Sunday, July 29, 2007

Nihilist Probability Grenade

The hard drive in my Power Book is shot, and I lost everything I'd done for pretty much the past two years. I was able to barrow a Mac Book from my homeboy Billy Delfs to get some really good work done this weekend. Actully, the work was a huge pain in the ass, and when I get my shit together again I think I'll post about the process I went through on this shit. You can get your hands on it Wednesday. It'll be in the Free Times. By any road, I'll be out of digital commission for a couple weeks. I'm going to use this time to carve out an empire.

Hey, here's a triple dose of images that are sitting on Billy's Desktop:

These photos are ©2007 Billy Delfs, bitches.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Newtonian Political Gorillazilla

Been trying to stay nailed to my drawing table lately, but it's a lot harder that you would think. Short of actually physically NAILING myself to the table, which would create a lot of other complications and make it impossible to draw anyway, I don't know what else to do to maximize the time I have available for draw my brains out. I find that listening to Lightning Bolt is the best way to stay on task for hours at a time.

Here's the line art for this thing. Mostly inspired by my homie Brandon Graham. There was an instance in a coffee shop on Avenue A when he gave me these 11x17 photocopies on a brown card stock of pieces from his sketchbook. It was one of the highlights of my goddamned life.

The Samurai shit continues. I recently caught Kunoichi: Lady Ninja, Slaughter in The Snow, Kibakichi 2, and Samurai Resurrection.

Kunoichi: Lady Ninja is about a group of lady ninja called Kunoichi. From 1998 it's one of the newer samurai movies I've seen as part of watching all Samurai movies ever made. Honestly, this isn't exactly a Samurai movie in the strict sense, it's more of a "martial arts" "ninja" movie. Then again, Yagyu Jubei is one of the main characters and there is a lot of samurai sword fighting, so... I'm putting on the list. Anyway, this movie is basically like if when you were a teenager and on a lazy boring summer weekday you went to 7-11 and got 44 oz. Slurpies and bags of candy then hung around the parking lot of that 7-11 talking about all the crazy shit you would put in a ninja movie if you ever got the chance... yeah, it's basically this movie. There's a lot of violence and nudity and funny things that are only funny in Japanese movies. Totally ridiculous and really noticeably of the 1990s.

Slaughter in the Snow is the third, and my favorite, of the epic Mikagomi Trilogy of Samurai films (The pother films being Trail of Blood, and The Fearless Avenger). This series is also deeply a product of it's time, the early 70s, with the pop-jazzy rock score, and the fountains of opaque orange blood. These were also more action oriented "martial arts" movies, rather than the long play dramas of this genre. The fights are really cool, but seriously... it seems like aside from the heroes and maybe the main villains, every other samurai, of which there are hundreds, is a total fucking pussy. Anyway, I get the feeling this wasn't a trilogy, or wasn't planned as such. Mostly because it's a revenge quest story about this guy, Jokichi, wandering around trying to kill these two evil yakuza bosses that were the ones who ordered that his wife raped, then her and their child murdered. That's one of the unique things about this series, the authority figures are yakuza, and not government officials. Most samurai movies deal mostly in politics and shoguns and shit. This is pretty much about criminals fighting. ANYWAY, my original point is that he never actually kills the last guy he has to kill to get revenge! They just leave it with him walking off into the mountains as his theme song plays! Very much like the last Lone Wolf and Cub film.

Kibakichi 2 was WAAAYYY better than Kibakichi. Just leaps and bounds all around. Also a "martial arts" action movie, not too much drama. Actually, untrue, there is more drama in this one than in the first, but... it's better told. There's just more likable characters this time around, being as Kibakichi himself is kind of vague and abstract. Anyway, you probably don't need to see the first to get the sequel, and I recommend the sequel way more than the first. Samurai Werewolves is a really good idea though. Seriously.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Northern Popsicle Guardians

The quest to watch every Samurai movie ever is going well. I've been on a good streak the past couple weeks after a long lapse just being super busy and kinda lazy.

I finished all the Lone Wolf & Cub features, and am probably just going to opt out of the Shogun Assassin double threat being that all the source materiel is from the series. My favorite was the fourth installment, Baby Cart in Peril. It opens with a close up of a tattooed set of breasts that leads into a female samurai chopping up a bunch of retainer cogs of this one lord. There's also a samurai that somehow lights his sword on fire.

After that I caught the last two Akira Kurosawa samurai films I hadn't seen: Kagemusha and Ran. Kagemusha has one of the most beautiful and ridiculous dream sequences I can remember. I liked that movie a LOT, the colors in particular. VERY inspiring use of color. If I'm ever in a position to be using color in my storytelling career, I think I'll spend a few weeks studying Kagemusha. Ran is a retelling of King Lear. I didn't like it as much as Kuroawa's Throne of Blood, a retelling of Macbeth. Maybe I just prefer Macbeth in general, but I'm not positive. It's been so long since I read it last. I liked Ran, but it's not even in my top ten of Kurosawa's films. It's really creepy though, in a lot of ways.

I just watched The Twilight Samurai, which was surprising. It's about this low level Samurai who's wife dies of illness and he's left alone to cope with raising two young daughters and the care taking of his old senile moms. However, it's no thing, as he's a pretty passive guy, and has never really been into ladder climbing or maybe has lost the components that drive a dude to want to stick a sword into a motherfucker. He's satisfied and content to just count dried fish and do his piece work on the side. Then he has to duel to defend the honor of his best friend's sister, and it's revealed that he's actually a pretty tricky bad ass. The story unfolds and he eventually has to chose between killing some other guy and leaving his samurai status in shame. Anyway, the movie examines some of the more human aspects of the Samurai. It's not all just wandering around chopping up enemies or posturing and face saving. There are bills to pay and little girls to feed and sometimes the simple pleasures are more valuable than having a high reputation or going out drinkin' with the other samurai.

Red Lion is actually a really funny movie. It starts Toshiro Mafune as this farmer turned soldier taking on the task of going back to his home town to bring word of the impending Imperial Army's arrival, only to find that the same evil thug goons that were making the peasants lives miserable when he was literally thrown out of town ten years past,/ are still making everybody's life miserable and worse. He liberates the whores and cancels all debts and proclaims the taxes will be halved and becomes the impromptu leader of a small band of farmers and prostitutes that wrestle the political sway away from the deputy and his bumbling crew. It's all pretty comedic (no small part of which due to the giant red military wig worn by Mifune) until the end when the tragedy of being double crossed by the imperials ensues. It ends pretty badly, but in a very inspiring way. I was really into this movie, so I drew this:

Andrew mentioned in the comments a few posts back something about the difference between black and white and color art... and I sorta feel like, shit, like I never really wanted to get into color because it was just so vast and the infinite possibilities. How every decision has multitudes of consequences and it's just this huge huge thing when you think about it too much. So I stuck with black and white and the plan was to master that with some level of capability before even venturing into the realms of color. Also, printing b/w is insanely cheaper. Well, anyway, it didn't work. I haven't mastered black and white, and here I am dipping my toes into color and I feel insane, but I think I'm ADDICTED to color now. Everything I draw I think in terms of how I would color it, or what it would even look like with colors. This piece I knew I was going to color because of the RED FUCKING WIG. Still, it wouldn't look as good in b/w.

Here's a list of all the Samurai movies I've seen so far.

Sword of Doom
Samurai Rebellion
Sword of The Beast
Hari Kiri
Samurai Saga
Three Outlaw Samurai
Bandits Vs. Samurai Squadron
Seven Samurai
Hidden Fortress
Samurai Spy
Shogun Samurai
Throne of Blood
Red Lion
Samurai Assassin
Incident at Blood Pass
Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo
Samurai Banners
Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto
Samurai II: Duel at Ichijon Temple
Samurai III: Duel at Gamryu Island
Hanzo The Razor
Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance
Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades
Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at The River Styx
Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril
Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in The Land of Demons
Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell
The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi (2003)
Samurai Fiction
Ronin Gai
Shingenshu: Assassins of Honor
The Twilight Samurai

Some other notes of interest:

Paul Pope did a cover and wrote this piece for the third issue of the apparently amazing LVHRD, a magazine you can download the pdf of here: LVHRD MGZN #3

I'm not sure how old this is, probably pretty fucking old, but the other day while I was ordering my second set of Jordan Crane's Uptight All Night post cards over at, there's a pdf available for download called "Reproguide". It's a guide to reproduction. It's pretty cool, and informative and like I said it seems maybe old as fuck, it contains some good tips and tricks for making printed things. Also, the Uptight comic and those post cards are also really great great buys.

Ivan Brunetti's Misery Loves Comedy has completely blown my mind.

Speaking of Samurai movies, Eric Skillman posted the design process of the Criderion REBEL SAMURAI box set over on his blog: Cozy Lummox.

I think that's it for today. Shit, I hope that's it for today.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Necro Planetary Grassroots

There's another installment of The Joint in this week's Free Times. This week's column, about gay promiscuity in prison. I think I actually did a good job representing what the piece entailed but I didn't go too overboard with the gratuitous sex scenes. The pink and brown color scheme might have been a little much, though.

Still no internet at home, and I'm in this coffee shop right by my house. The place is usually dead as hell, but today it's mad hoppin'. There was a huge gaggle of teenagers buying $4 Mochas with all the trimmings. There's a really really weird trio of adolescent boys being lead through a bible reading thing by this creepy ass nerdy dude. Then, the rest are all old people, complaining to each other about innocuous shit. The coffee kinda sucks. Shoulda got some tea. I do appreciate the fact that this is here though, that I can just roll out my house and get online. Crazy world we live in.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Nasty Plaster Gargantuan

So, I'm lacking an internet connection in The Cave for the moment. I'll get it back up and running soon enough, but in the meantime I'm looking forward to less distractions and the frustration of having to run around taking advantage of the free wifi locations in my hood and beyond.

Hindsight being 20/20, I'm not entirely sure what's going on in the layout of the pictured above. I think the idea was mostly just to draw a burning city, then I threw in that girl to break it up a little. Not sure how much I like the cropping of it, maybe should have had her reading the magazine. It was a graduation gift for my dude LEE SCHOCH, who will be going to Fire Fighter School in the fall.

I did some artwork for the St. Clair Superior Development Corp. They're having a scavenger hunt in the neighborhood and these are part of the promotion of it all. The postcard, I'm not sure where those are going to be, but I hope around... the scans are from an insert to the recent issue of Norther Ohio Live.

Also, this has nothing to do with me, but apparently it's the year of the pig. So yeah, Happy Chinese New Year! To celebrate I guess the St. Clair Superior Development Corp. got the mythic artist Viktor Schreckengost to design a big ass PIG SCULPTURE for a bunch of other area artists to decorate and make pretty so they can leave them around for the public. Hey, It's public art.

Anyway, thanks to BECCA for hooking me up with the illustration gig.

Been having relatively awesome adventures lately. I think I'll save some of that reportage for the next post later this week, but summer has exploded into happening and it's gone full nasty buckwild. I've also got a post about the ridiculous amount of Samurai movies I've been watching. So stay tuned.