Saturday, September 25, 2010

Bigfoot Businessman

He came from the deep woods to the big city with a dream, to become Bigfoot Businessman, the Cryptozoological Capitalist!

This is a vector drawing, drawn all in InDesign. The logo was hand lettered, but based on a real font.


Here's the somewhat bizarre sketch I drew for Bigfoot Businessman. I'm not sure why I doodled him in two parts like that.

Spock Would Not Approve

I was in a store today and noticed several products from a company called iLogic. As near as I can tell they have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with Apple and the iPod and iPhone, but boy they're sure trying their best to look like they do, what with their co-opting of the little lower case "i."

I know it's supposed to be pronounced "EYE-logic," but nevertheless when I look at their logo all I see is "ILL-logic." I know, it's not spelled the same as "illogic," but that's how I see it. Didn't anyone in the iLogic corporate boardroom think about that? Seriously, a computer company's got to be full of Trekkies, right? People who grew up with Spock and the Vulcans way and all that.You'd think someone in the organization would have noticed that their name is only one letter away from a word that makes you look like an idiot for buying their products.

The Latest In Body Modification

Once you've covered every square inch of skin with ink and pierced everything that can be pierced, what's left to modify? Why, your skull of course! Introducing the See-Thru Skull Plate! Now when someone says, "Whassamatter pal, ain'tchoo got no brain?" you can proudly point to the plate glass window in your head and say, "Why yes I do!" 

Features shatter proof tempered glass, stainless steel frame and industrial grade gaskets to prevent leaks. Available at finer tattoo parlors everywhere.

This is a vector drawing, drawn all in InDesign.



 This illustration went through a lot of versions and revisions. Like always, it started out as a sketch.


 
Which then led to this drawing. I stared at it for a week or so, and decided I just didn't like it. There was just something about it that I didn't like. I think part of the problem was that he looked more like a cliched jungle tribesman than an urban body mod enthusiast.

 
So I tried again. I got rid of his unruly mop of hair and gave him a shaved head, and that seemed to help.

Friday, September 24, 2010

THIS Is Why Al-Qaeda Hates America Part 3

You know how when you watch the news and see a story about al-Qaeda and they're always out in the streets chanting, "Death to America?" Did you ever wonder, "Gosh, what's their problem? Why do they hate us so much?"

 
It's because of things like this. 
This is "The Situation" t-shirt. It's a shirt with a clear plastic window in the middle so that you can show off your perfect abs, just like detestable homunculus Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino from the inexplicably popular Jersey Shore TV show.

Seriously, who would ever wear such a garment? Even if I had six pack abs, I wouldn't wear this thing in the house with all the lights off. Just looking at that photo makes me want to beat that guy with a tube sock full of Hot Wheels cars. Anyone thinking of buying this should save their money and grab a Sharpie and just scribble "douche bag" on their face.

The thing is, this isn't even an official "The Situation" shirt, but an unauthorized knock off. That means that we can look forward to authorized crap like this from Mr. Situation himself.

By the way, the Hollywood Reporter recently stated that between his MTV salary, endorsement deals, and his own branded products, "The Situation" could earn as much as $5 million in 2011.

When I read things like that it makes me want to lie down on the highway during rush hour. A billion people in the world will go to bed hungry tonight, but a man who's only apparent talent is lifting up his shirt becomes a multi-millionaire. Is there another planet I can move to? Some sort of Mars colony, or orbiting space station perhaps?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Summer Movie Wrap-Up

It's been a long time since I've posted any movie reviews, mainly because I've been working a lot lately and just haven't had time to see many films, but also because this was one of the most dismal summers at the movies in years.

There were a few bright spots to be found among the dreck however.


Inception

Inception is the latest movie from fanboy favorite director Christopher Nolan, who so successfully revitalized the Batman franchise in recent years.

Inception is a rare breed at the theaters this summer: an original film. It’s not a sequel or remake or based on an existing property, and should be applauded for that if for nothing else.

The best thing about it is that it’s got audiences talking again, actually discussing the movie. When’s the last time that happened? For the longest time now I’ve seen audiences file into the theater, sit quietly (more or less) through the movie, then silently file out when it’s over, never to think of it again. It’s nice to have a movie that actually spurs conversation.

It’s also nice to have to actually pay attention to a movie and be required to think about it.

The plot is pretty complicated to explain, but if I had to boil it down into one sentence, it’s a heist movie set in the dream world.

The movie stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Dom Cobb, a man who makes a somewhat illegal living by entering the dreams of others, discovering their innermost secrets, then stealing and delivering those secrets to interested parties. For a price, of course.

Dom and his partner (played by the awesome Joseph Gordon-Levitt) are approached by a client and convinced to do “one last job.” But what a job it is. Their client, a Mr. Saito, has a business competitor named Fischer who stands to inherit his father’s mega-corporation. Saito wants Cobb and his team to enter Fischer’s mind and implant the idea to dissolve the company, thereby eliminating the competition. Implanting an idea is called “inception,” and everyone believes it’s impossible. Everyone except Cobb, of course.

The rest of the film concerns Cobb and his team as they enter Fisher’s mind and try to implant the idea. This involves several levels of dreams, as they enter Fisher’s dream, then convince him to sleep and begin dreaming within that dream, and so on. In all, there are 4 different levels of dreams. In a cool twist, we find out that time flows differently in the various dream levels. The farther down you go, the slower time moves, so that 5 minutes in the real world equals 5 years in dream level 3.

It’s all very complex, but as I said I was completely and utterly amazed at how easy it was to understand. The various characters are stationed in the different dream levels, but it’s easy to figure out where everyone is and how they relate to one another. I don’t know how Nolan accomplished this, but I wish he’d share his secret with the rest of Hollywood.

Inception should also be applauded for not overly relying on CGI effects. Oh, there's CGI in the movie of course, but a surprising amount of the effects were practical, shot live as they happened, just like in the old days.

I also liked the fact that the script didn't bog things down with technobabble explanations. Cobb and his team have a little machine that they hook themselves into, which enables them to enter the dreams of others. How the machine works is never explained, and it's really not important. It just does, and that's all that we need to know.

One thing I’d like to point out: Hollywood absolutely LOVES the whole “dream within a dream” concept. You know, a character experiences something horrible, then wakes up and says, “Whew, than goodness that was all a dream,” and then a monster rises up next to him and he realizes he’s still dreaming. For the record, I have never in my life dreamed I was dreaming. I don’t know anyone else who’s ever done this either. I suppose it’s possible, but I’m guessing it must be awfully rare.

If nothing else, this movie has one of the highest percentages of former child stars in it: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Lukas Haas all started acting as kids.

I won't spoil the ending, but it also got people talking about what they think happened.

Original, intelligent and stylish, I give Inception an enthusiastic A.


Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
Based on the six volume graphic novel by Brian Lee O'Malley.

A love story for the Nintendo generation, Scott Pilgrim is a twenty-something slacker who’s in a band and is dating a teenaged girl. When he later meets Ramona Flowers, the woman of his dreams (literally), his life seems complete, until he discovers he has to defeat her seven evil exes in battle.

Did I mention that Scott lives in a reality where the laws of physics come straight out of video games? People can jump incredible distances, they have superstrength, they wield outrageous cartoon weapons, and when they’re killed, they turn into piles of coins (unless they have a spare life, and are subsequently resurrected!).

The whole video game world concept is a bit jarring at first, but once you get used to it, the movie’s fun, silly and energetic. It's got a little bit of everything thrown into the mix (even a Bollywood number!) but somehow it works, for the most part.

Michael Cera is the perfect choice to play Scott Pilgrim. In fact I can’t think of any other actor who could play the part better. The rest of the actors are also perfectly cast, and look exactly like their comic characters brought to life.

They even went to great lengths to recreate the various locations in the movie in minute detail. Whole swaths of dialog are taken verbatim from the graphic novel as well.

There are also lots of videogame in-jokes, for those who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s. I won't bore you with them here, but a certain little site called Google can provide the list for you.

The only problem is that in trying to cram a six issue mini-series into a two hour movie, a lot of things had to be severely compacted or dropped completely.

One casualty of the compression: Scott and Ramona's relationship. I didn't buy it for a minute. There didn’t seem to be much chemistry between them. There’s also the matter of Scott being a jerk to most of the female characters throughout the entire movie (especially toward Knives, his teenaged girlfriend). He eventually learns the secret of trusting himself, or humility or some such thing during the final battle and becomes a better person, but by then it seemed too little, too late to me.

The movie made great waves when a preview was shown at last years San Diego ComicCon, so everyone expected it to be a huge hit. It turned out to be something of a flop, barely eking out $30 million dollars (Its budget: $60 million).

Universal Studios should have known better. Every time a movie makes a splash at ComicCon, it tanks at the box office. It happened with Snakes On A Plane, and it happened with Watchmen. A movie might excite the nerd community into a frenzy, but if it doesn’t catch the fancy of the general public, it’s gonna flop.

And once again, Hollywood comic book adaptations continue to mock me. It seems to be a fact of life that the more I like a comic book, the more Hollywood will change the characters, costumes and pretty much everything about it until it’s virtually unrecognizable, while comics in which I have little or no interest will inspire ultra-faithful movies. For example, Sin City. I was never a big fan of it, and could take it or leave it. It consequently got filmed panel by panel into an ultra-faithful movie. But the Fantastic 4, which I loved since childhood, got two movies which barely resembled their source material at all.

So it is with Scott Pilgrim. I enjoyed the graphic novels, but I’m not particularly emotionally invested in them. Therefore the movie is more or less the comic come to life.

Fun, inventive and faithful to its source material, I give Scott Pilgrim a B.


Piranha 3D

A violent and gory exploitation movie, just like the ones that used to populate drive-ins back in the 1970s. Sick and twisted, but a heck of a lot of fun. In fact this one of the most fun times I’ve had at the movies all summer.

The story is as simple as it gets. It’s Spring Break in the normally quiet town of Lake Victoria, and the whole town is suddenly invaded by 50,000 rowdy college kids out for a drunken, sex-filled good time. Then an earthquake opens a forgotten chamber deep beneath the lake, releasing thousands of prehistoric piranha into the normally placid waters. Hijinx, as well as the body count, then ensue.

Richard Dreyfuss has a cameo at the beginning of the movie, apparently playing the same character he did in Jaws.

Christopher Lloyd has a cameo as well. In an unexpected twist, he plays an eccentric and highly excitable scientist. Imagine that!

By the way, I wonder if that wheezy, exaggerated voice that Christopher Lloyd always uses in films is just an act, or does he actually speak like that in real life? Does he go into McDonald’s and say, “GREAT SCOTT! Give me a BIG Mac, a coke, and SOME FRIES!!! And SOOOPer SIZE IT!”

Elizabeth Shue plays Sheriff Forester, who has the unenviable task of keeping the college revelers off of the piranha’s menu. Hey, I just realized that along with Christopher Lloyd, she’s another Back To The Future alumni.

Jerry O’Connell does a great job playing a sleazy Joe Francis type character who’s in town to film a Girls Gone Wild style video.

The piranha designs look good and scary, and they’re adequately animated. The gore effects are all very well done, and some were downright shocking in their violence. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It's nice to see finally see a hard R-rated movie, rather than a watered down PG-13 outing.

There’s also plenty of nudity (female, of course) on hand as well, which made me realize that that’s something you just don’t see much at the movies anymore. I’ve never understood why Hollywood can show bodies being dismembered in every way imaginable and no one bats an eye, but a pair of naked breasts can seemingly bring our civilization to the brink of destruction.

The after-the-fact 3D effects added absolutely nothing to the film, other than raising the price by $3. I’m hopeful it won’t be too much longer before this miserable 3D fad dies out.

Violent and gory, Piranah 3D is an entertaining B movie that doesn't take itself too seriously, and is a lot of fun. I give it a B.


Machete

Another old-fashioned exploitation movie, stylistically straight out of the good old 1970s.

Machete actually began life back in 2007, when it was created as a fake trailer for the movie Grindhouse. Fan reaction was so strong, director Robert Rodriguez decided to expand it into a full blown movie.

Danny Trejo, whose real life would probably make an interesting movie, stars as Machete, a Mexican cop who's set up by his boss (Steven Seagal, playing a hispanic!), who also kills his entire family. Talk about bad days. Machete eventually finds himself in Texas, where he's hired to kill a Senator McLaughlin (Robert Diniro), who's anti-illegal immigration stance is controversial to say the least. Machete gets set up again (this guy needs better decision-making skills), and is framed for the assassination attempt against the Senator.

He eventually gets revenge on the ones who wronged him with the help of an underground freedom fighter (Michelle Rodriguez), a sympathetic immigration agent (Jessica Alba) and his gun-toting priest brother (Cheech Marin).

Don Johnson, Lindsay Lohan (!) and Jeff Fahey round out the cast.

As you would expect from an exploitation movie, there’s lots of over the top (and often physically impossible) violence and blood. The first five minutes are awesome in their violence and set the tone for the rest of the movie.

And it wouldn't be an exploitation movie without a healthy dose of sex and nudity as well. Every woman in the movie goes crazy over Machete. Every time they see his scowling face (seemingly carved from cement) they go wild, the clothes hit the floor and the porn music starts up.

If Machete ends up being a success, Rodriguez can chalk it up to a ton of free publicity. First of all, the illegal immigration subject matter exploded in real life just weeks before the movie’s release. Then co-star Lindsay Lohan decided to go out and promote the movie on her own by becoming the Most Important Story Of The Decade.

Best Line in the movie: “Machete don’t text.”

Violent, action packed and humorous. If you're a fan of 1970s exploitation fare, you'll like Machete. I give it a B.

For Cripe's Sake!

I saw this van in town today. I couldn't believe it was real, and I drove around the block so I could slip in behind it and snap a photo.

I'm betting Cripe Engineering's main competitor is Cheezus Construction.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dirty Bird, aka Dirty Ol' Bird

This was a fairly quick little drawing based on a sketchbook doodle.

I've been doing a lot of vector illustrations the past couple of months, so I thought I should hurry and do a bitmap drawing before I forget how. It's a good thing I did; I honestly had to stop and think for a minute to remember the brushes I like to use!

I can't decide whether to call him Dirty Ol' Bird or just Dirty Bird, so I called him both.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.


Here's the original sketch of D.B. The final drawing is pretty much identical with just a few refinements. And his cane, of course.

Juvenile July

I've got this daily journal (it's not a diary!) that contains calendar pages at the beginning of every month. Since I do the exact same thing every single day of my life, I have little use for the calendar pages, so I've been filling each day's square with a doodle.

Here are the calendar pages for July. The August pages were full of primal drawings dripping with barely pent-up rage. These doodles don't seem particularly angry, just weird.

Uncle Sam looks a bit beaten up there on July 4th, reflecting the state of our beleaguered country. That's supposed to be Clint Eastwood on the 13th, drawn from memory. I was watching the first season of the Partridge Family on DVD in July, if you can believe such a thing, so that's a not-very-good likeness of Danny Partridge on the 17th, and his manager Reuben Kinkaid on the 21st.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Ninth Doctor

I'm a big fan of Doctor Who, so I thought I'd start a series of vector drawings of the eleven (!) different Doctors (so far).

Christopher Eccleston played the Ninth Doctor in 2005.

Sixteen years after the show was canceled, the BBC brought back a new and improved Doctor Who series in 2005. The new series has been going strong now for five seasons and is a huge hit in England, consistently receiving high ratings and generating tons of merchandise.

The SyFy Channel aired the first four seasons here in the States, but opted not to carry it after that. I guess they needed the precious air time for wrestling and shows about men pretending to see ghosts.

The new series finally has a budget that allows them to depict decent looking aliens and other planets. Don’t get me wrong, the old series had its charm, what with its cardboard sets and paper mache monsters, but it’s nice to see the show get the budget it deserves.

When the BBC first announced the show was coming back, fans wondered if the Doctor would be the same one from the old series, or if the show would be getting a reboot. After all, it would be tough to attract a new audience to a show with a 40+ year history, what with all that continuity and baggage.

In the end the producers decided not to go the reboot route, and #9 is the same Doctor we’ve known and loved for years.

The way they brought the series back was nothing short of genius, in my opinion. Since we last saw the Doctor in the TV movie in 1996, his home planet of Gallifrey has been destroyed under mysterious circumstances (which have since been partially explained) and the Doctor is now the Last Of The Time Lords, wandering time and space alone.

This very cleverly leveled the playing field for everyone. It provided a jumping on point for new viewers, and fans who knew the continuity inside and out didn't know any more about the Doctor's situation than new viewers. It was the perfect was to start the show up again.

Unlike the old series, which would stretch out a story over 4 or 6 half hour episodes, the new series features one story per hour long episode (with the occasional two parter).

I really liked Eccleston’s performance as the Doctor. He was moody, melancholy and guilt ridden (no doubt due to losing his home planet) and was obviously in need of someone like his new companion Rose Tyler to give his life meaning again. Too bad he only stuck around for one season (or “series” to the Brits).

This Doctor wasn't afraid to use force, often utilizing weapons of the era in which he found himself.

Unlike any previous incarnations, Doctor #9 spoke with a distinct Northern English accent. Rose Tyler asked the Doctor, "If you're an alien, why do you sound like you're from the North?" He replied, "Lots of planets have a North."

The Ninth Doctor’s costume was the simplest and most modern to date. In the past the various Doctors have all worn out-of-time faux Victorian era clothing; waistcoats, opera capes and scarves. This Doctor wore a plain t-shirt, pants and a leather jacket. For the first time he was actually wearing clothing that more or less fit the times. His costume remained unchanged during his series, with the exception of an occasional change of t-shirt color. Best of all, there were no question marks to be seen on his clothing (something that bothered me greatly about past Doctors)!

Much like the Eighth Doctor, the Ninth Doctor's Tardis interior was an impressively large steampunk kind of cavern, much more impressive than the original series' dinky interior. The Doctor mentioned more than once that the Tardis was not just a machine but alive, which was backed up by the incessant breathing sound in the background of the control room.

The Doctor's sonic screwdriver finally made its triumphant return in the new series, something we hadn't seen much since the Fifth Doctor's era.

The sonic screwdriver was originally just that-- a high tech tool that supposedly used sound to loosen screws and open locked doors. As time went on, the Doctor began relying more and more on it until the producers of the original series thought it was being used as a crutch, so they began to downplay it sometime during Doctor #5's era.

The sonic returned with a vengeance in the Ninth Doctor's adventures. It's now more versatile than ever, seemingly gaining new abilities every episode. No longer does it merely open locks, now it can be used to gain access to computers, reprogram cell phones so they can call into the past, even remotely control the Tardis. At times it seems more like magic than technology.

The Ninth Doctor was the first to use "psychic paper," a substance that would display whatever a subject thought he should see on it. If a guard would ask him for his pass, he'd show him the blank sheet of psychic paper, and the guard would see the appropriate credentials displayed on it, and allow the Doctor to pass. That would come in handy here in the real world.

Many important characters debuted in the Ninth Doctor's series, including his new companion Rose Tyler, her ex-boyfriend Mickey Smith, and former Time Agent and now immortal Captain Jack Harkness (who would go on to star in the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood).

Several old foes returned to plague the Ninth Doctor, including the Autons (which were animated store mannequins) and his most famous nemesis, the Daleks.

The Ninth Doctor began the new series' tradition of utilizing the city of Cardiff, Wales, as a sort of home base. Many episodes of the new series have taken place in or around there. Coincidentally, the series is filmed at one of the BBC's studios in Cardiff. Imagine that!

Doctor #9 is a vector drawing, drawn all in InDesign.

It was tough trying to color his outfit. How do you color a jacket and pants that are both black without it looking like a solid blob? So I ended up having to cheat a bit and add some grays. Don't judge me! ;^)

Stay tuned for Doctors #10 through #11! I'm almost done!



Here's the original sketch for the Ninth Doctor. This was probably one of the easiest likenesses I've done so far. I sketched him from memory, and then when I looked up reference photos, I decided trying to match the reality would just muddy things up. Doctor #9 usually looked pretty mopey, but I opted for one of his rare smiles here instead.

Friday, September 10, 2010

I'm A Grown Man And I Bought This: The Eleventh Doctor And Dalek Scientist

Here's the rare and exclusive Eleventh Doctor and Dalek Scientist 2 Pack, exclusively available only at the 2010 San Diego Comic Con (which coincidentally is held every year in San Diego).

Every year the SDCC features several toy items that are supposedly only available at the show. Then every year, fans who can't make it to San Diego declare their outrage at this practice, vowing to sell their entire collections in fits of sweaty rage if they can't possess these valuable toys. Then, every year shortly after the show, most of the exclusive pieces become available for purchase on the internet.

That's how I got my Doctor and Dalek set; I couldn't afford to fly out to San Diego, so I simply waited a couple of weeks and bought it online. Pretty simple, and I didn't even have to leave the house.

When Season 5 of the new Doctor Who series premiered in 2010, pretty much everything about the show had changed. There was a new Doctor of course, a new companion, a new Tardis (interior AND exterior), new theme song, new production staff, even new Dalek designs!

Underground Toys, the company that makes Doctor Who action figures, has already made a figure of the Eleventh Doctor. This is a new and different version, sans his trademark tweed jacket. The Dalek is one of the new models that debuted in the Victory of the Daleks episode.

Both figures are well done, as are most of Underground Toys' Who figures. The sculpting of the Eleventh Doctor is very good, especially at this scale (he's about 5.5" tall). The figure actually looks a lot like Matt Smith (I've read that UT has started laser scanning the faces of the actors in order to get better likenesses), and they did a great job of sculpting his David Tennant-esque hair.

The paint job is very good as well; they added a wash to his hair and did an amazing job on the stripes on his shirt. My only complaint with the paint job is with his pants. Instead of using a flat paint, they went with glossy, making it look like he's wearing shiny, metallic trousers. A bit of sculpted texture on the pants might have helped too.

The Eleventh Doctor comes with his trusty sonic screwdriver accessory, a tiny 3/4" piece of plastic that will immediately become lost in your carpet unless you glue it to his hand.

The Eleventh Doctor figure contains quite a bit of articulation, including neck, shoulders, mid-bicep, elbow, wrist, waist, hips, mid thigh, and knee. He's much more poseable than any of the Tenth Doctor figures, which has always been a complaint among Who collectors.

The Dalek Scientist is a well sculpted figure, but I wish it had a bit more articulation. The head dome rotates, the eye stalk moves up and down and the two arms have ball joints, and that's it. Would it have killed them to add a "waist" joint, so that you could rotate the dark ring in the middle? Apparently it would have. That plunger arm also makes me nervous. It's very thin, and every time I touch it I'm afraid it's going to snap off. If the Dalek Scientist ever takes a tumble off the toy shelf, he's gonna lose his arm.

So far fans have been divided on this new Dalek design. It's definitely bigger than the previous versions; the Daleks seem to be growing. They seem bulkier as well.

I have to admit I didn't much care for the design at first, but the more I see of it, the more it's starting to grow on me. Like it or not, we might as well all get used to it; the BBC built 5 or 6 of these new versions, so they're not likely to waste all that time and money and scrap them just because of some fanboy outrage.

I think the biggest problem with the design is that the head seems too small for the body. It's set a little too far towards the front as well, giving it an almost hunchbacked appearance. If you enlarge the head as I did in the image above, it looks perfect. Again, it's too late to do anything about it, so we might as well accept it and move on.

The previous Dalek designs had fairly conservative color schemes: the classic Daleks came in blues and grays and other almost pastel colors, while the new series versions were all metallic bronze. These new candy coated designs (called Paradigm Daleks on the show) are positively gaudy. The almost look like products from the Apple Store. Some wiseacre fans have taken to calling them "Skittles Daleks."

Personally I liked the previous bronze Daleks the best. The Paradigm Dalek colors make them look less real somehow, more like oversize toys than threats to life on Earth.

The new colors actually mean something on the show: red = drone, blue = strategist, orange = scientist, yellow = Eternal and white = Supreme. No one, including the show's writers, knows yet what function the Eternal Dalek serves.

So far the orange Scientist Dalek is the only one that's been released in the states. Not to worry, I'm sure any day now the rest of them will be available in a pricey box set.

Surly September

I've got this daily journal (it's not a diary!) that contains calendar pages at the beginning of every month. Since I do the exact same thing every single day of my life, I have little use for the calendar pages, so I've been filling each day's square with a doodle.

Here are the calendar pages for September. As you might recall, I had an unpleasant August (actually the whole year so far ain't been all that great) and the the calendar doodles from that month reflected that... with gusto.

So far September's been a little better. We'll see how it goes.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Eighth Doctor

I'm a big fan of Doctor Who, so I thought I'd start a series of vector drawings of the eleven (!) different Doctors (so far).

Paul McGann played the Eight Doctor in 1996.

Ten years after Doctor Who was officially canceled in 1989, the Fox Network and the BBC teamed up in an effort to bring the show back, this time to American shores. They produced a TV movie starring McGann, which also served as a pilot episode. Unfortunately the ratings weren’t high enough to warrant a series. I think the whole Doctor Who concept is just too weird for mainstream America.

The TV movie did quite well in England and has been available on DVD there for years. Legal hassles have prevented it from ever being released in the States, although I hear that everything was recently ironed out, and the DVD will finally be available here in America sometime in 2010.

Even though Doctor #8 appeared onscreen only one time, the BBC has stated that he's an official Doctor and part of the continuity. There were even glimpses of him in a couple of the Tenth Doctor’s episodes.

McGann has continued to portray the Eighth Doctor in a series of BBC radio dramas over the years. In fact, if you count the radio dramas, he’s played the Doctor longer than any other actor, including Tom Baker!

There’ve also been many books and even a comic book series starring Doctor #8.

Many elements in the newly revived series got their start in the TV movie. The theme song got an impressive orchestral arrangement as opposed to the old school synthesizer theme, something that's carried over into the modern series.

Also, for the first time since the First Doctor, the TV movie's opening didn't feature the Doctor's face. The modern series continues the faceless opening tradition.

The increased budget finally allowed the producers to build an impressive Tardis interior. The Tardis is the Doctor's space/time machine, and is bigger on the inside than the outside. In fact, it contains a nearly infinite amount of space and rooms inside. In the original series, the Tardis control room was never all that impressive. Technically it was larger than the outside of the Tardis, but not by much. It was about the size of the average living room.

This new Tardis interior was huge, and looked like something out of a Jules Verne novel, full of Victorian and steampunk style. I wish they'd have kept this look for the new series.

I haven't seen the TV movie in years, but I remember liking it for the most part. There were a few stumbles though.

The Master, the Doctor's eternal nemesis, returned to plague him in the TV movie. This time the Master was played by Eric Roberts, who gave an outrageous and let's say... flamboyant performance. The Master has always been a theatrical villain, but Robert's portrayal was way over the top.

Also, in the TV movie the Eighth Doctor revealed that he's half human on his mother's side. This was definitely news to the fans, and did not go over well at all. Why the creative team went that particular route, I have no idea. Maybe it was to help explain the Doctor's obsession with Earth, or to make his attraction to his new human companion more believable. Fortunately the producers of the new series have chosen to ignore that little tidbit of info.

Doctor #8 was the first of the so-called “romantic” Doctors. Up to this time, the Doctor was always seen as a father figure or a mentor to his companions. Their relationship with him was strictly platonic; they never had any romantic or sexual interest in him, and vice versa.

That all changed with Paul McGann’s Doctor. His companion, Dr. Grace Holloway, went all mushy and gaga over him, and at one point they even kissed. It was pretty controversial at the time, and fans were divided over the issue.

In the new series this is pretty much par for the course. Rose Tyler fell hard for the Tenth Doctor, and though he tried to play it cool, the feeling was mutual. His next companion, Martha Jones, had an unrequited crush on the Doctor. In the 2007 Christmas Special Voyage of the Damned, Astrid Peth met and definitely developed feelings for the Doctor all in one episode.

The romance seems to have cooled somewhat with the Eleventh Doctor, which is probably not a bad thing.

The Eighth Doctor is the first since Doctor #4 to not feature a question mark motif in his costume, something for which I am eternally grateful. It's something I always found cringe-worthy. Doctor Who is the name of the show, not the character's name. He's always been known simply as "The Doctor." Wearing a question mark as a nod to the show's title always seemed a little too cutesy to me, and every time I saw it it would yank me right out of the story. Thankfully Doctors Eight through Eleven have been question mark free.

Doctor #8 is a vector drawing, drawn all in InDesign.

Stay tuned for Doctors #9 through #11!



Here's the original sketch of the Eighth Doctor. I tried to get his sleepy-eyed look right, but I'm not sure I captured it.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Angry August

I've got this daily journal (it's not a diary!) that contains calendar pages at the beginning of every month. Since I do the exact same thing every single day of my life, I have little use for the calendar pages, so I've been filling each day's square with a doodle.

Here are the calendar pages for August. As you might be able to discern from the expressions on the faces in the various boxes, August was not a good month. Nothing worth going into here, but let's just say I'm not sorry to see August 2010 scram.

Note: September's not looking much better.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Conversations I'd Like To Hear At The Movies

There's a kid's movie currently in theaters called Cats And Dogs: The Revenge Of Kitty Galore. Really, Hollywood? Kitty Galore? This is a movie for children, correct? No kid's going to understand that name unless they're aware of Pussy Galore and Bond movies. I cannot wait to hear this conversation between a weekend Dad and his 8 year old daughter as they're standing in line at the theater:

Daughter: Kitty Galore's a funny name. What's that mean, Daddy?

Dad: Oh, well that's a spoof of a name from a Bond movie, honey. In the James Bond movie Goldfinger, Pussy Galore was the lesbian pilot and henchmen of the title villain.

Daughter: Pussy Galore? That's a funny name too! What's that one mean? And what's a less-beeman?

Dad: Um... well... you see, "galore" means "abundant," and in this instance, "pussy" means... er, that is to say... How about we go see Despicable Me instead?
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