Saturday, September 29, 2007

My own Comic Con: Part Two

Whew! It has been a busy couple of weeks! Work has been busy as usual and my friend just got married this past weekend. I have a little bit of time now, so let me finish up what I started a few weeks ago! Back to Arvin-Con!

This next book I got is actually and oldie, but I never managed to pick it up myself for the longest time for some odd reason. It's called "Capcom Design Works".

Capcom is a videogame company that's been around for awhile and has a stable of well known franchises ranging from 1942, Ghosts n' Goblins, Bionic Commando, Final Fight, Strider oh, and yeah Street Fighter. They actually have a number of books out there on their studios character design, but I find this one to be the best of the bunch. I think I really started getting into their character design work when I initially saw the art for Street Fighter Alpha on the Playstation.

The anatomy of the characters was so beefy and solid, I was impressed at the fact that even though the anatomy was exaggerated, it still was based on reality. It just felt like it had such mass. And that's something I always have a hard time incorporating into my art. I think I was also starting to get into actually learning anatomy in college at the time, (though admittedly I'm pretty out of practice nowadays.) so this was pretty inspirational to see.

There's a ton of images in this book, and while a lot of it dwells on Street Fighter, There's some on their more obscure titles too. Like this one below, talk about buh-zaare!

I figure since everybody posts up a lot of Street Fighter stuff on the web anyways, I'll pick some of the ones that I usually don't see on the web. It's nice to see the studio run through a range of art styles and the art staff being so flexible. I find Character design, while being a pretty cool job, also ends up being very difficult and demanding. So I definitely appreciate the body of work presented within this book.

Next up is the graphic novel adaptation of L. Frank Baum's "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" by David Chauvel and illustrated by Enrique Fernandez. Another on of those I stumbled onto it titles when I was in the comic book store.

Fernandez has a very vibrant color style and great fantastical character designs (is fantastical a word?). It's a very striking book at first glance. He's got a very playful use of curves and angles that's very apparent in his designs for the Lion and the Tin man.

Definitely a pleasant surprise as I thumbed through the pages of this book at the comic book store. Definitely something I'll probably try to have out on the ol' drawing table as I'm coloring my own comic book.

I picked up James Jean's "Process Recess 2" recently and this was also an unplanned buy (lots of impulse buying, huh?!). I've enjoyed his stuff when I first had seen it in the "Fables" comic book covers.

I like his color choices a lot, it's always pushing color theory, using some pretty off-beat colors but stil matching them together. He's very prolific at pumping out his art it seems, leaving me to jealously scratch my head wondering: "how does he do it?" I can barely pump out a black and white page in a couple of days!

The format of the book is to have one side of the page be the finished copy and the other side to have sketches and thumbnails of the piece. Hence the 'process' in process recess. Very inspiring stuff.

Okay, now the last book in our line up is from an illustrator named Shaun Tan. I saw Mr. Tan's work awhile back when I got into collecting children's books. My sister wanted to write a children's book and as she bought a lot of children's books for research, and I ended up being swept up into it as well.

One of the children's book I picked up back then was Shaun Tan's " The Red Tree". This book caught my eye because the imagery and colors were so striking. Very much like a fairy tale, with a lot of vibrant colors. I'll let the pictures do the talking.

He builds in this tiny red leaf into every drawing in the book, almost to a where's Waldo effect, which I can imagine might be fun for the kids to try to look for. The search for the leaf also compliments the story as it's about finding something. A very nice looking book.

Anyway, recently Shaun Tan came out with a graphic novel called "The Arrival". This was another unplanned buy, but I had to snap it up instantly because I'm a fan of his work from The Red Leaf.

The Arrival is a book about immigrants. The experiences, the tragedies, the wonders , the struggles to adjust in a new and foreign land. It's all very lovingly drawn and crafted. Tan choses a more sepia based color scheme, evoking a nostalgic (historical?) feel to the book. It's all wordless, but there's a lot of emotion carried through the panels and the way it's paced.

The book starts off set in what seems like a normal setting, with a man preparing for a trip saying goodbye to his family.

Then as the family walks the man off, the following imagery clues you in to the fact that this is not quite the reality we know.

A lot of this fantastical imagery in the book actually strengthens the narrative. We follow the man into this foreign land, and because the reader has never seen anything this... alien ... we too are put into the man's shoes. We relate to the main character even better. So as we read, we get the same sense of wonder and awe as someone who has immigrated to a different country, only magnified tenfold.

He does a sequence about the amount of red tape and examinations an immigrant might go through early on in the book. By using consistent, gridded pages, Mr. Tan is able to convey the feeling of how tedious and tiring that process can be.

He does a lot of playful things with depicting the passing of time whether it be with numerous panels or one big splash panel. I enjoyed "The Arrival" a lot from both an aesthetic and a sequential story telling sense. Maybe I relate to it a lot because I just got my Green Card?

Anyway, That's it for today! That's how I blew through a wad of cash for Arvin-Con! And that's not even counting the videogames I got or the shameless DVD's I bought (Buffy the Vampire slayer the movie, Big Trouble in little china, Alien Nation, Enemy Mine) Until next post! God Bless!

Monday, September 17, 2007


I'm going to have to interrupt our regularly scheduled geektacular posts, because I have just gotten a pretty hefty piece of letterage in the mail. So, if you're squeamish with people talking about God, then you may wish to back out of this post, because there'll be nothing but praising coming out of me today, o-boy o-boy! Today, marks a pretty big occasion in my life. A milestone, really.

Today, I got my Green Card!

Let me just state that when I say : "WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!"

I cannot possibly enter enough "O's" and exclamation points to reflect my joy at finally placing my mitts on this piece of plastic!

I am a permanent resident. I am a permanent resident!

It has been a long wait. Technically, I've been waiting and applying for a Green Card for around 4 years. But as a friend of mine stated, that's not taking into account the trust I've had to build with the company that sponsored me. So basically? It's been a good seven year wait.

I am so very very thankful to God right now, it's not even funny! There have been some pretty trying times placed in my way with the application process. Many times where it seemed if I did not compromise my values, I would not get the card. Many times I was afraid of the uncertainty of it all, and many times I found myself giving in to defeat.

But God held it all in his hands. He always assured me that it would be His will that would be done, no matter what the outcome. He pointed me straight and kept my head up to keep focusing on Him and Him alone. As a Christian, it's His will that I need to make sure is the center of my life. He constantly been reminding me that He's only going to give me the very best and nothing less. Granted, I may not know what the best is for myself most of the time (!)... but He does.

I remember one point in the application process, I actually found myself running around like a chicken with it's head cut off! I was so confused, rattled and just plain ol' stupid that time. Thankfully, He'd shake me out of it, reminding me to keep my pessimism and my doubt in check. He is always there, ready to pick me back up when I stumble and fall.

I cannot forget this day. I cannot dare to forget this day.

I've been clinging onto a simple pair of Bible verses I stumbled onto recently. They've given me comfort in times when life just makes me want to tear my hair out. The hair tearing, by the by, is from other things in life as well, and not just the Green Card! Anyways, the verses go like this:

"But I call to God,
and the Lord saves me.
Evening, morning and noon
I cry out in distress
and He hears my voice."

-Psalm 55:16-17

I' ve always liked the second line "and the Lord saves me" and the last line "and He hears my voice". Me! He saves me! He hears me! Dorky ol' me! Thank you Lord! Thank you very much for hearing my voice! Thank you.

Good night to you all, and God Bless you as amazingly as He has me.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

My own comic con: Part One

A few posts ago I had stated that since I missed out on the San Diego con this year, I went ahead an lived it up on my own and had my own imaginary comic con all by lonesome. Sounds kinda sad, in a dorky-sad kinda way, but actually all that escapist entertainment buying was a lot of fun! A lot of it was also spurred on by the fact that work has been really tough lately and my brain needed to do something it enjoyed a lot: geeking out.

So! This brings us to today's post. What did I end up getting during my 'personal comic con'? A lot of stuff, and actually I still seem to be on this mode of buying a lot of comic book related stuff. Not good on the wallet I must say, but very inspiring artistically when I surround myself with great art. Any way, let's get down to it shall we?

This first artist, Kow Yokoyama, I had stumbled through his stuff a while ago, but never bought the books up until now. I had thought it would be good research material for my current project at work.

His designs have a very 'real', utilitarian feel to them, with machinery that looks like it could've functioned in some crazy alternate world war 2 setting. I like this kind of tech where it's rougher, pieced together and not so slick looking.

Excellent designs and really detailed models are photographed in his 2 books "Maschinen Krieger" (volumes 1 and 2). While I saw his sketchbook on sale, I really like looking at the final model pieces.

Next up, I bought Volume 12 of "Modern Masters" (an excellent line of books), featuring Michael Golden . I think the first time I was exposed to Michael Golden was when I saw this crazy drawing he did in the back of Marvel Fanfare (or was it the Blade Runner movie adaptation?) a looong time ago when I was growing up in the Philippines.

I think he was inked by Terry Austin and it basically had every character in the marvel universe in it! I remember being so blown away by it. He is an amazing draftsman with a penchant for drawing very unique and varied faces onto his characters. He does some very crazy inking too!

I always heard about his run on The 'Nam when I was younger but since I was really into superheroes I passed on it. I picked up the compilations when I was in college and I can see how influential he was with the generation of artists after him (Todd McFarlane looks like he has some Golden influence).

There's some great stuff within this issue of Modern Masters, some will make your eyes bleed!

I had gone to Vancouver for vacation with my parents awhile back and I had found this comic book in a used book store by this artist named Nicolas Debon. The book is about a canadian artist named Emily Carr. Now, apparently Carr is a fairly well known artist, but I had just found out about her recently through Debon's book called "Four Pictures by Emily Carr"

It's basically a very simple biography of Carr's life. Debon picks out 4 paintings that Carr made throughout her career, and depicts the things Carr was going through at those periods in her life. Debon breaks the story up into chapters with a reproduction of Carr's paintings starting each one off. It's very fascinating to see Carr's progression within these paintings and it gave me a crash course on just how talented of an artist she was.

What grabbed me with the book was how simple it was to read, almost like a children's book. Debon has a nice color palette throughout the book, and is actually one of the reasons I picked it up.

I'm at a stage where I'm going to color my comic book, so my brain is just ravenous for any sort of color theory that catches my eye. A good find for me overall, 2 artists in one!

I love playing video games. I play a lot of video games. Now I know that's a turn on to all the ladies out there, but ladies please! Not now! I have a blog to dork out on! Ahe-hem. As I was saying, I play a lot of video games so I stumble onto a lot of art within the game and most times the concept artists aren't credited within the game or I can't figure out which name did what. I first saw this next artists' work on an ad for my favorite 3D action game, Shinobi on the PS2 (and I also love it's 'sequel' as well: Nightshade. So sue me.) It looked so kinetic, loose and very free. Unfortunately I couldn't figure out who the artist was. Luckily, that artist has been very prolific, creating artwork for some of the more popular video game titles like Devil May Cry and Sengoku Basara (Devil Kings here in the states). The artist's name is Makoto Tsuchibayashi. The book is called "Design Works" and I think it's published by Capcom (though Shinobi and Nightshade are Sega titles).

My favorite thing about Tsuchibayashi's work is how it retains a lot of gesture. This makes the art very action packed and fluid, with some awesome distortion of anatomy that favors dynamics rather than realism. Alot of times I find it so hard to retain some of the life in my thumbnails when I go to finish. I get too tight on my finishes. Tshuchibayashi on the other hand just gets nutty and seems very confident laying down a messy line. Very cool to see.

The book has a lot of Tsuchibayashi's recent work, but it also has some of the concept work that was done for Devil May Cry. While this isn't my favorite stuff from the artist, as it lacks much of the dynamics I love, it's always awesome to see an artists' progression. Gives me hope that someday maybe I can get better too! I guess I actually need to be drawing to do that huh? Ha!

Next up is "24Seven Volume 2". What can I say? I'm a sucker for anthologies. I mean a bunch of artists in one big book, it's like a cornucopia of flavors in one meal!

While of course there may be some flavors in there that taste like feet, it probably won't last too long, and you can move on to the next tasty flavor. 24Seven's connecting theme is robots. The stories seem to be themed very noir and range in subject matter from spirituality to politics to drugs. Here are some of the artists in the book and some of their pages:

Dave Johnson
Gabriel Ba
Miguel Alves
Calum Alexander Watt
Fabio Moon

Dan Hipp
There are some stories in 24Seven where it gets hard to follow because the storytelling isn't very clear. Some, just end up bordering on being too preachy and melodramatic. There are some good ones in there too, but when I go into an anthology, I usually throw away the part of my brain that craves a well told story and just looks at all the various art styles I can steal from! Mwoohahaha!

This next book "Notes for a War Story" is drawn by a man named Gipi. It says in the back flap that he's a 'world-class virtuoso of the graphic novel'.

Well, just like Emily Carr I've never heard of Gipi, but I was drawn by the art style he employs in this book. It's the story of 3 friends trying to survive in the middle of some Balkan war. I haven't read through the book yet, but it seems like one of those coming of age stories with friendship at it's core. I like the different faces that Gipi renders throughout the book, everyone has a very distinct look, and he's got a very loose and painterly touch to them. There's a lot of texture and character that he plays with within his lines, colors and choices of shapes. Seeing European comics always reminds me of different ways of approaching sequential art, it's like this whole other culture and line of thinking that hasn't been very accessible to me from the comic book stores around me. There's a lot of awesome artists out there for me to find!

Wow. I bought a lot of stuff huh! And I'm not even done yet! Okay, I'm going to take a break for tonight. I have 5 more books to go! Two of which I actually just got recently, and again I wasn't expecting to actually buy these 2 books, but it's one of those strolling into the comic book store and inadvertently stumbling onto some great art type of situations! Okay, until next we meet good night and God bless!
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