ABE ToonsStarz Digital Media announced the launch of ABEToons.com this week, the self-styled “source for independent, alternative and underground animation.” Looks like they’re trying to make their site the place for both animators and animation fans, and part of that initiative includes both stocking up on some top-shelf material from industry veterans, and trying to attract the rising stars of the Internet.

In order to entice viewers, Starz has pulled together artists like Tad Stones (director of Hellboy Animated), Jennifer Shiman of 30-Second Bunnies Theater, and Sweeney and Laney, who are bringing Tripping the Rift to ABE Toons. As of this writing, there’s about a dozen available shows on the site, mostly library content with minute or two long episodes. My personal favorite is the latest 30-Second Bunnies reenactment, No Country For Old Men.

30 Second BunniesIf you’re a budding animator, on the other hand, a shot at $4,000 in cash and a chance to get $25,000 to produce a show for ABE Toons might be a substantially more compelling reason to drop by the site. Through August 31, animators can enter a two to six minute animated short in the contest, which is handing out $4,000 for first place, $1,000 and $500 for the top two runners-up, and $500 for the video with the highest view count. The grand prize winner also gets to produce an animated web series based on their winning entry for ABE Toons with a budget of up to $25,000, during which they’ll have a chance to expand their skills by working with Film Roman and Starz Animation Toronto.

Generally, we’re a little skeptical on online video contests, and like all of them you have to read the fine print to decide if it’s for you. Creators get to retain ownership of non-winning entries, but the winning entry naturally becomes property of Starz and ABE Toons.

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