Saturday, December 27, 2003

Kev, we were wrong...

Just a quickie, as we're off to New York for New Year tomorrow, but I would just like to report that this
That which does not become part of me, shall become one with the great void...and by the way, your planet is f****ed!
is an absolutely superb toy, and aside from one minor design fault, is definitely not the shoddy heap of plastic many of us Transfans thought it'd be.

I also got a cricket bat.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Ho Ho Ho! Now I Have A Machine-Gun!

Right, barring any interesting incidents, this is it until after Christmas. I hope that whatever it is you celebrate at this time of year, you have a good one. See you in a few...

The true face of Santa revealed!

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Kings and Things

Hello to Rad and Postman Alan. They've got almost-Christmas birthdays, which are famously an opportunity for stingy relatives to prove just how stingy they can be. I hope that skinflints aside, Rad and Alan have a good birthday today. Technically, their birthday is tomorrow, but factoring in the time difference, it already is tomorrow where they are.

Well, we finally saw The Return Of The King today, and it's rubbish.
Actually I'm lying, it's bloomin' amazing. The perfect end to an almost perfect trilogy (I didn't much like the second one, probably because it's my favourite of the books, and they didn't get it quite right). All involved have done a wonderful job, and they really don't need the approval of the Oscar people come next year, but it'd be nice. Great film. Well done to all.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Happy Hanu-Car

We just went out to pick up some last minute Christmas-type stuff, and we saw something very odd driving along on the other side of the street. Sadly, we don't have a camera (long story, not very good) so here's a quick sketch:

I really have no idea...

Yes, the candles really did have lights on them. What an interesting place America is...

Friday, December 19, 2003

From The Cold Northern Wastelands He Came...

They say that internet surfers have short memories, and that if you don't update your blog frequently enough, people will forget it's there. Probably a myth, but I hope someone's still reading. Besides bilLy and my wife, that is.

So what have I been doing? Nothing exciting. Mostly drawing and redesigning my website (and finding out that CSS is/are easy, while JavaScript looks easy but doesn't want to work). The new look isn't actually ready yet, but it'll probably be up in time for 2004. Since there's a very real chance that I will be selling my artistic wares pretty soon, I thought it best to redesign my website around my artistic talents (or lack thereof).
Today, though, I did neither of those things, and instead spent the day reading proper books, you know, the ones without pictures (well, one of them did have pictures actually...).
I enjoyed The Gunslinger, but I wasn't motivated enough to read on. But both Alan and Rad claimed that the story got better with the second volume, The Drawing of the Three, and I have to agree. Actually, to be fair, King himself even says in the introduction to the first book that it used to be rubbish before he revised it for these new editions. Perhaps he didn't revise it enough? Not a lot happens in the second book, but it's much much better than the first, mainly because Roland is no longer the main focus, and interesting as he is, I just don't find him to be a compelling central figure. The only real problem is that the story is so relaxed and open that in terms of plot, nothing happens. All they did in this book was walk from one end of the beach (a long beach, yeah, but still...) to the other. Admittedly, this wouldn't be a problem if I was getting the cheap-as-chips mass market paperbacks, but I do so adore the lovely Plume trade paperback editions. My own fault, I suppose.
Also read The Amulet of Samarkand (I see that yet again the US cover pales in comparison to the stylish UK cover), on Rob's recommendation. It's another kids' book about magicians in an alternate Britain, but it's at once more enjoyably cynical and truthful than the Harry Potter monstrosities and more entertaining than Pullman's metaphysical jiggerypokery. It's one of those books that's so light on description and so heavy on dialogue that it could be written in script format and still make sense, which is not a style I generally like, but I enjoyed it mainly because of the humour in the writing (even though it's ripped off from Pratchett, footnotes and all), and the unpredictable plotting. The story didn't go the way I expected, nor did the ending, and I suspect that the trilogy as a whole will be similarly unpredictable. Recommended.

Oh, and I've got insomnia again, which is probably the only reason I'm writing (we need a new techno-savvy verb for this kind of composition-"typing" doesn't cut it) this instead of sitting in the bedroom/literal-drawing-room sketching away while listening to Kosheen or something. Not sure if that explains why I'm so laughably behind with the Spooky's Dungeon comic or not...

Friday, December 12, 2003


I'm right this minute listening to The Decline Of British Sea Power, which I really shouldn't like. This is the sort of thing Lamacq(say it with venom kids!) used to fill The Evening Session with, in the years before he decided he'd rather fill it with whiney bland crud like Starsailor. And yet, I really like it. There's a bit of The Cure to them, and as I've recently realised that The Cure are/were really rather good, this is a good thing. There's also a bit of Bowie in there, which is almost never a bad thing. And even thought they're from my neck of the woods (Brighton), they've got a great deal of SFA/Gorky's Zygotic Mynci to them (at least to my ears), which is a very good thing indeed.
This is a very good album indeed. I am pleasantly surprised, and quite thankful to Mr Dan Black, who made it all possible.
Right. We've got a Meg's-work-related Christmas party to go to. Joy.

The Perils Of Modernity

Technically, the PS2 is for both me and Meg, as it was a wedding present. But the truth of the matter is that it was a consolation gift given to me by our friends, because they knew that nice as the other wedding gifts would be, I would have no interest in them at all, and that they would be "for" Meg, rather than me. Yeah, the silver cutlery is lovely, but I could get plain steel cutlery for a fraction of the price and spend what's left on something more fun. See the psychology at work here?
Anyway, even though the PS2 is "mine", I've felt bad that Meg never plays it. We occasionally have a two-player bash at Timesplitters 2, and we've played FIFA 2003 together a couple of times, but Meg doesn't have a game of her own. So tonight she bought Final Fantasy X for herself (ironically, I was just about to buy Alundra for her off eBay, since she'd really enjoy that). She'd heard wonderful things about the storyline, and decided she just had to have it. For my part, I went off the Final Fantasy games after the badly flawed Final Fantasy XIII, but this one looks quite good. Unfortunately, I'm not allowed to start playing it myself until Meg's got a decent way through it!
Still, never mind. I've dusted off the Mega Drive emulator now that we've got a decent PC, and I'm currently working my way through Shining Force, a game I never got around to playing back when it first came out.
Beware Dark Dwarf! Beware the Elven archery of...Hans?
We saw Tom Cruise's latest tonight. The Last Samurai is okay. It reminded me of Saving Private Ryan in that it seemed to want to be a number of different films all at once, but didn't mesh as a whole. Like Spielberg's film, it worked as an action movie, and it worked as a moral-social-political drama, but it didn't work as both combined. It did a good job on the historical accuracy, and it portrayed the samurai heroes as legends, but these are inherently incompatible ideas (as an aside, there was a trailer for the upcoming Troy, and I wonder how they're going to meld these two ideas in that film-is Brad Pitt's Achilles going to be literally indestructible, or will he be just bloomin' tough?). There were many good elements (it has ninjas!), but they were ruined by the film's disjointed style, as well as heavy-handed symbolism and a number of very trite moments, particularly towards the end. Cruise was fine, as he always is, and this really isn't the "Oscar-always-denied-to-him" movie that people think it is. Ken Watanabe is excellent as the rebellious samurai leader Katsumoto, and he either carries or steals the film. I'm not sure which, as it's quite unclear whether he or Cruise is supposed to be the lead. It was nice, but strange, to see Billy Connolly and Tim Spall turn up too.
The worst thing about it, apart from the disjointedness, is that it's very conventional. If you were to knock out a random movie about an American learning the ways of the samurai while simultaneously learning about his true self, it would probably be exactly like this. The only unexpected move in the entire film was the decision to have it be 75% in Japanese.
For a better samurai movie, just pick up any Kurosawa movie(although I'd recommend The Seven Samurai(of course!) or my personal favourite Throne of Blood). For a better film about the struggles between tradition and modernity, that also features samurai, watch the excellent Princess Mononoke. The Last Samurai was alright. It'd be a good DVD for your dad.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Don't Worry About The Back Room

Go and see this. Go on. Good.
Spent most of today drawing. Prompted by yesterday's disaster, I plunged headlong into a day of sketching in order to try and get comfortable with a pencil again. It was a lot of fun, truth be told. Productive, too. I've got another page for the Spooky's Dungeon comic laid out, scripted and mostly sketched. It ends with an awfully cheesy melodramatic Stan Lee/Jack Kirby moment which I'm quite proud of. Just a few details need ironing out, but I expect to have it done by the end of tomorrow. I've got the following pages largely sorted out too, but I've been reluctant to work on them until this one's out of the way, and it's proven to be a bit tricky. It features the first appearance of a character who is basically a walking theme/metaphor, and it was tough going introducing them in a way that visually suggested what they're about. I've gone for something considerably more subtle than the idea I first came up with, and it should still get the idea across, at least to the astute reader.

Courtney (and her Dad) will have a laugh with this:

You are a Sovereign-class Explorer, Starfleet's
biggest, badest, playboy posterchild. You
exceed everyone's expectations in every
department. You're the best, and you know it.

Which Class of Federation Starship are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Thanks to Blue Witch's new blog for that!
And just to put the chills into you, here's a fascinating article about the various Starfleet ship designations...

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Marvel-ous! Or, in fact, not.

The (Extended) Marvel Family Well, this didn't turn out nearly as well as I'd hoped. I think I was trying to be too clever, and it didn't really work out. The penmanship is very immature and lacks confidence in my opinion. It seems very strained, and really isn't a good example of my work.
I think the problem is that I'm trying too hard here, just as I did with The Girly Comic. I have a really quite good cartoony style, but it only seems to come through if I don't try. If I let myself draw "on automatic", I seem to do much better. I did a doodle on a scrap of paper last night that was better than this entire picture, and the Spider-Man picture you can see here was done without me even looking at the page! I'm obviously channelling some inner talent here, but I keep getting in the way...
Anyway, this picture was done as part of a challenge with Nige Lowrey. Nige is a good sport, and will more often than not have a go at drawing your requests, so I set out to challenge him by asking for a picture of comics' Marvel Family. Not just the Marvel Family though, but every character who's ever been called Marvel (like Ms Marvel), or has been associated with the Marvels (like Miracleman). He agreed, and encouraged me to do the same. Here's my first attempt...
If anyone wants help with identifying the characters, then let me know.

Monday, December 08, 2003

Local Boy Makes Good

Following Neil Gaiman's assertion a few weeks ago that no one from my home town of Uckfield can be trusted, here's a story about one of our finest citizens, that's sure to prove Gaiman wrong...
His defence team argued that "Mr van Hoogstraten could not have foreseen that the attack on Mr Raja - carried out by henchmen Robert Knapp and David Croke - would inevitably end in death..." Quite how one would not expect someone to die after being stabbed five times then shot in the face, I don't know.

There's this guy called Jack Chick who used to (and perhaps still does) do these little comics attacking the roleplaying hobby on the grounds that Dungeons and Dragons and its competitors were actually Satanic guidebooks. Really. They're superbly unintentionally funny. Here's what would happen if Chick was a worshipper, not of Christ, but of HP Lovecraft's Cthulhu.
(As an aside, I've always thought that it was ironic that Chick attacked one hobby that people think is at best geeky and at worst damaging through the use of a medium which has pretty much the same reputation.)

Who's that then?Feeling rough today, by the way. I've been feeling faint and dizzy all day, and have tried to sleep it off, which hasn't really worked. Probably a side-effect of the injections I had the other day. Still, I'm coherent enough to do this. Essential to my well-being, and my artistic productivity have been the musical delights provided to me by Kev and the Space Monkeys, the latter of which is actually better than the album it remixes. Similarly, Kev sent me a CD to educate me in the ways of hip hop, plus a bonus CD of random gubbins, and I enjoyed the random gubbins more. Beth Orton and Soul Coughing? Yes please!

Friday, December 05, 2003

Official Business

Liam has overcome the it's-a-bit-like-going-to-the-bank-and-nothing-like-how-you'd-expect-a-Visa-interview-at-an-Embassy-to-go thing, and is now ready to join me in the Land Of The Free (terms and conditions apply). Well, not actually join me in some kind of homosexual elopement situation (not that there's anything wrong with that, of course), but to join me in the situation of being an Englishman in a strange land. Unlike me, however, he will be an Englishman In New York, which may qualify him for a free copy of Sting's greatest hits. Perhaps. Although I don't think Sting was talking about Upstate New York. In fact, he wasn't talking at all. He was singing. And isn't that song supposed to be a tribute to Quentin Crisp? Hm.
Anyway, I shall be in New York myself just after Christmas, and shall be there when he arrives, which will be nice. I believe he plans to get me drunk.

As for me, I spent the early hours of this morning being poked and prodded by doctors. My arms look like they've burst their seams, with bits of cotton wool poking out all over the place. I've also been referred to both a sleep study and a sports physician, all because Meg is paranoid about my health. Oh well. At least my ego was massaged considerably by the numerous nurses who started hitting on me just because I'm English. The nurse who took my X-Rays today giggled and blushed and asked me to "say anything, just anything, I just want to hear your voice", and then promptly asked if I wanted to be introduced to her priest...

America's a funny place. I wonder if Liam is truly prepared?

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Sorta Like Mr Ed

Well, blow me, this is brilliant. Wait for it to load up. Turn the sound on your computer on. Then click on the horses. I'm still smiling. Thanks to Phil Hall (who doesn't have a blog, but is perhaps working on it) for that.

Another Day In Fortress Amerikkka

The Fourth Reich has been keeping busy, I see. They've put some new educational reforms into action, and here's a story about what they're really using that $87 Billion of "Iraq reconstruction" money for.
On a less revolutionary note, here's a bizarre, geeky, but somehow quite cool attempt to map the internet. Thanks to Rob for bringing my attention to it.

"I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti..."

I shouldn't laugh. I really shouldn't. But this is what's going to happen when you don't pass a law against cannibalism. Silly Germans.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Best. Online. Strip. Ever.

Actually, probably not, but if you're after some pure, surreal (and sometimes crude) visual humour go here. Enjoy.

Sadly, I have no interesting Thanksgiving stories. It was all very sedate and conventional, so let's all keep our fingers crossed that Christmas will be a little more exciting...
I've been doing an awful lot of drawing in the past few days, which is why I've not been updating the blog. Lots of good (well, you know, it's okay) stuff, which I'll tell you about when I can. Oh, okay. Go here, and go to #281 to see a little something that I did a couple of nights ago. More to follow.