Wednesday, September 26, 2007

New monkey sketches

Sketched these tonight (while attending a very interesting lecture by John Granger on Harry Potter -- Frankie came too, and we both bought one of his books).

He's got a lot of Hellboy in his design (shorts, pouches, grenades, revolvers -- the goggles even mimic the horns when they're up). It was a lot of fun to draw. I want to draw adventure stories with him now.

Preacher Vol. 4: Ancient History

I was made aware that there is a character in the Preacher series called The Saint of Killers. He gets sent to Hell and is offered the role of the Angel of Death, God's own destructive instrument. He accepts, and has the previous angel's sword made into two divine Colts. The first thing he does is cap the Devil. Sounds awesome, right?

You can read his full back-story here. It's pretty messed up stuff. The universe he lives in is depressing. It's a perverted take on our relationship with God and suffering.

I recently discovered that the entire illustrated back-story of the Saint of Killers is contained in Preacher Vol. 4, so I added the book to my Amazon wish list. The covers were awesome, and I remembered liking what I'd seen of Steve Dillon's artwork in the regular Preacher series (and later on The Punisher). Should have been a sure-thing, but I had the chance to check it out at a Borders before buying it, and unfortunately it's not very good. The artwork is not by Dillon, is just kind of ugly, and (you know me) if they can't be bothered to research and draw a proper pistol, forget it. (You can download a .pdf of the first four pages at this link.)

Well, at least the covers are cool. Here they are, for your viewing pleasure.

I apologize for the poor quality of two of the .jpgs. I got them from Fabry's website, and for some reason he has them all displayed low-quality.

He scales the pistols a bit larger than he should in that last piece, but they're still accurate in every other way. And, honestly, if you were going to exaggerate something for a painting and subject like this, that's the way to go. So maybe it was intentional.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Mignola + Western = More, Please

I found this beautiful piece inside a preview for one of the Hellboy prose novels. I have no desire to "read" a Hellboy story, so I make it a point to avoid them, but Mignola still contributes chapter art, and the first story begins with a western tale. It's almost enough to make me buy the book. Almost.

**edit** Bonus awesome Mignola image! Cover from the current Lobster Johnson mini-series.

Biola Alumni Show: 2007 - 2008

The wif and I were both recently tapped for pieces for the ongoing Biola Alumni art show. We had originally missed the deadline back in March for submitting work because we were neck-deep in wedding plans and Biola play stuff, but Barry recently approached us for stuff because they had a few artists drop out at the last minute. So, Amy has some photos in the current show (stuff from her senior show), and I'm going to have some work (hopefully) in the Winter/Spring show. Mine will probably be some pages from the Pooks comic.

There is some cool stuff in the current show (Zack Kleyn's stuff is always very intriguing -- he gave a lecture recently about his studies of the theme of voyeurism in light of the current popular technology trends (blogging, YouTube, Myspace, etc.), so if you're in the area, check it out. It's cool seeing friends and Biola alum who are still serious about making art.

Oh yeah, they're going to be printing a nice book full of alumni art as well, which I hope I will be in.

Final note: any Biola art alumni who aren't submitting stuff for this are gay. Scientifically.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Guy Davis draws awesome stuff

Check out this uber-sweet monster Guy Davis drew for Sam Hiti's fight blog! I like this guy's stuff more and more.

Check out this BPRD cast shot, too.

The Learning Curve - Pook Mine

The worst thing about working on this comic is that it takes me forever to draw everything but the monkeys. I can draw you a monkey in 10 seconds, but ask me to draw a mine, a town, the interior of a bar, anything else, and it's gonna take me a long time. I'll go through all my graphic novels that might give me a hint (Bone, Iron West, and Usagi Yojimbo for this book), and try and Google Image Search some reference.

The other thing that is slowing me down is shading. I can draw you fake one-light-source shadows all day, but drawing actual shadows (or, at least, good enough fake shadows) scares me. My characters are very cartoony, but my tendency is to draw everything else a bit more realistic. It makes the characters pop off the backgrounds better. Bone is like this: the Bone cousins are very simple cartoony characters set against these amazingly rendered backgrounds, and it works so beautifully.

A page I had inked back in July was giving me some anxiety because of the shading. It takes place in a mine with a single light source, a lantern. Most artists can get away without doing exact shadows for any stories that take place during the day under normal lighting, but as I finished the panel, I realized an enclosed space with a definite light source needed appropriate shadows.

Here's the panel as it existed originally (though I had already started darkening in the tunnel here):

This is one of the pages I showed to Stan Sakai at the Comic Con, actually. He advised me to make the long black shadows there are appropriate for the lighting of such a scene. That was what made me anxious, because I didn't want to ruin the page. So, I scanned the panel in and started dabbling with it in Photoshop to see how it would look with everything darker.

It didn't look too bad, so I took the plunge and inked them on the page:

I think it turned out all right. I added a lot of texture to the ground and walls as well to continue the darkness. I still have a lot to learn about inking (the lines on the back wall aren't "classy" inking, they just get the job done), but each step makes the next less daunting.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Hellboy HCs coming!

According to Dark Horse, Spring 08 will finally see the release of the Hellboy trades in HC.

Also in spring of 2008, Dark Hose will begin releasing Mike Mignola’s Hellboy in hardcover, “Library Editions” similar to the treatment it has given Frank Miller’s Sin City. Each hardcover will collect two trades which will be collected in chronological order. All of the current trades are slated to be collected in this format.

I'm a huge fan of getting HCs of the work I really like, so this is a no-brainer for me. If they are priced like the Sin City Library Editions, Amazon should have them for a good discount.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

3:10 To Yuma (2007)

Finally saw the new 3:10 To Yuma last night.

Overall: good not great. I did see the original first (which I loved, if you recall).

The Good: setting, action, character designs, music.

The use of a snowy background in the final scenes was a beautiful choice. It was almost an alien landscape. The bright white pops up in the background of this dusty brown town so suddenly that it jarred me. The rest of the locations were appropriately beautiful as well, though sometimes the shots of the group could have been a bit wider to better show their location.

The action was pretty good. Good gunfights, though the sound effects could have been a bit better. For the most part, they were better than the canned sound effects of, say, Young Guns or something, but they weren't at the level of Open Range. Mangold went for realistic with his sounds, so he should have aimed for Open Range's heights. He did add a bit of character to the different character's gun sounds, though, and that was cool. The shootouts were pretty well staged, and I desperately want Tanaka or Marushin to make a Schofield now.

Mangold did a good job making each character look distinct. It wasn't just "Western guy 1 with brown hat" and "Western guy 2 with lighter brown hat and dark pants." You had Ben Wade, dressed as a gentleman gunfighter, with bowler and nice-but-dusty suit and sweet-but-irrelevant-to-the-story "Hand of God" Colt S.A.A.; Dan, skinny and scraggly with one leg and plain, droopy, drab clothes, armed with a Sharps rifle (which, even though it is said that he is a crack-shot, is never put to good use); Charlie Prince, bearded and clad in a distinct cream leather jacket, armed with dual Schofields; Byron, aged bounty hunter wielding a sweet looking shortened shotgun (which is a carry-over from the original movie -- the gun, not the character, oddly).

The music was well-done and clearly inspired by Morricone's style. I appreciated that Mangold chose to use this sort of music rather than some sweeping orchestral score.

The Meh: padding the story with extra scenes and characters, shortening the best parts from the 1957 movie.

There were several scenes and characters in the new one not present in the first adaptation. Some were OK (like the scene with the Apache attack) just because they had some cool action, but none of them added much to the story. Adding Dan's kid to the mix didn't do a whole lot for me either. In the original, it was sufficient to show his family's disappointment at his ranch and then leave him to wrestle with that on his own for the rest of the movie. Keeping the kid around the entire time artificially created a tension that wasn't as interesting or dramatic, because it took focus away from Dan and also diluted Dan's decision-making process. (If the kid is right there, there's much more pressure to "do the right thing," and it makes his decision less about him having the courage to do what is right and more about "well, can't look bad in front of the kid.")

This also hurts my favorite aspect of the original movie, the moral conflict between Wade and Dan. It's just not as well-executed in this new one. I really felt for Dan in the original, and you could just see this moral anguish going on in his head the whole time as Wade tortures him in the hotel room. It was some profound stuff, and it comes off as forced and awkward in Mangold's version. Also, it's not as efficient in its storytelling. The 1957 version seemed to center entirely around the waiting in the hotel room, which was the most interesting and provocative part of the story, while the 2007 version treated that scene like any other and just moved through it.

Another (rather odd) negative aspect is Bale's physicality versus Van Heflin's. For whatever reason, Mangold made Bale scrawny, greasy, and weak-looking. You never once thought he could take Crowe in a fight. In the original, Van Heflin is physically bigger than Ford, and this makes his character that much more tragic. It's a minor detail, but it made me sympathize with him more. Here is a man who you can see once had the respect of others, who had control over his own destiny, and who has now lost the respect of his own family and has to beg for money. The physical difference tipping the other direction worked better for the conflict between Ben and Dan.

New 3:10 - fun, satisfies my desire for some Western action, but not the great movie that the old 3:10 is.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Wet Hot American Summer (2001)

I forgot to write about this one. I saw it originally on Comedy Central one day, and some of the scenes killed me. Paul Rudd's character is freakin' hilarious throughout the whole movie, whether he's begrudgingly picking his tray up off the cafeteria floor or letting a kid drown so he can make out with a loose camp counselor. Or throwing the only witness out of a speeding van miles from the camp.

The movie is a spoof of summer camp movies. It hits all the cliches and takes everything pretty far (including a gay scene that went way further than I wanted it to -- you'll know when it starts, and you can immediately skip it without missing anything), from the "geeky guy
tries to pry hot girl away from jerk," to "desperate guy who is all talk tries to lose virginity before camp ends," to "impending over-the-top doom for the camp," to "the cook is bat-$#!^ insane." And probably hundreds more.

The cast is great: Janeane Garofalo, David Hyde Pierce, Paul Rudd, that guy from that law show I think (who is hilarious, it turns out) named Chris Meloni, Amy Poehler, Molly Shannon, Joe Lo Truglio (from Superbad, most recently), and Elizabeth Banks (40 Year Old Virgin). Plus other funny people.

The movie has some pretty raunchy moments, but it's also got some really really funny stuff. I don't even remember this coming out. Did it bomb horribly? I would think this would be one of those movies with big college followings. It's very quotable.

B.P.R.D.: The Dead

I have actually been avoiding these BPRD books for a while now, because initially I had been turned off by the lack of Mignola art. I also remember looking through one of the books and not caring for Guy Davis' style. I recently flipped through a BPRD book at a Borders, though, and realized that I've been depriving myself of something I'd actually really enjoy.

I like this book quite a bit. Guy Davis' art has really grown on me. In fact, I think it's great stuff. It serves the story very well. His renditions of Mignola's characters and stories achieve just the right feeling, that of horror mixed with humor mixed with pulp. The writing, too, holds that balance at the same level as the art.

The story concerns the BPRD (which stands for Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense -- it's the team Hellboy used to belong to) moving their headquarters to an abandoned military research facility in Colorado. Once there, they encounter crazy Nazi/ghostly/paranormal weirdness, of course. There are some great moments of humor and horror as the story unfolds. One such moment involves Ben, the new team leader, ordering Roger to put on some pants, then changing his mind when he sees the result of his order. Roger is also mystified throughout by everyone's insistence that he should have a gun. Johann, at one point, find this awesome looking 40's style machine/weapon that he straps to his back to fight an "angel," and the image is one of my favorite illustrations from the book (actually, you can see it on the cover up there).

There is also a secondary story about Abe Sapien's past. It's ok, but it is sort of distracting from the main story. It takes a long time to get where it's going, which is not that climactic once it's there. It feels like it should have been a standalone section in one of Mignola's Hellboy books rather than a back-up in a BPRD book.

I love the new characters Johann and Ben. (Johann is the character on the top center of the cover above; Ben is on the far right on the bottom, though you can't see much of him.) Johann adds more good weirdness and Ben's personality hits off the other characters in interesting ways. I'm looking forward to finding more out about each of them.

Another reviewer mentioned that Roger's personality seems a bit different from his outings in the pages of Hellboy. I agree with that, but I don't think the change is a bad one. It actually adds another layer to the team dynamic, and it's not so far off from Roger's previous depictions so as to be jarring.

I will definitely be picking up more of these books, provided that this creative team is still involved. I'm partial to consistent creative teams, and since from book 3 on the team all Davis, Arcudi, and Mignola, it looks like those will be the ones I collect.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Cowboy Monkeys from Comic Con 2007

Here you go! These are all the cowboy monkey sketches I collected at Comic Con this year, in the order in which I received them.
First is Gabe's (from Penny Arcade). A fine rendition! A good way to start the series.

Next is one of my favorites, illustrated with shaming speed by Sir Eef.

Next is by J. Goldberg, the artist from this book. I think it's a great monkey.

Then comes Val's irrepressably cute anime version:

Frank Cho provided his own alter-ego for this one:

I caught Rob Schrab and got this piece! A bargain at $20.

Then I had my good friend Frak take a crack at it. My only solace is that I can draw better guns than he can.My friend Mike whipped up this little ditty over lunch. As usual, he takes the opportunity to make a respectful tribute to our nation's history.

Then our friend and Comic Con buddy two-years-running Steve followed it up with an insightful take on a modern political issue. (He kept insisting that he sucked at drawing -- good one, Steve!):

Next I handed my sketchbook to Doug:Then, just across the floor from Doug, I asked Steve Purcell if he would oblige. He looked hesitant, and said, "It'll just be a quick one," and then ended up with this:

Then forum friend Sean gave me this! I couldn't believe how many people could draw good cowboy hats. I suck at them.

Comic errors

And I'm not talking about Rob Liefeld's refusal to learn human anatomy. (very tired ZING!)
I recently picked up The Ballad of Sleeping Beauty, because, of course, it's a Western comic. It's decent. The art is pretty good, and the weird Carnivale-like stuff in the story is interesting enough. The artist draws a good gun-fight, something a lot of my other Western comics are lacking, even if he does opt for a modern muzzle-flash rather than a technologically appropriate puff of smoke.

One of the things that bugged me about it (cue loss of normal audience here) was that the artist kept drawing the guy reloading his Civil War-era pistol with a swing-out cylinder. I don't know exactly when swing-out cylinders became the norm for revolvers (my guess would be at the turn of the century when double-action revolvers were becoming the standard), but I do know that no cap-and-ball or cartridge conversion pistols from that era had swing-out cylinders.

What's worse (WORSE!) is that the arist has the auDACITY to draw the same error a few pages later, but swinging out on the OTHER SIDE! Can you believe it? No revolver has ever worked this way. Come ON.

I like how he never draws the cylinder arm. Where is it? How is the cylinder sliding out? It's in the shadows. We'll never know.

I admit that that is a pretty nit-picky and nerdy thing to be bothered by. How many people know that kind of thing, after all? I mean besides anyone who has ever studied the operation of those guns.

But BUT I have something that should make you all laugh now. I enjoyed Damion Scott's art for the Batgirl book quite a bit. Once in a while he had some issues with storytelling, but for the most part it was my favorite depiction of the awesome Thai Batgirl. There is one panel that cracked me up, though. Let's see if you can spot the problem.

See it yet? Yes? Awesome. No? See the closeup below.

*pushes up glasses* Ahhh, excuse me, are we to believe that this is some sort of magic auto-shell-ejecting revolver? Ah ha, ah ha, ah ha. Boy, I really hope someone got fired for that one.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Western Nerd

I finally got a picture of all my Western-themed airsoft guns. I swear, they're for reference.

I know I've lost my audience at this point, but, for myself, here's a list of them from top to bottom:

Winchester 1887 lever-action shotgun (the one from T2, but full-size -- Nick Cage also used one in Ghost Rider), Winchester 1892 rifle, Winchester 1873 Randall Custom (based on the gun Steve McQueen used in his TV show), Remington 1851, and two Colt S.A.A.s.