March 12, 2013 | 11:52 a.m.

SXSW: Rovio adds ‘Angry Birds Toons.’ Tomorrow, the world! Or a film

Angry Birds developer Rovio Entertainment found itself in a quandary. How do you follow up the most successful mobile game in history, after more than 1.7 billion in downloads across all available platforms? The answer: “Angry Birds Toons.” Unveiled during the developer’s conference at SXSW 2013, the cartoon shorts will be broadcast by way of Comcast’s Xfinity service and Samsung Smart TVs beginning March 16, and on March 17, a button will be added to all “Angry Birds”-related apps linking to the cartoon. Rovio — whose slingshot game has included the special versions “Angry Birds Space” and “Angry Birds Star Wars” — is clear about its plans to extend its domination beyond the app store. “With over 1.7 billion downloads, we can reach a far wider and more engaged global audience than traditional distribution would allow,” Rovio Chief Executive Mikael […]
Feb. 22, 2013 | 1:12 p.m.

Edward Gorey birthday: E is for Edward, extremely eccentric

Edward Gorey, an artist who injected glee into gruesome and mirth into the macabre, is the recipient of a Google Doodle. Gorey, who would have been 88, was known for his offbeat artistry  — he won a cult following with his eerie, yet droll pen-and-ink drawings, writing and illustrating dozens of his own books. Animation of his work introduced the PBS show “Mystery!” for decades, and he won a Tony for costume design in 1977 for a Broadway production of “Dracula.” Gorey was also known for his eccentricities — which began at an early age. As a 5-year-old, he read Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” he told author Ron Miller in 1996. As a youngster, he also taught himself how to draw.  From a young age, “his passion was creating his own bizarre stories and illustrating them.” Gorey was an admitted fan […]
Feb. 22, 2013 | 8:38 a.m.

Cowabunga! ‘TMNT’ remake ends Megan Fox-Michael Bay feud

Cowabunga! A ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” remake is on the way. But perhaps the bigger news is this: Actress Megan Fox and director Michael Bay are reuniting for the “TMNT” redo. The director took to his website Thursday night to announce the news: “TMNT: We Are Bringing Megan Fox Back Into the Family” Bay and Fox famously clashed while working on the first two “Transformers” movies. At one point during an interview with a British magazine, Fox compared her director to Hitler.  Bay lashed back with some tart words of his own, questioning Fox’s work ethic: “I’m sorry, Megan. … I’m sorry that I’m making you show up on time.” Shia LaBeouf wages Twitter war They parted ways for the third installment in the series, “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” with Rosie Huntington-Whiteley stepping in to play the part of […]
Feb. 13, 2013 | 2:42 p.m.

‘Adventure Time’ actor Tom Kenny on Ice King’s loneliness, tragic past

In the massively popular Cartoon Network series “Adventure Time,” veteran voice actor Tom Kenny plays Ice King, a curmudgeonly wizard who lives in a snow fortress with a legion of penguins and whichever princess he has most recently kidnapped. For Kenny, the Ice King is the latest in a long line of zany characters; during his 20-plus years in the industry, he has lent his voice to more than 200 productions, including such landmark series as “Rocko’s Modern Life,” “Dexter’s Laboratory,” “The Powerpuff Girls” and “SpongeBob SquarePants,” in which he played SpongeBob. Like those groundbreaking predecessors, “Adventure Time” has earned a loyal audience by defying the tropes typical to children’s television shows. The series, created by Pendleton Ward, follows Finn, a human boy, and Jake, his magical shape-shifting dog, as they fight monsters and rescue princesses in a whimsical, post-apocalyptic […]
Jan. 19, 2013 | 9:37 a.m.

‘Ultimate Spider-Man’: Watch exclusive clip from Season 2

It’s been an eventful time for Spider-Man. Marvel’s most recognizable hero starred in a feature film reboot that cast Andrew Garfield as a sweetly sarcastic Peter Parker in “The Amazing Spider-Man,” directed by Marc Webb. In late December, Peter Parker gave up the suit — and the ghost — in the final issue of “The Amazing Spider-Man,” a controversial creative decision that saw Peter’s arch-nemesis Otto Octavius inherit the web-slinging mantle. Now, Spider-Man is starting a career as a government agent and leader of his own squad. The second season of Disney XD’s “Ultimate Spider-Man,” set to launch Monday, sees Spidey joining up with Nick Fury’s S.H.I.E.L.D. organization — he’s part of a teen team that includes White Tiger, Nova, Power Man and Iron Fist. The move sets him up to face two new challenges: sharing his home with Aunt […]
Dec. 24, 2012 | 1:16 p.m.

‘X-Men’: An uncanny animated tribute to the animated series

It was 20 years ago that “X-Men,” the animated series, launched on Fox. Over the course of 76 episodes, the show, which stands as the longest-running Marvel Comics animated series, packed in a multitude of mutants, even adopting key story lines from the pages of the comic book. To commemorate the anniversary, Kyle Roberts and the crew at Reckless Abandonment Pictures used their unique stop-motion skills, and great action figures, to re-create the show’s introduction. Roberts, who also appeared on Syfy’s “Viral Video Showdown,” has produced many stop-motion tributes to great moments of fandom past, with subjects including “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and a 007 spoof. With “X-Men,” Roberts and his team added a bit of extra fun with a little live-action humor. Enjoy! — Jevon Phillips RECENT AND RELATED Hero Complex holiday gift guide Marvel heroes visit a Disney […]
Nov. 18, 2012 | 7:00 a.m.

‘Adventure Time’: Finn actor Jeremy Shada is ‘constantly surprised’

The Emmy-nominated cartoon “Adventure Time” follows 14-year-old hero Finn and his pal Jake, a shape-shifting dog, as they face off against evildoers in the magical Land of Ooo. The show has become one of Cartoon Network‘s most popular programs, attracting both kids and adults to the whimsical and darkly funny world created by animator Pendleton Ward. The show, which kicked off its fifth season last week, continues Monday. Hero Complex caught up with Jeremy Shada, the 15-year-old actor who voices Finn, to talk about “Adventure Time” and more. HC: How did you land the role? JS: I got a call from my agent whenever this started way back three years ago, or something like that. We recognized it and it sounded familiar, and we realized that my older brother Zack [Shada] had done the pilot for it three years prior […]
Nov. 14, 2012 | 11:20 a.m.

‘Adventure Time’: Post-apocalyptic ‘candyland’ attracts adult fans

“Adventure Time” at first glance is a typical kids’ show. Finn, a 14-year-old boy, and his buddy Jake, a magical dog with super stretching powers, battle candy zombies, evil gnomes and their arch-nemesis Ice King in a shiny world called the Land of Ooo. In the show’s Season 5 premiere Monday, Finn fights a gang of neon-colored, village-burning hoodlums while Jake goes hot-tubbing with Cosmic Owl and a pink, wish-granting being named Prismo. Hot-tubbing? “If somebody pitched me verbally an episode plot of an ‘Adventure Time’ cartoon, I’d probably think, ‘That’s the dumbest thing ever,’ ” said Cartoon Network chief content officer Rob Sorcher. “But somehow in the hands of [‘Adventure Time’ creator Pendleton Ward], the nuance with which this is executed, it’s perfect.” The Emmy-nominated cartoon is one of the Cartoon Network‘s most popular shows, consistently ranking No. 1 […]
Oct. 25, 2012 | 3:00 p.m.

‘Transformers: Prime’ producer talks Beasts, mythology, Michael Bay

Fans of “Transformers: Prime” can get an early look at Friday’s penultimate episode, titled “Regeneration,” with the above clip from the multiple Daytime Emmy Award-winning animated series — there’s dissension in the Decepticon ranks as Dreadwing apparently has had enough of Starscream and is about to shut his engines down forever. With the Season 2 finale bringing the culmination of the Omega Lock story line, series executive producer Jeff Kline has turned his sights to Season 3, which he says will continue the series’ tradition of darker tales in which the Autobots are the long-suffering underdogs. Kline recently spoke by phone to Hero Complex contributor Patrick Day about his specific plans for the future of “Transformers: Prime,” which airs on the Hub and is produced by Hasbro Studios. HC: The idea of having long story arcs is a bit unusual […]
March 24, 2012 | 6:18 p.m.

Pixar’s link to Picasso? UPA, the overlooked animation pioneer

Sixty years ago, United Productions of America was the little studio that could — and did. Drawing inspiration from the work of Picasso, Kandinsky and other modern masters, the UPA artists transformed the look of world animation. Their use of bold graphics, striking colors and stylized movements influenced “Sleeping Beauty” and the Oscar-winning “Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom” from Disney, Warner Bros.’ “What’s Opera, Doc?” and the work of studios from Montreal to Zagreb. More than 50 years after the studio’s brief heyday (1949-56), its stamp can still be seen in films and TV shows, including “Samurai Jack,” “The Secret of Kells,” “Phineas and Ferb” and “The Princess and the Frog.” This month, TCM released the first of two long-awaited DVD sets of the UPA cartoons, and on Friday, LACMA will host an evening of films with Adam Abraham, author […]
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