Sunday, December 30, 2007

2007: My Year in Review

Well. I certainly never imagined writing some type of 'year in review' for a blog I was involved in, let alone one dedicated to my drawing. And yet, here we are.
This year, I think my personal theme has been "From the Gutter to the Stars". At the start of '07, I was at one of the lowest points I've ever been in my life (and that's saying something). I was a wreck mentally and emotionally, disconnected and disjointed from just about everything. And now, although I'd not go so far as to say I'm on top of the world, I'm definitely within sight of the stars. Unlike the movies, there's no one moment of epiphany I can point to and say "yes, that's where I decided to stop being a wreck", but instead it's the hundreds of little moments (and one or two big moments) that really add up to me pulling myself out of that wreckage.
But, such little moments are lifetimes made of.
Among those little moments (and big moments):
I took a class in painting, just because I wanted to
I went to see a bunch of movies with my friends
I got to read the last Harry Potter book sitting with my brothers
I had the honor of watching a relationship I saw start blossom into a crazy, goofy, touching and beautiful wedding
I spent another awesome year at Chincoteague with my friends
A bunch of my friends welcomed new babies into the world (this is spilling over into '08)
I read a ton of books
I cleaned up my room
I drank absinthe
I decided that suits and Converse All-Stars DO go together
I had my brother Dan call me from the Police concert so I could hear 'Message in a Bottle"
I finally got to spend a week in Bethany Beach with my other family
I reconnected with a friend I thought I'd lost
I met new friends, as brilliant and demented as myself
I was called "stevie weavie"
I've made more than sixty postings to a weblog I created
I said goodbye to people I loved and admired- reminding me how precious we all are
I found, once again, blood means very little where brotherhood is concerned
I talked with my Dad
I got to see my mom and dad and brother and sister all together again
I hung out with my brother and nephews, four guys out having fun
I finally got to sit down and have dinner and talk with my sister
I watched my parents celebrate Fifty years of their marriage
I picked up a pencil again
Thank you all for stopping by to visit, whether it's been once, or every other day from the start. It's meant a lot to me to know there are folks out there who either care enough, or have enough time to kill, to stop by and look, read, and hopefully be amused by what they've seen here. You all have been a big highlight of my year. I have every intention of keeping this up for as long as I can hold a pencil, so I hope you'll stop back and visit.
It's been a pretty damn good year. I can't wait to see what '08 brings.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Nobody's Hero


Welcome back from the Christmas break, those of you who decided to come back, and those of you who had no choice in the matter. Regardless, I hope everyone's holidays were nice and stress-free... or as stress-free as they can be.

Anyway, back to Mr. Gordon. Here's yet another attempt to draw a new version of Flash Gordon. This time, as you can probably tell, I went in a completely different direction. Yes, that's a pot belly. Why, you ask, does a world-famous pulp hero have a pot belly? All part of the plan...

I tried taking the costume in a different direction here, as well. I decided to ditch both the 'classic' look and the 'movie' look and try for something more futuristic. Hmmm... not overly-successful. Looks like he's wearing some kind of exercisewear. Ah well.

The woman is, ostensibly, Dale Arden, the female protagonist from the comics and movie. I was going for a more retro look with her, and for some reason she just reminds me of a 40's-era movie actress. *sigh*

Back to the drawing board.

Not much else to say for now. I'll be back Monday with the last post of the year, which probably won't be anything fancy, but we'll see what happens.

Later!

Music: "Star Wars (Disco Remix)" - Meco

Monday, December 24, 2007

Don't mess with the Big Man


Merry Christmas Eve, everyone!

This is a painting I did for a Christmas party my roommate and I threw last year. I figured if Santa can be everywhere, surely he'd visit Whoville, too. And he'd probably not be best pleased by a pretender to the suit. The original painting is 6 feet tall by 3 feet wide, or something like that.

Now for God's sake- stop surfing the internet and go spend time with your families and friends!

Music: "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" - Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Death is a dialogue between
The spirit and the dust.
"Dissolve," says Death. The Spirit, "Sir,
I have another trust."

Death doubts it, argues from the ground.
The Spirit turns away,
Just laying off, for evidence,
An overcoat of clay.

- Emily Dickinson


Charles J. Illig Jr.
Dec. 5, 1957 - Dec. 18, 2007

Rest easy, Chuck.

The Hero Takes the Fall


Okay, so that first take on Flash just didn't work for me. This time around, I tried to go back to the source- Alex Raymond's original comic strip version of Flash Gordon. Raymond's comic strip pretty much defines our current idea of what "retro" sci-fi looks like- flying rockets with crazy fins, swords and lasers, damsels in skimpy outfits; it's all in his work. Raymond was a fantastic draftsman- but then, he came from a time when comics were not just about getting to the same tired punchlines, but told whole stories. Many comic book artists would later look back at Raymond's work on Flash as a big inspiration to their own style.

Anyway- here I tried to keep the same colors as the last one (and as in the movie), though I used blue for the pants in homage to Raymond's original character. This Flash is a bit more of the swashbuckler, with the looser top, gloves, and higher boots. Note the sci-fi ray gun.

Though I like this version, my ideas for what kind of story I was thinking about took me farther away from the retro-swashbuckler Flash Gordon. So, moving on...

In other news, nothing says holidays like running yourself ragged trying to buy gifts for everyone, make Christmas cards, and bake for the office party. And yet, it's all fun.
Also- new poll to the right. And, what the hell are you folks thinking? You actually LIKE reading the ramblings? well then... I'd best get back to writing my manifesto.

But not right now... I'm really freakin' tired right now...

Music: "The Raiders March" - John Williams

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Holding Out for a Hero, One




Remember way back when (the Monster Squad posts), I was talking about 'world-building'? Essentially, the idea of taking pre-existing characters and situations and putting your own spin on them? Well, far be it from me to limit my mental meanderings to just the biggies like Star Wars and Monster Squad. Here we have the first part of my quest to resurrect one of my favorite mediocre movies from the 80's, Flash Gordon.

I'm not going to go into all the gory details just yet- I'll save that for when we get there. But, to give you an idea of where I'm coming from, there was a lot about the original movie that I loved. The production design; the costumes; the sense of fun it brought to the character. And there was some stuff I didn't like. Though I enjoyed that it brought humor to it, there were plenty of times I felt like it was veering too far into camp. But, one thing I loved above all- the music. Whoever the hell came up with the idea of having Queen score the movie deserves an Oscar. Though the music is as crazy and fun as the best parts of the movie, I think it still holds up pretty well. Find a group of 30-somethings and say "FLASH!" to them and (provided they're not drunk) they'll probably shout back "AAAAAAaaaaHHHH!" because we've all either seen or heard the movie or song. Practically everyone's familiar with the damn song.

And there's the secret. That's how to remake the movie. Yep, the song. But more on that later.

Okay, the sketch. This was the first pass I took at the update of the movie; as you can see, it's pretty much just an updating of the original outfit. The red and black sleeveless shirt, long pants and boots. I added the piping to the shirt, fancified the boots, added gloves, and the lightning motif (the idea being that the outfit is probably taken from some guard of Ming's, or a soldier- "the Lightning Legion" or something like that). Even though the lightning bolt has nothing to do with the original incarnations of Flash Gordon (and is famously the symbol of a different Flash entirely), it's become pretty well-associated with the character due to the movie. This almost didn't make it up in color form, but I thought the colors were a fairly central component of this particular look.

Sorry there's not more today, and that the picture's not cleaned up like normal, but I've spent most of my Photoshop time this week working on my Christmas card (yes, I know what day it is; I can't help that my muse does not check her calendar). But, fortune favoring the foolish, I'll be back Tuesday with another picture. Later!

Music: "Jukebox Hero" - Foreigner

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Coppola's Dracula

Bram Stoker's Dracula was a pretty big deal to me, movie-wise, when I was younger. I've been a huge fan of Dracula for many a year already, and this movie promised to be unlike any other before it. Well, it was. Visually, it was just insane. I mean, look at this guy! While charting a completely new course for the Dracula movies visually, it actually did a fairly impressive job of adhering to the original novel more closely than any adaptation had previously. Well, except for the whole bit about reincarnated love. No one's perfect. But Francis Ford Coppola's version of the Dracula story obviously had an impact on how we view the old vampire. If nothing else, this elderly version of Vlad was neatly impersonated by one Montgomery Burns in "The Simpsons". I mean, that's gotta count.

Not a whole lot to say on this one. It's not a leftover from Halloween; it's an idea I've had rolling around for a while now, and it finally got put to paper a little while ago. I had an idea for the elderly Dracula here to be doing something nasty, and to render him in a very stylized fashion- the long flowing gown and that crazy hair just lent themselves to lots of curves and sharp angles. Had I the skill, I could probably have rendered an even better take just by using french curves. As it is, I'm pleased with the results; the sketch itself went by pretty fast, and the Photoshopping took about 90 minutes or so.

Have a good weekend- next week, a look at my attempts at tackling another classic character. Not a monster, but he is often associated with royalty.

Music: "something i can never have" - nine inch nails

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

"We Are All In The Gutter, But Some Of Us Are Looking At The Stars"


One of my favorite comic books from the 90's, and quite possibly ever, Starman was about a superhero who never wanted to be a hero. Jack Knight's father Ted was one of the most famous heroes of World War II. His brother David spent his entire life trying to walk the path his father had created. Jack wanted to sell antiques. But, as fate and the creative team would have it, Jack did not spend his days hunting down Frankenstein 3-sheets and genuine Fiestaware. He is forcibly shoved into the role of hero when the children of his father's greatest enemy attempt to destroy his beloved Opal City, and no one is left to defend it...

Starman managed to explore the idea of what makes a hero- not just the idea of the reluctant hero (though that was certainly Jack), but all the different ways heroism can take shape. From the Shade, a villain everywhere in the world but in his Opal City, to the O'Dares, a family of cops, to Bobo Bennetti, a super-tough ex-con who just wanted to walk the straight and narrow. The real cornerstone of the book, though, is family; the one we're born with, and the one we gather around us. From Jack's dad Ted, to the Mist's twisted children, to the O'Dare clan, to the men who've gone by the name 'Starman', family is everywhere in the book. There really is something for everyone in here- action, space opera, romance, comedy, drama, all the good stuff. Those of you who don't like heroes in spandex, no worries- Jack doesn't like costumes either. Goggles are about as close as he gets to a costume. So that's Starman. Good reading, honest.

Okay- the picture. Yeah, I just got done saying Jack doesn't wear spandex. However, I thought I'd approach the character from some time after the end of the original series (see, another thing- you can pick up a complete story; no ongoing plotlines every month). And here, Jack's paying homage to his father, who originally wore a red and green suit with a fin on the mask. No, really. It was WWII, what do you expect? Soooo that's the reason for the shirt. Still, it's Jack, so he's wearing jeans and bowling shoes. and the goggles, gotta have the goggles. The big stick he's carrying is an invention of his fathers, called the... wait for it... Cosmic Rod. Back in the day it was a 2 foot long, well, rod. this iteration would probably be more accurately called a Cosmic Crook, or Cosmic Scythe. But don't look at me, I didn't name it.
Oh- you can select multiple choices over there on the ol' poll- don't let me narrow your options.

Music: "Misirlou" - Dick Dale & His Del-Tones

Monday, December 10, 2007

Playing Hooky

If I could skate, I'd do that today.

But I can't, so I'll find something else to do.

I'm not working, and that's all that really matters.

So have a good day, those of you stuck in the office. I'll rejoin you in the trenches tomorrow.

PS- those of you out there up in arms over the anti-religious 'message' The Golden Compass supposedly has? Try actually watching the movie and then tell me about the message.

Music: "We Are All Made of Stars" - Moby

Friday, December 7, 2007

No Funny Business


Behold! The Fun Spoiler!

Any resemblance to any person living is entirely... well, not entirely coincidental.

Have a good weekend!

Music: "The Way I Am" - Ingrid Michaelson

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Caught Between Darkness and Light




Anton Gorodetsky works for the Moscow Night Watch. He's an IT programmer, does his job, tries to keep out of the boss's way, and likes his vodka. He's an average joe. Or he would be, if the Night Watch weren't populated by sorcerers, shapeshifters, and many other supernatural beings. By their standards, he's still a pretty average joe.

Night Watch is the first book in a tetralogy of fantasy fiction imported from Russia, written by Sergei Lukyanekno. The books tell the story of the Night Watch, a group dedicated to the Light, who oppose and guard against the Day Watch, those supernatural beings sworn to the Dark. Both Light and Dark are called the Others- those who are other than human: wizards, witches, vampires, werewolves. They exist in an uneasy truce, held in check by the Inquisition, who seek to maintain a balance between Light and Darkness, watching each side engage labyrinthine plots to obtain the smallest advantage over their opponents- until one side can wipe out the other completely. It's the Cold War all over again, but one that's been in check for centuries. One other thing- each side can move through the Twilight- realms below, between, and all around us, accessible only to Others, and only by stepping into their own shadows...

The Night Watch series has been one of my favorite book series in recent memory. The first three books (with a fourth one due next year) are just amazing... They introduce us to the world of the Others through Anton, himself relatively new to the world, and expand to include a host of characters, both Light and Dark. There are wheels within wheels in the plotting, one thing leading to another leading to something completely unexpected. One of the highlights for me is watching Anton figure out what's really happening. And there's a LOT of that. It's very rare when what you see is what you get, in the Night Watch books. They also manage to bring up some pretty interesting questions about people, and governments, and good stuff like that- things you don't always get out of a fantasy book. In case you haven't figured it out, I highly recommend the series. There are also two movies out based on the series- if you've read the books, think of the movies as an alternate reality version of the books. Also, the movies are completely cracked. And very fun.

Oh yeah- the picture. It's Anton, taking one of his first trips into the Twilight (or Gloom, as it's also translated)- at least, it's how I imagine his trip. This started out as a pretty basic sketch- I had the image of Anton essentially falling into the ground, with a very stylized shadow stretching out behind him. However, as I thought about it, I decided I'd rather do a more literal representation of his travel to the Twilight. Instead of drawing the background (which would have taken forever, and not looked nearly so good), I surfed until I found a decent background, then went to work. Judicious applications of layers and image manipulation left me with the two shadows (representing the Light and Dark), and some work with Masking and other filters let me tweak the background. A lot of trial and error with the coloring let me flesh out Anton, so to speak. A few hours' work, and there you go. I'm pretty happy with how this turned out, but I keep coming up with more things to tweak. (there, another 15 minutes to fix some more stuff) I also have a couple other settings for Anton, but this is the only one I took to completion. For what it's worth, I didn't try for an exact likeness of Konstantin Khabensky, the Russian actor who plays Anton in the books, but he certainly informed the drawing. If nothing else, hopefully my sketch of Anton looks vaguely European- or at least, not from around here...

So there you go- Night Watch- go read it!

In other news, I'm still sick, only now it's progressed to making me hack up my lungs at night. Lucky for me, the cats don't seem to mind. Little heat leeches...

Music: "The Dark is Rising" - Mercury Rev

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Love Gone Wrong


Don't get me wrong; I love the character of Ginny Weasley in the Harry Potter books (yes, it's another one of those pictures; it's this picture I really don't like. Which is why it's taken months to actually get around to posting it. I drew this not long after I'd picked up the pencil again, and was on the HP kick. Having successfully drawn most of the main characters, I thought I'd get a little more ambitious and not only draw a character, but also draw a little scenery. Well, since I loved the character of Ginny so much, why not her? I have an idea of how to draw her, and hey, I've already drawn Ron, Fred, and George, her siblings, so maybe I can give her a kind of 'family resemblance'? Well, alright, we'll do that. Huh. Well, this is what I'm left with. A character who, according to the book, is quite pretty, looking... not so much. I ended up making her look too much like the Weasley boys, and not enough like a girl. D'oh!

Anyway, I went in to Photoshop and cleaned up the picture as much as I could- and, having colored in Ginny, decided to take a slightly different approach and did the background characters in shades of gray (obviously; I mean, it's right up top here, yeah?). I like the coloring at least. Still lots to learn, both about drawing and Photoshop. Since you've been kind enough to come visit the site, I thought I'd show you all my drawings, not just the ones I feel were successful. I'm not saying this is a lousy picture- it's just not as good as I would have liked, even just as a sketch. Once again, this serves to show the distance from idea to execution is much longer than arm's length.

Thanks for stopping by, as always.

Music: "Change" - The Warren Brothers

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I! AM! DRAWING!

No, this isn't some manner of NyQuill-driven delirium; it's just the result of watching 300, which may have been inspired by a NyQuill-driven delirium.

300 is a great movie. Not a great historical epic, but a great popcorn movie. Stylized to the N-th degree, packed with action and general bad-ass behavior, it's a great way to kill 2 hours (so to speak). It's shot so beautifully, and the look is so stylized, it's not hard to pick up on little touches that appear throughout the movie. For instance, this whole picture above came from looking at Xerxes headgear in the movie- none of it made sense; gold just went all over his face and somehow didn't fall off, and there were jewels all around and all kinds of craziness. So, I thought I'd see if I could imagine what a princess (or concubine, or slave, or whatever) might look like decorated in this fashion. So, here you go. Don't blame me- it's the media's influence ;) Oh- the ear-to-nose chain is totally inspired by Jane Child -that early 90's girl singer with the crazy punk hair, but who wasn't punk... bonus points if you remember the song she sang. And maybe a cookie.

okay, I'm off to do a couple shots of NyQuill- have a good weekend. New poll to the right- also, it seems as though those of you who voted last round would rather be vamp-bait than anything else. Good call, but 'well done!' to whoever wanted to get taken out while in flagrante delicto. If you're gonna go, go happy.

Music: "Demolition Man" - Sting

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

We are All Luminous Beings




Surely you realized it was only a matter of time before I posted SOME kind of Star Wars picture, right?

This sketch was actually done a few months ago (it's listed as sketch 16 amongst the files, putting it between Ed and Shaun), but it's been sitting around waiting for me to learn enough about Photoshop to color it decently. I won't say that it's been colored the way I want it, but I like it pretty well. The sketch itself is pretty straightforward: I wanted something action-oriented, and two lightsabers. I wasn't looking for an exact likeness (obviously), but something more in line with a comic-style version of Luke Skywalker, rather than the actor Mark Hamill. I'm pleased with it. it's relatively actiony, for me, and did its job.

The coloring was quite the ordeal. I found a surprising number of tutorials for creating lightsaber effects in photoshop- or perhaps not surprising- but I opted to go my own route with them. basically it involved treating them as a separate layer and using a number of built-in effects to get the color and 'glow' of the blades. The coloring was done by coloring on several layers below the actual drawn layer (which I treated as a transparency), thereby giving the picture an inked or 'comic book' look. This was the most time-consuming part of the project; making the layers and sorting out what went where. I followed up with the shading, this time using my Wacom tablet rather than blocking areas to fill (trust me). My favorite parts are the boots and the lightsaber hilts, which i did by drawing highlights in black and white using the tablet. Overall, this took about 6 hours to do, not counting the original sketch.

For those of you slogging through the explanation, thanks for reading! Hopefully that was illuminating for you- or perhaps you can give me some Photoshop tips instead, which would be greatly appreciated.

Anyway, that's about it for this turn around- hopefully I'll have something else amusing or distracting for you by Friday. Till then, cheers!

Music: "Duel of Fates" - John Williams

Sunday, November 25, 2007

More High-Falutin' Real Life


Welcome back from the holiday- hopefully it went well for all y'all. I'm actually sick, so this will be relatively short (I can hear the rejoicing now). This is another page from my fancy sketchbook- you know, the one that's supposed to have the important work in it. This picture is actually drawn from a photo taken from an issue of National Geographic. NG is well-known for the quality of its photographs, so I figured if you're going to steal, steal from the best. I thought the image itself was very striking- the woman's face is cropped out of the photo- almost as if her entire identity were to be found in this passport.
That's it, nothing more to say. I'm going to bed.

Music: "Across the River" - Peter Gabriel

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

We Travel on the Road to Adventure


Or at least the road to home...

Nothing to post today other than Happy Thanksgiving! Oh, and there's a new poll to the right...

I'm headed home later today and won't be back until Sunday, so no posts Friday. Come back Monday!

Song: "The Thanksgiving Song" - Adam Sandler

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Once Upon a Time


The Guy works part-time helping his father, who runs a small, vacuum cleaner repair business, but dreams of having his songs recorded and landing a record deal. His girlfriend has recently left him and gone to London, and he is still coming to grips with that loss and is emotionally vulnerable.

One day while busking on Dublin's Grafton Street, he meets the Girl, an East European immigrant who has moved to Dublin to start a new life for herself and currently works as a house cleaner in an upper-class residence. She is struggling financially, and cannot afford the piano she yearns for, while also being in the process of making crucial decisions about her personal life.

In a Dublin that has grown increasingly affluent and materialistic during Ireland's unprecedented economic boom, they are both outsiders, struggling with their art and their hearts. Through music, they find a common bond that brings them effortlessly together.

As the Guy and the Girl get to know each other over the course of an intense few days, their relationship blossoms as they share their music, put together a band to rehearse songs and record some demos, all of which results in them both bringing some much-needed impetus to their artistic and personal lives.

A few months ago I mentioned this song, "Falling Slowly". I first heard this song on VH1 (the one that still plays music videos) and was completely taken not only with the music, but also the video. I did some searching and found that it is the main song for a movie called Once, which has apparently been getting some amazing reviews (98% fresh from rottentomatoes.com). Anyway, you might be wondering why I'm so crazy about this movie... and I honestly can't tell you. It might be the music (which I've enjoyed), it might be the look of it (it has a very simple style), it might be the story (as quoted above from the website), it might be all the great things I've heard about it (the words "Oscar contender" have been used repeatedly)... it could be anything. The one thing it probably isn't though is the movie itself; I've never seen it. So you can now see that it's REALLY strange that I'm so taken with this movie. But, there you go. Can't help the things I like. It comes out on DVD next month, so I'll find out if the movie matches the hype. I somehow think it will.

The picture itself- This image is taken from a frame capture of the video (which is itself almost a paraphrasing of the movie). This image, of what looks like one of those rare and perfect, golden moments in your life- when everything just seems... right- really struck me, and reminded me of such a moment in my own life (which might make it to a posting), so I really wanted to try to get it onto paper. So there you go. The sketch itself went amazingly well; non-photo blue to pencils with nary an eraser in sight. I actually went back and copied the original drawing to go back and add shading- a chance to practice without messing up the original. I have at least 2 other versions rolling around somewhere, and will probably revisit this again to take another pass at it.

Anyway, there you go. more 'real' life drawings.

Music: "(Are You) The One That I've Been Waiting For?" - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Quiet Time


Continuing with the subject of real life, this time it really is real life. I sketched this one down in Chinoteague, VA, this past September. Believe it or not, this was done while there was a Steelers game on. Either the little girl is a hard sleeper, or Dad's got some serious self-control. Chinco is a good time for drawing people; my friends will often be sitting around for some time (games and football, always good for that) and they're not very likely to slug me for drawing them. This drawing was done with a regular leaded pencil, and inked with the nearly-ubiquitous brush pen.

Sketching 'real' people is always a challenge. In a typical real world setting, folks don't normally sit still for you long enough to do a fully-rendered picture. Most times, I have to hurry up and draw like mad to get down the basic image (usually just pose and posture, maybe some features) and then, once they've moved, I use my memory and their general appearance to finish the image. It's really not important to catch the minutiae of the subject; what is important is getting the 'reality' of the person. I'd much rather make a drawing of a person sitting on a chair LOOK like a person sitting on a chair, rather than an anatomical model drawn in a sitting position with a chair sketched around them. Life drawing is a great way to learn real people. It's fun, but unfortunately not always easy to do. So, when the opportunity presents itself, I'll take it.

That's it for now; not a whole lot else to report. I think Monday will continue with 'real' people- though Monday's will more appropriately be called 'reel' people. Heh. I'm so punny.

Have a good weekend, and stay warm.

Music: "Hard Sun" - Eddie Vedder

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Life, or something like it


So I FINALLY tried to draw something that wasn't based on a comic book, or a movie, or my own twisted little imagination. Since I have yet to actually go to any life drawing classes (which usually feature nekkid people, so many of the pictures might not make it through filters) and people rarely sit still long enough for me to draw them, I figured I'd fall back on the old standby and imagine what they'd look like. This is what you get.

There's no particular logic behind this particular pose or person (I'm pretty sure he's just whatever the lines ended up looking like), I just had this image of a person slouching on a chair in mid-discussion with a group of people. I'm pretty sure he's bored, and not buying into what the others are telling him. Or I hope like hell that's what he looks like, otherwise I'm really reading too much into this.

The big thing about this picture is the fact that I mostly colored it by hand. Well, figuratively, at least. In every drawing I've posted in the past, I've colored it using a combination of the 'magic wand' feature in Photoshop (which picks out defined blocks of space and 'highlights' them) and the paintbucket, which does mass color. With this one, since the sketch itself was pretty rough I thought a less-defined approach to the coloring was the way to go. So, I used the paintbrush feature and my Wacom tablet to color the picture, essentially like using a crayon with a coloring book. I did cheat a bit by using layers and coloring 'underneath' the picture, but only on the flesh parts- doing this let the lines stand out better, instead of getting 'painted' over. I'm actually surprised at how much I like the end result. Messy is not bad!

That's about it this time around. Friday should bring some more 'real' life to the post, assuming I can find a picture I'm happy with.

later!

Music: "Silver Lining" - Rilo Kiley

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Heroes



Sergeant Robert Lloyd Darrall served with the United States Army from around August 1951 to February 1954. Sergeant Darrall served in Korea during the Korean War from September 1951 to June 1953. He was with the 32nd Engineer Construction Group in support of the 8th Army. During his time in Korea, Sergeant Darrall went from Private to Sergeant in 18 months. Upon his return to the States, Sergeant Darrall joined the 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne.


Robert is husband to Bernice, father of Mark, Roberta, and Steven, and grandfather of Jonathon, Kevin, and Emily.

Specialist Michael Edward Zerbee served with the United States Army Reserve from 1974 to 1980. Specialist Zerbee served with the 339th Field Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Specialist Zerbee's classification was 91 C, or a Practical Nurse. Specialist Zerbee's civilian career was also spent as a nurse, working for many years for the State of Pennsylvania.


Mike is husband to Mary, father of Michael and Linda, and grandfather of Katerina and Lillian.




Captain Michael Anthony Zerbee currently serves with the 911 Aeromedical Staging Squadron in the Air Force Nurse Corps, based out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Captain Zerbee has served with the United States military since 1989. Michael joined the United States Army then, serving in Turkey from 1990 to 1991 as a Private First Class with the 21st USAFAD (United States Army Field Artillery Detachment). PFC Zerbee's classification was 31C, or Radio/Satellite Communications Operator.

Upon his return to the States from Turkey, Michael served as a SPEC 4 with the 3rd Air Defense Artillery in Fort Polk, Louisiana. After a 2-year furlough, Michael joined the Army Reserves in 1994. Serving with the 403rd Replacement Company in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, Michael was promoted to Sergeant in 1997. Michael served as a 31C and later as an Admin Specialist (75H).

Beginning in 2001, Sergeant Zerbee served as a Field Medic (91B) with the 1st Battalion/103rd Armor unit of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard based in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. In April of this year Michael joined the Air Force Nurse Corps as Captain. Throughout his military career, Michael has been stationed around the world, from Turkey, to Germany, to Louisiana, to Punxsutawney. Michael comes from a long line of military men; his grandfather Leo served in World War II, and his father Mike served with the Army Reserves.

Michael is husband to Inge and father of Katerina.

It's funny, you know. Every year, for the past, I don't know, let's say 5 years, on Veterans' Day, I've sent these three men an e-mail. Just to say 'thank you', for having such courage as to serve the country as members of the armed forces. So when this time was rolling around again this year I thought to myself, 'hey, since I've got this blog up and running, I can finally show them just how much what they've done means to me- I can finally do them justice." And I've realized, as I've been typing all this to post, there is NO WAY I can ever properly tell them. How do words compare with the fact that these men were willing to literally put their lives on the line- it didn't matter the time or the place. And it's not just them- it's millions of others, men and women, from across all walks of life. How do you show your appreciation for that? 'Thanks'?

That's the thing- did any of these men- and I'll just talk about them for now, since I know them best, but I think this would be true of many if not all of the veterans among us- did any of them do this for thanks? Did they do it for some kind of gain? Was there some kind of profit to be had? Of course not. They did it because they love their country. They did it because it was the right thing to do. How many of us can say we would do the same? How many of us, when our country called on them to go halfway around the world, to deal with blistering heat and unforgiving cold, to patiently suffer the insults and hurts of people who don't understand our country and our way of life, to fight and maybe die on behalf of people who could not fight for themselves- how many of us would say yes?

Look around you- millions have.

People claim there are no heroes today. That all our children have for idols are thugs and spoiled brats and liars and killers. That they have no one to look up to.

They are wrong.

We have heroes everywhere- they walk among us and we call them Father, Brother, Mother, Sister, Friend; we call them Private, Seaman, Sergeant, Airman, Captain, Colonel...

We call them Patriots.

We call them Veterans.

So- Dad, Mike, Michael- I don't know if you'll ever understand how much I respect and admire you for your bravery. I don't know if these rambling words, with these drawings I've done, can possibly show everyone how proud I am to know you and how much your strength and courage inspire me. I don't know if I can ever thank you enough for all you've done for our country.

But I'll keep trying.

"Freedom is not free." - Quote on the Korean War Memorial

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Veterans' Day



This Sunday is Veterans' Day. Hug your veteran, or just be thankful we have such men and women among us.

But fame is theirs - and future days
On pillar'd brass shall tell their praise;
Shall tell - when cold neglect is dead -
"These for their country fought and bled."
-Philip Freneau

Thursday, November 8, 2007

"Brilliant!"

Another sketchy post. 'Sketchy', get it? sigh...

Anyway, the above is a fairly quick sketch of my new favorite flavor of television, Doctor Who. Or, to be more precise, the Tenth Doctor. I'm a new convert to the show, but I've rapidly learned two things: 1) the history of the show (which has been on the air for something crazy like 30 years) redefines 'convoluted' and 2) you don't need to know anything about it to enjoy the hell out of the show. And I do. It's a great combination of sci-fi, character, and a healthy dose of WTF? God bless BBC America!

The sketch itself is really more my impression of the character rather than any attempt at a likeness of David Tennant, the actor portraying the Doctor. He plays the Doctor as someone 3 steps sideways of crazy, very affable, and incredibly sad. Sometimes all at once. But he's a skinny, goofy-looking bugger, so he can't be all bad. Anyway, there you go. I'd like to take a crack at a proper drawing sometime, so expect to see it again.

Nothing more to report for this week; however, should anyone have any suggestions for a poll question, please feel free to e-mail me at sdarrall [at] aol [dot] com or via the posts here.

Please come back Monday for what might be the post that makes me the most proud.

Cheers!

Music: "Golden Years" - David Bowie

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

In the Camera(phone) Eye



I've noticed recently there are a lot of pretty skies out there. I don't know what it is that is suddenly making me aware of this fact; it's not like there were no skies before now. Maybe it's that I'm not listening so closely to my audiobooks (I apparently have a sliding scale of bad books- if they take long enough to get bad enough, I'll stick it out and finish it), maybe it's just that I'm looking out while my mind wanders. Whatever the reason, I've been seeing a lot of beautiful sunsets and skies like the above, and the one below.


The other thing I've noticed is, given half a chance, my cellphone's camera can do a pretty decent job of capturing an image. I wouldn't try using it for passport photos, but it's not bad. Regardless, I now have the ability to hold these skies whenever I see them, instead of just trying to hold onto them with my so-fallible memory. I think I'm lucky, to now finally be able to see the skies, instead of constantly keeping my eyes on the ground.

So yeah, these pictures are really serving two purposes: 1) to share some of nature's beauty with anyone who happens to stroll by and 2) to avoid actually posting any art. I'm at a point right now where I don't like much anything I've got in the pipeline here, either due to trouble with the computer or just really not liking the sketches I've got here. Things are... less than optimal for me, artistically-speaking. I have a couple things I really like here, but they're not really where I want them to be just yet, and I have something coming up that I really hope I can put together. But, the ideas just aren't rolling out like they had been. The couple times I've wanted to pick up the pencil recently, I've not been in the position to do so. I hope this will all pass, and I'll go back to the artistic powerhouse I was before, dazzling you all with my dead on renditions of those so-popular comic book and science fiction characters. Or dazzle myself, at least.

Okay, for those of you who struggled through that last paragraph, sorry about that. I know some of you read this to actually see what's going on with me, so there you go. For everyone else, wake up! I'm done whining for now.

Hmmm... let's see...

Music: "Prime Mover" - Rush

(Yes, I know that these beautiful sunsets are created in part by all the pollution in the air. Thanks.)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Where's the Rum?



Welcome back. Not much to post today, unfortunately. Nothing I was planning on posting today was working out, so I'll fall back on the old standby- sketches! There's nothing too special to say about this one- the main comment about these is a technical one- both were finished using what's called a brush pen. Essentially, it's a felt tip marker that has a semi-rigid tip shaped like, well, a brush. This little beauty allows you to alter the width of the line you're putting down on paper, just like a brush. It's a far cry from the technical pens I grew up using to 'ink' my pictures. I really enjoy using the brush pen- it gives much more organic lines to the drawings, and a weight that I really can't give them with pencils alone.
Also, if you'll notice in the picture, I left in the blue lines. Typically when I draw nowadays I first sketch the picture using non-photo blue lead, which gives me the advantage of letting me be as messy and experimental as I want to be before committing to actual pencils. The beauty of non-photo blue lead is that, with 2 clicks in Photoshop, it disappears completely from your drawing. Woo! This is the usual method of choice for drawing with comic artists, and I jumped onboard with the idea after watching the Brothers Weaver use them.

Let's see- the pictures themselves? Just some emo-looking kid and Captain Jack Sparrow. The Captain is photo-referenced, but damn, is it hard to make a picture look like Johnny Depp. Another of my many weaknesses are likenesses, although I can occasionally pull off a "hey, isn't that-?".

So, there you go. Sorry it's not more interesting, or I'm not more amusing at the moment- I'm pretty pissed that the computer is not working for me right now. Hopefully the land of joy and humor will return Wednesday. Otherwise, things will go 'splody.

Music: "He's a Pirate" - Hans Zimmer

Friday, November 2, 2007

Posts of Halloween, Final


"It's not death if you refuse it."

Welcome to the last Halloween-related post I'll be putting up here for a while... well, for a year, most likely. Rest assured (or be warned), this isn't the last you'll see of supernaturally-oriented characters, or even scary Hollywood-type characters; this is just the end of using Halloween as an excuse.

Today's posting is an old favorite character of mine, the Crow. Back in the early 90's, the Crow was pretty huge in the comic world. It was a very popular independent comic about a guy who's brought back to life to avenge his and his girlfriend's murders. What made this much more affecting than it sounds was the sometimes lyrical quality to the writing- sometimes literally, as the Crow would quote music. Moreso than that was the backstory to the book- the creator of the comic actually wrote the book in response to the death of his girlfriend. The depth of feeling he put into the work really helped it transcend its somewhat pulpy roots, and was popular with the non-comic-book crowd. So much so that it was made into a movie, which most of you have probably heard of, if only for it was while filming that movie that Bruce Lee's son Brandon was killed. Cheery stuff.

Anyway, for me personally, The Crow was a gateway into a whole new world- one where comic books didn't all have to be about superheroes smashing things up, and creators could talk about real-world issues (though certainly not foregoing their fantasy routes). To be honest, I haven't read the book nor watched the movie in a few years now. I know my nostalgia-meter is typically buried in the red, but I'd like to think that the book and movie would still hold up pretty well after all this time.

As to the picture itself... I'm fairly pleased with it overall, though I think it might have been better had I not attempted to color it. The character is basically black and white, so trying to work with those options, given my relative newness to Photoshop, makes the results somewhat... lacking. The lines are somewhat buried underneath the layers of color, though this actually leads to a less well-defined figure. One of my biggest drawbacks with my character drawing is the fact that I grew up drawing superheroes, who are essentially nothing more than super-defined musculature models. It's hard to draw normal-looking people. Even dead ones like this guy. It's hard to know when to put the pencil down, and keep from rendering ever last damn muscle. But, I'm trying. Oh- this version of the Crow is pretty much a split between the comic and the movie.

That's about it for this trip through Halloween. Thank you all for coming back to visit so frequently- hopefully it was a pleasant diversion while at work. It's been a challenge to put up so much work, especially based around one general idea (no, really, I don't sit around drawing Halloween-type stuff all the time...), but I think it's gone pretty well. Which isn't to say I wouldn't be perfectly happy to pull all the pictures down and re-color them when I've learned more about these dang computer programs.

Coming Monday- reality! Well, my version of it, at least.

Music: "It Can't Rain All the Time" - Jane Siberry

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Posts of Halloween, Nine


'And they danced... '

This picture came into my head more or less complete, as will happen sometimes. Dave and I were driving around- looking for someplace to eat, I think- and he had a Leon Redbone disc playing. Well, this one song comes on, and it has a feel to it... You know what I mean- you're listening to a song, and it'll conjure such a perfect image in your head... It's like hearing a song you know well, and knowing just where you were when you first heard it, or if it has some kind of significance to you, you can recall perfectly the time and place when you heard the song. That happens to me a lot- there are a lot of songs that remind me of seasons, or of particular days, or events, or people. But, sometimes it works in reverse for me, in a manner of speaking. I'll hear a song, and it will put such a perfect image in my head... and a lot of the time, it has nothing to do with the lyrics. It's mostly the 'feel' I get from the music itself, or the tone the singer has.

Anyway, all that bullshit aside, this song came on, and I knew exactly what this picture was going to look like. The tune itself has a real Halloween vibe to it, which made this image so easy to draw. The drawing itself went quickly, once I went online to see what people who know how to dance look like. Not that there were a lot of references for giant pumpkin-headed people dancing, but I've learned to improvise. Most of the rest of the image is courtesy the magic of Photoshop. I like this picture a lot- pretty simple, but very satisfying.

That's all for now, but I'll be back Friday with... something. Maybe something Halloweenish. Maybe something random.

Music: "Ghost of the St. Louis Blues" - Leon Redbone

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Posts of Halloween, Eight


HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

Who better to celebrate the holiday with than three of the biggest 'names' in Hollywood horror: the Wolfman, Frankenstein's Monster, and Dracula! Three of my favorite movie characters, to be sure. I hope you like this latest addition to my Halloween lineup.

This picture has been the most difficult of every one I've worked on. Not the drawing itself, but to bring it from the sketch initially done to what you see above. It took me about 6 hours to get it to this point. And that, kids, is why I'm inking my drawings from now on. But don't get me wrong- I loved putting the picture together, especially since I could put the old Universal Studios logo in the background. Oh- as to why they don't look so much like the movie characters? Eh- I just wanted to have some fun with them.

I hope everyone has a wonderfully haunted Halloween, and come on back tomorrow (yes, tomorrow!) for some extra Halloween images. Why?

BECAUSE HALLOWEEN ISN'T OVER UNTIL I SAY IT IS!

(I mean, seriously, if 'The Simpsons' can run their treehouse of horror episode on November 4th, i can post more Halloween pictures.)

Music: "The Monster Mash" - Bobby 'Boris' Pickett

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Posts of Halloween, Seven


Costumes you probably won't see on kids this year...
From left to right: Jason Voorhees, Kid Cthulhu, and Hannibal Lechter. Okay, you might see Jason, but probably not so cute-looking.

This basically came out of an idea I had of 'really bad costume ideas for kids'. Jason ended up in there because he was so cute. I know the stroller looks nothing like a real stroller, but if I were to go after reference photos like I usually do, this sketch would've stopped being fun and turned into work. Not that I have a problem with reference photos (I have books of them) but going to that much trouble for something that's supposed to be a quick sketch defeats the purpose. So, there you go. Also- if you're wondering why the pictures suddenly look a lot smoother, it's because this one, and Pinhead before it, were actually inked. Makes photoshop a whole lot easier to work with sometimes. You'll see why tomorrow.

Anyway, off to the dreamlands!
Also- I had to fix the poll over at the right- please place your vote again, those of you who did the first time (thanks!). Remember, 'vote early, vote often'.

Music: "Ride of the Valkyrie" - Richard Wagner

Monday, October 29, 2007

Posts of Halloween, Six (six six)


"We have such sights to show you..."

I decided to show some affection for a newer generation of horror movie with this outing. This is Pinhead, one of the Cenobites from Clive Barker's movie Hellraiser, which I believe is based on his short story "The Hell-bound Heart", though I could be wrong. Pinhead's one of the newer 'name' monsters out there, alongside Jason, Freddy, and Michael Myers. In many ways, he's actually a lot more of a 'mature' monster than the others. Whereas they are mostly just about killing and killing, the Cenobites are about pain, and the... let's say darker aspects of human nature. The true terror of the Cenobites is that there's some small part of their victims who don't mind being the victims... or something along those lines. It's been easily a decade since I've seen the movies, and longer still since I've read the stories. Still, it goes to show they have some lasting power, if I'm still this familiar with them after all this time. I remember the movies being fun, but freaky. Perhaps unsurprisingly. Though the Hellraiser movies also led to one of the funniest images ever, but it's really something you needed to be there to appreciate.

Anyway, this was meant to be a quick post of a sketch, but once I decided to lay down a background, it was all over. This was actually a pretty quick run through Photoshop- mostly a matter of layering and finding an appropriate image of the box (the Lament Configuration or LeMarchand's box, to those in the know) to put in. The drawing itself also went along pretty quickly, once I found decent reference for his costume. I'm pretty pleased with the outcome, considering it didn't take a great deal of time.

That's all for today, but I'll have something to post again tomorrow, and again on Wednesday. Woo Hoo! Oh, there's also a new poll up- the last Halloween-themed one.

Later!

Music: "In Your Room" - Depeche Mode

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Posts of Halloween, Five



This is Frankenstein Superstar. Or, if you like, Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Though the street is actually Rodeo Drive. I've had this idea in my head for months now, long before I got it into my head to do Halloween posts. As you may or may not know, I'm a huge fan of the Universal Monsters, so they were long on my "to do" list of things to draw. For whatever reason, 'Frankenstein Superstar' popped into my head, though I had no idea of what it would look like,other than a vague Andy Warhol homage. Cut to a few weeks ago, when I laid out the original sketch for what might or might not lead to FS. It turned out very well, especially given that it really was just a sketch. It managed to hit just the right notes for the look I wanted. About then I figured out approximately what I wanted to do with the overall picture. What you see above is more or less that, minus the supermodels and paparazzi standing behind him... maybe next time. I'll most like post the original sketch later on down the line, as I like it a lot. I like this one too- something different, and fun. I tried to stick to my original idea of the color being more representational than actually trying to color it "realistically", but as I look at it, it does a pretty good job of looking like shading. For kicks, I might try to recolor it as a straight-up picture, like the others before it.

I have three or four further Halloween pictures, so there will most likely be an additional post Tuesday.

That's it for this week. Hope everyone has a good weekend- anyone going to Halloween parties this weekend make sure to have a good time, and think twice before necking with any vampires.

Yeah, I said it.

Music: "In the Hall of the Mountain King" - Edvard Grieg

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Posts of Halloween, Four


Well, once again, things are not going according to plan. But that's okay, I always keep my feathers numbered for just such an emergency.

Today I've posted a sketch of one of the most recognized faces in cinema history. This is Dracula, as portrayed by Bela Lugosi in a career-defining (and career-destroying) performance. Everyone, and I mean, EVERYONE, when asked to describe Dracula, will almost immediately say something along the lines of "I vant to suck your blood". why? Lugosi. Every actor who's ever performed as the count has had to measure up against Lugosi's portrayal. And honestly, it's not the acting so much as it is his presence. We're still talking about his role today, 76 years later, so there must be something to it.

I did this sketch a little over a year ago, in a sketchbook that was a gift from my brother. The idea had been to make it a cool sketchbook, and then exchange them so we could see what havoc the other had wrought. I started out with some "important" sketches, but I couldn't stay away from one of my great loves, and so I had to draw something monster-related. Dracula seemed a natural choice. Or unnatural, as the case may be. The drawing was done based off a small statue I have, and so I tried to give it more depth than what one of my drawings would normally have. I think it worked well, and holds up pretty well still. Hope you like it.

In other news, I went to a Halloween parade tonight with my friends Jason and April. A good time was had by all, though it seems as though the paraders are reluctant to throw candy to adults. Also, Michael Jackson music was very popular amongst the parade people. Mixed messages, I tell you. Additionally, I discovered there is such a thing as Library Cart Drill Teams. If only I had known...

Lastly, there's a very good chance that I will be posting more than thrice next week, and maybe even over this weekend coming. I was afraid I wouldn't have enough Halloween sketches, but it now appears that I might have too many. Which is a good thing. But we'll see.

Go now. Y'all come back and visit, ya hear?

Music: "Swan Lake" - Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Posts of Halloween, Three


Sorry, you're not getting much of a Halloween post today. My original plans for some slick-looking Halloween-type goodness fell by the wayside this weekend. I got some more drawings done, but I'd like to take some time and work more with the ones I've got in the pipeline, to make them look extra-sweet. Plus, Dave's going to give me some Photoshop pointers, so I don't have to try to figure out everything on my own. It's all about the shoulders of giants, my friends...

So anyway, this here is my idea of ass-kicking Auror Alistor "Mad Eye" Moody, one of the many great supporting characters of the often-spoken-of Harry Potter series. Moody was a fan-favorite from the start- which is impressive, considering the whole first book in which we meet him, he's not really him. (you needed to be there, I guess). I know he's quite the favorite of a number of fans, so I hope they like what I've done. This is pretty much how I imagined him looking, with his big freaking electric blue eye and the missing chunk from his nose. I like how this came out- pretty grizzled looking, like he spent years catching bludgers with his face. I'll probably/hopefully return to this picture to give it a good working over with Photoshop- I wanna see that blue eye!

Alrighty, enough for now. I have nothing else of interest to contribute, other than if you're looking for a fun and off-kilter movie, I recommend renting "A Series of Unfortunate Events". Very fun, and an amazingly unique-looking movie. It's worth watching just for the production design. Oh, and Jim Carrey did not suck in it.
Oh- looks like the voting is in, and it's a tie between Frankie and Fang-face. Unsurprising, given the pervasiveness of their images throughout the world of pop culture. sigh... if only everyone knew and loved the Thing From Another World... Thanks to everyone for voting. New poll is as always, to the right.

Cheers!

Music: "O Fortuna" - Carl Orff

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Posts of Halloween, Two



"Pardon me, but has anyone witnessed an ectoplasmic entity?"

Meet Egon Spengler, circa 1890.

Steampunk is "a genre of science fiction set in Victorian times when steam was the main source of machine power" (thanks, Dictionary.com!). It's also a style of art, a role-playing game, and a way of life. Additionally, it's one of those things that strikes my fancy- probably the elaborateness of the machinery, coupled with the... properness... of the Victorian-era settings (whether it takes place in the past or the distant future, they all seem to wear Victorian-era clothing, of a sort).

==Overly-Elaborate Explanation Follows. Proceed at Your Own Risk==

Fans of Steampunk will often take current genre staples (Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who, etc.) and re-imagine them in a Victorian setting. Since that's world-building, and a style I really like, that's what I did here. I took the basic concept of Ghostbusters (guys with crazy backpacks and guns who trap ghosts) and tried to imagine what they would like back in the 19th century, Steampunk-style. One of the hallmarks of Steampunk materials is craftsmanship- every piece of equipment very much looks like a piece of art. I tried to get that across a little bit by making the gun more elaborate, and using wood- trying to make it look more like a rifle. I also had some fun with the backpacks. The idea is the vacuum tubes are originally flat out, like the spokes of a wagon wheel. As the pack powers up, the wheel begins spinning and the tubes begin to pivot upward until they hit a 45 or 55 degree angle. This would make a nice visual effect, if nothing else. The ghost trap is kind of a reverse of the disappearing bird trick (seen in 'The Prestige'). It lies flat on the ground until the ghost is overhead. The switch is thrown, and it springs up around the ghost.

==Overly-Elaborate Explanation Ends.==

Oh, don't forget the goggles.

For more steampunk fun, please take a look at 'Brass Goggles', listed to the right under the Links o' Doom.

That's it for now. See you Friday.

Music: "Also Sprach Zarathustra" - Richard Strauss

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Posts of Halloween, One



Since Halloween is coming up quickly, and it's one of my favorite holidays, I thought I'd start posting some Halloween-themed pictures.

This one is a quick sketch of Ray, a character from one of my favorite movies, Ghostbusters. This movie is one of the most quotable movies ever- I've long argued that it's possible to hold an entire conversation using only quotes from the movie (admittedly though, I've never tried). It's hardly an accurate picture, but everyone can look at it and get the idea of who the character is supposed to be. As I said, it's a quick sketch, but one that turned into about an hour's worth of tinkering in Photoshop. I'm pleased with it, especially considering its roots.

Next- more Halloween goodness!

Music: "Ghostbusters" - Ray Parker, Jr. (duh...)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sunsets

I'm not up for writing a lot tonight- I'm feeling a bit under the weather. So, in lieu of more scribblings and ramblings, I thought I'd take a minute to post some real-world stuff. These are two pictures of sunsets at Chincoteague this year. These were taken off the deck of the rented house. I pretty much walked outside, held up the camera, and pressed the button. All the rest of the work was not done by me.

Hopefully I'll have something else to post later on, otherwise you're stuck with whatever pictures I can find on my camera or my phone. Or god forbid, more writing.

Oh- new poll to the right.

Music: "Lakeside Park" - Rush





Thursday, October 11, 2007

Wolfman's got... you know...


Continuing the Monster Squad revival, here's Patrick, otherwise known as The Main Character's Best Friend. The idea here, as with Rudy, was to modernize the character, to make him look like an actual modern-day teenager as opposed to the super-clean looking 80's kids from the original. I think he worked pretty well here overall- given what little there was to go with from the original to today. I mean let's face it, the characters in the movie don't have much 'character' to draw on, really. There's Main Character, Best Friend of Said, Cool Kid, Fat Kid, Little Boy, and Little Girl. Watching the movie again, I decided that Patrick was the slightly cooler of the two friends (based on his sweet shades and Miami Vice-inspired outfits), so I tried to make him look accordingly 'cool'. Were I to go any further in thinking on the topic of a modern Monster Squad movie, I'd really have to address the fact that the characters are so thinly-written. I'm not saying I'm shooting for Steinbeck or something, but I'd like the characters to at least have some semblance of personality. And maybe some plot to work with.

The one fact of possible interest to this picture? The original sketch has a much-shorter Patrick. In actuality, he was proportionately correct- for real life. Which doesn't always work so well in the exaggerated world of comic books (and let's face it, that's how I draw). So, judicious application of Photoshop, and we have a corrected Patrick.

Well, it's Friday, so that means another shortened posting. Which is probably good for you guys. I'm not sure what's to come next week, though you can expect me to be getting increasingly into the Halloween spirit (so to speak) and I think I'll have a Thing or two for posting accordingly.

Anyway, have a good weekend, wherever you end up. With luck, I'll be attending the Small Press Expo- it's a comic book convention for folks who write and draw comics that aren't all about weird-looking monsters and overly-musclebound guys in spandex. It's a good way to build my indy cred... or not.

Cheers!

Music: "Wings of a Butterfly" - HIM

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Revisionist Pop Culture



Allow me to let you in on a secret: the more a geek picks apart a movie, chances are the more he likes it. If he complains about the minutiae of 'errors' he's seen in a movie (like the color of a helmet is wrong, for example), the more he loved the rest of it. We geeks live in the realm of imagination- and really, can anything compare to our imaginations? So often, what reality presents us is often far inferior to that which our imaginations prepared us for. But, if the only thing we can complain about is the most minor of details, then we love beyond reason the item as a whole (be it movie, book, TV series, etc.), and consider it sacred.

But, here's the rub: no matter how much we love some genre gem, no matter how often we sing its praises, no matter how fiercely we defend it against its many critics and detractors, I think we all secretly know how to make it better. Filmmakers, writers, and artists have all opened our eyes to these new realms; our own passions for them have taken them into our hearts; our own egos have made us believe we understand them better than everyone else. If you look around the internet, you will find thousands of websites dedicated to TV shows, movies, books, and so on. A great many of these sites will often contain what's known as 'fanfic'- fan-created fiction starring the characters and settings of these well-known movies and books and TV shows. (And lest you think this is limited to geek-friendly stuff like Star Wars and Star Trek, think of a favorite TV show. Pick two characters on it you think should be a couple. If you've ever imagined what that episode would look like, you've just 'written' fanfic. See, we're all geeks in our own way.) The best of these stories will feel like they fit seamlessly into the 'official' reality. But, they're no more valid than your average Yankee fan's daydreams of another World Series win. However, that doesn't mean they aren't valid. It's one way to give fans a deeper connection to the things they love- it makes them feel like they've contributed to their beloved movie (or book, or whatever) and in a way, given them a kind of ownership over some small part of that fictional reality.

This whole idea goes back towards my earlier posts about world-building. In this case, though, it's building upon the works of others. Or to put it simply, it's playing in someone else's sandbox. Sure, you can use their toys, and maybe make some fun stuff with them, but at the end of the day, it's still their sandbox. The beauty of this type of playing is that there's an instant common ground for you and anyone else familiar with the subject. You can use a shorthand to describe the circumstances of your story, because your audience is already familiar with the groundwork. This makes your stories/art/whatever that much easier to approach as well, since you didn't have to create everything in it from whole cloth. It's kinda like creativity for lazy people. Which I'm okay with.

WHICH, in a big roundabout way of approaching it, intros this picture. See, back in the later part of the 80's, this awesome little movie came out called The Monster Squad. It was a group of kids versus the Universal Monsters- what's not to love? It instantly endeared itself to me, making me smile and laugh every time I saw it- it even had a prime piece of real estate on a videotape, right next to Big Trouble in Little China and Buckaroo Banzai. Not to mention quotability (a true barometer of a film's geek cred- how many quotes can you get from a movie?)- many lines from this movie are still heard today... when I'm speaking, at least. The film itself went out of print years ago, but I remember it fondly, and often thought how cool it would be to see it again. Recently it came out on DVD and I had the chance to watch it again. It hardly had the same appeal for me as it did back in the day (though it's still plenty fun in its way), but there was plenty there to get my mental gears moving again. I thought to myself, 'hey, this would be great to remake this movie- but here's a bunch of stuff I'd change! You know why I'd change it? Because I know how to make it better.' Sure, it was fun back then, but boy, it would be awesome now!... I think you get the picture.

Basically, the idea to reimagine The Monster Squad would be to bring it current- use kids who behaved like kids in today's world (no Fonzie-looking punk kids looking bad-ass on a bicycle, sorry) and to make the plot a little more logical. Or at least as logical as a bunch of monsters getting together to smash a magical amulet and taking over the world. Hey, it's not my world, I just spend time in it.

This picture is of Rudy, the ex-Fonzie-looking punk. I'm not sure where this idea for this new look came from, other than it was fully-formed when it came to mind. It would probably look kinda nice if it were colored; maybe next time around. My original thought for this fictional remake was to make the kids older teenagers. But, since teens these days are a lot more savvy to the ways of the world, I don't really see a need to do that. Rudy'd probably be about 16 though.

Okay, seriously, that was a hell of a lot of writing for one sketch.

Still no list of influences though. Sorry.

I'm almost out of already-scanned sketches, which means I've got a lot of work to do- but all good work, especially as I'm getting more proficient with Photoshop. It's getting harder to NOT post something that's been colored and messed-with. That's good, though.

That's all for now. Speak at you later!

Music: "Stronger" - Kanye West

... Or I Could Post This and Go to Sleep


Greetings, after your hopefully extra-long weekend. Mine, as you know, was especially-extra-long. A great wedding, and a great chance to see friends again (some thought lost), but I'm happy to be back sleeping in my own bed again.

This was originally going to be a post talking about some artists whose work I've come to admire (along with some other ramblings, I'm sure), but that got completely derailed when I saw the time. I really wish I knew why my body decided to reset it's clock to keep me up late, but oh well. If' I'm to be awake, I might as well do something creative. However, as I'm actually tired now, I'll make this relatively brief.

So, what we have here is a take off of the poster for Smokin' Aces, an early 2007 movie cast in the mold of a Quentin Tarantino movie. I was really psyched to see it when it was first released in the theaters. I remember walking out having enjoyed it, but still being vaguely disappointed in it. It wasn't enough of any one thing; in trying to be all types of movies, it succeeded in being none of them.

Cut to August 2007ish- having a few hours to kill, my roommate Dave and I sat re-watching the movie in the luxury of our own place. Having let go of any expectations for it this time around, I found myself enjoying it a bit more. Mostly enjoying it for the performances of the actors rather than the plot necessarily. And as these things will happen, we were watching one of the scenes in the movie involving a rabbit costume head, and either Dave or I said something about it being funnier if the Easter Bunny were involved. From there it was a short trip to the picture you see above. Something along the lines of Pulp Fiction by way of Hallmark Cards, with a healthy dose of poor taste, most likely. The original image was used very heavily to promote the film, and is very striking visually (like Lord of War, I think the poster was more successful than the movie itself). You can see the original poster here.

Though I'm posting this now, this was my first attempt at large-scale image manipulation using Photoshop. Hence the drawings dropping off the page (or not making it to the end of the page), along with the shaky coloring. Also, I can't draw a rectangle to save my freakin' life. All trapezoids, that's me.

So, there you go. Lessons learned here will hopefully be applied to projects further down the road.

That's about it for now. I'll be back Wednesday with some more movie goodness. Or at least, my idea of movie goodness. And maybe that bit about the artists. Or not.

Music: "Paralyzer" - Finger Eleven