Sunday, February 23, 2014

Unofficial Gadget and Dr Claw Drawings By Official New TV Series Designer Dominic Marco [UPDATED]

Here's something I thought would be fun to showcase: A couple of unofficial concepts for Gadget and Dr Claw which just happen to be done by one of the artists officially working on the upcoming TV series, Dominic Marco.

Dominic makes it clear in the DeviantArt descriptions that both of these drawings are unofficial - even though he's officially on the new show:

Even though I'm currently working on the new series of Inspector Gadget, THIS IS NOT a design from the show, or done in the the show's current style. The only main character I've officially designed is Penny. This is just one of my own concepts.

Judging by these very nice-looking drawings, I must say I'm getting eager to see Penny's new design! (Yeah, sure, I could nitpick and argue that we see too much of the body in the Dr Claw one... but this is just an unofficial concept; and besides, the art style is great! Dominic also makes sure to mention in the comments section that "Dr. Claw will indeed be in the new series, and like the old, we'll never see his face".)

In addition to DeviantArt, Dominic also has an official blog, and a Facebook page which you can like and follow. Here's the artist's biography from the blog...

Dominic Marco is a classically trained artist/illustrator best known for his whimsically sexy style of Pin-Up art which has been featured in a variety of television advertisements, magazines, and websites. Prior to flying solo as an self-employed artist, Dominic has worked as an animator, designer, storyboard artist and all-around-computer guru for various companies in both Canada and the UK. Dominic currently resides in Halifax, Nova Scotia where he is currently learning the ins and out of 3D Animation.

The Facebook page has a shorter presentation, which I also found interesting enough to quote...

Dominic Marco is a professional pin-up artist and illustrator best known for his classic American cartoon style mixed with Asian manga influences. 

I'd say that style mix sounds quite appropriate, considering the multi-national origins of the original Inspector Gadget series. As for Marco's very attractive pin-up girls, tons of them can be seen in his DeviantArt gallery (as well as on both of the other sites). Could this be an indication of what Penny will look like?...

UPDATE (February 28, 2014): What else besides Penny is Marco designing on the new series? Well, here's a hint from his Twitter account:

The New Gadget Series Now Set to Premiere in 2015; The Episodes Will Apparently Be 22 Minutes Long

Here's something I found yesterday - and found interesting...

The above presentation is a snapshot from a recent DHX Media distribution catalogue, released as a PDF on January 15, 2014. You can find it yourself by following the PDF link and scrolling down to page 21 (or double-spread 11). Note the " 26 x 22' " part, telling us that each of the series' episodes will be 22 minutes long. One of my biggest concerns for the new TV series, ever since last summer's press releases, was that the episodes were announced as being only 11 minutes in lenght. I suppose it's not impossible to make a Gadget series work in the 11-minute format, but I've admittedly been sceptical. I mean, how do you cram a good crime story, featuring all the basic plot and character elements from the classic show (plus some new plot and character elements), into such a short run time? Add to that a detail which Teletoon director Alan Gregg mentioned last June: "...the stories [will be] more compelling." In my eyes, 22 minutes per episode seems better suited for telling stories with substance and drama, as well as comedy. Judging by the above catalogue write-up... maybe DHX has been thinking the same thing.

It might be a little too early, though, to say all this with absolute certainty. The PDF catalogue is so far the only place where I've seen the 22-minute info, and for all we know, it could even be a typo. But I really, really hope that the information is correct. 22 minutes has simply always struck me as the perfect format for Inspector Gadget.

By the way, note that that the reboot is presented as "Inspector Gadget NEW Series" in the distribution catalogue. I had been wondering how DHX would separate the new show from the original, considering that the official title for both still seems to be just "Inspector Gadget" (and since they still haven't separated the two series in their online distribution catalogue). Here's a picture of the full catalogue page from the PDF file...

But we should get on to the second part of the news - the newly announced premiere time. Much further into the distribution catalogue, on page 60, we get a full-page presentation of the Inspector Gadget brand which includes one quite interesting sentence...

That's right, folks: "New series to premiere in 2015!" Not 2014, as I've had featured in my news column to the right for many months now. To be fair, the press from last June only said that the series "...could be ready to hit the airwaves in late 2014", so the 'slated for 2014' bit was partly an assumption by me (just as my earlier 'scheduled for 2013' headline was an assumption based on the press release sentence, "Cookie Jar Entertainment is celebrating Inspector Gadget’s 30th anniversary with the launch of a brand-new series..."). Sure is dangerous to make assumptions like that, however strong the "evidence" seems to be. But this time we actually have an official sentence saying, in black and white, " premiere in 2015" - so I'll treat that as a fact until I hear something else.

And thinking about it -- this, coupled with the expanded run time for the episodes, sorta kinda makes sense: DHX might need more time to produce longer episodes. I have to admit that the undefined "2015" sounds a whole lot farther away than "late 2014"... but if the waiting results in a better series, I'm all for it.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Jean Chalopin Disguised As Inspector Gadget

Just because it's so damn epic: A photo of Gadget co-creator Jean Chalopin disguised as Gadget. Can anyone even tell this guy apart from the real thing? Via this Facebook post from "Les séries de notre enfance".

Thursday, February 13, 2014

DHX Media's Phillip Stamp On The Challenge Of Rebooting Gadget

We already have Jean Chalopin's comments on the new TV series, but the below, 22-minute audio interview with supervising producer Phillip Stamp offers the most in-depth perspective that I've heard so far. You may be surpriced to know the date of this interview: July 3, 2013. Yes, it could be considered "old news", but I've decided to still give it a full presentation here for two reasons. One, Phillip Stamp provides a lot of info about his and his crew's approach towards reviving Gadget. Two, I believe very few people have heard this interview, and for good reason. It ran on a Canadian radio program called "Maritime Morning", and the web site featuring the interview episode misspells the series' title as "Insector Gadget". On top of that, the clip is not even playable from the site, due to an erroneuosly linked mp3 file. It almost feels as if someone went out of their way to hide this sound clip from the world! After a bit of experimenting, though, I managed to find the proper mp3 file's url address. So here we have the interview at last, embedded for your enjoyment...

Still here? Great! For those who have finished listening, I thought I'd add one comment to what Phillip is saying. At about 08:15 into the clip, the interviewer asks about the reasons for resurrecting the Inspector Gadget property, out of all the series that are now in DHX's library. Here is Stamp's reply...

...back last year [in 2012], DHX aquired the library of another great Canadian studio called Cookie Jar ... and, when those companies came together, Cookie Jar was actually the company that had owned Inspector Gadget for a long time and so then, that became the property of DHX. And there were a few of us within the company who, when we realized that that was something that we now had - under our creative influence, shall we say - we really thought that that could be something that would be a lot fun to take a swing at, and bring... you know, breathe new life into it.

I have no problem believing that Stamp and some of his colleagues thought reviving the series could be "fun", and I like that they were excited about it from a creative point of view. But Stamp's reply makes it sound like it was DHX's idea from the get-go to make the new TV series, which is not really the case. Maybe Stamp just wanted to simplify his explanation; but the truth is that the reboot series was well into pre-production by the time DHX bought Cookie Jar in October of 2012. In fact, we know that Cookie Jar was already developing the series in January 2012. It might very well be that the full, creative team for the production came together after Cookie Jar had been integrated with DHX... but DHX did not start the production from scratch.

Anyway, Phillip Stamp sounds like a really nice, enthusiastic guy who cares about doing a good show, so I'm not gonna hold this against him. More on his decades-long animation career can be found in this article by The Telegram (which is also where I grabbed the above photograph).

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Cool Vintage Artwork - And A Question

I've been remiss in sharing any of the Gadget-related updates that the Facebook page for the "Les séries de notre enfance" art book has given us over the past year. Above is a great piece of vintage promotional art that they posted on August 25, 2013. I had already seen this artwork online on some Spanish and French VHS covers, but the above picture finally gave me a proper look at it. I love the classic feel of this drawing. Even if the art and coloring is not 100% perfect, I can't help but find it charming. The characters have an authentic, early 80s feel to them, very true to DiC's original model sheets (heck, I wouldn't be surpriced if some of the characters were traced from those sheets). Also, gotta love the brick wall from the intro and not least, that awesome 3-D effect they're going for. Go-Go Gadget!

The Facebook post featuring the drawing also included a question for the fans: What is your earliest memory of this series? Here's what I answered (slightly modified)...

I was 11 years old when I first discovered this series - I still remember it clearly. It was back in 1999, on the Norwegian channel TV2 (which had bought the series because the Disney movie was about to premiere). By pure coincidence, I zapped into the channel as the episode "Monster Lake" was playing (about midway through - the great scene where Dr Claw tries to swallow Gadget with his mechanical sea monster) and was hooked. I fell in love with the show's humor and action pretty much immediately.

Much of what I state above - my first feelings when seeing the show - still holds true today. Admittedly, I don't find the series quite as exciting now as I did at age 11. Back then, I could buy into Gadget, Penny and Brain being in danger on a whole different level. I could find Dr Claw a bit scary - as in really scary. Today, I appreciate the show more for its humor, its tongue-in-cheek parodies and the relationship between its main characters. It took me a few years to really pick up on Penny's love for her uncle.

Anyway, before I digress too much... what I wanted to get at is that I found the question on the Facebook site interesting. And that's why I've decided to ask it over here, as well: What is your first memory of Inspector Gadget? If you're a fan of the show, how did you become one?

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Go Read It: How NOT To Depict Dr Claw

Daniel Gallego, of the Spanish Adelante GadgetoBlog, talks about the mistakes made with the depiction of Dr Claw in the Gadget & the Gadgetinis series. I don't always agree with the information and opinions provided in Daniel's blog, but this commentary on what should not be done with Dr Claw is right on the money. Gadgetinis really ruined the great, mysterious villain character that Claw was originally. Not only did the series reduce his fearful personality to an undignified parody - as I mention briefly here - but it also showed far too much of his body, at times even his head shape. Worse, these "revals" felt like they were done, for the most part, for no other reason than to put Claw in an embarrassing and humiliating light. I have a hard time imagining what co-writer Jean Chalopin and director Bruno Bianchi (or whoever else responsible for this mess) might have been thinking.

For some horrifying visual examples of these points, check out Daniel's post - and read his thoughts about it, too. It's all written in Spanish but run it though Google Translate and you'll get at least the essence of what he's talking about. We can only hope that DHX's crew on the upcoming reboot series will steer away completely from what Gadgetinis did. If anything, I think a new series could benefit from making Dr Claw scarier than he was in the 1983 original.