Monday, October 4, 2021

Who does that!? The Best Saturdays of Our Lives by Mark McCray

 Sometimes you receive a package and the thought and love put into its presentation give you childlike glee. Today that happened to me, check it:



CARTOON NETWORK WRAPPING PAPER!? Bro. . . . 




Inside an autographed copy of The Best Saturdays of Our Lives by Mark McCray, with a matching Bookmark, magnet and sticker. 

This is awesome and I cannot wait to devour it whole.

Get yours here: https://tbsool.com/


Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Streaming / 2021 / Deals

This year is flying. I cannot believe it's already September. As slow as last year was during the Pandemic, this year is flying by the speed of light. Lots of cool things are happening, lots of changes from the pandemic now becoming permanent. Let’s catch up. 


https://www.twitch.tv/moderator/cartoonresearch


Cartoon Research has started a new streaming channel on Twitch. They've been showing off all sorts of awesome animation and features. There have been four podcasts with some awesome people throughout the industry. I highly recommend checking them out. They've been produced by Mauricio over at rockingpins.com and if you haven't already checked out his website, he's got lots of cool licensed stuff!


https://www.rockinpins.com/


Recently going through Amazon and came across a deal that seem to be too good to be true and, for once, it was not too good to be true! It was real. I'm assuming somebody mistyped a price on a book for it was supposed to be $95, $100. I saw it available for $9.50.



I also have some projects to share in the future, just can't share with you yet. Just know that they’re forthcoming!




Friday, February 26, 2021

And the Avatar Cycle Continues Anew

One of my favorite Nicktoons is Avatar: The Last Airbender. It is one of the best animated series to have been produced in the last twenty years. It won a Peabody! 

I've been sitting my parents through it. They were hooked by fifth episode of the first season. We're on episode two of season two. I always forget how relatively slow paced the first season is. There's high action and drama, but there is quite a bit of world building occurring. 

The production history of Avatar is a tale of push an pull. While it seems Avatar went off fairly well, even acquiring the funding to finish the story in 61 episodes instead of the agreed 60, shows the lengths the business minded folks at the ol' Nickelodeon rallied behind what would become a modern day classic. It's sequel, The Legend of Korra, not so much. 

Korra has a notoriously famous identity crisis throughout all four seasons of its run. Nickelodeon had a hit on their hands that wasn't their target demographic, and so the show shifted from time slot to time slot, then to from channel to channel, and eventually premiering it's final episodes online. 

That's just the animated universe. The live-action retelling of the first season by M. Night Shyamalan is a notorious production nightmare where Airbender creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko were pushed aside. The film would eventually premiere without the creators attached to the project. Today, the film has a 5% on Rotten Tomatoes. 

Netflix is currently at work trying to fix the mistakes of the past, working on a new live action series of Avatar. The original creators were publicized as being attached to the project and guiding it's trajectory. 

In October of 2020, the creators put out a statement they were no longer attached to the project. 

And now to today! Nickelodeon has put out the following press release:





BURBANK, Calif.—Feb. 24, 2021—Nickelodeon today announced the launch of Avatar Studios, a newly formed division designed to create original content spanning animated series and movies based on the beloved world of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. Original creators and executive producers Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko will helm the studio as co-chief creative officers, reporting to Ramsey Naito, President, Nickelodeon Animation. The Studio’s output will bow on platforms including Paramount+, ViacomCBS’ subscription video on-demand service; on Nickelodeon’s own linear and digital platforms; as well as on third-party platforms and in theaters.

The first project from Avatar Studios is slated as an animated theatrical film set to begin production this year. Additional details will be available soon.

Avatar: The Last Airbender and Korra have grown at least ten-fold in popularity since their original hit runs on Nickelodeon, and Ramsey Naito and I are incredibly excited to have Mike and Bryan’s genius talent on board to helm a studio devoted to expanding their characters and world into new content and formats for fans everywhere,” said Brian Robbins, President, ViacomCBS Kids & Family. “Creator-driven stories and characters have long been the hallmarks of Nickelodeon, and Avatar Studios is a way to give Mike and Bryan the resources and runway to open up their imaginations even more and dive deeper into the action and mythology of Avatar as we simultaneously expand upon that world and the world of content available on Paramount+ and Nickelodeon.”

“It’s hard to believe it’s been 19 years since we created Avatar: The Last Airbender. But even after all that time, there are still many stories and time periods in Aang’s world that we are eager to bring to life. We are fortunate to have an ever-growing community of passionate fans that enjoys exploring the Avatarverse as much as we do. And with this new Avatar Studios venture we have an unparalleled opportunity to develop our franchise and its storytelling on a vast scale, in myriad exciting ways and mediums. We are exceedingly grateful to Brian Robbins and Ramsey Naito for their enthusiasm and respect for the Avatar property and us as its stewards. From the start, they’ve supported our ambitious plans and created a positive, proactive environment for us. We’re excited to be back at Nickelodeon where Avatar began, doing what we do best in the biggest way possible. We can’t wait to build the great teams and productions to make all of this fantasy a reality,” said Bryan Konietzko and Michael DiMartino.

Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender aired for three seasons originally on Nickelodeon, where it began in February 2005 and concluded in July 2008. The series has received the Peabody Award, a Primetime Emmy, Annie Awards and Genesis Awards. The series follows the adventures of the main protagonist Aang and his friends, who must save the world by defeating Fire Lord Ozai and ending the destructive war with the Fire Nation.

Avatar: The Last Airbender emerged from its initial three seasons (61 episodes) as one of the most beloved animated properties in history. In addition to the series’ success, the property also has been translated into a successful comic book and graphic novel series, which continue to roll out new original stories. The “Avatar: The Last Airbender” graphic novel spent 70 cumulative weeks on the New York Times Graphic Novel Bestseller list, hitting number one. The DVD and Blu-rays are also incredibly successful, with the “Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Complete Series” generating nearly $5MM in retail sales since its 2018 release.

The Legend of Korra launched in April 2012 on Nickelodeon and ran for four seasons (52 episodes). Its first season premiered as basic cable’s number one kid’s show and drew 3.8 million viewers per episode, the highest for an animated series that year. Created and executive produced by DiMartino and Konietzko, the series is translated in more than 25 languages for Nickelodeon branded channels internationally.

The property has translated into a successful ongoing graphic novel series written by TV series co-creator DiMartino. The first graphic novel storyline, Legend of Korra: Turf Wars, has captured various Top 10 sales spots across children’s fiction, YA science fiction, and graphic novel categories since its debut in 2017. The epic story of The Legend of Korra, set in the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender 70 years later, follows the journey of Avatar Korra, a 17-year-old girl striving to live up to the legacy of her predecessor Avatar Aang, while using her mastery of all four elements to confront political and spiritual unrest in a modernizing world.

About Bryan Konietzko
Bryan Konietzko graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design’s illustration department in 1998. He worked in TV animation as a character designer, storyboard artist, and art director before teaming up with Michael DiMartino to co-create and executive produce the Nickelodeon animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. He is the creator of the upcoming graphic novel series Threadworlds, to be published by First Second Books.

About Mike DiMartino
Michael Dante DiMartino began his training at the Rhode Island School of Design where he graduated in 1996 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Film and Animation Department. His directing credits include the primetime animated series King of the Hill, Family Guy, and Mission Hill. DiMartino is a co-creator of the award-winning animated Nickelodeon series Avatar: The Last Airbender and its sequel, The Legend of Korra. From 2002 to 2014 he served as executive producer and story editor on both series. He continues Korra’s story as writer for the graphic novel, Turf Wars, published by Dark Horse comics. He is also the author of the fantasy novels Rebel Genius and Warrior Genius. DiMartino currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.

About Nickelodeon
Nickelodeon, now in its 41st 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 brand includes television programming and production in the United States and around the world, plus consumer products, digital, location-based experiences, publishing and feature films. For more information or artwork, visit http://www.nickpress.com. Nickelodeon and all related titles, characters and logos are trademarks of ViacomCBS Inc. (Nasdaq: VIACA, VIAC).

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Animation Periodicals - Animation Planet

After doing research of the magazines seen in my previous blog entries, I happen to run across on eBay an auction for three issues of Animation Planet. I wrote down the numbers of the issues and kept on my merry way researching further topics. 


A couple days later I ran across the eBay auction again, this time with the knowledge that those three issues are the only three issues of the magazine’s run. 



Long story short, I won the auction at a really decent price and now have the aforementioned magazines in my possession. And they are well put together and fairly deep for there only being three issues. Financial support seems to have been pulled between issue 2 and 3, but a further publisher couldn’t be found to keep the boat afloat. 


The three cover stories on Hercules, Bill Plympton, and South Park have very interesting interviews, respectively. 


The presence of many animation historian writers is becoming less surprising the more research I do in this topic. 

Friday, February 12, 2021

Animation Periodicals - Animato!

The only magazine I currently own that has a focus on Western animation, Animato! ran for 40 issues between 1983 and 1999. 


So far, in my research, Animato! was the sixth magazine with a focus on Animation. FunnyWorld, Mindrot, Animania, Animazine and Apatoons all precede it or run concurrently. 

 

I ordered these two issues off of eBay for fairly cheap; issue 14 and the final issue, issue 40. I have yet to do more than thumb through the pages; though they are really interestingly put together. Since Animato! was one of the first magazines to be printed, the earlier issue has a very homemade feel. It appears to have been written out on a typewriter.  


The final issue looks more in line with a professional magazine. No criticism implied, that’s growth over time. 


I was excited to get the last issue specifically because its subject matter focuses on the What a Cartoon Show, a particular favorite. 


There is more information about this magazine run with an article written by Jim Korkis as well as an entire book aptly titled Escape!: How Animation Broke Into the Mainstream in the 1990’s by G. Michael Dobbs. As well as a small cluster of issues available at archive.org.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Blue Sky Studios - 1988-2021

When Disney bought Fox in 2018 the acquisition included Blue Sky Studios. Most well known for creating the Ice Age series, Blue Sky Studios has been one of the few strong CGI competitors to Pixar/Disney for the last two decades. 


Yesterday, it was announced that Disney will be closing the studio next month.


The studio launched 13 films over the course of 17 years including the aforementioned Ice Age and it’s four theatrical sequels, Robots starring the late Robin Williams, Rio and its sequel and Epic, and the most recent Peanuts film among others. Their final film, Spies in Disguise, was released in 2019. 


The studio was nominated in total for six Academy Awards, winning one, Best Animated Short Film. Additionally, the studio had 50 Annie Award Nominations, winning once for Best Character Animation in an Animated Feature for Rio


The various original intellectual properties will continue on under Disney’s ownership, but as with all things of this nature, it will have a different tone and concept under Disney’s eye. 


Personally, I am not too surprised at the development of this announcement. Any large purchase Disney makes is going to have the underpinning companies folded into Disney’s extensive, already existing corporate structure. Of course, it’s always unfortunate to see the finality of a predominant animation studio close its doors. 


My Dad adores the Ice Age franchise; he laughs his butt off watching those movies and, in turn, gets me rolling as well. There is an earnest storytelling in the Blue Sky Studios films and a non-malicious slapstick aesthetic that isn’t seen very often these days. Hopefully, Disney will move the talent that made up Blue Skies into other positions throughout Disney. 


Of course, with recent rumors of Disney potentially buying MGM, Disney’s acquisition of competitors may continue further on. It will be interesting to see if the Biden Administration begins to talk about monopolies in the entertainment business. As for today, I think I’ll throw in Ice Age in the DVD player.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Animation Periodicals - Shonen Jump

There is one periodical I had consistently when I was a kid. I subscribed for five years, before I had to focus on other things like high school and college, though my love for the magazine never waned. It’s fascinating to look at this series of magazines now, as it was laying the groundwork for some of the biggest manga series in history and fueled the generation after me on how awesome manga and anime could be. This series’ marketing push is one of the biggest and most consistent campaigns I have ever seen; their cross branding included manga, anime, video games, plush, action figures, trading cards, the list goes on and on. It’s a magazine that has been around in Japan since 1968, and though physical versions of the magazine are no longer printed here in the United States, its legacy lives on digitally as one of the biggest online manga libraries available. There could be no other series I am talking about besides….

Shonen Jump



Manga is expensive. At $10 a book, it takes me less than an hour to read a manga. Even as a kid working at minimum wage, I refused to spend more than what I made an hour on entertainment, which meant manga was firmly out of reach from me. That is, besides a subscription to Shonen Jump. At $20 a year, 12 issue compilation of roughly 6-8 series arrived at my doorstep. I love Shonen Jump. I love Shonen Jump so much that a couple years back I wanted to finish my collection of the series, as it had finished its print run in 2012 with 110 issues. That 110 count does not include Issue #0 (A promo for conventions the year before the series started - I’ve got it!), issue #00 (Another promotional sampler - I didn’t know about this for a long time because Google search results always pulled up the first promotional issue. I’ve got this one too, only recently) and the Shonen Jump Fifth Anniversary Collector's Edition (Hardcover. I neeeed this one and only found out about it recently. It’s the last issue I need!)


Each issue not only featured the aforementioned chapters of the newest English translated releases, they also featured reviews, news, interviews, and lots of advertisements of other Shonen Jump products. In addition, since Yu-Gi-Oh! The Trading Card Game has been the most popular game in the world for a while now (beating Magic the Gathering in sales for quite a few years) each issue also contained a promotional Yu-Gi-Oh! card. I have a few, but now all of the cards. That’s the next to do on the collecting spree. And it's going to be a pricy excursion.


Lastly, in a wonderful crossing of my favorite things, Kids Next Door creator and all around wholesome dude, Mr. Warburton, drew a crossover of KND with the most popular manga in the world, One Piece. Not only was this illustration featured in the magazine, but can still be purchased as a print from Mr. Warburton’s online shop. I procured mine early last year. 


Postscript: Conveniently timed, one of the YouTubers I follow did a great video summarizing the state of Shonen Jump today. Check out Super Eyepatch Wolf's video: