Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Stan Winston RIP

Just checking the news today to discover that movie SFX maestro STan Winston has sadly died. I've always loved Winston's work, from the Terminator exo skeleton, Jim Cameron's Aliens and the Predator costume right up to the modern day with the Iron Man armour. Big loss, sad day...

Monday, 16 June 2008

Does Whatever A Spider Can

Well, after a wasted week off work, I'm slowly producing some pencil samples, completing two pages of Rol's Spider-Man script. It's a bit weird doing these as I haven't done full pencils for a long time, it's virtually inking myself with a pencil. I'm trying to do a cleaner line and so far it's going OK...I'm not 100% happy with the results but can live with the results. I spent about two hours on the panel above: I have difficulty with Spidey, keeping him Ditko thin but Romita dynamic but have largely done OK with him so far. I've spent some time with the buildings but the villain needed erasing and repositioning at the layout stage. However, the repositioned figure didn't work as well as the initial figure and after finishing him today, I think the proportions are a bit off. It's been a while since I've done superhero stuff so should really have looked at some ref to tighten things up. It's serviceable but if I sent this page to Rough Stuff, I know the anatomy would get picked apart. May go back in and change it if I can be bothered and have the time.

I'm thinking of doing a few different samples: this clean line style, a more pared back style and my usual style then see what feedback I get at the Brumcon. I enjoy that con and came away really buzzing last year so am really looking forward to it this year. I think it's safe to say all us Brum pubmeeters had a good time down at Bristol and it's a shame life has inevitably seen some of us drop by and hence we've lost those weekends but a handful of us had a great time last year so I'm quite looking forward to this year.

I essentially want to find out if pros think I have any potential or if I should just focus on the remainder of the Jock, Silver and my own stuff but at the very least, there'll be beer and comics so can't be all bad!

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Gamma Chameleon: The New Hulk Movie (No spoilers)

Finished work today and enjoyed the comforts of our new local cinema (and I should think so for an £8 ticket!) as I settled in to watch the Incredible Hulk (after no ads but three superhero trailers!). So what was it like?

The tone: a fusion of the TV series and the Bruce Jones comic run before easing back into 60s Hulk vs army, the film is exciting and gripping. There's not too much plot and I was getting restless near the third quarter as I was waiting for cameos and was realising there was less and less time for them to appear. The lonely man theme is there from the TV show, a neat recap of the origin in the title sequence and various little nods for fans.

For something produced on a lesser budget than the first one, I don't know how they did it. This is more epic, more action packed, more realistic and more stunning (and how the hell do people live like that in Brazil?)

The Ang Lee comparison: I was one of the few fans of Lee's film but have to admit, the new one kicks its arse and pisses on it from a great height. Losing the restrained tone of Lee's vision, this is more emotional by far.

The cast: Well, Tyler is less pretty but also less of an ice cold emotionless bitch than Connolly seemed to be so she wins out as Betty, Hurt is as great as Eliot was as Thunderbolt Ross (both wisely avoiding the comic version's blustering) and while I loved Bana as Bruce, Norton is more believable, rounded and sympathetic. As the linchpin of the movie, he's flawless and it seems Marvel might already be stepping astray by possibly alienating him, Downey Jr & Favreau with their decisions when it's those individuals who helped in the success of the films.

Tim Roth is also great as Blonsky, although as he's the spit of my mate Martin, it was very distracting!

The Hulk: Well, I always loved the Ang Lee Hulk and it still stands as the better creation. There's some weird texture on the new Hulk that makes him odd looking at times. However, when cast in shadows or water swathed, he looks bloody great and his design is truer to the comics, seemingly a mix of Keown and Trimpe. The Abomination also suffers from some dodgy CGI but that doesn't detract from a HOLY GOD!! of a smackdown. This is the Hulk as he was meant to be seen, just smacking the crap out of everything, even using two of his signature moves from the 70s comics.

The cameos: well, Doc Samson doesn't even get name checked and some of his scenes have been cut (parts of the trailer are absent) but the Tony Stark cameo is intact---I couldn't be arsed to sit and see if there was another Nick Fury end appearance as I can watch that on the DVD (his name pops up in the title sequence though). There was supposed to be a Cap America appearance but I didn't see it, unless he was draped under PVC sheeting in Ross' storage chamber that he takes Blonsky too.

Overall then? Not the greatest movie ever but a damned entertaining bit of action fun---stroll on the sequel (and you'll know who the villain will be, but I hope he's less annoying than in this one!)

Monday, 9 June 2008

Book 'Em, Danno!!

Having returned to work after a week off today, I realised I was left without a book to read at lunchtime. I was faced with the dilemma of do I visit Amazon or traipse over to Waterstone's? With Amazon, I could probably find anything I wanted cheap but you either have to pay postage or are forced to buy over £15 of material to get free P+P, again forcing your expenditure up. Plus, you have to wait and it was this deciding factor that forced me out like a vampire into the bright sunny afternoon to the bookshop.

I fancied some sci fi: I love the genre but am not a great reader of it so thought I'd see what classics they had available. I first picked up Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? but put it back down as I'd already read (and enjoyed) it years ago. I briefly perused the PKD selection before my eye caught a lovely faux leather bound copy of the Conan Chronicles, then saw a more affordable softcover next to it. I picked it up but remembered I tried the Conan books as a teen and they pretty much bored me then so I felt this was too large a volume to buy if the stories still bore me now.

So after a little bit of further perusing, what did I walk away with? Well, I loved War of the Worlds and The Time Machine, so I selected The Invisible Man...I loved the 80s BBC adaptation but would like to read the real deal. I know it doesn't end well for him, but at least he doesn't get bummed to death by Mr Hyde.

The second book, which will annoy Rol no end probably, was Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman (always sounds like a command to a homosexual, that name). While I truly dislike his Sandman --and most of his other--comics, I've enjoyed the prose work I've read by Gaiman, including his recent World Book Day thingee. This made me remember Smoke & Mirrors, which I've always wanted to pick up, and I thought the anthology format would be great for me to read on the bus and in my lunchtime. If something's crap, at least it'll be short or I can skip it altogether.

I haven't read any fiction for some time, in fact I can't remember the last novel I read, so I think my bus trips and boring lunch breaks may be better occupied for the foreseeable future..

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Just Another Manic Sunday...

My plans for getting down to drawing some samples have largely gone out the window this week, continuing today with a phone call getting me out of bed (well, it WAS nearly 10.00 but in my defence, back to the workhouse tomorrow so though I'd rest up a bit) and hijacking me away to a family thing today.

After two aborted attempts at a Spidey strip (spliced together above, so you can see how far I got with each attempt before I knew the mojo wasn't working), I started getting stressed as every scenario I could think of was a pain in the arse to draw. Then: inspiration!

Rol had written a short Spidey strip that we were going to submit to Spider-Man Unlimited a few years back but I was only on the second (but final sequentially) page when the news came that the series had been cancelled, and then I got back onto the Jock. However, I realised I still had Rol's script and reference and it's a handy-dandy ready made guide for some samples! I dug it out, reread the whole thing and laid out a few pages in thumbnail form. I'm going to use these to ease myself into the strip (Spidey's contortions make him a hard character to draw well, at least for me!), starting with an easy domestic scene before cutting into the superheroics.

If this were to be printed now, Rol'd need to do a slight script polish due to the MJ references, but otherwise it still stands up as fine as ever. The only thing I may do is slightly change some of the actions as the villain, who uses cobbled together bits of old supervillain equipment, will be awkward to position, mainly due to his Vulturion wings.

Hopefully this will work and get me going again this week...I want to do these samples, some clear line work and ink some more Jock pages all before this year's Birmingham convention hopefully, just to see if it's still worth a shot at the publishers or if I should only consider self publishing.

If I manage to get #2 finished and #1 retouched, might even be able to get some sort of Jock-related package to take to the con (though I'd need to speak to Mr Hirst first!!).

But we all know about the best laid plans...what IS a swanee anyway?

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Making The Best Of A Bad Situation

Yesterday I started working on some pages of pencil samples, settling on Spider-Man vs Electro. However, after a poor but serviceable first two panels, things went to ruin with the third panel and I gave up while I tried to figure out what else to draw.

Got up this morning set to start again when the council turned up to fix my living room window...which is about a foot away from where I draw. Needless to say, lost another morning to that but decided to use the afternoon to draw a replacement panel for the Jock #2. As discussed over a few drinks this weekend, it wasn't so much the art as the unimaginative park I designed for the panel that bugged me. Even though it was pointed out that bugs me but not the reader as it establishes the fact that this is in a park, I knew I'd inevitably redraw it.

As a result, here are the two versions of the panel. I think the original is more obviously a park than the second but the latter keeps Johnny in the shadows more and keeps the group within the trees more, as Rol's script asked for.

Hopefully back to drawing properly tomorrow but already I know my sister's bringing my nephew around so I'm bound to have my time eaten...

Monday, 2 June 2008

Stand And Deliver

Cool news that following on from the success of Marvel's Dark Tower comics, they are to adapt Stephen King's (updated expanded version of) The Stand into a series of six five-issue arcs by writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, artist Mike Perkins and colourist Laura Martin with Lee Bermejo on covers. This is probably King's most epic work, constantly listed as his best and most popular book and is the linchpin to his earlier books. It also ties in significantly with the Dark Tower books.

If this follows the success of the DT comics, other linked books such as The Eyes of the Dragon, The Talisman(and while not mentioned, hopefully its sequel as that explicitly links in to the DT arc) and The Little Sisters of Eluria (linking back into the aforementioned sequel).

Full details for the interested at:

Indiana Wants Me--But I Can't Go Back There

Well, took a trip to see Indians Jones and the Incredibly Long Title With Something About Crystal Skulls In It yesterday. I love the originals and hold Raiders to be a perfect film---you'd be a harsh harsh critic to find fault with it--so went in with an open mind but mixed opinions. So what did I think?

Well, it certainly didn't stand up as one of the "real" Indy films. Sure, there were some great scenes and sequences but inevitably Harrison Ford COULDN'T do the action as he used to. He does a bit but the spark and charm of the original Indy has been replaced by a more weary and beaten Indy, who is obviously struggling in some sequences. As cinema's leading action character, Indy now is a shadow of his former self. The opening sequence, traditionally a Bondesque prologue, is still present but takes a lot of time getting to actually show Indy. The plot isn't as exciting as the originals and the usually reliable Blanchett struggles with the comedy Russian accent.

Having said all that..the film does warm up and is a fine movie in its own right. The final 30 seconds alone made me want to cheer and after a comparatively muted storyline, the quest ends in a pretty spectacular sequence. The plot does nicely reflect the 1950s setting, shifting the basis of the plot away from the mystical more towards the science fictional but still keeps the general Indy ambiance.

I can't view this as one of the "real" Indy films: it's simply too different, but as an epilogue, it's a great Happy Ever After sendoff to a much-loved cinematic icon.