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Archive for February, 2008

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Once upon a time…well, a few years back anyway, I created a superhero duo called, Nausea Guy and Wicked Boy. They were your typical down-and-out superheroes. Living in a one bedroom in Los Angeles, they had given up fighting against the really big crimes in society and concentrated on things like; people with loud car stereos, people who don’t pick up after their dogs, frat guys, you know, in general and the occasional left-field villain who was up to no good. Now what exactly were their super-powers? Well, Wicked Boy was, well, wicked. He was nasty and cheated. He was willing to drink the brake fluid out of a car to bring a bad end to a bad guy. While Nausea Guy had, well, some gross out super powers, which I will not enumerate while in such polite company.
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A year or so ago my friend (and a ridiculously talented illustrator) Erik Johnson teamed up with me to develop it into a TV show. Adult Swim sort of vibe. Erik created a new look and we wrote a spec script for an 11 minute episode and created a quick trailer for them. Add in a theme song by the Chicken Snaps and, well, here it is. All 31 seconds of experimental, gross out glory. Gotta send that pitch book out one of these days…

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A link to some short animations from Serge Bloch. He is also an illustrator, one of my favorite illustrators, and you can see his work here. Beautiful line work, funny, inspirational. His style reminds me of another of my all time favorites Javier Mariscal.

This collection of animation uses his style. I’m not sure if he did the animation himself, or if they were produced with him as an art director for commercial reasons. Either way, a fun place to spend a few minutes.

I really love the animated short called “Great Peas”. It makes me think about how particular countries and races and nationalities see reflected in themselves the things most important in the universe. And how silly that kind of fulfillment is. The commander Pea says, “Our roundness bares testament to our superiority.” It’s a little bit dark, and a little bit funny and quietly achieves it’s aims. And he does this with peas with faces drawn on them and a musical score. I can think of a many, many films that cost millions and took hundreds of thousands of man hours and said not a quarter of what he accomplishes with this.

It’s wonderful to see the line work and energy in his drawings. I am so tired of overly rendered work. As if the best illustrations are those with the most shadows, or greatest number of lines/brush strokes ETC. A long list of my favorites illustrators (for picture books or other things) would include artists who utilized line – Dr. Seuss, Charles Addams, Arnold Roth, William Steig and Saul Steinberg to name a few.

Of course we can get into semantics, and ask: Are they cartoonist or illustrator? Illustrators or animators? Writers or cartoonists? I find the discussion worthless, outside of a purely academic undertaking. No matter the technique or media, it is the ability of an artist (narrative artist) to convey a clear vision/tell a story that makes a work successful. The technical issues are used to further define and refine a project for mass consumption. But Serge’s simple animated stories are as entertaining as any work created by a Hollywood studio, costing a hundred million dollars and employing 200 artists for 6 years. Look at the work and enjoy!

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OK. The Drawing above is not about cats. It’s about Little Frank. He’s explaining his newest experiment.

The news I have to share is that I will be starting a picture book with Tricycle Press. It’s a great manuscript, funny and dark. I can’t show any of the work until the book is completed or released or whatever they decide, so you’ll have to take my word until then.

Instead I posted a drawing above that has nothing to do with the new picture book, and nothing to do with cats.

-M

PS. It was drawn in Photoshop, with a quick ‘wash’ applied with some of the brushes I have custom built.

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M if for the monster that maimed Matilda.

This is the ‘M’ page (ah, yah…) from my alphabet book. Which I have been working on for like 6 years… It’s almost embarrassing. It has changed styles and content, at least 40 times. And instead of sending it out to publishers and agents, who see 945,628 of these kind of things a week, I think I will just post the whole thing here on the site. Currently this is a low res JPG, but I might also post a PDF of the whole book for people to download and do with what they please. I’m not sure yet, and the book isn’t completely done yet. My god, I bet Dickens spent less time on novels then I have on 26 pages of alphabet…

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This Animation Monday is a link to Michael Sporn’s Blog or Splog. His company has made dozens of shorts and half hours, many animated adaptations of children’s books (for those readers counting, this post combines two topics we all love, kids books and animation)

The Sblog has lots of great scanned images and info about classical/traditional animation. Some wonderful early Disney storyboards. He also has quite a few examples of Bill Peet’s boards from the 50’s and 60’s, and those are worth studying for anyone in any part of the visual arts.

Lots to see, clips of his work, and plenty to read.

Michael Sporn Animation
and his ‘Splog‘. Have fun and watch out, you’ll be into this for hours if you’re not careful.

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 guystogthr.jpgSome quick sketches from yesterday.Tough guys is where I started from. I think the middle one is retired to the coast.

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These are some REALLY rough sketches from a project that went from animated short, to animated feature pitch to comic/graphic novel. I was working on two different characters, and these were in a stack of stuff I was throwing out this past weekend. But I liked them enough to scan them.

These are just quick drawings where I am trying to get the drawing in my head of the character onto paper. They aren’t about style at this point, just ideas.

Below is part of a black and white page from a story that ended up featuring one of the characters.

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