Monday, 31 May 2010

Watching: Strike Back - I never realised until I was watching this, but England has a pronounced middle class, you know. And thank God - who knows what the oiks would be getting up to without ruperts and uni grads to set them right.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Watching: Easy Rider, Wolfman
Playing: Fallout 3 - I think it's safe to say at this stage that I'm an addict.

Friday, 28 May 2010

It's Friday and that means booze.

Watching: videos of bears on Youtube, CSI:NY, Parenthood

Watching: Good Wife, Treme, Glee
Listening: Everything Comes Back to 2000ad, War Rocket Ajax

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

1 Year old, son

And so at last I hit the one year mark for daily 'sketchblogging' without the 'daily sketch' part - barring that time when I didn't want to post from the final pages of a story going in someone else's book so had to do sketches despite myself. For the past 12 months, the blog has been helpful in that it's made me sit down and actually draw something in order to post, so on that score it's been a success for me in helping me keep to a routine - if not an actual schedule.
I've been thinking about being unemployed, too - in the last five years, I've been a retailer, a graphic designer, a glazer, a carpenter, a printer, and by default I must now actually refer to myself as an 'artist' because it's pretty much all I've been doing in any constant capacity, even though I probably wouldn't still be doing it if stuff didn't need watching on the pc.

"Don't give up on me, Zokhan - don't die on me now!"
"All forms of physical contact including coitus are off the table."

Goodbye, Jack, you gloriously brutal and unstoppable fucker.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Starting early today, Vista!

But choo won' stop me!

From drawing a lot of talky panels now I've got past the murdery bits.
Crazy deformed hands.

CSI: Miami - "You think I'm stupid? Hello? Phd here." An actual quote as a college professor taunts the team with her superior intelligence.
NCIS: LA - Yes, woman, good call: tell him all about the little sister he's only now discovered he once had and who rests in an anonymous grave since her death in infancy because that'll cheer him up at this stage of the narrative, especially "she cried every night because she couldn't be with her little brother." Fucking hell.

Monday, 24 May 2010

I've just rewatched the final episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion - by which I mean I've just watched the final episode of Lost, and I was a wee bit disappointed by the get-out for the sideways reality, revealed as it was to be a purgatorial holding area for the characters, and I probably shouldn't have laughed quite as much as I did at my brother's comment that the final battle between Jack and the Man In Black was basically the climax of The Search For Spock. The final shot was also easy to spot well in advance if only because it's been ripped off so many times now it's become a virtual parody in and of itself.
Still, it was... well, it's over. On that level, it at least serves its purpose as a finale, but as a capstone on expectations built up over the last six years, it falls a little short.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

God. Damn. It is hot.

In hillbilly news, Tyrone soundly thrashed Antrim today with a lead of 2-14 over 1-13 - yes, I'm talking redneck gibberish no sensible person should understand. A bit like Hebrew, in that respect.
Beer in this hand, salted peanuts (not a euphemism) in the other, eyes glazed as I watch furrow-browed neanderthals (some actual relations among them, believe it or not) scrape their knuckles through the mud in a contest of wills that is not and never will be a real sport - dammit but I am a million miles from civilisation. I bet there's probably some Afghan chap sitting in a cactus-juice bar watching his cousins on the tv as they throw burning goats at each other and lamenting inwardly that he doesn't draw enough Spider-Man pictures in a day, because at heart I really do believe it's that small a world. To him I offer advice I often give myself: chin up, Abdul Mohammad Chomhgaill - tomorrow is brighter still!
In other late to the party news: fucking magnets - how do they work?

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Is there any better feeling than crawling out of bed in the afternoon to the sun in the sky and a beer buzz from the night before? I suspect there is not.
It's great weather in this neck of the woods, and it makes me wish I had some kind of lawn furniture so I could go a-barbecuing.

St Trinians 2: The search for Fritton's Gold - I first became aware of this at an all-night anime marathon that I think is reviewed back in the wilds of the blog archives somewhere, where it was a poster on a wall and for the life of me I simply could not believe that it was a real thing and not a spoof image the event organisers had put up as decoration, but God help me I actually enjoyed it. Don't get me wrong, it's as awful as you've probably heard or assumed it is, full of unfunny jokes and aimless references to pop cultural ephemera, but it's so awful, the references so bafflingly random (the 'Saint Trinians Day speech' is exactly what it sounds like) and the stereotyping of characters so lamentably broad that it takes on an air of surrealism it doesn't deserve but which kept me watching through the times when it was vaguely amusing and the times when it was so testicle-scrunchingly unfunny that had it been Meet the Spartans or one of the Dance/Date/Scary Movies I'd have put my foot through the screen. The only duff note that I found lamentable was that there wasn't a clear difference between the upper and lower form girls in the school in terms of how the student body as a whole was needlessly sexualised, as an element of the original Alastair Sim flicks that's often overlooked is that the younger students were sexless sociopathic monsters while the older girls were loose women of the age of consent and there was no overlap, to the point there was even a rivalry between the two distinct student bodies in evidence in the script. With Fritton's Gold, however, there's no clear distinction between characters deliberately dressed by the wardrobe department to titillate and everyone else, which is unfortunate in a film that has a significant number of young teens on the cast.
But apart from that, its knockabout fun that doesn't feature any swearing or overt references to sex, so it's probably completely safe for younger viewers, even if they probably won't have a baldy what to make of the bulk of it.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Omnivistascope 6 and the shameless self-whoring that now commences

I don't toot my own horn on the blog as I'm not very good at taking compliments and don't want to draw attention to published stuff, but it occurs that for someone who has vague ambitions about becoming a professional scribbler at some point in the future, this attitude might not be terribly helpful. Luckily, I've just received my contributor's copy of Omnivistascope 6, however, and I'm happy to toot it up right and proper as it's a slick-looking mother of a book with a glossy card cover and dead fancy-looking formatting that would make it look at home on a newsagent's shelf quite easily if it wasn't for me being in it.

Although the strip I drew doesn't actually look that bad in print, so that's one in the win column.
From the 'Quatermass meets John Constantine' trappings of Oliver Redding's Quisling to the Lovecraftian mindscapes of Matt Herbert's I, Shoggoth, almost all strips are written by the more-machine-than-man being known as Paul Scott, with plenty of variety on offer, from the posthuman robot space operatics of Rathbone (described by SFX Magazine in the best possible terms as 'Asimovian' shortly before they described OVS as their pick of the month's book offerings), through the Douglas Adams narrative trappings of space goth Dirk Despair to the masterful detective fiction of sorcerer detective Warlock Holmes and his altercation with the mystery of invisible fog, you get a lot for your six quid, and it looks like quality all the way thanks to good paper stock and shiny, shiny card cover by an artist whose credit is a bit hard to find, but he is bloody good.

You can buy a copy from Paul HERE, or if you detest paypal because of their use of rape squads in the third world, I suspect his regrettable and all-consuming drinking problem may render him open to the barter system should your paths cross at the Bristol International Comic & Small Press Expo 2010 which takes place this weekend, or failing that you can wait around until he passes out and then steal a copy.
It's a fantastic-looking book that's a great read and comes with the SFX seal of something or other - I don't have a clue what it was but they were quite impressed with previous outings of the book and my art there was actually shamefully bad in places. It isn't now, so simple maths prove this one is better than the last and thus science has shown that you have to have Omnivistascope #6 in your life.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

90210 - "The girl who cried rape"? Seriously, 90210? We're going there for a cliffhanger? I could happily go the rest of my days without watching another rape storyline in anything at all.
The Good Wife - I really enjoyed this series despite initial misgivings that stemmed from two basic no-nos: (1) it's a legal drama, which is the laziest form of tv show in that it doesn't require any effort on the part of the writing staff to engineer scenes of dramatic tension since they're built into the format, and (2) every last thing about it looks like it was tailor-made to be shown on C5, a channel that was far more entertaining when you couldn't quite watch it because of the lousy picture and even more lousy programming, although it did give us documentaries in prime time slots, an endless parade of Canadian dramas, the films of Shannon Tweed, and matinee showings of Goonies and Monster Squad - all of which were entertaining in their own way. Her Off ER was a bit anemic in the title role, but the rest of the cast pulled their weight in that usual soap-operatic where they just sort of fill the screen and deliver lines without you actually noticing they're not great actors and half of them are at least ten years too young for the parts they're playing. A decent enough time-killer.
CSI: New York - it starts with one character injured in a chasey bit, then turns into Rear Window (a premise now utterly incapable of being taken seriously through overuse in everything from the Simpsons to Kim Possible), before turning into "oh no Claire Forlani!" ("Chelsea University" - really? A trained CSI teaches in an art college?) It less exists as a mish-mash of styles than it does a failure to stick to any basic plot or theme, the entire thing hinging on a massive coincidence (a scientist is making nerve gas in front of an open window that faces the apartment of one of the regular cast) and not holding together from one moment to the next, but God bless CSI's reactionary, anti-intellectual, right-wing hatemongering socks but a character only goes and says "that is unAmerican" in relation to someone utilising freedom of speech and the character and the writer mean every word. It's like a window to another planet.
V - bloody awful. The sad thing is that I was actually nearly enjoying this for what it was at one point, but then it goes and becomes too derivative and unconvincing, not least because of the utterly terrible background compositing shots that look in places like the live cast have been plopped into the PS2 version of Lego Star Wars - the FX work is shocking in places. Where the original had space-nazis complete with armbands and space-swastikas who looked like a branded and believable force, the new aliens are a bunch of stiffs who live in a giant iPod and it's never quite explained why the internet has nothing to say about them or why people are generally in favor of a benevolent invasion, or why the ships have no internal cameras to see all this stuff happening with infiltrators or how an undercover FBI agent can be seen in public with a man who is literally the most wanted person on the face of the Earth. At best, V is a competent example of the 'secret invasion' genre that the Sci-Fi Channel churned out by the dozen at one time, but little more than that and never exceptional.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Watching: 24 - there is something oddly reassuring about seeing Jack Bauer massacre hapless thugs going about their job, but possibly the best part of the penultimate episode of the final season comes when we don't even have to see the mass murder of a room full of Russian diplomats, we just know Jack did us proud and those godless commie fucks got what was overdue.
Enterprise season 1 - I recently rewatched seasons 3 and 4 and assumed I'd judged the show too harshly first time around, but going further back to view the debut season, I can see that I'd really just had a bad opinion of the series by the time I'd got to 3 and 4, and the uniformly terrible first 9 episodes really ram that home - they aren't just bad, they're aggressively terrible, from the awful 'Unexpected' (where a crewman becomes space-pregnant and acts in a sitcom manner that would be offensive even if you saw it on a Benny Hill rerun, then tracks down his babymomma because he can't raise the kids himself so he dumps them on her and buggers off never to even mention them again), to the aimless, padded, self-referential and continuity-masturbatory pilot where we're assured this is a different kind of Star Trek yet everything works just the same as the last couple of decades of Trek, right down to 'armor' that erodes by percentages in just the same way shields do on all the other shows. How does that even work anyway - someone says "Armor is down to 50 percent!", does that mean that half the hull plating is gone? Why don't aliens just shoot the exposed bits of hull instead of looking for all the other bits of armor to shoot off before they try destroying the ship? And what in the name of blue Jesus was with that 'decontamination' scene? They aren't even trying to pretend it's so we can look at a guy rub oil on a woman's tits. Don't get me wrong, Jolene Blalock is crazy hot, but they don't even try to come up with a plausible reason for it to be in the episode, and call me old-fashioned, but this does nothing for me for the same reason most porn doesn't - it's not me doing it and that makes me feel sad.
Possibly the remaining episodes will be better, but - apart from vague memories of an episode about the doctor that was so painfully unfunny that it could give AIDS cancer - they can't really get much worse, and I do recall my utter disappointment in the season finale with the Captain transported to an unfamiliar place and which ends in a tracking shot that pulls back to reveal he's on a post-apocalyptic Earth, rather than ending with a close up on Scott Bakula's face as he says "Oh boy!"
Fail, Enterprise. Weapons-grade FAIL.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Oh, Manga Studio - why can't we be friends?

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Watching Quatermass by the bucketful of late, and while the BBC stuff has dated, the films still have rough-edged B-movie charm, though I don't like Brian Donlevy's portrayal of Quatermass as he comes off as too much of a cock, in particular with the final shot of Quatermass (1957) where he marches off mechanically stating he's going "to start again" sounding like a threat from a Victor Frankenstein or a Herbert West. Likewise, the Martians in the cinematic version of Quatermass and the Pit look a bit poor compared to their televisual counterparts, though I'm probably biased as the Andre Morell Quatermass - for me - remains definitive.

The live broadcast of the adapted and remade Quatermass Experiment was alright, too, but felt a bit ephemeral given the 'shot live' gimmick and the fact that it's the third version of the story, though by default it's my favorite adaptation given the missing episodes from the Reginald Tate version leave an incomplete picture of the original, and Donlevy played the role as too unlikeable for me to totally warm to the film version, particularly the abrupt and seemingly pointless ending where they just kill the beast and move on with their day seeming hateful compared to the Prof Q of other adaptations convincing the last vestige of humanity within the beast to sacrifice itself. There's both heart and science in that resolution that to me embodies the optimism at the core of Quatermass, in that even if we're the product of Martian genetic engineering, what we've made of our world - for better or worse - is our own doing and as individuals we ultimately act for the better of us all.
Michael bay should totally adapt these.

Watching: V, Quatermass (lots of)

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Well fuck you too, perspective.

Blow me if'n I ain't passed the 365 posts mark. I know I missed quite a few days, so I'll assume multiple daily posts have caused this blip, as the first post was 20th May 2009, back in the dark days of the past when the world economy was in the crapper, unemployment was on the rise, and my life was going nowhere.
Oh dear I've made myself sad.

Back with the GN and photoshop, I'm missing the pen options from Manga Studio something rotten.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Watching: Treme, Quatermass and the Pit, Quatermass Xperiment, Quatermass 2, the Simpsons

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Settling in with manga Studio now. Still a bit unsure how to do a lot of stuff, but it took me years to get to grips with Photoshop, and I only recently figured out you could change the size of your brush tip in PS by using the [ ] buttons, which would have been handy to know a while ago. I do miss being able to rustle up straight lines with the brush by holding down the shift key, but I see that MS has a handy alternative by letting you use the line tool on the same layer you're currently using, whereas in PS using the line tool creates a line on a separate layer each time you use it, which has its benefits when you want to do criss-crossing bars or more complex background details.
I still mostly stick to the pen and brush tools, but the eraser tool needs a looking at - the shape of the cursor obscures the actual area that's being erased, and you can't change it to a basic crosshair by pushing the caps lock button, a feature in PS that could have been utilised here quite easily.
All in all, MS was an eventually nice holiday from my usual working practices, but it's back to the Photoshop grindstone tomorrow - the GN beckons.

Still hate Manga Studio on principle, of course. I dislike having to admit I'm wrong.

Watching: The Bridge, The Pacific, Robocop: the Series, Quatermass and the Pit, Miami Medical, UFO

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Haha - fuck me. Nearly up to 365 posts! Almost a year of sketch blogging and it was pretty much a waste of time.

Anyhoo, once I espyed MS' 'new story' option where it arranges all the pages for you in one file and containing folder complete with little sidebar menu on the edge of the canvas, I decided I'd do four pages of an 8-page script in Photoshop and the other four in Manga Studio hopefully learning something as I went, seeing as how I'd opened it once before in the past, failed to import a page of pencils and never went back to it again - basically, I'd see how the pages (and apps) compared at the end. I wrote the script in something like eight minutes because I forsaw failure and didn't want anything too complex, so it's just two people talking at each other for a bit, then some stuff with a dinosaur and someone gets stabbed, but it'll do the job for an art tryout.
Anyway, for some reason, I started with page four first, and right from the off, Manga Studio wasn't making friends.

I had not a baldy about the layers and settings going in, so it was a struggle to get the thumbnailed page into MS to the point that I eventually gave up, and I still have no idea how to open a basic jpeg image all on it's ownsome, though I later discovered you actually have to import it into an open document, which is probably fair enough, as that's more or less what you'd be doing in Photoshop - importing the pencils as a separate layer. The brush settings were utterly baffling, mind, and I still have no idea how MS decides to attribute particular properties to new layers, but I now know the difference between a sketch layer (a blue 'pencil' layer which doesn't show up in exported image files) and a finished layer (a colour or black and white layer which holds the finished visual properties of the pages). The above was a first stab at a layout using the brush tool and the default settings for that, as I wanted to get cracking and could only spare an hour or two each day for drawing while I watched certain tv shows on the pc. During this, I did figure out opacity settings for layers and drawing tools, so that helped with the next step:

Making the basic panel layout.
I'd figured out the opacity thing by now, but the panels layer thing was just a confusing mess and I couldn't be arsed figuring it out as the only thing I had to watch on the pc by then was a three month backlog of Supernatural, and, to be blunt, fuck that. Instead, I used a black and white layer and the marquee tool to run up some basic panels, and that did for me. One thing I did decide to change at this stage was the layout of the comic store to something more resembling Belfast's long-gone geek Mecca Talisman (which was bought up by Forbidden Planet, then moved to a different location), as the name of the store in Turbo Katie is Forbidding Toyshop, an hilarious pun on Forbidden Planet, so I did some rough sketches and decided on a longer and thinner store layout, although until now I've just scribbled in random background details whenever I've had to draw the place, so this means I'll have to go back and redraw a lot of panels in previous strips. I also discovered the different settings for the Pen tool in MS, which I decided to use to ink the strip instead of the brush tool, which if I'm honest I'd only been using thus far because the hotkey is 'B' like it is in Photoshop and I'd probably just went there out of habit for the thumbnails.

The pen tool I quite like, as it has a 'stroke in/stroke out' option that corrects your lines for you, giving a very clean and mechanical finish, and I just scribbled away, happily leaving in duff strokes. The top panel came out awful, as I lost the likeness on the character and screwed up the fabric folds on her costume, though it occurred at this point I'd never figured out if her costume was supposed to be shiny plasticy stuff or textured cloth so it was a bit moot. Never corrected those screw-ups, and instead rushed onwards.

Scribbled in a few blacks on a separate layer using the brush tool. This didn't turn out a very good example of what can be achieved, I don't think, but I was starting to see how I could get some decent organic-looking ink effects, albeit inking that looks like it was done with a half-dry permanent marker. I also realised that the resolution on the image was far too small, but figured it wasn't worth correcting at that stage and chalked it up to a lesson learned.

Colouring was confusing as I can't figure out how to do good solid blocks of colour and went with scribbly strokes instead, which was horrendous to look at and really garish, since I had to use absolute colour states and couldn't figure out how to burn or dodge, or add new layers of tone/highlights that would do that for me. It occurred later that I should have gone with halftones instead, or done the colouring elsewhere, possibly in Painter, which I have also never bothered to learn to use.

Lettering was a complete pain in the arse. Leaving aside the sheer bloody ugliness of the finished article, I can't for the life of me figure out how to stop MS picking Tahoma 9pt as the default font, and had to scroll through the font list each time to choose Anime Ace (though normally I go with Blambot's Joe Kubert font for my lettering needs), though it would still do the text in 9pt even though the size was set to 7pt, meaning I had to select the entire text after I was done, then resize it all at once, then change the setup of the paragraph to reflect the new text size while an increase in the leading occurred when I was doing so (and there doesn't seem to be any values to manipulate to correct this), the text can only be moved when the cursor is inside a small (unmarked) envelope around the copy and if you're outside that it changes to the hand tool that moves the entire page instead, and trying to use the balloon option on the text window was like pulling teeth, as it puts a huge distance between the edge of the letters and the edge of a balloon, and for an overly-talky strip like this one, that dog just won't hunt. Instead I had to use the good old-fashioned PS method of creating the balloons on a separate layer under the text using the ellipse and 'polyline' tools, but lettering in MS is a fucking brutal exercise going by this outing.

So there you have my first practical attempt to use MS, and while the finished page was underwhelming and I'd rather redraw the entire thing instead of paste it where anyone can mock, I'll put my hands up to its shittyness as it's only a tryout and failure is probably just as important as success when finding your feet in anything.
I can, however, see the potential Manga Studio has if I stick with it, which I will be doing between Babble pages - which I'll be starting to draw again next week - and I'll put up the finished strip as and when it's completed so those pages can be mocked too.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Inking in Manga Studio: I've seen the control displayed by professionals over their inking, and it's impressive, but starting out and making do with what I know so far on a tryout strip, I'm only noticing that I can't move quite as fluidly between brush options as I would in Photoshop, though I'm putting that down to me being new to the program and there being two separate hotkey options to keep track of for the brush (there are more, but so far I've stuck to Pen for lines and Brush for inky splashes of shadow) - two whole buttons is a stretch for Mr Forgetty Mc Forgetful, who regularly forgets what he's doing on the PC in the time it takes to open a folder, but I'm sure I'll pick it up as I go. I do think the Panels Layer option seems a little more complicated than necessary - a simple variation on the line tool with two separate values for line width and gutter depth would have been a better idea than what's going on here, as you can create much quicker panels by simply using the marquee and fill tools on a separate layer.
I also seem to let a lot of gaffs slide that I'd agonise over in PS via my ctrl+alt+z addiction, but we'll see if that turns out well on the finished page or if I just come across as a lazy begger - not that this isn't true, mind.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Okay, so my consuming hatred of Manga Studio may - may - be abating now I grasp how to do at least three things in it, and the story page setup thing seems like a touch of genius if I can just figure out how to set it up to accommodate double-page splashes.

The thumbnail menu also lays stuff out in the Japanese format by default, but that just seems an oversight rather than a deal-breaker - the deal-breaker, as ever, is non-intuitive settings. I spent about ten minutes trying to resize a pencil sketch before I gave up - lasso selection, click the transform/move option, "nothing that can be transformed" oh fuck you, Manga Studio. Fuck you in the ass.

Sketches might be a better prospect if I allow for serendipity with the inexplicable brush settings and random layer properties, but I figured out how to fiddle with those a bit so we'll see how that goes. The buttons that usually (in Photoshop) move the brush tip up and down in size instead seem to alter the dryness of the brush effect (in MS) - no idea what's going on there. And it won't save my frigging window settings so I have to go and open navigator or layers or toolbar or whatever every time I restart the programme, but unlike other art apps, Vista has yet to hang or crash MS just yet - though I've used it a grand total of four times now, so the day is relatively young on that score.
I also need to synch up the visual settings between the tablet and the monitor, as the end sketches come out looking a little more garish than I'd like.

Watching: Mercy, CSI:NY, Bones, Justified, The Pacific

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Watching: Luther - "Dear BBC: please make more programmes for the middle classes. Something in the vein of popular American shows, perhaps, but strained through the worldview of the middle Englander who is so woefully underrepresented by the television schedules." There's a bit in this cut-rate panto where Dris straight up loses his rag and demolishes a door while screaming at life in general because his wife's having an affair, and I can't honestly say why it's the funniest fucking thing I've seen on tv all week, but it is, and that includes Larry Miller turning up in Aqua Teen Hunger Force as himself reduced to selling body-mutilating hair implants to fund his all-encompassing gambling addiction.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

I kind of hate Manga Studio.

Why does the brush tool pick random settings every time I switch to a different layer? Why can't I actually use the colour I pick from the swatches and instead get some random mix of texture brush and halftone fill? Why does it not actually make any mark at all on the canvas except when it inexplicably does make a mark?
I realise I've spent a grand total of (checks the run time of the latest House episode) 43 minutes and 6 seconds in it, but I've been using Photoshop for years now and I'd like to think - even in the face of Adobe's own inability to universalise tools and settings across two industry-standard programs they themselves create - that some stuff should be standardised rather than necessitating chasing down some particular setting or option every time you attempt to do the exact same thing you've been doing except on a different layer.
It's not an intuitive setup. I'm sure professionals and people with training in the use of such programs will disagree, but for me, plain Joe arsehole who just wants to draw a line on a page, it's utterly baffling from the ten minutes spent just trying to open a fucking file, through the random brush settings, to the fact that I have no idea how to export the file from the program in a usable form without layers inexplicably disappearing - which is just mental.

So yeah - hate it. In fairness, I didn't think much of Photoshop when I started out either, and still don't think much of Illustrator. Possibly if my patience holds I might end up loving it, but the urge to smash my foot through the screen is quite strong.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Watching: Enterprise - just finished watching season 4, and while I have to agree with the consensus that it was finally finding its feet, it was entirely apparant that the production process was determined to weed those instances of promise out of the show and keep it as locked into the Trek formula as possible, meaning it was probably best to put the whole franchise out of its misery when they did. There's a great bit in Observer Effect - an otherwise forgettable one-off where 'Enterprise yet again encounters classic Trek aliens before anyone else and there's a perfectly logical reason why no-one knew about the incident' - where the ship's doctor delivers news to the captain that two of the crew have five hours to live, and instead of the blaring omnipresence of the incidental music as per usual, there's several seconds of silence before the cut to the ad break which focus entirely on Scott Bakula's admittedly passive, emotionless face. It's an effective dramatic beat, I thought.
The show's final episode remains as poor as I remember, however, not least because it's an objectively badly-written piece of television whose narrative hook is that it's a replication of events being observed by someone in the future, yet many scenes bafflingly take place outside that observer's purview. The regular cast is reduced to guest-starring roles, too, playing second fiddle to characters and plots from an early and not particularly well-regarded Next generation episode, the final indignity arguably being when one of them bites the dust off-camera, which is just... wow. I have no clue how the show's creators could care so little for their own creations that they became the bitches of a show off the air for over ten years, but that's where Enterprise ended up and I suppose that's why it probably deserved the title of "the Trek show even Trek fans won't watch" that dogged it at the time.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Watching: Smallville, Enterprise season 4, The Bridge, Vampire Diaries

Saturday, 1 May 2010

I'm back to drawing my own comicy stuff for the first time in months, and I'm struck by how overly-talky and badly laid-out it all is. Clearly there are lessons not yet learned - or learned only recently. Something like that.

Been to see Iron Man 2 tonight - liked it, but not sure what the rest of the world will make of it. It seems a little more scatological than might be expected, possessed of some pretty odd logic leaps, a largely pointless Black Widow appearance and probably too much self-referencing, though I liked that its self-awareness extended beyond lampshade hanging into a genuine sense of the absurd, like Iron Man and Black Widow hanging out in a donut store and the Iron Man-themed cheerleaders/chorus line. Probably could have done with a more substantial fight to finish up, but all in all it's an enjoyable enough romp, even if it does feel a bit too much like Robocop 2 near the end - not that this is that big a deal for me as I re-watched Robo2 recently and quite enjoyed it.