Monday, April 14, 2014

Commentary: Out After Dark

 I spent the past week working like crazy on sculptures and such for the SPACE convention. I have so much to talk about here from that event, including remarks concerning the anthologies (OH, Comics and S.P.A.C.E. Anthology), my general views of the show, and reviews of the comics I picked up during the show.  However, I’m going to start today by discussing the webcomic that premiered last week, Out After Dark.

Out After Dark is an adaptation of an episode of the webseries Out With Dad that never got filmed.  It is a “lost episode”.  I covered some of my involvement last year shortly after starting the project.  Now I can talk a bit about how I went about drawing the comic and why, as well as praise the writing and comment on the story.

When I got the script for the episode-comic-to-be, I was amazed at the story.  It’s a great piece of characterization and says some things about rose and her feelings about coming to terms with her sexuality, while at the same time showing us more about the relationship between Rose and Kenny.  After marveling at the script, though, I had to figure out how to adapt in into a sequential art form.  Because the story is just two people having a conversation, it could be told by having two heads talking to each other.  But that would be pointless and boring.  Instead I tried to find ways to make the conversation move with the characters as they walk down the street.  There are some things that I could do in a comic that Jason could never do if filming (or at least not easily).  Including sudden shifts in camera angle and effects such as silhouettes and flashbacks and the floating heads effect. I also tried to establish a good page layout and pacing as the story progressed, then had the final page contain sparse dialogue to break the pacing for effect. At the same time, I didn’t want the art to be too radical, because I didn’t want it to detract from the story. Hopefully, some of these tricks were effective and enjoyable.

It was a challenge to portray characters based on real people, and I thought it important to figure out “my” versions of the actors/characters so that I could make the story flow without too much worry over getting every miniscule detail about their appearances correct.  Finally, I wanted to make sure I started the first page with a creator’s credit, since Jason is the source of all these characters and situations and creator credit is a big deal in comics.

I could go on and on and babble some more, but I’ll leave it at this for now.  I’ll be back around these here parts in a week or so.  Stop by and have a look.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Review: Arrow- season 1

I haven’t posted here in a couple of weeks, due to time constraints and not because I have nothing to say.  So now is time to make up for lost time.

I just finished watching season one of the TV series Arrow, which is regularly on the CW network, though I watched it on DVD. I’ll admit my main interest in watching the series is that Marc Guggenheim is a producer/developer of the show (with Andrew Kriesberg and Greg Berlanti), and he’s been an “internet friend” of mine for some time , seeing as how we’re both bug comic book geeks.  And I know, you’re thinking “a better friend wouldn’t have waited so long to watch his show”.  I’m very busy is all I can say in my defense.  Hopefully this review makes up for my tardiness.
Kirby Green Arrow
Arrow is an interpretation of the classic DC comics hero, Green Arrow.  I’ll admit to not being a huge Green Arrow fan, mostly due to my being more of a “Marvel” person. The Green Arrow comic I most proudly own is a collection of Jack Kirby Green Arrow comics from the 1950s.  Kirby’s Green Arrow isn’t incredibly remarkable, except that it’s Kirby and therefore awesome and very much worth buying and reading, and that it includes a retelling of Green Arrow’s origin.  I’ll summarize the origin: Green Arrow is rich guy Oliver Queen, who get marooned on an island and learns archery to keep himself alive.  Eventually he is rescued and become a costumed hero in a fictional DC city.  In the 50’s Green Arrow was just a Batman clone, really. He even had a teen sidekick (named Speedy for some reason), an arrow-car, and even an arrow-cave!

Arrow
Arrow does a far better job with the concept than the above 19050’s comics.  Mega spoilers from this point on. Oliver Queen (Stephen Arnell)  is the lone survivor of a shipwreck that killed his Father.  He spent 5 years fighting all kinds of people on the island.  And he returns to civilization to right his father’s wrongs and bring justice to his hometown of Starling City.  The series switches from current events in Oliver’s mission to flashbacks about his survival on the island.  The series treats Oliver’s actions as realistically as possible.  He doesn’t have super-powers and the fighting sequences aren’t CGI.  Granted, they are a bit over-the-top, but they seem very possible, if unlikely.  For example, dodging machinegun fire while taking out bad guys with a bow seems very possible in the context of the show. Also part of the “realistic” approach is that the main character is never called “Green Arrow”; he’s “the vigilante” or “the hood”.

But the best aspect of Arrow is the character and their interaction.  Oliver wasn’t the best person before his time on the island, and he’s not the best at dealing with the people around him, including especially his own family, now that he’s back.  Many of the character he interacts with are interpretations of or have some other nod to characters from DC Comics.  The most important of these is Dinah Laurel Lance (Kate Cassidy), his ex-girlfriend based on long-time Green Arrow significant other Black Canary.  I also like the inclusion of Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) as a kid form the poor side of town and the Huntress, though I’m not too big on her being so twisted.  Having Oliver’s little sister (Willa Holland) be nicknamed Speedy is a nice touch, though I hope it doesn’t mean she’ll ever be fighting bad guys.
Oliver’s partner, the bodyguard Diggle (David Ramsey), is an excellent non-comic character that helps because it gives Oliver someone to talk to in his hideout.  A slight digression: For a while there, it seemed everyone was finding out Oliver’s secret though.  But I think it all worked out in the end. Finally I must mention the best part of this show: Felicity Smoak!  She is simply the BEST THING EVER!!  I love her character and her portrayl by Emily Bett Rickards is just absolutely perfect!!


Felicity Smoak (the greatest thing ever!)
Anyway, I’m totally hooked on this show and so is the rest of my family!  I’m planning on when to watch season two.  And see more of Felicity!!  Oh…and everyone else too, of course.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Acting

Instead of something art-related, I’ve decided I’d like to comment a bit on acting and related things.  I’m mostly going to ramble about whatever topic comes to mind. Which is mostly what I do on this blog anyway.  Hey, if I’m not getting graded, what’s the point of doing a rough draft?

The main reason I am at this time commenting on this topic is because I recently saw a local High School musical presentation.  I must say, watching a bunch of kids put on a musical is great fun.  I’m amazed that a group of students can pull it off, and do it so well!  And I give lots of credit to the teachers and adults that somehow get it all together.   There’s something special about seeing these types of performances, especially because they are live in front of a lot of people, and most of us non-performers could never make it through such a stressful, pressure-filled situation.
(I had to put in a picture if something.)
Speaking of live performances, I think there is something super-special about seeing people act on stage.  When filming, you can do take after take to get the scene “just right”.  With live performances, you practice as much as you can, then you get one chance to get thing right! And I like to see how thing go when things don’t go right! I don’t mean that in a mean way, and I’m not making fun of those oops moments on stage.  Rather, it’s fun to see how the actors cover when things don’t go as planned.  It takes some quick thinking and really shows how good an actor you are when you have to improvise!

Finally, I’d like to mention my acting experience.  I haven’t done any on-stage work since 6th grade.  I had the lead in the grade-school musical that year (it’s true!), but I didn't continue to pursue acting or singing later in life.  Though I am a teacher, so I guess I do perform in front of an audience all the time.  I certainly don’t have singing or dancing talent, so musicals wouldn't have been in my future.  And even acting in non-musical plays was too intimidating for me.   I’m more of an art person.  But I am extremely impressed by those in drama, and I’m thankful to all those who've brought me such enjoyment over the years.


Well, that’s plenty of rambling for now.  Next week I’ll have some art-related comments!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

SPACE Anthology 2014

The SPACE Anthology for 2014 is now available for download!  SPACE is the Small Press and Alternative Comics Exposition, a small press comic convention I will be exhibiting at April 12 & 13.  See the link below to download the anthology and get tickets to the show!

Here's the cover, with Myzla and friends right next to Mike Carroll's Bolt, Drip, and Ninja!  I'm honored to be in such great company!!

SPACE Anthology 2014 is Live!
 http://www.backporchcomics.com/space.htm

Here's the link:

http://www.backporchcomics.com/space.htm

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Review: Out With Dad 3.06 "Out with Song (and Dance)"

So, it’s about time I wrote up a review of the final episode of the first block of season 3 of Out With Dad.  The episode (3.06) is called “Out with Song (and Dance)”.  And I must say this is the BIG one!  Which is exactly what I said about the last episode (“Outed”), but is no less true.  “Outed” was the BIG one because of the events that occurred in the episode.  “Out with Song (and Dance)” is big because it’s an amazing musical event!  I think it is my most favorite episode of anything I’ve ever seen!!  It was very unexpected to see Out with Dad, this little webseries from Toronto, create a musical extravaganza for an episode.  Both the song and the production are amazing!  This really was far greater than anything I would have thought possible for a web show like this.  I want to know how they did it.  A behind-the-scenes documentary would be great.

There are so many little things that make this episode so good.  I’m going to try and cover some of these little things.  But first I’d like to mention the big thing.  The song that the crew of Out With Dad composed and recorded for this episode is excellent!  “I Don’t Care Who Knows” is catchy, does a great job summarizing Rose’s situation, and has a great theme that it shouldn’t matter who knows about Rose’s sexual identity.  What matters is that she’s the same great person she always has been!

Now for some of those little things that I love about this episode:  First, I love the conversation between Rose and Claire at the beginning of the episode. Claire is positive and understanding, while admitting the future will not all be easy.  Also, we get my favorite piece of Claire dialogue ever: “I know EXACTLY what I was thinking!”  Next there’s the little animated bird.  The bird is a great touch and is a perfect transition from the conversation to the fantasy musical that is about to occur. Another of the little touches I love is the inclusion of the “Girl on the subway”- though she’ll probably never really be met by Rose again, her brief presence was very important in Rose understanding her own identity.  I also liked the way Alicia slid in next to Kenny.  Kenny’s sung dialogue is very good by the way—very fitting his character.  And, though I’m almost positive it was unintentional, I love the way Nathan isn’t in synch with the other dancers. It fits the character perfectly. And the interlude and coda with Vanessa were heartbreaking.  The fade to black-and-white was a perfect touch.
I have to mention that mega kudos go to Caitlynne Medrek, who really showed her talent in this production.  Everyone was good, but her performance was tops! And finally, I don’t know if it’s the lighting or her smile, but Kate Conway never looked as adorable as she does in the opening sequence.

I can’t get enough of Out With Dad, and I’m pretty sure new episodes are not far away!  Awesomesauce!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Webcomic update and previews

I thought it would be a good time to talk a bit about my new website.  Not a new blog, but rather the new site for my webcomic, Mutant Elf. The link is on this page to the right.  I am now publishing Mutant Elf on the ComicFury website, which is a neat place with all kinds of great webcomics!  I really like the site; it’s easy to navigate and you can easily comment on and rate comics that you read.  So please give it a shot, rate a comic of mine, and leave a comment if you’d like.  The best way to view my page is to look at the archive page.

I also thought I’d post some sketches of ideas that have made it into upcoming comic projects of mine.  So consider these sneak previews.  Stay tuned for more updates!

 
 
 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Review: Out With Dad 3.05 "Outed"

This is the BIG one!  Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.  First I must mention that I am today writing about the penultimate episode of the first block of season 3 of my favorite webseries, Out With Dad.  Episode 3.5 is simply called “Outed” and it’s a perfect title. Because this is the big one!  Which I already mentioned, but it’s worth repeating.  The developments in this episode are just HUGE!  GIANT! ENORMOUS!!

The episode begins with an excellent sequence in which Rose walked up the stairs at school to her locker, and the students around her react.  The camerawork, sound, and acting in this sequence are top-notch!  It builds on the tension as things start getting weird for Rose as she notices people noticing her.  Rose is, after all, the shy wallflower that doesn’t get noticed, or want to be noticed.  And now she’s become the talk of the school, as a result of being seen at the movies with Claire (see last episode). It falls on best friend Kenny to inform Rose that she has been outed and try to console her, but her retreat to the washroom cuts his efforts short.  When Claire comes to Rose’s rescue in the washroom we get a wonderful exchange as Claire attempts to get Rose to see the good points of being out.  I thought the reaction of Rose was perfectly in character and having her vomit was a great idea that I never would have thought of. Writer/director Jason Leaver again shows his incredible talent for writing smart and funny scenes that are true to character and realistic.  I’ve also always wondered why Claire was crying in her debut in the washroom in season 2, and the explanation is perfect (I’m using that word a lot…because it fits!) We also get Claire’s best line ever, “Even better!”

The next scene involves Vanessa telling Kenny about her predicament.  Here we see that Vanessa really does have feelings for Rose.  Vanessa’s words that she’ll be okay no matter what are ominous.  The final scene with Vanessa and her parents…I don’t know what to say here.  It shows how scary it is when people have made up their mind about something and ignore evidence to the contrary.  Vanessa’s parents are so sure that anything gay has to be evil they do not see they are destroying their daughter.  Even if they are not going to be willing to accept that being homosexual is a natural condition, they could approach the situation in a more understanding way.  We know from last season that Vanessa has an older brother who has been ostracized from the family, and it looks like Vanessa will be the next “former” LeMay.  I don’t see Vanessa at this time even being sure about her sexuality.  As she says, she isn’t gay, but she’s certainly not totally straight.  This means she would probably identify herself as bisexual.  Having categories of sexuality seems strange at this point, and it seems like Vanessa is being forced to “pick one”. I’ve heard of sexuality described more as a continuum that a set of categories and this is probably a better description.  But our society likes the categories, at least for now.  Vanessa’s parents aren’t even allowing her permission to try and figure out what her sexuality is, and that’s their biggest offense.

I know there are people in the real world in the same predicament as Vanessa.  The sad and strange thing is that those of us who are straight don’t have the difficulties of the characters in this episode.  We don’t have to “come out”, we don’t have to figure out our sexuality, and we don’t have people attacking us for who we love.  As I check the news lately it looks like more places in my United States of America are trying to pass discriminatory laws against non-straight people, while more courts declare such laws unconstitutional.  I’m sure eventually equality will prevail, but I fear the road will be rough for a while.