It’s Alive! Dini Launches Dinicartoons at Top Cow

Fri, September 26th, 2008 at 7:58am PDT | Updated: September 26th, 2008 at 10:14am

Comic Books
Emmett Furey, Staff Writer
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Dinicartoons is a new Top Cow imprint overseen by Paul Dini

After a good turn with Top Cow’s “Madame Mirage,” comics and animation veteran Paul Dini and Top Cow top brass Matt Hawkins and Rob Levin put their heads together to come up with a new project to work on together. That project became Dinicartoons, an imprint by which Dini intends to feature not only his own original characters, but also those of up and coming artists and animators.

The first book published under the Dinicartoons banner features Dini’s holiday character, Jingle Belle. Originally published by Oni Press, Dini’s Jingle Belle stories chronicle the adventures of Santa Claus’ spoiled teenaged daughter. The new Belle book pits Old Saint Nick against a decidedly unexpected foe: Frankenstein’s monster. For readers familiar with the ending to Mary Shelley’s classic horror novel, the possibility of these two pop-culture icons crossing paths is not as far fetched as it seems.

“At the end of the book, the monster trails his creator, Dr. Frankenstein, up to the north pole,” Dini told CBR. “The monster arrives too late, after Frankenstein has died, and the monster mourns Frankenstein’s death because this was the closest thing he had to father. And the last we see of the monster, he’s trudging away into the north to set himself on fire and basically end his own miserable existence.”

"Jingle Belle: Santa Claus vs. Frankenstein" on sale in November

Of course, the north pole is the mythical stomping grounds of a right jolly old elf. Eventually, Jingle finds the monster’s frozen remains, and takes the poor creature in. In exchange for room and board, the monster agrees to help out around Santa’s workshop. “And for a while, things go really great,” Dini said. That is, until a watchdog group who believes Santa has become too disruptive to the holiday season try to ban the toy maker from making any further public appearances. “So the monster decides to take a hand in that.”

Dini likened the story to a “late ‘50s/early ‘60s mishmash” like the classic B-movie “Santa Claus vs. the Martians.”

As a Jingle Belle alum and a fan of classic monsters, artist Stephanie Gladden was a shoe-in for the penciling job. “I adore Stephanie, as a person as also as an artist,” Dini said. “And I think she draws amazingly cute, cool characters.” Dini said that Gladden, who works in animation at Cartoon Network, is a tremendous designer, and the writer could think of no artist more qualified to bring the threatening yet funny look of the Aurora monster models to “Jingle Belle: Santa Claus vs. Frankenstein.” “And I really love the classic, old-style Warner Bros. look of cartoon characters, they’re a great vehicle for emotion, and nobody brings that to their work in comics better than Stephanie.”

Jingle Bell and Hyper Hyena

Dinicartoons grew out of Paul Dini’s desire to tell stories outside of the superhero genre. “I love superhero stuff, and I want to get more into that, but at the same time, I was thinking, maybe there’s a way to do a small imprint of characters of my creation, some of which would be more harder-edge superheroes, and some of which would be some of the lighter, cartoonier characters I’ve created over the years, such as Jingle Belle and Ira Red and some of the characters from that universe,” the writer xplained.

An anthology seriesalso called “Dinicartoons” is in the works, which will showcase not only existing Dini characters, but also new characters as well. Dini said that readers could expect to see Jingle Belle, his Mutant Texas characters, the sock monkey Rashy, and he also teased a brand-new fantasy epic. “There’s also a new character we’re debuting called Hyper Hyena, who’s a wild, kind of funny animal type character.”

Polly Green and Moneyswine

In addition to featuring characters from the Dinicartoons world, Dini wants the “Dinicartoons” anthology title to provide opportunities for other artists/animators to showcase their own creations. “L.A. is filled with really tremendous artists and animators, and a lot of them have said, ‘If only I had a way of getting my characters published, I think I could have a lot of fun with this character, or this idea,’” Dini explained. The writer hopes that “Dinicartoons” can serve as a springboard for these other animators’ creations. “If I bring in an animator who has a really fun style and a really great storytelling sense and some engaging characters, then they can get actual appearances in the book, and maybe that will inspire them to go off and publish them as comics or cartoons and bring those characters to life in other places. Really helping to sort of open the doorway a little bit to people who want to do these passionate projects.”

Dini likens Dinicartoons to Disney comics, in that they both showcase a number of different characters that were created elsewhere. “I really feel like there’s not a lot out there as far as people who like humor books,” the writer said, citing “Archie,” DC’s “Looney Tunes,” as well as comics published by Disney and Bongo as among the few options that readers have for this kind of material. “I like the fact that the stories are quick and fun, and I think that funny characters deserve a venue like that to flourish in.”

Tashi Ounce and Rashy & Superrica

As for other projects, Paul Dini is certainly keeping busy. “We’re definitely going to do another ‘Madame Mirage’ miniseries,” Dini confirmed. The book will also be published under the Dinicartoons banner. Additionally, Dini and his magician wife Misty Lee are producing an online animated series featuring sock monkeys Rashy and Super Rica.

But Dini is particularly exited to get Dinicartoons underway. “I love superheroes, so I’ll probably always be working on superhero projects at one point or another, but I think the time is right for funny books again, for anthologies and for screwball characters,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to doing this, and raring to get started and come out with these new characters and inflict them on the world.”

Look for “Jingle Belle: Santa Claus vs. Frankenstein” this November from Top Cow.

Sherrif Ida Red

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TAGS:  paul dini, dini cartoons, jingle belle, top cow

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