Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What's In A Title? A Lot!

 ICv2 - 'John Carter' Ad Trailer Released

The final dumb-down of the "John Carter of Mars" movie title has apparently occurred -the movie will simply be called, "John Carter", robbing it of any immediate genre recognition or inspiring any fantastic expectations based on the movie title alone. Ultimately it's just a stupid move that will effect the film's marketing power. Right now it sounds like a film about a lawyer or something: 'John Carter, the story about a man dedicated to preserving the judicial system of America at all cost.' Or 'John Carter -a trucker hellbent on making a name for himself on the road.' Just like the comic book industry, the film industry has been invaded by fanboy read/write/artist who are determined to fuck up anything they touch. A "read/write/artist" fanboy is the most destructive kind. Not like a regular fan, who only seeks to enjoy the product that professionals make, the fanboy read/write/artist believes he can create something great as well. Or at least get into the business he craves and control the output of it. These directionless morons come into immediate conflict with the professionals in the business (if they get within positions of power) and the result usually is the professional saying, "Fuck off an die." and quitting the company. Thus the fanboy read/writer/artist/ is free to put forth his mediocre (or lower) work as the new "standard". Hopefully the folks at Disney will wake up to the title dumb-down of calling a great sci-fi book series "John Carter" instead of the full blown credentials the series deserves, "John Carter of Mars". What's in a title? A lot! Here are a few other examples of title dumb-down and the effects they could have had on our expectations and enjoyment of a film, comic book, or other visual storytelling artistry: Space Wars: A New Hope (Star Wars: A New Hope) / The Computer Nightmare (The Matrix) / The Fantastic Three (The Fantastic Four). As you can see, the differences are minute but the effect is great. My suspicion is that the movie they made sucks so bad that they felt the need to be a bit awkwardly subliminal about the whole thing in order to get you to see it. Subliminal messages are just messages with hidden meanings in them. So by calling their awful movie 'John Carter' it SUGGEST the 'of Mars' part to your mind. Hahaha. Well, maybe that'll get me to walk like a zombie and go watch the thing. But it probably won't.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Say It Ain't So, Ben!

Uh-oh. I just read that George Lucas is going to write the first season to his new Star Wars TV show entitled, "Star Wars, Underworld". If you cringed at the simplistic, robot-like dialog of "Star Wars, Phantom Menace" and those other 2 Star Wars prequel films then you share my fear in allowing Mr. Lucas to write anything that he has created (ironically!). Mr. Lucas, with all due respect, can you please, please, put aside your well earned arrogance and take a FUCKING WRITING CLASS before "creating" more disturbingly bad writing and thereby weakening the incredibly rich tapestry of Star Wars folklore that you created so painstakenly in the first two films, "Star Wars, A New Hope" and "The Empire Strikes Back". Ever since you had your hand in the writing of "Return of the Jedi" has the entire series of films become a blundering mess of repetitive fanboy-appealing dialog ("I've got a bad feeling about this.") and hokey, almost criminally bad acting (due in no small part to your own armchair directing efforts). Please, I beg of you! Give the writing chores to someone who has the motivation to succeed at the art of script writing (say, a professional writer!) because his fucking rent depends on it!

Wikipedia, Star Wars: Underworld Page

When Amatuer Art Is A "Style" and When It's Just Bad Art

 Image from www.fixedart.com

In the many different worlds of visual storytelling, each has a unique message to send to it's readers. Thus each message best benefits from the appropriate style of artwork portrayed in it. By message I also mean story. In this regard visual storytelling respects neither hyper-realistic artwork, primitive artwork, amateur artwork, or even cartooning. Each effort is and should be related to the narrative it is attempting to illustrate. The same thing goes for film. In the usage of special effects, for example, special effects don't always have to be ultra-realistic despite what the current suits in Hollywood probably think. Amateur special effects of a say, campy storyline, would work out just fine. A good example of this was the long running British TV sci-fi show "Dr. Who". The special effects were bargain basement cheap but who cared? The stories were written with enough wit and imagination for readers to suspend disbelief and / or enjoy the charm of the toy-like spaceships, etc. used to elucidate the storyline. But the same simple special effects would be misappropriated if they were used to elucidate a film like Star Wars, which demanded realistic special effects to make it's fairy tale-like story believable. Likewise in comic books a simple art style is good for one type of narrative while it is not good for some. Amateur artwork is great for some types of story lines but not for others. Cartoons are great for other types of narratives. But when it comes to superheroes one has to be careful, for superhero tales rest almost in the world of the fairy tale, they are best served when done realistically in order to convince the reader that this fantastic "stuff " can actually be happening, thereby fulfilling a crucial need for successful realistic visual storytelling: the suspension of disbelief. When I read a superhero tale with amateur artwork the distractions are plentiful. Distorted bodies, hacked off heads, crooked facial features, etc. etc. don't allow any suspension of disbelief. The amateur artwork becomes a secondary stream of "entertainment" running alongside the text / storyline. Not only do I not "believe" what's occurring in the comic book but I don't think that the writers or artists do either because they made such a wreck of an imagined situation (the superhero). Bad superhero comic book artwork within realistic story lines don't work and never will. They operate on the same level as reading bad writing. In the end you are only left with the impression of "What the fuck?" instead of "That was a great tale!" But of course this (end view) doesn't apply to all people, namely fools. But there's no accounting for the taste of fools because they don't have any taste. You can feed them garbage and they'll think it's health food.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Value of Alex Ross and the 2nd Golden Age of Comic Books

The movement AGAINST realistic comic book artwork which began with the allowing of fanboys posing as editors, illustrators and writers in the comic book world during the Stone Age of comic books, the 1990's (and  headed by amatuer "artists" like Liefeld and Lee, etc) was countered by the admittance of Alex Ross and his hyper-realistic super hero paintings. Since then the trend towards more realistic artwork in comic books has been an ascending one. But the direction needs to be substantiated by an overall monitoring of quality control (mainly in the super hero comic book genre) -one in which rank amateurs are held down and kept out of the business because of their ill effect on the whole. This can only be accomplished on the editorial level. So when the fanboy editors are thrown out on their arrogant, envious asses (by a public made more aware of the danger that their ignorant choices constantly make) only then will comic books have a chance for a second Golden Age. Until then the threat of another Stone Age is ever present, with or without painters like Alex Ross continually proving the value of realistic artwork in the comic book visual storytelling medium -to which realistic artwork is essentially connected. Sure Ross' work does not consist of figure invented artwork, which is needed for the 2nd Golden Age of comic books, but that's not the point I'm trying to make. He managed to show the fanboys THEIR INCREDIBLE INFERIORITY without offending them by presenting to them realistic comic book artwork done by using photographs. This had to be done in this manner (an indirect path) because the hostility towards traditional realistic comic book artwork done by imagination was high in the 1990's.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Raising Your Standards To Raise Your Skill

Oft times the difference between good and great visual storytelling can be as personal as the debate between who was the best American pin-up artist. While Alberto Vargas (who's artwork is featured directly below) became the most widely recognized pin-up artist in American history many people felt that he was not the best...

They thought (and I agree) that the lesser known Gil Elvgren's pin up artwork (featured directly below) far surpassed that of Vargas'. This is a good lesson for visual storytellers who seek to master their craft. The determination of who is a master visual storyteller and who is simply good at it can become inverted by ignorant public opinions which are formed more by word of mouth instead of astute observations and comparisons between artist. The beginning or experienced visual storyteller should pick carefully who's work they choose to admire and view because that work will become a benchmark for their skill levels and they may not rise above it at all. Always seek out who may be BETTER and focus on them and your work will reflect the new height that you aspire to. Raise your standards and more often than not you'll raise your skills.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Alex Ross Mock Rant

Alex Ross, you balding wannabe Norman Rockwell! Why don't you take your lost ass out of the comic book industry and set up shop in a art museum where all of that picture perfect (TRACED) crap you produce should be displayed at! I'll help you decorate by bringing some spiders and fake Halloween cobwebs! You give comic books a bad name by making it not hand drawn! You've mislead a generation of artist by teaching them that tracing and / or dependency on reference material is better than knowing how to draw from the imagination! Your boring, expressionless "KODAK MOMENT" images make me beg for the days when real cartoonist and illustrators ruled the comic book world. Your flashy, posed covers, with ACTORS that posed for you don't sell a comic book at all based on the storyline. They sell like someone seeking a beautiful picture to hang on the wall instead! You don't hang comic books on the wall, you READ THEM. The lack of spontaneity within your figure "tracings" or drawings, WHATEVER, kills the suspension of disbelief as I read (and get stopped by) the over-realized imagery that you ponderously conjured up. Your work is like your head, balding and without further consequence once it is done. A pretty picture above a fireplace -that's it! If I see ANOTHER PERFECT FLYING POSE I think I'll create my own my JUMPING OUT OF A WINDOW and killing myself. And if I get to Heaven (high expectations) and see a perfectly painted Jesus Christ done by YOU then I'm going to personally call Satan and see if he has any rooms available down below! FUCK YOU ALEX ROSS!

Low Brow Comics

 What's wrong with comic books today...

I just came upon that rank amateur "artist" Jim Lee's Facebook page and found this piece of "art" with the accompanying high praise by a bunch of idiot fans. They alternatively called it "good" and "great" in so many words. Good and great compared to what? Certainly not compared to master artists like Neil Adams, John Buscema, or Gene Colan etc. etc. who's art the industry was built on. In fact, he draws no better than your average neighborhood teenager. Just looking at the ignorantly constructed arm, with those brutal unrealistic angles in it is enough to make anyone with a sliver of respect for the human form to wince in pain. Her face? What is it? Looks like someone took a brick to it. Doesn't look exactly like a face to me -it looks like a guess at one. And her hair? Doesn't look like ol' Jim knows what hair looks like at all because this "girl's" hair looks like crumpled paper. In fact she doesn't look animated at all, but looks like she was carved out of stone. The Emperor has no clothes on and everyone (his fans) praise his nudity as high fashion. Fake ass people. This reminds me of how people were throwing down thousands and thousands of dollars for abstract art at the height of that movement, then one day someone gave a paint brush to a chimp and compared the monkey's painting to the abstract artist and there was little or no difference. Same with "art" by the likes of Jim Lee. Compare it to a 15 year old's and you couldn't figure out who did it either, Jim or the 15 year old. On the other hand, a real illustrator's artwork is too advanced to be confused with the art of a teenager. Fuckin' sick shit is why comic book sales are so low. All the smart people aren't buying it anymore. How long has this guy been drawing? Decades with little or no improvement in his figure drawing ability. That's how you out a fanboy instead of a pro. There's nothing wrong with an amateur artist drawing a comic book but if he's still at the same level of an amateur YEARS LATER with no obvious sense of improvement, then he's not an artist at all He's just a fancy wannabe.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Stone Age of Comic Books

  Image by prozac1

Uggh!! I hate having to look at the disproportionate, hacked out crap in the samples of bad comic book artwork that I had to put on this blog site just to make a point! It's nauseating, ugly, wretched I-don't-give-a-damnism! Reminds me of all that filth that spewed out of Marvel Comics in the mid to late 1980's and into the 90's. This "infection" spread to DC comics and then to save itself from a sea of crap(!) the big companies found their false idol in painted (i.e. 'realistic') comic book art. They'll do anything -ANYTHING other than letting the people who were born to draw realistic comic books by heart (without looking at photographic reference) do it in mass like it was during the golden and silver ages of comic books. What age of comic books are we in now? We're still in the stone age, what else? Slowly but surely more and more realistic artist are working in comic books again after having been kept outside in the cold by the rank and file amateurs and hacks who, along with their partners in crime, the EDITORS, managed to take comic books to the virtual bottom of the visual storytelling industry.

Painted Comic Books

If I see another fully painted comic book, ESPECIALLY by Alex Ross, I think I'm going to puke! These are and will always be FAKE comic books. Real comic books are hand drawn, without looking at a ton of reference photos to do it -that way you don't lose the sense of spontaneity within the artwork. That way the book's actions don't look like a freakin' bystander took a photograph of the events. Instead it let's you be the objective observer, not someone else with a 'camera'-something very, very important in the art of visual storytelling. Using -or should I say, OVERUSING photographic references kills objective observability (is that a word? it is now!). The comic book becomes more like a painting in a museum; there's only so much sequential storytelling you can do with it because the "beauty" of the thing begins to compete with the narrative to a massive extent. I liked Star Wars or some other films with 'amazing' visuals but when and if the visuals dominate over the storyline -over the narrative, then the invisible hand of the artist(s) has revealed itself and the suspension of disbelief -so crucial to sequential storytelling -is compromised. Painted comic books area a novelty, not a means to an end. Am I the only one who sees this? I too was blown away by Ross' earliest work but then, by listening to the sound critism of others I "woke up" and saw it for what it was. It's just a grand show. Delightful albeit, but not a "real" comic book.

Harharhar! In looking for some artwork to elucidate this blog item I found this Alex Ross cover and a quote by a distinguished (meaning "real") comic book artists, Alex Toth, that read:  

"They're trying to be painters and illustrators, but they don't know how to tell a story ... Too many rely on photographs and it's all lifeless – expressing nothing," calling Alex Ross an "idiot savant." (Comic Book Artist #11, 2001)

Slacker "Artists" -Fake it 'til you make it! Or steal it!

There's nothing wrong with being an amateur artist, or a bad one even. But if you remain bad and never ever evolve, if you in fact--get WORSE over time then you should stop pretending to be what you aren't and move out of the way because you're only blocking those better than yourself from realizing their dreams. Meanwhile your falseness helps mislead and corrupt an entire industry. This not only applies to the comic book industry but to other industries as well. The bullshitters, the slacker. The ass-clown who sets himself up in certain positions just so he can  block others from attaining them -not for any other reason other than to be an obstacle for those superior to him in  mind and action.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

ANOTHER "restart"

Harharhar! Like the soggy comic book industry, the film industry is in the same fix. Unable to advance storylines due to incompetent, downright knuckleheaded "starts" and bungled attempts at continuity by the assorted dumbfucks in charge, they go round-and-round, starting, stopping, and then restarting again. Hahaha. What a joke. With clowns in charge (and this IS the era of the clown), nothing gets done right and the past age of golden achievements will remain just that--the PAST.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Bionic Bait and Switch!

Bionic Woman # 1, news story

Here's a more decent example of cover art (above). Not bad, but the question remains -was it drawn by looking at a photo-reference as so much of today's comic book art, especially covers, are? Notice the flowing lines and form, the excellent proportions. All life-like. But this cover is quite deceptive for it is part of a larger "bait and switch" effect. You buy it for the beautiful cover and it's suggestion that you're gonna be reading something about a beautifully portrayed young woman (at least that's what it says to me!). But when you open up the book look at the quality change:

Your interior art (above) is drawn by someone who hasn't reached a professional level yet when it comes to the most important aspect of comic book artwork -figure drawing!! It's obvious that the amateur artist working on the interior artwork has taken a few figure drawing lessons whether from a book or a class but he hasn't begun to master the basics of it yet (which are concerned with rhythm, proportion, etc.) The figures are ungainly, the line work doesn't flow like the surface lines and contours of a real human being (compare it to the cover image if you doubt what I say). You can' tell a convincing story if the artwork is so bad or mediocre that it distracts from the narrative! Many editors aren't doing their job. The editing doesn't stop at the story but it continues with the art work. The artist needs to be told to get their act together -show some improvement -or he'll be replaced. The interior artwork sells the story; no one has time to read the whole comic book inside a comic book shop and few people (suckers in my opinion) buy a comic book based on the cover artwork alone. I'll talk about cover artwork and sales at another time and how the industry has been led down a dimmer path by painters working in a field created by "figure inventors", people who draw realistically without photo reference.