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A THOUGHT FOR MY FELLOW CREATIVES -

• The greatest thing about becoming a professional artist is having had your arse kicked numerous times by your betters, yet persevering to find your own success, and to carve your own niche. The arse-kicking will be an ongoing ordeal throughout your career, for there will always be someone better. But relish being "schooled" so that it helps to fuel your inspiration, along with your determined work ethic. Let it expand your perception of what greatness exists in the world, a world in which you are competing, as well as the greatness perpetually growing within YOU. This will keep you grounded, while, at the same time, you reach higher and higher. And always bear in mind that the work you are producing is creating the very same humbling experience for someone else. Your most useful tool will ever be in your uniqueness.
Stay positive, my friends.
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With this online art community, we have a unique opportunity to connect with our kindred. We must avail ourselves of this experience, for, once it's gone, it may never come again.

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Most folks who know me are aware of my cranky and curmudgeonly feelings regarding the current state of the Star Trek property.  I've commented frequently, and, I believe, fairly on the matter based upon my great love of the franchise, as well as my brief and tangential professional connection with it.  But recently, I was asked anew to make my feelings clear over on Facebook, and I thought I'd also share my explanation here with any other interested parties who might care to discuss the topic.
Cheers!

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

OF ABRAMS AND REBOOTED STAR TREKS

- Okay... Here we go... Please forgive the length of this rant, and bear with me...

I'm one of those resolute and purist Trek fans who is disgusted by what I consider to be the over-exploitation of Star Trek. And I'm one of the very few who believes
that, with all the greatness the original cast and crew has blessed the world, it's all right for Star Trek to go away into retirement. I know that's a difficult concept for most, and I DO have an idea about how I would carry it forward, IF it was absolutely imperative (which it is not).

The analogy I use is this... In our modern society of recycled television shows, immortal cartoon characters, and a nauseating cinematic trend consisting of remakes, and re-imaginings, and reboots, and sequels, and prequels, we have become a generation of consumers that subsists on a regular diet of regurgitated entertainment. We're told a good story, we applaud as the characters earn their "happily ever after," but it isn't long beyond the closing of the curtains before we want to peek behind them to see more story. We refuse to allow a true ending, which is essential to every good story. We insist on continuations, or a perpetual revisiting. The excuse is that there are no more new stories left to tell, and so they must continue retelling the most popular old ones. Well, I think that's a cop out, and an offense to the truly creative endeavor.

Art is most often a product of its era. A well-told story usually has something to say behind all the drama, the special effects, the laughter, romance, and what have you. There is a point of view which speaks to and reflects the human condition of that particular time. Star Trek was all about that. And the reason why it's a classic is that certain elements of its point of view endure, and they remain poignant and relevant. Other elements-- not so much.

But it all began with Gene Roddenberry's vision of humanity's better nature, and its brighter future, styled as an American western among the stars. The magnificent series had adventure, comedy, romance, and radical ideas about technology. But, most importantly, the show explored the limits of allegory and metaphor with its sociopolitical commentary. War, racism, sexism, technocracy, fascism, theology, class struggle, conservation... These were the deeper themes. Yes, there were playful episodes, but the overriding tenor of the series was about illuminating the controversial 1960s era, surreptitiously (or overtly) discussing it, while projecting a hopeful future for all mankind. That was the point of Star Trek, and you had noted science fiction authors contributing to this theme each week. It was deliberately intellectual. It was bold, and it was cutting edge.

Now, what Paramount has allowed Jar Jar Abrams to do, in the interests of further milking their venerable cash cow, is to pervert what Star Trek is supposed to be all about in order to beguile those folks in the "wider audience" into opening their wallets to a franchise they've only marginally heard of, and one which they never gave a crap about. It was something to be left for loathsome nerds! Indeed, Star Trek was always a refuge for the oddballs, the ostracized, the geeky, as it welcomed them, telling these often shy-but-brilliant people that they mattered, even in a society that showed them cruel disdain. But suddenly, in 1986, THE VOYAGE HOME raked in more money than any previous Star Trek adventure, and non-fans liked it because it made fun of itself. Slowly, on the feature film stage, it wasn't about thought-provoking ideas anymore, or moralizing commentary. Things degraded into self-parody, and an over-emphasis on action-adventure, not as an element, but as the theme. Needless to say, the Abrams Trek films took this to the nth degree.

The other spin-off series' casts had not proven viable on the big screen. And so, the mission became to find some way of rejuvenating the original characters, if not the actors who helped create them. The pimping game had to proceed, but how to do it? The admittedly-brilliant solution was to sidestep into an alternate timeline, which simultaneously rids the new writers of all that complex and burdensome continuity. A clear slate. And new, young blood. Only, it turned out to be just a shell game, as nothing new in the way of concepts or story or viewpoint was ever offered. They couldn't be bothered with such effort. All they really did was swipe the best elements from Nicholas Meyer's 1982 feature (to date, the best Star Trek adventure of them all), toss in fancy special effects, tons of loud explosions, ludicrous slapstick, a bucket-load of clichés, the most asinine plot (dumbed way down for mass audiences), and plenty of irritating lens flare. Each character, especially the leads, is little more than an embarrassing caricature of the original.

Not only is it no longer the Star Trek that older, loyal fans knew and loved, it's not even the Star Trek conceived by its visionary creator. It has been perverted into tripe resembling that of director Michael Bay. Action, and comedy, not derived as a natural extension of a well-constructed narrative. No, it's just action and comedy for its own sake, to dazzle and delight the bread and circus crowd, and for Paramount to keep making big money for relatively minimal creative effort. And thus, it is MY turn to be disdainful. But, hey, it's their property. They can exploit it all they wish.  A film studio is a business after all, and we know that commerce, most often, overrides all concern for creating art.  It is what it is.  I'm just offering my personal opinion, and I do apologize if it comes off like the most abrasive and judgmental condemnation.  Consider it, rather, a courteous condemnation.  Haha! 

Why do I dislike the rebooted Star Trek? I did give it a chance. Honest. I think there are more than enough brain-dead crash-and-explode type movies out there for Star Trek to be spared that inane sameness. Star Trek was SPECIAL. And now, in order to please the bigger crowd, it isn't. I feel that Paramount is a poor custodian of the property that was once a shining jewel in their crown (The ORIGINAL always will be.). But they just want to keep peddling it to a new generation, as well as the legions of fans so desperate for more Star Trek that they begin to compromise their standards of quality, and their ability to recognize it.
Me-- I'm not afraid to see Star Trek go away. As a kid, I was raised on the syndicated reruns anyway. I'd rather see it keep some measure of dignity. And I can let the curtain draw closed, heartily applaud, and be satisfied with the "happily ever after."

- We all have our guilty pleasures. I just prefer these to be a lot more earnest, though. Be deliberately silly, or try your best to be good. But never disrespect your loyal fanbase, and don't ever show contempt for the original material which they sincerely love. J.J. Abrams did not know or care about Star Trek. He has said so. It was just a job for him to reboot Trek, a franchise sacred to so many fans. He followed the path of a man he most admires, George Lucas, who did the very same thing with his own sacred film franchise, as if he no longer knew his own creation. In both instances, the intent was to reach out to open the door to a new generation of audiences. But it was like they were callously reaching PAST all the faithful fans still standing there, bumping them aside if they nurtured any (justifiable) objections, and then telling these ones, "Well, if you don't like it, we're not making it FOR you." What egregious insult to offer the people who were loyal supporters from the very beginning, the ones who helped BUILD the Star Wars and Star Trek empires! Just sit down, shut up, and accept all the pandering like good, stupid children. Be among the other fans who embrace the blatant exploitation, or begone.

Basically, it's like the best of all tree clubhouses you joined as a kid, if you can imagine it. This was never an exclusive club. All in the neighborhood were welcome. You just had to share an appreciation for the special things the club had to offer, obey the rules, and accept this unique brotherhood. Along with the other wide-eyed young members, you were so happy to be there, to have found something so precious, and you all reveled in a belonging which the outside world chose not to recognize or understand. From humble beginnings, your club grew steadily stronger and bigger, so that it filled the gated yard as well as the treehouse. Years went by with nothing really new, yet you were all so giddy and content with what you had, as well as the promise of greater things to come. Someday. Maybe.
And then, one day, the owners threw open the gates to admit the rowdiest bunch of new kids who cared nothing for all the club rules and order. They ran wildly about, and delighted when the owners gave them noise-makers and firecrackers and sickening sweets. Cotton candy was strewn about the yard, carefully arranged meeting chairs were smashed into pieces, drawings were defaced with spray paint, a table decked with club games was trampled, and the owners cut down the tree to accommodate a ball pool, bounce house, and a plastic slide. While some adapted to all the chaotic clamor, many of the original clubhouse members simply stood silently by the hedge. Many others just solemnly made their way to the gate, slipped out into the world, and moved on.





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With this online art community, we have a unique opportunity to connect with our kindred. We must avail ourselves of this experience, for, once it's gone, it may never come again.

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*** SPOILER FREE impressions of THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 -
 
- Fun stuff. Director Marc Webb is doing a wonderful job, taking over the reins from Sam Raimi. I dig this sequel, although I feel things get a bit unwieldy and wobbly in the third act. There are several "Wait-- What?" moments, and I do feel that they bricked on a couple of their interpretations of the super-villains from Spidey's legendary history. In fact, the antagonists slate is overly packed, as feared, taking too much away from the development of Jamie Foxx's character. The resultant lack of believable motivation is detrimental.

Nonetheless, the core relationship between the principles, namely, Peter Parker, Gwen Stacy, and Aunt May is as solid as ever, with the players' performances even more charming, even more delightful. Funny... As in the Iron Man film franchise, it is the hero's alter ego, and the interaction with his "family," that manages to equal or surpass all the action and deeds of derring-do of the costumed superhero for interest. You lose nothing when the good guy is not wearing his super-suit. The audience's attention never wavers just because it's time for the normal-guy drama. Go figure. This is a notable achievement, mind you. It's not like in the "old days." Trust. And Andrew Garfield exhibits an even stronger chemistry with Emma Stone than Downey Jr. does with Paltrow, which was top-level. That's saying something. To be fair, the Spidey co-stars share an off-screen romance. Still, Garfield continues to be a pure pleasure to observe in his every scene, including those shared with the great Sally Field, and relative newbie Dane DeHaan. Good laughs, as well as heartfelt tears.

It's unexpected to find such well-written, well-acted characters in a "comic book movie." And I prefer it this way, even at the expense of more comic book action. I appreciate the dimensionality and gravitas. Sue me.
I think Webb's ensemble cast is actually more rich and captivating than Raimi's was
(although, there is one major conspicuous absence in the omission of J. Jonah Jameson), just as Christopher Nolan's Bat-characters were more riveting and empathetic than Tim Burton's cartoony ones. I realize that comparison is a little uneven, but, hopefully, you take my meaning. And it's not a knock! It always comes down to subjective taste. I just love that, as a generation, we get to experience more than one direction. Personally, I believe there's room for more than one interpretation of these sorts of characters, realistic, AND fanciful. The only demands are that they maintain a high standard of creativity and quality in whatever they do, and that they retain a sincere reverence for the material. Done. Now, go have fun. That's what comics are primarily supposed to be about.

Anyway... There it is. THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2. Not a rave. But still highly recommended! Enjoy! And remember to relish these times, with so many of our comic book heroes springing to life on the big screen as never before, and of substantial quality, more or less. Nit-picky gripes aside-- Seize the day!
And, GET A MOVE-ON, WARNER BROS!!! MARVEL'S BURYING YA!!!
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With this online art community, we have a unique opportunity to connect with our kindred. We must avail ourselves of this experience, for, once it's gone, it may never come again.

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OBSERVATION #201 - Some thoughts I posted elsewhere which I wanted to also share with any interested parties here...


• ART PHILOSOPHY - TRUTH, and INTEGRITY - *as inspired by the insightful words of Rob Liefeld.

The Truth is that the artist, amateur and potential professional alike, may be taught according to the ideal.  But no matter how hard you study, or how long you train...  No matter all the knowledge you amass, the talent you possess, and the skills you hone, the subjective taste of the public presides over all commercial endeavor.  The public, the layman, the viewer, the fan may know nothing at all about art.  But they know what they like.  It has always come down to that.  And, as with so many things in life, there are frustrations, and gracious benefits to this Truth.  On the one hand, an artist can study and practice his craft for more years than it takes a med student to become a top surgeon.  And yet the world will more readily take the surgeon's word as law concerning a medical matter than the illustrator's informed opinion on a work of art (even his own!).  On the other hand, this truth of subjective taste allows for a wide variety of creative expression, at various levels of accomplishment and acceptance.

The vast history of comic books has enjoyed such variety of expression.  And here indeed, the Truth of subjectivism abounds as talent of every stripe has sought a niche.  Comics never began with great art or great artists.  Here the less-skilled artist may find success while masking what may be deemed shortcomings, sheltering beneath the canopy called "Style."  This artist's lines have more energy and flow, that one's figures possess a striking exaggeration, and this other artist's pages contain more power and mood.
It is only occasionally that comics have been graced by illustrators who were finely trained.  But this, of course, never brought any assurance of success.  The very well-drawn book may go unnoticed as the fans favor a specific character, or the way their favorite rookie artist renders extreme musculature on men, and huge balloon-breasts on women.  Instead of simplicity or clarity of design, an overwhelming number of fans may be more fascinated by the artist who renders ludicrous details.  Or fans may just respond better to an artist's rudimentary skills, finding these more relatable than that of the more accomplished illustrator.  Certainly, those who hold quality draftsmanship, and an impeccable clarity of design and storytelling in the highest esteem may shake their heads in astonishment at the runaway popularity of an artist whom they consider of woefully inferior ability across the board.  However, this adheres to the good and bad of the immutable Truth of subjective taste.

What, then, is the value of all the study, the ideals, and all the laborious training?  More important than subjectivism, or popularity is personal Integrity.  Each must first and always remain true to oneself, insofar as this brings no harm to others.  If you aspire to be the best artist you can be, then study and train, and remain true to that.  Your reward is in the journey as much as it is in the results.  If your agenda is to craft a style that earns you popularity, then fulfill that agenda.  Maintain your Integrity.  It is your own, and it defines you.  Don't waste energy on envying the success of others, nor in celebrating their failure.  This is petty, surely unbecoming of a professional, and it is to your own disgrace as a human being.  Stay on your own path, and be less mindful of what others are doing beyond a healthy spirit of competition.  Embrace the positivity that this art form allows for such wide diversity, and that success and recognition are an unquantifiable entity which can be visited upon the great as well as the meek.  Worry less about being "the best."  If you remain true to yourself, developing at your own pace, and having FUN with it, then you already ARE the best.
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MASTERS OF ANATOMY PROJECT on KICKSTARTER -

Okay, I have been woefully remiss. Several months ago, I was honored to be approached with an invitation to participate in a special project, an instructional book being produced as a result of a campaign launched on the Kickstarter website.
They have posted a gallery of some of my work here:
mastersofanatomy.com/jerome-k-…

Masters of Anatomy is described as a one-of-a-kind anatomy book drawn by 100 animators, illustrators and comic book artists. It features work from world-class artists like Joe Madureira, Adam Hughes, Kim Jung Gi, Humberto Ramos, Francisco Herrera, Pascal Campion, Florian Satzinger, Warren Louw, Loish and many others. The result is a volume unlike anything that exists today. A must have for any aspiring artist, digital or traditional.
OVER $530,000 on Kickstarter -
You may pre-order the book here: www.mastersofanatomy.com/paypal

Pretty cool!
Cheers!
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With this online art community, we have a unique opportunity to connect with our kindred. We must avail ourselves of this experience, for, once it's gone, it may never come again.

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I have often been asked about my artistic influences, and for my thoughts regarding instructional books for the aspiring comic book artist.  After providing an answer that also contained some advice and opinions, the question was raised narrowing the focus to my disdain for the anatomy books of Burne Hogarth.  Now, my purpose is not to personally attack the man whose past professional work I have respected.  I offer my OPINION based on my own learning experiences (which did include Hogarth's books), and what I consider to be a strictly honest evaluation as it applies to the question.  I apologize if it comes off like I'm slamming somebody.  But in the interest of possibly benefiting a few of the curious, I see no point in withholding nor varnishing my opinion.

As I intimated, I studied the Hogarth anatomy books around the time when I was about to embark on a professional career illustrating for DC Comics.  There are indeed useful lessons to be learned, for sure, especially if you can decipher the pedantic text.  But, in looking back, I think it's a profound mistake to ever let them ever be more than a superficial reference tool.  Use the drawings as a map to skeletal structure, and for placement of the various muscle groups.  But try to avoid applying these verbatim to your own figure work.  Never emulate that grotesque, stiff structure, or your art will be anything BUT 'dynamic.'

If you'll allow this quasi-tangent, something has always puzzled me, and even irked me.  The default viewpoint of many superhero comics artists from the Silver Age onward seemed to be that every super-powered character must be likened to Greek gods, their bodies almost directly carved from the same marble as the sculpted statues of ancient times. One popular artist's figures come to mind, which, while impressively drawn, were all of monstrous physique, even while appearing at rest (not unlike the drawings of Hogarth in that instructional book).  Personally, I think that's the wrong approach for story, and story should always be the primary concern, if not the primary motivation (Yes, everybody wants to be a superstar, and have their art stand out. But whenever you seek to promote your own art to the exclusion of all else, you degrade the storytelling medium which you profess to love in the first place.).

Why should a character who uses an alien power ring also have the physique of Schwarzenegger? Why should a being who relies on super-speed to thwart villains possess a physical bulk reminiscent of The Hulk?  Because that's what sells?  Then you're a shill more than an artist.   Just own it.  No, a variety of body shapes and sizes, with physiques constructed according to the specifics of each character and their traits is the beginning of sophisticated character design.  And evidence of this sort of imagination is a mark of the truly serious comic book artist, cartoonist, animator, storyboard artist, game designer, and every commercial illustrator overall.

Burne Hogarth's anatomy books should only serve as a moderately-useful guide, and never as the primary or solitary influence for the aspiring illustrator. Let those books be the "gateway" to higher understanding and better study, to wider creativity, and deeper thought.

And, as always, your mileage may vary.  Cheers! :)

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With this online art community, we have a unique opportunity to connect with our kindred. We must avail ourselves of this experience, for, once it's gone, it may never come again.

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Alfonso Cuarón. Wow. The man is carving his initials on Hollywood, and the cinematic art form in general. From humble beginnings, as an independent filmmaker from Mexico... Look at him go. I think he owes a great deal to producer David Heyman for taking a chance on him years ago with HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN (Of course, Cuarón delivered dramatically, helping to spin that film franchise off in a bold new direction, and off into greater heights of success. So, perhaps the debt is owed by Warner Bros. The studio certainly demonstrated their faith with this latest collaboration.).

With CHILDREN OF MEN, Cuarón took an even bigger leap forward, demanding that the film world take him more seriously, as an auteur. Now, with GRAVITY, the director has graduated to producer, and writer, and editor as well. And I notice that his stylization, the seamless transitions, the continuous shots without cutting (a difficult "stunt" in which other directors take much pride, including Cameron, and Whedon), has become more adventurous with the aid of digital effects. But I wouldn't call it "gimmicky," as I might with some other directors. It's a choice that always serves the story, carrying the viewer through an entire environment with a relentless focus on what's transpiring, putting us right there with the characters in the most realistic way. It never become impractical or distracting as it does in a film like CLOVERFIELD, where the cinema verité realism is diminished by the unforgiving premise (Would anyone seriously carry a camcorder through all of those events so unerringly?).

GRAVITY is something you've never seen before. Spectacle? Yup. Drama. You betcha. And all the more amazing for the way the story unfolds. Total commitment. Hollywood would never have permitted this movie to have been made a few years ago. Cuarón has earned clout. And to him I say, "¡Con mucho gusto-- bravo! ¡Bien hecho!"
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With this online art community, we have a unique opportunity to connect with our kindred. We must avail ourselves of this experience, for, once it's gone, it may never come again.

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I thought I'd share yet another of my musings from over on Facebook, and invite anyone to share their thoughts, too.

OBSERVATION #55 - OLD HEROES

• On the matter of new STAR WARS movies featuring our favorite characters from the original trilogy - Is Han Solo still such a bad-ass?
-
It is an interesting consideration. I do believe that Hollywood tends to think a bit too one-dimensionally when it comes to our iconic heroes. As they age, they seldom grow beyond the stage at which we all became most familiar with them. Captain Kirk is a prime example. Oh, they got it right in the first two feature films (1979, 1982), allowing Kirk to acknowledge the passage of time, the weight of past sins upon him. That was mature. That was realistic depth, and natural progression. But then they quickly lost sight of this, and permitted the character to devolve into a caricature, a self-parodying oldster vainly trying to recapture his youth instead of embracing inevitable maturity, and whatever should come with that. The producers denied him any new texture, any credible development. That's when it became painfully laughable to watch Kirk leap into physical action yet again, battling aliens hand-to-hand like a 25 year-old. This indignity demonstrated that he hadn't learned new ways of confronting conflict, ways that make better use of his wiles and experience instead of the same old violence, awkwardly performed. It was the same with Indiana Jones, unfortunately. This is NOT to say that Indy, or Kirk, or Han Solo cannot retain that part of themselves that dynamically changes the circumstances around them. Nothing can extinguish their vitality. I believe the heroic rogue will always dwell within Solo, roused at a moment's notice. But if his character has failed to evolve beyond the swashbuckling pirate in his later years, at least on the surface, then I will be sorely disappointed in those who have been given the privilege of preserving and guiding this beloved character.

Basically, Hollywood, in its primary pursuit of the almighty dollar, too often forgets (or ignores) that the greatest nobility of our literary and cinematic heroes is in how they should continue to guide us, the same as our true-life heroes. As they boldly confront and overcome various obstacles, setbacks, and villains, metaphorically encouraging us all to be just as brave in our own lives, they must not neglect the most intimidating challenge which we all must face: Time. We may be able to banish our fear of the sneering bad guys and their brutish henchmen, but time is the enemy no one can defeat. And so, what grander call is there for our heroes than the call to show us how to bravely accept change? To provide the shining example of how to grow old with honor, and grace, strength, and wisdom... To show our youth that this is the road we should all walk, marching ever forward, reveling in achievement but never living in our past... Selflessly leading by stepping aside to elevate our children, teaching them that the role of a hero evolves, but never diminishes in its glory, or in its importance. A hero doesn't always need to deliver a roundhouse punch, or swing across chasms, or fire a gun the size of a cannon. What a hero does-- is show us the way, walking the path we all should tread.
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With this online art community, we have a unique opportunity to connect with our kindred. We must avail ourselves of this experience, for, once it's gone, it may never come again.

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It's important to USE color, not just apply it to your art.  Sometimes we overlook the role color plays in our illustration, particularly when it comes to sequential art.  Comic books.  Storytelling.  It's not just for making the picture pretty.  Over on Facebook earlier today, this topic came up in conversation with a good friend.  I thought I might share an excerpt with you here on DA, inviting, as always, your comments as well. 


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OBSERVATION #8 -  The Benefits of an Effective Use of Monochromatic Palettes -

• Monochromatic schemes are a very effective option, not just for the sake of beautiful art, but for the sake of higher-level storytelling. Color is as important an element as all the other steps, and it must share in the responsibility of telling a story well, helping to set mood, and helping to guide the reader's eye to what is most important. This is true as well in film, and it's becoming more and more prevalent and facile these days, thanks to the computer. A director is able to have a scene, shot in normal color, digitally tinted in order to better emphasize the "temperature" he wants in that scene. Or perhaps he wants to change it to appear as a night scene. In sci-fi, this process has been used to make Earthly set locations appear as if actually shot on other planets (Please see: PITCH BLACK, and RED PLANET).

If you are depicting a scene inside a house engulfed in flames, monochromatic schemes are definitely beneficial in making everything appear hotter. A green shirt a person is wearing would no longer look green at all because of the intense orange light.

If your disapproval is a matter of mastering the technique, the computer is a great help. Color a scene the way you would ordinarily, and then add a new layer on top, a single vibrant color. Then adjust the opacity so that it acts as a filter to the layers beneath. You'll notice how all the regular colors become altered.

If it's a matter of taste, then I might ask you to look at the beautiful and amazing examples of art, photography, and film that are out there wherein color is masterfully utilized as an element of sophisticated mood, rather than an unrestrained exercise in rainbow crayons. You know that I know whereof I speak, since I have posted samples of my early attempts at color. I began as most do, burdened by a childish and literal sense. Anything brown must always be brown, or red, or blue, and so on. But as I was exposed to more and more great art, as I grew in knowledge, experience, and understanding, I was able to better appreciate the variety of tools and methods available to the artist. Color is only one of these. But it is a very powerful tool, and it has many uses. It can make or break your drawing. It can enhance one's artwork greatly, concealing a multitude of sins. And it can wreck what could have been a masterpiece, revealing one's utter lack of creativity.
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  • Eating: Atomic fruits
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With this online art community, we have a unique opportunity to connect with our kindred. We must avail ourselves of this experience, for, once it's gone, it may never come again.

            ****************************************************************************

Thank you all for coming here this evening. I have a brief statement to make... Please bear with me...

In light of recent events in the news, I've decided to come forward -- and confess that-- I have used Performance Enhancers throughout my career-- in order to obtain an advantage. It was mostly my own choice, although-- my father did start me out at a very early age-- by passing on his talent to me. All along the way, in addition to lots of diligent study on my own-- I did enlist the opinion of others as far as my development, and I supplemented this growth with inspiration from various professional artists and filmmakers, the instruction by great teachers at the High School of Art & Design, as well as the vital encouragement over the years from my family, my friends, co-workers, and the generous people who declared themselves fans of my work. Through all the highs and lows going forward, I hope that I can continue to count on these folks for their indispensable support.

I admit that I am not the least bit ashamed of what I've done, but I will immediately enter into a Deeper Appreciation Program, where I will learn to better focus on cherishing my family and friends, and rededicate myself to improving each and every day, so that I can be the best artist and person that I can possibly be. I sincerely apologize to no one for any of this, or for any of the enjoyment my art may have brought others.

And now, I humbly ask that everyone be patient with me as I pick up more pieces, and resume building my life. Thank you, and thank you for understanding. Now, I will take a few brief questions, if there are any...
  • Mood: Content
  • Listening to: iTunes Library
  • Reading: Various
  • Watching: BSG on video
  • Playing: Injustice: Gods Among Us
  • Eating: Stuff
  • Drinking: Stuff
With this online art community, we have a unique opportunity to connect with our kindred. We must avail ourselves of this experience, for, once it's gone, it may never come again.

************************************************************************************

The latest word is that the great John Williams has agreed to compose the score for the new STAR WARS films under JJ Abrams (at least for episode VII ). 

www.usatoday.com/story/life/mo…

My thoughts, as related over on Facebook, are as follows:

- I count myself among The Maestro's biggest fans. Anyone who knows me will bear this out. But, honestly, I don't think he should return to the STAR WARS property. His influence will always be greatly felt, and his music referenced. However, I think it's time for some fresh approaches, across the board...


Lately, I've noticed a relatively new crop of film composers who have the ability to create music that actually resembles that of Williams, or at least comes close enough. But there is also the possibility of achieving a whole new and vital spirit. One need only open one's mind to it.
I once believed that absolutely no one could mimic the power and texture of Williams' Superman theme. But then I heard what John Ottman did for SUPERMAN RETURNS, and I saw the potential. And Joel McNeely surprised me with some of his music for STAR WARS: SHADOWS OF THE EMPIRE.
But I've been very impressed by Alexander Desplat, and John Powell as well.


Basically, if it were up to me (and I respect that it is NOT), I wouldn't even revisit the STAR WARS universe at all. Everything has pretty much been said there, and I favor moving forward with new ideas rather than regurgitating the past. But when there's easy money to be made, Hollywood is all over it. So, IF the STAR WARS universe is to be further explored, just as with STAR TREK, I would expand the horizons and truly present NEW material, reserving nods to the original classic as a bit of nostalgia, sprinkled lightly, but never dwelling on it.

As always, your mileage may vary. :) 

Please share YOUR thoughts, fellow Deviants.


• Oh, here's another item.  Some may find this, as Mr. Spock would say, "Fascinating!"

Check out this awesome video released by NASA:



io9.com/5893615/absolutely-min…

  • Mood: Content
  • Listening to: iTunes Library
  • Reading: Various
  • Watching: BSG on video
  • Playing: Injustice: Gods Among Us
  • Eating: Stuff
  • Drinking: Stuff
With this online art community, we have a unique opportunity to connect with our kindred. We must avail ourselves of this experience, for, once it's gone, it may never come again.

**********************************************************************
No, I wasn't blown away by the movie. Usually, when one's expectations aren't so high, this works in the film's favor. It may not be fair to gauge one adaptation by your experience with another (especially since you are also, unwittingly, comparing markedly different periods of your own life, and your own capacity for artistic appreciation). All I know is that after seeing one movie in my youth, I left the theater feeling as if I myself could fly. Total exhilaration. After seeing the other movie this weekend, I left the theater decidedly more-- grounded. Must all films about this character make me wish to soar? Of course not. I am open to the character becoming nearly as malleable as his darker counterpart (to a point!). But I would be remiss if I didn't admit that something was missing, something vital, while there was far too much of something else (Take a guess.).
Opinions tend to adjust upward or downward with time, and upon repeated viewings. But, as it stands now, it's only a good experience, and a mediocre film. That may be enough to get the film franchise going again, as well as the team-up extravaganza for which many have so desperately clamored. And yet, one might have hoped for a much more auspicious and inspiring (re)start.
They got some things right, both old and new. They came up woefully short in other things, and THESE things may make a difference in the long run. Always begin with a sincere heart, a solid and charming crux to the story, and the character. You can surround this with the special effects, the gimmicks, the overdone design and camera moves, the grittier tone, and excessive noise afterwards. Never skimp on what is crucial just because you've concocted a clever new spin on old material. That old material still works for a REASON.

RECOMMENDATION: See it if you like your movies VERY heavy on action, and too light on almost everything else. Entertaining, but not enthralling.

As always, your mileage may vary.

Cheers!


***UPDATE CONTAINS SPOILERS!!!***


Okay, the writers of MAN OF STEEL deliberately constructed that story to achieve a specific directive.  It wasn't as if they stumbled upon a situation which called for a decision to be made concerning homicide.  They intentionally arranged all the elements so that Superman must kill Zod.  After all, they removed Kryptonite from the equation.  They eliminated the possibility that Clark would have much more experience dealing with the "no win scenario" by totally eviscerating the character of Jonathan Kent.  Basically, this was less than a viable NEW approach to the character than it was a sloppy conspiracy to undermine the traditional Superman in order to make him unpredictable, and more marketable (For those last couple lines, it would be ironic if you imagined Kevin Costner's voice as Jim Garrison from the film JFK.  Heh.  If not, try reading it again, just for kicks!).

Now, I say "sloppy" because even within this objectionable context, their own plan just doesn't make any sense.  I've already illustrated elsewhere the hypocrisy of their Jonathan Kent, as well as the egregious inconsistency of the Christ analogy (which Snyder utilizes more heavy-handedly than anyone previously!).  Everyone has keyed in on the grand finale, as Kal-El seems incapable of maneuvering the battle to safer grounds, and the awkward build-up to the final homicide, rescuing a nondescript group of people (Perhaps this should have been Lois Lane, which might better justify Kal's crisis of choice, and thereby alleviating the confusion as to why Kal would care about THESE innocents after allowing so many others to perish.  Having it be Lois would also create interesting character complexities down the line in sequels:  How does it affect Superman's conscience that Lois was the only person that he killed to save?  His guilt would hang over their relationship, while it would better enforce Superman's inner vow to never kill again, and to treat EVERYone fairly, value all life EQUALLY forevermore.  See?  I can write the grim-tone, too, if need be.), while appearing not to show adequate concern for so many other victims.

But in the aftermath, as the filmmakers choose to let the air out of the tension with flat humor, the resolution rings so drastically hollow.  Superman admonishes the army general about spying on him, and the female aide remarks on Kal's attractiveness.  We're all supposed to laugh now, after all that we've seen  (*cue the "Sad Trombone" sound effect ).  And finally, we get the introduction of the familiar version of Clark Kent as he lands a job at The Daily Planet.  Meanwhile, nothing is mentioned or shown of the death, dying, and devastation which must surely exist just outside those office windows.  There were no scenes of Superman assisting in search and rescue operations, no efforts at repairing all the damage, no addressing the media with messages of contrition, appealing for the world's trust now that he has been revealed, and he has proven his loyalty to humanity.  None of what would seem the logical thing to include.  Instead, it suddenly reverts to being just a comic book movie, and we're expected to forget all the darkness of tone, forget all the realism.  Because, in this more realistic world, surely Lois Lane wouldn't be the ONLY person who could see through Clark Kent's lame eyeglasses disguise.  The audience applauds at the long-awaited depiction of Lois as nobody's fool.  But that only magnifies the idiocy of the rest of the world.  Sloppy.

All will be sorted out in the sequel, and all these dangling plot threads and character discrepancies opens the door for a more insidious and opportunistic Lex Luthor.  No, the sequel will answer for its own mistakes, should they arise.  THIS film failed to meet the responsibilities to which it was beholden for this audience.  Granted, the agenda was "set in stone."  I understand that they felt compelled to restructure the Superman property for a modern fan-base, and in the interests of expanding said fan-base.  But I think they could have done a better job of it, instead of just an "okay" one.  And I also deplore the "over-Marvel-ization" of the DC characters and legends, depriving the market of some measure of variety in their choice of superhero fantasy.

~JKM


  • Mood: Neutral
  • Listening to: The Lamentations of The Women
  • Reading: The Signs
  • Watching: Various BluRay DVDs
  • Playing: Injustice
  • Eating: Fresh & Easy
  • Drinking: Wawtuh
  • Mood: Rant
  • Listening to: The Lamentations of The Women
  • Reading: The Signs
  • Watching: Various BluRay DVDs
  • Playing: Injustice
  • Eating: Fresh & Easy
  • Drinking: Wawtuh
With this online art community, we have a unique opportunity to connect with our kindred. We must avail ourselves of this experience, for, once it's gone, it may never come again.

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OBSERVATION # 212 -
Every professional artist has to earn a living, and some struggle at this more than others. Some artists are required to adapt their style to look like that of another; they must adhere to a "house style," or, in the case of work that corresponds to animation, they must keep the character and environmental designs "on model." But in cases where there is more stylistic freedom, I am often disturbed to find artists who deliberately mimic the style of another, whether that of a peer, or that of a predecessor in that field. Having creative influences is one thing, and this is acceptable. However, taking on the exact style of someone else is another thing entirely.
As I said, it can sometimes be a struggle to earn a living as an artist in the pro ranks. In order to stand out, and be more marketable, it may take quite a bit of effort. Indeed, because of this effort, and an attention to detail, you may not be able to produce as much art as is demanded or expected. Along comes an admirer who studies that "sexy" art style, and then proceeds to mold a rather prolific and profitable career as an imitator, getting lots of notice specifically for a style he/she did not create.
Insert whatever callous platitudes you wish, the commercial world is dog-eat-dog, all's fair in love and war, yadda, yadda... I see this as the equivalent of identity theft, for what is an artist's unique style if it is not his/her identity, and means of honest trade? Inevitably, the artist ends up competing with himself, after a fashion.
Even in the case where an artist has retired, or died, their unique identity should be allowed to live on, retaining its distinction (Please bear in mind, homages are a separate issue.).
Indeed, imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but in this instance, it does also seem like the sincerest form of robbery.
Just sayin'. As always, your mileage may vary. Cheers!

•••• UPDATE - 5/4/2013


It would seem, based on the comments, that I wasn't as clear as I thought. I'll try to reiterate.

On this subject, there are obviously two schools of thought. There are those who see and do the "honorable" thing, adhering to exploring a unique, individual style (Honorable is in quotes because I cannot rightfully expect everyone to have the same idea as I about what is honorable.). And there are those who see all commercial art for what it is: a business. You get over in any way you can.

I am aware of history, how many illustrators employed apprentices, a master teaching his student how to draw according to the master's techniques. Similarly, art teachers and mentors instruct their charges according to the experience acquired, and the methods most effectively used.

I'm talking about an artist as he or she grows to maturity, when he or she comes into their OWN. Now, in the comic book medium, in the branch to which I am referring, there is a measure of latitude, room provided that allows for a freedom of individualistic expression. If it isn't 'sacred,' it most certainly is special! This is a place in the mainstream where an artist can actually make a name for himself, standing out among the crowd for his more personal flair, and perspective. John Buscema's version of Spider-Man or The Hulk or Captain America is distinct from that of Jack Kirby, or John Byrne, and there is intrinsic value to this that can rarely be found or enjoyed anywhere else. I am NOT talking about INFLUENCES. Everybody has influences. Everybody's art looks a little like that of another artist. No, the issue is when there is a deliberate effort to mimic the style of another artist, to the extent that any remaining vestige of distinction is almost irrelevant. THIS is what I find abhorrent, and ultimately dishonorable. It's even a disservice to the mimicking artist, as they surrender the opportunity to express their own individuality for the sake of "impersonating" someone else. And IF that mimic is so skilled as to copy a superior artist well enough, it begs the question: Why couldn't he invest those skills into creating a style all his own?

Yes, the business angle is ever-present. Inventors and culinary innovators are copied and ripped off all the time in the callous  world of big business.  In comics, publishers may encourage the proliferation of a "hot" style if it means a sales spike. And so, they share in the blame, if we are to call it that. But the analogy could be that of the pusher, or the enabler, compared to the one actually buying the drugs. Perhaps that's too harsh. It is a difficult profession in which to earn a living. Get in where you fit in? Save the fancy individualization for less commercial pursuits? Fine. Like I said, there are two schools of thought, one more mercenary, one more "Pollyanna." I prefer "Pollyanna." Maybe I do so because I've enjoyed some greater measure of success in my career. I'm not starving (at the moment). So be it. But I believe I'm the sort of stubborn that would still feel the same, no matter the circumstances. In the commercial field, artists do not GET the chance very often to express an individuality.   In some mainstream comic books, in book jacket design, movie posters, album covers, children's books, tattoo design--- these are the categories that allow for more freedom of expression, and some of these have nearly faded away.  In animation, and product art, you must MATCH the art style established, or you fail. Why suppress your own uniqueness in a medium where you don't have to do so? It's far more rewarding to just BE YOURSELF.

Travis Charest began his career in comics aping the very popular "West Coast" style of Jim Lee, as many others did. But Travis slowly and steadily moved away from that, until he created a style all his own. And by 'all his own' I mean it is distinctive, even if there may be traces of the art styles he may have used as influences. Adam Hughes entered comics on the mainstream stage following Kevin Maguire on JUSTICE LEAGUE. After emulating Maguire, he quickly established himself in dramatic fashion. Adam has incorporated elements of Mucha, just as Brian Stelfreeze has incorporated elements of Leyendecker.  These are motifs, and homages.  Influences, and nothing more.   Almost a lifetime ago, on one of my many failed projects (Haha!), I was instructed to straight-up copy the art style of Craig Hamilton. Rather than refusing outright, I took the opportunity to learn from Hamilton's work, while managing to introduce my own sensibilities so that the art was influenced, but still my OWN.

It has bugged me to see artwork which I initially perceived as that of Adam Hughes, or George Pérez, yet it was someone else.  Upon closer inspection, there is, thankfully, a telltale superficiality in the adopted style that is noticed by the trained eye, and the work of the original artist is preferred.  Nevertheless, it is the assessment of the untrained eye on which the commercial interest hinges.  Indeed, these other artists have gone on to have great success as "clones." I cannot say whether the artists being imitated are flattered, or apathetic. And it is what it is. This is only my personal rant, my perspective. Judgement is reserved for each to do privately.  And as always, your mileage may vary.

Cheers! :)

*** Again, I invite all who are interested to find me on Facebook, under the same name.  I often post topics like this for discussion, along with silly jokes, film reviews, and other fun stuff.  :)
  • Watching: Various BluRay DVDs
  • Eating: Fresh & Easy
  • Drinking: Wawtuh
With this online art community, we have a unique opportunity to connect with our kindred. We must avail ourselves of this experience, for, once it's gone, it may never come again.

************************************************************************************


"I don't mind being the smartest man in the world, I just wish it wasn't this one."
...
"None of you seem to understand. I'm not locked in here with you! You're locked in here with ME!!!"
...
"They claim their labors are to build a heaven, yet their heaven is populated by horrors. Perhaps the world is not made. Perhaps nothing is made. A clock without a craftsman. It's too late. Always has been, always will be... Too late."
...
"Rorschach's Journal: October 12th, 1985. Tonight, a comedian died in New York."
...
Who watches The Watchmen? I do. Now playing on Screen 3 here in the Art Studio, from 2009, is Zack Snyder's adaptation of the iconic and groundbreaking graphic novel by Alan Moore, and Dave Gibbons. THE WATCHMEN stars Patrick Wilson, Carla Gugino, Matt Frewer, Stephen McHattie, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Jackie Earle Haley, Malin Ackerman, Matthew Goode, Laura Mennell, and Billy Crudup as "Dr. Manhattan."

I was surprisingly impressed by this film. In some ways, I think it's better than the original source material, as much as that may be deemed sacrilegious by hardcore fans. Because of its topical themes, many movie-goers could not relate to the story's sociopolitical message, nor its urgency, and so the film is ironically dated, yet state-of-the-art in its quality. As I've said elsewhere, sci-fi and comic book fantasy shine brightest when there is a point of view, whether as satirical commentary, or as a morality play. Snyder brilliantly captures Moore's 1980s Reagan Era paranoia, but I think the director goes one better on the author in the final resolution. He astutely keeps Dr. Manhattan as the center of the drama, making the character an active threat which must be eliminated, rather than having mankind unite against some fictional contrivance. It is still a very elaborate ruse, but the film gives it more meaning and resonance. My main problem with this movie is its gratuitous violence, and sexuality. This was the first mainstream superhero movie to receive an "R" rating. And while I applaud this high-profile exploration of superheroes as more adult material, I don't condone the liberal usage of bloody violence, vulgarity, or needlessly lewd sex scenes, nor do I consider them a qualifier of "maturity."

One of my nit-picky issues has to do with Snyder's over-stylization, particularly with the opening credit sequence. Amusing as it was, I just felt it was ridiculous to depict a flashy time-elapsing montage where news reporters can be present at the scene of a crime, while the smirking hero is holding the captured criminal who is still armed, and firing his weapon in slow-motion. It's understood that Snyder is trying to tell lots of story in the fewest amount of frames here. But with this choice, I think he gets too cute (as is his wont).
Dr. Manhattan, on the other hand, is a practically flawless marvel (no pun intended). Billy Crudup, whom I doubted early on, plays the part of Osterman to perfection, with his ever-increasing detachment. He has become so ethereal, and alien, yet Crudup manages to keep the character human throughout, much like Leonard Nimoy's Spock. Very likable. And the special effects for Manhattan clearly demonstrate the keenest attention, and imagination.
The ensemble cast is brutally good. Morgan's Comedian is dead-on. But it's Jackie Earle Haley as Rorshach that anchors this entire production. Never has there been a finer, more ideal bit of casting, and no one has ever done a better job of capturing a character. Bravo, Mr. Haley!
The weakest links are Ackerman, and Matthew Goode. Goode is a fine performer, but he is too slight of build for the character, Ozymandias. I also thought it was unfortunate that it was decided to play this character with homosexual undertones (such a cinematic cliché for a villain). Malin Ackerman is indeed a delight to behold, especially once she appears as the Silk Spectre. But her acting is a bit amateur at worst, soapy at best. It's a sad admission, however, that a woman's beauty covers a multitude of shortcomings. She does sparkle so.

The original music is by Tyler Bates. But, aside from the inclusion of some classic rock tunes from the 60s (which further date the material), I was most enthralled by the sequences featuring the spectacular (and appropriate) music of Mr. Philip Glass.

These are my impressions of Zack Snyder's-- THE WATCHMEN.
  • Mood: Optimism
  • Listening to: Daft Punk, Trent Reznor
  • Reading: Comics
  • Watching: Various BluRay DVDs
  • Playing: Arkham City
  • Eating: Fresh & Easy
  • Drinking: Iced Tea
With this online art community, we have a unique opportunity to connect with our kindred. We must avail ourselves of this experience, for it may never come again.

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• First off, please let me say how totally OVERwhelmed I am by the passionate and voluminous response I have received regarding the fate of YOUNG JUSTICE.  I cannot express how surprised and touched I was by the outpouring of support and concern, and I continue to be.  I deliberately refrained from saying any more about it, or replying to questions.  What really is there to say?  I felt it was your stage, and only your words deserved to be heard.  But again, I thank you all, on behalf of myself, and all of the YOUNG JUSTICE crew.  It was a brief time, but it was all for you.  I shall continue to post my artwork from the show as it becomes available.  And I look forward to sharing more experiences with you, and exchanging comments.

• Please feel free to find me over on facebook, and send me an add request.  Lately, I've been spending more time there, and some of the discussions and news may be of interest to my friends here.  On occasion, I will be transferring little tidbits from there to here, as I have been doing recently.  Case in point, for those who want to talk about STAR WARS, here's a comment I posted today, and as always, I invite your thoughts!  Cheers!

• OF THE FUTURE OF STAR WARS:
Okay, here's what I would do... STAR WARS is too big of a brand not to take advantage of every format available, and every viable approach. Although it began with a story revolving around the Skywalker family (with mixed results), any failure to expand well beyond those parameters would be a grave disservice both to the brand, and yes, to the fans. Fans only THINK they know what they want until they see something new and unexpected. STAR WARS, like STAR TREK, is a vast universe of potential for stories and characters that stretch the scope of imagination. I'm talking beyond Jedis, and beyond The Force. Good and evil may be ever-present factors, but there are certainly corners of the galaxy out of the reach of the Sith, or the Jedi, where the struggle for freedom and justice takes place on other kinds of stages. You must unlearn what you have learned. As long as the quality is kept high, possibly managed by a core brain trust, then I could see more than one film franchise, as well as a television series, animation, comics and video games all tied into the same 'verse, and maybe even spanning timelines. Content could be marketed so that a fan could buy a comic to get more detail on a television show plotline, and play a video game to ascertain the fate of a character from a movie scene, and so on. Could be very exciting.

• OF SUPERHERO MOVIES:
Which are your current favorites, and why?  Which upcoming films excite you the most, and on which characters do you most wish to see them base a new movie?  I was thinking of posting my mini-reviews of all the superhero movies I've seen to date.  What do you think of that?
With this online art community, we have a unique opportunity to connect with our kindred. We must avail ourselves of this experience, for it may never come again.

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Yes, YOUNG JUSTICE fans, the sad news is now official. This very popular show will -- Reach-- its abrupt and premature end with the conclusion of Season Two. It is with a heavy heart that I confirm the reports. Of course, none of us was able to say anything about it since last year. It was a very fun ride. As for the reasons behind the cancellation, I can only say that it was beyond the control of WB Animation, and that the decision was made by the powers at Cartoon Network (bless 'em). On behalf of the producers, and the rest of our dedicated crew at YOUNG JUSTICE, I would like to express our deepest gratitude to all the loyal fans who supported us, who shared the dream with us, and who will continue to love the YOUNG JUSTICE universe, with all its wonderful characters. Thank you, DC Comics! Thank you for the wonderful playground in which to frolic. Thanks to all the great voice actors! Thank you, Greg Weisman, Brandon Vietti, Sam Register, David Wilcox, and the rest of our brilliant team. It was-- fun! Who knew we would have so much fun? To all the fans-- enjoy the rest of the season! There are plenty more surprises left in store.

And, finally, I would like to personally thank my friend, Phil Bourassa for the chance to work with him, laughing and learning every step of the way. See you around the neighborhood.

That's all, folks! Take care, and stay "whelmed!" :)

www.comicbookresources.com/?pa…
  • Mood: Sadness
  • Listening to: Film Scores
  • Reading: Homer
  • Watching: Various BluRay DVDs
  • Playing: Soul Calibur
  • Eating: Stuff and stuff
  • Drinking: a brewski

YOUNG JUSTICE: THE INVASION RESUMES-- AGAIN

Journal Entry: Fri Jan 4, 2013, 5:35 PM
  • Mood: Enjoying The Show
  • Listening to: Film Scores
  • Reading: Homer
  • Watching: Various BluRay DVDs
  • Playing: Soul Calibur
  • Eating: Stuff and stuff
  • Drinking: a brewski





With this online art community, we have a unique opportunity to connect with our kindred. We must avail ourselves of this experience, for it may never come again.

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Welcome to yet another spinning orbit round the Sun. 2013 promises to be a heckuva ride, so please mind your head as the atmospheric safety bar descends, secure all loose objects, keep your hands and legs within the limits of the planetary vehicle, hang on tight, and-- HERE WE GO!!!

This Saturday (check your local listings) here in the U.S., YOUNG JUSTICE: INVASION returns once more to Cartoon Network.  With all the drama this well-made series has had to suffer behind the scenes, it would be no wonder if the fans have long since deserted it.  It was never fair.  It was never respectful.  But it was also never within the control of Warner Bros Animation.  C'est la vie.  So, if you're still interested in the adventures of our Team of young and just heroes, please do tune in again, and settle back for the fun.

Cheers!

~JKM

***  Here's an article interviewing producers Greg Weisman, and Brandon Vietti that provides some news about some exciting things in store on YOUNG JUSTICE: INVASION:  
www.dccomics.com/blog/2013/01/…

The HOBBIT

Journal Entry: Sun Dec 16, 2012, 6:40 PM
  • Mood: Enjoying The Show
  • Listening to: Film Scores
  • Reading: Homer
  • Watching: Various BluRay DVDs
  • Playing: Soul Calibur
  • Eating: Stuff and stuff
  • Drinking: a brewski
With this online art community, we have a unique opportunity to connect with our kindred. We must avail ourselves of this experience, for it may never come again.

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***SPOILER-FREE IMPRESSION -  Okay, so I went to see THE HOBBIT...  I enjoyed it.  Although it may be impossible to go in without the highest of  expectations, I strove to experience the film on its own merits.  Of course, with the appearance of some very familiar faces, it becomes a challenge not to compare this movie to the Rings trilogy.  I will say that THE HOBBIT qualifies as a legitimate "prequel," since Tolkien's novel was definitely written as a prelude to his Rings saga.  And in his adaptation, Peter Jackson seeks to fulfill a prequel connection FAR better than anything George Luca$ ever did with his Star Wars and Indiana Jones film franchises.  Jackson and his writing team have cleverly expanded certain characters and events (extrapolating, in many cases, from appendices written by Tolkien himself), and so, the story may feel padded in some areas.  This is understandable, since the studio seeks to stretch things out into another epic trilogy.  I think that this strategy may rankle some, perhaps including the casual fantasy film buffs.  I believe this is a series for the built-in Tolkien audiences who are not so anally retentive concerning every little detail of their beloved story being fastidiously translated on screen.  I say, rejoice in the fact that it's there on screen at all, and done rather well.  No, it is not in the same class as the now-classic trilogy that broke box-office records, and which earned so many Academy Awards.  But again, if you're able to let go of that, this is indeed a fun return to Middle Earth.  I'd say that the brightest of several highlights is The Riddle Game scene.  Of EVERYthing else, this is the sequence which is truly prrrrreciousssss!  My chief complaints center around some of the creature design (I am a character artist after all!  Haha!), and I think the filmmakers were a little over-ambitious with their CG elements and animation.  Despite this, and some other minor quibbles, I had a good time, and I highly recommend Peter Jackson's THE HOBBIT.  
Cheers!
~JKM

Devious Journal Entry

Journal Entry: Tue Dec 11, 2012, 4:58 PM
  • Mood: Enjoying The Show
  • Listening to: Film Scores
  • Reading: Homer
  • Watching: Various BluRay DVDs
  • Playing: Soul Calibur
  • Eating: Stuff and stuff
  • Drinking: a brewski
With this online art community, we have a unique opportunity to connect with our kindred. We must avail ourselves of this experience, for it may never come again.

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It doesn't seem so long ago when I was the kid, eagerly soaking up the counsel, opinions, suggestions, and anecdotes of those around me. It feels a little weird to now be on the other side of things. I will always be the learner. But I also realize that sharing what I've learned may benefit the kids suddenly around me. Time spins us in wondrous ways, and the ride goes faster than we ever believe.

I'm musing.  Not critiquing, not reviewing, not promoting or trying to sell anything.

Just a moment of reflection, shared with those who know, and those who will know, a lot sooner than they know. :)

~ JKM

***SPOILER ALERT*** BRAVE expectations

Journal Entry: Sat Nov 24, 2012, 2:12 AM
  • Mood: Enjoying The Show
  • Listening to: Film Scores
  • Reading: Homer
  • Watching: Various BluRay DVDs
  • Playing: Soul Calibur
  • Eating: Stuff and stuff
  • Drinking: a brewski
With this online art community, we have a unique opportunity to connect with our kindred. We must avail ourselves of this experience, for it may never come again.

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So, I finally caught BRAVE on home video. I'd say that it's good, but well below the "high water mark" set by Pixar Studios over a decade ago. Sure, there's heart in this story, as well as humor. But absent is the innovation that has come to be expected of Pixar fare. Wonder. An impossible splendor that comes cleverly entwined with well-rounded characters and a sensitive core that causes the story to strike just the right resonant chord. The TOY STORY trilogy, THE INCREDIBLES, FINDING NEMO... These remain the brightest gems in Pixar's crown, but perhaps the studio's reign is at last beginning to fade? In Princess Merida we have a young girl coming of age, dissatisfied with her lot in life, in the midst of rebelling against tradition, her responsibilities, and her parents. Okay, so we've seen this before. What new twist can you offer? Not much. A spunky girl who can do everything better than the boys? Yawn. An old witch in a creepy forest? Seen it. A spell that goes all wrong? Seen that, too. Adventure ensues until the spell is broken, lessons are learned, and new bonding takes place. Shrek much? Pardon my cynicism, but you have to do better than that. The competition is gaining fast on you, Pixar. You only lead until you don't anymore. Just sayin'. Color me unimpressed. Mild thumbs up.
As always, your mileage may vary.
Cheers!
~JKM