Obviously you would expect me to be nostalgic about it, "oh look how my style has changed, how I've grown as an artist" la da dee da da, but the biggest change is how little I share now, and how little I feel the need to share. Back then, probably because I was still in the mindset of wanting to be a professional artist and wanted to share anything presentable and cool, and I wanted heft, but now, I'm fine with saving a lot of that for myself, the stuff that appeals only to me. I don't upload a lot, but I'll only upload the stuff I think is worth sharing.
I also couldn't fail but notice how much my creative process has changed, not just the kind of ideas I had, but how I explore and utilize them.
The big problem with the death of the iPod Classic is that there's no suitable alternative for it. Apple doesn't sell enough of them to be profitable, and they corner the market so no one's bothered to make a killer for it. Now the companies are focusing on always-connected phones and apps because that's where the money is. And that's fine for them, I understand. But what about the people like me who like having a dedicated music device?
I found a site online called ifixit.com which has instructions on how to replace the screen, the battery, the hard drive, what have you on the iPod... which is good, and I'll probably be forced to use that in the future to maintain my music-lovin' lifestyle, but the repairs are a hassle. Half the instructions are just on how to pry the case open, it's like a mussel. And even if you repair it, you're sort of at the limit of where that device will go. There is a seller on eBay who puts bigger hard drives in there, but I don't know if he still operates, and you still need an iPod to give to him to perform the upgrades. Even if it's used, those prices are going to continue to go up.
And really, it's the little parts that will need replacing, and you can get all those parts, you can probably get them cheap (the iPod was always cheap to build, and was always made from surplus parts, just like the original Game Boy. It's called lateral thinking through obsolete technology).
People make their own computers, they have for ages. People even mod their laptops, and those are tight fits as well. The biggest problem with homebrew portables, though, are the cases. It's not like you can get stock iPod cases like you can NZXT towers, right?
Well, maybe you can. Now we have 3D printers. They're not entirely ubiquitous or more than 300dpi accurate, but they're on their way. If you open sourced the design for an MP3 player that uses stock parts that can be easily assembled and upgraded, then we'd be sitting pretty. You could get a guide on how to build it, order the parts from various vendors (based on what you want/need). There could be tons of custom printed cases, maybe you could order one from someone who makes them out of steel or plastic or wood or whatever. You get the parts, put it together yourself, load and sync, and there you go. Heck, modders could offer to do the assembly for you (at a cost, of course).
There's already open source software for MP3 players called Rockbox, so that's not an issue... though if you were designing an MP3 player from the ground up, you'd need to decide which operating system you were going to be basing yourself off of. I think since it's a replacement for Classic, it would be Classic, although I can imagine touchscreens becoming ubiquitous enough in spare parts to be the new standard. Besides, what else would be a suitable replacement for the clickwheel?
And as long as we're building our own iPods, here's something I always wanted on mine: the ability to record. Why don't we add a microphone to it? That might require some read/write capability in the operating system, so if we add that in, how about the ability to manage playlists as we listen? Maybe just make it a little command that doesn't get executed until the player syncs back up with the computer?
There's tons of things we could do with these new players... they just have to be built. And I hope they will be. For all the stuff I don't know about building tech, there are folks out there who do, and they're the kind of people who like tech like the iPod Classic. So start brainstorming, guys! Make it a big project, make a subreddit, make a website, set goals, make a declaration, start building! Who knows how long our iPods will last?
First, the movie's in stereo 3D because every animated flick is rendered in 3D, the stereo always looks good, and they appeal to families so that's more tickets sold (parent and child to whole families as opposed to individual moviegoer), and it helps justify the expense of buying those 3D projectors in all those theaters, which I doubt have actually been paid off fully. I'm not 1000% sure of the timeline, but the last American animated movie done in 2D was Winnie The Pooh. Before that was The Simpsons and Princess and the Frog, and all of these had their 2D styles grandfathered in.
2D is tricky, it's flat, and I don't even know how well it scales to the big screen as much as 3DCGI does. On the big screens, you want to see all these details. I don't want to say 2D works best on the small screen, but it shines on there (look at the Avatar series). Most of the video games on handheld devices (think Angry Birds) look like 2-dimensional drawings. 2D's not dead, it thrives on a more intimate medium. The excuse that kids don't know 2D or handdrawn is ludicrous, it's just that they like it in a certain way.
Animating on a computer allows more flexibility and change, all the drawing takes place at the front end, then the animation (which is mostly grunt work) is handled by the computers (in 2D, it's farmed out to other countries), and when you make a movie, you have to make countless changes. Toy Story 2 was completely overhauled in a few months before its' release, I doubt that 2D would allow for that sort of crunch. It makes computer animation seem like a safer bet.
All this isn't what I was thinking about, though. What I was really thinking about was the weird idea that cartoons based on cartoons don't seem to do well, and it seemed so strange to me. Obviously, I'm thinking of Peabody and Sherman (which I heard boosted quite a bit in the second week, but Dreamworks looks like it's going to lose a lot of money on it), but Over The Hedge, Astro Boy, TMNT... sounds like a bit counter-intuitive. What could be more fitted for animation than animation?
Combine this with the fact that we're getting a live action Little Mermaid in addition to two Jungle Book adaptations, Malefecent or however it's spelled... and then I realized "well, if cartoons of cartoons don't do well, isn't it a SMART idea that Disney is doing live-action versions of their cartoons?"
I mean, if the new Jungle Book was a cartoon, people could think it's just another sequel or something (like the Tinkerbell movies) instead of something big and new that demands their attention (because it's all about attention). Andy Hendrickson from Disney said that "story doesn't matter" (bold), but I guess he's right in a sense, getting people's attention matters. It's butts in seats and doing what everyone else isn't doing... and no one's got the fairy tale market cornered like Disney, so yeah, they're going to do that. And I get it. I'm cool with it. As a writer, I take offense with the idea that "story doesn't matter," but that's different than saying "you can just put any old bullshit on the screen and people will see it." The story doesn't get them in the seats, it keeps them from getting out of them fifteen minutes into the movie and demanding their money back.
Besides, even if they wanted to do new animated versions of their classic films for the big screen, who's going to make 'em? Pixar does their own stuff and Disney Animation is basically a mini-Pixar with their own projects, would they want to take away from their schedule by putting a remake on there? If they wanted to do it, that's one thing, but they're probably bursting with ideas. And if the remake is a success? Then that's whole big swaths of time taken up by sequels and shit... or farmed out to another company, and then you just get crappier sequels, diminishing returns, and saturate the market with your own product.
I think I've lost my train of thought I've been typing this up for about half an hour and change now. Just musing. I do like the idea that animation seems to be the one medium where adaptations don't seem to be taking off. In a world where everything is based on something else, animation seems to foster originality (probably because of all the creative people crammed together, drawing together, swapping ideas) so that you're getting new ideas all the time, and the brain trust that Pixar's put together ensures the execution of each is as strong as it can be. Maybe that's why the adaptations don't measure up-- because you have a source that you're beholden to.
I love Photoshop. I hate that it's become an excuse for lazy work. Now whoever was talking about the VHS covers, a lot of those were... well, not lazy work, but they weren't the works of masters, but even back then you needed a bit of skill to put those things together and pay attention to all the little details, so even the rushed work has that effort as part of it's soul (effort becomes embedded in the analogue, I feel).
The real problem with DVD covers and posters these days are that they're not as long-term as they used to be: how many people buy blu-rays anymore? You don't need to see them on shelves, you see them in streaming libraries like Netflix or iTunes, where they're much smaller. It's sort of similar to what we saw when music shrunk from big records to CDs and tapes and now MP3s (anyone know what percentage album art on your iPod is compared to the size of a record cover? Genuinely curious). Movies used to play for months in theaters when the illustrated posters were in their heyday, now they're competing to stay in a second week. And everyone already knows about the movies from all the commercials on TV, the banner ads, the pop-up ads, the paid twitter accounts and so on, the poster is an afterthought because it IS one. The function of this art is responding to the world around it.
What I was talking about a few comments up, about Mondo posters and so on*, the function of a Mondo poster, or any of these alternate movie posters we see all over the web, isn't to sell a movie, it's to celebrate a movie. Which as a film fan, I love. It's why we're making such a stink about the Struzan posters, or about the VHS covers, we're celebrating, we're taking part. And now we have choice and variety like we never had before. We also have outlets like Teefury and Threadless that let us combine our celebrations together. It's gone from commercial art to art celebrating a commercial.
As for the album art, I think what we're going to find is that as streaming services and just swapping individual songs become the norm, the idea of albums is going to become obsolete, replaced with playlists and subscriptions to musicians (I already subscribe to musicians on Youtube, and I'm sure plenty of you do too). Instead of album art, we get more music videos than we ever had on MTV, by a wider variety of people with whole different skill sets, and they play more shows and more local venues, which means more gig posters and eye-catching flyers, t-shirts, bumper stickers, etc
*Here's what I had written about Mondo Posters, in response to "Mscotthay":
Well, the answer is simple: I don't. I typically UPLOAD drawings of faces, but that's because my other stuff makes less sense out of context or are rougher doodles or sketches, or loose works.
But the faces are very important to me because, while I'm still learning, they represent a level of talent I've been aspiring to for fifteen years and probably my whole life in one way or another.
For the first big chunk of my artistic life, I had a very specific style and I was happy with it. I kept with it until high school and while my ability with it did mature, it was very limiting. All styles I think are limiting in that way, you look at Simpsons and things can only look like the Simpsons, and now we've got shows like Phineas and Ferb (which I love) that can only show the characters at 2 or 3 angles, which is terrible for a visual medium (although I will admit style sometimes has advantages, Adventure Time can get really graphic and freaky because it's in this saccharine veneer that makes psychotic looking monsters acceptable). Needless to say, I reached that point with my art where I was hitting walls and couldn't progress any further.
I don't know what exactly happened, I'm sure being back in the states was a help but about then I was old enough to leave school campus at lunch. There were a couple restaurants around for us to go to but right out of bounds was the comic book store, so every week or so when I got a free period before lunch I would go down and pretty much waste my money on comics. I was getting exposed to more art styles and I started emulating the artwork i saw there. My friend Matt got me into anime and I started picking up Animerica Extra (still love Video Girl Ai all these years later) and my style changed to be more anime and manga inspired. Although sometimes I would do a hard attempt at drawing a face from a rare piece of photoreference-- usually black and white dotmatrix printings of low-res photos off the web... a start, at the least.
But it wasn't enough. What I've always wanted was to be able to recreate what I saw on paper. I could start to do it with places and things, but people... forget it. They still looked like the same head with different wigs on top. This went on throughout all of college, although I got extremely good at recreating locations, cars, props... it was my first time with an always-on internet connection, lots of free time and lots of hard drive space, I could search for photo reference and organize it and doodle from it.
I already spoke on here about the paradigm shift that happened when I started dressing my characters in real clothes, but when I was looking back at my art, the Kia Asamiya faces I was pretty much stuck with became more minimalist, they actually now look like Adventure Time adults. VERY few features, they looked a bit more realistic but it was still hard to tell people apart. But combined with everything else, it looked a mix between anime movies and watching a DVD. I called it "simplified realism," which is a mentality I continue to hold.
And about five years ago, 2007, I forget what instigated it but I started doodling a lot with pen and filling pages with lots of little doodles and I somehow changed the way I put faces down. They looked like lumps of apples... and there's plenty of them in my gallery, I was already on Deviantart at this point, but over the years they became smoother, more varied (I hope) and began to look like the people they were intended to.
I still have a good way to go-- my faces still look similar (to me), I can't do exaggerated features, wrinkles, and jowls very well-- so no Harry Dean Stanton for a while, and I also want to get it down to a point where if I see someone in the wild whose look I like, I can memorize it or doodle it down fast enough to capture their essence without them posing for me-- I keep seeing people I'd love to turn into characters.
So, the reason I draw so many faces is because I've waited decades to get to this skill level, and I'm intent on reaching the level above it, and the only way to do that is to practice. And the only way to know if I'm getting any better is to open it up to feedback.
My issue is-- where's the stuff for the non-mature audience?
Yeah, kids are lucky because they're more open and accepting of strange ideas, so they've always gotten experimental stuff first, and there's usually some crossover success with things like Avatar the Last Airbender and Adventure Time, and I LOVE that there's a series of "How To Train Your Dragon" that looks just like the movie. That's brilliant.
But all of those-- they're series for kids that adults can enjoy.
What about the family stuff? The stuff that the family can all sit down and watch together and know this is for all of them equally. Not stuff that adults would dig that's watered down and not stuff intended for kids that's dirtied up. And not stuff diluted and castrated for a mass audience (and nevermind that "keeping it clean for kids" -- kids are much more sophisticated than they're ever given credit for). Quality stuff meant for them.
Modern Family is all I can think of, and that's in renegotiations (and while I don't know shit about that sort of thing, if ModFam had some strong competition, that might make a good bargaining chip for the cast). Although to be fair, I rarely watch broadcast TV so maybe there's others, but I can't name them off the top of my head.
Where is the Boardwalk Empire/Mad Men/Breaking Bad-quality content for the family to watch together?
And don't think this is me being some kind of prude, I'm really not, it's more that I want variety, and without variety all this stuff is going to start getting derivative and boring really quick.
I guess the place to start looking would be books-- everything is adapted or remade these days-- so let me open this question up to all of you: what books do you think would be good for a long-form quality television adaptation suitable for family viewing?
Once you're born, you're on your own.
When you're a child, you must be protected from the world. Kept under constant guard and shielded from the most remote of corrupting influence, like independent and critical thought.
When you're a teenager, you're a criminal and a drone-in-training. You have no rights and no consideration because you can't vote.
When you're 17 1/2, you're "barely legal."
When you're 18, they've screwed you over so many times, and now your body is up for grabs.
When you're 18 until you're 30, you're a misinformed, entitled liberal hippie, forced to be a cog in a machine you don't fit into.
When you're 25, you realize you were a freaking idiot until this point and vow to change. You probably can't.
Once you're 30, you're a salt of the earth earner who makes this country great. And while you don't earn enough, you should sacrifice more to support your politicians and the wealthiest ones in the country, since they're so much more important than you.
Once you're 30, you can probably afford to start a family. But everyone else had a head start.
When you're 40, you think you took the wrong turn, never realizing that the right turn was so well-hidden that you never would have recognized it when you passed it.
When you're 50, you've paid off your debts. Then your kids get married. Then you have all new debts. And a young family needs some help, too.
When you're 60, no one will hire you, but you're expected to slough on for ten more years before you can get any retirement benefits.
When you're 64, they'll play that Beatles song at your birthday party, and there's nothing you can do about it. Deal with it.
When you're 70, you're expected to live off the same paltry amount you made when you were 17.
When you're 80, you're on your own and it's so easy to get lost. And you dread the first time you have to ask for help.
When you're 90, everyone's astounded that you're still alive.
When you're 100, your birthday gets mentioned on the news.
When you're 110, you're probably a member of a remote mountain tribe that drinks dirty glacier water.
When you're 120, you'll be gone. But you gave it 120%.
When you're gone, when you're buried beneath or ashes in the wind, you'll be connected to the earth in a way you dreamed of when you were a misinformed entitled hippie. And it'll be too late to appreciate it.
But when you're alive, you're alive. At least you think you are.
All the books are almost twenty years old, dogged and a little dirty, musty and -- perhaps their biggest attribute -- completely absent from my memory. I need to get rid of a couple of them, for sure, but not before I get a chance to leaf through them.
A bunch of them have those pages at the front where you can put your name, usually preceded by "from the library of..." or something like that. Those need to come back, even though I would actually advise against anyone actually putting their name in. Because I don't know about you, but when I get a used book with a name in it, I usually wonder what happened to that person. They're probably dead. And if you put your name in there, one day, you might be dead, too.
I haven't read through any of them yet (I need to do some proofreading for Tess and finish up a library book), but I can't wait to dig in. Here's what I got:
"The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" by Mark Twain -- with a strange two-coloured print all over the hardcover (a lot of these books are missing their dust covers) and creepy black and white etching illustrations, the kind that mix your childhood with artists recreations of crime scenes, with captions like "He seemed to take a vindictive pleasure in punishing the least shortcomings" and "Injun Joe lay stretched upon the ground, dead" (Spoiler alert). It's from the Heirloom Collection in London, so it's probably from a time before barcodes.
"King Arthur and His Knights" Illustrated by Harry Thacker -- with no actual author noted. I'm definitely going to go through this since, like most people, I'm actually ignorant of a lot of the Round Table mythos. There's titles like "The Empty Seat At The Round Table," which sounds foreboding, and "The Coming of Sir Galahad," which sounds inappropriate (especially if you remember his segment from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail.") It's big type but what caught my eye is it's from the era where the knights seem to be wearing flowy dresses over their armour and that was totally acceptable. And no mud or grunge in sight, which you can't get anymore.
"Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates." -- this was all over my childhood. I'm definitely keeping this one, if only to treat/torment my own children to it.
Two Peter Rabbit books. Don't have much to say about that.
Here's a strange one- "The Island Of Sodor- Its People, History, and Railways" by The Rev W Awdry -- this is a fake tourist book about the island that "Thomas The Tank Engine" is set in, which you might overlook based on the cover. And apparently there's a huge Welsh history on that island. And strangest of all, there's a picture in there that looks just like me.
"The Green Fairy Book" -- best to be read from while imbibing absinthe.
In that vein, "The Water Babies" by Charles Kingsley -- these kinds of illustrations were all over on Portabello Road, very intricate and rich colours, just surprisingly few and far between. It's a story that I have no recollection about and you never hear anyone talk about, so that's gotta be worth a little of my time.
"We Seven, by The Astronauts Themselves." -- Guys who actually went into space talk about space. I think it was my dad's.
"The Wizard of Oz" by L Frank Baum -- course I gotta read this one, since everyone and their cousin is ripping it off.
TPBs, for those who don't follow the lingo, means Trade Paperback, basically those little digest-shaped books slightly less than 200 pages long that collect a couple stories. Most manga are published in the states this way (though I remember way back in the day where they tried to do them as regular monthlies like stateside comics like X-Men or Batman), and it's much more convenient.
There's a couple I hadn't read yet and a few that I hadn't read in a long time and I got through... well, all the ones I needed to read (I can revisit Ratman later). The ones I hadn't read in the longest time (and I'm still missing HUGE chunks of middle story... not to mention the ending, if there was one) is this series that was in Animerica Extra called Video Girl Ai. Basically it was like if Weird Science was a soap opera. A really REALLY complicated soap opera.
But story aside, the artwork was fucking fantastic and that's what made me want to blog about this: this series and the artist (Masakazu Katsura, who also did I''s which I've been meaning to read he whole way through-- next time, for sure) really put a boot in my butt to amp up my art style. The people look fantastic, especially the girls, and there's tons of photoreferences throughout the entire thing. They're actually in a real, detailed, and complicated Japan (and wearing real, detailed, complicated clothes too... there's an insane 80s fashion curse throughout the whole thing).
This is something I love about comic books and art, when it's done right. Print is the ultimate high-defintion, and while I like eReaders and tablets, books are portable, powerless, go-anywhere perfection, and perfect for pictures. These books will look as sharp in twenty years as they do now, whereas in the meantime we've gone from tape to DVD to Blu-Ray to what have you.
And as I'm watching the anime of Ai right now, lemme say right now: there's no comparison. Even though I think EVERY frame of the show is almost duplicated from the book, it ain't the same and nowhere near as sharp. The show looks like a show. The book looks so much better.
This is what really gets me when I see bad art in comics nowadays, I'm not saying EVERY BOOK should look like that, not at all, but art that engrosses you and draws you in, you can spend time in that art, you want to revisit that art, and I really don't feel that draw with a lot of what's out there (of course writing is important too... Chew has some funky stylized art, which I like but it isn't engrossing, but the writing always makes me want to revisit it). A lot of books these days seem to just be biding their time through their 24 pages and ads. I remember reading the first couple X-Factors from back in the day and it felt like I was watching a full hour-long program in the span of one issues. You just don't get the same bang for your book in comics these days.
That's the problem, of course. There's just not the kind of money in comics as there used to be. I have a friend who was an Eisner nominee who's now living out of a trailer. Fuckin' sucks because he's talented in that same "transport you to another place" ability that I put so much stock in.
I'm not trying to wallow in the whole "it sucks, things were better back then" thing, but it does suck because this is the one field I can think of where money doesn't matter in terms of presentation. If you can draw well, and draw people INTO your world, you've got an even playing field with everyone else. You can make something that looks like a big budget movie for nothing. TV, movies, animation, recording, the technology is getting better and better but it's not at that equal footing drawing is. Paper, pen, pencil. That and talent.
When you're writing just words and reading, you convey your message and you can convey emotion and so on and I'm not knocking it, but you can't present EXACTLY what you saw like you can with drawing. You can give me every insane detail you like in writing, but it's already competing with what's in my head (not that that's a bad thing at all, it's actually one of the great strengths of literature that the imagination does so much of the heavy lifting).
The whole notion of "you can see EXACTLY what I see" also pushed me to become a better artist. When I was doing it for myself, my imagination was filling in a lot of blanks, but I wanted my work to look like my dreams, to be precise, and drawing has that power.
I don't know if I have a thought to sum this up yet. I'm just free-assosciating as per usual.
I'm one of those guys who really has to be led to water in terms of what to eat, I have NO clue. I've heard people who don't like fruit and veg just "haven't had the right ones yet" or "haven't had them properly prepared yet." I get that but I have NO idea which "right preparation" is right for me or even where to find it. This statement also has the hopeless ideal, that there's a holy grail of food that'll change everything. I'm one worse, I'm waiting for the iPhone of meals, the killer app, basically a meal with EVERYTHING that you need from every majour food group and tastes great. Basically you eat this every day and you're SET. I know there are chefs out there who every dish is a masterpiece, but come on, SOMEONE with a stove and a skillet HAS to be working on this.
This is making me think of that villian from the Iron Man comics, I think he was Obidiah Stane's son or something, who basically became like the human version of an overclocked computer, he maximized everything his body did, little sleep with maximum results, got all his nutrients from paste, got the maximum benefit from everything. And I'm sure that living like that would actually kill you SOONER than "normal" living, but it's just something I'm fascinated with.
When I got back, I wound up looking through these folders and folders of comic pages I had done at that time. I have to say I'm really proud of how much I've grown as an artist (though I have a long way to go). This was about the time that hard drive space was starting to expand and precursors to flickr and so on were popping up on the internet and as a result of all this new reference, my stuff started to become less stylized, simplistic, and generalized... since I was relying on memory for things like faces and details... and more realistic and detailed, the anime style started to melt and actual people... still grossly stylized at first, I admit... began to appear.
But the BIGGEST jump was when I started reading the Particle Ray folder, for one seemingly meaningless reason: the characters started wearing REAL clothes. As in, you could go out and buy just about anything the characters were wearing. Instead of wearing permutations of the same few combinations like before (where I really didn't register in my head how people dressed... especially in school where it was a lot of the same thing), I was getting clothes catalogues and fashion mags and while they're not dressy, those details make a HUGE difference. There was a panel where Ray is wearing flannel and a jacket over it and the whole realization clicked in my head.
And of course, the style I had then was simplified realism at a form that I still haven't seen anyone else do. No one else's artwork looks like that (at least none I've seen), it looks like an HD movie even though it was drawn at a 1:1 scale. I think the fact I did it in thin pencil helped a lot. It was rich in detail but no clutter. There was dimensionality without shading. I still wasn't perfect with poses (I'm still not), but the plague of bad postures and super-thick and super-stiff people that I had been drawing nonstop came to an end (I still have a bit of a problem with that, I can never THINK of poses when I draw, that's why I don't really do pin-ups or anything).
And the thing is: I'm not sad or anything that I never finished these stories. The one closest to completion was weak across the board. Puppy Love was pretty self-indulgent and still had lots of artwork issues. Girl's Academy had a decent premise, but it was rather timely and I don't think it would be effective today, AND the actual writing is honestly crummy. And Particle Ray, the most cinematic and sharp... there was something incongruous in there that kept it from gelling together. And even though Matthew and I tried to resurrect the idea in '08 (GAWD I can't believe how long ago that was) and that didn't happen, I'm cool with that-- Fringe and Terra Nova wound up drinking our milkshake on that one, and there was a moral issue we never worked out in it. But it did get us each a couple pages we're happy with and we got to do some REALLY heady research into string theory (at least I did) so it wasn't a loss at all.
And even though these characters aren't active, they're still waiting. I'll find something for them someday. The common thread for all these stories (and ones I haven't mentioned) is that there was something big missing. I'll find out what that is one of these days. It'll hit me like a pile of bricks, or as softly as it did when I saw a character I made wearing real clothes like a real person.
It got me to thinking of all the Crayola markers I had as a kid and was trying to think of what I kept them in. Might have been another bag. So if you have a kid or know a kid with a bunch of markers, look for something like that.
But the actual gift I was thinking of was this, if the kid uses markers a lot:
Go to Office Max and get a pack of cardstock. Paper quality varies and I wouldn't bank on you being able to pick out the best stuff, but cardstock is good and sturdy, and you can marker those things up and it won't bleed through. It's also much more resilient, kid can take it anywhere inside or outside, school, it can survive in a kid's backpack.
500 sheets can make 5 100-page or 4 125-page sketchbooks. I recommend the four, you can make them seasonal. Winter, spring, summer, fall. Theme. Nice. Take four sheets and print out nice pages, "the incredible art of--" type things with the kid's name on it. That's your front page for each book.
You take them to Kinko's. get the hardest, sturdiest covers they offer, and get them spiral-bound. Use rubber cement and stick a single postcard on the cover of each (so you can tell the front from the back).
These'll last a long time, and when the kid is done, you can just put 'em on a bookshelf. I have VERY few drawings from when I was very young, so trust me, being able to keep these drawings will mean a lot in the future as well.
First thing's first: the gallery is finally divided into sections, so browsing is MUCH easier. I just wish Deviantart would allow me to put two columns of those instead of just one.
Second, there are all these pictures on my bulletin board by my door, but this picture (which I had put up years before) caught my attention just now... I've been wracking my brain for years to do the "right" story for these characters, I have notes but the thoughts are far-too disparate to marry together, some are too light-hearted and fun and some are far too dark.
Why isn't there a standing White House backlot?
I was thinking this when I watched "Salt" (which by the way was an awesome fucking movie), but I just re-watched "Dave" and the issue still sticks with me: there are so many movies where the President is involved, especially action movies. If the alien robots are going to destroy the world, someone's probably going to tell the President.
It seems to me that if there's a standing backlot of New York, a town square, even the airport, that sort of thing, there should be a dedicated White House, or at least the IMPORTANT bits of the House, the Oval Office and so on... if you did it right, it could even work as an INTERIOR/EXTERIOR problem. It could be designed specifically for productions, equipment hiding behind the walls and so on, unused rooms for prop storage or video villages. Rather than rebuilding the same set over and over for various movies and TV, why not just keep one propped up? Then if you need the White House in a movie, you just go there. It seems like a given.
I was checking out this cool website earlier, if you're fond of the House, it's a cool gallery.
There was also an awesome article in WIRED a couple of years ago about building a new White House, which I can't find, but there's some interesting points made in there, too. Not any great designs, but some great reasons, including the need for more space (the place is cramped) and the need for updatable wiring. It's actually not a bad idea, turn the White House into a public museum (remember when we could actually VISIT it?) and build a new, modern headquarters for our leaders to do their jobs. You could recreate the "iconic" rooms like the Oval Office, and design new office space for the bullpens, media people, situation rooms, and a press briefing room that's not a cramped fire hazard, AND you can put in all new secret security protections and so on. Just make sure the people have money again, you don't want to build a new palace to yourselves while the people are aching for dough. Unless you've got cajones of steel.
So now I'm apparently advocating the building of TWO White Houses, now that I think about it... one for the movies that's a replica of the original, and an updated center for the ACTUAL government, and opening the original... maybe the Smithsonian could take ownership. I would rather have THAT than this grand building constantly being gutted and updated and added onto and so on. I don't think this is a crazy idea.
Of course, the trick would be the melding of the old and new, the White House itself is a brand, it doesn't have to be an exact replica from the outside, but close enough that you could identify it in a second. Sort of like the JJ-Prise and the old Enterprise instead of the new Optimus Prime compared to the original cartoon. Because I can't write ONE rant without geeking it up.
Then I look at the redesign of the hundred dollar bill and think maybe this idea is a LITTLE too ahead of its time. Once the government can design a pocket-size piece of paper, THEN they could try to convince us about building a new White House.
So why am I not saying anything about a new Congress or Senate? Well, they're not as iconic as the White House (it's a symbol to the world, people!). Plus I don't know how comfortable or uncomfortable those places are. Do you care? I don't even think they spend that much time in there, don't they have offices elsewhere or attend other meetings or something? And the fact that I'm thinking of both houses as one amorphous entity tells you how likely those are to get public support for reconstruction.
2: I've never had a drink of beer, and barely a sip of wine
3: I've never done drugs of any matter
4: I only learned how to tie a tie this year, and that was to take a picture
5: I still harbour fantasies about being the red Power Ranger.
6: I play video games maybe once a year.
7: I haven't worn a watch since 2005.
8: I lived in Britain when I was a kid, too old to get an accent, but old enough for the spelling to throw me off for life (colour, favourite, etc)
9: I have a sweet tooth, and always have a cup of m&ms on my desktop.
10: I had about five operations on my ear when I was a kid.
11: As a result, I'm hearing impaired, and usually have trouble understanding people when they talk to me.
12: I always feel that people think that I'm stupid when I need them to repeat what they just said.
13: I have about ten unopened tapes for my video camera that I bought in, maybe, 2004.
14: I have a leather pillow that I never use, it's just propped up against a window to keep a draft out.
15: I'm an incurable packrat, I attach sentimental bonds to things to easy.
16: I've only written two checks in my life.
17: I really really really really don't want to have to get a credit card. I have issue with the idea of buying things I don't have the money for. I've always saved up and spent all at once.
18: I don't cut with scissors if I can avoid it, ever since college I've used an X-acto knife or a boxcutter.
19: I had a three page comic called "The Tank" published when I was in college. It was about people trapped in a submarine. The rate was about eighteen dollars. I never got it.
20: I have a binary clock.
21: I spent my last birthday sitting alone in my room in the dark. The next day my friend Sam gave me a gift, a gel-grip pen wrapped in printer paper. It was very sweet.
22: I studied Italian, French, Esperanto, and Japanese... but I can barely speak any of it.
23: I got the Roy Orbison "Soul of Rock and Roll" box set from his son, who's a very cool person.
24: I had a 4.0 my first semester of college.
25: Until Matthew, I don't think I've ever been someone else's best friend before. Sort of a "there's always a bigger fish" feeling, that I'm "a" friend but not "the" friend. It felt strange.
I keep hearing people say "Power Rangers was garbage." You know what, I rewatched a bunch of early episodes, and they are a bit hard to get through. I will say though, that in the later seasons, leading up to the purchase by Disney, there were some flashes of brill and some diamonds in the rough (thanks in large part to a head writer they'll NEVER get back).
Here's some of the stuff I dug from the Ranger mythology that I hope they keep in the new series.
Let's face it, they had some hot freaking women through the course of the series: Amy Jo Johnson, Cerina Vincent, Melody Perkins, Alycia Puirott, Michelle Langston, Thuy Trang, Erin Cahill, Deborah Phillips, Jessica Rey, Monica May, Angie Diaz... too many to mention. And I don't know what was going on, but near the end of the second season, the costuming people got risky and dressed the female rangers in pretty hot clothes. I'm not complaining but WTF? Bring THAT back.
THE SPECIAL EPISODES:
"Forever Red:" Every Red Ranger in history teams up to take down the baddest villians in the universe. All original footage and bad-ass unmorphed fight sequences. "Reinforcements from the Future:" the TIme Force Rangers travel back in time to help the uncool Wild Force team. What makes these two episodes rock is that Amit Bhaumik (who they should totally bring back, BTW) loves the Rangers and portrays them as bad-asses, but not only that, but as a team that can put together a plan, work together, and get a happy ending, and every character gets their time in the sun. Great female-ranger moments: the two Pink Rangers in a speed-ramp laser gun battle, and Jen's first appearance in black leather body armour and a huge laser rifle. What kids show?
THE BIG ARCS:
What made "In Space" my fave season (despite the Turtles episode, which we'll just pretend didn't exist) is that there was a story arc going over the whole thing: The Rangers were on the losing side of a galactic war with really little hope for victory (in fact, they only saved the day with a Hail Mary move in the last episode). The Red Ranger's long-lost sister was their key villian, who was kidnapped and brainwashed by the ultimate evil in the universe. The Psycho Rangers were obsessed with killing their alternates and they hung around for several episodes... and they were smart, finding several ways to track down the Rangers.
In other seasons, there were a couple arcs that were quite fun to watch: The Titanium Ranger was basically given to the devil as an infant (how F'ed up is that?) He had a snake tattoo on his back that would bite him in the neck and kill him if he morphed too many times. One of the Pink Rangers died... and her powers were in the air for an episode or two. The "Alien Rangers" mini-series wasn't that hot, but the ingredients: the real Rangers had their powers destroyed and really had no hope of returning their world to normal, and the Alien Rangers would pretty much die if they stayed on Earth. Tell me that doesn't sound INTERESTING.
I'm not talking about the theme song (although it must be good because everyone remembers it), although Saban made the most iconic themes from my childhood (Inspector Gadget, so many others). They know it's a key component, so that better be in there.
The Rangers had a look. The colours were bright, the costumes were simple, and even though there were some bad-looking years (Zeo, Wild Force, Dino Thunder maybe...), PLEX Design (who designed the Japanese Rangers and their mecha) had a nice, less-is-more, somewhat zen approach to the design. I'm sure there's a lot of push to have edgy, bad-ass, or "cool" costumes, but "cool" is passing, edge can become parody quick, and bad-ass... just look at Superman. Superheroes, classical ones, they don't have to be bad-ass, they shouldn't be. Look at Doctor Who, he's awesome even though he isn't bad-ass or edgy.
The fight team LOVED doing fights... even with the restrictions on where people could get hit (no head shots, etc)... the result was they oversold the falls, so instead of an awesome punch, you see the IMPACT of the hit, which was became a stylistic staple of the show. I spoke earlier about "Forever Red" and "Reinforcements from the Future," there are several other examples of episodes with great fight scenes ("Movie Madness," an all-around great two-parter, comes to mind), and of course, seeing the actors do it is much more fun. If there's only going to be 20 episodes, they should feel all the more special, and something special is the unmorphed fight scenes.
I can't think of a SINGLE interesting Disney-era villian. Grumm just sucks (he's an inside-out skeleton. Wow).
In the old days: Rita and Zedd, just a mean bickering, screaming couple with an endless amount of monsters... they were FUN to watch. They brought in Rita's idiot brother, her father (the awesome Master Vile) was criminally underused... it was a dysfunctional family affair, but always fun to watch. The Machine Empire was okay... Divatox was interesting because she was self-obsessed and surrounded by idiots (basic lesson: surround the big bad with morons... heck, Elgar lasted two seasons). The Rangers were always a LITTLE stagnant (the problem with being role models is that they're not very interesting), but Bulk and Skull and the villains... you could play faster and looser with them.
When I said they were stagnant, I meant it. The Rangers need problems, arcs, they need to grow and learn. The one thing I dug about Bruce Kalish's run on the show is that he gave the Rangers learning curves. SPD had fun characters because they didn't get along and they weren't really good Rangers at the start. They grew. Characters grow.
Actually, let me throw this out:
* 20 episodes, maybe they could all be two-parters like the end of season two (when they were shooting in Australia) and the Sarah Jane Adventures. Make them ALL "special episodes," put out more than usual. The regular episodes of the new series should feel like the "special episodes" of the old series.
* Stray away from the typical episode arc of set-up, story-appropriate monster attacks, the Rangers fight, the Rangers regroup, the Rangers fight the monster, the Megazord fights the monster, conclusion. SPD played with the episode layout a little, but not enough.
* The Rangers only morph to finish the job. You get to see the human modes do their thing, then bring out the "big guns" (the suits) to finish the job. Again, look at the Bhaumik episodes, the Rangers all had seperate personalities and abilities, and got a lot done before putting on the suits. They were picked for the team for a reason, show us what all they can do WITHOUT their powers.
* Make it HD already. One of the highest-ups at the RED Camera co told me they shoot the Japanese versions with RED and it looks amazing (the colours are nice and striking, and the days of the Blue Ranger looking purple are long behind us). And keep the 16:9 ratio, you want to put these on DVD, right? Kids are used to seeing movies (especially action movies) in widescreen, even at home. Step up, man!
* Shoot it yourself! The easy sell of the original, that the Japanese would do half the episode for you, became a detriment. Remember finding out Time Force never time-travelled? Or that the MegaRanger's ship never left Earth orbit? Remember how Lightspeed Rescue was just "killing time?" That's not fair to the writers, the cast, the viewers, ANYONE... why would you risk it? Don't let them call the shots on your show!
I would also suggest designing your own Rangers. In the age of Youtube, everyone can see what your translated Rangers would look like, why not circumvent that and have Plex design your own Ranger uniforms and zords for you. That way, you can keep the suspense about "what will the new Rangers look like?"
BUT there's no reason you have to design your own monsters, too... you can pick and choose from the last year plus of sentai series, or why not even grab a few costumes from Kamen Rider while you're at it? You can have the cream of the crop!
Heck, why not pull a Zyu2? As I remember, there were ten episodes of the first season that the Japanese shot new footage for exclusively for PR. Why not do that again, tell them what you want and let them customize footage for your needs? They're already great at it, they have the city set for the Megazord fights, everything is over there, just ship it over when you're done. (Another good excuse for the ten two-parter idea, you get more mileage out of each monster).
* End the first season with a victory, but not the BIG victory. Make sure the big bads aren't destroyed at the end, 20 episodes is WAY too soon for it. Besides, they may test well, and you might want to keep them. Plus, a big battle where the Megazord is heavily damaged leaves the door open for a new Megazord (and possibly new suits), but doesn't REQUIRE it... keeps your options open. Especially if you decide quickly you want more episodes.
* THE BLOOPERS: I know in the age of credit crunch and so on, they wouldn't appear on TV, but I don't want to sit through the credits every twenty minutes on the DVD. Bring those back!
* The recap/preview: Like in Power Rangers in Space. Shows like Lost and Battlestar Galactica did this, Rangers used to, bring that back. Also helps pressure the viewer to watch EACH episode.
* Don't screw with the money. I don't know the ins and outs of this,and I'm not pointing blame at anyone, but I know the Rangers had issue with the money they were making. In the age of the internet, you can't get away with this stuff, so take whatever steps are necessary to avoid that.
That's all I can think of for the moment. Clearly, I'm a bit of an idealist, but who better than an idealist to try to make the best of a concept like "Power Rangers," right?
Oh, and bring back the "Masked Rider" jingle for the Saban logo. I loved that.
I feel like I haven't written anything worthwhile in ages. Everything is a half-idea, random thought that I can't use, redundant, or just something I can't use. Ugh. And for all these ideas I've had forever, it feels like forever since I had a breakthrough idea or figured out how they would actually work. Sometimes I can't even see the difference between now and a year ago, despite all the work I've put in since then. Pretty depressing.
I can't focus. I'm doing well with my 52/52 because one decision (namely "which TV show should I watch") will distract me for a few days. Of course, it would help if I did something else during that time.
I'm tired all the time... I literally sleep until 4pm every time I get a day off after five days.
My wage work has been sucking lately, we've been busier than usual, I'm constantly scrambling and wind up sometimes not getting my work done. And I don't want to call out my new co-workers but it feels like I have to do everything, it's really aggravating. I don't really have any alternatives on the horizon, but I hate working for crud wage and I've been there so long I'm getting burned out.
I'm going to New York, but I'm not even psyched about that, I mean, I'm going to go and I'm sure it'll be fun, but I still can't muster up any energy. I'm also going to be the only one up there without someone (everyone else has a wife or boyfriend/girlfriend, I'm literally a 7th wheel).
Any sort of New Years Resolution I made is far past broken, and I was pretty liberal about what constituted "keeping," and knowing I can never get anything done in winter because it's so f'ing cold.
I've been trying to save up some money and I've been doing alright, but expenses keep popping up (like a laptop replacement battery I need to get, ideally before my trip). That's actually been the easiest thing, because when there's no drive, I'm not really compelled to buy anything.
Now, I also feel like I should go into the back catalogue and clear out, but the truth is, I hate deleting ANYTHING that has faves, and many of them do, even if it's just one or two, I feel like I can't do that to my fans (I need all the traffic I can get).
What am I going to do? I dunno. I think I'm going to look at how to do minigalleries and so on so that the site is easier to navigate, I think that'll help people, so the photos (which get a disproportionate amount of views to any of my drawings) will have their own spot, faces would be seperate from cars and robots and what not...
I think that's a plan. Any thoughts or suggestions are also welcome.