DreamWorksTV YouTube Channel

DreamWorksTV logo

DreamWorks Animation has launched a DreamWorksTV YouTube channel aimed at kids ages 6-12. Here’s the trailer:

The selling point is that instead of repurposing existing material, DreamWorks will be “creating original content that is completely native to the digital platform”, such as having Shrek, Puss in Boots, and Kung Fu Panda contribute vlogs (video blogs). Unfortunately, much of the programming doesn’t carry on the movie-quality animation. Instead, they’re promoting live-action sketch shows with kids and scratchy-looking animated shorts.

However, this part of their programming sounds promising to me: “curated “retro” animated series from the DWA media library including Fat Albert, Casper, He-Man, Rocky & Bullwinkle, She-Ra, The Archie Show, VOLTRON, etc.” Here’s the trailer just for those shows, which they’re calling RetroToons:

None of those have been posted yet. They’re also promising a Richie Rich original scripted series debuting later this summer.

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VeggieTales Comic Coming Spring 2015

VeggieTales characters

Many readers of this site likely don’t know much about VeggieTales, a 20-year-old Christian entertainment brand that says it’s “the best-selling children’s faith-based property in the world, selling 70 million DVDs, 15 million books, 7 million CDs, and 2 million plushes.” And now, comics!

B&H Kids, a group that “creates Bible-centered, age appropriate, engaging content for kids [to] develop a lifelong relationship with Jesus and empower parents to guide them in their spiritual growth”, will be publishing VeggieTales comic books in Spring 2015.

In Spring 2015, B&H Kids will be releasing the first two issues in a series of VeggieTales comics. Each will contain three stories — “a familiar adventure story, an already-popular Bible story, and an all-new Larry Boy Story.” (They’re calling them “supercomics”, a term another comic publisher might have something to say about.) When I’ve seen VeggieTales on Saturday morning TV, they’re appealing, if only to see ambulatory talking vegetables retelling classic tales. Let’s see if the magic can translate to comics.

It’s possible we may not even see them, though. The companies involved have a distinct audience that they’re capable of reaching without considering the direct market, which may be unfriendly to the property.

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Good Comics at the Comic Shop July 9

Here’s what I recommend appearing today at your local comic shop.

The Life After #1 cover

Boom! StudiosLumberjanes #4 ($3.99) introduces some key new characters. After the girls run into a yeti (a yeti! fulfilling the mystical creature quota this issue), they are helped by the Scouting Lads, who are too good to be true. The crazy fun adventures continue as the mystery deepens, so don’t expect all the answers here, but it’s a fine place to join the ride. It’s by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke Allen.

Ghosted (Image Comics, $2.99) continues with issue #11, a look into the history of Anderson, the tough blonde who’s currently a ghost. We find out, in this story by Joshua Williamson and Goran Sudzuka, how she came to be hired by Markus Schrecken, the rich ghost collector of the first storyline, and how she loves killing people. This is a breather before the next story arc, and although it’s grim, I still like the series because the grimness serves a purpose beyond shock or trying to prove the reader’s age. And Sudzuka’s art is very nice, particularly the pencil texturing during the ghost scenes.

Oni Press launches The Life After ($3.99), a new series described as fantasy/horror by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Gabo. You’ve seen the premise before — guy in boring mediocre life discovers that it’s all a staged illusion and breaks free to the reality behind it — but what they reveal the reality to be (no spoilers here) may take the series in an unexpected direction. Plus, Hemingway guest stars. The visual effects to illustrate reality transitions, possible time travel, and maybe ascension are nicely done. (Yeah, I don’t know exactly where this is going yet.) There are three variant covers, just to make things confusing.

Charlie Brown: POW! cover

In book format, there’s a new printing of Hope Larson’s Mercury (Atheneum Books, $12.99), an oddly appealing historical fantasy involving two girls in two very different eras and a necklace that brings them together.

Amp! Comics for Kids continues repackaging well-known strips into books aimed at young readers. This week brings two. The more recognizable is Charlie Brown: POW! ($9.99), a seasonally appropriate baseball-themed reworking of Peanuts comic strips, all in color. With over 200 pages of comics, often with two strips a page, this is a substantial collection for kids to enjoy.

More modern is Pearls Before Swine: The Croc Ate My Homework ($9.99), a collection of Stephan Pastis’ snarky strip. One might think, given the title, that this would be focused on the crocodiles and their attempts to eat their zebra neighbor, but it’s just a kid-aimed collection of selected comic strips. The heavily sarcastic tone will likely appeal to youngsters, who can appreciate making fun of everything around them.

Viz has released this week several good shojo manga titles, including Midnight Secretary Volume 6 ($9.99) and Sweet Rein Volume 3 ($9.99), which I’ve talked about previously. That second title ends its run with that volume, as does Demon Love Spell this week with Volume 6 ($9.99).

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Wizard Hosts Separately Ticketed Social Media Con With Wizard World Chicago

In conjunction with Wizard World Chicago, held this year from August 21-24, Wizard World has announced a separate show, socialcon CHICAGO, that “highlights stars of social media”. Which means I have no idea who any of them are, although they’re “some of the most-followed social media stars”, whose “combined followers base exceeds 100 million users.” (They all look like teenagers to me.) It will be interesting to see if those followers are willing to actually shell out dollars for “meet-and-greets, concerts, live performances, Q&A panels, autographs, photo ops, and more.”

socialcon will be held August 23-24 alongside Wizard World Chicago at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois, but it’s a separately ticketed event. I can’t say for how much, since the show is announcing itself before setting up the ticket purchase system. No prices are listed anywhere I could find. This event does not appear to have been thought through thoroughly, as the homepage for the event gives instructions for users to go to a different URL, socialcon.com, which isn’t operating and is not owned by Wizard.

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Displaced Persons Preview of Time-Travel Noir

Image Comics has released a substantial preview of Displaced Persons, a noir graphic novel by Derek McCulloch and Anthony Peruzzo. It can be pre-ordered with Diamond code JUN14 0499, and the $17.99 paperback is due in comic book stores August 6, in bookstores August 19. The story is a twisty puzzle that, typical of the genre, explores the darker side of human nature and family interactions. I read it multiple times.

Displaced Persons promo image

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Geek Cred New YouTube Sitcom Set in Comic Store

The plots aren’t anything new or unusual to anyone who’s spent any time in a comic store, but fans may want to check out Geek Cred (warning, auto-play video), a YouTube sitcom set in a comic store (a real one, Comic Bug in California). The latest episode (shown here) is the fourth, and it introduces to the established nerd guy and indy girl clerks a new co-worker, a woman who doesn’t love comics as much as they do. Mike O’Hearn, an American Gladiator, guest-stars as a really cute guy who does love comics.

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Buzz on Boom! Releases Creative Episode

The Buzz on Boom! comic company promo series (formerly Boom! Tube) has this week put out its best episode yet, by bringing us both a guest star, geek girl Rileah Vanderbilt, and getting out of the locked-down talking-to-the-camera format.

They’re promoting today’s release of Adventure Time: Banana Guard Academy #1 by putting some unidentified staffers through their training paces. It’s goofy, but I found it entertaining. I hope the show continues to be this creative in future.

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The Secret Files of Dr. Drew

If you’re interested in retro horror comics, The Secret Files of Dr. Drew is the book for you. The fourteen stories here were originally published by Fiction House from 1949 to 1951 in Rangers Comics #47-60. I’d never heard of the series before, so I appreciated the included background material explaining its history. Michael T. Gilbert’s introduction covers what is known about the series’ origin, rooted in Will Eisner’s Spirit studio, as well as elaborating on the strengths of the creators involved. Gilbert also draws a two-page comic leading into the first reprint.

Typical of a certain style of “mystery” comic, Dr. Drew’s stories are narrated by him to the reader in a guise of a guest visiting his creepy old house hearing about his previous experiences. The tales he tells aren’t quite so typical, though. We start with a building containing a mysterious 13th floor. A visit there reveals a portal to the past that shows the murder and betrayal surrounding the founders of the building. Most ghost stories of the type that I’ve read feature a family home, not a commercial operation. Plus, the story would never work today — it requires an elevator operator to stop the cab between existing floors, and automatic elevators aren’t quite so spooky. Other cases include:

  • A philosopher’s stone that ages its victims, defeated by science (a clever touch)
  • A voodoo doll, used to get revenge on an actress
  • A showdown with the Devil for the soul of a violinist
  • A gypsy ghost poisoning the descendants of those who burned her as a witch (in a story with too much coincidence)
  • A film studio head wanting Dr. Drew to investigate a vampire murder on the set of his new movie
  • A secret undersea kingdom
  • Ghost pirates blocking a construction project
  • A double-dealing psychic hunted by a ghost murderer
  • Dresses that make women killers
  • Various vengeful family members with curses and hauntings

This is definitely a series that believes in the unseen and mystical. The art is nicely moody, with distinctly Eisneresque touches around the faces and settings. The text is prominent, as is usual in the era, with plenty of narration to set the scene and create the proper mindset. The layouts are varied, opening up borderless panels as needed, and filled with gorgeous, expressive lettering. Unfortunately, the last few stories take a different artistic tack, and they’re not nearly as much worth reading.

The book also contains a 1990 interview with artist Jerry Grandenetti and biographical profiles of him, writer Marilyn Mercer, and letterer Abe Kanegson. The publisher has posted preview pages. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)

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