Thursday, November 15, 2012

"Les séries de notre enfance": It's Out!

I meant to tell you about this yesterday, but didn't get the time: The lavish, 208-page French book that goes behind the scenes of the DiC studios - loaded with rare art, in-depth articles and never-before-seen interviews - was finally released in France yesterday and can be ordered directly from the site of the publishing company. (I'll let you know if I come across other web stores to order it from - so far, Amazon doesn't seem to have it in stock. The book's writers have been talking about hopefully getting it released to a wide range of web stores, but perhaps this will take off more during the next few weeks.) UPDATE (November 16): It's now also available from the French Amazon.

As you might have noticed in the news column to the right, I've already linked to the publishers' pre-order site for the last few weeks; but now that the book is officially out, I thought a last plug would be appropriate (at least it will be the last until I receive it myself). One thing I haven't mentioned properly before - aside from the delayed release date - is the change to the final cover (above) just a few weeks ago. I personally think it's a vast improvement over the first draft... it really tells you much more clearly what the book is about. (The only small weakness I can think of, perhaps, is that the drawing of Penny has been flipped from the first cover version... so that now, her communicator watch is actually on the wrong wrist. But that's so nit-picky I'm not even gonna mention it. ;)

To quickly recap what this book is all about: "Les séries de notre enfance: Ulysse 31, les cités d'or, Inspecteur Gadget..." (directly translated: "The series of our childhood: Ulysses 31, The Cities of Gold, Inspector Gadget ...") is a fan project written and compiled by two extremely dedicated DiC fans named Maroin Eluasti and Nordine Zemrak. They've spent the last 5 years researching the history of the DiC cartoon studios: gathering background information, interviewing as many as possible of the folks working there, collecting rare artwork like model sheets, cels, development sketches and publicity art... all with the goal of eventually publishing a book dedicated to DiC, and particularly dedicated to its golden age in the 1980s. (Note the focus of the title: It's probably no coincidence that the three cartoons mentioned by name are arguably DiC's all-time most memorable ones.) A few months ago, Zemrak and Eluasti started a Ulule project to raise money for the publication of their love letter to DiC, and succeeded with flying colors in the beginning of September. Their fan-funded book has since been moving rapidly through production (accompanied by a number of great Facebook teasers both before and after the fundraising was completed) until the release on November 14.

So here's what you get: For DiC fans of all languages and nationalities, the book will consist of 65% (or more) images - rare production art, vintage cels and promotional material related to all of DiC's most famous shows. For those who understand French, there's also 35% text, consisting of detailed background info and in-depth interviews also related to DiC's famous series. Either way, the book ought to make a very interesting experience for any fan of 80s cartoon shows. I still have a hope there might be an English-language edition someday... but as I said earlier, that will most likely be completely dependent on the success of this French edition. So if you're a fan, and if you like this initiative, it might be a good idea to buy a copy now rather than wait for a possible English edition far into the future. Buying the French-language version will probably increase the chances of getting an English-language version.

Anyway, I'm hoping for the best of luck and the best of sales for this book. And most of all, I'm hoping it lives up to expectations! It should reach my mailbox (or nearby post office) any day now...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The New Inspector Gadget TV Series Is Scheduled For 2013

This just in (or in last month, actually): The revival/spinoff series that I talked about many months ago is definitely in production! Last month in Cannes, Cookie Jar announced their upcoming Inspector Gadget series at the TV and entertainment market MIPCOM - or more precicely, at MIPJunior, a 2-day screening and conference event for kids' content which precedes the main show. Below is the short press release that has been circulating online as part of the MIPJunior promotion (snagged from WorldScreen with the help of Google Cache, since it's hidden behind a subscription wall):

MIP Junior Spotlight: Cookie Jar Entertainment
Published: October 2, 2012

CANNES: Cookie Jar Entertainment is celebrating Inspector Gadget’s 30th anniversary with the launch of a brand-new series with its Canadian broadcast partner TELETOON. 
The series will again revolve around the iconic bionic bumbling detective. Also for TELETOON is Dr. Dimension Pants, an original series by Brad Peyton. The show What Do People Do All Day?, based on the popular Richard Scarry franchise, is for the Canadian broadcaster CBC. “These shows are based on very popular children’s brands and have shown through previous productions that they rate highly with audiences around the world,” says Michael Hirsh, Cookie Jar’s CEO.

Hirsh says that the company is expecting to pre-sell Inspector Gadget, What Do People Do All Day? and Dr. Dimension Pants at the market. He is also keen to find co-production partners for the latter two titles. “We have become the number one supplier to streaming networks for their kids’ content and we look forward to meeting with our existing customers as well as new entrants to the field around the world,” he adds of his further MIPCOM goals.

Want more? Here's picture proof of the press release, taken from the online slideshow version of the MIPJunior & MIPCOM edition of TV Kids, published September 25th. (You can find the press release yourself by going to page 26 in the slideshow.)

So finally, the revival/spinoff series is an official fact. (It somehow always feels more official when the production company announces it themselves.) And, it looks like "revival" might be the right word for it. Not much detail is uncovered, but judging by the above magazine snapshot, the show's title seems to simply be "Inspector Gadget". As in... a brand new season of the 80s series "Inspector Gadget"? Plus, the one sentence actually telling us something about the show says, "The series will again revolve around the iconic bionic bumbling detective." What, so it won't revolve around the son of the iconic bionic bumbling detective? WHEW!

Of course, we don't really know yet what the show will or will not do... but if it proves NOT to have any shockingly groundbreaking twists on the classic formula (like introducing a son for the main character - just a thought that popped into my mind), I really wouldn't mind. I just want to see someone do a good, new Inspector Gadget series - a new series which doesn't take away or change everything that made the show great in the first place. I'm hoping Cookie Jar and its partner TELETOON can do that. So far, at least, I'm liking what I'm hearing. It's nice that they're timing the new show to debut for Gadget's 30th anniversary. It's nice, too, that Michael Hirsh (executive chairman of Cookie Jar and DHX Media) is the one to announce it. Considering that Hirsh was also one of the original founders and leaders of Nelvana - the famous Canadian animation studio which co-produced the first season of Inspector Gadget with DiC - it just seems to fit. The new show is being produced in Canada, like the first season of the old show was, and for some reason I just like the sound of that.

To round off, here's yet another brief mention of the new show, from the MIPCOM News - Quick Review newsletter (page 4):
MIPCOM 2012 was the first time that kids studios DHX Media and Cookie Jar Entertainment have been in Cannes since they agreed a $111m deal. Underlining Canada’s importance to the kids business, the deal creates the largest independent owner of children’s programming in the world. Executive chairman of the enlarged group, Michael Hirsh, was in town with series such as Inspector Gadget (a new version) and Dr Dimensionpants.
Plus PICTURE PROOF! (Nice shirt, Michael.)

This short brief mentions a fact I haven't yet bothered to write about: DHX Media buying Cookie Jar Entertainment in a deal which, after finalizing last month, created the world's largest independent library of children's entertainment. (Brag, brag.) So Gadget is technically owned by DHX now... even though Cookie Jar is still an up and running company, as a subsidiary of DHX. I had wondered if this buyout would affect the upcoming Gadget series in any way (maybe a bit like how the planned 2009 reboot was cancelled after Cookie Jar bought and swallowed DiC)... but this seems not to be the case here, as both DHX and Cookie Jar were behind promoting the new show at MIPCOM. Good stuff.

By the way... "iconic bionic bumbling detective" has a kind of catchy ring to it. New official tagline?

Go Watch: Awesome Boomerang Ad For The Original Series

I seldom do short updates like this anymore, but I'm making an exception here because of a rather brilliant Boomerang ad for the original series which I just happened to stumble upon (and which I apparently can't embed). Produced by Cally Lonnen from London, aired on Boomerang in I-don't know-when. Go watch it - I bet you'll feel like appreciating it afterwards, too.