Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Topless Robot

Topless Robot is on my list of websites I check daily. Despite what you may be thinking based on the name, the site is basically just nerd news. It recently underwent a redesign and not too many people liked the new Topless Robot featured in the banner (it looks kinda like a sexualized transformer, whereas the old robot was a cartoony female C3P0, hence my reference to him in the drawing) so the owner of the site casually mentioned a contest for readers to redesign the robot. This is what I came up with, which I did quickly while I was working on the Hellboy piece. The contest has no official end, so I'll just have to keep checking to see if I made the cut.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Lobster's Claw

This is my entry for the Autumn Society's Hellboy birthday show.

I was so excited when I first got the announcement for this show because I am a huge Hellboy fan. It's actually the only comic I still read (including the spin offs like B.P.RD.) so it was an amazing thrill to get to be a part of this.

Mike Mignola, creator and (until recently) artist of Hellboy is one of my artistic heroes. Aside from just generally liking his style of work, I have always respected the fact that he draws what he loves and has been able to turn it into a engaging story that comic fans enjoy. What I mean is that everything in the Hellboy universe is based on something Mignola likes to draw. He likes to draw big demon guys with mechanical features, so we get Hellboy and his big right hand. He likes to draw cyborg apes and heads in jars, so we get them as villains in a story. To me this seems like the ideal way to create, and the ideal job.

Therefore I wanted to make a piece that had all of my favorite things from the Hellboy comics; all the things that I think are cool or fun to draw. I combined them into a Mignola style cover, but of course keeping my own cartoony sensibilities.

We were limited to one piece in this show, so I went with the most complicated idea I had. I could have easily made two or three more pieces, time permitting. A close second was to have Hellboy fighting Mothman, a creature based in folklore that originated in my home state of WV (we have a yearly festival and statue dedicated to him, and you may have had the misfortune of seeing The Mothman Prophecies staring Richard Gere.) Hellboy even says he would "dearly love to see a mothman" at the end of one of the comics.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

IGN Clothing Guide Features My Shirt

Brian tipped me off that gaming mega site IGN has featured my Mighty Kong shirt in a recent clothing buyers guide. Not only that, but they have nothing but nice things to say about it:

"Genius isn't a word we throw around lightly (well, OUTSIDE the IGN offices anyway), but the Mighty Kong T-Shirt in our opinion is nothing short of Einsteinian."

That's pretty amazing, so thanks to IGN and Splitreason!

IGN Clothing Buyers Guide

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Code Red at Arkham

A shirt design I just finished is now up for voting. This one is a little different than my usual fare; I managed to depict 16 Batman villains with only two colors! The image above links to a bigger verson than what's available on Splitreason so that all the details would be easier to see.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What to do when your hero is a jerk

If you know anything about animation then you know about John Kricfalusi, a man regarded as an animation guru whose most famous creation is the Ren & Stimpy show. If you know more than an average amount about animation, you know that he is a highly opinionated guy who likes to talk about what's wrong with cartoons today. I don't see anything wrong with that; I'm highly opinionated myself and I agree with him that in general popular cartoons have been seeing a steady decline in quality. Not to say I think every new cartoon is bad, but the standard just seems to be lower.

I follow John's blog which you can find here. I've read on reputable animation sites like Cartoon Brew that anyone who cares about animation even a little bit reads John's blog, which I guess I would have to agree with since I read it. His posts basically alternate between drawing/animation lessons and rants about how every last thing about cartoons today is wrong. You get the impression that he thinks a truly decent cartoon hasn't been made since about the 60s or so (except for his own, of course.)

My initial problem with his rants is how much he exaggerates and acts like he is the only person on the planet who can make good cartoons or even knows what a good cartoon is. He almost always has good points, but because of how he presents them I find myself just getting fed up with what he's saying rather than agreeing with him. His examples are full of passive aggressive statements that are totally unnecessary and make it seem like he is very actively trying to put himself up on a pedestal rather than make a valid argument or observation.

He goes so far as to contradict himself quite a bit in his arguments. For example, in one post he went on about how he doesn't understand why TV executives want stories to have a beginning, middle, and end and how unimportant a coherent plot is to a cartoon. His argument was that the cartoonists should be in complete control and just feel their way through the story. Yet when he actually critiques a newer cartoon he always complains about how there was no plot and he couldn't follow what was happening.

So lets say he did a post about how important storyboards are, then a few days later some executive he pitched to didn't like the storyboards he showed them. He would then rant about how unimportant storyboards are and how they mean virtually nothing, just to go as far as he possibly could in badmouthing executives and showing that he knows better than them when it comes to cartoons. And I would agree with that entirely; a cartoonist does know more than an executive about making cartoons, so why not just say that in a normal way? I also agree that executive interference in cartoons is a bad thing because they aren't creative people so they shouldn't be able to tell creative people what to do, but the argument just doesn't have as much clout when the person making it exaggerates to the point of losing credibility.

I mean I guess you could argue that being extra mean will get people to pay attention, but it's not like the people he's complaining about are going to read his blog and say "Oh my god, he's right!" and change everything about their entire business. But then again he is a really influential guy, so maybe they would if he could express himself without being such a jerk.

So why does this bother me? He's just voicing his opinion and it's not like I have to read it, right?

It's because, well, he IS a great cartoonist. I've always looked up to him and he is right about pretty much every point he brings up. I love his work and feel like he has been a great influence on me and my art, but I'm sure if he heard me say that and then looked at my work he'd just talk about how much it makes him want to rip his own eyes out, etc. And that's the point...he goes too far. He's taken it to the point where, to me, at least, his advice and inspiration have actually become discouraging.

So it's very conflicting to me. I still consider him one of my greatest inspirations and I still love his work, but after reading his blog for so long now I just have a bad taste in my mouth. I think he sabotages his own points left and right which is really a shame because he's right about so much stuff. The people who comment on his blog swoon over his every word, but then again they aren't people who are capable of giving him a network show or enough money to make his own cartoons. (Though they are donating to him, which kind of boggles my mind. "All you aspiring artists are dumb and horrible, oh but while you're praising me why not send some money?") I feel like a lot of the people who could potentially hire him feel the same way I do; they probably love and respect his work and opinions, but realize just how unnecessarily hard to work with he'd be.

I need to point out that I've never had any actual interaction with him, and he has never done anything specifically to me to make me want to write this; it's just been floating around my head lately. Writing a complaint like this in comment form on his blog just seems like a bad idea as lots of people do that already, and as I've stated he is very willing to contradict himself to make it seem like he is right no matter what, so there's really not much point. In fact not too long ago his blog went private for a short time and the rumor was that at least part of the reason was so he could get help figuring out how to block the comments of people who regularly point out holes in his arguments. I have no idea if that's true, but it's believable.

His latest post as of this writing is about how cartoons should only be funny and nothing else. He thinks they shouldn't be sad, educational, etc. I actually disagree with that quite a bit, but I think his real point is that he doesn't get why people are trying so hard to make cartoons less funny. I agree that we need more funny cartoons, especially ones like his, but why make that argument so broad as to say that cartoons should do funny and nothing else? What's wrong with having cartoons that are educational and then having other ones that are funny? This is what I mean about how he has good points but goes too far with them and ruins his argument.

And the ultimate question that I ask myself every time I read his blog: just who exactly does he want to make these great cartoons for if we're all too stupid to know what good cartoons are? How can we ever fully appreciate their greatness? We're idiots if we like any cartoons other than the ones he likes, so then why would we ever deserve to see the ones he makes if they're so perfect? Does he just want to make them for himself?

Monday, November 2, 2009

ArtMares Show

This weekend I attended the closing reception and party for the ArtMares show and it was a great success. There was a large crowd, I got a lot of compliments, saw some familiar faces that I hadn't seen in a while, and sold one piece that I know of. Above is my work on display, and below are photos of some of my favorite pieces by other artists.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

New Mario Art Homage to Old Mario Art

Recently Nintendo released some official press artwork for the upcoming game New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Being the Nintendo nerd that I am I noticed that some of the art looked familiar. Below are comparison images I made showing similarities between the newly released CG art and older illustrations from past Mario games. These are the only ones I noticed but there may be more.