Sunday, September 21, 2008

Quickie Film Reviews: Casshern (2004)

Robocop + Hellboy II + Holocaust analogy + Christ metaphor = Utterly mental and probably not much good. 6/10.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

It's a Kind of Magic

I wasn't expecting much of the BBC's new Merlin; it looked a bit cheap and tacky, and somewhat juvenile (and yes, I know this, Robin Hood and Doctor Who are all ostensibly for kids, but the latter two are rarely juvenile in tone). So I was pleasantly surprised by the first episode.

The costumes and setting are disappointingly generic pseudo-medieval fantasy, and I've never been a fan of that approach to Arthur; that said, unlike the Robin Hood story, which has ties to an actual historical period, this is myth and speculation, so I can let it pass, even if I'd prefer a more gritty rain-and-mud approach. What makes it work is the writing, a blend of solid plotting and some witty dialogue, and the characters; Colin Morgan makes for a charming Merlin, confident yet vulnerable in equal measure, and his relationship with the young Arthur, played as a posh prat (do we have an equivalent to the US "Jock"?) by Bradley James, promises to be an interesting inversion of the hero-sidekick dynamic. Anthony Head also entertains with an Uther Pendragon who's equal parts fascist bully and broken idealist.

It's not as gloriously over-the-top as Robin Hood, but Merlin is decent enough filler while we wait for Who to come back, and I'll carry on watching.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Tabula Rasa

(I know.)

I've never been particularly satisfied with using the mouse for digital art; it's not particularly intuitive, and it strains the arm and hand in a way that the pencil/pen doesn't, so I've often looked into the idea of using a graphics tablet. However, I've never taken the plunge because, despite being a gamer for decades, I've always been concerned about how the hand/eye coordination thing is going to work; the very concept of "drawing" at the desk but having the results appear somewhere else bothers me slightly. And I don't know anyone local or well enough that has a tablet that I could borrow and try out. Also, the things have been hideously expensive up until very recently. So it's always been a case of a lot of umming and ahing and not much tabletting.

So birthdays are good, because people can buy you what they like, and you don't have to worry about the burden of buyer's remorse, even if the gift is rubbish (it's not) and will spend the rest of its life shunned at the back of a cupboard (it won't). This year, I got a Wacom Bamboo One, and while I haven't done much with it yet, I've had a bit of a play, and I think I can work with it. It is weird, but not in the insurmountable way I thought it would be. It will take a lot of practice before I'm anywhere near competent with it, but it should be good enough for my purposes; at the moment, I mainly use the computer for colouring and lettering, but I could see myself drawing directly on the screen once I'm more confident with the gear.

One question though: how is the pen powered? It's very light, so I don't think there's a battery in there, yet it has to be powered somehow for the buttons to work. Doesn't it? I'm confused, and the minimal documentation isn't very helpful. This is the kind of thing that occupies my thoughts, so do help if you can.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Not Dead Yet

Work has been insanely busy of late, what with it being the time when we're enrolling all the new hairdressers and mechanics for the year. It's been a lot of long days, so I've not had much else to be getting on with. Nonetheless, I've got some showing off to do.

There's another "Green Day" (argh) article up here, this time on the Young Avengers, Marvel's best idea in ages (not including nextwave, obviously), and one which has been characteristically squandered. I think I might do Rocket Raccoon next.

And I also did an interview with Andy Winter and Mick Trimble for their short graphic novel Septic Isle, a nifty spy thriller which is out in November.

Also, real online Scrabble isn't anywhere as good as Scrabulous was, despite all the bells and whistles, and that new Google browser is a bit naff.