Friday, June 25, 2010

One Year Later...

It was one year ago today that I finally got rid of cable. I won't bore you with all the specifics again; if for some masochistic reason you're interested, you can read about it here.

I will say that I honest to God haven't missed it for a second. You may not believe it but I swear it's true. I never watched all that many shows to begin with and the paltry few that I do still watch I can see on over the air TV or catch on the internet. I also watch a lot of DVDs as I attempt to go through my "to watch" pile.

I thought getting rid of cable would save me $60 or so every month but it didn't quite work out that way. The second I cut the cord, all of my other bills instantly rose to offset the difference, so I'm not really any better off financially.

The biggest advantage of no cable for me is less distraction. Less distraction means more time to draw, blog and mow the lawn. I also don't have to try and keep up with such important matters like which bachelor some air-headed bimbo will choose to marry for three months before they divorce, or which so-called celebrity has the best dance moves.

I've said if many times before, but it bears repeating: I've you've ever entertained the notion of dropping cable, but are afraid you'll miss it, DO IT. I guarantee you won't miss it. The world existed long before there was cable, and it'll be there after.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fifty Gallon Hat

Bart was a man who knew a bargain when he saw it. Sure, he could have gone for an everyday ten gallon hat, but for just two dollars more he could get the fifty gallon size.

By the way, a ten gallon hat can only hold about three quarts of water. So how did it get that name? One theory is that Mexican vaqueros (or cowboys) wore hats with braids around them that they called tan galon, which meant "fancy hat." American cowboys misheard this phrase as "ten gallon" and the name stuck.

This was a fairly quick little vector drawing. I had a tough time with that frakin' hat though. Specifically the curved brim. It took a lot of attempts and finessing to draw a brim that was both ridiculously widened but still recognizable as a cowboy hat. The wispy clouds echoing the shape of the brim was a happy accident.

Originally the hat was even larger than it is here, but I found that the bigger I made the hat, the smaller the character had to become. I had to reduce the size of the hat somewhat for the cowboy to even be visible. I thought that having the hat break the boundaries of the background would make it seem bigger.

Drawn all in InDesign. A lot of people are surprised when they find out I draw in InDesign rather than Illustrator. InDesign has most (not all) of the same drawing tools as Illustrator, and it's easier to use, IMO.

Unfortunate Titles Part 1

I bought this book many years ago at a used bookstore, and it's been sitting on my bookshelf ever since. I've glanced at it many times, but today was the first time I really looked at it.

Surely there must have been a better way to phrase the title of this book?

Larry Niven may be a "master storyteller," but when it comes to thinking up book titles he's all wet.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Saul Finnegan

Hey, it's another vector drawing!

I'm starting to become more comfortable working with vector. I didn't much like it the first time I dabbled in it, mostly because it took so incredibly long to draw anything. But the more I use it, the faster I get. I did this one in about 5 or 6 hours. A far cry from the days it took to do this one in 2009.

I've been drawing my vector characters in InDesign, then importing them into Photoshop where I add painterly backgrounds (because smeary paint is something you just can't do very well in vector). This one is 100% vector though, character, background and bubbles.

Originally I drew Finnegan with big clomping cartoon feet. About halfway through the drawing, I thought, "Why aren't his feet webbed like his hands?" So I scrapped his feet and redrew them to better suit his aquatic environment. I thought I'd throw in the original version for comparison.

The Twilight Virus Strikes Again!

A while back I posted this entry about how the outlandish popularity of Twilight was causing movie studios to scramble to re-release their old vampire movies with covers deliberately designed to look like just the Twilight DVD. Well, it's happened again.

At the left is the original cover for 1992s Buffy The Vampire Slayer movie (not to be confused with the TV series). The cover is very well designed. It's bold, clean and fun. Best of all, it conveys a mood-- it tells me that this is a horror-comedy.

But, the studios couldn't leave well enough alone, so they had to fuse it with the Twilight cover, with it's muted, desaturated and depressing color palette. The result is one of the murkiest and most butt-ugly covers I've seen in a long time. The two main characters look like they're ashamed to appear on it, and seem to be trying to sneak out of sight. I'm surprised they didn't use a photo of Luke Perry glowering over Kristy Swanson's shoulder.

The new cover is also totally misleading as to the tone of the movie. Is definitely doesn't look like a comedy, what with it's dark, monochromatic colors. It looks like just another supernatural teen mope-fest.

Congratulations, 20th Century Fox! You've succeeded in taking your original bright cover, which stood out a mile away on the store shelves, and replacing it with a bleak and desaturated one that blends in with all the other vampire wannabe movies out there, just to try to appeal to the Twilight fans out there. Well done.

Who Left The Oven On?

I saw this ominous forecast this morning on my computer. Ah, summer in Indiana. Sweet, breezy and deadly.

By the way, that 101ยบ temperature can also double as the humidity around here.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

John Locke

Now that LOST is over, I've been re-watching the first season on DVD. What a different show it was in the beginning! In the first few episodes, the characters' main problem was trying to find food and fresh water. No flash forwards, time travel or heavenly waiting rooms to be seen anywhere.

My two favorite characters on the show were always Hurley and John Locke. I drew Hurley here and here, so I thought it high time to draw Locke.

It's downright criminal that the creators took the single most interesting character on the show and killed him off at the end of Season 4. Sure, we still got to see Terry O'Quinn's top notch acting for another two seasons, but he wasn't playing Locke anymore. He was the Smoke Monster pretending to be Locke.

Locke didn't get a chance at redemption or any kind of grand sendoff. His storyline just abruptly and senselessly ended. I kept expecting the real Locke to somehow come back to life at the last minute and defeat the fake Locke, but alas, it wasn't to be.

Anyway, here's my rendition of John Locke (the TV character, not the philosopher), if he was a Hanna-Barbera type of cartoon character. Apparently it's been a while since I drew any kind of human character. As I started to color Locke, I had to stop and think how to make flesh color!

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.
Here's the very rough preliminary sketch I did of Locke.

Something You Don't See Every Day...

Every morning on the way to work I drive past this costume shop. I noticed this colorful window display today and thought, "Now there's something you don't see every day." Well, unless maybe you live in Metropolis or Gotham City.

Here's what I first thought was a Superman costume, but the sign in the window is telling me that it's a "poodle blouse." Is that like a poodle skirt?

Note that the Superman costume comes complete with built in washboard abs. I guess in Superman's case they'd be "super abs."

It's hard to see, but if you look closely you can see that the mannequin is wearing a long, stylish black wig, very much like the hairstyle Superman had in the 1990s. Back then DC Comics was desperately trying to figure out a way to make Superman relevant to the times, so they had the brilliant idea to give him a shoulder length hairdo. Actually let's face it-- it was a mullet. Apparently the Man of Steel doesn't have Super-Style.

Next to Superman in the display window was a pretty good Supergirl costume. She needs a blonde wig to be 100% comic accurate though.

Look at this poignant image showcasing the void between Superman and Supergirl. "Why won't Superman look at me?" cried Supergirl. "H-he treats me like I'm nothing more than a derivative, female knock-off of his own character! Doesn't he know that I'm a person too?"

Superman gazes wistfully out the display window, the serene trees reflected in the glass before him. Sometimes it's lonely being a god-like super being.

I'm praying that's just some sort of support mechanism there in his trunks.

The display on the other side of the building featured Captain America. Not a bad looking suit, until you get to the faux boots. And where's Cap's iconic red, white and blue shield?

Why, look who it is, standing awkwardly in the window! It's none other than Captain America Junior! According to the signs, he's here to advertise bowling shirts (?), kid's pizza party music (??) and line dancing lights (???). I have to admit that I am totally mystified by the range of products this store sells.

Look out, Captain America Junior! That female T-1000 Terminator is sneaking up behind you!

False Advertising

Here's the cover for the recent direct-to-DVD movie Hardwired. As near as I can tell, it's a futuristic sci-fi thriller about unwitting spies with brain implants, or some such thing.

Note that the cover features Cuba Gooding Jr.* and a skillfully done Photoshop painting of Val Kilmer. Mr. Kilmer appears here on the cover looking not unlike he did in his Top Gun days.

Here's how Val Kilmer actually appears in the movie:

Now THAT'S what I call false advertising!

C'mon, studio! There's no shame in the fact that your star's over 50 and bursting out of his jacket like Chris Farley. Happens to us all sooner or later. Would it have killed you to put an accurate representation of Val Kilmer on the cover of your DVD, rather than his high school yearbook photo? You may be afraid that putting the real Val on the cover might hurt sales, but this bait-and-switch tactic isn't going to help. It's just going to teach consumers to avoid your product in the future.

By the way, I don't know if this new floppy-haired look was the director's idea or if it was Val Kilmer's, but he's starting to look more than a little like Steven Cojo.

*Cuba, what happened, dude? You won a freakin' Oscar for Best Supporting Actor! So how'd you end up doing direct-to-DVD movies like this? Please explain.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Blue Devil

Or is that Diablo Azul? Sounds more menacing in Spanish, doesn't it?

This is another one of those drawings with a really long gestation period. I first dabbled around with it about two years ago. I couldn't get it to work and got frustrated with it, so I shelved it and went on to other things. I found it in a folder this week and decided to give it another go.

I was trying to make it look like he's being lit with a reddish light from below (because all evil characters are lit that way, dontcha know). I'm not sure it's working very well. I'm starting to see why some artists use models to get the lighting right, rather than trying to eyeball it.

The background is more painterly than usual too, to contrast with the cartoony devil.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the original digital sketch (sans trident).

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Count Takes Mr. Flappington Out For Walkies

Hey, it's another vector drawing!

This drawing kind of reminds me of when I was a kid. My dad would catch a junebug, tie a tread to one of its legs and hand it to me. The junebug would take off flying, and I'd walk around the yard holding onto its "leash." Take that, PETA!

I'm starting to like working in vector more and more. I didn't much like it the first time I dabbled in it, mostly because it took so incredibly long to draw anything. But the more I use vector, the faster I get. I did this one in about 3 hours or so. A far cry from the days it took to do this one in 2009.

The Count and the bat were drawn in InDesign. I then imported them into Photoshop where I added the painterly background (including splatters), because that's something you just can't do very well in vector.
Here's the original sketch of the Count. Note that originally he was going for a stroll in the sun, with an umbrella to prevent him from "sparkling" (call me old fashioned, but in my day vampires burst into flames when exposed to the sun). I decided that walking his bat would make a more interesting drawing.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Turk Lurkington

Turk just came home and noticed that his roommate disturbed his carefully arranged display of hand-crocheted tea towels.

Hey, it's another vector drawing!

I'm starting to like working in vector more and more. I didn't much like it the first time I dabbled in it, mostly because it took so incredibly long to draw anything. But the more I use vector, the faster I get. I did this one in about 3 hours or so. A far cry from the days it took to do this one in 2009.

Turk was drawn in InDesign. I imported him into Photoshop where I added the painterly background, because that's something you just can't do very well in vector.

I had a vague idea at best as to what color scheme to use for Turk, so I did this color test to help me decide on the best one to use. As you can see, I ended up going with the Turk at the upper right.
Turk went through a lot of changes from his preliminary sketch. This is the first sketch I did of him a few weeks ago. As you can see, it had a lot of problems, but there was something about it that made me want to try and make it work.

This is my second try at Turk. This one had a lot more energy and visual interest, so I went with it.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Herman Saunter, Winner Of The 2010 Bigfoot Walk-Alike Contest

There was stiff competition in this year's Bigfoot Walk-Alike Contest, but Herman rose above the challengers and pulled it off beautifully.

I feel guilty for not posting anything in so long. I tried to draw all week, but I just couldn't get in the mood. Then today I had a series of frustrating computer problems. The stupid computer crashed pretty hard, and when I booted back up then I couldn't get online, and when that was sorted out, then it wouldn't let me open Firefox. It seems to have calmed down now after its tantrum. Computers are fun sometimes, aren't they?

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the original sketch of Herman. I thought he looked a little like that famous photo of Bigfoot, hence the stuff about the Walk-Alike Contest.

LOST In Thought

So, how about that final episode of LOST? That was... interesting.

So all this last season we were led to believe that the characters were still on the island, but were also somehow living in some alternate reality where Flight 815 never crashed. But then at the last minute we find out that it's not really an alternate reality at all, but some sort of heavenly waiting room where time didn't exist and the souls of all the characters were hanging out until they all showed up and could move on into the afterlife together.

I would be lying if I said that's how I thought the series would play out when I watched the first episode six years ago. And so would the writers.

I thought that the first three seasons of the show were brilliant, but once they left the island and then spent all of Season 4 trying to get back, I felt the show kind of lost its way. For one thing I never quite bought the Oceanic 6's motivation for keeping the island a secret. They kept saying it was to protect their friends who were still on the island. Protect them from who? Charles Widmore? It seemed pretty safe from him, since Ben actually moved the island at the end of Season 3. Nobody would have been able to find it anyway, even if they'd known of its existence.

I also felt their reasons for returning to the island were a bit sketchy. I know they wanted to try and rescue the ones they left behind, but honestly, would any sane person deliberately try to go back to an island like that? By the time Season 5 rolled around with all the time travel shenanigans, it all got to be a bit much to keep track of. But I went along with it all, because it was LOST, and what else am I going to watch? Two And A Half Men? I'd rather chew on steel wool.

The show also had a frustrating way of setting up storylines and then just up and abandoning them for no good reason. The whole Ben vs. Widmore thing was a prime example. It looked like those two were heading for an epic confrontation for control of the island, and then POOF! Widmore completely disappears from the show for all of Season 5 (OK, we saw his younger self, but I don't count that) and he doesn't reappear until the tail end of Season 6, when he was disposed of in the most unsatisfying way possible.

They should have spent Season 6 wrapping up everything, but instead they troweled on even more mysteries and added yet more characters to keep track of. I came to the realization sometime in Season 5 that the creators weren't even going to attempt to answer all the questions they raised on the show. So I wasn't totally unprepared with the way it all ended.

Character development seemed to suffer in this final season as well. In the past, the characters were very well defined, and they drove the plot. This last season that all went out the window, and everyone was acting out of character, saying and doing things simply because the script demanded it. There was no real plot, and everyone was just running back and forth, teaming up and switching sides. I lost count of how many times Sawyer switched allegiances between Fake Locke and Widmore and anyone else who was standing around. After a while it was exactly like watching basketball players run up and down the court.

I had my own theories as to what was happening and how it would all play out. I assumed that since Desmond had the power to send his mind into the past or to other timelines, that he was going to use this ability to somehow transport everyone on the island into the non-plane crash dimension, where everyone would live happily ever after. I would have much preferred that to the new-age Kumbaya ending we got.

I didn't think much of the "spiritual" ending when I first saw it, but now that I've had a couple of weeks to think about it, I'm OK with it (I know the producers will breathe a collective sigh of relief knowing that I approve). The scenes of the cast reuniting in the church were very moving, and ultimately satisfying. After everything they'd been through, it was nice to see everyone happy and smiling (and clean!), even if it meant they were all dead.

The final scene on the island with Jack staggering back to the bamboo field where it all began was also quite touching. When Vincent the dog comes out of the jungle to lie down with him so that Jack wouldn't die alone... well, I think I got something in my eye.

It would have been nice if they'd have given us an ending that cleverly tied up all the loose plot threads, an ending so perfect that we'd all have slapped our collective foreheads and exclaimed, "Of course! Why didn't I see that coming?" But it wasn't to be.

It's not the ending I expected or wanted, but ultimately I'm satisfied and I can live with it.

So now what the heck am I going to watch on TV?
Related Posts with Thumbnails
Site Meter