Wednesday 26 February 2014

As long as hot dogs can be hats, anything is possible

I am not very good at it so I avoid doing it in work for other people, but I like doing colouring and it's fine for stuff I'll bung up on Comicsy for 20p or something like that.
Despite being - or perhaps precisely because it is - a movie that nicks all its best ideas from Beastmaster 2, Thor: The Dark World is a fun B-movie masquerading as an angsty superhero drama full of universe-shattering McGuffins that make every battle one for All The Marbles, and it pulls off the conceit very well and no-one is any the wiser despite laser-toting elves and Asguardian gods doing professional wrestling moves in the middle of battles.  It surprises me not that it went on to make over half a billion dollars.

Monday 24 February 2014

Johnny talks big, but the worst thing I've ever seen him do is strangle a horse

Originally appearing in FutureQuake's 15th issue in 2009 (long since sold out and not available for digital download, sadly) alongside stellar work from up-and-comers like George Coleman, Gibson Quarter, Mark Howard and Adrian Bamforth, Dan Hill's Edge of Creation was around the time I was finally twigging that photoshop's many grey tones, filters, and the burning/lightening tools were not my friends and I needed to learn to draw better in black and white.  Clearly I didn't quite manage a clean break until much later, and I think the lettering is eye-strainingly small - there are other pages on my old pc which seem slightly different and I think I actually did the lettering even smaller - so I did at least learn to use a larger font size in future even if it left much less room for the art, though I got lucky with FQ's larger A4 format pages and these were perfectly legible when they saw print.
I think I just went "eff it" with some of the art, too, particularly background details in the medieval panels, so not my best work, but a helpful learning experience.  Thanks as ever go to FQ's commissioning editors and hetero life partners Dave "Birmingham is a real place" Evans and Richmond "I smell the blood of human beings" Clements for making it happen.

Wednesday 19 February 2014

I'm up to my ears in meringue

Just thumbnailing the next comic project I'll be getting stuck into shortly.  As you can tell, I don't really sweat things like anatomy and perspective at this stage as these are problems for Future Bryan - haha that guy is such a rube, he always ends up cleaning up my messes.  Schmuck.

Subatomic Party Girls is a concept just waiting to be made into a truly terrible film that people will decry for years as one of the worst movies ever made alongside Batman and Robin and that Eddie Murphy thing about the man on the Moon who runs a bar or something, which I get the impression would suit its redneck gobshite writer Chris Sims down to the ground, though what his co-writer Chad Bowers would make of such a turn of events I have no idea as he doesn't seem to have invested as much time developing a web persona as Sims has, though in my mind and for the purpose of comedic juxtaposition, I like to think of him as some sort of upper class gentleman type, a kind of Turkey to Sims' Huggy Bear.  Of artist Erica Henderson, I have no idea where to go with dated cultural analogies, but she sure does make a bold and purdy page.
Mostly being Josie and the Pussycats by way of a Gurihiru visual filter, Subatomic Party Girls is the tale of an all-girl rock trio blasted to the other side of the galaxy in a PR stunt gone wrong who have to play for their lives when they run into a Bob Segar-worshipping cult led by Jabba The Hutt.
Though it's knowingly dumb, it doesn't trade in self-mockery and so comes off as confident both in itself and in its readers to be in on the joke without needing reassurances in the same way the likes of Deadpool or Harley Quinn do.  Three issues in, it maybe feels a bit like there's been half that, so it's going to make a fine trade collection down the line even if it feels a little light as a monthly right now.

Tuesday 18 February 2014

I just had a very productive conversation and actions were taken and change is in the air

Yes I am doing colouring even though I promised I would never do so again because I can't do it without making things look like one of those Walt Disney movies they made up until around the turn of the millennium when they discovered that CGI was much cheaper and yet paradoxically the movies now cost a minimum of 150 million dollars to make despite this number being six times greater than the last "expensive" cel-shaded effort the studio churned out, but I am doing it to wind down so please don't judge me.  Unless I owe you pages and I should be doing those right now, then you can judge the Hell outta me - but you'll still be whistling for those pages.

Say, did you know Johnny Cash wrote and performed a song dedicated to the car driven by the Dukes of Hazzard?  I do not know why my mind is blown by this news, but here we are.

Thursday 13 February 2014

Is there anyone you can call who actually cares about you?

Today I spent three hours reading up on Transformers continuity, and it goes without saying that I'm not proud of it.  Then, about an hour into trying to calculate the travel distance between Beijing (jing jing jing) and the Wudang Mountains to work out if a jump in distance and time between scenes shown in the remake of The Karate Kid was feasible, I figured I really needed to go do some effing work.
Hence I am now balls deep in illustrating fan-fiction thrills of yesteryear so I don't get too caught up in timewasting - or "writing" as writers call it.

I'm going to the Lego store and getting me a big-ass R2D2

I shan't pretend to have gotten much drawing done today as I was off in the clouds daydreaming for most of it, or "writing" as lazy layabout gobshites like to call it.  I shan't pretend I got much done on that front, either, but I'm putting the time in to create something a bit more structured and considered than is my usual schtick, as mostly when I write something I just make it up as I go and should you wish to check the last few years of blog posts, I think we can agree that it shows.  All the same, not a jot of dialogue or a single panel description did I put down, as today I concentrated on "plot", of all things, and then went back and jiggered stuff around to make the themes work - oh God themes now - and I'm still not finished doing it.
It's still just daydreaming, though.

Wednesday 12 February 2014

If things was so great they never woulda changed

About Time is the most middle-class thing I have ever seen in my life.
That is all.

Tuesday 11 February 2014

I don't sleep, I just dream

Catching up on the backlog again with some clumsy but sadly necessary colouring.  I can never get my shit together on Mondays so it's great to have something to relax with in front of the tv so I can pretend I'm busy and not just catching up on my Transformers: Prime watching - or as it was called this (final) season, Transformers: Prime: Beast Hunters, a pointlessly busy title for a pointlessly drawn-out season.  The reworked theme and intro sucked, while the storyline meanders before the animation budget implodes and the season showdown takes place on a giant toilet seat with a PS3 screensaver as a background so overall it's not a great send-off for a series that started out well with some shameless but fun mash-ups of scenes and ideas from sources as disparate as John Carpenter's Prince Of Darkness and Stargate, but there were some fun retakes on Transformers lore along the way.

Friday 7 February 2014

I was just trying to fill a void with all these naked chicks

Another blast from the past here, presented with the kind permission of the original commissioning editor Dave Evans and writer Richmond Clements.
Shako: Snack Attack originally saw print in Zarjaz #9, one of the indie Futurequake imprint's titles devoted to Tharg-approved homages to the 2000ad roster of properties.  Of scriptwriter Richmond, conflicting rumors have it that he was stabbed to death by the adventurer Jack Burton in a subterranean kingdom hidden under San Francisco, thrown to his doom in a volcano on the Genesis Planet, and - most ludicrous of all - that he originally came from Larne.
Apologies must be made for the clumsy lettering - entirely my bad and not indicative of the usually high FQ standard.

If you don't know who Shako is, he originally appeared in 2000ad's fledgling year of publication, accidentally swallowing a top-secret McGuffin and subsequently being hunted by CIA honkies, he cut a swathe of murderous man-on-bear destruction across the Arctic as "the only bear on the CIA's Death List!" and he was all kinds of awesome, but has latterly been viewed as a bit of a joke by grumpy old comics readers who don't want to admit they once loved something so silly and seek to pretend that 2000ad has only ever been a chapbook about unshaven gunmen smooching all the ladies.

Until we meet again, I hope you all have a very nice weekend.

No water, no sitting - and don't think you can sneak in a lean, either

Just catching up on last week's episode of rich white reactionary pro-fascism conservative superhero drama Arrow, and it's always amusing to see the rich white American view of addiction recovery, unironically dependent as it is upon surrender to the idea of a need outside the individual's ability to control - "I NEED A MEETING" these soul-less characters announce in word and action with not a hint of self-awareness.  I suppose that television shows like Intervention are to blame for this, as they really reinforce the idea that recovery is not something that can be done with privacy or dignity, but I think the episode accidentally got that much correct because, strange but true I have had dealings with what passes for addiction recovery groups here in Northern Ireland, and it's always hilarious and saddening in equal measure to see so many people coping or "getting better" by replacing one addiction with a more socially-acceptable alternative like gambling, tobacco, caffeine, religion, and even the co-dependant rituals of AA groups themselves, and they so clearly use these things as a crutch that were I a dumber bastard than I am I would almost go so far as to suggest that it looks to me like they weren't getting better at all.
Anyway, of Arrow: the actress Katie Cassidy does some hilariously unconvincing drunk acting in this, but her face looks odd in the show lately, like she's had some work done or something, which for some reason involved giving her oddly-elongated features so there's probably a really obvious joke about her walking into a bar in an episode and being asked why she has a long face, or at the very least she can play Celine Dion in a biopic - but what she can't play is a convincing... hmm... I want to say "drunk" or "drug addict" but I have this really weird conviction that these two things aren't actually synonymous conditions, unlike what the show itself seems to be telling me with its absolute view of addiction as a digital state - if you're addicted to drugs, you are also an alcoholic.
Also Michael "Why, Black Dynamite?  WHY?" Jai White is in the episode as a man with three knives sticking out of his wrist, so it's good to know episode writer Mark Guggenheim isn't done writing awful Wolverine stories just yet.

Wednesday 5 February 2014

a meal between breakfast and lunch most often enjoyed by childless couples and gay men

This is Just Like Me, a short story by my comics wife Lee Robson about your average common or garden murderer, which originally appeared in Accent UK's Predators graphic novel.  I'd have got Lee over to explain more about it, but he's had a sip of ale today, and is thus insensible until he's had a good night's sleep.

 "Again with the old crap, Bryan?" I hear absolutely no-one say from here in my barely-inhabited corner of the web where only spiders and loneliness dwell - does anyone even use Blogger anymore but me?  It's all Twatting updates and pictures on your Tumblegrams these days, but until I clog up the data allowance of the Blogger account - and your Google update feeds, you poor sods - with every last piece of half-baked tat I've ever drawn, it'll do me just fine.

So Ms Marvel got relaunched yet again.  It's been an eventful flip-flop act for the (original) character as Marvel Comics have to keep bringing out a book every so often under the name Ms Marvel or the trademark lapses, but on top of that they have to bring out a book called Captain Marvel every so often for the same reasons, and these two titles - apart from an entertaining Captain Marvel series in the early 00s by Peter David - have been attributed to the same character on and off depending upon what copyright the company was intent on squatting upon that week, it only being now - four decades later - that someone has cottoned on to the bright idea of just using one or other of the titles on a separate character entirely.  This being the year 2014 and because we know the Nazis were wrong, diversity was floated at some point in the round table discussion and approved because... well, because it's the year 2014/Nazis were wrong and diversity is less good manners and more common sense because there are kind of plenty of honky superheroes already and if your aim is a superhero who's different from what went before, you have to actually try something different sooner or later.

Based on issue 1, it is kind of like Runaways, only I hold out hope Ms Marvel's online fandom will not be as aggressively annoying and evangelical as Runaways fans have been for the last 12 years.  Obviously the presence of Runaways' original artist and co-creator Adrian Alphona is a factor in such an observation, but there's more to tie the two together, like the central teenage female characters, an opening scene in the first issue where the protagonist dabbles in online fanfiction based around the already-established superheroes of the Marvel universe, and the main character's idolising of superheroes that owes a great deal to Runaways cast member Victor Mancha, in what I consider the first chink in the armor as Victor Mancha is one of the most boring comics characters ever created, once spending half the pages of his Son Of Ultron one-shot taking a stroll through what looks like Detroit - he is that boring.  The new Ms Marvel is not as boring so there's victory one, though it's tempered by the character - and the book - suffering from a bit of overexplaining, but it's mostly Disney-cartoon-levels of over-expository dialogue that comes off as a touch of oversharing from someone who's given too much thought to their first world problems (locally referred to as "Gobshite Syndrome"), so it at least ties into the central theme of searching for an individual identity, albeit by leaning heavily upon the usual middle class problems like parent strife and what's expected of "a proper young lady" - again, all very Disney Princess stuff so far.
To be fair on the issue of expository dialogue, it's issue #1 and there's a lot to fit in, but then again, it kind of makes it baffling when right at the end of a book that explains everything in occasionally-cringe-inducing levels of exposition from its very first page, the central conceit of how the character actually gets her powers hinges upon events elsewhere in a Marvel crossover event that goes without explanation here, the most important part of the story so far being reduced to a shrug and a "shit happens", and I'd argue that the last page and a half is redundant storytelling that could have been dropped in favor of a little explanation away from the taken-for-granted conceit among only the dedicated white comics-reading male audience that some quarters purport the book to be an antidote to that it might be explained later, or that the book you're buying on a month-to-month basis will make much more sense if you'd only buy it as a trade collection half a year from now.
G Willow Wilson's writing is solid despite the GS mentioned, and Alphona's linework - while looser and slightly rushed-looking compared to when he's been paired with more seasoned inkers - in my opinion possesses much more character and style than before.  The colour is good, too, but maybe a little more variable and less bold that would be expected of something so heavily inspired by the storytelling and visual tropes of Western animation.

It's a decent enough first issue despite its problems, but I like that Wilson throws so much of the ethnicity and religious upbringing of the character into the first issue in order to draw some drama directly from the fact that the character hasn't had a traditional WASP background despite her immersion in American culture, and though obviously this runs the risk that you might view the characters as politically correct constructions built around a corporate mandate rather than distinct personalities, it does at least avoid the trap Geoff Johns fell into when he introduced the gun-wielding, tattooed, car-thief Muslim character whose name I have hilariously forgotten already in the pages of Green Lantern.  It's a thing that tv and movie writers do all the time where they find like maybe two whole facts about something and then use those alone as the basis for their scene-setting or character-building, and in Johns' case he had to write a story about a Muslim character with tattoos based on the design sketches approved by editorial, and sure enough if you Google "Muslims" and "tattoos" the first few results explain that tattoos are "haram" in Islam, and Johns' script had a character point to the Muslim character's ink and say "I thought tattoos were Haram in Islam?"  Basically, I am positing that writers can often betray just how far they bothered delving into the cultures they're exploring, as there wasn't much else in that story to inform the reader about the religion of the character, but with Wilson - a Muslim convert - there's arguably the beginning of a sense she might have more insight than a white male writer whose first and seemingly last stop on the research trail was a Google search that took him to Yahoo Answers (a well-named site because answers are often given by total yahoos).

Long story short: they found me

Luckily I got naff all done today so it doesn't look so bad when I just repost old doodles to help me fill out the "pages" list on the right as I suppose they technically count as "things I have written."

Monday 3 February 2014

I once read a note he wrote to himself that just said "put on pants" followed by a question mark

Oh dearie me.  I have just discovered Blogger's "pages" widget that lets me link directly to old work that is online, which means that I now have to put more stuff up to keep the list populated.  Unlike other creators who can put their flashiest, most up-to-date work up for consideration, I have to put up some of my most sucky scribblings because it was me writing it and it's the only way to justify the "writer and" bit of my Blogger profile bio.  I suspect I will have to put up some stuff that was quietly forgotten about, too.  If any awful comics start (re)appearing on the blog in posts of the near future, just ignore them.

Saturday 1 February 2014

This kind of drama's the reason I quit the Ohio State football team

Right out of grinding down one pitch to submission standard and straight into another - because I am basically a machine.  And because in three months' time it'll either be a drawing gig, or I won't have to worry about coming with ways to fill blog posts for a while.  Either way, it's all good.