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Comic and Cartoon Creation

Mark Ruffalo & The Avengers Sequels

He plays Dr. Bruce Banner in the summer blockbuster “The Avengers” – and he is the third actor to play the doctor and his raging alter-ego, the Hulk. His name is Mark Ruffalo and he’s got some pretty big shoes to fill – literally and figuratively.


Ruffalo, in this scene from “The Avengers,” is probably best known for his supporting actor role (opposite Leonardo DiCaprio) in Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island.” (Walt Disney Studios)

“Hulk Smash Box Office!”
Ruffalo replaced actor Edward Norton, who was originally cast to play The Incredible Hulk (Norton’s difficult demands apparently cost him the role). It has turned out to be a career-maker for Ruffalo, who just signed a six-picture deal to play the hulking green giant.

After ”The Avengers,” Mark Ruffalo will appear as the Hulk in five more films, according to insiders. Two of those are Avengers sequels and at least one will be a Hulk movie that he will star in (plus we also expect him to show up in “Iron Man 3″).


Before Ruffalo was cast as the not-so-jolly green giant, Joaquin Phoenix (“Walk the Line”) was being considered for the part. 

Ruffalo, who was interviewed at the premiere for “The Avengers,” described Bruce Banner’s alter ego as ”a loose cannon – he’s the teammate none of them are sure they want. It’s like throwing a grenade into the middle of the group and hoping it turns out well!” He’s also called the famous Marvel character “my generation’s Hamlet.”

When asked about the talents of “Avengers” director/co-writer Joss Whedon, the actor had this to say: “I was so impressed and blown away by how much he packs into this movie and how exciting it is and what a great ride it is, and how it just works on every level.” And work it does; early reviews for “The Avengers” are calling it one of the best superhero movies to date.


Ruffalo also provided the motion capture for the face and body movements of the Hulk – while Lou Ferrigno (who played the Hulk in the 1970s television show) will provide the Hulk’s voice. As you can see, Ruffalo’s facial likeness comes through amazingly. (Walt Disney Studios)

Bringing Monsters to Life
It’s not only great Hollywood visual effects artists who bring creatures like the Hulk to life. Actors like Ruffalo learn how to act through years of dedicated training. Ruffalo has definitely honed his craft and it shows both in the character of Dr. Banner and the computer-generated Hulk. What do you think of Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk?

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posted by Vince Matthews in Comic and Cartoon Creation,News Blog and have No Comments

What’s Next for Pixar?

Disney * Pixar is readying a whole new batch of animated classics and none of them involve cars or toys. In fact, the next batch of Disney * Pixar blockbusters focus on a feisty redhead, a dinosaur, a monster sequel/prequel and a celebration of the Mexican holiday of Día de los Muertos.


The title card for Disney * Pixar’s dinosaur movie – before it had a name.

So what will the folks behind “Toy Story,” “Cars,” “Up,” and “Finding Nemo” be thrilling us with at movie theaters for the next few years? We called up our connections at Disney to find out:

“Brave”
Release Date: June 22, 2012
Why It Will Be Awesome: The Pizza Planet Truck – a fixture of every Pixar film, with the exception of “The Incredibles” – makes an appearance here, too. Look for the truck in the Witch’s Hut. Touches like this will make this another Pixar favorite.

The Back Story: Originally titled “The Bear and the Bow,” Pixar’s latest effort, “Brave,” went through many changes before it finally made it to the big screen. The film tells the story of a young fiery red-headed princess named Merida who must trust her archery skills and bravery to fight a dreadful curse. Set in Scotland (“Brave” is also the first period film for Pixar), the film promises to add a new face to the Disney Princess lineup.

The official movie trailer for “Brave”:

“Monsters University”
Release Date: June 21, 2013
Why It Will Be Awesome: The film will be the first in 8 years for Frank Oz (he also provided the voice of Yoda and The Muppets’ Fozzie Bear), and is the very first prequel for any Pixar film.

The Back Story: Announced last year, “Monsters University” is the story of how Mike and Sulley met at the University of Fear – when they weren’t exactly the best of buddies. The film is in production now and will be helmed by Pixar’s Dan Scanlon. “Monsters University” will be also be Scanlon’s first time directing a full-length animated film – although Pixar fans shouldn’t worry too much; Scanlon does have experience bringing computer generated characters to life onscreen - he also directed the Pixar short “Mater and the Ghostlight.”


The official logo for Disney * Pixar’s “Monsters University.” 

Monsters University” re-unites the original cast of Billy Crystal (who again voices the one-eyed Mike Wazowski) and John Goodman (the voice of Sulley) and introduces new characters, too, including The Abominable Snowman (voiced by John Ratzenberger) and Fungus (voiced by Frank Oz). Think “Animal House” (Mike and Sulley are in a fraternity together, Mike wears a retainer) meets “Freaks and Geeks” in Disney Digital 3D – and with monsters.

“The Good Dinosaur”
Release Date: May 30, 2014
Why It Will Be Awesome: Two words: Pixar. Dinosaurs.

The Back Story: Originally titled “Frozen” and “Pixar’s Untitled Movie About Dinosaurs,” the film tells the story of how Earth is missed by an asteroid, and instead of the dinosaurs becoming extinct, they thrived and kept evolving. Dinosaurs have always been a Disney favorite – both in its theme parks and movies – so it’s going to be very interesting to see what kind of take Pixar will have on the subject matter.


Concept art from “The Good Dinosaur” features a young boy. Pixar hasn’t confirmed if humans will remain in the latest version of the script.

The film will be directed by Bob Peterson (co-director/writer of “Up,” writer of “Finding Nemo”) and Peter Sohn. Pixar is promising a “heartfelt and original” story but honestly, would you expect anything less from the studio that turned a bitter old man with a passion for balloons (“Up”) into an Oscar winner?

“Untitled Pixar Movie That Takes You Inside The Mind”
Release Date: TBD
Why It Will Be Awesome: It’s a pet project for Pete Docter.

The Back Story: From director Pete Docter (the guy behind “Up” and “Monsters, Inc.”) comes a film that promises to take us on incredible journey inside the human mind. Disney Studios hasn’t released much more information beyond that, although considering the title, we’re reminded of the long-forgotten Walt Disney’s Adventures Through Innerspace attraction at Disneyland.

“Untitled Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Movie”
Release Date: 2015
Why It Will Be Awesome: Director Lee Unkrich and producer Darla K. Anderson are driving it creatively – and they’re the team behind the Academy Award-winning “Toy Story 3.”

The Back Story: The vibrant Mexican holiday of Día de los Muertos (or Day of the Dead festival, as it’s also known) is a time for celebration – a celebration of the dead. While not many details have been released, the potential of this movie has us dying to see concept art, a trailer, anything! The film, which was announced recently at CinemaCon and is slated for sometime in 2015, promises to feature the skeleton-ish characters that are a hallmark for the festival. It is the movie we’re most looking forward to on this list…


The Day of the Dead festival is probably better known for the skeleton figures that tourists bring home from Mexico.

Computer-Generated Character
Pixar and Hollywood special effects artists bring characters to life by spending years learning to use Maya, the industry standard for 3D character creation (although Pixar also uses its own proprietary tools). But creating computer characters and bringing them to life is something Pixar mastered many films ago. We can’t wait to see the next batch of Pixar creations. How about you?

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posted by Vince Matthews in Comic and Cartoon Creation,News Blog and have No Comments

Comic-Con 2011 Preview

It’s the pop culture event of the year. When Hollywood and the comic-book and toy industries roll out the upcoming slate of movies, TV shows and toys. For a week in San Diego (July 21- 24), comic book fanboys (and fangirls) collide with superfans at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con.

It wasn’t always about movies, toys and TV shows. Once Comic-Con was only about comic books. Thirty-five years ago, the only movie that Hollywood marketeers were promoting here was an unknown film called Star Wars. And that was from a folding table where George Lucas’ marketing manager was selling Star Wars posters for $1.75. (Those same posters go for around $3,000 on eBay…) This year, Lucas’ company will be promoting Star Wars: The Complete Saga on Blu-ray. Comic books however, are making making noise this year, too.


The reboot of the DC Universe, just one of the hot topics of 2011 Comic-Con. 

DC Do-Over
This September, DC Comics plans to restart its entire comic line-up of superheroes. The entire DC Universe will essentially get rebooted back to Issue No. 1. Gasp. Fans have come out against the reboot – and it’s easy to see why. Marvel pulled a similar trick a few years back and their faithful fans revolted, too. Ultimately, the uproar convinced Marvel to continue publishing the regular lines. For comic-book fans, throwing out everything you’ve come to know before is a serious issue.

The announcement has sent shock waves throughout the industry. The matter is of such importance that several different Comic-Con panel discussions from Day One will be devoted to the subject. Expect a big turnout for Thursday’s 12:45PM panel, with DC’s Grant Morrison. Likewise, that same day, the 2:00PM panel with DC Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras and DCU Executive Editor Eddie Berganza. For rival Marvel Comics, they’ll be joining Sony Pictures in pitching the superhero reboot – The Amazing Spider-Man, starring Andrew Garfield (The Social Network).


Colin Farrell plays Douglas Quaid, in the $120-million remake of Arnold Schwarzenegger 90′s classic, Total Recall (Sony Pictures).

Sony will also exhibit the much-anticipated remake of the Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi actioneer Total Recall, now starring Colin Farrell. There’s also a new Twilight and plenty of other big-screen blockbuster surprises. Last year, a few of the highlights included unannounced appearances by Will Ferrell to promote his superhero tale, Megamind, and an extremely rare appearance by Harrison Ford to promote this summer’s Cowboys & Aliens.

Making Money with Comics
This year’s Comic-Con show has as much to celebrate as to promote; in addition to showcasing new and ultra-creative comics and graphic novels, this year’s show is celebrating the comic culture’s greatest influence on American pop culture. Never before has the local Cineplex been so dominated by superhero movies; never have comics been received with as much critical appreciation as they are now.


The Amazing Spider-Man, starring Andrew Garfield (The Social Network).

Careers in comic books and other types of creative media are easy to pursue. In fact, there have never been as many opportunities to explore a talent for creating content for comic-books and/or cartoons. Information about breaking into the comic-book industry can be found online or you could spend a week this summer learning from a professional comic-book or cartoon creator at a digital media camp to learn how to create comics. Know how to tell a story with words and pictures? Then share your ideas and help create the superheroes of tomorrow.

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posted by Vince Matthews in Comic and Cartoon Creation,News Blog and have No Comments

Comic Developments: DC Destroys Universe, Goes Digital; Marvel’s Thor Hammers Box Office

These days there are plenty of people who can tell you with certainty when the world will end. DC Comics is going one better: It’s telling residents of the comics world who ask the question, “When will the DC Universe end?” exactly when to expect it – Wednesday, August 31st. Not only that, but DC has also revealed that the DC Universe will effectively re-set all its comic lines and begin anew the very next day – Thursday, September 1st.


There will be Justice for all…of the DC Universe, when the upcoming historic relaunch of its entire catalog takes place. Marvel? Been there. Done that.

DC Destroys Universe, Restarts Universe
When that happens, DC’s entire line of 52 superhero-themed comic books will all start over. Comic book characters like Superman and Batman will suddenly find themselves in new first issues, after more than seven decades of appearing in sequentially numbered issues. Each title will begin again from Issue #1 forward. All of your DC favorites will remain in place (no layoffs are expected at this time), although its been rumored the superheroes will be outfitted in different costumes and gear. Fans are lukewarm about the announcement. Marvel Comics did the same thing a few years back and then went back to pick up where they left off. Will DC’s decision to reboot the franchises pay off? The jury’s still out.

Another huge new DC development involves the way the comic books are distributed. Coinciding with the August/September reboot, DC’s entire comic book line will be available digitally on the day of each issue’s retail launch. In other DC-related news, filming is moving forward on the next installment of director Christopher Nolan’s “Batman” series, “The Dark Knight Rises,” with Christian Bale again reprising his role as the caped crusader.


Meanwhile, “Thor” puts the hammer down…at the box office.

Box Office God of Thunder
Superheroes are presently ruling pop culture. Hot off the success of “Iron Man 2,” over at Marvel Comics, movies are also the order of the day. “Thor,” directed by versatile actor/director, Kenneth Branagh, brought down the hammer on the box office, earning an estimated $163 million domestically (and a whopping $254 million internationally) – in just 26 days of release. Next up, Marvel Studios “X-Men: First Class.” Expectations are already running high for “First Class.” Many who have attended advance screenings have called it the best film in the entire X-Men series.

Fans are extremely excited about this next X-Men film, calling it a return to classic comic book storytelling. But by doing a prequel story, it also helps to refresh characters that have been overexposed. The new take on X-Men is a surprisingly successful movie sequel formula and one that will be repeated when Sony reboots the Spider-Man franchise next year.


The Muppet Mutants. Fan art like this has helped propel “X-Men: First Class” to the head of the class.

“Captain America: The First Avenger” will follow “X-Men: First Class” and introduce the leader of “The Avengers,” a Marvel Studios film releasing in 2012 starring “Thor’”s Chris Hemsworth, Robert Downey Jr. (as Iron Man), Samuel Jackson (as Nick Fury) and Mark Ruffalo (as Dr. Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk).

Comic books have been intersecting with pop culture for years, more recently dominating TV, music, and specifically, movies. Today’s most cutting-edge blockbuster films and TV shows (“The Green Lantern,” “Smallville,” “The Walking Dead”) had their start in comic books, or graphic novels. Even video games are often based on comic book characters and their exploits.

Creating Your Own Comics
Today comics earn real respect and are a thriving part of the world of visual arts. If you want to work in the exciting world of comics, why not spend a week this summer and learn how to make comic books? Summer camps like Digital Media Academy offer an interactive summer camp experience for creative 6 to 12-year-old youngsters who love comic books and cartoons.

Adventures in Comic Creation is one of Digital Media Academy’s most popular programs. The week-long camp lets students create the comic book of their dreams, and the companion course, Adventures in Cartoon Creation lets students create their own drawings and then bring them to life as animated cartoons on the computer. Both programs foster creativity and can lead students on a path of discovery that ends in a career in the digital arts industry. Let your imagination run wild this summer at DMA.

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posted by Phill Powell in Comic and Cartoon Creation,News Blog and have No Comments