Sunday, June 29, 2008

comic update. Yay.

Obscure Tales three is updated. New two page spread. I've also given it a title. I had a one since the beginning, but something that Don Snabulous said in a comment about the comment made me think it might work. Let me know if it's cheesy; it's on the cover.

In meatspace action, a weird thing happened today. I was helping my former Aikido sensei dig post holes (with a giant mechanical auger that worked better once we figured out which way was reverse and which was forward). I stopped training actively about two years ago and it feels strange to be just a friend and call him by his name after years of being his student. Anyway, after four hours of work he was driving me home, but we decided to stop at the hardware store before it closed. On the way to the store, we passed my road (if he dropped me off at the end of the road as I'd asked, the store would have closed). We did our business at the store and as we waited to pull out a local rescue ambulance and a volunteer EMT sped by going towards my town.

When we got near my road, it was blocked off by a fire truck (literally across the road blocking rubberneckers) and a firefighter waving us to take the immediate left near the graveyard. Sensei dropped me off at the post office; there's a shortcut trail behind the PO that Sweet Enemy and I take to get to our house. I decided to go through the woods to the main road to check on the accident, not with morbid intentions (seen one dead guy on a SAR case in1992, that's enough for me, thanks), but just because I didn't know it was an MVA. In the woods, I met a local teen who told me a car hit a telephone pole right at the end of our street.

Still curious, I went on. I was about 20 meters from the road, when I came around the graveyard's equipment shed, when I spied some EMTs with a stretcher in the graveyard! I was a bit creeped out. To get where the EMTs were, someone would have to have been thrown twenty or more feet. Not wanting to seem like a morbid a**hole rubbernecking at an obvious fatality, I went home and told SE (who, having heard the actual crash, was relieved it wasn't sensei and I).

About a half-hour later, we heard the ambulance leave, then a half-hour later, we went to leave for a cookout and found the road still blocked by caution tape. We could see a utility truck, a telephone pole right at the end of our street on the soutbound side nearly snapped off hanging by its own wires, and the accident vehicle. It was in the northbound lane facing the phone pole with its hazards on and the passenger door open. It was only about ten feet from the pole.

I tried to Sherlock Holmes it out, but since I'm dumb, all I got was more questions. Obviously, it hit the pole and spun. But, why only 90 degrees and why only ten feet away? Was it traveling not-so-fast, or did it hit so hard that most of its momentum was spent? Who put the hazards on? There could be two reasons for the passenger door being open: either a passenger had to be removed or rescue opened the door so they could more easily stabilize the driver. But, why were they in the graveyard? Was the driver ambulatory and concussed and just wandered away (the graveyard is northbound and too far away for the ejection argument).

Anyway, Sensei's neighbor works for the local paper and told him that it was a single occupant with no fatalities. I hope no crippling either.

What was also interesting is they knocked out the power to allow the crew to change the pole, but not just near the accident. Sensei lives about eight miles southeast in the same town and they had no power. They must have secured the entire line for the town of Underhill. What is also interesting is that this is the second time in a year that a pole at the bottom of our street was hit. Last time, the impact knocked out the power.

Ok. Enough words.

Listening to while posting. "One Word" by Tim 'Love' Lee

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


No art tonight, music for you!

This is Lefty Williams. He's the husband of one of Sweet Enemy's oldest friends. He's come up from GA to visit us twice and each time is a treat. He's not only a really, really good guitar player, he's a fantastic human being. I'm still a bit bugged that he hasn't achieved larger recognition. Can you spot why they call him Lefty?

Listening to while posting: Lefty, duhhh..

Sunday, June 22, 2008

dang it all to heck

UPDATE: Obsure Tales has been updated 1953 hrs EDT

I just got done busting ass on the latest update to Obscure Tales 3. However, it isn't going to be posted because my FTP client is acting wonky. Ah, well. Wonders of Modern Technology!

Instead, I'll wish Bruce Campbell a happy birthday!

I actually didn't know this until I visited The Horrors of it All a cool site for horror comic fans. They post scans of pre-code comics. GOOD stuff.

Listening to while posting: Nothing. Sweet Enemy has gone to bed early. Had to drive 4 hours round trip to drop off some of her works for a gallery show. Woo hoo!

movie review that nobody will read for a film that everyone else has already seen

So, last evening, AndreZero, AZ's Not-a-Mad-Scientist GF, her friend that she's known for 96% of her life, Sweet Enemy and I went to see The Hulk. Here's what I thought about it. Those who know me know that I'm usually VERY harsh on films, so be warned. I'm stealing Swinebread's review format because it works really well. It is VERY long because I am not a good writer. Oh, yeah: HERE BE SPOILERS (not that it matters. I'm the last person in the US to see The Hulk).

What I liked:

-The opening sequence. I thought it was nearly perfect. It was a bit like the opening to a TV show, but it did it's job perfectly: it summed up the origin story that we don't need to hear again. SE was wondering about the lack of gamma bomb. She's too young to really remember the Bill Bixby show and only got the origin in my (priceless) copy of Origins of Marvel Comics. My thought is that we don't do nuclear bomb testing anymore, so it made sense to have a more sedate origin experiment. Also on the plus side: no Rick Jones!

- Casting: Perfect. I mean everybody looked as though Kriby had drawn them.

- The subtle 'comic book frame' moments: I don't mean the obvious ones like the shot of Betty and the Hulk sitting in the cave entrance, but ones that evoked a comic book frame for me.

The nicest was the shot of the initial Banner takedown team. It could be considered a throw-away shot, it technically didn't need to be there. But, there they were: The Team. There were no names given, but each member had a 'look' that tagged them as individuals. I could image the artist having fun creating them for that shot before making them anonymous for the assault. The individuality of them hinted at the vague potential that they had names and personalities and that made it more powerful when the Hulk killed them all (except for the guy who broke both his legs falling two stories in the chase).

- The Hulk as a Force of Nature: Holy crap did they make the hulk scary. This was something that could not be done in the TV show, but this film pulled directly from the comics. His power and invulnerability and his complete lack of remorse or understanding or control. It truly gave me the shivers and made me very, very happy not to live in the Marvel Universe .

- The way the movie dealt with death: This was an almost astoundingly violent film, but when it came to death, for me it was downright Hitchcock-ian in that the camera never hung lovingly on death and pain; it made our imagination work the horror. We never really see anyone killed (only five corpses visible by my count). But the implication of death is even more powerful and moments of this terrifying implication are all through the film. When the Hulk pushes the soda pop tank down the factory floor taking out much of the team, the last one in line almost makes it and was swept away. We don't see him die. He just disappears in a way that reminded me a great deal of Jaws. We know what happened to him, but in a way we don't and that's much scarier.

Another moment was the second or two the camera dwelled on the soldiers and cop in the HMMWV just before the Abomination crushed them with the taxi. We had a moment of their fragile humanity before they died unseen.

- The transformations: Nicely done. Not the effects themselves, but how they were handled. Banner transforms four times. The first is mysterious and we never actually see it and that allowed me to get caught up in the surprise that the assault team felt. The second was a bit clearer, but still not totally visible. The third, we see the whole thing in it's glory (which I thought was pretty spectacular). The fourth was off-camera because we'd already seen it.

- Adding Betty Ross at the beginning. It allowed the film to give Thunderbolt Ross a reason for his obsession nice and quick.

- Nice, but not- unsubtle nods to us nerds. Doc Samson, The Leader, Bill Bixby, the 'in the rain' theme song, Lou Ferrigno, Mr. McGee. All nice

- Helo crash: I don't know if this is intentional, but the MH-53 looked like a model rather than CGI. I liked that. A lot. Robert Rodriguez said when directing Spy Kids 2 that he deliberately had the effects artists make the CGI creatures move a bit like stop-motion to give them more life. I agree. Even though the helo looked like a model, it looked more 'real'. I think that even if it is a fake thing, it is still a thing more than CGI

- Time setting: I don't know if this is intentional, but I think it was. When they showed the military operations at the campus and NYC, all of the soldiers wore woodland camo rather than digital and used M-16A2s rather than the now-standard M4s This gave it a sort of ten-years-ago feel. I wish I'd remembered if the Twin Towers were shown in the NYC waterfront shot. I also thought it was funny that the soldiers wore their helmets even when removing files form Betty's house.

- Liv Tyler. Oh, I have a giant crush on her. That's okay, because Sweet Enemy thinks Edward Norton is cute.

What I didn't like:

These are mostly nitpicks, but that's what I'm like:

-The blood part 1: Not-a-Mad-Scientist brought this up. If Mr. Blue could replicate Banner's blood like that, there would be no need for the Red Cross blood drives.

-The blood part 2: Banner's 'curse' can be transmitted by blood? Holy crap! What about his other bodily fluids? Even if it's just blood, it appears that the cells can survive in a non-sterile fluid (soda pop) for weeks and still have effects. Makes me wonder if bleach would even work to clean up. If he cut himself shaving and it went down the drain, would it infect people. It was just a badly conceived way for Banner to get caught. And what happened to Stan Lee when he drank the soda anyhoo?

-Speaking of that: No more Stan Lee cameos, please. We know what he looks like and it totally breaks the fourth wall for me. He is The Man, but I am tired of seeing him.

- The helicopter crash part 1: Man, did that have Named Character Syndrome. The only survivors are the only ones either not strapped into a crash-worthy seat or wearing helmets? C'mon.

- The helicopter crash part 2: there is nothing near the rotorhead of a Sikorsky helicopter that would spark like that. Nothing. The batteries are located in the nose. and the generators are just forward of the rotorhead, but they are engine-driven.

-The helicopter crash part 3: Jet fuel will not ignite like that. It has a very high flash pint and you need vapors or atomized fuel (we once dropped a cigarette and then a match in a puddle of JP-4 and it just went out). If it were to catch on fire, it would have done so on impact. The whole fire thing was stupid. It was just a way to allow the Hulk to get blindsided and the fight could have ben choreographed without it.

- Mr Blue/Mr Green: How do these clandestine meetings get set up anyway? Somebody MUST know somebody else to get this going! There has to be a middleman. I know it's a general movie convention, and it might work with the internets, but it still bugs me.

- Was Banner planning on wrecking his cabin in the end? Why not go outside? Even if he could now control The Hulk, he's still nine feet tall and weights a ton or two.

Things that bugged other people but didn't bug me:

- the CGI: People seemed to gripe al ot about how fake The Hulk looked. Jeezum! Are we that jaded? It looked quite nice. How real do we need them to look? I'm not saying there can't be terrible CGI (I'm looking at you added-in Jabba the Hutt), but this was not even close. We have to relax on effects a bit. It's this kind of effects nitpicking that led to the added-in Jabba, the new CGI for Star Trek: TOS, and other abominations. It wasn't a guy in a rubber suit, so give it a break.

- Tony Stark: People seemed to have an issue with this. A reviewer for the (otherwise really good) local weekly griped that they were just trying to introduce a super team in the fashion of Fantastic Four. I pause here so we comic readers can say "Well, Duh, they're called The Avengers"............................................. Ok, good. I liked that. It gave a sort of a TV feel to it. I wonder if they will do a Thor movie in addition to the Captain America...

Conclusion: I have not had this much fun at a movie in a LONG time. I will say, having not yet seen Iron Man, that this was the best comic adaptation. Ever. I felt pretty jazzed and satisfied leaving the theater and I have no serious complaints about how the characters were handled (I'm looking at you organic web shooters). I'm not generally a movie collector, but this may go on the shelf.

Also: They probably won't ever do a comic-to-film adaptation of Strangers in Paradise, but nobody can play Francine but Liv Tyler:

After the film, we went to AndreZero's condo and watched the premiere of the new comic-to-TV adaptation, The Middleman and then drank margaritas and played Zombie Fluxx. I'll review the Middleman later. As you might guess, I have Opinions and Thoughts about it.

Listening to while posting: "Nothing Better" by The Postal Service

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Still drawing.

I should have done this earlier, but I'd like to thank all who critiqued The Beast. Especially Swinebread who gave me a few good paragraphs of criticism. All taken to heart, bub!

He did mention this: "Also make sure he’s always evil looking there’s couple of shots were he looks too cute. Save the Cute werewolf for Pidge.

So, here you go. I was waiting for a code build last week and sketched this out.

I think it worked because when I showed it to Sweet Enemy without introduction, she said, "nice she-wolf". I tried really hard to make it female without making it feminine.

listening to while posting: The Project(s) by DJ Logic

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Comics: mine and others

First, mine. Obscure Tales three is updated. I'm trying a new format for viewing. I've put two pages together to simulate actual comic viewing. I've been laying out the comic in paired pages to eliminate the 'cliffhanger-every-page' syndrome. Please let me know your thoughts.

Other's comics: None! Isn't that great? I live 15 miles from town, so even before high gas prices, I didn't go often. Last weekend I actually went to the Worst Comic Book Shop. I know, I know, but earlier I managed to talk to a nice person there. It startled me so much, I decided to order some comics that I needed. Last weekend, I went in to check if they were in and it was not the nice person.

"Did we call you?", he grunted.

That actually set me off. I'd gone in completely relaxed, not aggressive at all. This despite the fact that I'd ordered the comic TWO WEEKS prior. So, I countered with the information that over the winter, I'd ordered DC: New Frontiers vol. 2 and they NEVER called. Not to this day.

So. That was last weekend. Now it's been a week. Have I gotten a call? Of course not. Do they put their orders in twice annually? If so, tell me! Keep me posted. Why do I do this to myself? I'm going in next weekend and whether it is there or not, I am going to tell them that they have lost a customer.

Man. I need a teleporter to Portland Left.

listening to while posting: "We will become silhouettes" by The Postal Service

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

And so, it begins...

Obscure Tales #3 is now officially begun.

I will not promise, but will shoot for, one update a week.

OT#3 has not title yet. I have one floating around in my head, but it feels cheesy and may be a giveaway to the ending.

Anyway, here's a watercolor I did back in Dec 1994, one year before art school (can you tell?). It is titled Weirdling Wars #3. Was there a story? Nope. Just a bunch of drawings and paintings with that title.

Listening to while posting: "Zig Zag" by The Hooters (from the album of the same name)

Thursday, June 5, 2008


drawing. No time to post.

However, you are ordered to listen to this:

Harlan Ellsion is the man. A cranky writer who could have given Kurt Vonnegut a lesson in curmudgeon-iness. I love his thoughts on modern fiction and the internets. He's also a fantastic weirdo. C'mon, the guy has a super-neat house with secret rooms and 250,000 books that he calls Ellison Wonderland. What's not to like. If the player doesn't work go here. Listen to the uncut interview as well, it's worth it.

listening to while posting: nothing

Sunday, June 1, 2008


I had a busy art weekend. However, as one should always open with a joke, here is an art supply joke:

"I just can't seem to stop using this stuff!"

Now, the news. AndreZero asked me two things. One: if "The Beast" is Obscure Tales #2, what is #1? and Two: would I post the first story that we worked on together so that he could get some writing critiques? The answer to both is the same thing. I created a cover for Obscure Tales #2 and it features our first story: "Last Respects" featuring a character AndreZero created, Mr. Twilight.

Where can I see this fine story, you ask? Good question.

The answer? Here in my new Sequential Art Repository. This little gem and its banner was the second arty thing I did this weekend.

The third thing was that I've started work on a third Obscure Tale. It's based on a story that I wrote about three or four years ago that I'd intended to animate; I actually had a dream of drawing the storyboard. I got as far as a cool title sequence and then realized my animation skills were not up to the task. So, the story has lain dormant, until now. Here's a teaser of the cover. I won't guarantee regularity of posts, but I'd love to really do this right.

To keep in the mood, please give a listen the music I composed for the animation, who's original title was, for some reason, "Vingette No.2: Thursday". The short and simple made-to-be-seen-with-images Title Theme (45 sec) and the longer, more complex Love Theme from Thursday (1:50 sec). Enjoy!

Also in the Sequential Art Repository you can see a comic I did for a contest Viper Comics held. Mine was better than the majority, but they lost my entry. Not that I'm bitter.

Listening to while posting: "Love Theme from Thursday" by me. I like it much better than the Title Theme, it's much more interesting. It was the original title theme, but was way too long, so I had to make the new, shorter Title Theme.

UPDATE 2132 EST: Sweet Enemy thought that the Thursday Title Theme doesn't stand well on its own and I should post the last animation I did for it. Here it is. It's from July 2004 and you'll be able to see why I stopped.