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Firebreather
November 22, 2010 10:56 AM   Subscribe

Peter Chung, the animator who gave us Aeon Flux, The Maxx, The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury, The Animatrix: Matriculated and Reign: The Conquerer, has a new comic-to-film adaptation aimed at more mainstream audiences premiering Wednesday on Cartoon Network (US): Firebreather. Official Site. Trailer. (Caution: Some links in this post autoplay video)

Wired:
"Based on Phil Hester and Andy Kuhn's short-lived comic of the same name, Firebreather's teen protagonist, Duncan, is the offspring of a mild-mannered human mother, Margaret, and the beastly Belloc, a 60,000-pound dragon better known to a shocked and awed Earth as the King of Monsters."
Review.

2003 Onion AV Club interview with Chung.
posted by zarq (29 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
The Animatrix is one of the most depressing things I have ever seen.

But... neat post!
posted by KokuRyu at 10:58 AM on November 22, 2010


When I got the complete Aeon Flux I was watching it and some friends wandered by because I'd told them how awesome it was and it happened to be one of those scenes where Aeon is kissing Trevor Goodchild and it's like a 20-second closeup of their tongues writhing around and my friends both went 'ewwww' and left. There is no moral to this story.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:01 AM on November 22, 2010 [11 favorites]


The Animatrix is one of the most depressing things I have ever seen.

Which may account for why I couldn't find a video of Matriculated online to link to!

Thanks. :)
posted by zarq at 11:02 AM on November 22, 2010


I didn't know he worked on The Maxx. I'll have to rethink him, because his usual style of anatomically wasp-like humans straining really hard to do something incomprehensible in incomprehensible settings turned out to be not really my thing.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:03 AM on November 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


He has a really distinctive style. During the first couple seconds of Matriculated, the best thing on the Animatrix in my opinion, I immediately thought that this must be from the same guy as Aeon Flux.

Trevor Goodchild is responsible for a favorite quote, "That which does not kill us, makes us stranger."
posted by Babblesort at 11:08 AM on November 22, 2010


I actually don't see much of his signature style in the preview. I wonder if the switch to cg animation was rough or if he's just going for a different aesthetic for this mainstream project.
The Animatrix is one of the most depressing things I have ever seen.
Yeah, but Chung's piece was fairly positive and completely brilliant in a way that the live action movies weren't really (okay the first one is half way there).
posted by Locobot at 11:08 AM on November 22, 2010


For full effect this post should be deleted then restored at five minute intervals.
posted by Artw at 11:09 AM on November 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I didn't know he worked on The Maxx. I'll have to rethink him, because his usual style of anatomically wasp-like humans straining really hard to do something incomprehensible in incomprehensible settings turned out to be not really my thing.

The wikipedia page on The Maxx links to an essay on TubeWad (which no longer exists but can be seen at web.archive.org) explaining that the animation was extremely faithful to the original comic series. It takes forever to load, but is a fascinating read.
The cartoon version of The Maxx follows the comics’ art almost line-for-line. Instead of attempting to cartoon-ify the dark tone of the comic books, the producers made the wise decision to use animation that is nearly identical to the panels within the Image comics. In addition, the animators did as little animating as possible. They don’t insert motion just to show that they can; instead, they hold on to shots, using movement only when absolutely necessary. Had they decided to go in a different direction, the cartoon would have turned out horribly. One has to imagine Sin City in Technicolor to understand how horrible things would have been had they tried to fully animate the show instead of basically copying the comics panel-for-panel.
So while it's Chung's work, it's really his stop-motion, animation and CGI-blended recreation of Sam-Keith's original vision.
posted by zarq at 11:20 AM on November 22, 2010


Ah, Reign: The Conquerer, aka "Let's see what's on Nick at Nite."
posted by JHarris at 11:22 AM on November 22, 2010


This is kind of weird to see. The original guy who took this property from comic to shop it around L.A., Adrian Loudermilk, died at or on his way to Comicon in 2005: I know this because he contacted me about optioning a comic I was working on at the time for development, and named Firebreather as one of his success stories to date. I went as far as contacting Phil Hester to see if this Loudermilk guy was for real, and Hester quickly got back to me and said that yes, he was good people.

Adrian did this a lot: he had probably four dozen properties he had permission to develop up to pitch properties, and was carving himself a niche as the go-to guy for comic ideas for development. He'd basically take stuff and invest his time and energy into bundling it, then take a cut of whatever development fee came out of anybody really doing a proper option on it. In my case, SLG (my publisher) had a 15% interest in Other Media, Adrian would have taken another 15%, so any option money would have trickled down to the artist and I at 70%. Which was fine by us.

Dude was a dynamo. He wanted to work with our series when he saw the excerpt in Previews -- the book hadn't even come out yet. He had a reputation for being hyper-keen, and more flash than powder (he was juggling dozens of properties), but earnest and honest. I'd had an e-mail only relationship with the artist (Roy Boney) to that point, so the first time we ever talked on the phone was with Adrian.

So Adrian was supposed to hook up with Roy at Comicon, and he never showed and never showed. Roy and I exchanged some e-mails, mixed bafflement and getting more and more pissed, but in the end just shrugged it off.

The next Tuesday, I found out Adrian had died in a car accident on his way there (IIRC).

So this is weird.

It's great to see Firebreather make it out of whatever development hell it's been in for five-plus years, but it's weird to see probably the biggest what-if of my life pop up out of nowhere again. Had Adrian lived, had something happened with this development deal, my life would be completely different now. Had Adrian lived, the whole comics-to-film industry might be different now, and a lot more slanted towards cool small properties than Marvel/DC blockbusters.

Wherever Adrian wound up, I hope he's happy. This was his first big success in shopping comics properties, and I'm glad it's finally getting made.
posted by Shepherd at 11:36 AM on November 22, 2010 [9 favorites]


I saw this preview at the theater last night and thought no one with eight-pack abs gets picked on at school.

Also, EIGHT-PACK ABS! They are raising the anti. Six is no longer enough. You are not normal and healthy until you too have all eight. Soon, you will be considered an obese slob unless you have extra muscles due to genetic mutation. "Hey bro, check out my 17 lats!"
posted by munchingzombie at 11:40 AM on November 22, 2010


Oh wow the ReBoot animation.

Just what the world needs more of: crappilly rendered 3D.
posted by paisley henosis at 11:41 AM on November 22, 2010


munchingzombie: They are raising the anti.

Ante.
posted by paisley henosis at 11:52 AM on November 22, 2010


> There is no moral to this story.

No way, the story is the moral.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:58 AM on November 22, 2010


I have a fond spot for Aeon Flux.

I remember going over to this girl's house and she had it on and it was the episode that is some sort of time loop, only without pesky explanations or resolutions at the end like Star Trek always had. She had seen the episode before, but I had not, and she was really obsessed with how weird it was. She would narrate what was happening on-screen while it was happening like R. Kelly's Trapped in the Closet commentary. "Now reach out and touch the goo." They could have included it as an alternate audio track; her battling indignancy/admiration were very entertaining.
posted by neuromodulator at 12:12 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Peter Chung is a lot like Ralph Bakshi. (not surprising given that they've worked together) He doesn't always get it right, but he keeps trying. I have immense respect for both men, because they have a dream and the drive to make that dream a reality, and damn the critics if they don't like it.
posted by lekvar at 12:37 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love the one that's reversed in viewpoint, so you feel sym,pathy for the nameless minion dude and she's some kind of maniac serial killer.
posted by Artw at 12:37 PM on November 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Heh. What could have been...

Trivia

The character was originally part of a Young Avengers proposal that Hester put together for Marvel Comics, initially conceived to be the son of Fin Fang Foom.


(Bitchy template about how Trivia sections are a bad thing removed)
posted by Artw at 12:38 PM on November 22, 2010


I did really like that original Aeon Flux series but based on the trailer this looks awful! bad 3D CGI and even the dialogue in the trailer had me cringing in parts. Not one for the "must see" list
posted by mary8nne at 12:42 PM on November 22, 2010


While I see the animation is quite different, I can't help but think that this could have been more interesting had American Dragon not already covered this story.
posted by thanotopsis at 1:19 PM on November 22, 2010


The unique narrative and artistic style of the Aeon Flux series is one of my favorite things ever. That said, everything about this new cartoon looks uninteresting and conventional.
posted by dgaicun at 2:03 PM on November 22, 2010


Heh, Peter is a dear longtime friend of mine. One thing that never pops up in his list of credits is that he also worked on Oliver Stone's "Natural Born Killers". From what I recall, it was heavily censored due to it's explicit content. There was a lot of cartoon violence involving Disney characters.

As for Firebreather, I know he was in Asia for sometime searching for an animation studio capable of handling the CG work. This isn't one of his personal projects and aside from exploring the use of computers in lieu of traditional cell drawn animation, I don't think he has anymore invested than that. He truly is a gifted animator and dare I say it, a genius, but unfortunately for him there is no market in America for the kind of animation he does. As much as I love Pixar's work, they kind of pushed that industry towards family friendly computer generated fluff. Peter's brand of heady sci-fi (Aeon Flux season 2, Animatrix) just doesn't jib with what mainstream America is willing to pay money to see. I think there is going to be an awesome Peter Chung animated feature to come out one day but Firebreather isn't it.
posted by cazoo at 2:09 PM on November 22, 2010


Woo hoo! Another classic dragon-fucking epic!
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 2:42 PM on November 22, 2010


The Animatrix is one of the most depressing things I have ever seen.

Whaaa? As in it made you sad to find out the robot population was being oppressed until they rose up to strike back at their human captors? Or for some odd reason you didn't like the totally awesome shorts?

I have a friend who had a whole theory that Aeon Flux was actually a corruption of the words Alien Flu. It kind of made sense.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:32 PM on November 22, 2010


God, I love, love, love Peter Chung.

One thing that never pops up in his list of credits is that he also worked on Oliver Stone's "Natural Born Killers".

Also, there's the pilot to Rugrats, of all things. I wrote a bit about it here, but honestly all you need to see is this image and you'll never feel the same way again.

cazoo please tell him I think he is the best animation director alive.
posted by griphus at 6:03 PM on November 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


...where Aeon is kissing Trevor Goodchild and it's like a 20-second closeup of their tongues writhing around...

Damn, should've read before posting. The image that I link to, by the way, is a comparison of that shot and the exact same shot in the Rugrats pilot.
posted by griphus at 6:06 PM on November 22, 2010


Last thing, I swear! If you like the music to Aeon Flux, this is the offical release of the score. They're legally not allowed to use the words "Aeon Flux" in the marketing of it, so it's a bitch to find if you don't know what you're looking for.
posted by griphus at 6:09 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks griphus. I never would have found that music without the link and without the link I wouldn't have realized that I couldn't continue my life contendedly without acquiring the music. Just a couple seconds of Amazon audio preview brought on psychotropic phantom memory shivers.

The time loop episode (I imagine I'm thinking of the same one mentioned above) where Aeon is running up a tower stairway that sorta comes off like a film school opening countdown exercise is a particular favorite. Repetitions of a theme with weird gasping stretching against handcuffs, fumbling attempts to insert a thing in a doohickey, and the final moment at the end/beginning of each loop where she shoots a pendulum thingy before it can come to rest in its home dock.

Hallucinatory mounting pressure cake with surreal S&M creamy filling.
posted by Babblesort at 6:45 PM on November 22, 2010


While I see the animation is quite different, I can't help but think that this could have been more interesting had American Dragon not already covered this story.

And thus Dante Basco (Jake Long) playing the emo/resentful normal kid in Firebreather makes for a droll casting joke.
posted by vaghjar at 6:06 AM on November 30, 2010


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