Sunday, June 22, 2008


HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Where the fuck are all the Asian people? I mean... there are SOME Asian people in this movie... set in Asia, based on a Japanese comic, based on an Asian Folktale, with predominantly Asian characters... but there's only, what, like Asian's in the entire cast... not one of which is Goku?

Ok, maybe I'm just being stupid... Goku isn't technically Asian... he's a Saiyan, so, yeah, he can be whatever ethnicity you want, I suppose. Still... something seems wrong about that. I think the only good thing about the cast for this movie is that James Marsters (Spike from Buffy) is Picollo... just because James Marsters is awesome. Hell... he might even be a good Picollo. Still won't stop this movie from sucking ass. I-I... don't even recognize most of these characters... and ERNIE HUDSON!?! I have nothing against Ernie Hudson... he helped give up GHOSTBUSTERS, one of the best movies of all time... but still... why is he in this movie, playing a character that was never in DRAGONBALL?

This movie is just a huge mistake... not only is DRAGONBALL unadaptable, but it's waaaaaaaaay past it's popularity. I'm sorry, that's just how it is. Let's focus on better things... like METAL GEAR SOLID. That could potentially be pretty sexy given the level of input that Hideo Kojima seems to have in the project (I like how he actually stated that Uwe Bowell was not even allowed to fart in the direction of this movie).

On another note, I saw GET SMART and KUNG-FU PANDA this weekend, and neither sucked... in fact they were both pretty fucking good. I'm pretty content.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sketchbook 06/19/08

These first three are just me trying to warm up in preparation for the story I'm trying to come up with... it's about a girl on this weird fantasy/sci-fi world full of weird aliens and monsters, and she goes on this big NEVERENDING STORY/LABYRINTH style adventure.

Just trying a variety of things to come up with weird creatures... still trying to resolve the cartoonish VS realism issues... I find that I really like drawing necks, more than anything, even if I'm just making shit up most of the time because I don't have an anatomy book beside me at work.

My personal favorite of all of them is the guy with the testicle chin... I totally didn't even realize he has balls for a chin until after I'd started rendering it. It sort of fits though, and lends something to his character, which looks to be a sort of fancy pants alien Pope who's really into himself, even though he's got nuts on his face.

The Rorono Zorro (or Rolono Zollo depending on who's scanlating...) is pretty old... last fall maybe? I did this from a PVC statue I bought at FIRST MARKHAM PLACE awhile ago. Not a great drawing, but I like some elements of it. It feels structured at least. The sash was a worthwhile endeavor.

The last two are also really old... some drawing done from LUBA by Gilbert Hernandez, one of my recent favorite books. It took a lot of goading on Jason Azzopardi's part to get me to read it and LOCAS, by Jaime Hernandez, but he was right... I fucked loved it. I was particularly surprised by how much I loved Gilbert's art, as I don't usually like that kind of style, but he's a really solid cartoonist, with a brilliant sense of storytelling, and well thought out linework. I actually like his older art a lot better than his recent art, which I feel has become over simplified and sort of stiff. Jaime Hernandez on the other hand has really excelled as an artist, and is just phenominal... the guy is truly amazing.

ALAN MOORE: Monsters, Maniacs, and Moore

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

I was actually looking for a BBC documentary on Steve Ditko called IN SEARCH OF STEVE DITKO, which I had started watching last night at Blake Bell's launch for his book STRANGE AND STRANGER: THE WORLD OF STEVE DITKO (it was a good launch... fascinating stuff), and found this old BBC special about Alan Moore, which is this weird sort of self-introspective one man show he puts on where Alan Moore is grilled about this lifestyle, philosophy, and choice of medium by a very cynical and mean spirited... Alan Moore.

It's pretty fascinating stuff to watch, and puts a lot of things about not only Alan Moore, but comics into perspective for me. I feel really small minded and unimaginative. I've never doubted the importance of comics as a medium, but I never really thought of it as being something that could change the world over time.

Either way, you get to see that Alan Moore isn't the dower, intellectual, slightly scary, psuedo-wolfman, that he appears to be... he's a pretty wacky guy. At least... he's not an anti-social extremist like Steve Ditko.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

THE INCREDIBLE HULK: Exceeding My Expectations

The first teaser trailer for the new INCREDIBLE HULK movie did not do much for me... the story looked to simplistic, and the CG not much of a step up from the laughable first movie... which Ang Lee just butchered. I won't say his heart wasn't in the right place, or that the cast was wrong, as I really liked Eric Banna and Jennifer Connelly... that movie SHOULD have been good, and would have... IF Ang Lee had ANY FUCKING IDEA HOW TO MAKE THAT MOVIE. He didn't.

Understanding WHY the first movie was such a huge disappointment and a failure as not just a movie, but specifically a HULK movie, you sort of get why MARVEL would want to distance themselves from that with this second movie... which is actually more like the FIRST. It's a complete revisualization of the INCREDIBLE HULK franchise, from the ground up... only this time they get it all RIGHT.

Actually, this movie not only gets the HULK right, but it gets how to make a comic book movie right the first time... it doesn't bother retelling the origin, but rather barely touches on it... gives you a TASTE of how Banner became the Hulk, and focuses more on Banner himself than the Hulk. This new vision of the HULK franchise actually has more in common with the BOURNE movies than any superhero movies, focusing on Banner being on the run. It's more of a globe trotting chase movie, with superhero elements in the background, and has the character of Bruce Banner in the foreground, showing WHY he's on the run, and why the character of Bruce Banner is just as important to the movie as his green alter ego is... Banner is portrayed as being a character that's not only on the run from the Government that betrayed him and made him a fugitive, but from himself; afraid of the monster he's become, and the immense power which he desperately tries to hold in check.

The great thing about Ed Norton's Banner is that he's made as compelling a character as the Hulk is... and you have to be interested in Banner, because the Hulk just can't be on screen all the time. The theme of Banner is that of sacrifice... he sacrifices everything: his job, his life, his family, his love, and even his dignity, letting people walk all over him and taking pitiful jobs that are beneath him, shunning emotional and physical contact to ensure that he stays hidden and stays in control of himself. He's smart and he thinks ahead, moving silently throughout the world, all the while cobbling together equipment to work on a cure, with the help of the mysterious "Mr. Blue."

That's not to say that you don't get a healthy dose of the title character... this movies Hulk isn't the same soulful, puppy-eyed, sympathetic Frankenstein of Ang Lee's efforts... he's savage and uncontrollable, and even when you get moments of sympathy, they're contrast by his sudden turn towards anger and savagery. This Hulk isn't misunderstood... there's a very good reason that Banner is afraid of what he'll do if he loses control.

Which isn't to say that the Hulk is portrayed as a villain. The movie walks this very fine line between the Hulk being a monster and a hero, by showing the hypocrisy of Banner's conflict with General Ross. Banner was trying to create something that would save the world, but Ross was trying to create a weapon; and succeed when he corrupted Banner's experiments. Ross then turns Banner into a scapegoat, claiming that he's a dangerous, uncontrollable monster, but secretly, that's exactly why he wants Banner... he wants to create more monsters, all in the name of Home and Country. To this end he recruits Emil Blonsky, a Russian born British Special Forces soldier, who is just reaching the end of his career; a fighter that doesn't want to stop fighting. To capture the Hulk, Ross ends up creating an even worse monster; one obsessed with power and combat... an abomination that desires only strength and carnage. It's this hypocrisy that leads to the portrayal of the Hulk as both monster and hero... because what it comes down to is that the Hulk, for all his anger and lack of intelligence, still has Banner's soul, and only wants to be left alone; he's provoked into lashing out, but never means to hurt anyone that doesn't mean him harm, whereas the Abomination is a mirror for Blonsky's twisted soul... a monster inside and out. The Hulk will fight to protect, be it himself or the one he loves, while Blonsky only wants to fight.

The movie was brilliantly directed. The pacing was perfect, moving back and forth between the A and B story of Banner and the "Hulk Busters", with regular set pieces to keep you from becoming bored with either, the cinematography stunning (I especially liked the use of wide framed shots showing framing foreground and background elements against each other to show depth, and really give a sense of scale to everything), a combination of steady cam and violent hand-held style, though not as jerky and disorienting as other movies (*cough* BOURNE *cough*).

The CG was pretty impressive... they really upped their game in the final passes, and the acting in the CG, particularly the Hulk's facial expressions, was pretty incredible, particularly in the rare quiet moments. I also like how they portrayed the Hulks skin as being very thin and stretched out over his incredibly dense muscle mass, though I do wish they'd designed him as being a little more top heavy... he looked a little more lean than massive to me.

The cast was excellent. I was a little surprised by how much I liked Ed Norton as Banner... I really didn't think he'd pull it off, but he had the perfect blend of self deprecating humility and self loathing. You feel sympathy for him and how much he has to give up too keep himself in check. Liv Tyler was adorable as usual, and while I still liked Jennifer Connelly more, her and Norton had some real chemistry. William Hurt was a great General Ross, and Tim Roth was really menacing and threatening as Blonsky. The guy that played Samuel Stern (AKA the LEADER... THE FUCKING LEADER! More on that later...), was also perfect, considering who he'll become.

The other thing that really impressed me in this movie was MARVEL's efforts to integrate their franchises, dropping early references to STARK ENTERPRISES, and later even a nerd-wad exploding cameo from the every excellent Robert Downey Jr., stringing along the idea of an AVENGERS movie. There were also a LOT of references and setup for CAPTAIN AMERICA, setting up the SUPER SOLDIER Project as being the foundations for Banner's research, and even introducing the Super Soldier serum, actually created by Doctor Bernstein (the guy that created the serum in the comics! I think I was the only person in the theater that picked up on the significance of that and subsequently LOST MY SHIT) in the concept of the movie. EXCELLENT. I also liked that they integrated the origin of the potential sequels villian into this movie in a sort of unceremonious, almost throw away, fashion, showing just the beginning of Doctor Stern's transformation into the Leader. EXCELLENT. NERD-GASM!

Overall... I was in complete nerd Heaven. It was GREAT. MARVEL is batting two for two this summer. Hell, I actually almost liked the HULK better than IRON MAN, and had just as much fun with this as I did with IRON MAN. It was everything I wanted and more. I cannot wait to see what MARVEL's going to do next, and I hope to GOD they don't fuck it up, like they've allowed to happen in the past...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

New Art 06/10/08

Another piece of art from the story I'm trying to write. I'm too embarrassed to talk about any details until I get it more solidly nailed down, but it's actually starting to happen now after the last time me and Erik Kim talked about it, so maybe soon... I've got to write an overview first so make sure it's all as clear as it is in my head.

I did the original drawing in my shitty Selectrum notepad that I got from the dollar store to fuck around with at work, so if anyone catches me, it's not immediately clear I'm fucking around drawing. Plus I like to tell myself I can make story notes in it (though I find I hate doing that because my writing is so messy, so I wait until I get home and just type everything out).

I liked the drawing, which fleshed out the design I've been fucking around with to a point where I'm happy with it, so I decided to clean it up... only I suck at redrawing sketches for cleaning up, and I hated the cleaned up version. In a rare instance of ingenuity, I decided to photocopy the shitty lined paper drawing, taking the contrast down as far as it could go and then blowing it up, and just cleaned up over the almost invisible photocopy with a mechanical pencil, as I such at cleaning up with ink, and as that's how I learned how to do cleanup in school. So the line work is my actual pencils... which still look shitty, but WAY better than anything I could do with ink.

The background is completely digital, and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, considering how long it's been since I've done anything this involved, and considering I took the challenge of painting water, which I've always tried to avoid, as I've always been unsuccessful in the past. I probably should have took the time to paint some more detailed trees in the front to "sell" that it's a tropical island, but I got tired of working on it, so I said fuck it. The sky is lame... I need to work on that.

Any thoughts?

Sunday, June 8, 2008

LUPIN THE III: A Gift to Me, From Zack Worton

A fantastic drawing given to me by my boy, Toronto artist Zack Worton for being an ANIME NORTH He-Man.

A day or two after AN, Zack Facebooked me, asking who my favorite anime/manga character was, and if I could send him some reference.

I thought about it for a bit, and considered some different characters... Spike from Bebop, Casshan, Hurricane Polymar, Kamina from Gurren Lagann, Alita from BATTLE ANGEL ALITA, etc, but when it comes down to it, there's one character that I always come back to in any type of media, and in any era of my fandom, and that's LUPIN THE THIRD. I love Lupin... he's James Bond, the original Arsene de Lupin, and Cheech and Chong, all roled up into one guy... a charismatic, cunning, lecherous bastard always on the hunt for adventure, treasure, and pussy.

Zack's style fits Lupin surprisingly well... which is another reason I think I like Lupin so much. He's very adaptable to a variety of styles and genre's, be it more child oriented stories, more adult, comedy, mystery, action, etc.

The actual drawing was to big for me to scan properly, even in sections, which is why the middle of this is a little blurred, so I decided to throw down some quick coloring to try and hide my shitty scan job.

Thanks a lot Zack! I'm looking forward to both your upcoming projects.

You can find Zack online at his blog, which has some of his art (dude goes a very good Herge... I love Zack's Tintin stuff), BALLAD OF A CROSSHATCH JUNKIE. The irony being that he doesn't use much cross hatching. :B


Actually, looking at it again, the blurring actually sort of looks like soft focus and gives it some depth... I don't mind it.

Friday, June 6, 2008

LIFE ON MARS: Currently, My Favorite Thing.

My friend and former roomate Kiza (aka Andrew) burned the first and second series of LIFE ON MARS, a BBC produced cop show starring the fantastic John Simms, for me, and I'm currently in fucking LOVE with it.

LIFE ON MARS is about a 2006 Police Officer named Sam Tyler, a serious and brilliant DCI (Detective Chief Inspector) in Manchester, who is hit by a car after finding out his ex-girlfriend and partner may have been murdered by a suspect he failed to keep in custody due to a lack of evidence. When he wakes up, he finds himself in the same place but 33 years in the past, in 1973. Disoriented, he finds identification and transfer papers in his car confirming his existence in 1973 as Sam Tyler, a new DI (Detective Inspector) having just transfered to Manchester from Hyde, and is immediately put onto his first case, which bears an eerie resemblance to the case he was investigating 33 years in the future, but is having trouble concentrating due to disembodied voices, mysterious phonecalls, and BBC puppets talking to him and informing him that he's simply in a coma and everything that's happening is not real. So, with a young girls life on the line, as well as his ex-girlfriends in the future, he must solve a crime in the past. Is he in a coma, a time traveler, or just mad?

LIFE ON MARS is, to me, just more proof that the British just make better TV than we do in NORTH AMERICA. The show is original, smart, immersive, and incredibly well produced... really, it's even just a pleasure to LOOK at it, it's so well directed and filmed.

I think the thing I like about the show is that it's not limited to just one genre, like so many things are these days. It's a procedural crime drama/action/sci-fi, so you can never really get bored of it, because you never have any idea what will come next. The immersive part is in the way the show strings you along with the B story of just what is happening to Sam; you're never given any sort of definitive confirmation as to what his status is (comatose/time traveler/mad), so you're always trying to figure it out with the clues you're given, which come in drips and drabs.

Episodes of LIFE ON MARS range from the more standard STARSKY AND HUTCH style action/cop show, to the more abstract and sci-fi oriented episodes where his actions in the past affect the future (such as one where he's beset upon by a nemesis from the future, in the past), or episodes where Sam is affected by people in the future messing with him in his coma (one of my favorite episodes raises the stakes by putting a ticking clock on Sam's hostage negotiation, with the threat of being taken off life support in the future), meeting people that he has a personal connection to in the future (his mom, his father, his aunt, his girlfriends mother, HIMSELF).

There are a number of other aspects to the show that fascinate me as well, such as how Sam's being a present day police officer is both an advantage and handicap. On the one hand, he's able apply future knowledge and practices such as profiling, forensics, hostage negotiation, etc, but has to deal with hard headed and stubborn 1970's style by the balls tough guy cops, that just have no patience for proper procedure. Sam is a straight shotting, by the book, Police Officer in a station filled with shoot first, ask questions later, 1970's cops. I also appreciate how the show contrasts the two time periods and doesn't shy away from serious contemporary issues, like sexism, racism, abuse... societies ills that persist throughout time.

Another aspect of LIFE ON MARS that really impresses me is how they use music, both the score and the soundtrack... especially in the scene featured in the above Youtube clip, which is what sold me completely on the show; the transition of Sam from present to past set to David Bowie's LIFE ON MARS, an audio pun that I'm quite sure was intended. The songs are all well chosen, of the times, and full of deeper meaning.

The cast is amazing. John Simms especially, but everyone in this ensemble is incredibly impressive, particularly Philip Glenister, who plays the show secondary lead, DCI Gene Hunt, who serves as foil, nemesis, and comic relief... he's the polar opposite of Sam Tyler, a gruff, rough, abrasive, sexist, racist, by the balls bastard with a drinking problem, who may or may not be entirely crooked, he believes in justice, but is so jaded he doesn't bother letting things like "evidence" or sometimes even "innocence", get in his way... he just smashes down doors and arrests whoever is standing closest to the problem. Like most of the characters in the show, he also seems to represent some part of Sam's personality. I think he's something like sames Ego, the way he wishes he could be, combined with how he viewed things when he was a child in 1973; Gene Hunt represents what the 4 year old Sam thought a cop would be, which also explains why DCI Hunt also has childlike qualities, such as never wanting to admit he's wrong, constant arguing, and acting contrary to anything Sam says just to spite him.

LIFE ON MARS is just a brilliant, layered, and multifaceted viewing experience which combines everything I loved about 70's/80's action oriented police dramas with modern procedural police dramas, wrapped in a layer of science fiction to keep things from ever getting pedestrian or boring... you literally never know what will happen or who the culprit is until the final seconds of the show; there are red herrings, bluffs, and double blinds every step of the way, even as the stakes are raised by the actions of those in the future affecting those in the past, with an even greater mystery surrounding it all: is Sam Tyler in a coma, a time traveler, or just mad?

Watch it.

On a related note... there is a fucking HORRIBLE looking Americanized remake of LIFE ON MARS by ABC that you should TOTALLY avoid watching... I cannot stress enough how fucking sheite this looks. It's fucking abominable. When will people learn that you can't just take something that's good, copy it line for line with shittier actors (COLM MEANEY!?! COME ON! Are you fucking kidding me!?!) and a shittier director who no passion for the project or any sort of concept of how to make it work, and expect it to be good. This show DESERVES to bomb huge, as I totally expect it will.

On a much brighter note... LIFE ON MARS has a second life in the form of ASHES TO ASHES, a sort of sequel which follows basically the same premise with the same characters, but in 1981, with a different lead, this time a female... it looks pretty good, even if it is sort of just rehashing what's already been done... I'll watch at least a few episodes to see if it's got juice. I sort of like how they use music to connect the show shows by having this show also named after a David Bowie song, and even featuring the same creepy clown from the ASHES TO ASHES video as a character.