions cartoons.
Coinciding with the Friday premiere of The Dark Knight Rises, the cable channel The Hub is airing a 10-episode marathon of Batman: The Animated Series, the beloved early-1990s cartoon that’s held up by a generation of fans as the gold standard for animated adaptations of comic books.
To promote the event, The Hub has created a teaser that recreates the trailer for the final installment of director Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy using clips from the show and the original voice cast. You can watch it below.
The marathon, dubbed “Batman: The Animated Series Rises” kicks off Friday at 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT on The Hub.
Although The Goon creator Eric Powell had previously dismissed the notion of using Kickstarter to fund the stalled CG-animated adaptation of the comic, noting the project’s budget is $45 million, he’s now caved to public pressure.
Taking to Twitter this morning from his booth at Comic-Con International, Powell wrote, “Ok, everybody that’s been yelling at me for us to do a Kickstarter for the Goon film,” and included the above photo of a flier bearing the headline, “Let’s Kickstart This Fuckin’ Film!” and information on how to be notified when the campaign launches.
Produced by Blur Studio and David Fincher from a script by Powell, The Goon film stars Paul Giamatti and Clancy Brown as the voices of the Goon and Franky. Although announced in 2008, the project has been slow moving as the producers searched for financial backers. “The Goon is in the exact same position it’s been in for the past couple of years,” Powell said in January. “Prepping the design and script while searching for funding.”
More recently, he explained the delay to Comic Book Resources, saying, “It’s just the combination of finding the right people, the people who understand it and get it and don’t want Goon to have a singing, talking dog and coming up with the right budget. They’re still plugging away, they’re still talking to people — it’s not dead by any means. But it’s just a waiting game, it’s finding the right people.”
However, more than a year ago we got a look at test footage, which you can see below.
• Of course you can’t have Comic-Con without news about Comic-Con itself. CBR’s Kiel Phegley spoke with CCI’s David Glanzer about the show, while Ryan Ingram spoke with Scott Morse about the Tr!ckster satellite event. And it seems like every non-comics media outlet reports on the show in some form or fashion; here’s an article by The Christian Post about religion and the show, for example. And finally, Tuesday brought the tragic news that a con attendee camping out for today’s Twilight panel was killed in front of the convention center after being struck by a car.
• I’m not 100 percent sure if it qualifies as Comic-Con news, but since it was officially announced in the Entertainment Weekly Comic-Con issue, let’s just go with it. Marvel’s big news going into the Con is that they plan to relaunch several titles later this year as part of “Marvel NOW!” Their recently released solicitations reveal they plan to cancel nine titles in October, but of course you can expect many if not all of them to come back in some form or fashion as Marvel NOW! rolls out.
• Mike Mignola and Hellboy return this December in Hellboy in Hell, the first four-issue miniseries in a series of miniseries about the title character’s post-demise adventures.
The must-have accessory for Comic-Con International is back with the announcement that, for the third consecutive year, Warner Bros. will hand out more than 130,000 oversized tote bags to convention attendees. Okay, “oversized” may be a bit of an understatement, as the messenger-style bags are 24 inches and 29 inches — roomy enough to haul swag back to the hotel As room each day — and include a protective pocket to hold any posters.
As usual, the totes are emblazoned with Warner Bros. properties with a Comic-Con presence: This year, it’s Arrow, DC Nation, Man of Steel, Fringe, Pacific Rim, Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries and The Big Bang Theory.
Last year’s bags included a design promoting DC’ Comics’ relaunched Justice League, but this year it’s all about television and film. Alas, it looks like the studio is holding out for the big reveals of the two movies; all of the other bags can be seen below.
Comic-Con kicks off Wednesday with Preview Night.
Retailing | Although the 16th volume of The Walking Dead wasn’t released until June 19, 11 days’ worth of sales was enough to propel the latest collection of the horror series by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard to the top of BookScan’s chart of graphic novels sold in bookstores June. Four volumes of the popular series, including the first one, appear in the Top 20. [ICv2.com]
Publishing | Hermes Press, which has been publishing the vintage Buck Rogers collections, has announced a new Buck Rogers project: An original comic series written and drawn by Howard Chaykin, one that Publisher Dan Herman promises will be strongly reminiscent of the original. [ICv2]
Publishing| The animation studio Klasky Csupo, which gave us The Wild Thornberrys and Rugrats, is branching out in a number of different directions, including print and digital comics. Its first comic is Ollie Mongo, which stars a blue zombie skateboarder. [USA Today]
Last year Robb Pratt posted a stellar “Fleischer Brothers meets Mike Kunkel” Superman cartoon that he made in his spare time, featuring the Man of Steel, Lois Lane and a giant robot. Pratt is back with a new cartoon, this time pitting Superman against Bizarro in the aptly titled “Bizarro Classic.” Check it out below, and keep watching after the credits to see how he made the film (and how they did the voice for Bizarro … very cool).
When he’s not making movies like How to Train Your Dragon and Puss in Boots, DreamWorks animator David Stodolny works on shorter pieces for his own pleasure. And ours. Following a “Harrey Podder” parody he did last year, Stodolny has released the first in a series called “Everyday Hulk” that are “a bunch of little short parody jokes” starring Bruce Banner’s alter-ego. The first one focuses squarely on potty humor.
Check out the first one below.