Monday, August 8, 2011

The Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle, & Burbank

This past Saturday, Kate and I took a drive out to Burbank to attend a signing by The Last Unicorn creator and novelist, Peter S. Beagle, and afterwards they had a screening of the 1982 animated Last Unicorn movie at the Sunset Screening Room. The last time I was out to the Los Angeles area was back in 2002, when DC flew me out to Burbank so that I could attend the retailer meeting they had that year. The last time I drove out there was waaaay back in 1984 to check out the Violent Femmes play on their second album tour (I was also in LA back in 1995 to see Oingo Boingo, but a friend of mine drove). To say that I don't like driving on the LA freakway is an understatement, but Kate never saw The Last Unicorn on the big screen (neither had I), so we decided to brave those crazy roads for this event.

The Last Unicorn novel was written by Peter S. Beagle and published in 1968. This was one of Kate's favorite books as a wee lass and she only saw the movie when it came out on VHS some time after it was released because the movie never showed up where she lived, in Ridgecrest, California.

Recently, IDW published a GORGEOUS hardcover graphic novel version of The Last Unicorn, collecting their five issue series, beautifully adapted by artists Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon. The Last Unicorn graphic novel is the very definition of how to make a beautiful book that is timeless, ageless, and will be one of the graphic novels you'll want to share with others as an example of what the comic medium can produce when it is a labor of love as The Last Unicorn graphic novel obviously was for its creators.

I watched The Last Unicorn animated movie with Kate a couple of years ago on DVD, but I must have been pretty tired or in an odd funky mood because I don't remember it being as good as it is when we watched it this past Saturday at the Burbank screening / signing! The animation is great, especially considering they didn't have a Disney type budget. I'm sure that a lot of people, when they here or see something called The Last Unicorn, think that it will be primarily a story for little girls (this is what I thought at first also), but if you just brush The Last Unicorn off on this basis, you're going to rob yourself of a great story that really is multi-layered, with great characters and a rich story for girls and boys of all ages! I'd forgotten that one of my great unrequited loves, Mia Farrow, does the voice of the Last Unicorn, and Alan Arkin does the voice of Schmendrick the Jewish magician (he's hilarious!), with some other little know actors (grin) by the names of Christopher Lee, Angela Lansbury, and Jeff Bridges, also doing characters in The Last Unicorn (with music by America) - if this doesn't clue a person in that this is an A rated production, I don't know what will!

After The Last Unicorn screening, Kate and I talked to Connor Cochran, Peter S. Beagles' friend and agent. Right before Kate and I talked to Conner, we overheard another young guy recommending the anime series, Princess Tutu, to Conner. I corroborated to Connor that Princess Tutu is similar to The Last Unicorn in that on a superficial basis (mainly its title) appears to be something that would only appeal to little girls, but actually there's soooo much more going on, that adults and children can both appreciate. Conner also told Kate an myself the amazing story of how he became friends (and the agent of) with Peter S. Beagle, but that's a story best told by Connor.

Seriously, look up the Princess Tutu anime series, check out The Last Unicorn graphic novel and animated 1982 feature and if you're not COMPLETELY satisfied, I'll refund your money from where-ever you bought them!


Rick Tucker said...

Most of the Rankin and Bass productions, even on a shoestring budget were very impressive. The Last Unicorn was one of the last of the great low budget, high quality animation that grew out the newer animation style that flourished originally on television. Other than the "Hobbit", another Rankin and Bass production and Bluth Studios' "Secret of NIMH" few if anything after those efforts in the early eighties lived up to the hype. Zena and I saw it at a base theater in Germany at Ramstein (it's a dry cleaners now..).

Ralph Mathieu said...

You didn't see it at the theater with your daughters, Nicole and Lorraine, Rick?

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Happy New Comics Wednesday 7/18/18 - Life of Captain Marvel, Magic Order #2 (we still have #1 too!), conclusion of Infinity Countdown, Justice League edition!

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