29 November 2008

Conversations with Cherry

A little bird told me Cherry's full name. I wonder if anyone teased him about it. He's pretty lucky he got away with 'Cherry;' they could have called him 'Nancy Posh Boy Fancy-Pants.'

Of all the sequential art I could be doing, I illustrate imaginary anachronistic conversations with a deceased literary/historical figure. Go fig.

09 November 2008

Election Night!

If you did not watch the election on the BBC, you missed out. A grand time was had by all – well, most; there were some pretty glum people in Phoenix. David Dimbleby, the host, was brilliant – I admire his stamina and his delightful sense of humour, being the ringmaster for the circus that is a three-hour live broadcast with a rotating panel and disparate long-distance reporters.

After a certain point, when I'd given up on trying to get any work done, I tried caricaturing everyone who appeared onscreen for any notable length of time. Good exercise. Notable characters were the poor map guy who was so exhausted by the end of the evening that he was reduced to flapping at the graphics and yammering, the New Yorker who was apparently drunk when they cut to him, Simon Schama who was so excited to be there, next to John Bolton who most definitely was not, and Gore Vidal who had an entertainingly mad interview with Mr Dimbleby.

Some sketches from my own very Californian voting experience follow:
It wasn't actually a three-headed dog, it just looked like it.  Sexy young ladies calling for gay rights  A real live crazy California lady  I breezed right past the table where I was supposed to pick up the ballot sheet  The voting contraption

02 November 2008

Halloween

This year, against all possible good judgement, I embarked upon my most ambitious costume yet:



Maladict from Monstrous Regiment to be precise.

30 September 2008

The Worst Journey in the World

There are better ways to beat the heat on a sweltering summer Sunday, but I attempted it by listening to Edwardian men pushed to the brink in Antarctica.

This week's Classic Serial on BBC Radio 4 was a dramatization of The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard, who was a member of Robert Scott's Terra Nova Expedition to Anarctica. Yes, that Scott expedition. Needless to say he wasn't part of the South Pole party because he wrote this book, but it's a gripping listen nonetheless.

All pre-1950 expeditions that necessitate coats and/or goggles default to Mignola style, by the way.

30 July 2008

Dr Horrible's Stolen Ostinato

When I started this blog, I vowed it would be professional and sober and not a place for dorky fanart and stupid gags, but dangit, I just really like how this turned out:


This started out as a doodle when I realized the ostinato guitar behind that first song in Act II sounded a lot like the bit in 'The Island' by the Decemberists. That's Colin Meloy, see? Oh, my sides split with laughter! Well because it was that part I imagined it lit like that and the bare pencil sketch just looked bare. So, four hours later ...

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, if you haven't seen it, is available on iTunes ($4, bargains galore!) and is some Whedon kind of awesome.

05 July 2008

Golden Silent

I've been told since starting animation school that you have to watch silent films. I'd seen bits and pieces here and there, we watched some Chaplin in class and I once caught a documentary on Mary Pickford on The Knowledge Network*, but while they were entertaining and excellent examples of pantomime, I never took more than a professional interest in them. I was never one of those people who professed that all the best films were made before 1930. The acting was stilted, the film sped up, the dialogue cards too intrusive and plentiful, the stories and gags intended for an unsophisticated audience** and it was all accompanied by some canned ragtime piano music that tinkled on irrespective of what was happening onscreen – not my idea of entertainment.

That was all changed by THIS MAN.

My sister and I went to see the annual Silent Film Gala put on by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, where the musicians, live on stage, accompany a classic silent film. This year's selection was Speedy, starring Harold Lloyd, with a fairly modern score by Carl Davis. It was Lloyd's last silent movie, made in 1928, and shot largely in New York, including Coney Island, the last horse-drawn trolley car, and Babe Ruth (really!). It was fantastic. The print had been restored, it was running at its proper speed, the orchestra was playing a score that had been written for the movie (quite well, I might add, and not some ghastly modern-sounding thing intended to 'update' it, either), and it was absolutely enthralling. The story was simple but solid, the characters engaging, their complications frustrating, the action exciting, the gags plentiful but not distracting, imaginative, and funnier than anything I've seen in recent memory. And the dialogue was surprisingly judicious – most of the time, you knew what they were saying without it being specifically stated, so cards were only used when delivering a specific gag line or important exposition. How flattering, for a moviemaker to trust the audience's imagination instead of assuming they need everything spelled out for them.
On top of that, the whole audience was incredibly involved in the film. I don't know if it was the setting, or the lack of an overpowering sound system, or the fact that you actually had to pay attention to the movie to get anything out of it, but there was much more audible reaction – genuine, unconscious, instant reaction – to what was going on onscreen than I've ever heard before. There was one moment at the very height of the climax where something goes suddenly wrong and the audience, as one, let out a tremendous gasp. It was amazing.

I left the theatre giddy, and with joy discovered that there was a wealth of Harold Lloyd material on YouTube as well as a 5-DVD set of restored films with new scores (most by the same composer as Speedy). Unfortunately it appears all the good clips have been taken off YouTube so you're left with the DVDs (which are better, anyway)... if you have access to a library and that library is blessed enough to have any of them (hint: try VPL downtown), I highly recommend you check them out. Speedy is still my favourite but Safety Last is probably the most famous and is surprisingly gripping while still being funny. You're doing yourself a disservice if you don't at least expose yourself to these movies, no matter how much you think you don't like silent film. Just make sure you give them your full attention; that'll be the most rewarding. Take it from a convert. If nothing else, marvel at how a movie can be both funny and charmingly sincere, the art of which seems to have been mostly lost in the quagmire of snarky dialogue and unsavoury characters.
*Last remaining bastion of integrity in educational television since PBS started making shows intended for resale to the Discovery Channel. Only in Canada, you say? Pity.
**as explained by my Animation History teacher when questioned as to why old cartoons were timed oddly slowly and not terribly funny.

29 May 2008

Animator vs Reanimator

Look at this – look at this – I'm updating twice in one month! Watch out for further signs of the apocalypse!

I've been fully occupied banging my head against the wall at work, but we had an optional design class so I took the opportunity for a diversion and brought in a project that's been simmering on the back burner* for a while: adapting H.P. Lovecraft's Herbert West stories (PUBLIC DOMAIN!) into comic books, albeit fairly animation-looking ones. I didn't have much of a problem with Dr West:


His half-unwilling accomplice and the narrator of the stories was rather harder ... he's a bland enough personality not to upstage West but not so bland that he disappears completely, and he has to look at least moderately interesting.** I did three pages of thumbnails before I got something I liked, then a mediocre rotation, which I showed in class. Luckily the teacher that day was the incredible Andreas Deja and he had some good suggestions for ways to simplify and push him a bit more so I went back and did these:


That's something to be going on with, I think. They'll evolve a lot, I'm sure, before I'm done. Here's a test setup with the two of them ... the narrator's model hasn't been updated yet.


After the last class I realized what I'm trying to do with their shapes is basically this. Oh well.

*and will probably continue to do so until it boils dry and ruins the pot, to stretch a metaphor to the breaking point.
**He doesn't have a name in the stories but I came to the sudden conclusion that he can have no name but Howard Phillips.

01 May 2008

I Has a Cooky

Said Becky: "Oh Erik, oh Sweeney... I love you, too. Have a cookie, and go see a psychiatrist."

01 April 2008

Arooo!

Wow, it's been a long time since I touched this thing ... many apologies. More will be coming as soon as I can get a chance to work on that daft crossover gag thingummy I've got in my head, but that probably won't be until later this month at the earliest.

Anyway, I hear there's a bit of a Wolf Man Challenge going around right now, so here's my two cents: