Sunday 31 January 2010

Watching: Batman: the Brave and the Bold, Vampire Diaries
Playing: Fallout 3 AGAIN
Being: hungover and weekend-lazy

Saturday 30 January 2010

Watching: Dark Knight, Bones, Starcom

Friday 29 January 2010

Watching: Purple Rain - EPIC soundtrack. I suspect this was made in the 1980s.

Thursday 28 January 2010

Watching: Human Target, White Collar, Greek

Monday 25 January 2010

Perspective FAIL.

Watching: Love That Girl, CSI, 18 To Life, Vampire Diaries, Bones, TNA, Planet Hulk - I thought this was maybe abridged a bit from the original comics, but no, it really is a slight story with nothing clever or intellectually rewarding for the viewer, just crudely-stylised and animated monsters stabbing and punching each other for an hour and a bit. Luckily, that's pretty much all I want from my viewing as a baseline so I enjoyed it, especially how they replaced the Silver Surfer from the comic version with my all-time second favorite magic space horse to appear in Marvel comics Beta Ray Bill in the cartoon, even if he is a great big woman's fanny of a wimp for some reason in it. It's a bit stabby and head-squashy in places, and the little baby burning to death might be a bit much for kids to watch, but I'm going to hoodwink the younger relatives into watching it for just that reason, and with the downer-ending from the comics absent, it ends on a happy non-genocidal note so they can pretend it's like a Disney film or something - though ironically, Walt Disney probably supported genocide, but that's just how the union-busting, scab-employing anti-semite rolled, and who am I to hold it against him? Planet Hulk is good mindless fun, and a decent follow-up to last year's Wolverine vs Hulk.

Sunday 24 January 2010

Watching: Eastwick, White Collar, Batman: Brave and the Bold
Reading: Dear Billy, Death Day

Saturday 23 January 2010

How am I not drunk at this time on a Caturday? Because I'm a penniless bum and it's the end of the first month after Christmas - ain't nobody on the tear tonight, son.

Reading: The Incredible Hercules #140 - there's a reason why Marvel has become the playground bully in terms of comics publishing of late, and that's because books like this about nobody characters from their roster are some of the best reading you'll find in funnybooks. Hephaestus' deathtrap and it's rather glaring flaw is a standout moment in a book full of daft setpieces and funky ideas, and I'm surprised not only at the consistent course the book has steered over the last few years even with crossovers to navigate every few months, or that it's a fun title that doesn't talk down to the reader through its use of boorish wit from the musclebound title character, but that I actually care at all enough to have kept reading this far, cynical tosser that I am - it's an unashamedly fun title that revels in the standards of the medium, particularly in the inventive use of SFX.
Watching: My Life As Liz, Ugly Betty, Cougar Town, Modern Family, Time Trumpet.

Friday 22 January 2010

Watching: TNA (I'm not proud of it, like), CSI Miami, Modern Family, Crash.
Listening: The Holy Bible, Where the Wild Things Are: OST, War Rocket Ajax.

Thursday 21 January 2010

Dollhouse finale - Meh. I've seen all of it now, and while there was admittedly more to it than 'child-like whores fulfill any male fantasy and occasionally something goes Wrong with the process', there wasn't that much terribly interesting about what was there. Some decent twists and the odd glimmer of potential in the death throes, but the only really interesting concept was the post-apocalyptic setting of the epilogues, and I'd rather have had a series about that instead of one where Eliza Dushku got beat up, stripped, or cried every time we were supposed to care a jot about her character. C+

Prodigy - got me a hankering from somewhere for those old-school beats they excelled at before Fat of the Land came along and turned them into a pantomime, in much the same way that I never realised what a bunch of middle-class wankers the Manics were before Everything Must Go became a fixture in every 4x4 on a school run. Oh God, now I want to listen to Holy Bible...

Wednesday 20 January 2010

Back to the thumbnaily grind for a bit, and I'm fighting my usual urge to fill backgrounds with any old shit just to fill a blank space.

24 season 8- I'm only two episodes in, but by christ you can tell Star Trek: Voyager's Brannon Braga is writing it: not a single character is spared from having to talk exposition to another, and it's not good telly. Jack is as entertaining as ever when spared this chore, obviously, lasting almost a full forty minutes in episode one before he axe-murders someone and throws the dude's bud down a stairway to his death as an afterthought. He barely notices it's happened and I'm probably imagining the look of disappointment on his face when he realises that the other guy is dead already.
Accidentally On Purpose - I've stopped watching a lot of shite in the current television season (Brothers, Hank, Flashforward, Heroes), so I'm at a loss as to why I'm still watching this. It's akin to being stabbed in the eye with a corkscrew... is the kind of thing I'd say for humourous effect, but of course it's nothing like that at all, it's just a not-very-funny sitcom that I can always choose not to watch that features an actress who left Ugly Betty to do this instead. I can't decide if that's failing up or failing down, because failing sideways isn't really failing as much as it is a steady career.
The Middle - also not terribly funny, but it does have the distinction of being one of the few new shows where I can remember the names of at least three of the cast through what I laughably refer to as my 'attention span', although Neil Flynn is a no-brainer as he was probably the most bearable part of Scrubs and it's pretty funny watching him play a part that requires him not to project an air of barely-restrained and deeply inappropriate hostility at all times, and I'm not actually sure if Eden Sher is the daughter or the eldest son, but I'm taking my victories where I can. I could Google that, but I'm not going to. It's funny in places, in fairness, and not to get too Norman Bates but there's something about Patricia Heaton's unnecessarily passive Mom that just begs to be repeatedly kicked up the arse - and in fairness life usually obliges, so possibly that's deliberate.

Reading... erm...

Tuesday 19 January 2010

Watching: Star Trek: Phase 2. A fan-made sequel to the original pop-cultural landmark rather than an original continuity of new characters, Phase 2 has some pretty horrendous acting. That's pretty much my main take on it, as it overshadows almost everything else, which is a shame given the effort involved that's yielded a damn fine recreation of the original series' visual aesthetic, right down to the garish studio lighting.

The FX let the side down by being significantly better than what would have appeared on the original series, but alongside the remastered episodes do highlight how little the show really needed retooling for later iterations given both it's recognisability worldwide, its place as a cultural artifact of the mid-20th century, and also as a meta-franchise that now supports an entirely canon alternate-reality retelling as a box-office draw alongside the series itself. This is the route that a new tv series should have taken, if only to spare us Picard's jumpsuited communists wandering the galaxy avoiding fights.

Standout moment among the bad acting and dialogue of latest episode Blood and Fire is probably James Cawley's Kirk noting in passing that his nephew Peter is gay and not being terribly concerned, but that's what we'd expect of Kirk at this stage, as the man has seen more fanny than the gynecologists of seven worlds and has little to prove to anyone, I imagine, though this is still a bit of a coup for the show given it's co-written by Star Trek veteran David Gerrold, and none of the official series ever managed to represent the gay community beyond seedy allusions in the otherwise-great DS9 that reduced homosexuality in the Trek universe(s) to something only indulged by the morally ambiguous or outright evil - though in fairness, you can lay exactly the same allegation at its feet about the portrayal of interracial couples.

Still, it's a great little series if you can get past the shortcomings of the acting and dialogue, but in fairness there are few 'proper' actors among the cast of mostly-fans - though those that are (such as TNG's Denise Crosby) seem to be going the extra mile of recreating the bad acting that surrounds them to the point that it probably helps the view of it all as something mates ran up after putting a few drinks down their neck.

Monday 18 January 2010

So I'm watching the Human Target pilot as it's now a tv series. Based on the comic book character created in the 1970s but unquestionably popularised of late to the point where a televised adaptation is seen as an option by the work of Peter Milligan for DC Comics' Vertigo imprint, the trades are a good first port of call for those pretentious dicks who think they're too good for comics, alongside stuff like Strangers in Paradise, crudely drawn biographies about the holocaust/Middle East, or - I dunno - comics about rape told from the female point of view or something. Jolly stuff, you know?

Anyway, I'm watching Human Target, and about ten minutes in, it's about as good as any other show of its ilk that I watch, like Leverage, for instance - except while I watch and occasionally enjoy Leverage, it's still just a big ol' heap of shit at the end of the day and I'm indulging as much as I am watching it, and that's what human target is. It's a big old pile of shit, and given the pedigree of some of the comic tales, which are not what you'd think of as difficult to adapt, I really had to ask myself "Why is this show so shit?"

It's one of those mysteries that solves itself, really.
There's a bit halfway through where two guys are having a bit of fisticuffs in a runaway train car, and all I could think of was the leaked script adapting Neil Gaiman's Sandman comic that basically opened with Sandman having fisticuffs with his evil brother and he says something like "You won't defeat me, Sandman - I'm the king of bad dreams!" and that's the level of comic book adaptation you're getting with Human Target, especially when Chase speaks to his clients for the first time and I genuinely wondered - based on the words coming out of the mouths of characters - if the writer had ever actually met another human being.
If you can indulge bad television and miss the kind of show that pushed a lone male protagonist against the world in a shooty/runny kind of situation four times an episode, it might hold your attention, but otherwise you might not care for it. If you're diehard fan of the comics, you should avoid it like the plague, unless you like to tear things down for being terrible, in which case you can probably come up with a decent drinking game to play during episodes.
"When someone says Chase is a loose cannon, you drink beer. When the music swells really loudly to tell you what to think or feel, drink beer. When Chase poses and tells the bad guy how he totally pwns the current situation, drink a shot. When Chase makes an amazing deduction that's suspiciously like that bit in last week's Monk, take a shot."
Awful television - naturally, this does not mean I won't be watching next week.
Watching: Bones, CSI, 18 to Life, Cougar Town, Community, House
Reading: Avengers: Initiative, Red Robin, Captain America Reborn, Adventure Comics
Drawing: NOTHING it's still the weekend.

Struck in the last few days by how little I've been aware of the Haitian coverage, being as we've disconnected the aerial in the flat to avoid incurring the Licence Fee. The numbers are a little numbing, I admit, but even catching the rolling updates on BBC News 24 at the gym, I can't shake a suspicion of Missing White Woman Syndrome in that a lot of the coverage I did catch seems focused on westerners on the ground.
It has at least made me resolve to get back into the habit of reading a newspaper - a habit I have to admit I'm missing a little of late with the absence of background noise television, which is usually music or news.

Saturday 16 January 2010


Book of Eli - one of the failings of Fallout 3 was a lack of video sequences to tie together the main plot and stop the eventual resolution feeling like a bit of an anticlimax, but there's probably enough similarities between that and this to imagine what it might have been like if one of my favorite time sinks had a better bookend than a Ron Perlman voiceover. The visual trappings of Eli are quite dour and the theological subtext might trouble some of your more argumentative liberals, though the idea of thousands of years of Christianity reduced to just another bunch of words on a shelf might offset that on an intellectual level. The rest of the film, while competent, falls short in terms of entertainment and - oddly - artistic merit compared to other post-apocalyptic offerings of more humble means, though the one film that kept coming to mind was Patrick Swayze's Steel Dawn, possibly because of the western influence on the story, setting and main character - but it's an unfavorable comparison given that the Swayze-starrer had brevity and a lightness of touch to proceedings born of the low budget and embarrassing 1980s vision of post-apocalyptia, while Eli is sombre, overlong, and has an ending that's a bit like the end of an episode of Smallville in that it just won't finish. It's a journeyman adventure, and all things considered I've had more enjoyment from watching horrible no-budget DVD travesties like She-Wolves of the Wasteland or America 3000 by dint of not having high expectations to meet. For definitive wasteland fiction, A Boy and His Dog or Damnation Alley probably remain a better bet.


Wolverine: Origins #43
- More of the usual murderous fun from Marvel's biggest draw with small children as he has a slow day and only disembowels one person for a whole book. I'm sure he'll be back at his all-ages best next month, but in the meantime, it's great to see 1980s staples Cloak and Dagger doing something other than filling space on team books written by someone with more of an eye on the comics internet and what it's talking about than a plan what to actually do with old-school favorites once they're jammed into a glorified cameo, which is pretty much all C&D have been doing since their stint on Marvel Knights ended about ten years ago, particularly in Runaways, where they did little more than jobbing to get newer characters over with that title's fast-shrinking monthly readership. Here, Dagger is admittedly little more than a joke, reduced to a damsel in distress/"chicks don't understand a man's pain" role, but it's at least a meaty role with some sort of emotional substance and palpable sense of danger to it, and the 20-something Cloak and Dagger don't spend all their time banging on about 'the good old days' of comics from the writer's youth, which is a comic book trope of which I am thoroughly sick to the back teeth.
The Boys #38 - I get two impressions from this comic. 1 - that Garth Ennis is writing about non-whites again and you either have an opinion about that by now or you don't, and 2 - that he's seen Aliens more than once. Ennis is always readable, of course, but The Female didn't really need an origin and that's what this issue is.


Nothing at all - it's saturday, bugger off!

Friday 15 January 2010

Thumbnails again. Looking oddly coherent this time, I thought.

Watching: ER Season 1 - I missed this first time around - it was sixteen years ago that the damn thing started - and while it's good, I'm surprised how much of it can be viewed as parody given (I assume) the series' influence on successors breeding a familiarity with its dominant tropes, but also how reliant on formula it actually is in places. The SERIOUS BUSINESS episode titles don't help me viewing it as occasionally prone to insufferable po-facedness, but it's competent stuff and a world away from the outright hatefulness and contempt for the audience displayed in the likes of Grey's Anatomy. Fantastic Mr Fox is probably my favorite film of the year so far, although, yes, it's only the 15th of January. It's not so much offbeat as it is drowned in the stylistic quirks of director Wes Anderson, like random audio cues, head-on profile shots during deadpan exchanges (common in film, but a rarity for animation), an offbeat soundtrack and a main character who's an utter dick. I have absolutely no idea what kids are supposed to make of it, but even the slightest things had me in hysterics, like Kylie's glazed expression apropos of nothing, Fox eating breakfast, Willem Dafoe's Rat (particularly his swansong), the utterly random encounter with a wolf that's shot suspiciously like Bergman would frame a portent of death and which ends in a black power salute, Bill Murray and George Clooney's random lapse into gangster cliche that degenerates suddenly into teeth-gnashing and hand-waving - sometimes it's not even the situations that are memorable but their presentation in the stop-motion form, such as the third-person chase sequences, or the tractors clawing ineffectually at Fox's home in the background of a shot in much the same way you'd expect them to in a single-take scene from a live-action film. I enjoyed it immensely and see myself watching it again.

Reading: Marvel Comics' Siege #1- I liked this story well enough seven years ago when Dan Jurgens did it in Thor, but it seems a bit flat in the retelling. Punisher Max #3 - Loved the Kingpin/Punisher shootout. Dillon and Aaron are firing on all cylinders here, and while the former has yet to display any great emotional or dramatic depth in writing these characters, he's got the tone of the previous epoch-defining Garth Ennis run down to a tee in terms of gruesome people doing horrible things in a way that's escaped pretty much everyone else who followed comics' favorite war comic-writing pretend Irishman, and it's easily one of the books I most look forward to reading each month. Ultimate Comics Spider-Man - while not terrible, this relaunched teen-friendly title feels like it's lost its way somehow. I'm not enthused about any of the mysteries or subplots, possibly because they feel a little forced in trying to break from traditional Spidey lore, though possibly it's because they feel more than a little familiar to anyone who's been watching televised sci-fi or teen dramas of late. Unoriginality does not in itself make a bad book, and UCSM is certainly readable, but less so than I'd expect or hope based on past form. LaFuente is a good artist, mind - I really like his expressive and loosly-stylised linework.

Thursday 14 January 2010

Loosely thumbnailing chapter two of the GN and waiting to see if there are any significant edits requested before I start drawing (on account of my monstrously slow pace since Christmas, mainly). My thumbnails are ludicrously messy and difficult to decipher for anyone but me, though I'm sure some would argue the end product doesn't improve by much. Those people I punch in the face.
Reading: 2000ad - well, Dredd's always good with John Wagner at the helm, but everything else is a mish-mash of stuff I'm not terribly enthused about these past two weeks. The drawback of the anthology format, I suppose. Judge Dredd Megazine has the distinction of featuring Tank Girl, a strip that convinced me for the first time ever that I don't need to read every part of an anthology book just because I've paid for it, a feeling that then extended to Bato Loco, a horrible strip about a Latino stereotype played for "laughs". I'll be charitable and assume I'm not the target audience. I am the target audience for the possibly certifiable Al Ewing's Tempest, however: fresh from his kung-fu battle to the death with a cyborg panda crimelord last issue, Tempest is pressganged into helping spring Stan Lee - the deadliest man alive - from Iso Block 666, and the over-all-too-quickly episode ends with some Judges jumping into robot suits and getting given a shoot to kill order, because what the most ruthless police force in creation (whose members are basically Green Berets thrown out of the army for being too rough) really need is to be given a stompy robot with huge guns and then told not to restrain themselves like they usually do.
Watching: The Good Wife - taking an oddly sinister turn of late, with an initially ludicrous conspiracy subplot making me a bit paranoid about almost every character on the show who gets a speaking part to the point I'm thinking "What is that nanny up to? Who does she work for?" Well played. CSI Miami never fails to disappoint in referencing modern pop-cultural phenomena (this week it's a singing teen starlet named after an American state who wears a horrible blonde wig onstage) , but always excels in getting across just how reactionary, right-wing and conservative its makers are, and this week also how shallow their reading of any given trend - but then what should I really have expected of a show whose commentary on a GTA analogue was "You get bonus points for raping the cashier during a bank robbery"? Castle remains enjoyable fluff, but this week featured one of the lead actresses from Charmed (one of the few fantasy shows I cannot watch no matter how hard I try and which has actually made me physically cringe while watching it on those occasions I've made the effort) and it sort of brought me down. Castle's partner is hot, though - but his daughter needs a haircut badly. Bangs with ginger hair - hard to pull off as an adult, impossible as a teen.

Wednesday 13 January 2010

So after all this bloomin' time, I've finished a grand total of

pages of the Shako strip. What wonderful time management I have - it's probably my only saving grace that it took about 6-8 hours per page including tones and letters. Sadly, those 8 hours took place over a month or something.
I'm speeding up, though - if for no other reason than to poke fun at other artists for being slow.

Watched: Make It Happen, which is awful. So Don't.
Reading: Scalped, which is good, but sadly not the stratospheric reading experience I've been led to expect from Jason Aaron's rep and his admittedly great Punisher work. It seems forced and unconvincing in its bullheadedness, but not as much so as many other post-Mark Millar writers. A good read, but a little too much into it's own tropes to be the breakout story it should be. Definitely recommended, all the same, and I could see it making a damn good tv show.

Tuesday 12 January 2010

Monday 11 January 2010

I'm considering implementing a 'sauce' policy with the blog, whereby I put up only pics of hot tail on certain days to see if I can get a rise in traffic around here, but I'm limited by two things:
1 - on any given day I'll be constrained by the remit of my (unpaid but time-consuming) work, meaning I'll be drawing bears massacring a small portion of the science/intelligence community, or posthuman collectives (don't call them zombies!) chasing the crap out of thirtysomething Englanders, and while both are awesome, neither is terribly sexy. Or
2 - instead of doing work I'll concede I've got the block and I'll watch my way through tv shows uploaded to the web on my pc while sketching the first thing that comes into my head, which isn't saucy very often, as it's usually just crude sketches of bears massacring people or Captain America running over nazis on a motorcycle - American-made, naturally.

But now Mondays will be sauce days. Not sure what this will entail, probably just buxom femmes doing buxom femme stuff involving lounging on beds, smoking a cigarette while giving a smoldering look, or goading bears into massacring people.
You can probably go ahead and not get your hopes up for those first two scenarios.

Sunday 10 January 2010

Reading Scott Pilgrim, I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that I'm not really that into it.

It's taken a while longer than usual for this to sink in because the book is maddeningly full of things which I find both awesome and criminally underused elsewhere, especially pop-cultural references that directly comment on the story rather than existing only as scatological cutaways - ala the Family Guy stable of animated comedies - that go nowhere beyond referencing something from the creator's youth.

I think the biggest wall for me is Scott and his circle of friends, who are kind of uninteresting and lacking any kind of emotional depth. Certainly there are tropes and character traits that I recognize in others of my generation, but I think I need more than something that only 'touches base' - or at least which feels like there's a little more depth to the characters - to be truly invested, but O'Malley's character voices are consistent and it's easy to get into the groove of reading them, so I'll definately finish the story when Volume 6 comes out - though to be honest, I've only ever given up on two comics that I can recall.
Earth X because it was boring me and I just didn't care to see the end, and that issue of Chuck Austen's New X-Men where an emo angel sang an emo song (after having sex with his fifteen year-old girlfriend in front of her mother, naturally) and it took up several pages at the very back of the comic and I literally stopped reading with something like half a page to go. Oddly, I gave up on Ultimate X-Men in much the same way around the time Ultimate Sinister came into it and Rogue was trying to bang Iceman - I can't recall the specific moment I found it too dull to continue reading as it had all just run together by that point and I don't even know if I finished the issue I was reading when I reached the decision to stop. The Mark Millar stuff that preceded it was big dumb fun that set the bar too high for his clones to adequately reach, I guess.

If you cast your eyes down the page to yesterday's post, you'll notice I've done absolutely nothing between then and now in terms of drawing. I could blame sundays, but my PS3 keeps crashing so videogames cannot be my scapegoat. I'm just lazy and that resolution about getting my shit together seems wise, if potentially over-optimistic.

Reading: Scott Pilgrim, Nation
Watching: Mercy, Forgotten, Space: 1999

Wednesday 6 January 2010

Tuesday 5 January 2010

(re)Drawing killer bears to make them look like the right species, because there's a big difference between grizzlies and polar bears, and not just because you can probably take a grizzly in a straight fight if you set your mind to it.

Monday 4 January 2010

Sunday 3 January 2010

Quick Batman sketch for caption-compo-related tomfoolery (a long story that basically ends with 'family, maaaaan - they always get yeh').