The View from Wall Street: Weak “Turbo” Opening Highlights DreamWorks Business Model Erosion

Following the lackluster opening of Turbo, DreamWorks Animation heard grumbling from Wall Street this afternoon, with shares in the company losing over 5% of their value on NASDAQ. Sterne Agee analyst Vasily Karasyo released a report this morning that offers a big-picture perspective on DreamWorks and explains why the weak Turbo debut highlights the erosion of DreamWorks’ business model, which relies largely on a few tentpole films every year.

Of course, DreamWorks management is well aware, too, that their reliance on blockbusters is not a sustainable long-term model, which is why Jeffrey Katzenberg is scrambling to diversify into other areas, such as acquiring Classic Media’s library, entering the Chinese animation and amusement park markets, and working with Netflix to create online series.

Here is Karasyo’s report:

Price: $24.90
Price Target: $21.50
Weak Turbo Opening Highlights Business Model Erosion

Our Call
We believe that the weak opening of Turbo is not a one time event but another illustration of the challenges to DreamWorks Animation’s business model due to decreasing box office opportunity and high legacy production and releasing costs. Although the management’s efforts to build new revenue streams received a lot of attention recently, they are not enough to offset decreasing film profitability. We reiterate our Underperform rating.

  • We estimate at this point that Turbo will generate $70 mln at the domestic box office, less than half of our and the Street’s pre-release estimate of $160 mln. A significant number of international territories don’t open till October but assuming IBO is in line with our forecast at $280 mln, we expect a $19 mln write-down which would drive $0.28 downside to our FY13 forecast. We don’t believe the company has to make a determination on the title’s profitability and therefore the write-down won’t happen until Q4.

  • If we are right about Turbo’s ultimate profitability, the risk to FY14 estimates is now significantly higher. There are two original releases, Peabody and Sherman and Happy Smekday, next year. With two out of the last three titles underperforming, we see the likelihood of another write-down as materially higher.

  • New revenue streams from the recent Netflix (NFLX – $264.58 – Neutral, Bhatia) deal only modestly decrease dependence on film earnings: we estimate they will account for $0.07 in EPS in FY14 assuming there are no execution issues. By comparison, Rise of The Guardians write-down impact on EPS was $0.68 and The Croods contribution to FY13 will be $0.26.

  • We think the execution risk associated with the Netflix deal is overlooked. In recent history, the company pursued several initiatives to drive incremental revenue which ran into challenges and did not yield expected results, e.g. Penguins of Madagascar consumer product licensing program and a shift to three films a year. The main challenge of the Netflix deal, in our view, is to produce high volume of content within tight time frame and at the target margin.

“Our Son” by Eric Ko

This morning we continue Cartoon Brew’s Student Animation Festival with the online debut of Eric Ko’s Our Son (우리 아들) which is a graduation short produced at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Notably, Eric’s short marks the second time he’s been selected for our festival; his junior year film Troubleshooting was featured in last year’s festival. Our Son is an evolution of his distinctively spare geometric language while reaching new heights of filmmaking ambition and confidence.

Ko is fascinated with the idea of speed in this film, and he skillfully manipulates the cinematic space to create a fast-paced and exciting animation thrill ride. The driving percussion-oriented soundtrack lends to the sense of urgency. The film flirts with abstraction, but remains grounded in a narrative universe that is both resistant to (and demanding of) interpretation by the viewer.

Continue reading for comments from the filmmaker:


The transition from carefree irresponsibility to reality is often instantaneous. Based off of a few precious memories of growing up with a best friend in a place that offered very little and the relationship I have with my heritage, I wanted to work on a film that took me on an adventure during its creation, with hopes that it would take the viewer on one as well.


I used Flash and a tablet to animate. For the music and sound design I worked in Ableton Live.


I wanted to make a film that embodied impulsive, frantic adventures; with that said, having a storyboard seemed to be an ill limitation. At first I had plenty of boards drawn up and ideas down on paper, but after the first few seconds of animating I threw it all out. All I had left were the bigger ideas that I kept in the back of my head as I worked. At a certain point I was simply putting one image in front of the other without knowing what came next, which was fun for me. Once something stopped being fun, I stopped and changed it. I think realizing to make sure I had fun was the most important thing.


I looked up to independent animators such as Lei Lei and Misaki Uwabo. I did some really basic research on Korean culture; I think my vague understanding of my own heritage and the disjointed humor I get from it particularly inspired me. Also, retro side-scrolling spaceship games such as Gradius interests me a lot, where a lot of strange visual motifs went unquestioned because it’s an arcade game. While animating I listened to a lot of Louis CK interviews for laughs and really loved his attitude about creative freedom. Echo Park by Willamette was my favorite album to listen to.


Making more short films!


Personal website:
Vimeo page:

The Cartoon Brew Student Animation Festival is made possible by the generosity of our presenting sponsor JibJab.

Mr. Clean In His Most Disturbing Appearance Yet

Speaking of cartoon mascots, this head-scratching take on Mr. Clean was concocted by Leo Burnett’s Toronto office and directed by Pete Riski at Sons and Daughters. While the ad isn’t noteworthy from either an animation or technical perspective, I’m oddly fascinated by how thoroughly creepy, stiff and unappealing they’ve managed to make this character. Perhaps that was the point.

LOST FILMS: “Sailor and the Devil” by Errol Le Cain

I’ve wanted to watch Errol Le Cain’s Sailor and the Devil ever since I saw these stills on Hans Bacher’s website a few years ago. Animation research Garrett Gilchrist recently unearthed a copy, which although incomplete and poor quality, offers a tantalizing glimpse of this masterful short.

Le Cain made Sailor and the Devil in 1966 while working at Richard Williams’ studio in London. He had been working there for only a year when Williams invited him to direct the film under his supervision. Williams explained the idea behind the project in a documentary: “[Le Cain is] doing everything so he’s getting ten years’ experience in one, and we get a film.”

The results are refreshingly original. Le Cain invents an idiosyncratic style of movement that combines jittery bursts of motion with visually pleasing dance cycles. When the storm arrives in the film or the skeleton wave threatens to overwhelm the sailor, we encounter a world of pure graphic art. Le Cain uses the full range of color, movement, design, and cinematic devices to create an exciting universe that could exist nowhere but in an animated film.

Le Cain made significant contributions to the production design of The Thief and the Cobbler, and afterward became a well known children’s book illustator. He died in 1989 at the age of 47.

Among the many projects he did with Richard Williams, Le Cain designed these titles for The Liquidator (1965):

There’s a clip of Le Cain and Williams working on Sailor in this documentary from 1966:

(via Michael Sporn)

Ward Kimball Explains to a Hollywood Producer Why An Animated Film About A Snail Is A Stupid Idea

Flawed film premises weren’t invented in the last decade. In 1977, a gentleman named Lorenzo Music was developing an animated feature called Simon and Miranda, which starred a snail named Simon and his love interest, Miranda the caterpillar. Music had successfully developed and produced snail-free TV shows like The Bob Newhart Show and Rhoda, and needed advice if his latest idea was worthwhile.

For guidance, Music reached out to Ward Kimball, who had spent nearly forty years as a director, writer and animator at Disney, and had excellent instincts about entertainment. Kimball, of course, was also responsible for creating the most successful insect in animation history—Pinocchio’ Jiminy Cricket—and though snails aren’t technically insects, for Music’s purposes, they were close enough.

Music sent the script he’d developed to Ward Kimball through a mutual friend, John Gibbons. Ward was unimpressed. Or to put it more bluntly, he thought it was a plain awful concept. Never one to mince words, Ward ripped apart Music’s idea in acerbic fashion with an extended riff on why Americans hate snails. He ended with a warning to Lorenzo to spend his money on “something besides snails.” Printed for the first time ever is Ward’s letter to Lorenzo Music. Click to enlarge:

Lorenzo Music was a smart man. He listened to Ward’s advice and the world was momentarily spared from having to endure an entire animated feature starring a snail. Music, whose response to Ward is recorded below, set aside his hard-shelled dreams and went on to perform numerous voices in animated cartoons including Ralph the All-Purpose Animal in Twice Upon a Time, Tummi Gummi in Gummi Bears, and his most memorable role as Garfield.

“Turbo” Fails to Accelerate at Box Office

Turbo, the DreamWorks-produced and David Soren-directed animated feature about the snail that could, opened in a disappointing third place in the U.S. with an esimated $21.5 million. The film is the third-lowest all-time opening weekend for a DreamWorks CGI film, doing better than only Antz (1998) and the Aardman-produced Flushed Away (2006). However, adjusted for inflation and 3D prices, Turbo had the smallest opening weekend audience EVER for a DreamWorks CG pic. The film has grossed $31.2 million since opening last Wednesday.

Illumination’s Despicable Me 2 kept up its amazing run in its third weekend. The film landed in second place with an estimated $25.1 million. Its current domestic total is a smashing $276 million, and by next weekend it will pass Man of Steel to become the second-highest grossing film in America this year. Holding up the tenth place spot was Pixar’s Monsters University, which earned an estimated $5 million in its fifth weekend. The film’s total now stands at a robust $249 million.

International numbers to come in a bit.

Mascot Makeovers: Good or Bad?

I was at my local Target the other day, and as I was passing down the cereal aisle, I came across this. General Mills is doing a “retro” promotion for its more popular cereals, like Lucky Charms and Cocoa Puffs, complete with the old designs of their mascots on the boxes.

There’s something undeniably charming about some of these old designs. Although seemingly crude on the surface, the simplicity of it all, from the geometric-like bodies down to the poses the characters are standing in make them more iconic than their current Disney-like proportioned, iris-eyed incarnations. And seeing them literally side by side on store shelves made it all the more jarring to me.

Nearly all advertising mascots have changed over the years: Tony the Tiger, the Vlasic Pickle stork, Scrubbing Bubbles, even a design so deceivingly simple as the Kool-Aid Man has had an overhaul:

Of course, most of these character’s designs evolved over the course of a few decades. Watch a Trix Rabbit commercial from the early 1960s and compare it to one from the 1970s, 80s, 90s and today, and you’ll notice how gradual the changes have been over the course of half a century. Larger commercial budgets, different ad agencies and animation studios, as well as graphic trends and the advent of digital animation have been contributing factors to these alterations.

A lot of characters, like the Keebler Elves and Toucan Sam, have even made the big leap from 2D to 3D. While many people have collectively poo-pooed the CG makeovers of some of these classic characters, I personally find that most of them still retain their traditional charm. Take this new Froot Loops commercial for example:

Some makeovers are a bit harder to digest:

But in this day and age, we seem to be embracing the past more than ever. Childhood nostalgia has become a new marketing strategy for advertising companies, and consumers are eating it up (no pun intended). Why else would General Mills revert to utilizing these vintage designs on their boxes? Some companies are even “re-aging” their mascots, making them look like their former selves, while still refurbishing them for the 21st century.

Who’s your favorite advertising mascot and what do you think of their modern makeovers? Share your thoughts!

First Footage from Craig McCracken’s “Wander Over Yonder”

These two promos are the publicly released footage that I’ve seen from Wander Over Yonder, the upcoming Disney Channel series created by Craig McCracken (The Powerpuff Girls, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends).

Also, here’s a lo-quality version of the trailer that someone recorded at last year’s San Diego Comic-Con:

(Thanks, Anthony DiPaola via Cartoon Brew’s Facebook group)

Artist of the Day: Christelle Enault

Christelle Enault

Christelle Enault works as an illustrator creating images for editorial, book and personal projects.

Christelle Enault

Christelle Enault

Enault often uses colored pencils to delicately render the smooth gradated color shapes in her drawings.

Christelle Enault

Christelle Enault

Enault’s big personal project involves drawing monsters. Each drawing starts with a blank sheet except for a sparse pattern of stamped shapes that suggest potential creature parts. She has a blog dedicated just to these monsters and drawings from others who have used her monster book.

Christelle Enault

Christelle Enault

Christelle Enault

Enault also creates comics and animation, which you can see on her website or blog.

Christelle Enault

Christelle Enault

Christelle Enault

First Look: “Adventure Time” Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon

Just announced at San Diego Comic-Con: Finn and Jake will be the stars of an Adventure Time balloon at this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Their helium-filled adventure will debut on Thursday, November 28th, 2013. Click on the image below to see a closer view of what the balloon will look like:

Michel Gagné Speaks About His New Short “The Saga of Rex”

Michel Gagné’s (An American Tail, The Iron Giant, Osmosis Jones, Ratatouille) short film The Saga of Rex was released online this week, adapted from his graphic novel of the same name, the film follows the daring cosmic adventure of a clever fox that has been abducted to the arcane planet of Edernia.

Originally published as a serialized story in volumes 2 through 7 of the comic anthology Flight, it was then repackaged as a trade paperback by Image Comics in 2010. The 4-minute short was funded by raising over $57,000 on Kickstarter last year and is to be the first installment of a classically drawn independent animated feature film that Gagné is planning. “I would like to believe that there are still some people out there who want to see good old 2D classical animation being done,” Gagné told Cartoon Brew. “I know that my big donors love this type of animation and want to see it continue. We can’t rely on the big studios to keep the art of 2D full-animation going, so it’s up to us.”

His 1995 film Prelude to Eden was created using the now defunct 2D animation software Animo, which had remained his “go-to” production software up until 2012 when he began looking for an update. He gave Toon Boom a try and was pleased with the results. “I quickly realized that I’d just upgraded my old Model T Ford for a car of the year.” So, with Toon Boom in hand, along with Photoshop, After Affects and Premiere, Gagné set out to see just how much progress could be made adapting The Saga of Rex for the screen. “I wanted to test my limits and see what I could do single-handedly in a set period of time. What you see here is about six and a half months of work.”

The short, which is subtitled The Animated Film Project Pt. 1 – Abduction is animated in pantomime, which is Gagné’s intention for the entire film. “I’ve toyed with the idea of adding narration to the film, but then again, I realized it would take away some of the mystery,” he said. “In a way, I’m not sure I want people to fully understand what is going on. I want them to ask questions and create their own meaning.”

Willy Hartland Is Animating His New York City Sketchbooks

An MTV Animation studio alum who worked on the television shows Beavis & Butt-head and Daria, Brooklyn-based Willy Hartland is an independent animator and storyboard artist who experiments with combining digital animation with clay models and cut-out techniques. His new ten-minute short film, New York City: An Animated Sketchbook is the subject of today’s Crowdfund Friday. It’s quite literally a living sketchbook of everyday life in the big city:

“The genesis for the film happened organically, growing out of the thousands of sketches I’ve done of New Yorkers over the past several years. Drawings of urban life as seen in subways, parks, cafes, bars, basically anywhere people will sit still long enough to capture with my quick contour line. Places where the dynamism of the city is evident and part of the concrete jungle that is the visceral pulse of a thriving city.”

The finished film will incorporate Cinema 4D, Flash and cut-out animation. With four minutes of the film already in the can, Hartland is asking for $17,500 to finish animation with an animation assistant, post-production, and to hire a sound designer and music composer. The campaign is currently at $7,896 with 26 days left to go. Rewards include signed DVDs of the completed film, original artwork, and the opportunity to appear as an animated extra.

“Turbo” Reader Reviews

Few industry observers are banking on Turbo, the David Soren-directed DreamWorks pic about a garden snail who races in the Indianapolis 500, to be a blockbuster. But the film is being well received by its kindertot target demo, having received an A+ CinemaScore rating from filmgoers under age 18. The general audience has deemed it sufficiently likable too, giving it an A rating. The critical consensus has delivered a milder yet still respectable 67%.

In Variety critic Peter Debruge’s review, he forgoes the most obvious comparison to Pixar’s Cars and instead says it’s “closer in spirit to Pixar’s Ratatouille.” He continues, “Turbo adheres to an otherwise safe formula, combining cute cartoon characters with the standard all-American ‘dream big’ message: If a rat can thrive in a French restaurant, then why can’t a snail become an Indy speedster.” The NY Times sees the glass as half-full: “Even in the absence of originality, there is fun to be had,” while the Hollywood Reporter is less than impressed: “…[I]t’s as if the makers of Turbo had been pressed to come up with the most extreme underdog tale they could think of. Or else animators really are running out of ideas for original new characters.”

It’s your turn now. After you see the film, report back here with your thoughts in the comments below. As always, this talkback is reserved for readers who have seen the film and wish to comment on it. Any general comments about the film will be politely discarded.

(Turbo billboard via Daily Billboard)

Bill Plympton’s “Cheatin’” Trailer

Indie animation legend Bill Plympton has released the trailer for his sixth narrative feature, Cheatin’. Plympton, who still draws every single frame of his feature films, successfully raised over $100,000 on Kickstarter to help complete the film. Cheatin’ is expected to debut this fall on the festival circuit.

The official synopsis:

In a fateful bumper car collision, Jake and Ella meet and become the most loving couple in the long history of Romance. But when a scheming “other” woman drives a wedge of jealousy into their perfect courtship, insecurity and hatred spell out an untimely fate. With only the help of a disgraced magician and his forbidden “soul machine,” Ella takes the form of Jake’s numerous lovers, desperately fighting through malfunction and deceit as they try to reclaim their destiny.

Artist of the Day: Will Sweeney

Will Sweeney

Will Sweeney is an illustrator who creates prints, comics, clothing and toys for his own London-based label Alakazam co-run with Ayako Terashima.

Will Sweeney

Two of Will’s intricate mysterious drawings, “Shanalorm and Purposemaker,” are explored in detail in this short video:

Will’s artwork and characters have been adapted in two and three dimensions as animated music videos and short pieces such as a segment on Yo Gabba Gabba.
Will Sweeney

Will Sweeney

This is a video that Will designed and directed for Das Pop, “The Game”:

“The Parachute Ending” is a video for Birdy Nam Nam directed by Steve Scott, using Will’s designs:

Will Sweeney

You can see more work from Will on his agency Big Active’s website.

Will Sweeney

Ottawa International Animation Festival Selects 106 Films in Competition

North America’s biggest animation festival, the Ottawa International Animation Festival, has announced the feature film and short film selections for their 2013 edition. The festival takes place in Canada’s capital city from September 18-22.

“I was extremely pleased with the wide range of films this year,” said Chris Robinson, artistic director of the OIAF. “Their quality was outstanding, which made the selection process extremely difficult. The Japanese and feature films were particularly refreshing due to their boldness and originality.” The festival selected 106 finalists for competition this year, from a total of 1,924 entries.

Notably, Ottawa has expanded its feature film category this year, with a record eight feature-length films in competition. As I wrote a couple months ago, it is an “exciting time for animated features” and major animation festivals must acknowledge the growth of long-form animation to stay relevant. The feature films in competition at Ottawa this year are:

  • A Liar’s Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman directed by Jeff Simpson, Bill Jones and Ben Timlett (UK)
  • Anima Buenos Aires directed by Maria Ramirez (Argentina)
  • Couleur De Peau: Miel (Approved For Adoption) directed by Laurent Boileau and Jung (France/Belgium)
  • Cycle directed by Zoltan Sostai (Hungary)
  • It’s Such A Beautiful Day directed by Don Hertzfeldt (USA)
  • O Menino e o Mundo (The Boy and The World) directed by Ale Abreu (Brazil)
  • The Pain and The Pity directed by Phil Mulloy (UK)
  • Tito On Ice directed by Max Andersson and Helena Ahonen (Sweden/Germany)

Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata Will Star in a Studio Ghibli Documentary

As reported by Anime News Network, documentary filmmaker Mami Sunada (Ending Note: Death of a Japanese Salaryman) is nearing completion on the Studio Ghibli documentary Kingdom of Dreams and Madness. The film follows studio producer Toshio Suzuki, and directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata (Grave of the Fireflies) as they work on two upcoming Studio Ghibli films, Kaze Tachinu (The Wind Rises) and Kaguya-hime no Monogatori (The Tale of Princess Kaguya).

When discussing her film’s title, Sunada explains: “I think that having a dream entails having a bit of madness, no matter what the profession. There are times when you will go to extremes, and times when you are feared by others for that.”

The Wind Rises, which is the first Miyazaki directed film in five years, debuts this weekend in Japan. Centering on Zero fighter designer Jiro Horikoshi, it is inspired by a manga Miyazaki created for Gekkan Model Graphics magazine and based on the novel of the same name by Tatsuo Hori. The Tale of Princess Kaguya, directed by Takahata is an adaptation of the Japanese folk story, The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. Originally slated to premiere simultaneously with The Wind Rises, Kaguya’s release date was postponed due to production snags, and as a result, Sunada continues to film in the studio to cover the extended production. Sunada’s documentary will premiere this fall in Japan.

“The Animator’s Survival Kit” iPad App:  An Animation Teacher’s Review

As an animation professor at the School of Visual Arts, I try to keep abreast of all the latest animation how-to books. There are many books—excellent and otherwise—that are published regularly, but there is only one author who can tout having had close personal and professional relationships with such Golden Age greats as Milt Kahl, Grim Natwick, Art Babbitt, Emery Hawkins and Ken Harris, not to mention having won three Oscars. That animator is, of course, Richard Williams.

Williams’s indispensable The Animator’s Survival Kit is a book that everyone should already own.  It should be sitting next to your Illusion of Life, wherever you do your animation.  I no longer even list this as a recommended book on my syllabus because I expect students to already own it when they enter my classroom.  Thankfully, most artists starting animation school have picked up the book and have already begun applying the knowledge to their projects.

Then, there’s the 16-dvd set of the Animator’s Survival Kit in which Williams teaches a room full of staff at Blue Sky Studios. The $950 price tag on this set has made its amazing wealth of knowledge unattainable to most art students, enlightened amateurs, and even ordinary working professionals.  

The latest incarnation of the Animator’s Survival Kit is the iPad app, which sells for $34.99 at the iTunes store. The app, published by Faber & Faber, is an interactive blend of William’s excellent book and DVD set.  While the app doesn’t include the Blue Sky lectures/William’s dry erase board lessons,  it is much more personal in nature, with new clips of Williams speaking directly to the viewer. The app also includes the expanded edition of the book—a treat for all of us first edition book owners—with sections dedicated to animating quadrupeds and winged creatures, as well as extra animation exercises and personal anecdotes from Williams himself.

The app interface retains the homey look and feel of the original book, using Williams’s handwriting rather than a print typeface.  Each chapter is clearly laid out and accompanied by dozens of clips of animation exercises. One of the real highlights is the playback function available on all the animation exercises which allows the user to play back the animation frame-by-frame, at full speed, or to scrub back and forth through the action. Some of the exercises have an onion-skinning feature that allows the user to closely gauge each drawing in succession, guided by the animation’s motion charts.  

Completing the app is an extras section, showcasing both new and previously seen work by Williams.  The most intriguing is the nine-minute short film Circus Drawings that spans sixty years of Williams’ progress as a draftsman. Beginning as a montage of circus drawings by young Williams (oh, to draw like that at twenty-years-old!), the figures come to life by his contemporary hand.  It’s an unusual but fun film for any artist with an interest in visual progression.

While I highly recommend this app, I realize that not all students own iPads (or Apple products for that matter).  PC users are out of luck for now. Perhaps the next installment will address this compatibility issue. For those who are unable to purchase the app, the traditional book still contains all the essentials of Williams’ advice, even if its format is not as glitzy.

The clarity, draftsmanship, and knowledge of Williams comes through in all three formats—book, DVD series and now, iPad app. Who knows what digital learning tools will come next, but Williams’ Survival Kit will continue to be the standard textbook for generations to come.

Purchase the Animator’s Survival Kit app at the iTunes store.

CELIA BULLWINKEL has worked on feature films (Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Chicago 10, Hair High), TV shows (Little Bill, MTV’s Friday, Ugly Americans, Wonder Pets), and far too many commercial projects. “Alpha’s Bet,” her music video collaboration with visual artist and hip-hop pioneer Rammellzee, was exhibited in 2011 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. She is a faculty member at the School of Visual Arts animation department, and teaches at the Fashion Institute of Technology’s MFA Illustration program. Her first short film, Sidewalk, recently won first place for independent film at the ASIFA-East Animation Festival.

Artist of the Day: Kerascoët


Kerascoët is the pen name of Marie Pommepuy and Sébastien Cosset. The artists work collaboratively in Paris on illustration and book projects.



Their website contains ink and watercolor drawings of characters and fantasy worlds and many in-progress photographs of comic work being inked and colored. A bibliography page lists the substantial collection of comics and books that they have worked on.



Kerascoët also has a Facebook page here.





IDW Publishing Announces “Samurai Jack” Comic Book

Fans of Cartoon Network’s Samurai Jack are finally being tossed a bone. Nine years after the series finale of Genndy Tartakovsky’s show, IDW Publishing has announced a new comic book featuring the continuing adventures of Jack, the dimensionally displaced warrior and his epic quest to destroy the wicked overlord Aku.
Written by Jim Zub (Skullkickers) and illustrated by Andy Suriano, the new comic will pick up where the series left off, beginning with a five-issue storyline called Rope of Eons. Suriano, who designed characters for the show, reflected on returning to the popular character via press release: “Returning to Samurai Jack is such a personal experience and labor of love for me. It’s like stepping through a time portal back to characters I know as friends and a world that really launched my animation career.”

The first issue of Samurai Jack, which will begin in October, will feature a variant cover by show creator Genndy Tartakovsky, as well as one by Rob Guillory (Chew).

(via Comic Bastards)

“Rio 2″ Teaser Trailer

Rio 2, directed by Carlos Saldanha and produced by Blue Sky Studios, will be released in April 2014. Here is the official synopsis released this morning with this teaser:

The entire cast of the animated smash Rio returns in Rio 2, and they are joined by a new flock of top actors and musical talents. Rich with grandeur, character, color and music, Rio 2 finds Jewel (Anne Hathaway), Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) and their three kids leaving their domesticated life in that magical city for a journey to the Amazon. They encounter a menagerie of characters who are born to be wild, voiced by Oscar nominee Andy Garcia, Oscar/Emmy/Tony-winner Rita Moreno, Grammy winner Bruno Mars, and Tony winner Kristin Chenoweth.

Chris Sanders Answers Your Mermaid Prayers

Having trouble finding that very special mermaid statuette?

Well, Chris Sanders (Lilo & Stitch, The Croods) can commiserate. “I’ve always kept an eye out for a mermaid sculpture that I really like. There’s a lot of them out there, but I could never find ‘the one.’ They were either too serious, too stiff, or just not very cute.”

But unlike you, Sanders has decided to do something about it. “I’m pleased to announce the arrival of Nimue, the mermaid sculpture I’ve always wanted.”

The first collaboration between Sanders and sculptor Anders Ehrenborg, Nimue (pronounced “Nim-way”) is “the right combination of fluid, cute and sexy” and presented in Sanders’ distinctive signature style. She is resin casted, stands 7.25 inches high and is being offered in two styles; blonde hair with a blue tail or green and green – a topless version of each color scheme is also available in limited quantities.

“How many sailors would have given their last weevily biscuit to capture such a creature in their sea-chests?” Sanders muses. Fortunately, you won’t have to make such a sacrifice; online preorders have begun and all four prototypes will be on view at San Diego Comic-Con this week at booth #5534, between the convention hall entrances from Lobby B2 and Lobby C.

13 Animation Directors You Might Not Have Known Also Voiced Characters

Whether it be for lack of budget or a desire to take center stage, TV series creators lending their own voices to their animated television shows has been fairly commonplace – Mike Judge (Beavis and Butthead, King of the Hill), John Kricfalusi (Ren and Stimpy), Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy) and Trey Parker and Matt Stone (South Park) immediately spring to mind. However, in recent years, more and more feature directors have started getting in on the trend. From throwaway one-liners to continuous roles throughout entire franchises, here is a list of some animation directors and the characters they brought to life in their own films.

1. Eric Goldberg

As the animation director for Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003), Goldberg not only supervised the animation of the WB’s classic characters but he voiced some of them as well. Goldberg recorded the dialogue of Marvin the Martian, Tweety Bird and Speedy Gonzalez.

2. Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud

The distinctive sputters, spurts and high-speed mutterings of The Minions in Despicable Me (2010) and Despicable Me 2 (2013) belong to the films’ co-directors Pierre Coffin (above left) and Chris Renaud. And as the character’s popularity grows, so does their vocal commitment, as the two will reprise their roles in next year’s prequel Minions.

3. Ralph Bakshi

In his debut film Fritz the Cat (1972), director Ralph Bakshi voiced one of the boorish antagonist Pig Cops, who is also referred to as “Ralph” multiple times in his scenes.

4. Brad Bird

Agnes Gooch, Edith Head, Patricia Highsmith, Linda Hunt – when it comes to figuring out who inspired the character of Edna Mode, people love to toss out many names, but in the end, the cutthroat designer of superhero fashion was brought to life by The Incredibles (2004) director Brad Bird.

5. Rich Moore

Rich Moore, director of Wreck-It Ralph (2012) provided the dreary monotone of acidic jawbreaker Sour Bill, the henchman to the bombastic King Candy.

6. Richard Williams

Even to this day, the toon celebrity cameos in Who Framed Roger Rabbit(1988) remain some of the best nods to the golden age of cartoons, especially that of Droopy Dog, who gets his opportunity to best Eddie Valiant with some traditional ‘toon high-jinks as a tricky elevator operator, sluggishly voiced by the film’s animation director Richard Williams.

7. Chris Wedge

What began as the high-strung snivels and snarls of Scrat in Ice Age (2002) has become a second career for director Chris Wedge who has gone on to vocally personify the prehistoric rodent in 3 sequels, 6 short films, 2 video games and in a walk-on role in an episode of Family Guy.

8. Chris Miller

Royal messengers, tower guards, army commanders, friars and penguins, story artist Chris Miller has lent his voice-over skills to numerous animated films, most notably his returning roles as Geppetto and The Magic Mirror in the Shrek franchise, including Shrek the Third (2007), which he co-directed.

9. Mark Dindal

The often ignored and underrated animated film Cats Don’t Dance (1997) features some beautiful hand-drawn work and stellar vocal performances, including that of director Mark Dindal as the tight-lipped bodyguard/butler Max.

10. Joe Ranft

Pixar story artist, the late Joe Ranft, brought a handful of memorable animated characters to life, including Heimlich (A Bug’s Life), Wheezy the Penguin (Toy Story 2) and Jacques the Cleaner Shrimp (Finding Nemo). But it was in Cars (2006), which he co-directed, that he voiced three characters including the semi-truck Jerry Recycled Batteries.

11. Chris Sanders

In Lilo & Stitch (2002) co-director Chris Sanders takes on the nuanced role of Alien Experiment 626, aka “Stitch,” who escapes from an intergalactic prison only to find himself trapped on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

12. Nathan Greno and Byron Howard

Nathan Greno (above right) and Byron Howard not only paired up as co-directors of Tangled (2010) but also doubled as duos of Thugs and Guards in the animated picture.

13. John Lasseter

With five features under his belt, John Lasseter has had plenty of opportunity to throw himself behind the microphone, however upon review of his filmography, you’ll find he has chosen his roles very carefully, as the role of John Lassetire in Cars 2 (2011) and the hilariously bug-zapped Harry the Mosquito in A Bug’s Life (1998).