Netflix and Sony Preparing New Elvis Presley Action Comedy Toon

Netflix is all shook up for Elvis. The streaming service has announced that has ordered an adult animated action comedy series featuring Elvis Presley. The show which is titled Agent King will be exec produced by Priscilla Presley and John Eddie and will be co-produced by Authentic Brands Group, Sony Pictures Animation and Sony Pictures TV, per Variety.

Actress and business magnate Priscilla Presley, who was married to Elvis from 1967 to 1973, told the trade pub, “From the time Elvis was a young boy he always dreamed of being the superhero fighting crime and saving the world! Agent King lets him do just that…My co-creator John Eddie and I are so excited to be working with Netflix and Sony Animation on this amazing project and getting the chance to show the world an Elvis they haven’t seen before.”

According to the official description of the show, “Elvis Presley trades in his white jumpsuit for a jet pack when he is covertly inducted into a secret government spy program to help battle the dark forces that threaten the country he loves — all while holding down his day job as the King Of Rock And Roll.”

Co-creators Presley and Eddie will also executive produce the series. Jerry Schilling is consultant, while Mike Arnold (Archer) will be the showrunner, writer and co-executive producer. Fletcher Moules will serve as supervising director and co-executive producer.

Netflix made the announcement on the anniversary of Presley’s death (August 16, 1977), which coincides with “Elvis Week,” a Graceland celebration of Elvis’ music, movies and legacy.

Here’s hoping that audiences can’t help falling in love with the show, won’t look at it with suspicious minds and don’t return it to sender.

Agent King

Agent King

Animation Magazine

Quavo Developing Atlanta Hip-Hop Inspired Kids’ Toon

Rapper, songwriter and producer Quavo — a member of the hip-hop trio Migos — is branching out with his first foray into kids’ animation. The American Music Award and Teen Choice Award-winning artist has announced he will be developing an animated series aimed at 8- to 12-year-olds, set in hip-hop music and culture scene of Atlanta, Georgia. Quavo and fellow Migos grew up just outside the vibrant southern city.

“I have long seen how hip-hop as well as our music really impacts kids,” Quavo said in the announcement. “I’ve loved animation my whole life, whether on TV or in movies, and I wanted my first jump into this premium content world to be a show just for kids. It will definitely reflect the creativity, love and families in and around the nawf side of Atlanta, where we grew up.”

The artist will be an executive producer on the as yet untitled series, alongside Imagine Entertainment chairman Brian Grazer, Marginal Mediaworks CEO & Founder Sanjay Sharma, and Imagine Kids+Family President Stephanie Sperber. Quality Control Music, the rap label Migos is signed to, is also on board the project as part of its outreach into film and TV.

Quality Control’s COO Kevin “Coach” Lee commented, “What’s important and inspiring to me is that all kids will be seeing themselves in the faces and situations of these episodes. When I was growing up there was very little media that had brown and black skinned kids feeling heard or seen, and the ones that did stood out and served as a crucial roadmap through our childhoods. I’m about inclusive stories that address all kinds of situations that kids of all ethnic and financial backgrounds experience and to give them a common tool to learn and grow. These episodes will impact because they are educational and positive but with the dopest visuals and sounds our iconic rap culture can provide.”

Outside of recording and performing, Quavo has directed several music videos for Migos and his solo songs, and has appeared as himself in hit TV series black-ish, Atlanta and Star.

[Source: Variety]

Animation Magazine

‘King of the Hill’ EPs Announce ‘Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers’ Toon

Mark Canton (Power, 300) and Courtney Solomon (AFTER, American Haunting, Dungeons & Dragons) have teamed up with the executive producers of King of the Hill and American Dad!, the co-creators of Silicon Valley, and the talent and co-creators of Workaholics, to bring the infamous comic book The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers to the small screen with an adult animated series.

WTG Enterprises, LLC has greenlit eight 22-minute episodes which will debut in early 2020. The series will revolve around three rowdy characters looking to shake up history and push the envelope while keeping audiences entertained and wanting more. Starburns Industries (Rick and Morty, Animals) and Pure Imagination Studios (The Simpsons, LEGO Batman) will handle animation.

The showrunners, talent and writers will be at San Diego Comic-Con to reveal details about the show at a panel on Friday, July 19 at 7 p.m. in room 6 BCF of the Convention Center. The discussion will cover the behind the scenes process around adapting this iconic 50-year-old comic book into a unique series.

The animated series will draw from the comic storylines, with the original creator, Gilbert Shelton, joining as an executive producer. Alan Cohen and Alan Freedland (King of the Hill, America Dad!) will serve as showrunners, John Althschuler and Dave Krinsky (Silicon Valley) will write and produce, Adam Devine and Blake Anderson (Workaholics) will voice characters, executive produce and will also be involved in the creative development process, and Daniel and Jeremy Lehrer (Highly Gifted) will serve as writers and producers.

Executive producers include Solomon (CEO of WTG) and Canton (former Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Columbia Tri-Star Motion Picture Companies and President of Worldwide Production for Warner Bros. Pictures), and Jeffrey S. Edell (president of WTG and former Chairman of MySpace parent company Intermix Media, CEO of Soundelux Entertainment, The Kids Are Alright, Killer Elite, The Grey, Just Friends) will also serve as co-executive producer. The deal was negotiated on behalf of Gilbert Shelton by Manfred Mroczkowski, Executive Director of InterLicense, Ltd., who will also be joining as an executive producer.

“There is so much topical, pop-culturally relevant, irreverent and hilarious source material to pull from, we’re just beyond thrilled to be working on such a fun and layered property,” said Freedland and Cohen. ”Now is the time to be creating smart adult animated shows that touch on topics that are timeless and timely.”

“We connected so much to these characters,” said Devine and Anderson. “They’re just trying to enjoy life while understanding the world around them, and the adventures they go through along the way had us fully giggling while simultaneously making us think. When the opportunity arose to get involved not just as talent but also on a creative level, we jumped at the chance and also WEED, man!”

The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers first appeared in 1968 as an underground press comic strip, and centered on a threesome of “freaks” and a mischievous cat from San Francisco who are consistently looking for a state of bliss, relieved only by bursts of paranoia or stimulant induced frenzies. The Freak Brothers quickly became beloved, being translated into fourteen languages with over 40 million comics sold worldwide. The adventures this group of misfits take are both wildly boundary-pushing and remarkably human, with common themes including cannabis, law-breaking and politics.

Animation Magazine

Toon Boom Launches Harmony 17, Offers Special Sale

Top animation and storyboarding software company Toom Boom has launched Harmony 17, the latest version of its popular tool for traditional digital animators and production artists. The two-time Emmy-winning company is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and is offering a special 25 percent sale on annual licenses for Harmony and Storyboard Pro, from June 11 to August 31st.

“Traditional digital animators will not want to miss Harmony 17,” says Marc-Andre Bouvier, product manager at Toon Boom Animation. “With an improved drawing engine and new features focused on hand-drawn animation —including drawing stabilizers, adjustable pen sensitivity settings and curvilinear perspective guides for large panning backgrounds— artists have more precision and control available to them than ever before.”

Harmony gives students, freelancers and independent artists access to the same production pipeline that major production houses rely on for demanding television productions. Packed with 40 new-and-improved features, including upgrades to the software’s core drawing engine, Harmony 17 can help animators bring their next project to life like never before.

You can try the free 21-day trial at www.toonboom.com/products/harmony/try

Customers who chose Toon Boom animation software for the development and creation of their productions include Disney Television Animation, Amazon, Fox Television Animation, Nelvana, Ubisoft, Toei Animation, The SPA Studios, Xilam and Boulder Media. The technology is currently available in Simplified Chinese, Japanese and Spanish. For more information, visit toonboom.com.

Toom Boom

Toom Boom

Animation Magazine

Showtime Developing Annah Feinberg Adult Toon ‘Multifarious Maris’

A new animated half-hour series with a comedic, fantastical take on the “journey of self-discovery” is now in development at Showtime, Variety reports. The project is titled Multifarious Maris and comes from writer and cartoonist Annah Feinberg.

The series centers on Maris, who discovers an incredible superpower on the night of her 30th birthday: the ability to, after a little more than enough wine, transport herself into the “what if” lives she might have lived having made different choices. Throughout the show, Maris will hop through these multiverses seeking the path to literally her best life.

Multifarious Maris is a production of Showtime; Big Beach, providing production services; and ShadowMachine (BoJack Horseman), executive producer and animation studio.

Feinberg will write the show and executive produce alongside Joanna Calo. Big Beach’s Robin Schwartz, Marc Turtletaub and Peter Saraf exec produce, with Molly Breeskin producing. ShadowMachine’s Corey Campodonico and Alex Bulkley are also exec producers.

Annah Feinberg’ live-action TV credits include script coordinator on I Love Dick, writer’s assistant on Arrested Development and assistant to Julia-Louis Dreyfus on Veep. As a cartoonist, her work has appeared in The New Yorker, McSweeney’s and The Hairpin.

Multifarious Maris will be Showtime’s second animated original comedy, following Our Cartoon President.

[Source: Variety]

Animation Magazine

Turner APAC & UYoung Partner on New Toon IP

Turner Asia Pacific and Chinese animation company UYoung have formalized their official partnership with an MOU, announced at Kidscreen Summit in Miami. The team-up will see the development of a new IP by UYoung (TBA), backed by Turner’s production and international distribution experience.

Ricky Ow, Turner Asia Pacific President, said: “We’ve been impressed by UYoung’s vision to develop a homegrown Chinese IP and launch it together with us both in China and internationally. We are looking forward to working closely with them on this, with a collaboration that brings together global talent to tell Chinese-inspired stories.”

In Asia Pacific, Turner (Cartoon Network, Boomerang, POGO) adopts a virtual studio model for its original animation projects, identifying creators, artists and studios from right around the region – for global audiences.

Lisa Zhong, President of UYoung, added: “We are proud to be the pioneer partner with Turner to bring Chinese storytelling around the world. UYoung is always keen to establish stronger ties with international producers and broadcasters to extend its international reach.”

UYoung develops, produces and distributes high-quality animated content. It has become one of China’s leading children’s entertainment and media companies, and employs more than 200 talent in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Los Angeles.

Animation Magazine

Disney TV Toon Highlights for February

Many sweet animated treats await Disney TV channels viewers throughout February, from lovestruck Valentine’s-themed episodes to the premiere of the all-new, live-action Kim Possible Disney Channel Movie. Plus, plenty of kid-friendly laughs and heroic action-adventure.

Puppy Dog Pals

Puppy Dog Pals

Friday, Feb. 1
9:30–10:00 A.M. EST (Disney Channel) Puppy Dog Pals “Valentine Surprise/Bright Lights, Pup City” When the Pugs and Keia learn that it’s Valentine’s Day, they make it their mission to find the perfect gifts for Bob and Chloe. | Bob is devastated when Hong Kong’s Symphony of Lights is canceled, so the Pugs scour the city looking for a way to repair the lights.

10:00–10:30 A.M. EST (Disney Channel) Vampirina “Franken-Wedding/Bat Hair Day” Frankenstein and the Bride of Frankenstein hold their wedding at the Hauntley’s Scare B&B and give Vampirina a very important job. Anna Camp and Skylar Astin (“Pitch Perfect”) guest star as Bride of Frankenstein and Frankenstein, respectively. | Gregoria’s sculpture of the Hauntley family is almost ruined when Vee wakes up with a bat hair day. ABC News’ Dan Harris (“Nightline”) guest stars as an ogre from Transylvania’s “Ogre Express” delivery service.

10:30–11:00 A.M. EST (Disney Channel) Fancy Nancy “Nancy, La Poete/Mon Amie… Grace?” While trying to win a poetry contest, Nancy gets a case of writer’s block. | When Nancy’s Valentine’s Day card to Bree is sent to Grace by mistake, Grace thinks they’re best friends. Christine Baranski (“The Good Fight”) returns as Ms. Devine.

Sunday, Feb. 3
10:00–10:30 P.M. EST (Disney Channel) Star Wars Resistance “The First Order Occupation” Kaz scrambles to help Synara escape the platform as the First Order sends a contingent of stormtroopers to hunt a spy.

Sunday, Feb. 10
9:00–9:30 P.M. EST (Disney XD) Marvel’s Avengers: Black Panther’s Quest “King Breaker Part One” Black Panther must go behind enemy lines to save his foes from an even bigger threat.

9:30–10:00 P.M. EST (Disney XD) Marvel’s Avengers: Black Panther’s Quest “King Breaker Part Two” With an attack coming from multiple sides, Black Panther turns to help from an unlikely source.

10:00–10:30 P.M. EST (Disney Channel) Star Wars Resistance “The New Trooper” When Kel and Eila seek out Kaz’s help after knocking out a stormtrooper, Kaz dons the trooper’s armor to protect the kids and spy on the First Order.

Friday, Feb. 15
10:00–10:15 A.M. EST (Disney Channel) Muppet Babies “The Best, Best Friend”

Fozzie fears he might be losing his best friend, Kermit, when Rowlf the dog shows up in the Playroom and wins everyone over.

8:00–9:32 P.M. EST (Disney Channel) Kim Possible Based on the global hit animated series, the live-action “Kim Possible” Disney Channel Original Movie follows everyday teen hero Kim Possible and best friend and sidekick Ron Stoppable as they embark on their freshman year of high school, all while saving the world from evil villains. By their side, every step of the way, is teen tech-genius Wade and new friend Athena, who also happens to be a Kim Possible super fan and is eager to join Team Possible. While Kim and Ron have always been one step ahead of their opponents, navigating the social hierarchy of high school is more challenging than the action-hero ever imagined. With Drakken and Shego lurking in the wings, Kim must rely on her family and friends more than ever. Now it’s up to Team Possible—Kim, Ron, tech-genius Wade, new friend Athena and Rufus, a Naked mole-rat that Ron meets along the way—to stop these super villains.

Saturday, Feb. 16
7:00–7:30 A.M. EST (Disney Channel) Milo Murphy’s Law “The Ticking Clock/Managing Murphy’s Law” Milo and his friends try to save the old clock at City Hall that Melissa’s great-grandmother designed. Barry Bostwick (“Spin City”) returns as Clyde Rickenbacker. | Amanda helps Milo, Zack, and Melissa prepare for an afternoon concert.

11:30 A.M.–12:00 P.M. EST (Disney Junior) Elena of Avalor “Movin’ On Up” When Elena invites Mateo to move into his own Royal Wizard quarters within the palace, his mother assumes she is invited to move in too. Ana Ortiz (“Ugly Betty”) returns as Mateo’s mother, Rafa.

Marvel's Avenger's: Black Panther's Quest

Marvel’s Avenger’s: Black Panther’s Quest

Sunday, Feb. 17
9:00–9:30 P.M. EST (Disney XD) Marvel’s Avengers: Black Panther’s Quest “Widowmaker” Black Panther explores a secret enemy facility with a nefarious past.

10:00–10:30 P.M. EST (Disney Channel) Star Wars Resistance “The Core Problem” Poe and Kaz make an unsettling discovery and must evade the First Order when they are spotted by an enemy probe droid. Oscar Isaac (“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”) returns as Poe Dameron.

The Lion Guard

The Lion Guard

Monday, Feb. 18
10:00–10:30 A.M. EST (Disney Junior) The Lion Guard “The Queen’s Visit” After being threatened by Scar’s attacks, Queen Dhahabu asks Fuli, Tiifu and Zuri to become her permanent personal guards. Renée Elise Goldsberry (Broadway’s “Hamilton”) returns as Queen Dhahabu. Rico Rodriguez (“Modern Family”) and Raini Rodriguez (“Austin & Ally”) return as zebra siblings Raha and Starahe, respectively.

Friday, Feb. 22
10:30–11:00 A.M. EST (Disney Channel) Vampirina “Baby Dragon/Gloommates” A baby dragon visits the Hauntley’s and takes a special liking to Gregoria. Tony Award winner Patti LuPone (“Evita”) returns as Nanpire. | When the Hauntley house becomes infested with Charmer bugs, Edna insists the entire family stay with her while the house is being fumigated.

Fancy Nancy

Fancy Nancy

11:00–11:30 A.M. EST (Disney Channel) Fancy Nancy “The Amazing Adventures of Grammy and Poppy/Un, Deux, Cha Cha Cha!” Nancy gains a new appreciation for her Grandparents when they come to visit. John Ratzenberger (“Cheers”) guest stars as Poppy. | Nancy partners up with her Grandpa to compete in a local ballroom dancing competition. George Wendt (“Cheers”) returns as Grandpa.

Saturday, Feb. 23
7:00–7:30 A.M. EST (Disney Channel) Milo Murphy’s Law “Milo’s Shadow/Sick Day” Doof follows Milo around for a day to try and learn how to be more like him. Hal Sparks (Disney XD’s “Lab Rats”) guest stars as conspiracy theorist, Chaffe. | When aliens try to retrieve a tissue sample from a sick Milo, Diogee intervenes. John Ross Bowie and Cedric Yarbrough (ABC’s “Speechless”) guest star as shape-shifting alien buddies, Loab and Khone.

Sunday, Feb. 24
9:00–9:30 P.M. EST (Disney XD) Marvel’s Avengers: Black Panther’s Quest “Atlantis Attacks” All of Black Panther’s efforts to protect Wakanda are thrown into jeopardy by a new foe.

9:30–10:00 P.M. EST (Disney XD) Marvel’s Avengers: Black Panther’s Quest “House of M” The past actions of Black Panther and The Avengers come back to haunt them.

10:00–10:30 P.M. EST (Disney Channel) Star Wars Resistance “The Disappeared”

Kaz and Torra investigate the disappearance of a friend and plan to free them from the First Order.

Animation Magazine

News Bytes: Deadpool Toon Lives On, Jan Svankmajer in Amsterdam, Exec Appointments & More

Mattel Loses a Good Chunk of DC Comics Toy License to Spin Master
The new three-year agreement between the publisher and toy company kicks in Spring of 2020, and will cover action figures, remote control/robotic vehicles, water toys, games and puzzles. Mattel had previously held the license for almost two decades, and the company’s stock has taken a hit following the announcement.

Favreau Confirms Popular Character for ‘The Mandalorian’
The droid bounty hunter first seen in The Empire Strikes Back, IG-88 will be appearing in the new live-action Star Wars series coming to Disney+ this year.

Spencer Neumann Named Netflix Chief Financial Officer
Most recently CFO of Activision Blizzard, the accomplished media and financial exec has also held several senior positions at Disney.

Sony Animation Taps Walt Disney Vet Garth Burkhard to Head Publicity
The new SVP joins the studio as it rides the wave of its successful new release Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which earned $ 35 million at the domestic box office in its opening weekend. Burkhard spent 10 years at Disney, five at the Animation division where he worked on campaigns for Oscar winners Frozen, Big Hero 6 and Zootopia.

The “Godfather of Animated Cinema” Makes More Than Just Movies
Czech film legend Jan Svankmajer is being celebrated with an exhibition in Amsterdam’s EYE Filmmuseum, showcasing the artist’s varied output of the past 50-plus years — which ranges through challenging, absurd, grotesque and erotic landscapes of the imagination.

Is Another Deadpool Animated Series in the Works?
We’re still a little salty about the cancellation of Donald Glover’s adult-oriented animation project, but Rob Liefeld — co-creator of the Merc with a Mouth — has told Nerdist that another Deadpool toon will be coming down the pipes, per some words of encouragement from a Marvel exec.

Jan Svankmajer

Jan Svankmajer

Animation Magazine

Titmouse Launches Toon Talk Show ‘Tongue and Pencil’

Acclaimed animation studio Titmouse (The Venture Bros., Big Mouth) has launched a talk show style webseries about animation, announced during the tribute for studio co-founder Chris Prynoski at the Los Angeles Animation Festival. Prynoski hosts the series, titled Tongue and Pencil, in which he sits down for drinks and doodling in the studio with artist friends to talk about their work and lives.

The show is comprised of 24 episodes of 40-60 minute filmed over the last few years, rolling out every Monday on a dedicated YouTube channel. The first episode, launched this weekend, features Metalocalypse director Jon Schnepp, who died in July from complications of a stroke at just 51 years old.

The first season will also feature Pete Browngardt (creator, Uncle Grandpa), animator Mike Carlo, animator Devin Flynn, character designer Kali Fontecchio, Jorge Gutierrez (director, The Book of Life), comics artist Lawrence Hubbard, Christy Karacas (creator, Ballmastrz: 9009), animator Luke McGarry, actress Kate Micucci, illustrator Travis Millard, Tomm Moore (director, Song of the Sea), artist Nasty Neckface, animator Jeremy Polgar, Johnny Ryan (co-creator, Pig Goat Banana Cricket), animator Jody Schaeffer, animator Parker Simmons, Brendon Small (co-creator, Metalocalypse), Sean Solomon (art director, Lucas Bros. Moving Co.), animator Jamie Vickers, J.J. Villard (director, King Star King), Pen Ward (creator, Adventure Time), animator Max Winston (director, I Live in the Woods) and Masaaki Yuasa (director, Lu over the Wall).

[Source: Cartoon Brew]

Animation Magazine

Adult Swim, Crunchyroll to Offer New ‘Blade Runner’ Toon

The Replicants are back in town. Alcon TV Group is partnering with Adult Sim and Crunchyroll to produce and distribute a new anime series inspired by Oscar-winning movie Blade Runner 2049. The new animated series is titled Blade Runner — Black Lotus and features thirteen 30-minute episodes. It will be produced by animation studio Sola Digital Arts (Ultraman). Shinji Aramaki (Appleseed) and Kenji Kamiyama (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex) will direct all episodes of the premiere season, which will follow their current directorial work on the upcoming Ghost in the Shell series reboot.  Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo) is a creative producer.

The series storyline is under wraps, but producers have confirmed the story will take place in 2032 and will include some familiar characters from the beloved Blade Runner universe, based on the story by Philip K. Dick.

Adult Swim will have the worldwide rights (excluding Asia) to distribute the English dubbed versions of the series and will air the English dubbed episodes on the network’s popular anime programming block Toonami.  Crunchyroll will handle worldwide streaming for its community of more than 45 million registered users and 2 million subscribers.

“I first saw Blade Runner in 1982, at age 11. It has remained one of the defining films of my life,” sys Jason DeMarco, senior VP and creative director of Adult Swim on-air. “To be able to explore more of this universe, with the incredible talent we have on board, is a dream come true.”

Alcon’s Andrew Kosove, Broderick Johnson, Laura Lancaster, Al-Francis Cuenca, and Sola Digital Art’s Joseph Chou will executive produce the project.  Alcon exec Ben Roberts will serve as co-executive producer. Production IG’s Mitsuhisa Ishikawa is participating as production advisor.

Animation Magazine

Turkish Toon Star Pepee Goes Global with Amazon Prime

Pepee, “the first Turkish National Cartoon Character,” is making its English-language debut and rolling out to viewers around the world thanks to a new agreement between series producer Dü?yeri and Amazon Prime. Pepee receives 30 million monthly views on YouTube and boasts 1.6 million followers online.

The CG series centers on five-year-old Pepee, who lives with his loving family and friends in a green pastoral world. In the course of his everyday adventures, Pepee learns shapes, colors, numbers and more. With his cute little sister Bebee, cousin Shila, grandparents, giraffe and monkey friends, he discovers his emotions and learns how to deal with them.

“We have taken the first major step towards globalization and opening our doors to the world market. Being a 100 percent local brand, we are proud to represent our country in the international arena and to promote it in the best possible way,” commented Dü?yeri Founder and Dü? ??leri Chairman Ay?e ?ule Bilgiç.

“Within the scope of the cooperation we have established with Amazon Prime, Pepee will be broadcasted in English for the benefit of all the children around the world. Thanks to this cooperation, the children will have the chance to watch Pepee in English for the first time on a platform which broadcasts to the entire world, including applications on smartphones and tablets.”

Established in 2008, Dü?yeri seeks to create a more meaningful entertainment environment for children around the world and offer value-adding products and services. Pepee is the first brand the company has built up, and its wide appeal in Turkey has lead to 98 percent brand awareness in the country.

Season 1 of Pepee is available to to stream on Amazon Prime Video now.

Pepee

Pepee

Pepee

Pepee

Animation Magazine

Daily News Bytes: Netflix’s Character Animation Head, Toon Music Talk, Marvel’s Dark Phoenix TL;DR & More!

A Woman’s Place: Animation and Illustration
Brit.co continues its series devoted to spotlighting women in male-dominated industries by turning an eye on our favorite art form. This must-read article features insight from animator Mel Maduro, comics artist Megan Kearney, and Black Women Animate founder Taylor Shaw.

’Legend of Zelda’ Animated Series Coming from Castlevania Producer?
Adi Shankar posted on Instagram last week that he was working with a Japanese video game company to adapt a popular franchise into a new toon — the official reveal is set for November 16, but a leak reveals that the project in question in Nintendo’s iconic fantasy adventure.

Music in Animation at The Musicians Institute L.A.
On Nov. 13, White Bear PR and The Musicians Institute are presenting a panel discussion with Toon Town composers Andy Bean (The Muppet Babies), Frederik Wiedmann (The Dragon Prince), Keith Horn (The Muppet Babies), Kristopher Carter (Young Justice: Outsiders), Lolita Ritmanis (Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors) and Michael McCuistion (Batman & Harley Quinn), moderated by Animag’s own Editor-in-Chief, Ramin Zahed. The talk is scheduled for 7:30-9:30 p.m. at the MI Concert Hall.

Netflix’s New Animation Division Has a Secret Weapon: James Baxter
With the streaming giant just unveiling a tantalizing lineup of new animated features and series from an impressive roster of creators, the veteran animator has been tapped as its toon divition’s Director of Character Animation.

Ashe’s Origin Animation Explains Where She Fits in the World of ‘Overwatch’
Learn how the hit game’s dynamite-toting, cowboy hat-wearing sniper found her way makeshift family in the Deadlock Gang from a lonely but highly privileged upbringing.

This Animated Video Explains the X-Men’s Entire Convoluted ‘Dark Phoenix Saga’ in 3 Minutes
The short and sweet “Marvel TL; DR” installment is a great bite-sized primer on Jean Grey’s evolution before Fox releases the live-action flick next Valentine’s Day. The short is directed, produced and narrated by Noah Sterling, with animation by Fatine Aouiniya and intro animation by Victor Garrido & Jordan Cohen.

The Musicians Institute

The Musicians Institute

Legend of Zelda

Legend of Zelda

James Baxter

James Baxter

Animation Magazine

Renegade Animation at 25: The Little Toon Train that Could

Renegade studio founders Ashley Postlewaite and Darrell Van Citters. Photo Credit: Ryan Jorgensen

Renegade studio founders Ashley Postlewaite and Darrell Van Citters. Photo Credit: Ryan Jorgensen

How much of a challenge has it been to keep an animation studio up and running throughout the industry’s vast technological and artistic upheaval of the past 25 years? You can definitely ask Darrell Van Citters and Ashley Postlewaite, who launched the indie toon shop Renegade Animation in 1992, and recently enjoyed their quarter-century anniversary.

With a core staff of about 25 at its Glendale, Calif., studio, and the ability to ramp-up at any time through an established free-lance base, as well as utilizing Canadian studios for the actual animation, Renegade provides production services for commercials, episodic television, videos, short cartoons, even video games. Recently, under the supervision of marketing and development head Brittney Jorgensen, the studio has launched an aggressive development-and-pitch campaign to sell their own series.

“We’ve seen our own base in terms of episodic production––we’re not even calling it television anymore — triple,” Ashley Postlewaite says. “I feel the newer players on the scene, like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, are set up for the independents. They’re looking for things that independents creators come up with, and we’re more driven to create shows that we love and then figure out where they go.”

Prior to founding Renegade, Darrell Van Citters had been creative director at Warner Bros. Classic Animation, where he was charged with directing new Looney Tunes cartoons and commercials, including the influential “Hare Jordan” spot for Nike. While that might sound like a dream job for any animator, the problem was the future.

“Mostly what we were doing was commercials, and this whole thing about bringing the shorts back seemed to be pretty vague,” Van Citters says. “In order to keep talent, I talked to upper management about broadening our reach with commercials to where we’d do anybody’s commercials, instead of doing only licensed product commercials. I got a big, resounding ‘Eh.’”

Van Citters made the decision to strike out on his own. “I said, ‘If you guys don’t want to do this, I’ve got to go out and do something while there’s still time to do it.” He approached Postlewaite, who was then a producer for WB Classic Animation, and the two formed a business plan. Within a year, Renegade opened for business with Postlewaite as executive producer, and Van Citters as supervising director.

Moving Beyond Commercials

Initially, their plan was geared exclusively toward commercial production. One of their highest-profile ads was the 1993 Carl’s Jr. spot featuring basketball rebel Dennis Rodman, whose tattoo comes to life while he powers down a gloppy burger (Van Citters refers to such live-action and animation hybrids as “2 1/2D”). But when other, non-advertising offers came in, Renegade was open to them. “I’ve always liked the quote, ‘If you’re going to be an entrepreneur, you have to have a high tolerance for ambiguity,’” Postlewaite says.

Ambiguity became reality through a call from producer Sam Register at Cartoon Network in the early 2000s, who was prepping a pilot and needed an animation house. Renegade took both the job, and with it came an epiphany. “We were like, ‘Oh, my god, we have to figure out how to do this!’” Van Citters recalls.

The pilot went to series, and Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi ended up running three seasons, from 2004 to 2006. It is the series for which Renegade is best known, though the studio also provided the animation for The Mr. Men Show, which ran for two seasons beginning in 2008. At the same time, it was producing an original direct-to-video feature called Christmas is Here Again, which was released in 2007.

Such work was made possible by way of the studio’s having already conquered one of its biggest challenges, the shift to all-digital animation. “Our initial business plan didn’t contemplate computers or mention the Web,” says Postlewaite. “When Flash [animation] came into the market, we thought it might be a tool that would help us create a paperless 2D pipeline, and help us be efficient enough to maybe do episodic, or longer form things in-house.” That transition was facilitated through a bit of ingenuity. “We took our traditional animation desks, with the discs in them, and retrofitted them, creating discs that would hold laptops so the animators could draw on the screens, and turn them the way they were used to,” she says. “The animators could be comfortable physically that not too much had changed.” (Since then, though, those innovative desks have all been replaced with Cintiq animation tablets.)

The Magic of Technology

Changes in technology did not simply affect the production pipeline, though. Van Citters notes that it had an effect what is being produced. “Technology has also taken commercials away,” he notes. “Then cereal companies at one point decided they didn’t want to spend the money on advertising anymore, they wanted to spend it on promotion and coupons. There was a lot to adapt to in a very small period of time. And then the damned recession hit.”

Renegade survived the crash of 2008 in large part, both say, through simple fiscal conservatism. “When we’ve had good years, we didn’t go out and buy the newest BMW,” Postlewaite says. “We saved for a rainy day, and were able to get through it.”

Van Citters also draws upon his forty years in the business as a philosophical guideline. “I got into this business in the seventies, when it was in the crapper,” he states. “Animation didn’t look like it was going anywhere, but lo and behold, we became part of the beginning of the renaissance of animation. So, I’ve been through a lot of ups and downs. But a lot of people who got into animation in the late 1980s or early ’90s, they thought it was all up.”

Van Citters’ conservative approach also seems to spread to trumpeting his own reputation. “When I go to different studios to do talks about my books [The Art of Jay Ward Productions and Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol], I say I’m probably the industry’s best-kept secret,” he says. Postlewaite, however, toots the horn for him. “I think a lot of people know that if it comes here it’s going to be smart, funny, and good-looking,” she says. “Darrell’s known for his sense of comic timing, and being adamant about things being tight, and working in terms of character and story. And it’s going to come in on time and on budget, and be at a high level.”

Among Renegade’s current projects is a partnership deal with the license-owner of the boomer-era “Funny Face” drink mix, which appeared in 1964 as a rival to Kool-Aid, and featured an entire cocktail of fruit-based characters. As with everything else the studio is developing, Van Citters says, “I’d like it to be funny. We need to laugh more than anything else right now.”

Through unforeseen changes in technology and distribution, through the highs of the so-called “toon boom” of the 1990s and its subsequent decline, even through the caprices of the American economy, Renegade Animation has weathered it all.

Says Postlewaite, “Somebody asked Darrell, ‘Did you ever think you’d get to 25 years?’ and his response was perfect: ‘We didn’t think we would fail, but we never thought about what it would mean if we didn’t fail.’”

For more info, visit www.renegadeanimation.com

“I think a lot of people know that if it comes here it’s going to be smart, funny, and good-looking. Darrell’s known for his sense of comic timing, and being adamant about things being tight, and working in terms of character and story.”

Ashley Postlewaite, Renegade Animation co-founder

Photo Credit: Ryan Jorgensen

Renegade studio founders Ashley Postlewaite and Darrell Van Citters. Photo Credit: Ryan Jorgensen

Renegade studio founders Ashley Postlewaite and Darrell Van Citters. Photo Credit: Ryan Jorgensen

Funny Face

Funny Face

Der Wienerschnitzel

Der Wienerschnitzel

Renegade’s interactive tutorial for Adobe Character Animator

Renegade’s interactive tutorial for Adobe Character Animator

Renegade Studios. Photo Credit: Ryan Jorgensen

Renegade Studios. Photo Credit: Ryan Jorgensen

Animation Magazine

Italian Toon Hit ‘Winx Club’ Getting Live-Action Makeover at Netflix

Winx

Netflix is adapting Italian studio Rainbow Group’s popular animation franchise Winx Club into a live-action series for young adults, turning the six fashionista fairies into flesh and blood teens learning to hone their powers while living together at a magic boarding school. The show will be available to streaming members around the world.

Erik Barmack, VP of International Originals at Netflix, said: “Winx is a global phenomenon and through this exciting series we are thrilled to reinforce our relationship with Rainbow and to develop the next chapter of Winx. The famous fairies will grow up with their audience and will explore complex themes as real-life teenage superheroines in a live-action show.”

Winx Club, created by Rainbow’s founder & CEO Iginio Straffi, was first produced in Italy in 2004 and has since become one of the most successful animated series on a global level, and one of the first Italian cartoons to be sold in the US. In 2016, Netflix globally and exclusively released two seasons of the spinoff series World of Winx, which has also found international popularity.

“We are very pleased that our successful collaboration with Netflix continues with ever more ambitious projects,” said Straffi. “Netflix’s young adult series have touched a chord with audiences around the world and we are looking forward to seeing the Winx fairies in this new exciting live action adaptation.”

Winx

Winx

Animation Magazine

9 Story, GO-N Conjuring Up New ‘Bewitched’ Toon

Bewitched

9 Story Media Group and GO-N Productions have entered into an option agreement to develop and co-produce a new, animated series based on the classic live-action sitcom Bewitched. The partners will also jointly control worldwide distribution, while 9 Story will handle the majority of merchandising and licensing rights.

The original Bewitched ran on ABC from 1964 to 1972 — the longest-running supernatural-themed sitcom of the era — and starred Elizabeth Montgomery as a witch married to an ordinary mortal who must constantly contend with the way her powers and her supernatural family meddle with her efforts to live a normal, magic-free life. The show continues to air around the world in syndication, and has inspired several spinoffs as well as a movie adaptation.

The live-action series also featured a much admired animated intro produced by Hanna-Barbera. Several members of the Bewitched cast and crew were also involved with the iconic toon studio — for example, co-star Agnes Moorehead (magical mother-in-law Endora) who voiced the goose in Charlotte’s Web (1972), and writer Ruth Brooks Flippen also penned The New Scooby-Doo Movies (1972). Montgomery and Dick York, who played husband Darrin from ‘64-69, reprised their roles for H-B’s  “Samantha” crossover episode of The Flintstones (1965).

The new 22-minute animated television series will be reimagined for a 6-11 year old audience, with strong family co-viewing appeal.

Bewitched is one of the most beloved television series of all time,” said Vince Commisso, President & CEO for 9 Story Media Group. “It spoke to universal messages about acceptance and diversity, and people fell in love with the characters. We are thrilled to work with GO-N to reimagine this adored classic, and bring it to new audiences worldwide.”

“The opening credits of Bewitched were animated: could this have been a sign of things to come?” said Eric Garnet, Producer and Co-Founder for GO-N. “We are thrilled to be working on the animated adaptation of this monument of popular television culture. The winning combination of magic, a thoroughly modern heroine, iconic artistic direction, sparkling wit & universal humor all remain intact. The challenge to retain and respect the precious DNA of the show is an exciting challenge that we are happy to share with the 9 Story team. We are completely under the spell and truly ‘bewitched!’”

Hanna-Barbera created the animated opener for the original Bewitched live-action series.

Hanna-Barbera created the animated opener for the original Bewitched live-action series.

Animation Magazine