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Archive for June, 2011

You (one of the fine readers of this blog) may be asking: “Hey Mark, what happened to that graphic novel you used to keep talking on and on and on about? What’s up with that? You haven’t said anything about it for months.”

Or you may be asking, “How did I get to this blog? I was looking for celebrity photos.”

In answer to the first question, the graphic novel is nearly done. As I said 6 months ago. And 6 months before that.

I will have lots to say about it soon enough. Or I might be tired of saying anything about it at all. It’s as close to the finish line as you can be, without yet finishing.

Here’s a page that is nearly final. That color comes way of Colortron 2000, otherwise known as Ken Min.  I’m pretty sure there’s text in the final version. Actually, yes there is text, but I am leaving it out until closer to the release date. I don’t want to give too much away and all that. This is a pretty exciting point in a story that’s FILLED with exciting action! (How’s that for honing my marketing skills?! )

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It’s so appealing to think about escaping the modern world to a ‘cabin in the woods’. Like Steinbeck’s character George Milton in Of Mice and Men was often hoping to do; get a small piece of land, be your own boss. Get away fom all the hastles of society.

Existing in society is more complicated than ever. The media saturation means a writer or artist spends even less time doing the thing they love and more time setting up websites, creating Facebook – whatever they are called now thingys – and it’s all part of the struggle to just stay relevant long enough to keep working. The need to pay your bills pretty much guarantees that stepping outside of it is nearly impossible unless you are a well established creator.

Email on your phone. Phones calls on your computer and as I’ve mentioned before the constant exposure to blogs and websites about whatever industry it is you are in.

It’s enough to stoke the dream of moving into a cabin in the middle of the woods. That notion is very appealing to me at times But it’s also, I suspect, a self destructive impulse.

If I was going to spend the rest of my life working on the World’s Greatest Novel (only to be printed after my obituary runs), it might be a path. But whenever I have the desire to run from the modern world I think about what it would have been like to ‘run away from it all’  four hundred years ago. Or in the 15th century. The changes occurring then would seem just as overwhelming to those living day to day. I’m sure people in the 15th century talked about how good things were back in the 1300’s. How kids listened to their parents. How Kings were nobel and there was never a line at the bakery. A discussion from that time would have gone like this:

Peasant One – “Boy the 1400’s are a real hassle. I just lost my job hammering things.”

Peasant Two – “And the traffic! Took me 30 minutes to get to the witch burning.”

Peasant One – “I know. And now the printing press! Books, books, books. Like we need more books.”

Peasant Two – “They say that the printing press will lead to the democratization of knowledge.”

Peasant One – “Well isn’t that fancy! Things were just fine when I was a kid. I’ll tell you this, there were plenty of wild boars around to eat. I don’t even have time to make candles from fat and now I’m supposed to make time to read-a-book! Bah. I’m moving back into the forest.”

And we never heard from Peasant One again. Either wild dogs or witches did him in.

There’s mounting eveidence that busy places, active places with exposure to a lot of different people and different ways of life is what produces the majority of great ideas and new technologies. The very frustrations, the random interconnections in those environments lead to the future being hammered out. That’s the energy you feel in a big city. In a busy school. In a diverse workplace. And in a way the ‘constant’ connection that can seem so overwhelming is part of the amazing energy of the globally connected time we live in.

You have to fight harder then ever to get time away from the non-stop world of technology and updates and news and email and blogs and…yeah. All that stuff. And taking breaks from it is important. But running away from it foolishly denies the inevitably of change. That even in our relatively short lifetime, change is not just a constant but a requirement.

But I’ll still daydream about that little, quiet cabin in the woods. Just up the hill from a creek where wild boars come to drink. Imagine what it would cost to get high speed internet to that place?

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I was casually munching my Kix cereal, scanning the morning paper looking for news I read three days ago online and saw another ‘Are Picture Books Dead’ editorial/essay type piece.

What’s more amazing? That I am reading an actual paper paper (It’s been theorized that only 8 people still read actual paper papers in the country) or that the story is back, not quite on the front page, but you know, a respectable Section B page 3.

I’m actually happy to see someone talking about picture books who are not writing, drawing, editing or selling picture books. That’s a win.

Are they dead? Alive? Or are they zombies, crawling onward even with legs hacked off, clawing for scraps of young children’s time (and brains of course)?

Honestly, I don’t know. And while I worry that an art form I love, that I work at, that I would like to continue to work at, may be teetering a bit in this age of cloud-everything-digital-entetainment-everywhere, there’s really not much I can do about it either way.

Judging by the kids I have contact with, they still love picture books. They develop a close bond with a book if they are given the opportunity to. And while I am an owner and user of an iPad, and my daughter enjoys it for games and some ‘interactive’ style books, she has never shown any interest in it being part of her bedtime. Once or twice she looked at a particular ‘bed time’ book on it. But the simple animation and sound effects ‘magic’ wore off quickly and it was back to dead tree media and the 100th reading of Crackers the Cat.

Dead, alive or zombie, I’ll continue to let them into our house. And I suspect many people will for many years. You could board over the windows and hide in the basement. But there’s no adventure movie in that.

PS. The Book That Eats People is not a zombie. It’s perfectly alive and was just nominated for a 2012 North Carolina Children’s Book Award!

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This is a test animation for a walk cycle, though it looks like a burping cycle. This is for an online video game and the cycles are pretty short, and the actual size of the creature is under 100 pixels high. So this is giant monster test walk cycle I guess. I did three monsters with various cycles and a very cute little piggy bank. I’ll post more when I have time.

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