August 13, 2008

Gallery Nucleus in Los Angeles will be hosting The Great Great Grand Show, beginning August 16th and continuing until September 1st.

Saturday's opening reception runs from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., and you're encouraged to show up in historical garb if you have it (ninjas and pirates welcome).

Two of the artists exhibiting are Scott Campbell and Graham Annable, both Hickee comics anthology contributors. Scott C has also contributed work to I Am 8-Bit and Totoro Forest Project, and Graham's known for his comic foray, Grickle, whose misadventures continue in animated form. He is also a story artist on Coraline, Laika's much anticipated feature. Here's The Last Duet On Earth, a little future history until you get to see Graham's latest, From Whence Before Times, which debuts at the show.

The show is rounded out by Flight regular Israel Sanchez, and Jon Klaasen, who animated the super-sweet Eye for Annai. Several of us fps-side are huge fans of this short.

So if you're in LA on Saturday, you know where you need to be.

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July 30, 2008

Neil Gaiman posted an article from the Guardian about Jamie Hewlett. I was in high school when I came across his work in the pages of Deadline, the UK alternative music and comic magazine. Since then he has blown up, as band member/creator of The Gorillaz, the best animated studio band EVER, among many other projects. The article makes clear how much he has been influenced by a wide variety of SF, comic and animated pop culture, included Warner Bros., Hayao Miyazaki and Rene Laloux.

He and band-mate Damon Albarn have created the opening titles for the BBC's Beijing Olympics coverage and its a stunner.

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I've been remiss in posting about a comic book project called Who Is Rocket Johnson? The anthology brings together numerous Disney artists and directors to help raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Besides looking great, it's for a great cause.

One copy sold on eBay for over 500 dollars, and the rest of the limited print run of 1000 copies were made available at the San Diego Comic Con for $20. If you still want to get your hands on a copy, get in contact with Stuart Ng in California or The Labyrinth in Toronto while quantities last!

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July 8, 2008

Lionsgate is planning to unleash a new Marvel direct to video animated extravaganza on us, come January 2009. Hulk Vs. is set to feature a 45-minute showdown with Norse Avenger, Thor followed directly by 33 minutes of pulse pounding mutie action, as Hulk mixes it up with X-Man, Wolverine.

Supervising producer/co-writer Craig Kyle, producer/supervising director Frank Paur, Co-Writer Christopher Yost and others will be presenting the Wolverine portion of the film in it's entirety at the upcoming 2008 San Diego Comic-Con. The DVD and Blu-ray will be released in January 2009.


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I had the opportunity to catch the Canadian premiere of Fear(s) of the Dark, a French film that understands what it is to tell a story, many in fact, about fear in various forms. The six stories are not told consecutively, a surprising but successful choice, as viewers are often used to stories being discrete. As a result, the viewer is briefly disoriented at times, returning to a story that was not quite over.

Some fears are completely mundane. Others are truly horrifying, because they are so outlandish, like Charles Burns' story, or because they may have actually happened, like the one by Blutch.

The standout piece was by Richard McGuire and Michel Pirus. It is a taut story that is not incredibly scary (this is arguable - my viewing companion was squirming in her seat), it is beautifully conceived visually, aurally and had the complete attention of the audience.

The DVD will be out later this summer, but it is definitely worth catching if it shows theatrically at a theatre near you.

The screening I attended was also a fundraiser for my brother, the creator of this site and the original Frames Per Second print magazine. All the ticket proceeds will be given to him and his family. I would like to extend my thanks to all who attended and the Fantasia festival team for offering their support.

Peur(s) du Noir screens again in French with English subtitles on Wednesday at the Fantasia film festival.

Previously on fps:
2008 Fantasia Festival Animation
Peur(s) du Noir Screening at Fantasia to Benefit fps Editor

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July 6, 2008
The Canadian premiere of Peur(s) du Noir on Monday is a part of Fantasia's 2008 spotlight, Animated Auteur Visions. Not all of the six shorts are horror films, but each features a black and white animated exploration of fear. Contributors include comic artists Charles Burns and Blutch.

The screening will also be a benefit for fps editor, Emru Townsend. A portion of the profits from each ticket sold will go toward Emru and his immediate family as he prepares for his upcoming bone marrow transplant.

(Earlier this year, Emru wrote a message letting people know that they could help to save his life or that of another person waiting for a bone marrow or stem cell transplant. In June, a potential match was found in the system where there previously were none among over 12 million people registered as potential donors. You can read more about his experience on the Heal Emru blog.)

Previously on fps:
2008 Fantasia Festival Animation

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July 2, 2008
There is a reason Batman has his own label on fps. Besides many of us being big comic fans, many of us are huge fans of the Bat specifically. He has numerous animated interpretations and the notable incarnations in the 90s and 00s have definitely left their mark on (what was) Saturday morning television, cable television, comic book adaptations, and Warner Bros. television animation.

So people are a little nervous about an anime version of Batman since Batman: Gotham Knight was announced. I am a huge Batman fan and a huge anime fan, but I won't champion one at the expense of the other. After hearing about the talent behind the series of interrelated shorts, both American and Asian, I was somewhat relieved, but I was also willing to wait for a final verdict once I'd actually seen the shorts. After getting a peek at the soon-to-be released DVD in a theatrical setting gearing up for the 2008 edition of Fantasia, I think people's fears are largely unfounded.

Disliking the stories because they use the visual style of anime is just as bad as only liking it because it is anime. What you need to know is the stories are told well. What you need to know is these stories all embody something about the Legend of the Bat and are consistent with the characters that have already been established. It does look great!

And the same people that dismiss the anthology because it is anime will probably be the ones who refuse to notice that there are six very distinct visual styles that are employed to tell each story. The level of interestingness does vary depending on the style you are drawn to, but this is also the case of a decades long comic-collector who has some artists they prefer over others. Like these artists, Batman's look changes at the whim of the artists involved. The two stories with styles I found the most recognizable and distinct from the others were produced by Studio 4°C. They were even distinct from each other. Selecting one of these as the first story in the set was a great choice as it breaks conventions of what people consider the "anime style."

There are no spoilers in this entire post. I am not interested in ruining it for anybody, especially the die-hard Batman fans. However, if you are told or read spoilers elsewhere, you will not find out anything new about Batman if you already know his character. You will feel comforted by the way the stories fit easily into the mythos that has already been created from past stories. Just go and watch the stories unfold, and enjoy another glimpse of Batman's early days as he tries to learn the ropes of crimefighting.

You can catch a theatrical screening of Batman: Gotham Knight at Montreal's Fantasia festival on Saturday at noon, before it is released on DVD next Tuesday.

Previously on fps
2008 Fantasia Festival Animation
Batman: Gotham Knight Promo Video Online
DC Comics OAVs
Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo
The End of Justice League

Previously on The Critical Eye
Batman Animated
Batman & Batman Beyond
Paul Dini
Bruce Timm & Glen Murakami

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April 9, 2008

I've been catching up on what's been going on in the entertainment world and just discovered today that Warner Bros. Animation's Batman: The Brave and the Bold is premiering on Cartoon Network this fall. Featuring weekly team-ups with characters from the DC universe, Mediaweek describes the new show as "a more lighthearted throwback to the Batman of the 1960s and '70s, before The Dark Knight franchise turned the cowled crime fighter into an angst-ridden existentialist."

Well. As any Bat-fan worth their salt knows, the lighthearted phase of the caped crusader's career was an aberration (albeit one that lasted about 20 years) in the character's 69-year history. Prior to the evisceration of superhero comics after World War II, Batman's roots were firmly in the pulps, a "weird creature of the night" in the spirit of the Shadow.

Now, I'm a firm believer in the malleability of even established characters. None of the currently popular superheroes in comics or onscreen is exactly as they were when they made their debuts. And witness my praise of derivatives like Batman Beyond, among other things. But this still strikes me as a curious step. As a brand—and marketing people and execs are always all about the brand—Batman has been the Dark Knight for over twenty years now. In comics, he gradually started returning to his more grim roots in the 1960s; in animation, his last appearance as "chummy Batman" was in 1986.

So at this point, everyone of voting age pretty much knows Batman in his new (or, if you like, old) persona. How exactly does it promote the Batman brand to make him more "lighthearted," especially on the heels of a new Christian Bale movie? For this they axed The Batman, which I thought walked the line between Saturday morning-light and Dark Knight-sombre pretty well?

I guess we'll have to wait and see how this latest incarnation of Batman turns out. Handled well, it could work out. There's a precedent: when the Justice League comic was rebooted in the 1980s with Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis at the helm, it featured as much comedy and slapstick as it did action. Batman's character (or, in marketspeak: brand) was completely intact, and the contrast between him, his teammates and the situations they found themselves worked brilliantly. Let's see the Brave and the Bold team can be as creative as that when they go "lighthearted."

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March 30, 2008

DC: The New Frontier was an ambitious, twelve-issue series created by Darwyn Cooke that reimagined the circumstances of the first encounter of the DC superheroes who would become the Justice League in the late 1950s. Justice League: The New Frontier, its animated adaptation, is on the ambitious Warner Premier label, which aims to release OAVs based on DC properties, along with striking acquisitions like Appleseed: Ex Machina. And with all this ambition going around, you'd expect a pretty amazing end product, right?

Let me back up a bit. In 1998, I was blown away by the striking, dynamic opening sequence to Batman Beyond, so I interviewed the man who was responsible for it. Fellow Canuck Darwyn Cooke's background was originally in graphic design, and he brought a fresh approach to his animation work, and later to his comics.

Last year I picked up the trade paperback compilation of DC: The New Frontier and read the whole thing in two and a half hours. I'm a fast reader, so that's a bit long for me; but I kept stopping to admire Cooke's bold lines, his compositions and his colours. He's one of those artists who makes good work look much easier than it is.

All of this is in service to one hell of an idea. After World War II, the "mystery men" who aided the war effort—the Golden Age heroes like Hourman, Dr. Fate, Black Canary and the original Flash—are forced to register or retire as Cold War paranoia whips up. Superman and Wonder Woman sign loyalty oaths and work for the government. Batman goes underground. But now a new, younger breed of heroes are starting to pop up, working in secret to do good, like the new Flash and the Martian Manhunter—all at around the same time Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman are realizing their old ways aren't working anymore. (Cooke expertly lifts some of these ideas—in a good way—from previous must-read comics mini-series JSA: The Golden Age, The Dark Knight Returns, and Kingdom Come, all of which expertly mix adult themes with the mythological wonder of the superhero story.)

It can't be unintentional that these events mirror what happened to DC superhero comics themselves between the 1940s and 1960s; they too were neutered post-war, and the Silver Age of comics was officially kicked off in 1959 with the introduction of the new Flash, launching an era of the "scientific" superhero. Many Golden Age heroes were born from the war or mysticism, but in the Silver Age just as many came from space or had their origins in astronomy, chemistry or physics. Cooke mined this and wrapped the story of The New Frontier—a phrase from John F. Kennedy's Democratic Party nomination acceptance speech—in the sense of discovery, adventure and optimism of new scientific discoveries that mixed with the uncertainty of growing social upheavals.

Embodying this spirit and this conflict is Hal Jordan, a jet jockey who will become the new Green Lantern. Driven to see the stars, the pacifist Hal joins the Air Force during peacetime and becomes embroiled in the Korean War. But he's also a man utterly without fear; presented (for the second time) with a death-defying, world-on-his-shoulders mission, his only response (again) is a smile and the simple response, "Outstanding."

That's a lot to fit even into a year's worth of comics, which points to the animated version's biggest flaw. With a mere 75-minute running time, a lot had to be pared down. Many characters and events were eliminated, sidelined or combined, and the net effect is a feeling of being rushed. Comics are incredible because a single panel can represent a split second, or several years; narrative animation tends to be more literal, so Justice League: The New Frontier is actually about 75 selected minutes out of a few years' events.

That would be fine for a conventional three-act story, but the New Frontier comic flits between the threads of multiple storylines and people that are gradually pulled together, each at different speeds. The animated version sticks with the same structure but doesn't have the luxury of time, which eats into things like characterization, back story, pacing and explaining who the hell these less familiar characters are.

The same comic/animation tension affects the visuals, too. A quick glance at the credits reveals the combined talents of the last sixteen years' worth of animated DC series, and it's all right up there on the screen. There's no resting on laurels here; although they've defined and refined a particular vocabulary, they're always pushing things forward. Everything in Justice League: The New Frontier screams 1950s, from the UPA-ish opening scene to the Saul Bass-ish title sequence to the many iconic Cold War-era locations, from Vegas to roadside diners. Colour design, compositions and staging are as sophisticated as the story's ideas. But for my money it all falls apart whenever I look at Wonder Woman.

Darwyn Cooke's Wonder Woman is pure 1950's smoking-hot sexy with generous zaftig curves that convey life, passion and power. Meanwhile, the current incarnation of the Bruce Timm-derived style has become increasingly angular, and the two just don't fit. This tension affects all the characters to one degree or another.

Like the real and fictitious era it represents, Justice League: The New Frontier is about ambition, but also uncertainty. I applaud Warner Premier's very existence, and the resources they put behind such a project. But to shoehorn everything into another 75-minute DC superhero cartoon regardless of the original style or format seems short-sighted and short-changing. One of the factors behind the initial success of the Japanese OAV market was a freedom from format constrictions; expanding Justice League: The New Frontier to a longer running time or mini-series and letting more of the Cooke visual magic shine through would have been a bolder experiment, and captured the bold spirit of the comic at the same time.

Justice League: The New Frontier
Buy Justice League: The New Frontier DVDs and more from and
Buy DC: The New Frontier books and more from and

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February 18, 2008
Batman: Gotham Knight, the anthology of US-scripted, Japanese-animated Batman stories occurring between the most recent and forthcoming live-action Batman films has a promo video circulating online.

While everyone in the promotional video is extremely articulate, I'd still recommend listening to it with the sound off. You may miss one or two insightful comments, but most remarks are things we all know about the Batman character. The commentary about the Japanese aspect of the production may have been more interesting if one of the Japanese participants actually got a chance to describe it, instead of it being distilled for us by Westerners.

Previously on fps
DC Comics OAVs
Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo
The End of Justice League

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December 20, 2007
Tous À L’Ouest, the new Lucky Luke animated feature, is an extraordinarily refreshing film; a masterpiece in slapstick and screwball animation filmmaking. It is a feature Chuck Jones or Tex Avery could have made, had they been animating on the other side of the Atlantic. This film is somewhat of a rarity: it’s hand drawn 2D, it’s European (produced by French studio Xilam), and based on classic comic book characters that many would consider outdated by now. I did not see the live-action flick Les Daltons from 2005, so I cannot get into any comparisons with it, but Tous À L’Ouest firmly stands next to the Belvision and Dargaud Films animated Lucky Luke movies: an updated, more eccentric version of them.

In this outing, director Olivier Jean-Marie selects all the right elements of the Lucky Luke saga to spend time on, to update, and to take into a zany, Terry Gilliam and Buster Keaton direction: that means plenty of Dalton Brothers action, cinematic showdowns, bar fights, furniture destruction, bank robberies, chases, and cabaret dancers. All of this, delivered in muscular, over-the-top 2D animation (you won’t get enough of Joe Dalton going bonkers) and through a layered plotline.

The film is based on the Morris/Goscinny Lucky Luke comic book La Caravane, in which the lonesome cowboy shepherds a caravan from eastern United States to the West. In Jean-Marie’s version, the cowboy meets the caravan folk (immigrants traveling to California to claim their newly bought lands) in New York City, where he has just put the Daltons in jail. The two story points inevitably intertwine, as Lucky Luke accepts to help the caravan cross safely the country and drag along with him the Daltons, who, fresh from their Big Apple jailbreak, are quickly recaptured by the cowboy. Why he doesn’t simply find another slammer for them in New York did not cross my mind, as I was simply too engrossed in the film’s action.

The NYC setting is wholly entertaining and does not feel tacked on at all, despite the fact that none of Lucky Luke’s adventures have taken place in industrialized New York. After the Daltons escape prison, they are treated to a Wall Street full of banks on each side of a gold bricked road, and a Times Square with a five story “Gun and Rifle Store”. Much of the cityscape, including the wagons on the streets and those of the caravan that the cowboy escorts, are rendered in cel-shaded 3D that blends beautifully with the drawn characters. It’s not just the quality of the cel-shading that makes the blending seamless: all of the 3D elements are modeled in the Morris’s graphic style. During the chase sequences, as much stretch and squash is applied to the wagons as to the 2D characters.

The boldest and strongest aspect of Tous À L’Ouest is evidently the powerful cartoon animation seen on the Joe Dalton character and Crook, a new villain created for the film. This slimy estate broker is designed to be deliciously evil: tall and thin with a hunch, sporting a mustache and a hat (it might remind you of another recent villain: Bowler Hat Guy from Meet The Robinsons.) This design makes for serpentine poses and takes, which often occur in that order: Crook attempts to sabotage the caravan from reaching its destination; he goes into elastic takes when his plans fail.

The way Joe Dalton’s character is handled in this film is a call to other mediums of cinema (live-action, CG animation) to accept the challenge in portraying extreme comedic anger. Joe is like Kricfulasi’s Ren but more agitated. He’s a walking time-bomb, ready to explode at any moment. His animated anatomy is comprised of two basic shapes: his large head and his tiny body. They behave as though they are propelled by a trampoline whenever he jumps in the air and screams how much he detests Lucky Luke. This recurring Morris/Goscinny scenario is pushed to the next level on the big screen because the animation of two people that bother Joe the most- his slow-witted brother Averel, and the cool-tempered cowboy- is much more restrained.

Tous À L’Ouest is a celebration of the cartoony, the burlesque and of repetitive shticks. The Daltons have two things on their mind: to get their loot and kill Lucky Luke. You will witness them act on these goals throughout the film; each time displaying more of their sheer stupidity and ineptitude of actions. This film is a must must-see for all cartoon fans, not just Lucky Luke ones. It’s as close as its going to get to a proper Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck feature. We will probably not see this style of traditional animation on the big screen for a while, so see it before it’s out of the theatres.

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November 14, 2007

This year's charity auction begins next week Friday. We've received some nice books, posters, and look what Dark Horse Comics is offering up: A PVC statue from Hellboy Animated of Hellboy (and another of Abe Sapien).

Hellboy was created for comics by Mike Mignola, who also created the comic book The Amazing Screw-on Head. Both comics went on to be adapted for animation. While The Amazing Screw-on Head kept Mignola's signature style, Hellboy Animated opted for a different look, with equally impressive results.

Click on the flyer for a printer-friendly version. If you'd like to donate, we are still accepting items we receive until November 22nd.

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October 19, 2007
I passed by the Drawn and Quarterly bookstore this evening just before their grand opening event and I had to hold onto my wallet for dear life. Drawn and Quarterly began life in the early 1990s as an alternative comics anthology of original and utmost quality, then came the comic book series, and graphic novels that were varied and, may I say in the best possible way, designy. The sense of design that all of the various artists had, in addition to unique styles and great storytelling, set the D+Q selection apart from many of the titles out there, and also, I think, gave courage to many artists and publishers to consider the quality and scope of what could be printed and how it could be told.

Drawn and Quarterly's artists Adrian Tomine, Joe Matt, Chester Brown, Seth, Gary Panter (of Pee Wee's Playhouse) and others offer visuals and stories that surely are fodder for the animator's imagination. [EDIT: I don't just speculate: I forgot that Clyde Henry Productions are creating a live-action/animated film adaptation of Chester Brown's surreal Ed the Happy Clown.] The store does not stop at stocking only their impressive list of titles. Classic graphic novels, like Maus and Love and Rockets, and hidden gems abound.

The more overt animation related selection included titles like John Canemaker's Winsor McCay, as well as McCay reprints, and Nine Lives to Live: A Felix Celebration by Otto Messmer.

Copies of Bone were also available, which I've already mentioned for its appeal to animators and animation fans. The Lute String by Jim Woodring and D+Q's translated Complete Moomin by Tove Jansson (which I happily purchased) also break down the boundaries between comics and animation. Both artists' work directly inspired multiple animated adaptations and often in a different parts of the world than where it was originally created, expanding the stories' reach.

Drawn & Quarterly Bookstore
211 Bernard, Montreal

If you're just getting started, my D+Q recommendations:
Optic Nerve by Adrian Tomine
Jar of Fools by Jason Lutes
The Fixer by Joe Sacco
Louis Riel by Chester Brown

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September 12, 2007
There's just a week to go before the Ottawa International Animation Festival opens, and the lineup is impressive. If you'll be in Ottawa for the first day, Wednesday, September 19, then you will be among the first to see the film adaptation of Persepolis, adapted by the author Marjane Satrapi. It won the Special Jury Prize at Cannes earlier this year and screened recently at the Toronto International Film Festival. Unless you will be at the VFF in October, you won't want to miss it in Ottawa with a crowd that can't be beat for enthusiasm when the film is deserving.

Following the opening feature, Short Competition 1 also features a notable selection including instant personal classic, UMO, the visceral J-Pop video directed by Shoji Goto. The video melds multiple techniques, including stop-motion, CG and 2D, and effectively makes you want more when it ends. It won't be the first or last animation short that you will see over the course of the festival the latches onto you.

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July 4, 2007
The Platform festival is helping to widen how the audience thinks about animation and looks at its use beyond traditional platforms of the television and big screen. Festivals have begun to feature Internet competitions and Platform was no exception. However, it was notable that they included a competition specifically for mobile devices and jaw-dropping installations, curated by artist Rose Bond.

An entirely different medium can also help us reconsider what makes some elements of animation tick: comics. While not all animators are into comics and vice versa, there are many who enjoy, derive inspiration from and create in both media. Many current animators are producing comics in printed and digital format. Walt Kelly and Osamu Tezuka were both animators and comic book artists, as is Hayao Miyazaki. I've recommended comics on fps before that I think some animators will enjoy, because of the cinematic quality of their stories.

Running concurrently with Platform was a Graphic Novel intensive at the Pacific Northwest College of Art and Platform attendees had the opportunity to hear a lecture by Scott McCloud, creator of Zot! and Understanding Comics, a treatise on the mechanics and form that underlie comics. As he notes, comics and animation both deal with sequential art and time. Comics are images laid out one after the other to denote a change in events over time, and animation is sequential images displayed in the same space that also denote the same thing.

Another important element of successful comics and animation is storytelling - graphic storytelling - and on top of all this both types of creators have to rethink the impact of the Web on distribution, exposure and format. Both media also are changing due to the intersection of influences from North America, the Europe and Asia. These and other themes were explored during his lecture and whether audience members agreed with him or not, they came away with something to think about.

McCloud is currently on a year-long tour with his wife and two daughters in conjunction with his new book, Making Comics. You can find out if he'll be in a city near you by keeping up with his family's Livejournal account of the tour. If you went to the Portland lecture, he can read your comments here.

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June 21, 2007
If you weren't hanging around in New York or a city in France when Tekkon Kinkreet was showing recently, you'll be able to see it on the big screen if you're near the Portland, Oregon area on June 26 at the Platform International Animation Festival.

Don't be fooled by the picture. As much as you want to snatch White up, this film is not for kids. I was reminded of that pointedly after rereading the first volume of the English comics adaptation of the original Tekkon Kinkreet comic, Black and White.

This is just one of the many exciting films and panels scheduled for the inaugural edition of the festival. Visit our contest page to see how you can win a Full Pass for two to Platform.

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June 1, 2007
The Bonhams and Butterfields auction house is selling artwork from the estate of Carl Barks on Monday, June 4th. Public viewings will be held in Los Angeles from June 1 to June 3.

Lot items include art by Carl Barks, including his comic and animation artwork, pin up art and landscape paintings. Also featured is animation art from a number of different productions, including a Charlie Brown special, Shrek and classic Disney films. There is art by various artists for Carl Barks, as well as awards he received for his outstanding work.

If you're too far away, the items (nearly 200) up for auction are available for viewing and bidding online here (skip to Lot 1250).

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May 27, 2007
Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud received the Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival for the adaptation of Satrapi's graphic novel, Persepolis. I can't wait to see this film. If you would like to see why I find this encouraging, pick up a copy of the original comic, or copies of Persepolis 2 or The Emboideries. If you can read French, Poulet aux Prunes is also a great read, which, like her other work, finds unexpected ways to make you laugh and break your heart. UPDATE: Poulet aux Prunes is now available in English under the title Chicken With Plums.

While the official Persepolis website hasn't been updated in a while, Satrapi's Myspace for the film has trailers up. Even if you don't know French, you'll figure most of it out. (Maybe not this one: At the end of the second teaser, the policemen are telling her to slow down and admonishing her for running in a manner the shows off her bottom. She yells back at them because they shouldn't be looking at her butt in the first place!)

Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski have received two awards at Cannes for the stop-motion short film, Madame Tutli-Putli. Both awards were in Best Short Film categories. The short received the Petit Rail d'Or and another award from Canal +, which means that their film will be broadcast on Canal + and the creators will receive the gift that keeps on giving: 6000 Euros' (over 8000 US dollars) worth of film equipment, courtesy of Panavision Alga Techno.

In addition to the Canal + broadcast, the short will be screened at Annecy, Toronto's Worldwide Shorts Festival and the Rome, Paris, Beirut and Mexico screenings for Cannes' International Critics Week tour.

Previously on fps:
Two Podcasts for Madame Tutli-Putli

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May 15, 2007
Hergé's Tintin is getting screen treatment again, this time by Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg. I'm not convinced that motion-capture is the way to go, although I always do cross my fingers in times like this and hope that people will laugh at me later because I had nothing to worry about (this rarely happens).

While I was thinking about what to say on the matter, Mark Mayerson wrote exactly what I was thinking (but way better than I could have).

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April 30, 2007
It's good week to live in France. By that, I really mean it's only good to live in Nantes or somewhere really close by. Amer Beton, the French-subtitled version of Tekkon Kinkreet, opens on Wednesday theatrically in one theatre in that city, quite a few hours away from Paris. Allocine has the trailer and 4 excerpts of the film. Amer Beton was also the French version of the comic from which the film is adapted, and in English it was originally published under the name Black and White.

Now that Sony has picked up distribution rights, many people have been more hopeful. IMDB lists an American limited release for the second week of July, and I have yet to see or read anything for Canada outside of the festival circuit.

Several sites have been repeating that a domestic DVD release is set for the end of September. It seems to have begun with an announcement from Anime News Service, and picked up by several others, including the very reliable Twitch and Anime News Network. However, I have yet to see the date on the Sony website, despite most sites linking back to Sony's upcoming DVD releases, which are only listed until June. Viz is also planning to re-release the comic a few weeks before that, so it does make sense, but I'm still checking.

While all of this TK news is heartening, it bothers me that distributors still don't have enough faith to give innovative features a chance by giving them more theatrical exposure. I can't see it hurting their DVD sales, only increasing them.

At the end of the last week, the English Tekkon Kinkreet website went live, and you can access the trailer from the main page.

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April 25, 2007
Two great events are happening in Montreal on Thursday evening, April 26th. The problem is figuring out which one to go to or how to attend both without running oneself ragged.

At 6:30, The Cinémathèque Québécoise screens a program of Hélène Tanguay's picks for Animation Classics of the 1970s, with an emphasis on Polish shorts and cream of the crop from the NFB. Shorts by Ivanov Vano and Yuri Norstein, John Weldon and Eunice Macaulay are included and this will also be another chance to see Frank Film. The program continues next week with the '80s picks.

[Correction: The April 26 and May 3 programs aren't related to the Hélène Tanguay program, which is top-secret and appears on May 10. However, the lineups are still several levels of amazing. —Emru]

At 8:00, Red Bird Studios (135 Van Horne) is hosting a one-night only art show for the creators of the indie comics anthology Hickee. I especially like the work of editor Graham Annable (check out the Grickle comics and shorts), Scott Campbell and Raz. The contributors also work in other artistic disciplines, including animation and game design, but after picking up an issue - you don't need to be told - it becomes pleasantly obvious in much of the work.

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November 18, 2006
Usually when comics are mentioned here, it's in the context of an animated film or television show that has been adapted from a comic. This time, I'd like to direct your attention to a comic that has no animated adaptation or origin that began in the early '90s, named Bone. Jeff Smith is a cartoonist and former animator that created a self-published comic that, from the start, was wildly successful to comic readers who were looking for something refreshing, suspenseful, funny and as a result, highly engaging.

There are many different elements that recommend it, including the strength of Smith's art. Anyone who is interested in animation will appreciate the deftness of Smith's line, and the movement and expression implicit in his work. While his visual and literary voices are clear, a number of influences mark his work, most notably Walt Kelly's (another animator who became a comic artist). Interestingly, on Smith's website he is quoted as saying, "I was writing for the same audience I perceived those old Disney animated films were aimed at: the movie going public." His visual storytelling and pacing convey this successfully.

Originally conceived for adults, children have also become a large part of his audience, due to syndication in Disney periodicals and a publishing deal with Scholastic. Similarly to quality animation, kids often prefer stories that don't talk down to them.

Smith is currently on a world tour to promote his creation, which has been translated into over a dozen languages. His North American French-language publisher is hosting his Montreal visit, this weekend, November 18 and 19 at the Salon du livre. To see when he will visit your city, look up his tour dates here.

If you love sequential art, animated and otherwise, but are not already reading Bone, I highly recommend that you start soon.

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