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Top Animation News: SDCC, Matt Groening coming to Netflix and more!

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Top Animation News is a weekly column that rounds up the biggest, best and breaking stories from the world of animation. This edition covers July 21 to 28, 2017.

1. SDCC is all about the animation.

Nickelodeon’s nostalgia took centrestage at San Diego Comic Con (SDCC), with first looks at “Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling” and “Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie”. Superheroes also swept into SDCC, with DC Comics expanding its popular animated film universe and reviving its “Young Justice” franchise, while Disney promised the return of Darkwing Duck with its “DuckTales” reboot. Rounding out the 2D animation highlights was a covert crossover between FX’s “Archer” (produced in Toon Boom Harmony) and the upcoming live-action feature “Kingsman: The Golden Circle”.

For all the SDCC animation news, see Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of “Animation Magazine’s” coverage.

matt-groening-simpsons.jpgSource: Fox.

2. Matt Groening comes to Netflix with “Disenchantment”.
After much speculation and hearsay, “The Simpsons” creator Matt Groening will bring his upcoming adult animated comedy fantasy series to Netflix in 2018. The streaming giant will split the show into two seasons of 10 episodes each, and the voice cast will include Abbi Jacobson (“Broad City”), Nat Faxon (“Married”) and Eric Andre (“Man Seeking Woman”). “Disenchantment” will follow a plastered princess, Bean, as she adventures across Dreamland with her elf pal, Eflo, and personal demon, Luci.

Get more “Disenchantment” details on “Deadline”.

3. Streaming services flood animation market with jobs.
Netflix, Amazon and other subscription streaming services have created a ‘toon boom’ within the industry. They are ordering full seasons of adult animated series and children’s cartoons, leading to a surge in hiring at all levels of production to meet the needs for original content. “Animation is a medium that works very well for [subscription video-on-demand],” says Tara Sorensen, head of kids’ programming at Amazon Studios. “It’s somewhat evergreen compared to live-action content, which can age more quickly. It also travels well internationally because it can be dubbed easily.”

Discover the streaming’s new animation economy on “Variety”.

4. DC’s next animated series stars an openly gay superhero.

Picture a world where the Nazis won WWII. Just a few years ago, having an openly gay superhero leading a cartoon series would have seemed similarly unimaginable — yet both happen in the upcoming DC Comics/CW series “Freedom Fighters: The Ray”. They are signs of the times, reflective of the incredible social progress we have made and the fear of it been taken away. The titular character, the Ray, fights fascists alongside Red Tornado, Black Condor and Phantom Lady, and also happens to be a member of the LGBTQ community.

Find more about “Freedom Fighters: The Ray” on “Gizmodo”.

5. SIGGRAPH 2017: Is real-time rendering the future of computer animation?
While you may not know Unreal Engine 4 by name, you will recognize its work: video games “Fortnite", “Kingdom Hearts III” and “Sea of Thieves”, plus movies like “War For The Planet of The Apes” and TV shows like Disney’s “Amigo”. Epic Games, the company behind the free game engine, will unveil a trailer for “Fortnite” at SIGGRAPH next week created in new real-time rendering technology. As “TNW” explains: “Once the designers created the characters and props that would be used in the trailer they were able to import and then experiment without having to constantly stop for rendering … Traditionally time-intensive actions like camera placement, lighting, and [colour] effects can be rendered in real-time”.

Read up on real-time rendering on “TNW’.

6. Canadians, Singaporeans win big at Eisner Awards 2017.
Cartoonist Sonny Liew of Singapore took home three prizes at last Friday’s Eisner Awards. The comic industry’s biggest awards ceremony, held in San Diego alongside SDCC, also saw Canadian artist Fiona Staples win big, with four awards for her and writing partner Brian K. Vaughan for their space opera “Saga”.

Check out the full Eisner Awards winners list on “The Washington Post”.

galaga.jpgSource: Nintendo UK.

7. 80s arcade classic “Galaga” to get the TV treatment.
With “Castlevania” still fresh on the screens of Netflix subscribers, “Galaga” is the next classic video game to be transformed into an animated show. The Nuttery Entertainment has bagged the rights for the series as well as other cross-platform extensions of the brand.

Go deep space on the Galaga series on “Bleeding Cool”.


8. Cartoon Saloon’s “The Breadwinner” to premiere at TIFF.
Irish-Canadian-Luxembourgish production “The Breadwinner” will premiere next month at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Based on the novel of the same name by Deborah Ellis, the story follows young Afghani girl Parvana as she struggles to survive under Taliban rule. After her father is imprisoned, she is forced to become her family’s ‘breadwinner’ — and must disguise herself as a boy to do so. “The Breadwinner is a co-production between Ireland’s Cartoon Saloon, Canada’s Aircraft Pictures and Guru Studio, and Luxembourg’s Melusine Productions.

Follow the breadcrumbs to “Cartoon Brew” for more on “The Breadwinner” premiere.

9. Portsmouth student’s refugee animation wins hearts — and awards!
With so much discussion and debate around the refugee crisis, it can be easy to dehumanize this very human struggle. University of Portsmouth student Ellie Baily-Jones hopes to shed some light on the plight with her one-minute animated video, created in Toon Boom Harmony. Titled “The Teddy Bear Picnic”, it won the Best Campaign Film award from charity Refugee Education Across Conflicts Trust (REACT).

Venture over to “The Teddy Bear Picnic” on “BBC”.

Explosm-ToonBoom-Cyanide-Happiness.png.pngSource: Explosm Entertainment.

10. “Cyanide & Happiness” switches to Toon Boom Harmony for season three.
Explosm Entertainment’s comedic cartoon “Cyanide & Happiness” switched from Flash to Harmony for its third season. The animated series streams on Seeso, and follows the dark humour of the webcomics of the same name launched in 2004. Toon Boom sat down with “Cyanide & Happiness” animation director Bill Jones about success, staying relevant and switching from Flash to Harmony.

Catch the full interview on the Toon Boom blog.

What Top Animation News were you most excited about this week? Was there something we forgot to mention? Let us know in the comments below!