Wednesday, June 27, 2007

2 Fantastic New Book Collections (aka Shameless Plugs)

Today, I just got 2 new book sets in the mail: The Complete Calvin & Hobbes & The Complete Far Side.

For years, I've been going ga-ga over Bill Watterson's strip Calvin & Hobbes. Besides the fact that the comic is hilariously funny, the drawings themselves are absolutely & astoundingly gorgeous. Each Calvin & Hobbes strip was painstakingly & beautifully inked by Watterson himself, unlike most of the comics seen in the funny papers today (comics such as Garfield quickly come to mind). Besides this & comics like Mutts & Zits, all newspaper comics nowadays look like garbage. Period.

The set comes with three volumes of each & every comic strip (both dailies & Sundays) & book cover illustrations spanning the course of the entire history of Calvin & Hobbes, from 1985 to 1995. Enough transmogrifying tales, "Welcome Home" tiger pounces, 6-year old daydreams, high-speed wagon crashes & Spaceman Spiff adventures to make your eyes & mouth water with ecstasy.

The comic is not only funny, but heartwarming & charming as well. Many of the strips also contain moral lessons, messages, observations & social commentary on life, death, religion, culture, the environment, the media & politics.

This is probably the last great comic to ever hit the press. If you are a fan of Calvin & Hobbes or great comic illustration in general, you gotta buy this collection before they're gone. They're already starting to become hard to find. It may be a little pricey, but it's worth it.

Besides Calvin & Hobbes, Far Side is the only other comic that actually makes me laugh out loud. Although the drawings themselves are somewhat simple & crude, each comic is pure gold. Gary Larson is a complete & utter genius (paleontologists now classify a stegosaurus' tail spikes as a "thagomizer", named after the joke in this comic below:)

"Now this end is called the thagomizer, after the late Thag Simmons."

Every single one of Larson's stabs at religion, science, nature & history spanning the course of the comic's life from 1980 to 1995 are included in this set. Like the Calvin & Hobbes set, this set is somewhat pricey & is getting harder & harder to find, but you definitely should consider picking this set up.

So many cows!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Not-So-Important News

Not much goin' on lately... sleeping... eating Reese's Puffs... watchin' TV... graduating high school... goin' to the movies... you know, little things.

If you can't understand sarcasm, shame on you.

This past Sunday was graduation, & it was a long but exciting day (those two things never go together usually). Got my diploma, had a little get-together at my place, normal graduation-type stuff.

As you can see in this picture, the Rockman is complete (I apologize for the upteenth time for not posting the next "Rockman, Shmockman" installment). I got some kudos & pats on the back from a bunch of people, but more on that in a future post.

There's nothing better than relaxing, chatting with friends & family, eating BBQed food & having the heavy burden of high school lifted off my shoulders (no more 50lb. backpacks for me!).

No I have all the time in the world to hang out, make some extra dough & go places... OH! & to post on my blogsite, of course!

I'll see ya next time around!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Prom Night '07

Last night was my Senior Prom, the last big hurrah before graduation. Boy, was it a grueling experience for me.

As you can see in the overly smug expression on my face, I'm not used to this kind of thing (nor do I clean up well). I'm not a very outgoing guy. I like things simple & uncomplicated. I'd rather be on "Skid Row" than "Snob Hill", & the prom is definitely snob territory.

I originally didn't want to go. Limos, tuxedos & corsages cost lots of money, which I'd rather be saving than spending on useless endeavors like these. But my friends wanted me to come, so I consented (sans date).

These young chaps & chapettes seem to be having a swell time already...

...even under cramped conditions such as these.

Of course, like all fancy-schmancy, rent-a-hall parties, there was food, music & dancing. Lots of it.

The music was basically all hip-hop, rap & techno rap. George Carlin doesn't even curse as much as these songs. Everybody had sore throats by the end of the night because the music was so loud you had to scream to the person next to you.

Speaking of sore things, my dogs are still killing me (damn you, Cotton-Eyed Joe!). I barely danced for ten minutes & I was hurting in my rented shoes. I felt bad for all the girls in high heels.

But we danced, nonetheless. Most of the kids (mostly the girls) were on the dance floor...

...while a select few were waiting for the perfect time to cut in.

Bobby here seems to be enjoying the party.

We ate, danced & sat from 7 to 11:30, then we all jumped in our limo & split.

Since the prom was announced, we still couldn't find the right place to go afterwards. Southstreet Seaport was closed off... the Nautical Mile in Freeport is like a ghosttown by this hour... we were all too tired to dance at a club... everything seemed to be out of our reach.

So at the last minute (literally when we left the prom), we decided to head over to the one place that never stops for a breather...

...Times Square! Boy was THAT a mistake!

By that hour, most stores, restaurants & bars were long shut down for the night (besides a few McDonalds, Starbucks' & nudey bars). Since McDonalds is nasty & the nudey bars were off limits, we went to a Starbucks. The girls got their frothy, caffeinated drinks & we were on the move again.

After about 20 minutes, we were all pretty much freaked out by all the freaks, drunks & amateur rappers, so we hastilly called our limo driver & took off back towards home.

At this point we were all at wit's end. We had no destination, no energy & absolutely no fun whatsoever. So we decided to go have breakfast at 2 in the morning.

We drove back to our neck of the woods & after finding most of our local diners closed, we finally caught an all-nighter. It was a filthy, disgusting establishment, but it was a diner.

We ordered our grub & chowed down. I asked for silver dollar pancakes, but I got a short stack. I ordered a drink, & the mug wasn't clean. I barely ate, paid the tab & got back home just in time to meet our limo-rent time.

By the time I dragged myself into bed it was 4 a.m. I'm totally drunk with exhaustion & every part of my body has some sort of ache. & the worst part of it was that we all had to wake up early for graduation rehersal. Poor ol' me. I barely have the strength to post here.

So in conclusion I just wanna say that I'm totally fi- (slumps onto keyboard, snores...)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Gone Fishin'

Just to hold your attention, here's a quick sketch I did just a few minutes ago. Enjoy!

P.S. - See if you can find the hidden message in the drawing.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

More Thief Stuff!

-To continue from yesterday's post about the Thief...
The Thief is very much like Wile E. Coyote: he's crafty, but somewhat clumsy in his actions & bad luck always seems to befall on him, but he's perpetually determined to get what he wants, no matter how great of a task it may be to get it. He's somewhat of a ham, constantly thinking the camera is on him all the time. An animated Charlie Chaplin.

But most importantly, although the Thief is a no-good, selfish & devious character, you ultimately care about him & feel bad for him when he's down. The Thief is a prime example of a memorable character.

The Thief was actually a caricature of animator Richard Williams, director of The Thief:

Here's a back story on the The Thief & the Cobbler by Eddie Bowers :

-----The film developed after Williams illustrated some books by Idries Shah based on the ancient Arabian stories of Nasrudin. After, when Ken Harris started working for him he began a film based on Nasrudin which Ken Animated. Quite a bit of footage was done on this film, but the relationship between Shah and Williams had deteriorated and the film was changed to remove Nasrudin, who had been the main character. A thief character from the book was changed to be an unsuccessful, but persistent thief and the story was built back up from that point.
-The Cobbler was added after some test animation from Art Babbitt with the character. Then came Zig-Zag (voiced by Vincent Price), which was mostly animated by Williams, and King nod by Babbitt. Alex (Richards son) did a lot of the animation on the Cobbler as well. There wasn't much storyboarding for the film, it wandered it's own way. Ken Harris animated very fast though, and Williams had to keep feeding him work. This meant he had to bash out some quick layouts to satiate the ravenous Harris. Williams felt that he got better work out of him this way. He wasn't too tied down to a storyboard.
-During this time they were also making commercials in which they won several awards. Nobody got rich though, most of the profit went back into "The Film"
-In the early 80's the film got financed Prince Mohammed Faisil of Saudi Arabia and they went into production on the war machine sequence. The agreement was if the backers liked the sequence they would finance the rest of the film. They did like it but delays and extra expenses scared away the prince and his accountants.
-Even at this point the film had a bit of a cult following. Clips of what they were working on were on several documentaries about Animation, Art Babbitt, and Williams himself. In the mid 1980's Williams took his film to San Francisco to show his good friend Milt Kahl who was dying. He used ILM's (Industrial Light and Magic) screening room. Afterwards a bunch of ILM guys came out of the projection room screaming that it was the most incredible animation they had ever seen. He told him that he didn't have the money to finish the film.
-The word spread and the producers of Roger Rabbit asked for a screening, so he sent it over. It was seen by Robert Zemeckis, Stephen Spielberg, and some people at Disney. It got a lot of exposure, but still no one would fund it. This is probably the time when some of the story points got lifted (intentionally or not) and made their way into Aladdin. What did happen is they asked Williams to Direct Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
-After winning the Oscars for Roger Rabbit he did get the funding and Warner Bros. agreed to distribute it. They were in full production for a year and a half (much shorter than most animated films take) before everything fell apart.
-Warner Bros. got nervous and sent someone from the Completion Bond Corporation to access the situation and asked to see what he had so far. At that point Warners pulled out and it was now CBC’s job to finish the film, no matter what. Williams and his studio were fired and Fred Calvert was hired to finish the film. Instead of following the work reel that William's had provided Warners, he basically used all the pieces to make his own version of the film. He dropped many sequences to fit in songs and had sequences animated in Korea. This starting from scratch approach would force him to take another year and a half to finish the film. The finished film was released in Australia and South Africa as "The Princess and The Cobbler". Miramax then purchased the film and made a few more changes like adding voices for some of the silent characters and cutting a few scenes. This version was eventually released in the US under the name "Arabian Knight."-----

The Thief currently holds the record for the longest film production in history: 26 years.
Williams later wrote one of the most essential animation books of all time:

You can buy the book here at

It's a real shame what happened to Richard, being kicked off his own pet project, which he funded & worked feverishly on for nearly 3 decades.

But there's still hope for Richard & The Thief yet:

There's talks of Roy E. Disney & producer Don Hahn (Roger Rabbit, Beauty & the Beast, Lion King, etc.) working with Richard Williams to help restore the film.
-& recently, filmmaker Garrett Gilchrist & his team at Orange Cow Productions undertook the task of restoring The Thief close to it's original glory, using the original workprint of the film, pencil tests, storyboards & footage from the released versions. It's the best version of The Thief out there. It's called The Thief & the Cobbler: Recobbled Cut.

You can watch the "Recobbled Cut" of the film on Google Video here:

As an added note before watching the film, like Roger Rabbit, the film was done completely without the aid of a computer. The characters, effects, backgrounds & props were completely hand-drawn. You'll be awestruck when you get to the last 20 minutes of the film (the War Machine sequence).
I recommend watching it ASAP! So get some popcorn & enjoy!
-I'd like to thank Eddie Bowers for the back story & Garrett Gilchrist for making the extraordinary recut of the film. But most importantly, I'd like to thank Richard Williams, who without him, none of this would be possible.
We're thinking about you, Richard.

Friday, June 15, 2007

...also in the city existed...a THIEF!

Here is my own interpretation of the Thief from Richard Williams' The Thief & the Cobbler.

The Thief has got to be one of my most favorite animated characters because he emotes & expresses himself completely in pantomime (at least in Richard Williams' original vision & the Recobbled Cut, not in the crappy Miramax version). Like such memorable characters as Dopey & Dumbo, the Thief is an entirely mute character (besides a few gasps here and there). In the film, he is masterfully animated by Ken Harris, famous for animating Bugs Bunny, the Roadrunner & Wile E. Coyote, & the titles for Return of the Pink Panther.

I shall talk more about the Thief & the film itself in my next post tomorrow! Stay Tuned!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Today was my last day of school, not just for the summer, but forever. My 14 years of education finally ended only hours ago. It's great finally not having to carry 50 lb. backpacks, do homework, essays, projects & assignments, wake up at 7:30 each morning sans breakfast & learn stuff I probably won't ever use... but it's sad. I hardly ever see my friends outside the classroom & I may never see a few of them ever again. College is only months away, & all my time is gonna be focused towards that & not my close friends. Oh well.

For the past two days, I've been signing yearbooks. I drew little goodbye doodles for each person; some personal, some less. It's a very pleasing & happy sight, but it's short lived. Recent nostalgia.

As for my teachers, I had something special in store for them: personalized goodbye sketches. But instead of doing dozens of individual sketches, I decided to do group cartoons (One for the Music Dept., Science Dept., English Dept., etc...). I spent a few minutes on each. Here are a few (some are slightly cut-off, my apologies for that):

I hope you enjoyed them. Have a happy start of summer everyone! Make sure you get some lemonade, a lawnchair & some tunes & bask in the glory that is summer vacation (oh, don't forget the sunblock, or you'll be "baking" in the glory that is summer vacation)

Monday, June 11, 2007

For the Birds: "The Molting: Part II"

Here's the second installment of "The Molting". I absolutely despise this comic. There's more errors than you can shake a tail feather at. & the side-view counter layouts are poorer than Chevy Chase. Oh well, maybe the next one.
It's these big "Sunday page" strips that throw me off. All the crap I want/need to say takes a whole board full of panels & strips. They're too big to stuff into the scanner, so I have to take digital pictures of them, import them into the computer & discover that my unsteady hand made every pic too blurry so I have to do it over again. I actually had to cut each panel out & scan them individually. I really got to downsize my comic's proportions. I started this one before the 1st strip was posted, but I've learned an important lesson: "Shorter is Sweeter (& easier on the wrists)". From now on, I'm sticking to 3-4 panel strips.
I'm also backing out of using color. It's a time-consuming process, which I unfortunately don't have enough time for. & since I'm partially colorblind & that all coloring utensils within my reach aren't the colors I need, I'm completely frustrated with it. I might come back to color for special strips, drawings, posters & such, & I'll probably come back once I learn Photoshop a little bit more, but for now I'm in black & white territory.
Here it is. Try to enjoy it:

-Sorry you had to see that.
-I apologize for breaking my promise of more posts, but right now I'm at a very busy point in my life. School is almost over (tomorrow is my last day...EVER!), finals are coming & going, & the Rockman has been holding me back. But it's almost summer, so by then I think I'll have more time to post stuff.
-Adieu for tonight!