EXCLUSIVE: Now that LEGOs and Paddington Bear have spawned their own movies, is it time for the sock monkey to venture onto the big screen? Animator Matt Danner and comics scribe Tony Millionaire (Maakies) are making the leap with their forthcoming Fantagraphics storybook Sock Monkey: Into The Deep Woods, the latest adventure in Millionaire’s Eisner Award-winning lit saga about a sock monkey named Uncle Gabby. To demonstrate the character’s cinematic potential, Danner penned a feature script and produced a “sneak peek” teaser using hybrid CG/live-action “digi-nette puppetry” to bring the surreal toy story to life. (Watch it above.)
Story follows stuffed hero Uncle Gabby as he and his doll pals venture across sea, land, and air to save their human, Ann-Louise, whom they fear has been kidnapped by a vicious monster. The Sock Monkey project was initially envisioned as a film, but when Danner wrote the treatment as a children’s book, Millionaire’s publisher Fantagraphics caught wind of it and agreed to publish it in print form first. The book hits shelves November 16.
Danner and Millionaire are going out to studios and financiers with the script and teaser, which Danner shot on his own over the course of one day with a small crew. Using five different “digi-nette” puppets on a practical set, they shot live-action footage which was later blended with CG to create a surreal look and feel.
This Sock Monkey isn’t all buttons and fluff; Danner describes it as more Harry Potter and Coraline than Toy Story in tone, with characters who find themselves in peril and a stuffed hero who suffers his own existential pangs: “It’s for families, but it has real danger and gravity.”
Danner penned the feature script and will direct the CG/live-action film, envisioning someone like John C. Reilly to voice the lead. An animation prodigy who scored his first job working for Ren & Stimpy’s John Kricfalusi while in high school, Danner has directed episodes of The Looney Tunes Show, Xiaolin Showdown, and the stop-motion animated WWE Slam City. He’s currently directing an animated Hot Wheels feature trilogy for Mattel and has a series pilot in development at Nickelodeon. He and Millionaire are repped by The Coppage Company.