Thursday, 31 January 2013

working harder than my liver on payday

Currently running up a few sample pages as part of Jamie Smart's challenge to create a character a month - not that it was a challenge he threw out there as much as a statement of intent born of the classic frustration every creator feels when they see an idea they've been fermenting show up somewhere else (I was gonna link to his post, but the website seems borked at the moment).
We're all essentially drawing upon the same pool of influences derived from our cultural background of movies, music, and literature so it's not entirely surprising that people come up with the same ideas every now and then, and when it happens with something I've been thinking of doing my response is "I hope it is done well", because my basic motivation in doing anything creative is I think it would be fun, and someone else doing it saves me the bother of trying to do it, so I look forward to seeing someone else's take on the notion and usually only get miffed if it isn't as fun as I hoped it would be - though in fairness, I get miffed at anything that isn't as fun as I hoped it would be.
All the same, I see a lot of creators get very snarky if their idea turns up somewhere else and I think that this is a bad approach to the situation that ignores the huge amount of effort they've just been saved from having to invest, because laziness trumps creative pride in this house, thank you, but also because you really do need more than one idea to build a career in any creative industry, and if you do only have one idea, then for your sake I hope it is "I am going to steal everybody else's ideas."1
Smart's notion seems like a great one as it's a mix of  "put up or shut up" and  responding to setbacks with creativity, so I am resolved to doing my own "one pitch a month" post here on the Friends and Neighbors blog because it commits me to getting my bloody finger out creatively, but don't be surprised if I just bung up something old and pretend I've tweaked the concept a bit.  I've started a bit late in the month to get one pitched for January, so I'll aim to get a pitch and basic proof of concept bunged up in the next week or two.

And in the meantime, if you fancy reading even more gobshitery from me, Colin Smith has an interview with myself and Lee Robson over on the Too Busy blog where we talk about life in the small press trenches.

Although if and when I steal other people's work, I like to call it "recycling", "a homage", or "I have never read/seen/heard of that so I couldn't of nicked it SO THERE."

I am at a crucial point in my zombie novel

I have been watching:
Kamen Rider Decade: All Riders vs DaiShocker - watched because I had to wait to see the Royale Rumble so I thought I'd watch one with superheroes.  In a nutshell, Kamen Rider is a companion piece to Super Sentai (Power Rangers): both made by the same production company, shown in the same programming block, and both reinvented each year to shift a different set of toys to kids, with each new version of the show not necessarily designed to be compatible with the one before or after and often contradicting them outright, so there wasn't much crossover until this mid-year movie that pitched all the different Kamen Riders as inhabiting alternate Earths that are now crashing together causing the end of the human race across all realities unless they fight each other to decide whose world becomes the default template of all the others - I think... it's a bit sketchy on the details, but ultimately comes down to all the different superhero characters from 40 years of programming having a royal rumble to see who comes out on top.

So it's Crisis On Infinite Earths, basically, only it isn't, because roughly one third into the film the rumble is over and the tournament is revealed as a subterfuge, then there's some moping pretty boys, a bizarre Gackt cameo, and then no less than three final battles in the third act, the first of which features hundreds of comic book heroes and villains wailing on each other for twelve minutes while things explode behind them.
This statement may shock you but this film is daft as all heck, though it also holds together well because it is essentially a comic book crossover event in movie form as each and every character onscreen has an extensive backstory that is utterly superfluous to events unfolding and so is never mentioned beyond the odd vocal and visual reference only fans of the shows would spot, but all 25 heroes get their own moment in the sun and no-one comes away treated as an embarrassment or anachronism.
The director has a great eye for an arty shot here and there in what is essentially a zero-budget toy advertisement, but the upshot is a confidence that you're already watching so you don't care if things look cheap so let's just have the characters slapping each other - and they do.  The fights aren't choreographed to link one huge stunt to the next as much as Sentai/Power Rangers tend to be and the impression of scraps is that of a circus act, but it's loud, fast-paced, eventful and short - a mere hour and change of your time - so it's hard to get too depressed at it not being The Avengers, though in some places it has a similar ambition in terms of scale that's let down only by the budget because there's still an impressive sense of multidimensional invaders laying waste to a city and a small band of disparate heroes (who have each had their own movie outings in the past) coming together to save the day in a huge fight, though the film trumps Avengers by having actual named supervillains in the mix rather than just a horde of deus ex aliens with a handy off switch.  The KR films tend to be a bit inaccessible in isolation and often outright depressing, but the high concept of this one lends itself to more scant characterisation while still managing to make the story all about an estranged brother and sister getting over themselves - furthering the Avengers parallels by essentially being the Thor/Loki storyline right down to the villainous sibling being a sorcerer who casts the arrogant hero into a lower world to learn humility.

Kamen Rider Decade: All Riders vs DaiShocker is stupid, cheap and loud, but it has a good heart and is a pretty decent superhero film if you don't mind some cheap-looking suits for the monsters, as another thing in its favor is that it takes the older monsters and plants them right in the middle of the screen even if their suits are panto-level costuming - it's unashamedly silly and all-out to entertain you.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

I'm gonna fight him up real nice

Don't mind me, I'm just fixin' t'get back into a drawing routine and will be cluttering up your feed until that happens with vague stabs at regular updates.
I have been watching:
Robocop -a-frigging-gain, mainly because it is fantastic, but also because when the matter came up during discussion of another fictional Detroit resident I had the hankerin' to watch it.
It keeps giving, does Robocop, as there's this bit where Murphy is in the changing rooms and someone asks "why you down here, man?" and Murphy responds that he doesn't know, that OCP are moving guys into bad precincts all over.  In the comic adaptation of the movie, I recall the desk sergeant chewing Murphy out for transferring to a rough neighborhood from his cushy suburban detail to build a reputation by acting like a cowboy, and I think that stuck with me as Murphy's motivation even when watching the film, but then Bob Morton mentions that he's moved "prime candidates" into position so they can get the ball rolling on the Robocop programme and they hope to get a prototype into production within the month.  OCP deliberately killed Murphy so they could build Robocop - I never noticed that before, and it's a neat twist on the cowardly corporate manslaughter laws that allow deaths that are pretty much just murders to go unpunished. Another neat thing about it is that in dating as it has, it comes off as a kind of retro-futurist movie and becomes relevant all over again in the same way Fallout's stylings essentially make its setting timeless - Robocop's world of buttons, videotapes, analogue communications and scheduled news updates is a catalog of anachronism that essentially creates its own reality for the story to exist within in a manner I've only really seen recently in (ironically) Dredd.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Punches are not hugs

Having taken a respite from blogging thanks to Vista finally making good on its daily promise to kill itself and take my pc with it, I've got a bit bored so have gone back to doodling on the laptop.  The steam-powered laptop that sounds like a plane and which runs on GOD DAMN IT Vista.

I have been watching:
The Carrie Diaries, a prequel series to Sex And The City, which you may or may not be aware of seeing as it's a pretty old show now, but from what I could tell it was a New York-based sex drama about three whores and their mother, begging the question "why is a teen drama the natural follow-up to that?"  I think we're supposed to mock the reasoning that led to this show's creation and then ask "who is the intended audience for this?" but let's face it, it's a teen drama that sexualises children and that needs no justification to programme-makers because they know exactly who its audience is - everybody.  From Home and Away to Hollyoaks to 90210 to Secret Life of the American Teenager, kids shagging is what people want to watch at the end of a day spent frothing themselves into a fury at the latest pedo-scares in the news and I am, of course, postulating what I hope is an amusing contradiction and not actually suggesting that there are people who spend all their day merely being angry at the existence of pedophiles and imagining what they get up to, as not even Daily Mail writers do that - I picture them fantasising what pedophiles get up to at most takes up their morning, and then after lunch they fantasise about immigrants, maybe squeezing in the odd payment to someone to say they've fed crack cocaine to their 17 children or have only come to the UK to sell babies to pimps because unlike the workshy unemployed sponging benefits from hard working taxpayers, Daily Mail journalists actually put some effort into their day.
Anyway - The Carrie Diaries' biggest problem for me is arguably Anna Sophia Robb, who is supposed to grow up to look like Sarah Jessica Parker, which pretty much blows the series finale as we know it now has to end with some kind of disfiguring car or horse-trampling accident, but she also ruins it because when the Rock goes to the trouble of saving your ass, the least you can do is make good use of the second chance he's bought you and not make bad television.  Shows like this fascinate me because they're basically the same thing as, say... Gidget, which is not the first female-fronted teen romance "dramedy" but it's a nice handy yardstick seeing as it was made in the 1960s (the Sandra Dee film version even earlier in 1959) with the attendant moral standards of the time, and the aspirational ideal of the lead female in Gidget is to eventually kiss Moondoggy on the lips, while her modern counterpart Carrie constantly writes in her diary of  how she secretly longs for a good fisting while a bus full of special needs orphans watch - the end goals are different and reflect the times in which these shows came to be, but they are still essentially the same show*, and therein lies the problem because some yearnings are universal experiences and work as the focus of teen dramas even in the 1960s, so you don't really need sexy sex to spice up proceedings as long as the emotions at the center of the writing ring true with experience and aren't - for instance - simply recycling the work of other shows and movies and filtering them through the arbitrary mandates of producers to create an uninteresting work of homogenised telefeces whose primary audience lies in a no-man's land demographic where the terminally bored, the moronic, and those who just aren't paying attention at all overlap to create whatever audience share this horse-trampling of a show ends up with.

* And when I say the same show, I mean "dramedy centering on a widowed father-daughter relationship, sister problems, school stuff and major hobby of main character" pretty much covers both of them.