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Meet the Sea Dragons of OZ and the Yeti Crab

Meet the Sea Dragons of OZ and the Yeti Crab
OZ is shorthand for Australia, and not related to a Wizard

MAN-ATEE AND WOMAN-TARAY: NEW SUPER HEROES SURFACE

MAN-ATEE AND WOMAN-TARAY: NEW SUPER HEROES SURFACE
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Bad Biker Kitties Are On The Prowl

Bad Biker Kitties Are On The Prowl
Join The Kitten Motorcycle Gang

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Harry Potter And The Apprenticeship At Entertainment Weekly Magazine

Entertainment Weekly Magazine, like the Harry Potter films, is owned by Warner Brothers, so putting the two together was a nice bit of synergy. Tucked inside many issues of the magazine were special artistic treats, like this wonderful illustration of Harry Potter and author J.K. Rowling by artist Kirsten Ulve in 2003. J.K. Rowling created one of the most imaginative collections of stories ever written, and her own personal story of bringing her dreams to life and doing what she loved when she had no money at all is nothing short of inspirational.

Entertainment Weekly's coverage of Harry Potter goes back to the casting of the film in the year 2000. Back then, there was buzz about Haley Joel Osment possibly playing Harry. Really?! A blonde American kid?

Luckily, director Chris Columbus chose Daniel Radcliffe to play Harry Potter. Here, Harry is drawn by artist Jonathan Carlson.

Just as movie audiences watched the actors in the Harry Potter films grow up, Entertainment Weekly readers watched the cartoon versions grow up.

Here, young Harry is drawn by artist Tom Bachtell.

Just like the books, the films were a hit, and Daniel Radcliffe could be found on talk shows to promote the movies.
David Cowles has done some very creative caricatures of celebrities for Entertainment Weekly for many years. This is Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter in 2004.

There was always a good chance that Entertainment Weekly readers could find Harry Potter in any section of the magazine.

Here, Harry Potter creates some magical book sales thanks to artist Stephen Savage.

Entertainment Weekly often added their own creative casting suggestions.

Here, artist Thomas Fuchs takes Harry Potter on a wild ride.

Are you a Harry Potter Expert? Prove it by taking The Wiz Quiz, found in Entertainment Weekly on April 6, 2007.

This Harry Potter illustration is by Kirsten Ulve, and it is my favorite cartoon version of Harry.

This quiz is thorough!

You can cheat using the Internet, that is fine.

Here we have a cartoon version of Diagon Alley, with the famous Gringotts Bank.

How did you do on the quiz?

This Magical Mystery Tour illustration by Ronald Kurniawan is stunning.

I would love to see a new dark ride at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal (in Florida, Japan, or California) that looked like this. It could be a potion-induced trip through Hogwarts.

Here we have some fantastic Creatures drawn by Dugald Stermer.

I would also like to see an attraction at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter where you would encounter animatronic versions of these characters.

In Orlando, I think it would be easy for The Forbidden Forest to take over Jurassic Park (which is next door to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter) at Universal's Islands of Adventure, and re-theme the flume ride there to feature these creatures. Jurassic Park fans, hold back your venom for a second.

In this scenario, Jurassic Park could be reborn as a water park elsewhere on property. I'm not sure where, exactly. Just imagine floating on a Lazy River raft ride past the T-Rex!

Entertainment Weekly readers got the chance to see Harry Potter's Junior Yearbook.

Look back at the Hogwarts Students and Faculty circa August 3, 2007.

Everyone has changed in just a few short years.

I don't think anyone changed more than Neville, who now looks like he could play the hero in a blockbuster movie.

Lots of colorful characters have worked at Hogwarts. Well, they aren't in color here.

Check out all the activities at Hogwarts. One proposed thing for the movies (that was NOT in the books) that never made it was a cheerleading squad. I'm guessing this is the version of the movie that would have starred Haley Joel Osment as Harry and Hilary Duff as Hermoine (that bit of casting is something I just came up with, and probably wasn't real. Though maybe it was real, and it was a good guess on my part).

Author Stephen King is one Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling's biggest fans.

This great, eerie illustration was done by artist Jesse Lefkowitz.

Entertainment Weekly also frequently featured ads for Harry Potter products.

You can re-create your visit to Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter on your book shelf!

By July of 2011, Harry Potter appeared as the cover story on 16 issues of Entertainment Weekly. Harry Potter got a special issue to celebrate Ten Years of Magic at Entertainment Weekly.

Featured in this issue was this illustration by Zohar Lazar, which looks like it could easily be concept art for a Harry Potter animated series (that I would watch every episode of!).

I know J.K. Rowling is not done with Hogwarts, and I cannot wait to see what is next.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Pinocchio's Pleasure Island Beach Party

It's time to make waves with Monstro the Whale, Figaro the cat, Jiminy Cricket and Pinocchio. For the last big theatrical release of Walt Disney's 1940 film starring the little puppet made of pine, Burger King had gear for a day of fun at the beach. Jiminy Cricket would like to remind you to wear sunscreen (seriously, go check out the "I'm No Fool" episode of the Disney TV series "House of Mouse" which features Jiminy Cricket doing a parody of the 1999 "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen) song by Baz Luhrmann).

Are you ready? Before we join the party (with special guests Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello), let's grab a cool drink.
In 1994, Burger King had a Pinocchio glass in a special Coca-Cola series issued during the December re-release of The Lion King in movie theaters.

The party never stops at Pleasure Island. Anyone who thinks of Pinocchio as a sweet little movie clearly forgot about this sequence of the film.

Pleasure Island became a real place at Walt Disney World in Florida in 1989 (it lost its original identity years ago). This was an adult theme park, home to liquor, night clubs, lambada dancing and a giant Jessica Rabbit from the 1988 film, "Who Framed Roger Rabbit." I first visited Pleasure Island shortly after it opened, as a high school student. Pleasure Island was great fun even if you didn't drink. I miss it!

It's time to hit the water! A great way to start is with this snow globe, based on the concept art for Pinocchio created by artist Gustaf Tenggren.

The Geppetto's Workshop Snowglobe was designed by Jody Daily. Over the years, artists Jody Daily and Kevin Kidney have created some of the finest Pinocchio merchandise I've ever seen.

I have a couple song suggestions to accompany our journey with Pinocchio. The first is "I've Got No Strings" performed by Gipsy Kings, which is on the 1991 "Simply Mad About The Mouse" CD. For some twisted Pinocchio music, check out the 1988 album "Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films."

Many of the items seen here are from The Disney Catalog, spanning many years (1989-2005).

It's interesting to see how many big ticket Pinocchio items were sold in the Disney Catalog.

Were these items hand carved by Geppetto himself?

It sure would be nice to be able to buy plush toys of Pinocchio's animal companions.

No need to waste your wish upon a star. Jiminy Cricket and Figaro here were sold in the Disney Catalog in 1994.

Have you ever wondered what a stop-motion animated Pinocchio might look like? You haven't? Well, I have. I bet it would look like these dolls. Each of the hairs on Geppetto's head is spun from the wool of the ultra rare albino Yak located on the top of Mount Everest. The ink used to dye the clothing is made from a squid that lives in the bottom of the ocean in the lost city of Atlantis. That's why these ain't cheap.

In 1980, Rankin-Bass (of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" fame) made a TV special called "Pinocchio's Chrismas." It wasn't related to the Disney version at all. This special was unusual to me because it was a rare case of a female animated character (in this case, a lady version of Gideon the Cat) on the receiving end of some extreme cartoon violence. It's a rare Christmas special that features a character getting struck by lightning multiple times.

Geppetto wished upon a star for his puppet creation to become real.

If Pinocchio proved himself to be brave and truthful, he would become a real human. SPOILER ALERT: He did.

Pinocchio had the help of his appointed Conscience, Jiminy Cricket.

It's a good thing Geppetto's Workshop did not have a roach problem. I can imagine Danny DeVito playing a roach who gives Pinocchio all the wrong advice.

Pinocchio and Jiminy quickly become very good friends.

Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket are both made of wood here. Say, wouldn't it have been wild if the Jiminy Cricket character had been "Timmy Termite" instead? The friendship between puppet and insect would have really been put to the test.

Geppetto also has a pet Goldfish named Cleo. If you rush out and buy a pet fish after seeing Pinocchio, you will be disappointed. Cleo is the most interactive fish ever.

In the "Time Teasers" episode of Disney's DuckTales animated series (1987) inventor Gyro Gearloose had a pet goldfish named Marilyn that looks exactly like Cleo. And that's yet another useless fact that I know.

Geppetto sends Pinocchio off to school.

Luckily, Pinocchio ditches school and we do not have to watch him in a classroom doing algebra.

This sculpture was made by artist Ron Lee, who created all sorts of items featuring popular animated characters.

Ron Lee also made sculptures of clowns. I wonder if he made the clowns from "Dumbo?" When I was about three or four years old, my grandparents gave me an Emmett Kelly ventriloquist dummy for Christmas. I can remember opening the present and screaming in terror. The Emmett Kelly dummy was donated to my brother's classroom at school.

This Pinocchio desk set is highly detailed. The Disney Catalog did a great job with this sort of merchandise.

Pinocchio's problems really start when he meets up with Honest John the Fox and Gideon the Cat.

Stromboli the puppeteer captures Pinocchio and forces him to be an entertainer.

Stromboli is sort of like a stage mom with a bad temper.

Stromboli puts on a puppet show with all sorts of colorful characters.

Pinocchio has co-stars representing cultures from all over the globe that are nowhere near as nice and friendly as the dolls in "It's a Small World."

Pinocchio ends up on Pleasure Island, where he starts to turn into a donkey.

Luckily, with Jiminy's help, Pinocchio escapes Pleasure Island before the transformation is complete.

Pinocchio then meets up with a whale, and other things happen.

I'm not writing a book report here. Look at this clock and you can figure out what happens.

Disney has not yet made a sequel to Pinocchio, but the characters have appeared in many other projects.

Figaro and Cleo returned to the big screen in a short cartoon called "Figaro and Cleo" in 1943.

Jiminy Cricket may be a tiny little bug, but he's Pinocchio's biggest star.

Jiminy Cricket has appeared in films like "Fun and Fancy Free" (1947) and "Mickey's Christmas Carol" (1983) and has hosted TV shows and starred in educational films. Crickets really are good luck.

Figaro later starred in animated shorts with Pluto and Minnie Mouse, and he has appeared in the "Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas" DVD film (1999) and in the "House of Mouse" animated TV series (typically as a foil for Pluto).

Figaro continues to appear with Mickey Mouse and the gang on the "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" animated TV series.

For decades, the Pinocchio characters have been featured as core Disney characters on an extensive line of merchandise, including the popular tiny Disneykins made by Marx (a company that also made large Disney figures that seemed to be everywhere in the Seventies).

One of my favorite Pinocchio items is the Pinocchio's Traveling Show Matchbox car (there was also a Jiminy Cricket Vintage Car). Pinocchio and Jiminy were the only movie characters in this collection, which also featured Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy in a variety of vehicles.

Pinocchio has been a popular character in the Disney theme parks for many years.

Visitors to Walt Disney World and Disneyland in the Eighties may remember these plush toys, which were also sold at the Disney Store.

In 1983, Pinocchio got his own ride at Disneyland in California and Tokyo Disneyland in Japan.

The Pinocchio's Daring Journey dark ride attraction was also built in Euro Disneyland (now called Disneyland Paris) in 1992. Elements of Pinocchio can also be found at the Storybook Land Canal Boats at Disneyland in California and at Disneyland Paris in France.

Pinocchio can also be found in the European section of the "It's a Small World" attraction at Hong Kong Disneyland and at Disneyland in California.

One of my favorite places to eat at Walt Disney World in Florida is the Pinocchio Village Haus in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom.
The Pinocchio Village Haus includes a view of the boat launches for the "It's a Small World" attraction next door. It used to serve hamburgers and fries (the famous "Figaro Fries"). Pinocchio's Village Haus can also be found at Disneyland and Disneyland Paris.

In 1988, Pinocchio and many other classic Disney characters appeared with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and other Looney Tunes in Disney's Touchstone Pictures release, "Who Framed Roger Rabbit." In 1989, you could get a framed Roger Rabbit cel from Sotheby's for a price.

Voice over legend Mel Blanc (the voice of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and most of the Warner Brothers Looney Tunes) was no stranger to Pinocchio, having provided the voice of comedic villain Gideon the Cat in the Disney film. That is, until it was decided to make the character silent, and only Blanc's hiccup sound effect for Gideon remains in the film.

Gideon and Honest John (AKA J. Worthington Foulfellow) have been greeting visitors to the Disney theme parks for years. In silence.

As a toy maker, Geppetto is really busy at Christmas.

You can decorate the tree with some fancy limited edition Pinocchio ornaments.

Don't make Pinocchio feel bad at Christmas. If you have Pinocchio ornaments, only put them on a fake tree.

Geppetto has some unique Teddy Bears in his toy shop.

The Geppetto stuffed bear is hilarious. Love the hair.

One project that sadly never became a reality was a musical stage version of Pinocchio produced by Julie Taymor.

The Pinocchio musical was mentioned as a follow up to Julie Taymor's successful production of The Lion King on stage (I saw this show in Louisville, Kentucky years ago and thought it was spectacular).

I imagine the "I've Got No Strings" sequence of Julie Taymor's Pinocchio musical would have been a puppeteering show-stopper of epic proportions. Maybe if we wish upon a star, we'll get to see it someday.