Thursday 31 March 2011

We need new people here... we have to stick together

Only started this page, but I'm buggered if I'm sleeping until it's done.

My love of shooting communists(1) has led me to the strange place of purchasing the novel Homefront: Voice of Freedom by John Milius and Raymond Benson, and before I could stop myself thinking it, about ten pages in I thought "I expected more of this novel based upon a videogame." It is quite dreadful, somehow managing to go downhill from spelling errors as early as the second page, but the masochist in me is determined to see it to the bitter end.

Also supposed to be sketching a contribution for the Weekly Themed Art Blog today, as it's Sketchy Thursday - that's the last time I do anything early - throws my damn schedule off.

(1) Blogger's terms and conditions oblige me to point out that such shootings happen within the confines of the videogame Homefront: Tomorrow When The Red Dawn Started, and are a purely fantasy scenario in no way endorsed by Blogger.

Wednesday 30 March 2011

if you want to pollute any more water, you'll find plenty where you're going -- UP THE RIVER!!

Drawing grossly misshapen monsters is such great fun - I get to pretend I'm doing dodgy anatomy on purpose.

It's when I'm trying to emulate the slightly brilliant Jesus Redondo's style that things get a bit more tricky...


Tuesday 29 March 2011

General McArthur's personal sawbones had reattached my feets to ma knees and prescribed enough antibiotics to cure the French army's clap

Man, that is one popped-looking collar...

82 pages in the bag, just 28 to go, and I'm gonna have to pull some all-nighters somewhere down the line, I think.

Because your Tuesday may not be depressing enough:

Monday 28 March 2011

Americans giving Mexicans diarrhea? What the hell is going on?

Weekend - bored and I slept too much. Also babysat.
People will tell you kids are a treasure and they are lying. Kids are a job like any other, especially when they aren't your own so you haven't managed to work out the balance between everything else you're supposed to be doing that day and filling their time with something other than fighting or setting stuff on fire. It also creeps up on you that your conversations with them have changed somewhere along the line from favorite Disney character (usually one of the princesses) to "you know how in dreams the people you dream about think they're real? How do you know that you're not being dreamed by someone else who's dreaming that you think you're real?"
I do not recall having these conundrums at 8 - my main concern at that time was figuring out the best way to set Star Wars toys on fire - so like a trooper I went about figuring out the best way to condense solipsism into the most basic sentence so there was no ambiguity as to what was being said and then I said she should ask her mum.

And so to another week of slowly chipping away at the GN beast, and another page of Frank in which still nothing happens.
This suffers from me trying to simplify to a more cartoony look, but ideally when doing that you have to take great liberties with perspective, anatomy - all the stuff that you're supposed to be taking pains to get right and which I can barely draw convincingly as it is. I did eventually abandon the attempt about 8 pages in, so I found my way in the end.

In the interest of full disclosure, I did once set about trying to fake a bear sighting in my home town, but I drank really heavily at the time. A long term project outside work in THE FACTORY was practically unthinkable - no way was I together enough for that shit. I stuck with underage drinking in the end, and it's made me the man I am today.

Friday 25 March 2011

Cut me open and crawl inside me - that way one of us gets to live

The weekend is here and there's no point fighting it - it's a great feeling even when you're unemployed.

Watching: CSI: Miami as part of my other New Year's Resolution to watch every single episode of the CSI franchise in chronological order, though unlike my actual Resolutions which are aimed at self-improvement, this one is more out of spite so I can continue to deride, ridicule, and sneer down my nose at those who watch CSI with a straight face, except now I can do so armed with a wodge of knowledge about it. If you haven't watched CSI - I assume because you don't hate yourself or humanity enough to do so - it's a monster television franchise about forensic scientists who use cutting-edge (and in the case of CSI: New York science fiction) technology to sidestep actual detection. It is competent and unremarkable television elevated by high production values to appear to be a little more ambitious than it actually is, though occasionally its awfulness is entertaining in and of itself, as are the occasional moments where it does actually approach greatness only to snatch the very concept away from the viewer.
The best example of this is near the end of season two of the original CSI (Las Vegas) when the slightly aloof, verse-quoting and standoffish Gil Grissom is revealed to be the way he is because unknown to the viewer and those he works with he is deaf as a post. It's a stonking bit of rug-pulling considering the show in which it appears and I'll admit that it is actually a brilliant slight of hand that explains so much about what at first seems a very cliched character: he's distant in conversations because he can only contribute if he can read lips, he doesn't listen to music, he doesn't watch tv or movies and prefers to read, shows a disposition towards tactile hobbies and pleasures - I will admit the retrospective light it casts upon the character and scenes in which he appears is a fantastic conceit. And then two minutes later the show does an about-face and turns it into a degenerative disease that has only reared its head now - which is less 'impressive' and more ' typical soap opera bullshit'. So near, CSI. So near...
Anyhoo, I've caught some of the more current CSI: Miami episodes where the whole thing is constructed around the gravel-voiced Mary Sue that is David Caruso's Horatio Cain, a pallid ginger man in his mid-50s who lives in an American skin cancer capital. That's just bonkers in itself before you get to what is essentially a long-running audition for the role of Judge Dredd, but the whole show does sort of hold together if you view his team as less police officers and more a bunch of Baker Street Irregulars to Cain's Holmes, there to feed him tidbits and set up scenarios for him to dole out beatings to spousal abusers, torture suspects, and on at least one occasion to execute an alligator with a double-tap to the brainpan, AS ONE DOES.

Watching it from the first season, David Caruso does actually seem to be trying to act, as he indulges in smalltalk with other people rather than just making hateful and inappropriate remarks over corpses, bless his little cotton socks, though I suppose it made sense to differentiate itself from the other iterations by turning the main character into a bit of an icon, the unfortunate end result of this being Sela Ward's portrayal of CSI: New York's Jo Danville, who I shall probably mention at a later date when I post something edited down to a mere few thousand words explaining why the character is quite possibly the most hateful, sanctimonious, self-righteous and misanthropic cunt I've ever seen on television. Seriously, there is a point in one episode where she overhears someone remark of a man who risked his life to save others that he was "a hero" and she just turns to the camera while the brow of her soft-focus face that looks like someone has melted a plastic bottle over a fully made-up member of the cast of CATS visibly furrows in disgust at the notion of altruism.
And yet why am I surprised? CSI: New York is a show that starts an episode about rapists with a woman working out in a gym where all the other female patrons are exercising by dancing on stripper poles - and this has literally nothing to do with anything that follows.

I am also currently watching Pearl Harbor as I watch this and I don't know why everyone is so down on it - it is really funny. I know that sounds like derision on my part, but it is so ham-fisted that when the officer shows up at the nurse's place to tell her that the pilot guy is dead, I laughed. The nurses' letter to the pilot serving in Britain?

Because it is Friday:

Wednesday 23 March 2011

There's a difference between telling us about a guy who likes nipple play and a guy who makes hats out of babies

Yaaaaay. Another page in t'bag. I'm not fast or that good, but I am persistent.
I also seem to finally be coming around to the idea of solid blacks a mere 81 pages into the GN. Persistent, and I get there eventually - two whole virtues in my favor! Now all I have to do is master dressing myself and be less of a right-wing nutter who tells the world he likes games based upon nothing more than a central premise of killing communists.
To counter that unfortunately 100 percent accurate impression I offer my unashamed love of the Jeff level, where you're forced to take a break from mass murder, globe-trotting and graverobbing exploits to carry the poor, gutshot, utterly doomed cameraman companion of your slightly plain ex-girlfriend during the course of Naughty Dog's Uncharted 2: Among Thieves through one of the stages of the game while your current girlfriend shrieks at you to ditch him and have it on your toes instead, and she's entirely right to point this out as the sensible option but for the fact that the role you play is that of a man who is at heart a decent human being and as you're playing his role, you're not to make the easy decision but the right one and to see it through come hell or high water. Helping Jeff slows you down, you're not rewarded for it, and you fail to save him in the end, but it's a great touch in an already great game that helps distance it from the usual genocide-simulators by forcing you to commit an act of decency because you should rather than because the character you're aiding is important to the story. There's an unsurprising level of hatred for the scene among gamers, but as a Naughty Dog fan since Jak and Daxter, it's a not entirely surprising sequence given that trilogy's payoff to the question of what happened to Jak's parents (NO SPOILERS) being an oddly "WAT?" moment that blurs the line between pathos and twisting the knife.


Tuesday 22 March 2011

What is it that you pound on my door with SUCH INSOLENCE?

Been playing Homefront, a game written by Red Dawn, Apocalypse Now and Conan The Barbarian screenwriter John Milius, in which he weaves an intriguing scenario exploring the militarization of civilian life during a ground invasion of America in the wake of peak oil production and energy shortages caused by the failings of capitalism and a face/heel turn by reforming North Korean leader (and current heir presumptive) Kim Jung Un, a largely secondary concern for me beyond the game's main selling point of playing a character whose only goal is the shooting of communists.
My experience of unions is basically that I'd be better off taking my money, wiping my asshole with it, setting the money on fire, then just doing whatever my employer tells me regardless of any concerns I may have. This course of events may at first seem irrational, but it serves to eliminate hope from the equation, and once you do that you tend to just get on with things. Anyway, unions are bloody useless and if I don't like them, you can imagine my feelings on communism, a political ideal based on everyone having the same thing: fuck all.
If ever there was a disingenuous lot worthy of being shot like farmyard vermin, it's the communists, and on that score Homefront floats my boat just fine. Another big selling point is that the stealth bits are entirely optional - which is good because when I see thirty commies working a mass grave the time for sneaking is over and it's time for Old Painless to get his day in the sun. All you do is shoot communists, occasionally for variety's sake shooting them with rockets, shooting them from a helicopter, or shooting them from the top of a jeep that will run over anyone you don't shoot. Basically, any game that has communists set alight by white phosphorus to Elvis Presley's Burning Love was always going to get my vote, and while I'm not saying I would gay marry it, so far we've got a healthy bromance going.

Now, because Tuesday is that most depressing of the days of the week, here's a Tori Amos song that's haunted me for years even before I discovered it's a song about her miscarriage. Love the buildup near the end, I think that was when it started dawning on me that far from just having a warble with that admittedly amazing voice of hers, Amos was looking for some sort of emotional release through her music, a sentiment I feel I should berate quickly before the music snobs make fun of me, or - worse - start banging on about Kate Bush being better - I can't help it that I'm not in my fifties, grandad.

Monday 21 March 2011

a total shambles of really poor material by untested creators

Vista crashes are now bluescreen crashes, so I can't take screengrabs of them anymore to fill blog space. It's like the fucking thing is upping its game every time I get a handle on its shit. If Vista had a face I would punch it.
With a fist made of rusty nails and broken glass. That I have set on fire.

And so to comics on Monday, which I need to do in order to force routine on myself as I'm a lazy get with no structure to my life and some days, having to turn on the pc to make a blog post on weekdays is about the only reason I get any work done at all. Below is the first page of Frank, an attempt at little more than accurately representing the horrible screeching nails-on-a-blackboard drawl that is my accent - but on a comic page! It started life a couple of years ago as Your Friends and Neighbors (hence the name of the blog) and was initially a webcomic drama set over thirty years in my hometown charting the disintegration of the tenuous bonds between family members after the death of a child, but those reading my posts over the last two years will probably realise that straight face is not something I do particularly well when there are comments to be made about wanking and/or poop, so it was probably a good thing that I discarded Your Friends and Neighbors and attendant subject matter. Truth to tell, the deciding factor was my just not wanting to do another dreary fucking holiday in misery like pretty much every story I've ever read set in Northern Ireland during the 80s and/or 90s.
I barely remember the 80s and only really got into them in the early 2000s after GTA: Vice City came out, while the 90s were just that time when I discovered music by some very angry, disillusioned, loud or loud incomprehensible scruffy and awesome men that sounded great when you were off your tits on cider - the only time Britpop and Nirvana even appearing on my radar being when Kurt Cobain was murdered by his wi- I mean when Kurt Cobain committed suicide and Britpop shat its pants shortly after everyone realised it was a load of shite made up by middle class journalist twats at the NME who needed reassurance they actually mattered in an increasingly smaller world of information and made up a fictional musical movement for which they could be on the front lines.
The Troubles to me are little more than a vague memory and while it's not impossible for me to do a story set in that time and place, I'd worry that it be deemed a reliable testimony just because of where I happened to have been born, which is ridiculous as I - like many others - insulated myself from the Troubles with music and underage drinking. I thought that was a good plan at the time, I think it's a good plan now.

Anyway: Frank is blog filler at the moment, but hopefully you'll find it goes somewhere later, just not to the Troubles. You'll note that exposition appears on the very first page - not a good sign - and the art is all over the place as I veer wildly between blobby cartoon figures and characters with actual human noses, but otherwise it seems to have stuck to my hope that it be a strip that is not about spaceships, guns, superheroes, monsters or The Fucking Troubles, though it's occurring to me that this leaves me with little to work with. It was supposed to be a five-page opener, but I don't have enough pages done to act as a buffer for my inevitable lagging behind on updates - the curse of almost every webcomic creator - so it's just one page at a time for the moment.

Friday 18 March 2011

Nothing else ever came - nothing that he saw, or felt, or heard

Ah, glorious failure. Always a pleasure to make your acquaintance, pull out a chair, stay awhile...

Another weekend to look forward to, St Pat's passing without half as many drunken children as usual being roused from an unconscious state this morning on the main street, and I actually know this because I was out and about at the time. Yes, sobriety has made me an early riser, that most despised and unnatural of creatures, and my opinion of it thus far is that I don't need to be talking walks down the street to see the day's dog eggs being laid, yet here we are.
I hope you're happy, Jesus.

Wednesday 16 March 2011

Yer just like yer ma - can't take a punch

More talky talk. I intend on being sober tomorrow, y'know.

Some jokes don't need a punchline.

Tuesday 15 March 2011

Some of my tweets are ignorant I do it for shock value

Always enjoy drawing somebody raising the roof, especially when it may or may not be on fire.

Monday 14 March 2011

Ta-da is for when you do a flip or where the magician cuts the pretty lady in half, not when you show someone where you want to shove their dead body

Hate doing repeating panels as I never learn any lessons from where I go wrong. The weekend was the acid test for my sobriety and passed without incident or lapse, though I imagine the real test will be the annual St Paddy's festival of liver and spousal abuse, which should be fun as there is no greater pleasure in life than having an argument with someone who's drunk while you are not.

I wouldn't mind posting my old comics each Monday but I'm on the hop a bit so this week so can only manage some panels from horrific pseudo-manga Fist of the Bear

which I ill-advisedly set upon realising back in the heady days of 2004 when I first bought a computer and thought the internet was made of Manga and pornography (I was only half right as it turned out) and decided to join in. With the manga bit.

This was before I actually knew how to go about such things as scripting, penciling, inking, digitally coloring, and lettering, and when the vast majority of my experience of sequential storytelling came from stories where people shouted at someone while speed-lines exploded behind them.

I would almost describe those old rags as 'manga-like' comics except the art read in the same direction as the lettering, which from what I understand of 'authentic' Japanese comics, is not how they make manga in Japan, as there they have the art going backwards and the dialogue printed in a foreign language. Crazy bastards.

Hopefully, there will be something (marginally) more intelligible than Fist of the Bear featured each Monday here on the blog, preferably from a time when I stopped using pens to ink, as I've been looking through my old stuff and my go-to response seems to be "oh fucking hell, I'm not showing that shit to anyone."

TTFN, taters!

Friday 11 March 2011

I'm confused - are we investigating a murder or preparing a meal for the Palin family?

This is the longest I've been sober in years - how the hell did I ever used to do this? All this extra energy is really annoying, and what do I need all this extra money for? No way to go through life.

I was heartened in the gym to see the two fitness trainers engrossed by the television as the footage from Japan is shocking stuff and I like to know that people can feel for those in straits, you know? Then I noticed when I went to get my membership card at the end that they were watching a Top Gear repeat. Awesome.