Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas to All...

Hey folks! I'm sorry I haven't posted much in a while, but my computer has recently been stricken with a virus, so my computer at home is all kooky. I'm typing this post from a slower out-of-date model that I found in the basement of my house.

Now I know that it's a little late to do this, but here it goes anyway. Every year I go nuts finding the perfect gift(s) for family & friends. Over the past few years, I decided to compose a tip list for myself on how to shop for the holidays. I always add to the list every year, so I can refine my shopping skills when that certain season comes around. Although most of you have already had your shopping all taken care of by now, here's my list of Christmas shopping tips to get you ready for next year's rush. Besides, the Christmas season starts earlier & earlier each year, so you'll probably need to start thinking about shopping again next Labor Day. Here it goes:

1 - Never buy someone 1 huge expensive gift. Chances are they won't like it. You're better off buying a bunch of small ones. They'll at least like one of them.

2 - Here's a tip for the guys:

There are some things you should never buy a woman, & one of them is clothes. Unlike women, men have no taste in fashion (unless you're like those guys on those home-remodeling shows on TLC). Therefore, if you buy them something too small, they'll either get frustrated or think of it as an insult, & buying clothes too large will give them the assumption of calling them fat. Jewelry & perfume is also something to avoid. I've seen many tears due to this problem, so go out & buy them something they really need: a DVD of their favorite soap-opera or chick flick & a Costco-sized box of Kleenex.

3 - Save all receipts! If you DO buy clothes for anybody, keep the receipts, they'll come in handy after your loved one rejects it.

4 - Don't fuss around with loose change or bills in your pockets. It'll become a hassle when you take your money out of your pockets. Raining money! Take the bills & fold them up neatly in order or put them in your purse/wallet & take all your loose change & give it to those Salvation Army guys with the bells. They need it a lot more than you do.

5 - When buying gifts for friends, don't be biased. Don't buy one that very expensive glass crystal sculpture of a unicorn & the other just a candy cane. Buy all your friends the same kind of gift, yet have it differ in some way to distinguish who's it is. Candy is the best way to go. It tastes good & they don't need to make room for it on a shelf.

6 - Don't tell anyone what gift you're giving to somebody. Chances are they're in cahoots with the gift-receiver & it will spoil the surprise. If you do tell anyone, mislead them. Tell them it's a pair of socks or a chemistry set.

7 - Don't buy anyone Christmas-themed gifts. It'll be put in a box & stuffed in the closet before February.

8 - Don't buy anyone tacky-looking sweaters. A sweater of Rudolph with an actual light for the nose is definitely a fashion no-no. Unless they want to grow up looking like Bill Cosby, do them a favor & save them from tossing their Christmas cookies.

9 - If you're either paralyzed in both your arms or your mom doesn't allow you to use scissors or tape, then wrapping presents probably isn't your forte. For small gifts, you're better off wrapping them in tissue paper or putting them in a nice bag. For larger presents, like ones bigger than Della Reese, just wrap it in a large blanket or hide it in your room until you wish to give it to them.

10 - Luckily, we live in a time where you can access anything in the comfort of your own home by using a computer. If you can, do most of your shopping online. It might not save you a lot of money, but it makes it a lot easier on your ears, legs & brain.

& most importantly, think of yourself in front of others! Don't listen to any suggestions that other people make about what to buy for who. Always buy what YOU think is a great gift.


Anyways, Christmas is hours away. The day where you exploit the birth of the messiah by opening presents, eating & drinking things you normally wouldn't like roasted chestnuts, eggnog, candy canes & peppermint vodka, & watching countless TV specials like Rudolph, the Grinch, Charlie Brown & Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas.

Christmas always seems unwelcome to me. It's always here when I don't want it to. Christmas is too commercial these days, where you can't even walk out the door without seeing one of those stupid tacky inflatable things on someones lawn. The shopping, the decorating, the cooking, the eating, the singing, the dancing, the merry-making, the carols, the sales, the long lines, the in-laws & all the noise, noise, noise, noise... it's too much for me to handle.

& yet, Christmas does have it's redeemable qualities. It's that time of the year where you see things in a different perspective. The world seems beautiful & joyful now than it ever did. You acknowledge the ones you love & care for, you realize what you can do to make yourself a better person, you appreciate what you have done for yourself in the past year & look on into the future. Christmas makes you feel things that you don't usually feel any other time: good will, generosity, faith, peace on earth & goodwill towards men (& women & animals alike). Giving someone something special to let them know you do care & love them. Not only do we open presents, but we open our hearts as well. It's the thing that makes you get up in the morning each day, to work your hardest, to reach & achieve your goals & to reach out to others.

I think Garfield said it best: "It's not the giving... it's not the getting... it's the loving."

& so, on behalf of myself, Steve-O, Randy, Cannibal Chicken & the rest of us here at For the Birds, we'd like to wish you and yours a Very Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year!

& yes, I do look like Scrooge in this picture. Bah Humbug!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

My Toon Platoon Entries

Since I haven't posted much lately, I decided to put up my Toon Platoon entries for those who haven't checked the site out yet.

Some of these entries I spent time on, & some I quickly sketched out. You'll see as you scroll down:

Week #1 - The first topic on Toon Platoon focused on the HALO video games. I decided to put a comic spin on the somewhat serious nature of the game by putting poor ol' Master Chief on a blind date with Samus from the Metroid games. Personally, I think Samus is WAY cooler than the Chief.

I inked this with a Size 1 Pigma Graphic Pen & colored it with Prismacolor pencils. It has that hand-drawn quality look that I like, but the coloring was a pain. I tried something way different the next week:

Week #2 - Mascots was the second topic, & I thought I'd put a little more effort into my submission. I drew & inked the sketch on paper, scanned it into the computer & colored it completely in Photoshop. This was my second attempt at coloring using the program, but I think I got the hang of it by then. I even put a gradient & shadows in the picture.

Although the picture went over big, I had two problems:

1) The whole Photoshop process was WAY to time consuming. I spent nearly two days coloring.

2) I got complaints that using Photoshop was cheating, since I was the only member who owned the program, which made me a few steps ahead of the others. I agreed, so I stopped using Photoshop for Toon Platoon submissions. Until the majority of members get their hands on Photoshop, I'll be hand coloring my entries.

Week #3 - The third week was Prehistoric Animals. Since I'm in college now, I have to balance work with pleasure, so by the time the week was nearly up, I had no time to draw out something for the Platoon. This was the beginning of a long line of near-late entries.

I lightly scribbled some rough construction work in pencil, but mostly I drew it with a Sharpie marker. It shows, don't it?

Week #4 - This week was a bit more fun. Even though this was another near-deadline entry, I put a little more effort & time into the drawing. Usually, I draw the sketch in pencil & ink/clean it up later with a pen. This week was the reverse. I drew it in pen, then shaded it in in pencil.

Week #5 - I drew this in literally one minute. The whole drawing is basically a shade job, shading everything in using the side of my pencil. It looks sloppy up close, but it looks decent from a considerable distance.

Week #6 - I planned on doing a colossal epic drawing for this week. It was originally going to be various Mario baddies (Bowser, Wario, Donkey Kong, etc.) on a bowling team. Donkey Kong was gonna throw barrels, Bowser was gonna shoot fire, & I think Wart was somewhere in the background. It was gonna be a great piece... but once again, I lost complete track of time & the week was near the end.

I quickly drew this with a marker & shoved it on the site. It's not what I wanted, but at least I submitted something.

Week #7 - This last piece was part of our just-finished Political Cartoons week. I decided to draw what Santa really did with Thanksgiving.

This is my first color submission since the Photoshop debacle. But instead of using a computer & mouse, I used some old markers I had stored away in my art drawer. Some of them are nearly dry (you can tell near the base of Santa's coat), but I think it came out fine.

I'll make sure to post new submissions up here as well as over at Toon Platoon. For a better description of each week's entry, click on the Toon Platoon link on the sidebar & scroll down 'til you find my posts. You can also click "Michael J. Ruocco" near the bottom of one of my entries & it'll take you directly to every submission I posted up.

Go check out Toon Platoon once in a while & see the other member's submissions as well. & don't forget to leave comments!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

"Enchanted" is... well...ENCHANTED!

I had a chance to see Enchanted last night, so I took it.

Although the film sort of drifts into the "romantic-comedy" region (which I'm not very partial to), there's just enough of everything to satisfy: action, comedy, fantasy, drama & all that "lovey-dovey" stuff in between. It's like a pie that's cut into equal pieces: everyone gets a fair share.

I don't want to delve into too much detail, but I must have to say the movie is fantastic! The animation was superb & it really felt like a classic Disney fairy tale (great job, James Baxter & Co.!). & speaking of which, this film is a real treat for big Disney buffs like me. So many self references. I don't wish to spoil too much of the film for those who haven't seen it, but for you big Disney History fanatics out there, pay very close attention throughout the whole film. Some things are easier to spot, but some things are much harder to pick out, even though they are in plain sight. Look & listen very carefully!

& most importantly, I'm more than glad to hear that this film is getting very positive reviews all around. Will this be the beginning of a new, successful age of traditional animation at Disney's? By the look of this film it seems so, but there's only one way to see that dream come true: GO SEE ENCHANTED!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tom Sito Comes to SVA

Boy, was tonight a fun night!

Tonight, we had another one of those "Alumnus Lectures", & today's guest was Tom Sito, one of the most professional & talented animators/directors in the field today! From the Raggedy Ann & Andy feature to Roger Rabbit to Lion King to Shrek & beyond, he's had a big part in some of the best animation we've had in the last few decades. He also wrote Drawing the Line, a book about the animation unions, which I've been planning on picking up & reading for a while now.

For the two hours that Tom spoke to us, he was not only a very intelligent & knowledgeable speaker, but also a very cheerful guy with a great sense of humor. He told us insightful & entertaining stories about his experiences & how he got to that point. He showed us some of his demo reel & even some work he's doing on his new prime-time show Car Talk for PBS.

The funny thing was, he was taking the same classes, with the same teachers, in the same rooms where I am now. It almost feels that your standing on hallowed ground, hoping to that some of the inspiration & talent from alumni like Tom will rub off on you.

Here's hoping that I make it someday!

You can check out Tom Sito's website HERE. (I'll also put his site in my links column on the right). Don't forget to check out his book "Drawing the Line" & his show Car Talk, premiering next summer on PBS!
Once again... THANKS TOM!
*UPDATE (11/29/07)*

Tom Sito put some pictures from his lecture at SVA up on his site, & I'm in one of them! I'm the scrawny looking kid with the sketchpad & pencil in the bottom left! Check me out! Don't I look irresistible? I'm as charming as a stomach pump!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

& the Winner is...

Yep, that's right. From now on, this fox will further be known as "Conrad"!

Thanks to all of those who voted in the poll these past few weeks! You'll be seeing this guy in "For the Birds" real soon!

Monday, November 19, 2007

"Gobble! Gobble! GOBBBBBLLLLLE!!!!!"

I don't know how quite to express my love for one of my favorite holidays, so let's have Adam Sandler do it for me instead! CLICK HERE & remember to sing along!

Hope you all have a very pleasant Thanksgiving by ignoring the sad fact that we celebrate a holiday that promotes the longtime tradition of doing the things we Americans are best at: killing innocent animals, eating everything in sight, & being thankful how we screwed the Indians over nearly 400 years ago! So yam it up & go stuff it !

Oh, & here's the link to one of my all-time favorite Tex Avery cartoons: Jerky Turkey!

"Jive Turkey!"

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

College Soup - Part 6

It's been just over 1 month since I put up the latest installment of the College Soup story. About time, right?


(Click to Enlarge)

Notice anything different about this comic compared to the last ones? This comic was completely drawn & colored in Photoshop! All done thanks to my brand new Wacom Intuos3 Tablet!

I know that all the fat people & background characters all look like they're from a separate universe that seems to be made up of blue marshmallow men, but I just didn't feel like drawing dozens of different fat people. It took long enough to begin with (8 1/2 hours from start to finish). From know on, I'm just going to scan in the drawings & color them. It's a lot less time consuming.

& as an added gift, here's the original layout. This was my only reference for how the comic should be drawn. See if you can compare the rough & the final to seewhat the differences are between the two.


Hey! I figured out how to superimpose pictures on top of eachother in Photoshop! Now you can see the rough & the final in one shot! Enjoy!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Well Blow Me Down!

I just got the new Popeye set in the mail (along with a bunch of other great DVD's). Boy, do those cartoons take me back! I haven't seen many of these Popeye cartoons since they used to air on Cartoon Network years ago.

Out of any animation studio from the Golden Age, the Fleischer Studio really takes the cake (no offense Disney & Warner Bros.). Their animation is not only visually appealing, but hilarious too. I love it when Popeye yells "WHAM!" when he punches Bluto, it always makes me laugh. Too bad the Fleischers ended up the way they did.

Popeye has to be one of my favorite cartoon characters. The Thimble Theatre strip by Segar is a big inspiration for my own comics & the cartoons have that edge that no other cartoon star could ever surpass.

The cartoons on the DVD are so pristine that they blow me away. Plus many of the cartoons have audio commentaries (my favorite feature!) & cool little "Popumentaries" that go into detail on the characters (Popeye, Olive Oyl, Bluto, Wimpy & Swee'Pea), voices & music of the cartoons. Even my History of Animation professor, Howard Beckerman, appears in one of the documentaries on the set! Awesome!

I've only gotten through the first two discs, but they've been a real treat & I'm looking forward to viewing the last two. It may be a little pricey, but you should at least consider picking up the set. One of the best cartoon DVD's I've ever bought.

The sad thing is I still can't get those catchy tunes out of my head, especially the one from the cartoon Axe Me Another. "I'll do anything that YOU DO!"

Friday, November 9, 2007


After much deliberation, determination & confrontation, I've narrowed the list of names down to three: Conrad, Simon, & Vincent. I am no longer asking for new names, so the "Other" selection is outta there, too.

Also, the deadline for the poll has been moved up 'til Nov. 20th, so you've only got 10 days to choose your favorite. Happy voting!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Everybody Listen! I've Been Out-Foxed! I Need Your Help!

Alright, if this didn't sound urgent enough, let me explain:

I know some of you are probably asking "Hey, where's that damn comic you promised us DAYS ago!?" First off, I want to apologize for the lateness. I'll make sure to get the next installment(s) up here by either next Tuesday or Wednesday).

Here's my excuse, since the hardest part of doing this comic is actually finding the time & staging & actually drawing it out. So I thought "Hey... before I dive into the hard stuff, why don't I plan out the next few installments first?" As of this post, I've already planned & laid out the next 3 parts of the College Soup arc. 3!

& not only am I planning out the future installments of this story, I'm starting to flesh out the plots of my next few stories. Some of them will introduce new characters to the For the Birds universe. One of them will eventually be this character below: a fox!

My idea for this fox will be that he's going to be Steve-O's main adversary. They've known each other since childhood & have never gotten along (you'll find out why in the near future). These two are heated rivals, trying to take down or "out-fox" each other in any way, shape or form, whether in sport, survival or supper.

Now the hardest part when thinking up a new character (at least for me) is picking a name that suits the character. I spent a day or two figuring out Steve-O's name & weeks on Randy's. This fox has been one of my hardest puzzlers to date. I've spent nearly an hour last night scrolling through baby name sites, just trying to see which one sounds the best. I've narrowed it down to around seven names, but I can't decide which to choose. That's where you come in:

On the sidebar, there will be a poll, asking which name you prefer. If none of the names sound good, select "Other" & post a new name in the comment section of THIS post. But there are a few ground rules for these fox names:

1) The name(s) cannot start with "F". I don't want to have a "Mickey Mouse/Donald Duck/Woody Woodpecker" sounding name. That means no "Fred Fox", "Frank Fox", "Felix Fox" or "Ferdinand Fox"es in there.

2) They have to be real person names. No pet names (Rex, Spike, Tex, etc.)

3) The names cannot have been used for foxes in film/book/TV/comic/cartoon etc. (Foxy, Tod, Miles, Tails, Reynard, Fauntleroy, Sly, etc.)

The poll will be up 'til the end of November. Thanks for helping out. See you soon!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

"Totoro-ly Awesome!"

I know... bad pun. So sue me!

Another tally for my "Miyazaki Films I've Seen" list! This time, I watched My Neighbor Totoro. Another awesome film!

Unlike the other Miyazaki films I've seen so far, Totoro doesn't have big action scenes or explosions. It's just a cute, little movie with a warm story. I personally think of it as the Dumbo of Miyazaki films.

After seeing these films, I'm starting to doubt my faith in Disney (gasp!). It's not that I don't like Disney films anymore, it's just that their last few films haven't been up-to-par with the Miyazaki stuff. The characters in Miyazaki movies are much more believable & relatable than Disney's.

Some of the Disney children either have no distinct personality whatsoever or are 30 year olds in a child's body. The two girls from Totoro, Satsuki (age 11) & Mei (age 4) FEEL more like real girls. They not only look & sound more believable, but they also act & feel that way too.

& COME ON! Who would not want to ride on the Catbus!? So what if it might shed everywhere! CATBUS RULES!

Ahem... anyway, it's a spectacular film. 10 out of 10! But don't just take MY word for it. Go see it yourself!

Hospitals Make Me Sick

I did this drawing really quick, but I thought it deserved to be colored... so I did.

Consider this as something to hold your attention until I post the next part of the College Soup story, plus a whole bunch of other stuff I want to share with the world this week.

Friday, October 26, 2007

A Quick Photoshop Project

Now, I'm hooked on Photoshop. I've gotten the handle on all the basic tools I need to turn a black & white doodle into a full color extravaganza: coloring, shading, highlighting, layers, cloud effects/textures, "magic wanding", gradients, etc., etc., etc.

This piece I drew in about 35-45 seconds in pencil (I usually spend less) & about a minute-&-a-half to ink it just right. Looking back, I shouldv'e scanned this in before I inked it to show you what it looked like in quick sketch-stage, but it's too late for that now. Oh well, maybe next time.

The Photoshop process probably took me about 20 minutes. Unlike my first Photoshop tryout or the one I did over at Toon Platoon this week, this one was a lot less complicated to do. No haggard lines/shapes, not too many broken lines... just a simple composition between two people. Like I said on my last Photoshop post, the hardest & longest part to fill in is the eyes since they're not closed off. Practice makes perfect, though.

Instead of placing them in a plain, empty, colored space in the middle of nowhere, I decided to put a background behind them. After doing this, I realized that Steve-O & Randy stood out too much, like they were just pasted in there. While the background has heavily-detailed grass, sky & leaves in their path, they're basically flat & too 2-dimensional. The shading & the slight highlighting aided that problem slightly, but they still stand out quite a bit.

Also, the most common mistake I make when coloring is forgetting to switch layers. On this drawing, there were 5 layers: the original drawing, a duplicate of the drawing (with a few misplaced colors slipped in by accident), the main coloring level, the background level (path, leaves & grass) & a sky level. By the end, I knew what was wrong with the thing & the problems & brought up during the process, but since it was a practice piece, I didn't mind TOO much. I'm learning, aren't I?

Either way, I'm glad I now know how to handle this program better. With little more practice, I'll get a better hang of it.

I might use the original drawing for a future banner for the blog, but I'll have to figure out how to lay it out first. We'll see how things go. Maybe I can reach my Christmas goal after all!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

'Castle in the Sky' with Diamonds

Ever since I saw Princess Mononoke last week (or was it the week before?), I've been hunting for Miyazaki films at my school's library. Just the other day, I came across another one of his films, & of course, I picked it up & took it out.

The film was Castle in the Sky. A lot of people have told me that it's not as good as Princess Mononoke or Spirited Away, but I disagree. I LOVE this film. Personally, I think it's a LOT better than Princess Mononoke. The story, the characters, the concept, the music, the cast &, of course, the animation were all magnificent. I've alway's loved flying, & this film is all about it. I especially love the design of the little bug-like machine like the one Steve-O is riding above. Do yourself a favor & go watch this film . You won't regret it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My First Photoshop + My Eye Style

I've always wanted to know how to use Photoshop. Unfortunately, even the simplest task in Photoshop seems to be impossibly difficult for a novice user like myself to even compromise.

Luckily, my roommate Sam is skilled in Photoshop, & he had the time to quickly go through the basics of Photoshop with me. Consider it Photoshop 101.

Mainly, I want to learn how to put my characters in photos alongside myself or even vice versa. You know, pull a Roger Rabbit. I'd like to learn how to do this in time to possibly create a Christmas card for this year. That & color my comics with it, too.

Anyway, here's my first attempt at coloring in Photoshop:


As you can see, it's practically garbage. White & blank spots abound, bad color choices & the like. The thing that aggravates me the most is that you can't fill in a space unless even the smallest possible crevasse is open. I spent probably 85% of the time closing-up broken lines.

& that situation leads to another main problem: The eyes all my characters have are broken. Their basically parentheses with dots in between. So to leave those blank, I've got to draw ever-so perfect lines so that the finished product looks just right. I didn't have that much of a problem with the monster, but Randy looks completely off, since it's a side view & had only one eye to color.

For those of you that might not have guessed it already, my eyes were slightly based off of the eye designs from the comic strip, Peanuts. When Charlie Brown became surprised or shocked, he'd get these temporary curved lines next to his eyes. Unlike Charlie Brown, Linus & Lucy had these lines all the time, no matter what situation they were in. My style eyes have those same lines, except they curl around slightly near the top. They look almost like butterfly wings.

Also, sometimes you might notice when Steve-O or Randy are shocked, colored circles will surround their pupil(s). That's somewhat based off of Ed, Edd & Eddy. Cannibal Chicken has his right eye like that all the time, just because he's slightly insane.

Anyway, I'll continue to experiment with Photoshop as time goes on. Hopefully, I'll be able to reach my goal. Too bad you'll have to settle for that crappola up top. Boo hoo for you!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Have you seen Princess Mononoke yet?

Every time I talk to someone who is into animation like I am, they always ask if I've seen Princess Mononoke, the Miyazaki film. I tell them I haven't yet & they do one of those "OH MAN! YOU GOTTA WATCH IT! IT'S THE BEST ANIMATED FILM EVER!!!" exclamations.

I finally watched Princess Mononoke for the first time last night. It is a great film, but it was not quite as extraordinary as people say it is. The animation is top notch, the voices are superb (even though most of the characters are voiced by typical top-name American actors for the English dub), & the story was exciting & compelling. But it's not quite what I expected. On a 1/10 scale, I'd give it a solid 8. It ain't perfect, but it's pretty far up there.

Personally, I like Spirited Away a lot better, but I appreciate Princess Mononoke for what it is & I respect that. I would definitely suggest you all to watch it if you haven't seen it yet.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Bare Necessities

Just a little over 24 hours ago, the new Platinum Edition DVD of Disney's Jungle Book hit the shelves! Unlike some of the last few Platinum Editions that have come out (Peter Pan immediately comes to mind), this edition seems to be chock full of bonus goodies, including a deleted character feature, "Making Of" documentary, art galleries, interviews & most importantly... an AUDIO COMMENTARY TRACK!

Even though it's not my absolute favorite Disney film (Fantasia tops my list), this ranks pretty high up there. Like many other animators, this film is a pretty big inspiration to why I'm in animation today.

If you are a Disney fan, animation fan or just a fan, do yourself a favor & run out to your local video store & pick this baby up ASAP (except if you're a fan of Kipling's original book).

Just 'Trust in Me'! Go get it pronto!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Toon Pla-toon! Toon Pla-toon!

What's "Toon Platoon" you might ask? It's a second blog run by yours truly. But this new blog isn't all about me... it's all about a bunch of other artists, cartoonists & pencil fanciers who will participate in a weekly art contest!

Yes, it does sound very much like TOON CLUB. Well, it's a lot like TOON CLUB. As a matter of fact, it might as well be called TOON CLUB: Part Deux! Anyway, this blog is just somewhere where fellow artists, friends & cartoonists can interact & compare, contrast, study, suggest, comment, judge & critique each others artwork.

It's not quite ready as of this post, but it will be up & running before you know it. (Possibly even before I know it!) You can check it out HERE. I'll also put a direct link to it on my "LINKS TO CHECK OUT'' list.

& don't worry, For the Birds will still be here, & I'll update it just as I did before the new blog came along ( I hope).

Monday, October 1, 2007

College Soup IIII (Now in Glorious Technicolor!)

You heard right! Here's part for of College Soup, now in color! Enjoy!

& now for something completely different...
Last Thursday, I was lucky to meet Patrick McDonnell, the creator of the comic strip Mutts. Mutts happens to be one of my all-time favorite comic strips, & I met the father of Earl & Mooch myself. I'm still so giddy from it all! He even drew a personalized sketch for me. How 'shweet'!

Stay tuned later this week for more goodies!

Monday, September 24, 2007

My Anime Appreciation Post

The first Japanese cartoon I saw as a kid was most likely Speed Racer or DragonBall Z. Those two shows are probably the main reason why I've hated anime since.

Since then, I've always known myself to be an "anime-basher". I hate anime with a passion. Every show I've seen is made up of one or more of the following:

-1) Animals being collected/abused/pitted against other animals in glorified battles (Pokemon, Digimon, Monster Rancher, etc.)

-2) Genetically-altered flying people shooting large balls of energy out of their palms in quarrels spanning half a season's worth of episodes (DragonBall Z, Naruto, Street Fighter, etc.)

-3) Magical girls with extremely short miniskirts using sparkly attacks with ridiculously long names fighting evil-doers for no apparent reason (Sailor Moon, Card Captors, Magical DoReMi, etc.)

& every main protagonist has either a really big ego with a heart of gold or is a selfless hero saving everybody from some spiritual danger that nobody else knows about except for some kind of cuddly yet wise woodland creature of questionable origin. & many of them seem to have gender issues.

& all the names are too long to remember or even pronounce properly:

"Hi, I'm Michael. What's your name?"

"Yumichika Ayasegawa"

"Uhhhh... god bless you?"

& don't forget all the big-eyed, small-mouthed, cutesy-wutesy 'chibi', limited-animated lipped, poorly-dubbed nonsense in between!...

...but recently, it seems that I've been bitten by the Anime Bug. There are some things that I really admire about it.

Japanese animation (unlike most of today's American cartoons) is extremely detailed & well-animated. Anime in general is chock full of appeal, design-wise. Each show I've seen (or at least a majority of them) have real plots & strong character development. I was completely blown away by Miyazaki's Spirited Away, not just because of the animation (I saw no trace of computer animation at all. It's either non-existent or they just hid it pretty well), but because of the story, characters, their personalities & relationships & the imagination that Miyazaki has to create films of this magnitude. Unfortunately, besides Spirited Away & Kiki's Delivery Service, I have not seen his other films. I've heard a lot of positive things about Princess Mononoke & My Neighbor Totoro. I'll have to go check those out ASAP.

From what I've seen, Japanese animators seem to be superior draftsman & skilled 'actors'. I've seen recent American films animated by Japanese (Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island, The Tigger Movie, etc.) that prove that they're way ahead of us in another field: animation. First cars, then electronics, then video games, NOW cartoons. They never cease to amaze me.

Oh, & did I happen to mention that all the female characters are REALLY HOT!? Boy, do I envy those Japanese animators!

A few of my friends back home & two of my roommates here at SVA are definitely major influences in my sudden liking of cartoons from the land of the rising sun. But even before I came to the Apple (it's not the BIG Apple; that's a common misconception), I've already had a taste of anime. I've gotten into a few shows that are on late at night on Adult Swim: Bleach & Ghost in the Shell. Somehow, they stood out from the rest of the 'crap' I've seen, & I've come to the point that I'm looking forward to seeing them each night. Unfortunately, if I miss even one episode of either show, it feels to me like I missed something important & then every episode on doesn't make sense to me. Thanks to sites like TV Links, I might be able to get myself back into the groove.

I'm not quite at the point where I can call myself a 'fan', but I'm slowly edging my way up.

& don't get that "American Anime" crap confused with the real thing. You know, shows like Xiaolin Showdown, Ben 10 & the like? There's no comparison whatsoever. Even though it's animated by Korean people doesn't mean it's the genuine article.

*Oh, by the way, I'd like to direct you to my roommate's work. His name is Chris Niosi. He's the mastermind behind the Go, Go Parody Rangers that are all the rage over at He's an awesome Flash animator & a really gifted voice-over artist. Don't forget to check out Parts II & III!

Also, I apologize for not putting up the fourth installment of the 'College Soup' story today. Don't worry, that'll be up by the end of the week. Take care!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

For the Birds - College Soup III

Here's part three of "College Soup".

Since drawing comics isn't my forte, my thought & word bubbles take over the whole panel. I gotta keep working on my layouts.