Andy's Art and Whatever

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Public Domain Books?

So an idea I have been throwing around lately is to illustrate some children’s books. Of course to publish a completely new book from scratch is a little daunting for someone who’s only gotten ONE book published before. Then I started thinking about books which are not copyrighted...

Public Domain books are quite plentiful. They are books which have stood the test of time and are readily available on the internet to download. Some of the more common and famous books that are now public domain include the works of “Sherlock Holmes,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “Beowulf,” “Huck Finn,” “Tom Sawyer,” “Treasure Island” and many other famous stories.

It might be a fun idea to illustrate some pictures for a more well known story. The only problem is... most of the stories are from the turn of the century and the old English is sometimes a turn off. None of them really “appeal” to kids or teens today and at best I would probably sell about 5 or 6 copies to my closest friends...

On the other hand, it certainly would give me experience working on illustrations for other people... And it would help me understand the printed book format better, which in turn would help me in choosing the appropriate moments to illustrate.

I’m unsure about what to do. Just out of curiosity, what old books have any of you read that you would recommend? Perhaps seeing what other people like to read might help me gauge what would be a better sell.

Then of course there was the CRAZY idea that instead of just illustrating these stories... I do them COMPLETELY as a graphic novel from start to finish. Of course this gives me undo amounts of insane work, especially with my Formera Book already taking up too much of my time. But again, it was a thought which crossed my mind.

So to the community... what do you all think? Should I illustrate a famous story? If so, what would you like to see?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

WiiFit

So it’s taken me a tad longer than most to finally take the plunge and buy this game. $80+ is a little steep for a video game and that was my one reason for avoiding it. However, with a little extra in my pockets this week, I was able to find a used copy at a local GameStop and thus finally committed myself.

First of all, to all those “hard core” gamers out there who scoff at this game as being casual and not as “deep” as their beloved shoot-em-ups... this games is actually remarkably difficult. Who would have ever thought that trying to maintain your balance could be so challenging? It may LOOK like you’re not doing much on that board, but inside your mind you are struggling to get all your muscles to stay in a perfect formation. It’s one of those games where you can honestly say “it’s a LOT harder than it LOOKS.”

The WiiFit board is not merely a fancy scale, but in fact a remarkably sensitive and amazing piece of design. It can measure from 4 different points allowing the game to be able to accurately read not JUST how much pressure you’re putting on it, but WHERE that pressure is being applied to.

Now, some people may not WANT to do exercises or Yoga, but I gotta say that after 30 minutes of this game I was working up a sweat (which only goes to show how out of shape I really am). The yoga was like doing a personal one-on-one session. The trainer will tell you how to pose, and WHY you’re posing, and then you mimic it along with the trainer. It’s a very healthy regiment they have and the on screen visual prompts help you keep breathing correctly and staying focused. It’s a great way to get someone not use to Yoga to give it a try.

Of course Yoga isn’t ALL it can do. You can set goals for how much weight you want to loose over a certain amount of time (which of course the game indicates that WiiFit alone will not loose weight and that by watching what you eat will help lol), you can do strength exercises, compare how you are doing with friends and family, and then there are the GAMES.

Using the WiiFit board for games is a lot of fun. As with WiiSports, WiiFit has a few games which are more or less introductory ideas that other more experienced developers will hopefully latch onto and utilize. There’s a jogging game (incidentally the only game which doesn’t use the WiiFit board) in which you put the WiiMote into your back pocket and jog in place. Depending on how hard/fast you jog, the faster your Mii will run in the park through some rather nice scenery. That one certainly works up a sweat.

Then there’s a couple skiing games which obviously was a precursor to WiiSki. There’s a table-tilt game in which you have to navigate different balls to a goal by shifting your weight to move the table (something I’m sure a new Super Monkey Ball will eventually employ), and there’s a hoola-hoop game where by swinging your butt around you catch more and more hoola-hoops.

All of the games are fun and well crafted, much like the games on WiiSports. Since I’m rather overweight (according to the game) I intend to stick with it and see how, by “training” each day and by watching what I eat, much weight I will actually loose. I know this is not meant to be a supplement to an ACTUAL workout... but it certainly is making the idea of working out a lot more fun. I am not sorry I bought this game and I can’t wait to see what else Nintendo comes up with.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Dark Knight - Spoilers -

The first thing I’m gonna say is that this movie is fucking AWESOME. This is, by far, the BEST comic-to-screen adaption I’ve ever seen. THIS is the way Superhero movies are suppose to be done. X-Men and SpiderMan tried to be “more serious” but The Dark Knight blows them all out of the water.

I really do not want to spoil anything for anyone, but it’s hard to talk about this sort of movie without revealing much, so I’m gonna try to not spoil anything but I can’t guarantee it.

Alright, now that that’s out of the way, on to the main event. Heath Ledger as the Joker was just awesome. It’s really even more disheartening to know that Heath is dead and that we’ll never get to see him play the Joker again. His interpretation of the Joker was just such a joy to watch on the screen, but always in the back of your mind is “I’ll never get to another performance like this again.” He made the character come alive like no other, and you almost can’t wait to see another scene with him in it, because you know he’s gonna steal the show.

That being said, he’s not the only great thing about this movie. One of the things that struck me right away was the fact that I actually care about Batman himself. Usually with super hero films you don’t really give a shit about he hero cuz you know he’s gonna live and make it through to the end. But this time around they’ve made not only Batman interesting, but Bruce Wayne interesting too. They’ve given him more to think about, more emotion to deal with, and that just makes him all the more interesting. If you don’t give the hero a choice, there’s no suspense and that’s something the other batman movies lacked... he’s just batman, we don’t really see him MAKING those choices to be batman. He just IS. So to see that happening here was very refreshing and it helped the movie overall.

Now, I’ve always been suspicious about having 2 villains in a superhero movie. Perhaps that stems from the original batman movies in which super villains teamed up to stop batman and they kept adding more and more and more as the movies went on. Technically speaking this movie has 3 villains, and it’s none the worse for the wear. It all flows seamlessly together and it’s done far more convincingly. The only regrettable thing is that if there is a 3rd movie, we will not be able to see the Joker at all.

Looking at the movie in terms of a film maker, I honestly can’t find anything to nitpick. My only beef was that the pounding soundtrack sometimes was so loud it was a strain to hear some of the dialogue, but I know that was just the theater we were in and not a problem of the film making. I liked the way they edited the movie, although I was beginning to notice they kept doing the same “tricks” throughout the film (having 2 or even 3 separate storylines inter-cutting with each other to build suspense.) That’s not a bad thing, after all the comics are done that way too. But for a 2 and a half hour movie you can start to realize it towards the end.

All in all... this movie ROCKED. I can’t stress that enough. If you haven’t seen it, go see it on the big screen. It’s WORTH it.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Mockups

I’ve been having trouble getting back into the “zone” to work on my Formera book since I got back from Massachusetts. So one of the ways I tried to help get me interested in working on it again was to make a mock-up of the book.

I went out to Office Max and bought a black 3-ring binder and some transparent sheets to hold the artwork in. Then while I was at work I went through page by page and laid out the book exactly how I would be seeing it if it were done. This has proved to be enormously helpful because now I can flip through my inked artwork and see how my layout choices worked and how the story flows.

I’ve discovered that if I want to have something shocking happen, I should probably draw it on an even numbered page. This is because the first page of a chapter is always on an odd (or right) side and the even pages are on the left. So you want to have the suspense lead up to the end of the right side, then when you flip the page on the left is the shocking event. It’s a simple thing, but one you don’t really notice when you’re making pages individually and not considering the overall layout.

I was motivated enough to ink the borders of chapter 6 last night too. Now all I gotta do is the art inside, and that I should be able to finish tonight or tomorrow. If I keep this up, I should be able to whip through the last few chapters of this book relatively easily.

I’m even thinking of taking this mock-up book one step farther... and to print out the colored pages. Because I do not have a printer, I was thinking about doing this at Walgreens as photos. Send all the artwork as photos and have them printed up at about 4x5 (which is only a tad smaller than the actual Manga Sized book will be) and then put them into a small photo album so I can see the “finished” book before it comes back from the press. At about .10 cents a page and 168 pages, that comes to $16.80 which is far from expensive. Best of all, it could be done in as little as 2 hours lol.

But before I go that far, I gotta finish the damn thing and get all the pages colored, so this will take while.

Here’s some more good news though. I went into Borders Bookstores in downtown Milwaukee yesterday and asked the help desk if they would be willing to put my book Formera in their Manga section. The store manager came out to talk to me and it ended up with him taking down my information and saying that he will try to get some copies in the store. So hip-hip hooray! My books will be on sale in downtown Milwaukee’s Border Bookstore!

One small step...

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Legend of Zelda Nintendo Power Comic Saga

When I was growing up I loved Nintendo Power. Remember, we didn’t have the internet then, and if we did it was only like 2k per second so it took FOREVER to do anything and connections were lost easily. So the only way you enjoy Nintendo and Nintendo related information was through Nintendo Power. It was an awesome magazine, but then when Issue 32 rolled around... something changed...

Inside the magazine there ran, side by side, a Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past comic and a Super Mario World comic. Both of these were tremendous influenced on my artistic style and they ran for a good 12 months before concluding.

Then, after they were done, they bound them all together and made Mario and Zelda comic compilation books. I eagerly snatched both of them up and I cherished them both very dearly.

But then in college I made friends with this one girl. She was a bit nutty (having multiple personalities) and as a friend I let her borrow a lot of things: 3 Harry Potter books, a white loose shirt I bought at a Renaissance Festival, and sadly... my Legend of Zelda comic book.

The longer we were friends, the worse it became. And the day that she threatened my girlfriend was the day that I cut all ties with her. It wasn’t until a few months later that I finally remembered that SHE still had my Zelda comic book compilation.

Today, I had some extra money, so I thought I would treat myself to a little something and re-buy the comic for my collection. I called Nintendo directly (which is how i got it the first time) and asked if they still had it. (BTW: the “on-hold” music for Nintendo is Link galloping into the sunset.) They didn’t have any more copies.

So I tried Amazon.com and found it right away.... for $92. Since I was only expecting to pay about $20... that was a bit of a shock for me. I searched eBay and found it for $6. I bid on it, and was promptly outbid. We kept at it till it got to about $30 and I realized it was futile.

I’ve searched and I’ve searched but I cannot find this book anywhere. It’s extremely rare and it upsets me greatly that someone has my book that I’ll never see again.

Now someone WAS nice enough to scan in every single page and post it all online, and You can download it all as a PDF and junk... but dang-nabbit... I want the BOOK. I want to be able to HOLD it in my HANDS! You can’t do that with a PDF. It’s not the same. And I can’t print it out either since the resolution isn’t that great either.

So here I am now, rather depressed that this book will never again pass before me. I can’t spend $92 on a comic book that’s only about 100 pages in length. I’m a little angry at my ex-friend who stole it (even more so knowing that if we ever DID meet again, she probably wouldn’t believe that I let her borrow it and somehow thought that SHE bought it, which is exactly what happened when I tried to get my Harry Potter books back). Sigh...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Fatal Errors Suck

You would think that I would have learned by now to save more often, especially as someone who has grown up with Windows and Dos, which were both prone to crashing a lot. But sometimes, when you’re in the middle of working on an artwork, you don’t want to take the time to stop and save... you’re too “into-the-moment” as it were, and stopping to save would pull you out. This is even more true on my computer where stopping to save means a 15 minute intermission from whatever it was I was working on.

Needless to say, I had just finished coloring an illustration and was just about to put ONE more layer on (the color layer which unifies all of the hues) when I got a fatal error message and PFFT: Photoshop crashed.

I had not saved ONCE.

So now it’s back to the black and white lineart that I started with... At least now I know what to do and I can probably whip out another color version pretty fast since there’s no uncertainty anymore. But even still... it’s frustrating and there’s no one to blame but myself for being stupid enough NOT to save somewhere along the way...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Back

Well I just got back from my trip home to Massachusetts. It made me realize how much I hate Milwaukee and by the end of the trip I really didn’t want to get on that plane and fly back here. Oh well.

I saw a lot of really awesome artwork, including some original “Winnie the pooh” drawings that were used in the first Winnie the Pooh book. I got to meet some famous people too, saw an awesome presentation on how a book was made from concept to final product, and met a childhood friend.

I learned that I had a bit of a positive impact upon his life and it was my love of drawing Nintendo characters which prompted them to look at art and think about becoming an artist too. We hadn’t spoken in a good 15-18 years, so it was cool to see that I had such an impact on someone from that early of an age.

I saw a lot of interesting things which have inspired me to use for Formera, took a lot of reference photos, and generally had a great time. I miss my family and I miss being able to go home.