Berk's Grapevine

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Dragonvine Discussion, Interview Richard Hamilton!

Have you picked up your copy of Dragonvine yet? If not, you can grab your instant digital copy on Amazon (or a slightly less instant, but potentially more fun physical copy) before reading the rest of this article!

First, if you liked The Serpent's Heir and Dragonvine and want to see further development of the Dragons graphic novel universe, you need to make your voice heard so that we are able to see the third graphic novel in the series, The Fire Tides! The story is outlined, but needs a green light from Dark Horse and Universal to begin production.

The graphic novel universe is a special and unique bridge between Dragon 2 and The Hidden World, showing how Hiccup learns to become the chief of Berk, how the other dragon riders grow and develop, how new characters like Valka and Eret integrate themselves into life on Berk, and how Berk itself physically changes over the time period between the films. According to Richard Hamilton, The Fire Tides has some special moments in store: a new dragon called the Fathomfin, important new characters moments for Astrid, a "Viking Atlantis" that sounds a bit like a hidden world analog, a reveal of Valka's backstory between leaving Berk and meeting Hiccup in Dragon 2, and shirtless Hiccup!

Whenever you can, make sure to let DreamWorks, Dark Horse, and NBC Universal know how much you want to see the Dragons graphic novel series continue with The Fire Tides and possibly beyond, and how lucky we are to have this part of the dragons universe!

Dragonvine continues Hiccup's journey of becoming the chief of Berk that started in The Serpent's Heir. In the latest graphic novel, Hiccup's meets a new tribe that has also been affected by Drago, forced to move from their homeland and set up on a new island.

Though Dragonvine was drawn by two different illustrators, the graphic novel fairly successfully blends their different styles, transitioning from Doug Wheatley's highly detailed and carefully composed scenes to the energetic and action-packed panels of Francisco de la Fuente. This worked well in the context of the story, where Doug Wheatley's illustrations from the "burning midnight" section at the beginning was based on storytelling prior to the main action of the graphic novel, which was passed along to Francisco de la Fuente.

One of the unexpected highlights of Dragonvine was Hiccup's new outfit ("stylishly jacketed in a mystery," according to Tuffnut). In our discussion with Richard Hamilton, he describes this as one of the unique advantages of the medium -- being able to play with costume changes. Indeed, Hiccup's costume change is a reference to the running joke in animation that characters never change their clothing. But not Hiccup! It turns out, our protagonist wasn't lying about making outfits since he's made a new one in for almost every medium a dragon story is told! I believe we all agree with Tuffnut: he does indeed look very stylish.

We also see more of Valka and Eret in this story. Because these are two characters new to Berk in Dragon 2, it's especially interesting to see how they interact with the main dragon riding crew and become increasingly integrated into Berk over time. Eret in particular had a large role in this story, as did his poor dragon, Skullcrusher, the subject of repeated and completely unfair teasing by Tuffnut. (We love you, Skullcrusher, keep on crushing those skulls.)

Also building from the story told in The Serpent's Heir, we see Astrid taking on even more of a leadership role beside Hiccup: not as a chief, but as more of a general. We don't get to meet Astrid's parents in the graphic novel, as some had speculated. However, we do see her interacting with both Stoick (in a flashback prior to the story) and Valka, and see how much they appreciate her as "the spirited warrior who keeps watch over all of Berk, including our son."

It is increasingly clear after the Hidden World events at Annecy and TIFF how much The Serpent's Heir and Dragonvine are setting up the world of the third film. We see Berk and the rest of the world changing, but we also see the relationships of the characters changing. This is especially true for Hiccup and Astrid as leaders of Berk, which increasingly seems to be a critical relationship to the story of The Hidden World, and parallels the future relationship between Toothless and the Light Fury.

What did you think of Dragonvine? What was your favorite part?

We're sure you have questions and comments about Dragonvine, the process of writing graphic novels, and how the graphic novel series bridges the events of Dragon 2 and The Hidden World. And who better to ask these questions to than Richard Hamilton, the author of the graphic novels himself?

In addition to writing The Serpent's Heir and Dragonvine alongside Dean DeBlois, Richard Hamilton was also a writer on Race to the Edge, the creator of To Berk and Beyond, the author of several other graphic novel series for Trollhunters, and recently has started his own series, called Scoop.

Submit your questions on Dragon Academy Dropouts

by Sunday, September 23 at 12 p.m. ET

You can also submit your questions in the comments below, or upvote questions you want to hear!

(And yes, according to Richard Hamilton, the title "Dragonvine" is exactly the reference you may have suspected, intended as a subtle nod to this website and community of dragon fans reading the story!)

Berk's Grapevine at TIFF: The Hidden World

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World will be at the Toronto International Film Festival, and Berk's Grapevine will be there live-tweeting whatever happens on @httyd!

The behind-the-scenes look into the third film will be at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto on September 15 at 4 p.m. The screening and following Q&A will contain 1 hour and 35 minutes of dragon content, giving us a peek at what we will be seeing later this year. Here's the official event description, via TIFF:

Director Dean DeBlois joins us to discuss the narrative of the trilogy and to introduce new clips from the latest installment. The discussion, featuring producer Brad Lewis, will also touch on the animation process and will be followed by a Q&A session.

If you can make it to Toronto on September 15, tickets are still available! You can buy up to four tickets per person on the TIFF Ticketmaster page. We can't wait to meet up and watch dragons together!

Art of the Hidden World

Are you ready for a new Dragons art book?

The Art of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World will be will be available on March 5, 2019, only four days after the premiere of the film in the United States. It's Published by Dark Horse Books, the art book will be available on March 5, 2019. That's only four days after the premiere of the film in the United States! It contains 184 pages of new, never-before-seen artwork by Dean DeBlois and other artists who worked on developing the film!

In this brilliantly illustrated, full-color book, Dark Horse Books and DreamWorks Animation join forces to celebrate the climatic third film showcasing more adventures of Toothless and Hiccup. Featuring hundreds of pieces of original art and commentary from director Dean DeBlois and the many talented artists and filmmakers who have created this masterpiece of storytelling and animation.

A beautifully designed hardcover volume featuring exclusive commentary and never-before-seen art from the creation of the animated motion picture masterpiece!

Don your winged Flight Suit, grab your Dragon Blade, hop on your obedient Night Fury, and get ready for the ride of a lifetime with your favorite dragons and Vikings in the latest installment in the
How to Train Your Dragon trilogy! Fans will delight in the discovery of previously unknown dragons, the threat of a heartless villain, and the quest for sanctuary that propels the story to extraordinary new heights (and depths!). Venture into the Hidden World where dragons roam free under the watchful eye of their leader Toothless as, above ground, Hiccup struggles to assume leadership of his tribe.

The book is available for preorder on Amazon!

New Images from Dragonvine!

Below are three new pages from Dragonvine which were released by Nerdist today! Dragonvine is the sequel to The Serpent's Heir, also written by Richard Hamilton and Dean DeBlois. Here's the synopsis from the back cover of Dragonvine:

Trapped by the Silkspanners, a mysterious new species of web-spitting dragons, Hiccup and Toothless must lead their friends in a fight for freedom. But escaping the Silkspanners is just the beginning. When our heroes encounter a group of villagers in peril from the deadly Dragonvine plants, they must put themselves at risk to help their new friends. But are the villagers friends? Or is the Dragonvine part of an evil plan? And how do the Silkspanners fit into everything?

Three new page photos:

What do you think of the Silkspanners? It looks like Valka will be teaming up with the dragon riders again!

Dragons: The Hidden World at Annecy

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World was at the Annecy Film Festival last week, and included a full screening of the first ever complete footage shown from the film. In addition to the complete, post-lighting footage, a crowd of over a thousand Annecy attendees saw animation tests and early art, explored the sets of the film, and saw work-in-progress shots.

Above is an interview with Dean DeBlois about The Hidden World after the Annecy screening!

"We have many fans of this franchise and they are very passionate about the characters and about the story. And so, they are very vocal on social media and the internet. There's such expectation for this final installment — the epic conclusion of the story — that we feel great pressure to deliver. Of course, we want to hear the reaction. Hearing applause and cheers gives us strong reassurance that the story we like will also be the story they like as well."
— Dean DeBlois, on writing stories for fans

"I want to tell a story that has integrity in its three chapters, to complete the story of Hiccup and Toothless — or Harold and Krokmou — to bring it to a conclusion. [...] This story has a beginning, middle, and end in a very definite way — as does the opening line of Cressida Cowell's first book, 'There were dragons when I was a boy.'"
— Dean DeBlois, on the conclusion of the dragons films

"I would say to anyone who dreams to playing in the world of animation, it's a goal that's very attainable. I grew up in a small town in Quebec, so far away from Hollywood and from any animation studios. It's an amazing thing if you draw and love to create and tell stories. There are so many doors that will open to you, new communities that you will find, and employers. It's a world that's always looking for more imagination. If you love to dream and you love to draw and you love to create stories, the world wants to hear them."
— Dean DeBlois, on working in animation

We will update soon with a complete list of clips and other details shared!

Here are some of the photos, videos, and drawings from the events and the cool dragswag attendees received! We don't know exactly what was shown, since taking photos and videos of the footage was not allowed. However, we can get an idea of what was shown through a couple awesome fan drawings:

Did you attend the Annecy screening? What are you most looking forward to?

New Trailer! Video and High Quality Images

The new How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World trailer is here! It features the normal crew — Hiccup, Toothless, Astrid, and the others — with a couple new characters, including the Light Fury and Grimmel, our new Night Fury-hunting villain. And, of course, some attempts at dragon courting.

See below for a gallery of high quality images and quotes about the film from Dean DeBlois!

Rest of the photoset available here!
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Dean DeBlois on The Hidden World

"It was very deliberate that each installment of Hiccup’s growth features a rite of passage. The first movie was about learning to accept yourself, in spite of your weaknesses. The second movie was about the transition of youthful abandon to adulthood. The third movie focuses on — it’s about finding the courage to let go. That in itself is a universal rite of passage. Whether they are faced with letting go of insecurities, or those who follow their destiny."

"The movie promises future developments for Hiccup and Astrid but to say anymore would be a spoiler. The HiccStrid fans will be happy."

"The best part about working in animation is that it’s ever-evolving. I was trained in classical hand drawn animation, and it continues to be an education with every film. Our technology improves every year. We get to test it and explore and push the boundaries. It’s gotten to the point where if you can dream it, you can make it. That’s pretty exciting."

"The Light Fury is a species name given to her by Hiccup and Astrid. We deliberately didn’t give her a personal name, because we wanted to keep her wild. She isn’t a Night Fury, she’s a variation of the species with her own traits and abilities. Unlike Toothless, she is not the last of her kind."

"The hidden world is a combination of fantasy elements grounded in real world physics. It features fungi and bioluminescence and coral, to give it an otherworldly feel. And yet, the idea was to create a believable world that could exist beneath our own. As with everything in the How To Train Your Dragon universe, we rely on credible earthly physics and elements, without ever going to something magical."

"The intention was to make Grimmel dimensional and interesting. He’s not only cunning, he can be charming and witty. He’s also very accomplished and confident in his ability. For this film, we wanted an intelligent nemesis for Hiccup. And, F. Murray Abraham is incredible in the role."

"I’m always a little disappointed when someone says, ‘I didn’t cry when I watched your film.’"

"I’m happy to report that Randy Thom and Roger Deakins are working away on the film as we speak. It is such an honor to have these powerhouses onboard as part of our team. It’s like a masterclass anytime we get to spend time with them."

"I guess my philosophy is that all storytelling should touch you emotionally — no matter how whimsical or absurd the premise. My priority when working on a story is to find some genuine emotional and often disarming moment that will make the whole thing have a greater value, than it may seem to have at face value. Channeling experiences from your own life is one of the best ways to accomplish that. So as it has often been said, ‘Write from the heart.’"

"Since the beginning we’ve tried to incorporate ‘dialogue’ for Toothless and the other dragons, so that the animators could interpret the intent behind the grunts, gurgles, and roars. It has also been helpful to Randy Thom, our sound designer, in the crafting of those sounds."

"I took inspiration from Cressida Cowell when she visited our production team on the first film. She told me at the time that she was working on the last book of her series. One that would explain what happened to dragons and why they are no more. And though our narratives differ, the ambition to close this chapter and resolve that question remain a driving force in developing the trilogy."

"Valka has now become a part of the Berk community. Training Hiccup, Astrid, and the rest of gang to become capable dragon rescuers. Cate Blanchett has reprised her role, and as always, has done a wonderful job bringing the character to life."

"The greatest challenge of the third film was to explain why dragons have left us in a way that won’t completely bum out the audience. There are films like E.T. that have successfully handled this delicate story challenge and they’ve gone on to become indelible parts of our culture. We hope that this third film will rise to that challenge and leave the audience feeling moved and satisfied."

Quotes and Photos from The Hidden World

"Grimmel is effective because he’s so smart, so dedicated to the hunt, so single-minded. He’s the perfect balance to goodness. We like his clarity, he knows exactly who he is." - F. Murray Abraham, voice of Grimmel the Grisly, a hunter who tracks down and kills Night Furies.

"She is very rare, very elusive and very wild." - Dean DeBlois on the Light Fury

"Toothless is a complete bumbling amateur when it comes to issues of courting. He isn't in touch with his primal instincts for these love matters." - Dean DeBlois on how Hiccup and Toothless are both "emotionally clumsy"

"Our narratives are quite different. But we will explain why dragons have disappeared into legend. And there are still questions: Could dragons come back? Are dragons still around? All of these will be answered in the third film." - Dean DeBlois on differences between the films and the books, and why The Hidden World will be the definitive end of the trilogy.

What do you think about the new images? Will Toothless die, or find true love?