I did this sketch during my first class of the semester. I was “listening” to the introduction lecture which was just the same old speech every instructor gives during the first week. Needless to say I was bored. Not that the class wasn’t interesting. I think it’ll be pretty good as the semester rolls on, but for now I got time to do stuff like this.
Archive for January, 2008
I have been working secretly in my hidden laboratory on a project for an online friend, Jeremiah Allen. He has been patiently waiting for me to reveal some info on what I’ve been cooking up so instead of just telling him, I thought I’d tell the world. Or at least the tiny, tiny part of the world that actually has time to read my little blog here in cyberspace.
So, the project is an online, downloadable comic called Squared Circle. The general premise is that it’s a WWE-style wrestling show in comic book form. We got crazy steroidal dudes (and one healthy girl) in crazy getups battling each other in the ring. We got the not-so-witty banter between the overexcited commentators. We got the over-the-top scripted behind-the-scenes filler. We got it all.
I am putting up a couple of the characters that will be appearing in the comic.
Johnny Hemo is a crowd-favorite. He has cancer and is always over-playing his illness and other injuries and ailments he might or might not have. I have him with the patch monitors on his body and a hospital wristband for good effect. He’s also trying to look emaciated with the dark eyeshadow and sunken eyes.
Murray Boothwater, AKA The Hypnotist, is kind of strange. He was described as having a starry cape, a handlebar moustache, and wearing a top hat. I didn’t know what to make of it. But, I think I captured some of the kooky nature of this one.
This is a sketchblog so these are just that. I may change them before the final product is done but mainly they will change very little.
So, last night I saw Cloverfield for the second time. By the end of the week I expect to see it at least twice more. It’s that good.
OK, obviously there are going to be some minor flaws in the film. Nothing’s perfect. Especially in the horrid quagmire of commercial filmmaking called Hollywood. But, what producer JJ Abrams and his director and writer Matt Reeves and Drew Goddard (who honestly don’t get enough of the press love that they so clearly deserve) have concocted is a miracle of popcorn moviemaking out of what could have been a big blockbuster mess. The film zips by and a breakneck pace making all the right decisions along the way right up until the heartbreaking end which I’ll speak about later.
For those of you who have been living in the middle of the Antarctic watching penguins tapdance for the better part of a year, we’ll update you. The story concerns a young man named Rob Hawkins, who gets a major promotion and is leaving for Japan in a few days. His brother and friends throw a surprise going-away party for him and in the midst of the celebration is when the movie’s events start going to hell. First, a giant earthquake, r something, rocks the city. Then, we find out that something has landed in the middle of the city and is proceeding to turn it into its personal little sandbox. The rest of the movie concerns Rob’s attempts to get to his one true love before being evacuated from the city. His friends, obviously, go along for the ride. There wouldn’t be a movie otherwise, right?
From that simple premise we, as the audience, tag along as these friends experience everything one might expect from a mysterious, possibly terrorist attack on a big city. The filming technique of using a home video camera and watching the proceedings from basically a first-person perspective make the shocks and terror much more palpable. It’s to the writer’s credit that they did not fall into the Blair Witch trap of letting the movie completely lapse into a coma in between shocks. There are no long, interminable shots of people’s skin pores as they contemplate the situation they have put themselves in. The main scenario in Cloverfield lends itself to a quicker pace anyhow. There’s not much time to sit around and wait for something to happen when the military is shooting thousands of rounds and missiles at a giant monster trolling the streets right around the corner from you. The home video angle also allows for a subtle message of how technology might keep us at a distance from even the most immediate dangers. Hud, the main character’s best friend, takes the camera for most of the movie and his insistence in “documenting” everything that happens gets him close to death several times in the movie, and SPOILER AHEAD…
ultimately brings his comeuppance at the end of the film when he goes back for the camera and ends up in the giant monster’s insides.
The decision to keep the monster under wraps until the movie came out was brilliant. As a movie geek, I wasn’t expecting much going into this one. I figured that the moment I saw the giant lumbering through NY that that would be the movie and there was nothing more to see. Boy, was I wrong. I loved how little details about the thing leaked at different points as the video camera lingers on a news story or a TV showing footage of the monster in closeup. Bringing in the little baby ones was not the “baby Godzillas”-type disaster I thought it might be at the beginning. There’s something to be said for the fact that for most of the movie the monster is in the background. It’s never right in their faces until near the end. All I can say is I will never look down a subway tunnel the same way again.
One more thing on the monster. I immediately stayed for the credits at the end of the movie. I needed to know the name of the creature designer, the brilliant mind that came up with the idea for this massive city-leveller. That guy’s name happens to be Neville Page and his website looks like it might have just gone up, but the gallery is definitely worth a look. I can’t wait to see what he does with his other future projects such as The Hulk 2, Watchmen, and Avatar. The link is right here.
The ending was the only problem I had with the movie as a whole. MORE SPOILERS…
I understand the filmmakers having to end the arc they started with the two main characters, Rob and Beth. Going from breakup to realization of love and rescuing his one true love, to finality in the end, I understand the need to go back there and sew things up nice and tight. The problem I had was that as soon as Hud oes back for the camera and gets eaten, the idea that Rob would go back and pick up the camera and keep filming threw me way out of the reality of the film’s world. In those last few minutes I kept thinking, no matter how loyal I was to my friend, I wouldn’t go back for the camera. I’d try to get the hell away from there. As futile as that plan would’ve been considering the circumstances the movie puts them in at the end, I still would’ve done that. I do have to say though, that after all that, I did like the sappy end as a scene unto itself. The tragedy of these two coming back together just to die in the end was hard to take the first time and a little easier the second time I saw it.
OK, I’m a fool romantic, so go ahead and shoot me. Or feed me to a giant alien monster.
OK, all pau.
Before I head out into the big, scary, real world, I found this interview with Chester Ocampo, the returning Art Director for Imaginary Friends Studio. Imaginary is a concept design firm that does some amazing work and everyone who is a fan of good illustration should head over to their site right now.
So, I was on the BART train going back across the bay to the office to pick up my phone which I had left inadvertently because I was in a bit of a rush to leave the mind-numbing isolation of that day-job prison. Listening to my iPod, which I tend to do on the train and pretty much anywhere elese I can get away with it. Anyone who knows me knows that my headphones are like my umbilical cord; my lifeline. I just can’t let it go. Banging throught ‘phones at the moment was Mr. Lif. I love me some Mr. Lif. Intelligent, headstrong, and aggressive underground hip-hop from a skinny dude with thick dreads and thick glasses. And from Boston, no less. “Emergency Rations”, his EP which functioned as a stopgap between albums as well as his personal political rant, was on the playlist. I was wading through all the other tracks in order to get to the epic finish, “I, Phantom”, my favorite Lif song.
Anyways, I get my phone and am back on the train going home. As soon as I get on and settle in for the long ride I notice this dreaded up guy doodling in a sketchbook on the opposite side of me. I thought, “Cool. Another artist fiddling around in his creative zone like me.” I took out my sketchbook and started drawing up a storm. Then, I did a delayed doubletake and it hit me in the face what was going on. I recognized the guy. I was sitting on the same train as Mr. Lif. Mr. Lif was doodling in his sketchbook right next to me. And he was left-handed! I was in shock and didn’t look up from my sketchbook for the whole twenty minute ride across the Bay. I never felt this starstruck. I know he’s not a huge megastar like Kanye West or Alicia Keys, but he is one of my favorite artists. Seeing him would be like seeing one of my favorite comic book artists in person for the first time. Most people would walk right past and not even notice the talent standing right in front of them. But, I’d know.
I never got to say a word to him, but as soon as he got off the train I started drawing this character. It wasn’t supposed to be him, more of an idea of him since I had to work from memory, but it kind of turned out that way. I did most of it on the train and finished it up when I got home.
That’s my little story for the day.
I have big ideas for this blog. I don’t intend this to just be a sketchblog, but more of an all-purpose dumping ground for anything and everything I obsess over in my life. One of the many things that I crave is a tech. Lots and lots of tech. I have no money, so the obsession is almost purely wishful thinking, but there’s nothing wrong with window shopping right? That is unless you are a big dark-skinned dude who’s got security asking you if you need any help every five minutes. That can get a little annoying. But, that’s a whole different post.
Anyways, I’ve been following CES like any other self-respecting techie with a free wireless internet connection. I have Engadget and Gizmodo on my Google Reader (yes, yes. Go ahead and laugh….) in order to get my daily news. This morning I got up and noticed this little story by Adam Frucci of Gizmodo:
Interesting, though he seems a little too bitter and probably wouldn’t last a day in a comic convention. Number 9, in my opinion (I am not going to use Internet speak, goddamit!), is the most true. I don’t know if it means much for CES as a show and convention, but the introduction of and continued capital being put towards gadgets that force us to stay isolated from one another seems completely counterintuitive to our basic human instincts. Seems a little closer to the cold machine-like demeanor of a business market. I wonder if these things will ever get any play outside of CES.
This reminds me of the whole debate around video gaming. One of the arguments of anti-video game pundits is that its a solitary activity that puts the user into a bubble and basically imprisons them. The user, then becomes isolated and socially inept because he/she has not built up the proper skills to interact with others. Of course, in individual cases, this may be true if you take other factors such as home and school environment into account. As a generalization the argument falls apart. I point to the surprising success of the Nintendo Wii as a prime example.
Nintendo gets a lot of slack from techies for not having bleeding edge tech in their consoles. Sony and Microsoft shouted to the heavens for all to hear about the incredible specs for their new machines. So much so that one (this one also) would think that monsters and robots would literally be reaching out of the screen and taking over your dorm room if you didn’t smack them down with your X, Y, A, B, B, L, R combo. Then, the things dropped. Literally. 360 rode off hype alone for a little while and, though Microsoft’s Live system is some of the best online gaming you could get, the system itself didn’t really impress. Sony comes with an overpriced and underpowered system with little storage called the PS3. The system turns out to be just a glorified Blu-Ray DVD player with Sony focusing much of their marketing power on the mulitple uses for it other than just gaming. All good in the things that they do, but again, not impressive.
Then, Nintendo comes with a real innovation in their new Wii console. No, I don’t mean the Wiimote and motion sensor technology (though that does play into the real innovation). Nintendo had the wacky, crazy idea that gaming was a social activity and that more people would gravitate towards a system where you could play together with other people, not just online, but in the same place. What a thought! While tech- and gaming blogs were criticizing Nintendo for being too kiddy, not having the right tech, or the third parties behind them, the company pushes forward and releases the Wii touting social gaming as the main selling point. And guess what happens? People who usually don’t play video games get a Wii. Gamers get a Wii (along with their PS3 and 360). Nintendo has another hit on their hands.
OK, the graphics aren’t so hot. The games can look a little too cartoony for their own good. But, to this blogger, the Wii is the only way to go. If only Sony and Microsoft could get off their fat, complacent butts and realize that they could use their considerable tech and marketing power to create a blockbuster gaming system that could actually bring people together in an active environment, we, the consumer, would be SO happy. And the world would be a better place.
Oh, and Nintendo should hurry up and hire this guy:
But, back to my original point. The success of the Wii just goes to show that people aren’t marching towards a more isolated future where we are all wearing MyVu glasses and texting each other instead of seeing what’s around us and talking with our own voices. We still feel the need to connect to other people. Yes, the internet, cellphones, IMs, and Youtube, are all ways we strive to do that in more and more convenient ways, but at the very base we don’t, and I believe, can’t break those ties to the real world around us and the real people in front of us. I can remember countless times when I use my phone to text friends just to work out getting together that night, or using my email to get the word out about events, family dinners, etc.
Number nine may be foretelling a grim future for us, but the Wii makes me hopeful about where we, as an increasingly tech-savvy society, are going.