29 January 2011

Realism vs. Beliveability

Nowadays, the trend in movie publicity seems to be to talk of "realism" in motion pictures, particularily in the latest screen versions of James Bond, Robin Hood and Batman.

Where, before, such movies were considered hammy, over the top and rediculous, the "gritty reboots" of such franchises (or public domain characters) are supposedly more down to earth.

Messers Wayne, Bond and Hood have never been realistic from day one. Even in the "gritty reboots" Robin Hood fights impossibly epic battles and posseses superhuman aim. Batman drives a car which jumps on top of buildings, and turns into a motorcycle . If James Bond were an actual spy, he'd probably spend the whole movie inside an office instead of killing people for two hours and playing Texas Draw with the world's most dangerous terrorists.

Conceits like those aren't really a far cry from wise moorish warriors, magic brainwave machines and crotch-searing lasers from these movies' "less realistic" predecessors.

To help throw this into perspective, consider films with genuinely plausible scenarios.
A Saturday in detention is a far cry from Russel Crowe beating back a French invasion. A kid getting thrown in juvenile hall is miles away from spies footracing through a construction site.

Which brings me to believability. Rotten tomatoes' "top 100" list is peppered with titles from Toy Story 2 (as of this writing, currently at the top of the list) , Hard Day's Night, King Kong, Dr. Strangelove, Aliens, North by Northwest, Mary Poppins and the Invisible Man. If there were truly to be a bias towards the realistic in movies, these films would not be on that list.

I find the laws of drama compel audiences more than the laws of physical plausibility or spectacle. Just as it's more important to find out what happens to Kong rather than wonder how a 50 foot gorilla could ever exist, the High School problems of Bender, Claire and Brian preoccupy the viewer from complaining that there aren't any 50 foot gorillas present to make things more exciting.

So, to hell with "realism"; it's beside the point.


22 January 2011

Bartender, another round of sketched for me and my buddies, please!

I completed another pocket moleskine, so here's the best of the batch.

Most of these images are with a uni-ball pen, the above is with the brush tip of a Copic marker I received for Christmas.

Naturally, you can't have a sketchbook without pictures of brooms and stuff.
End of Line.

11 January 2011

A Lovely Little Christmas Story About a Bear

This winter, I put together a 9 page mini comic with the motive in mind to distribute a charming and idyllic Christmas story in lieu of a card. I conceived, wrote, drew and lettered the whole thing (am I an auteur, then?) Here is the result. (click on the Thumbnails for yuletime fun)

10 January 2011

Kind of Depressing

So last December, I urged anybody who would care to read to donate to Coleman Engle's go-to-France Kickstarter fund, which he canceled yesterday.

God, that's a bummer.

I remember going to France with the first Sequential Arts students admitted to SCAD's off-campus program in early 2009. I was, and am not anywhere near the artistic level my fellow students were that winter: Brooke Allen, Pyar Anderson, Michael Jewell and of course, Coleman Engle. It felt like a fleet of awesome, like at a USC class with Lucas and Speilberg in the sixties, working with Lou Fine and Jack Kirby in Will Eisner's Comics studio in the thirties, or simply being allowed to view the start of something great.

Learning Coleman won't be at that Artist's residency in Angoulême is depressing. It's never fun to see a dream fail (if only temporarily). I know a film major who currently works as a masseuse, an Architect who now teaches English and a Flautist who simply changed her major to Art History.

For what it's worth, I really think he could have done it.

06 January 2011

Hey, there's a Ralph Bakshi Thingy

There's a neat interview with animation legend Ralph Bakshi here .

For readers not in the loop, Bakshi is probably one of the most underrated filmmakers of the 20th century.

If you ask me, without Ralph Bakshi's feature films, we would not have the Simpsons, South Park, Robert Zemekis'es creepy mo-cap flicks or even the Don Bluth film catalog .

Periodically, there's a push to formally recognize animation as an artistically legitimate film venue, usually though handling themes unexplored in the medium or through "adult content. But inevitably, public perception seems to swing back to the "children's entertainment" profiling, animation listed as a "genre" on IMDB and so forth.

But if anyone came closest to breaking that glass ceiling it was Bakshi.

Bakshi's profile, career info and influence can be summed up better at his official website or even just his wikipedia entry so I won't burn up more page space here, just check out the interview.

Oh yeah, and he directed that really weird Lord of the Rings movie every one mentions, no not that one.