Monday, October 29, 2007

film noir, baby

So. Sweet Enemy and I read the Sin City comic last year and sort of liked it. I really enjoy the whole genre of film noir. Back in July I caught the film and really enjoyed it not even one bit. It took the surface of film noir, sprinkled on some misogyny, basted it in blood put it in a Convoluto brand mixer and forced me to extend a metaphor way too far. I could go farther, but the way I feel about Sin City should be discussed in conversation, not put forth in diatribe.

Anyway. Last night I introduced SE to the wonder that is The Maltese Falcon. This is a fantastic film in or out of the noir genre and I was happy to see it again. The performances are so wonderful with all of the players at the top of their game. Sure, it's filled with the usual Dashell Hammet lingo (after a long soliloquy Bogart's Spade even pauses to ask a stenographer in the DA's office if he's "getting all this, or am I going to fast for you?"), but this dialog is delivered so naturally that it doesn't seem as stilted as it does on the page. I thought it was a bit like watching Olivier do Shakespeare.

And, line for line, there is no cooler cat than Bogart's Sam Spade. Nothing seems to ruffle, him (and the shot where he looks at his shaking hand after bluffing his way out of the Fat Man's apartment it makes him human and even cooler).

Now, I know that Sin City and The Maltese Falcon are two entirely different movies, but their placement withing the film noir universe allow me a contrast. There were many differences, but what struck me was that Sam Spade only once held a gun by its grip and he never fired one. He even mentions how he never carries one but there were "some back at the office". What Bogart does with this part of the Spade character is subtle, but watch for it.

The most telling scenes depict 'the Fat Man's' hired gun: A cocky kid who obviously has a complex. In one scene, he is escorting Sam Spade to the Fat Man's apartment. He walks in front of Spade, hands deep in his overcoat pockets (where he keeps his pistols). As they near the Fat Man's apartment, Spade pulls the gun kid's buttoned overcoat down over his arms like a straightjacket. Then he reaches in and pulls the twin Colt M1911s out and shoves the kid. He holds both guns in one hand, hefting them like they were just paperweights. When they reach the apartment, he just hands them to the Fat Man.

In contrast, later, when the entire cast of baddies (including the incomparable Peter Lorre) are in Spades apartment, the kid stalks around holding both .45s as though he were trying desperately to look as tough as Spade. Spade, of course, later disarms him.

In Sin City, EVERYONE who is anyone has a gun. It's as though Rodriguez was trying to make some sort of a post-modern feminist art-documentary on the use of firearms as phallic replacements and augmentation.

Now, for the record, I own firearms, but I do think that Bogart's spade was tougher and cooler than any gun-toting tough-guy in Sin City. Go rent The Maltese Falcon and watch it. You won't be sorry that you did.

Here's a quicky picture of Sam Spade and Wilmer the gun-kid. I did it during lunch based on a photo I found online. My scanner's still busted, so another digicam shot. That speaks to the bad quality of the image. The poor quality of the linework is all me (this actually really bugs me because I love my pencil drawing of this).

Listening to while posting: Hayden, Trumpet Concerto in E-Flat

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Weekly Challenge: Spooktacular

So, here's my entry for the Weekly Challenge at Ben Caldwell's site.

This is both a quickie and an expansion of an older work. It is expanded off of a tiny drawing I did for a workmate (I've been drawing her a 'weekly monster' for about 8 months). At the time, she'd said it was the very creepy. This may be the grossest thing I've drawn since this.

It felt a bit weird to do, but I think that unreal things (like abulatory, blade-weilding teddies) are scary in a different way than, say, characters from a Rob Zombie film . An unreal evil, you can imagine what it'd be like, but in your heart you know it isn't a real threat. The new 'gorenography' films portray ordinary-looking people doing nasty things. It's too easy to believe that such things can happen in real life.

That's why I'd do an abulatory, blade-weilding teddy leaving bloody footprints, but never, ever a regular guy in jeans and a t-shit. Call me a wimp, but it creeps me out to even imagine drawing that scene...

The work itself was a quickie because I did the final pencil in my sketchbook at lunch, inked it at home with an 01 Micron. Since my scanner is down (stupid ac adapter, breaks after 7 years of being dropped over and over!), I had to photograph it with a very old digital camera.

I'm still not great at coloring. I'm still concentrating on growing my linework skills right now, so this will have to do for the moment.

So... BOO!

Also, last weekend the art supply store (with no website) that my wife (STILL FEELS WEIRD!) assistant manages hosted 24 Hour Comics Day! I'd suggested it as a good thing for the store to do, especially as the nearest one was being hosted +60 miles away. We had 11 participants including three kids. It was... not easy. It was, however, fun. Fun in that, "this is my first mountain bike race in a decade" sort of fun. I managed 11 pages and that was average for the group. The only one to complete 24 was a retired art teacher/professional cartoonist.

So, want to see what I look like? The local weekly paper Seven Days (a cool, free paper that does real news and actually has well-written articles) has a video blog and the video-blogger-girl stopped by around midnight, I think? We were all pretty loopy by then. I'm the guy who uses the phrase "It sounds cheesy". Yup, that's me.

The work is... not bad. Not great, but not bad. Worth expanding into a real story (that someone else needs to script. Anybody?).

listening to while posting: "The World is a Very Scary Place" by The Gothic Archies from 'The Tragic Treasury'. Funny how apropos that is...

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Dogma Redux

First, let me say that I really like 'Dogma'. I saw it in the theater in it's first run and thought it was a top-notch satire.

I only had a problem with one scene: the 'word of god'. You know, where Alannis Morrisette comes out as God, she and Ben Affleck exchange a look, he asks for forgiveness and she screams at him until his head explodes. Except for the part where Alan Rickman wipes his shirt on god's robe, I didn't like it. I thought it lacked subtlety, especially with the fantastic bit where God shows Affleck the error of his ways with just a look; you could feel the torrents of metaphysical parental shame crashing into him. Since I walked out of the theater, I thought it could've been done differently. I wasn't sure how, but my basic idea went something like this comic. I felt that a whisper disposing of Affleck might more effectively show the 'power of God' rather than a scream that sent ripples through the air.

Keep in mind,

1) it is not a storyboard and there were some narrative and artistic corners cut to fit it into a single page.
2) I was going by memory on purpose (rather than hitting You Tube). I double-checked after and think I got pretty close.
3) I really need to practice hands.

Here you go, as always, click to enlarge:

listening to while posting: 'Something to Remember Me By' by Steve Wynn off of Kerosene Man