Natasha Allegri is leading a movement. A quiet, earnest, doe-eyed movement to be sure, but one that is unstoppable, and unquestioningly vital. Bee and Puppycat, her already widely beloved series produced for Frederator's Cartoon Hangover channel, is about to relaunch, to widespread fan salivation. Her social media accounts swell with more and more followers every day. Puppycat plushes and inflatable swords were everywhere at San Diego Comic-Con, as was cosplay and fan art.
Allegri's work, in its sincere, unfailingly sweet way, has announced to the world that animation aimed at an adult (or at least teen) female audience is not just viable — it is a verified path to critical and commercial success. ComicsAlliance sat down with her at SDCC to discuss her success, the importance of cuteness, and what we can expect from the new Bee and Puppycat animated series.
In her review of the first two issues of Natasha Allegri's Bee and Puppycat comic, ComicsAlliance's own Juliet Kahn declared it to be the product of "a creator raised on Jim Davis and CLAMP," and really, that's the best way you could possibly describe the aesthetic heritage of this project: a perennially unemployed twenty-something magical girl and her strange, eternally scowling and space-faring pet of indeterminate species going on adventures in an equally uncertain but nevertheless compellingly cute universe of weirdness and wonder.
For the third issue of BOOM! Studios' comic book version of the Cartoon Hangover animated series, Allegri hands her creation over to cartoonists and storyboard artists Tait Howard, Aubrey Aiese, Madeline Flores, Ian McGinty, Fred Stressing and Anissa Espinosa for a quartet of new stories. For their chapter, Howard and Aiese pit Bee and Puppycat against an apartment in desperate need of cleaning, and shows just what they're willing to do to get out of washing dishes. I think we can all relate.
Bee and Puppycat is really, really cute. It is also funny, bizarre, and occasionally wistful. Above all though, it is cute: there’s the pastel palette, the fat pink bows on Bee’s shoes, the warm roundness of its characters, literally everything about Puppycat. Its absurdism is soft and its softness is absurd -- “I got fired today,” Bee intones flatly, the rain spattering her cat-faced pinafore dress. She’s a dumpster-diving Sanrio character, Strawberry Shortcake late for her appointment at the temp agency. The beginnings of a plot prod gently at her from time to time, but never with anything like urgency -- two issues into its run, Boom! Studios' Bee and Puppycat comic has meditated on strawberry donuts, embarrassing pajamas, and platform shoes, but not much else. Creator Natasha Allegri (along with collaborators Madeleine Flores and Garrett Jackson) would rather devote three pages to QR-coded music boxes than set about untangling Puppycat’s origins or the nature of their magical, mysterious employer.
In these qualities, Bee and Puppycat is right in line with Adventure Time, Steven Universe, and Bravest Warriors, its closest brethren in tone and form. Beyond the creator overlap between the four franchises and the fact that all of them now span both animation and comics, they’re all content to hunker down in that pocket of the zeitgeist that brings together childhood nostalgia and bizarre Internet-age humor, where atmosphere reigns over plot.
But Bee and Puppycat stands out among them, and marks a sea change in comics -- particularly in how franchises are formed, what is considered marketable, and what demographics are seen as worthy of being catered to. In its weird, witty way, I believe that Bee and Puppycat emblematizes the future of this industry.
Thanks to a hugely successful Kickstarter, Natasha Allegri's Cartoon Hangover series Bee and PuppyCat is set to return with nine new episodes later this year. Fans don't have to wait that long to enjoy their favorite characters, though, as Allegri and Garret Jackson's comic book series debuts on May 14 with Bee and PuppyCat #1 from Boom! Studios. Click through to get your first-look at the new adventures of Bee and her extradimensional new pet.
When Cartoon Hangover launched its Kickstarter to fund a full first season of Natasha Allegri's Bee and PuppyCatanimated series back in October, fans quickly noticed that comic books were among its backer rewards -- and just as quickly deduced which publisher would be bringing them to life. Boom! quickly confirmed it was working with Allegri (with a teaser that playfully read "Of Course we're doing the comic!"), following their successful team-up on her Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake comics and now the publisher is ready to confirm the book's full launch details. Bee and PuppyCat #1, co-written by Allegri and Garrett Jackson, with art by Allegri, and colors by Allegri and Patrick Seery, is set to arrive in stores and digitally in May.
We make a regular practice at ComicsAlliance of spotlighting particular artists or specific bodies of work, as well as the special qualities of comic book storytelling, but because cartoonists, illustrators and their fans share countless numbers of great pinups, fan art and other illustrations on sites like Flickr, Tumblr, DeviantArt and seemingly infinite art blogs that we’ve created Best Art Ever (This Week), a weekly depository for just some of the pieces of especially compelling artwork that we come across in our regular travels across the Web. Some of it’s new, some of it’s old, some of it’s created by working professionals, some of it’s created by future stars, some of it’s created by talented fans, and some of it’s endearingly silly. All of it’s awesome.
It's not often that you get a piece of comics news that's completely unsurprising and completely welcome at the same time, but that's exactly what we got this week when Boom! Studios announced that their Kaboom imprint will be publishing a comic book version of Natasha Allegri's Bee and Puppycat. The official announcement about Bee and Puppycat joining its fellow Frederator shows, Adventure Time and Bravest Warriors, even included the phrase "Of course we're doing the comic."
But like I said, it's every bit as welcome as it is expected, so to get a little insight on where Bee and Puppycat is coming from, we asked a few questions to Allegri, who took a moment out of her busy schedule to tell us about her influences, the tone of the show, and her love of Garfield.
Between its Superbook and Sailor Moon-inspired aesthetic, hearty humor and intriguing premise, it's not hard to see why Natasha Allegri's two Bee and PuppyCat shorts from Frederator's Cartoon Hangover have amassed more than 4 million views online over the past few months. With fan demand fully in tow, Cartoon Hangover has turned to Kickstarter to expedite the creation of six (or more, according to stretch goals) new 6-minute installments set to start rolling out by the summer of 2014. Should backers succeed in funding the project, they won't just get more cartoons to watch. Rewards include a Bee and PuppyCat #1 comic book, with certain backing levels indicating that the series could run long enough to supply two years' worth of collected editions.
If you've read ComicsAlliance comments for any amount of time, you'll know that if nothing else, we are bitter, jaded (hipster???) dinosaurs. As a result, it may seem rare that we get excited about something like a variant cover or a convention exclusive, unless it's something pretty, pretty awesome. Fortunately for our tiny, blackened hearts, that exact thing happened today when Boom! Studios revealed their Baltimore Comic-Con variants for Garfield #17 and RoboCop: The Last Stand#1.
Yeah, that's right: We're excited about Garfield on a Monday. See why in the full-sized image below!
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