Nov 23 2014

Misplaced (vol. 1): Somewhere Under The Rainbow – Josh Blaylock

So the incredibly cliched picture of the impossible hot teenage girl, Alyssa, all punked out, learning forward in that porn star/I’m just a tough girl attitude pose should have been warning enough. Yes, this is about a rebellious girl (who is stronger, faster, smarter than everyone) who makes new–also rebellious–friends as she tries to fight the corrupt system through lots of expositional scenes. It does have its unique take in that this girl is from another, futuristic, dimension controlled by some alien overlords, and I have to admit that there are probably plenty of tween girls that will really get a kick out of this and the other 3 volumes of this series, but I just do not think it has enough going for it to make it anything other than that: a story for a couple of kids that will be forgotten by them all too soon. 

Nov 22 2014

Battlestar Galactica: Razor

This is a one off from the main BSG storyline (happening before season four), and as such it doesn’t need to be watched to understand the larger plot; however if you don’t watch this you are doing yourself a disservice as it has much of the emotional angst, PTS, and feelings of futility that made BSG great when dealing with a show about a mere handful of survivors attempting to survive/gain vengeance on the robots that they once made, enslaved, and who rose up against them in order to commit genocide against humanity. The movie length episode focuses on an officer Shaw  of BS: Pegasus and what she did during the war and its aftermath and how she is dealing with the choices she made–and didn’t make. Nice plot and great F/X (with a real shout out to us original BSG TV show fans), this is just another reminder how shocking it is that such an amazing show, capable of producing stories like this, can eventual end so poorly. 

Nov 21 2014

The New Avengers (vol 1) – Brian Michael Bendis

There was a great deal to enjoy about this new Avengers comic, in fact it was the best Doctor Strange/supernatural-sorcerer supreme story I can remember. The problems were typical of the work Bendis has been doing which is that he has too darn many characters, all of them are constantly talking (in order to give them personalities, although too many sound similar–not everyone needs to calls each other “dude”), and the story would have been much better if he focused on the magical characters: Strange, Son of Satan, Brother Voodoo, and maybe four other characters. As it was, it was a good tale about an extra-dimensional invasion and who–or perhaps what–is behind it. 

Nov 20 2014

Green Arrow and Black Canary: Road to the Altar – Tony Bedard

A little something different as the crime fighter, Black Canary, has to decide if she is ready, willing, and able to marry the crime fighter Green Arrow (really to decide if he is actually ready, willing, and able). While there is nothing amazing about this collection, it is good to see DC take an interest in advancing characters and seeing how they come to make important decisions about their lives. 

Nov 19 2014

Indestructible Hulk: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (vol 1) – Mark Waid

Not a bad restart (yes, again) of the Hulk direction. The impossible strong, green monster’s alter ego, the brilliant Dr. Banner, decides to work for SHIELD in order to get funding for scientific projects and in return the spy agency literally throws Banner at problems so that he will turn into the Hulk and “fix” them. The trouble with this collections (other than the fact that the Hulk looks stupid with a crew cut) is that the fight scenes–which are imperative to Hulk comics–are rather quick and dull, and the whole point of working for SHIELD never really takes place in this volume, as it is all set-up and the pseudo introduction of tangential characters. 

Nov 18 2014

Once Upon a Time Machine

Various stories set in the future, all based on traditional fairy tales. Yep, that’s really all I can say about it; nothing really stood out. Cool idea though. 

Nov 17 2014

Cindy and Biscuit – Dan White

The Beast Must Die, part of the duo of the podcast Silence!, wrote these 3 issues of this delightful comic about a little girl with a huge imagination and here pet dog. The premise is simple in that it is about a girl who is disliked by her peers and dismissed by her mom (who, like all adults, is faceless), but goes with her dog on great–and not-so-great adventures, which might be all in her head. Simple plot, simple drawings, simple dialogue, but a great sum; why this comic isn’t taken by a mainstream publisher is beyond me. 

Nov 16 2014

Wolverine and the X-Men (vol 1-3 & 5) – Jason Aaron

I recall hearing great things about Aaron’s comic, but I might have confused it with something else. I assume this because I have read some very gritty and interesting superhero and non-superhero work of his and this is nothing of the sort. The once upon a time homicidal mutant, Wolverine, has now become the headmaster of a school for mutants, and Aaron has numerous old and new characters for teachers and staff, as well as new students and new rivals. There are fun parts to the title and the occasional interesting storyline; however, there are so many characters that Aaron seems unable to keep track of them all and certainly does not have the time necessary to give them all plots and personalities. I read the first 3 volumes, getting so frustrated with the A vs X cross-over BS of number 3 that I skipped volume 4 and picked up again with 5, not that I felt I really missed much. I think that if I was 15 or so I would enjoy this comic, but I’m not a high school student fantasying how I would like my school to be and I want a comic that can deliver more than just day-to-day backstabbing and cuteness. I had taken out another 2 volumes from the library but I realized I was reading them to kill time and hoping they would get good, rather than for pleasure. 

Nov 15 2014

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson

Actually the Swedish title is really Men Who Hate Woman, but that probably won’t sell as well in the US. The first book of the Millennium Series trilogy, tells us about Mikael Blomkvist just after he loses a libel case against a rich and powerful industrialists (go figure, huh?). Mikael strangely gets a job uncovering the truth behind an old disappearance (read: murder). Needing help he is teamed with Lisbeth Salander, a brilliant hacker who has some serious mental issues (my guess is Asperger syndrome although it is never clear). Together they attempt to uncover the mystery. Popular in Europe and the US, both in book and movie forms, it is a shame the author didn’t live to truly enjoy his success. I did like the book and thought it a lot of fun. I haven’t read the rest of Larsson’s work as I hear it isn’t as good, but maybe I should judge that myself. I do have a problem with the Lisbeth character–who is central to everything–as she is presented as both completely divorced from reality, oblivious to people’s general thoughts and ideas and even seems detached from being sexual assaulted (did I mention this book is not for kids?), and at the same time shown as a genius when it comes to both computers and impersonating character types. I find this too much of a stretch as how can someone who is confused over the idea that most people acknowledge the existence of each other can be so in tune with the every nuance of different cultures and classes as to perfectly portray them? Still, if you aren’t as fussy as I am you will see past it.

Nov 14 2014

Lego Batman the Movie: DC Super Heroes Unite

So the children’s toy, Lego, makes toys featuring DC superhero (and villain) characters, and then makes a movie of them… as the Lego versions that is. Actually it is a kind of clever and funny idea, but this was really a rather mediocre film, which surprised me as the Lego movie (yes, I know they are two different things) got such great reception. Guess I’ll have to try that one out, but no need for you to look into this team-up with Batman and Superman vs the Joker and Lex Luther as Lex enlists the Joker to help him win the presidency and the Joker agrees because 1] Luther has a means of disrupting all of Batman’s weapons, and 2] because it is funny. 

Nov 13 2014

Argo

This is the story of a CIA operation that impersonated a Hollywood production studio in order to smuggle several American trapped in Iran out of the country before they could be discovered and executed as spies. It is a dramatic story, all the more exciting due to its relatively recent declassification. I did, however, know the story before hand by watching the documentary on basic cable, which, much like the story of Captain Philips, I felt did just as good a job as the film version. Watch both the movie and the documentary and learn a few things about the early days of revolutionary Iran. 

Nov 13 2014

Bringing Your Lunch to Work

Here C confronts M in the street. The main effect I was going for here is that C is looking a bit mysterious and M is looking boxed in. As usual I wanted to play with the blacks and whites to really push myself to learn how to use shadows rather than lines to make shapes. (It’s a work in progress, obviously. And I’m a bit annoyed at how I skimped on the backgrounds.)

I’m still trying to figure out exactly what M should say here. He’s making fun of C and his “lunch bag,” but also referring to the earlier scene where he (M) bought C lunch at a fancy restaurant and C couldn’t bring himself to eat it. So, I want to make M’s dialogue more snarky/mean-spirited.


Here is the page in its (unfinished) context:

Nov 12 2014

The Wolverine

With some basis on the mini-series comic of the same name, this movie hopes to add depth to the enigmatic mutant, immortal, warrior called the Wolverine, by sending him to Japan to confront both his past and decide his future. The problems are that for an action movie, with some nice twists, it is slow moving and filled with characters that we know little about and (for most of the time) have no idea what their motivations are–which does not make characters mysterious, it makes them vague! As I’ve said before, it is clear that a good superhero movie can be successful both critically and economically (lots of $$!), so make good superhero movies, and don’t just rely on a shirtless Hugh and some smoking hot women to carry the day. 

Nov 11 2014

The Monuments Men

This should have been an amazing movie about a handful of men attempting to save the world’s treasures from destruction and looting during the end years of WWII and the difficulties and sacrifices they had to make in their attempts to remind the world that the war was about civilization as well as people. Instead you have a half hearted film that does little to capture the imagination and personalize the people involved. A shame, really. 

Nov 10 2014

Studio Time 11-9-14

This actually represents some of last week as well, when I had to work out of the “garage” since the studio was unavailable.

I was re-thinking parts of the street scene I laid out a few weeks back. Here you can see sketchpad thoughts

to full sketches

to mock ups in Manga Studio

to pencils and initial inks

and final inks

Nov 10 2014

The World Wars

Another miniseries on the History channel that doesn’t suck (I wish that wasn’t a surprising statement). The show discusses specific figures that were incredibly prominent on the world stage in the second world war, but the wrinkle is that the show starts by discussing their roles–sometimes rather minor–in the first world war. In this way you get a better sense on how the experiences in one event shaped actions in another and that the two world wars should, for all practical purposes, be considered one continuous conflict. It makes perfect sense, men like Hitler, Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin, Patton, etc. didn’t just come into being fully formed. My only problem with the show is that in addition to professional historians who give insight into the events and people, they have interviews with some of the stupidest, most cowardly, politicians of the far right: Dick, Don, and John are hardly the people who can add anything substantive.

Nov 09 2014

Wolverine: Enemy of the State (vol 1) – Mark Millar

I didn’t care for this comic that has the former homicidal, near indestructible, mutant brain-washed into working for a cabal of evil organizations. It’s just too much. In an attempt to be hard core and dark, Millar just gives a blood bath as somehow Wolverine becomes the worlds most dangerous person. Well I remember a comic series that had Wolverine AND the entire X-Men getting their asses handed to them by Spider-Man and even the Wasp, and how many times did Sabretooth give Wolverine a run for his money, so stop it. 

Nov 08 2014

The Pillars of the Earth

I wasn’t too impressed with this TV/movie version of the Ken Follett book–not that I’ve read it. It deals with the many years of making a (fictitious) magnifcient cathedral during England’s tumultuous ”anarchy” times in the 12th century. I like that it integrated the history of England, its relationship to religion (both corrupt and holy), and details of the elaborateness of construction for that time; however, I just wasn’t too moved by it as a whole. Perhaps I would feel differently if I read it, except that I, like many of the time period discussed, am illiterate.

Nov 07 2014

Wolverine: Old Man Logan – Mark Millar

How does an immortal age? That never made sense to me but I alway let it go that you hit a certain age and stop, so an old Wolverine, the one time homicide mutant turned superhero, started me off wrong, and yet I did greatly enjoy this comic. The idea is 50 years after the super-villains conquered the world and Wolverine, now a farmer pacifist gets recruited to help a blind man drive across country. It is only in comics like this, fantasy one shots, that I like the extreme story-lines and Millar does a good job here, painting a horrible world in only a few strokes. I actually would like to see the story continue and to have the background fleshed out, but I realize that if it did it would probably fall apart. 

Nov 06 2014

Testament – Douglas Rushkoff

I read vol 1-3 (actually I read the first one twice) and it is a fascinating idea mixing Biblical stories with reinterpretations of them in a futuristic setting, all the while explaining a divine war between opposing theological beliefs. The problem, however, does not come from my occasional religious interpretive or depiction disputes (blond hair and blue eyed Hebrew Joseph, who is in chains in an Egyptian prison when it is clearly stated that he runs the joint?), but from the lackluster characterization of the main, mortal, players (and I mean much more so than the mostly naked depictions of an underage girl with an impossible body) who bore me to tears. I want to like this series but find it so hard to do so; I’m much more interested in Rushkoff’s explanations and thoughts on his creative process that the second and third volume have. 

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