One raccoon in Sarasota, Florida, wasn’t satisfied with merely stealing Susie Chinn‘s cats’ food. Nope, after using the ill-gotten goods to feeds her babies, the mother raccoon, affectionately (but unoriginally) dubbed “Rocksy,” tried to get Susie’s attention, presumably to ask for more food. Rocksy does this by knocking on Susie’s glass door on the rear deck. Rocksy makes sure she can be heard by holding a small rock in her hand which she rolls against the glass.
It’s cute, but also terrifying. It means they’re using tools. And predicting behavior.
There’s a Guardians of the Galaxy animated series set to premiere on Disney XD, which I think is Disney‘s channel geared more towards tweens. The first that was seen of this show was months ago when the series was announced–along with an animation test which featured Rocket Raccoon–at the New York Comic Convention. More recently it’s been announced that voice actor Trevor Devall will voice Rocket in this upcoming series. He also did Rocket Raccoon’s voice acting during the character’s appearances in the Avenger’s Assemble series (which had such a painfully cheesy theme song.) However, I have one major problem with this news: it’s announcement video (see below.)
Did you hear that at the end? He said he’s happy to be voice of the most “lovable and heavily armed rodent in all of the Marvel universe.”
I will have you know, sir, that raccoons are members of the order Carnivora, which includes canines, felines and bears. Rodents are a different order of mammals altogether. While Rocket Raccoon is referred to as “rodent” in the movie, it’s by characters who are ignorant of his place in the animal kingdom or are being insulting to him.
If I were a lesser person, I would demand his head on a pike for this outrage. Instead, I merely ask that he be stripped be fired from this job and made to walk the streets for a little while, holding a sign that says “Raccoons are not rodents.”
As if that weren’t enough, however, comes the news that the Rocket Raccoon solo comic book series is being “temporarily” cancelled and replaced by a Groot series while the crossover event Secret Wars (what year is this?) at Marvel.
It’ll be a busy few years for raccoons in the movies. Between The Nut Job & Guardians of the Galaxy this year and the recently announced Sly Cooper movie adaptation to be released to theaters in 2016, this is most big screen raccoons I’ve seen since, well, ever. I mean what came before? There was Furry Vengeance in 2010 (which starred Brendan Fraser, who also voiced a character in the Nut Job) and before that, Over the Hedge in 2006. So three movies in a two year span sounds pretty awesome for raccoon aficionados. Some people voiced outrage at the change in art style presented in the movie. I’m fine with it. A benefit of the cel shading style used in the games is that it’s easier and cheaper to produce (due to a lower emphasis on the textures and detail in character modeling.) For a big-budget movie it would look kind of, well, cheap. Although I’m really looking forward to the ouroboros-like, and inevitable, game based on the movie based on the game.
The movie The Nut Job, from ToonBox Entertainment, came out last week. I didn’t see it, despite the antagonist being a raccoon named Raccoon (how much more raccoon can you get?) voiced by Liam Neeson, the man who just sounds awesome saying he will kill you. Because it really is just another ill-conceived children’s film riddled with puns, pop culture references, and the mistaken impression that you can only cast big names for voice work. Reviews for it were unsurprisingly scathing, and despite opening in third place (coming in after a movie that released a week before) the marketers have been crowing about how it performed better than Frozen (which came out a month and a half before, was much better reviewed, and actually stands a chance of being remembered in six months.)
Well, I guess people might recall that The Nut Job existed a couple of years from now when the already announced sequel is released.
I’m just grumpy because there’s no talking Raccoon the raccoon doll with Liam Neeson’s voice.
As I was saying, I’m currently writing a story that takes a lot of cues from the Saturday morning and syndicated cartoons of my youth, if only because it was inspired by a collection of action figures, just like those old shows. This compelled me to keep to stick to certain tropes in terms of the story I was telling. Oddly, I do this with no concern for what necessitated such standards to be developed in the first place by way of focus testing or research. I merely mimic, trusting that these choices were made previously for good reasons.
Those standards necessitated that the story focus on a team of heroes as opposed to a solitary one or that the central protagonist be male, young, and caught up in the adventure rather than choosing to engage in it. The makeup of the team of heroes required the presence of certain archetypes.
However I also started to think about matters of structure. How does one write something “like a cartoon” but in a novel format? Should the whole thing be done as a script? That seemed unpleasantly dry to me. Especially considering that, being an adventure series, it would be very dependent on action sequences … and those don’t translate well to such a format. However I did hit on the fact a general rule for script writing is that a page should equal a minute of screen time, so the average script for a half-minute program should be about 22 pages long (once you factor in commercial breaks and an opening/closing sequence.) This lead me to wonder how fast the average person reads. The answer turned out to be about 300 words per minute. So if I wanted someone to be able to “read” this story in line with a cartoon, that would come out to about 6,500 words per … chapter? Keeping things analogous, each “chapter” should be an “episode”: having a relatively self-contained story or being a clear multi-parter. Even looking at cartoons I’m given an upper-limit on the number of episodes: 65.
Maybe better people could say “I want to write something that takes its cues from the action cartoons of the 80’s” and be able to operate in relative freedom. But here I am, a slave to the format.