Saturday 31 July 2010

Do you think you could ever be a husband to her? I mean, what can you offer her? Companionship? Love? A man’s love?

Watching: Blake's 7 - only thirty years too late and the first thing I ever knew of this series was when a tv show about old sci-fi mentioned it as SPOILER!! "the show where they all got killed in the final episode", but hey - I get there in the end. It's all right, as it happens. Money was clearly spent on some set dressing and location shooting/costumes, yet quite a great deal more money was clearly saved on special effects. There's also a terrible habit of just throwing exposition at the viewer, like characters sitting on a sofa explaining their evil plans for civilization that hinge on censorship, or Blake sitting Avon down to watch a power point presentation of what happened in the previous episode even though Avon was not only present during events but central to them - but all told, it's okay fluff.
Clash of the Titans - this here remake movie is stupid. Really, it's utterly, utterly stupid and composed of nothing but sequences where things jump towards the camera, which as a visual gets old if you aren't watching in a 3D cinema, which I imagine the vast majority of the audience won't be. I can watch any old shit, mind, so this didn't really offend me and I quite enjoyed it, but it's a ham-fisted, sometimes visually incomprehensible beast. Cool Kraken, all the same.
Steel Dawn - a Patrick Swayze favorite round these parts, it's basically a post-apocalyptic kung-fu version of Shane. Dumb, no-budget, and acted by a bunch of trees, but still likably daft and a good reminder of those heady days when 'low-budget' didn't automatically mean A LOAD OF SHITE and film makers got around their shortcomings by being entertaining and knowing a bit about their craft. The first Terminator, for instance, was a low-budget effort (and far better than the soul-less and bloated sequel whose appeal I've never been able to comprehend), as was Monster Squad, Night of the Comet, Ghoulies, American Ninja 2, Phantasm 2, Warlock, Showdown in Little Tokyo - shit, I could go on for ages just listing complete tosh that's inexplicably entertaining despite itself because someone somewhere along the line decided to apply a little TLC to a concept.
Covert Affairs - I have often wondered what would happen if they reversed the Jennifer Garner road to success and instead of starting out in a good tv show about a female spy before graduating to success in terrible films, an actress started out in successful and good films before moving on to shit television shows about a female spy and clearly Piper Perabo and I are on the same wavelength, because after making The Prestige, she's taken a demotion to this 'so awful it's entertaining' tv show that also stars several other tv no-marks I quite like and him off Jake 2.0. It's basically Alias if you tuned into Alias for the first time and Alias was exactly how you expected it to be (especially the pop songs that play during the end and lots of girly doe-eyes made to some point vaguely off-camera because the main female is feeling inadequate in a man's world) rather than a tv show about a woman who hits a wall and decides the best course of action is to not feel bad but to instead solve that problem immediately by using fancy gadgets for a bit and then shooting Arabs before going home and drinking alcohol until the next episode starts.
Rookie Blue - the more I watch the tall brunette in this attempt to do any acting at all, the more I expect the camera to pull back and reveal the whole thing to be a 'show within a show' where everyone is deliberately spouting the most deliberately cliched lines they can in the most unconvincing way possible to convey that they're playing a terrible actor reading from a banal script, and if that actually comes to pass about ten episodes down the line, then this becomes officially the best mindfuck on soap opera viewers ever committed to television - but I'm going to lay money right now that this will not be the case and this really is all there is to it: bad actors, poor drama, and not a speck of playfulness or genre awareness in sight.
But I keep thinking "any minute now, the camera will pull back..." Quite baffling.

Friday 30 July 2010

"We all must die someday."

Tuesday 27 July 2010

"Loved by good - feared by evil!"

Some serious Liefeld spine and perspective fail going on there. I should totally do a comic book about dudes with pouches and guns bigger than their own body baring their teeth and shouting a lot.

Friday 23 July 2010

While you were gone the Globetrotters held a press conference informing everyone that I was a jive sucker.

Manga Studio fiddling continues apace as I pull a move from an actual manga studio like what they have in Japan and start making myself a library of backgrounds and whatnot for basic gag strips or whatever. Still not entirely sold on MS, but then I wasn't sold on Photoshop either and now can't draw a straight line without the bloody thing.
I think my main issue is finding the right balance of line weight and stroke correction so it comes out how I want rather than relying on serendipity, as I can't actually tell what I'm doing around actual pixel size and for the most part just try to make blobs roughly the right shape.
Also, it's Friday night and I miss the booze.

four films called Sahara from 1943, 1983, 1995 and 2005 respectively. Why? Because they're there, really, though nobody needs a reason to watch a Humphrey Bogart movie.
Batman: Under the Red Hood, which seems to mistake 'brooding' and 'moping' - quite an unfortunate mix-up for a film about Batman, as you can imagine. He spends long minutes moping and having heartfelt conversations with Alfred about his feelings rather than punching people in the head. This is - as far as I'm aware - Jason Todd's first appearance in a medium other than comic books and as such his death and resurrection seem a contrivance for the purposes of the movie and its heartfelt conversations about the Dark Knight's feelings and stuff rather than a story that might once have held a lot of cache because Jason Todd - alongside Bucky - was one of those rare characters who stayed dead (until someone brought him back). This being his first appearance outside funnybooks, there's no resonance to Todd's death as there was in that medium and I suppose that could be what all the moping is supposed to be about, but it still doesn't change that there's no sense of gravitas or import, it's a story about someone Batman thought was dead that could have been told a dozen times already across several iterations of tv show and straight-to-video movies and wouldn't have been especially interesting there, either. It's not a terrible film, just unexceptional, though John "Bender" DiMaggio is a terrible Joker, which is an opinion I certainly wouldn't have expected to hold given the toss I've paid attention to once I realise Bender is in it. I'm also pretty sure they're going a little too far out of their way to paint Nightwing as a homosexual, which is fine if you're going to go ahead and actually make a character a homosexual man - but if you pussyfoot around it to the point you create an equivalence between effeminate/gay and 'funny'(abnormal), you're not helping the case for diversity much, you're just reinforcing stereotypes.

Thursday 22 July 2010

Goodbye, goodbye, wipe that tear, baby dear...

And that's a wrap on the second chapter of Babble as I've not got got a clue what's going on with the publishing company and the seventy or so completed pages are going in the electronic filing cabinet until we know what's happening with the rights, though if past form is anything to go by, the fact that you can squint and kind of lump the story in with the 'zombies that aren't zombies' genre (admittedly by way of the end of Quatermass and the Pit) and there's a ton of zombie movies that aren't zombie movies out at the minute, I imagine that the company that didn't think to release a graphic novel about Burke and Hare at the same time as a movie called Burke and Hare hit cinemas will get around to sorting out the rights issue just in time for 'zombies that aren't zombies but the story is kind of like the end of Quatermass and the Pit' plots to show up on Kim Possible or something. Do they even still make that? Damned if I know - Wiki that shit if you care.

So I'm buggered if I know what I'll do with my time now. There's one five-page story for Zarjaz that I'll get done while I have the opportunity, I guess, and then back to Saucy Mondays for a while to see if I can sucker in some Google hits, but if getting Google hits is anything like getting Deviantart pageviews, pretty much all I have to do is figure out a way to add tags like 'bondage', 'bare feet' and 'wet librarian' to posts. Although a picture which combined all three would presumably break the internet.

Tuesday 20 July 2010

So Scott Pilgrim's finally done...

Haha - thank you but no, Scott. Even the back of your head would remind me too much of Michael F Cera, albeit Michael F Cera playing Michael F Cera being bummed in the bottom, which is about the only way I think I could tolerate seeing any more of Michael F Cera. But hey, if you're going to get an actor in to play Michael F Cera, you may as well get Michael F Cera, who's pretty much hopelessly typecast as Michael F Cera even at this relatively early stage of his career.
Yeah, not looking forward to the film.

But Scott Pilgrim Volume 6: Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour finally landed today and it's more of the same, really. There's not a whole bunch of this:

But it does end in slightly twee fashion, so there's that. If you're sick of Scott Pilgrim, I shouldn't bother checking it out just for a finale that will leave you scratching your head/incandescent with fury (delete as personal levels of pretentiousness allow). If you love Scott pilgrim - and plenty do - then it doesn't disappoint, with a good half the book dedicated to Scott's reluctant fight with the final evil ex and jokes that are pretty much just writer/artist Bryan Lee O'Malley pointing out that stuff like Zelda: A Link to the Past are things that existed IN YOUR TWENTYSOMETHING LIFETIME! and establishing that Scott's problem is that he should stop being so hung up on the good times of his youth and embrace the future - a message I can't decide upon as being either ballsy or lacking in self-awareness since it comes in the sixth volume of Scott Pilgrim. If you neither hate nor love Scott Pilgrim, then you should probably check it out, too, as I can promise you it contains no Michael F Cera, and that's a pretty good recommendation in my eyes as I've just watched Year One.

Ain't we done with this turkey yet?

Saturday 17 July 2010

Wednesday 14 July 2010

Consumers respond to requests for their impressions of Windows 7...

Watching: Secret Life of the American Teenager - in theory, a tv show aimed at teens that talks frankly about their sex lives and passes no judgment is a great idea, in that general consensus is broadly that they absorb this kind of shit anyway so it may as well give something back while they lap it up indiscriminately between mouthfuls of Pot Noodle and Red Bull or whatever the fuck it is they eat to get that pimply, sandblasted complexion that offsets the white of their shellsuits in such charming fashion. As you may have guessed from subtle clues in my use of language, I am not in favor of teenagers as a collective body, though there's plenty of dramatic mileage in fiction that centers around any group trapped between two distinct stages of their lives, and by and large that means either middle-aged people or teenagers, with the 20-30-somethings presumably being an uninteresting bunch. Anyway, there's a lot of teen programming about, and Secret Life is now three years old and just as staggeringly sanctimonious as it was on day one, when absolutely no-one needed to be told that the producers were vaguely aware of the equally dull Juno and set out to make something just as boring and trite on a weekly basis.
Secret Life is awful, and that's why I watch it. Some right-wingers decided to make tv that told it like it is, and then went about telling it like they saw it, showing sexual activity as deviant behavior rather than an indulgence of those with opportunity and the inclination - sex is either explained by the actions of abuse victims, "your ethnic types", low income families, or catholics (though the latter three are usually three birds with one stone on American television), but it's all so thick-headed and impossible to take seriously that I enjoy it the same way I do sci-fi, because it's practically another planet these - and I use this term lightly - people inhabit, and it can be no coincidence that just as I would never have watched the likes of it years ago, I wouldn't have watched the Ferengi episodes of Deep Space 9 either, but now I breathe this crap in like oxygen.

Which is not to say you should watch it. You shouldn't.
It's terrible - so don't.

Tuesday 13 July 2010

"I thought that some of the metaphysical imagery was particularly effective."

Looking at this panel, Lee would ideally be stuck to elicit some negative subtext on my part about his troubling quest to become Richard Curtis, but if he can tear himself away from writing Shirley Valentine fanfic or listening to his copy of the We Will Rock You cd personally signed by his hero Ben Elton long enough, he'll probably find it.


Alex Zalban wraps up his first major project for Marvel with the fourth issue of Thor and the Warriors Four, and all told he's done a good job with most of it, avoiding going too far into mawkishness or sentimentality to get across the stakes for the pre-teen cast as they pursue their quest to steal the youth-bestowing golden apples of Idun from the orchards of Asgard in order to help their terminally-aged grandmother dodge the coffin, but on the other hand no doubt leaving many a frustrated reader unhappy that the writer has chosen to spare the child protagonists the loss of a loved one at the finale, instead opting for the happy ending that he's advisedly chosen to avoid overselling when it comes.

And make no mistake, there's more than likely a few grumping that this child's entertainment isn't terribly gritty or full of death and ninjas being stabbed in the face, since the aging Pack fan does occasionally seem to wander into this continuity-free series for their fix (after the regular Marvel universe Power Pack became pretty much unsellable when some genius came up with the bright idea of making kid superheroes adults - removing their only selling point - and then wondering why no-one's interested in buying the books anymore), and to those aging yet still somehow adolescent fanboys I snort a hearty "PSHAW!" and return to my entertainment, happy that any lingering vestige of the moron in me who secretly longed for the book to be about kids crying over a dead granny has been thwarted.

There are some great character moments between the beginning and ending of the quest like eldest girl Julie's lateral thinking and belief in the idea of family above superheroics, though the counterpoint of eldest kid Alex's musing that "stealing is wrong" ignores that the gods may be hoping people come along and steal their stuff (ie: fire) since through that act of engagement between mortal and deity is born their continuation in our culture through myth- or if that's too heavy for the little rugrat, he could try remembering that his first act as a superhero was to nick a doomsday weapon from Uncle Sam. No-one likes a hypocrite, kiddo, even if we do keep electing them.
His realisation near the end and subsequent heroic turn feel a bit of a let-down since he's the least interesting character and it feels like he's the focus more in that he's a blue-eyed blond male rather than - despite what Thor's hammer may think otherwise - because of any inherent worthiness on his part to be the central hero of the piece when it's essentially an ensemble thing and he's not contributed much on the journey for it to suddenly to be a Hero's Journey all about him - right up until then it hasn't been that, and when it becomes that kind of story at the last, it's a leftfield twist that makes it all slightly less of a tale than it had been. Less focused, certainly, and to an extent less epic as well.
Did I mention the book looks absolutely lovely in places?

The Guruhiru art studio does an absolutely bang-up job with some great storytelling that I wouldn't normally expect of a manga/anime-inspired style, which traditionally seems to focus more on producing static poses and character sketches than sequential artwork (a consequence of most manga artists using pre-rendered backgrounds), but here it combines with a clear animated style and energy that just makes me jealous the more I look at it.
At the back, there's also a Colleen Coover short where the kids meet another Marvel mythological refugee-turned-superhero in the Mighty Hercules as he explains the relationship between theology and science, which yields one of my favorite images in a book that's already packed with great panels:

If I used an arbitrary ranking system, I'd give it a solid 174 out of a possible 182.

Monday 12 July 2010

"If there is to be any salvation... those of us who know our guilt must admit it."

A random panel from the day's work so Lee Robson can use it out of context to suggest some value judgment made on his script. I laugh at your Northern self-loathing, Robson. I laugh at it and your secret desire to be middle class and write plays about middle-aged housewives finding themselves.

Watching: Predators. I don't really know about all this "It's a sequel to the first one and sort of a sequel to the second one or bits of the second one that back up this story but we're ignoring the other two sequels and this is a continuation of the first one" reasoning that's being employed by the makers, but it doesn't sound like a good idea as it didn't stop Superman Returns being a big gay load of shitty ass just because it ignored the more dopey entries in the canon and they should just accept that someone made those and they weren't good and then move on. I have no problem with the existence of Alien 3, Resurrection, AVP and Requiem because no-one's forcing me to watch them more than once, and to be honest, there's no need for the hoop-jumping to distance Predators from poorer relations because it stands alone quite well even from the first, opening as it does with a conundrum not unlike that facing the cast of Cube or one of the many and dreadful Riverworld adaptations, in that a disparate group are stranded somewhere with no knowledge of how they got there or even where 'there' is, and must rally to adapt to unknown dangers. It's played for the first half hour like the audience haven't seen any promo material showing the locale to be an alien world, but a bit like when I watch Planet of the Apes, I do wonder why the characters don't look up and notice the stars and get an inkling - there's a bloomin' huge planet overhead that someone must have noticed even before they got out of the trees, but like Charlton Heston's 'astronaut' not noticing a little clue like THE FUCKING MOON when pondering where he might be, it's not a deal-breaker for me that the cannon fodder of Predators don't notice a couple of Jupiters knocking about between the treeleaves.
It's a fun movie I really enjoyed. The director could maybe have turned the lights on in a few action scenes, but otherwise it holds together well enough as popcorn accompaniment - though personally, I had a big bag of cheesy Wotsits that did the job too.

Sit down, brain off, enjoy - that's my advice.

Sunday 11 July 2010

"There's one thing about Americans... we're not cut out to be occupiers. We're new at it and we're not very good at it."

Nicely sober at the moment, even though there's a bank holiday tomorrow - like I'd need that excuse! I was just thinking today that the odds are quite good that I won't die from alcoholism, as I've only got two alcohol deaths in the immediate bloodline, though I grant you there's a couple of uncles who are works in progress.
Fuck it anyway, I like those odds.

Saturday 10 July 2010

The Losers

Caught The Losers tonight (it was supposed to be Predators, but plans change), and it was pretty lame. The comic book original should have been a template for a big, dumb action movie with just enough toe-dipping into realworld politik and techno-fetishism of the latest war hardware to get the alpha male in you whoopin' and a-hollerin' for carnage, but the movie felt really, really small in scale, which is a problem for something that has a hijacked military helicopter making off with an armored truck plucked from the middle of a gunfight in downtown Miami while under fire from an anti-aircraft gun - this should feel epic, but instead just feels like a lesser rehash of much grander things, among them the source comic book, Bond villains, and the A-Team. It never gets beyond the level of visuals of a decent-scale tv show like 24 or Fringe (it even borrows the latter's clunky captions built into the backgrounds of establishing shots), and the direction is no more than functional, which means that it looks like a music video more than it does an action movie, lacking the flair for the visual language of the more successful boom-boom flicks of the 1990s in favor of slo-mo and never realising that the thing about action movies is that they're exactly what they say on the tin - they're supposed to pivot on action and not just movement. The problem is the action tv series died off in the 1990s so everything could become some version of the X-Files hinging less on physical conflict and more on interpersonal drama: up until then, action directors cut their teeth on tv and learned their trade on the A-Team, Knight Rider, Viper, the Fall Guy, but once this kind of television became obsolete there was nowhere to learn to direct action sequences except music videos, and the big name action directors of today indeed learned to capture perfect abs in slo-mo but never how to make a thrown punch look exciting, hence the visual whitenoise of the Transformers and Jason Bourne series. In fairness, the action series seems to be making some sort of comeback of late with Human Target, Philanthropist, Trauma, etc, but anyway...
The characters in the Losers comic were pretty broadly drawn and as a consequence quite easy to tell apart, but here they're interchangeable and uninteresting, with Aisha especially reduced from a far more imposing and menacing presence to an unconvincing daddy-issue femme defined by her relationship with anemic male characters. She's a blandstrosity when she should be a monstrosity, and the preening Max - upon whom the film's quest for vengeance arguably rests - is about as menacing as a blind kitten.

It goes nowhere, does nothing new, isn't particularly enticing as a re-watch, and for much of it you cannot escape the feeling it wants to be taken more seriously than it deserves, but to be honest, any movie that can take a book that has dudes fistfighting in the cargo bay of a fleeing aircraft and then falling onto moving muscle cars giving chase and can't make an action scene out of that? That movie deserves to fail, and at least on that front, Losers delivers.
I did not like it.

Friday 9 July 2010

"Groop I implore thee, my foonting turlingdromes; and hooptiously drangle me with crinkly bindlewurdles..."

Internet troubles

No, not an amusing caption only I understand so I can tell blog posts apart - I really am having spotty internet troubles that can only be resolved if I can live with exposed wiring and never using the house phone again.
The latter I can live with, actually - I only ever seem to use it when people are informing me at 2 in the morning what funeral I'll be attending two days' hence (and that I can kiss tomorrow evening goodbye, too). Text that shit, dammit! It's not like there's any hurry now.

Sunday 4 July 2010

"I AM smiling."

How is it a weekend and I'm not drinking? An experiment in sobriety, I say.
I give me two days.

Thursday 1 July 2010

"Parlez-vous lesbianisme?"

Sometimes you get a page in seven hours, sometimes you get a page in HOLY FUCKING SHIT seven days.
FUCK YOU drawing block, that's all I have to say on the matter, though in retrospect getting out of bed before 1 in the afternoon and giving up drink for maybe even like a day or two would possibly help productivity - but god damn it this isn't communist Russia.