Tuesday, January 31

The White Queen and The Purple Alien

A while back, I talked about a Christmas card made for Pat Loika, comic advocate and swell fella. Here's his site.

This is Thanos. He loves him some Thanos.

It's become a tradition. He makes roughly a bazillion cards for friends and acquaintances, and this year he sent out more than 70 of them. That deserves to be written out. SEVENTY. Knowing my love of GI Joe and rasslin, he sent me this:

Trust me. This is hi-LAR-ious.

Around the time I was making his card, I was informed that a group within the Loika Legion was compiling an artbook for him for Christmas. I jumped on it. Of course, our hero likes Thanos, but a look at his online photo albums shows he also likes Emma Frost, The White Queen from X-Men. She was in X-Men: First Class (and technically in the Wolverine movie; the rescued mutant who turns to diamond? That's her.). Pat will often request Thanos or Emma as commissions from the top artists in the biz, and I figured a piece that included both would be to his liking, even if the final product stunk a stinky stank.

The image idea came pretty quickly. Emma likes baubles. Thanos pursues a glove covered in gems. The connection was too good to pass up, and I liked the notion of petite, alabaster Emma slamming down a cosmic bad guy just for some shiny rocks.

Comic debate: Could she do it? Emma has developed into a powerful telepath, and her initial villainous brutality has given way to a more disciplined mind power as she's become a hero. She can't simply brain slam everybody anymore. She proved she can be apply therapeutic techniques to strip away inner demons. By expanding her abilities to more delicate brain maneuvers, she's arguably become more powerful. More focused, at least. (And speaking of "focus" and "Emma," BUY MY COMICS.)

So maybe, a White Queen who finds herself working alongside Professor Xavier, the most powerful telepath on Earth, and sometimes head-to-powerful-head with Jean Grey, potentially the most powerful telepath in the universe, let her glom a thing or two. But would that allow her to brain blast a cosmic alien guy obsessed with death and dominion? I gotta give her a definite "maybe." It's not an impossibility anymore. And that gave me the foundation to pursue the art. Do I overthink this? Did I just ask if I overthink this? Isn't that overthinking the overthink? Methinks so.

And off we went. I drew the pencils in a sketchbook and went straight to inks with Micron pens.

For whatever reason, I just didn't like her head. Seemed off. I originally had the head tilted back more, looking down her nose figuratively and literally, and that angle was diluted in the inking. So I drew and pasted in a new head.

Looked good in pencils, lost its charm in the inking. I drew a third head and pasted that into the card.

But that didn't work for me either. I drew yet another head, but the bangs and the lips ... nah. Not good.

So I went back to the original head and slapped in the color.

This is the Photoshop color layer. It almost works alone without the inks.

I made the text balloon in Illustrator and pasted it into the Photoshop ink/color file and felt pretty good about it. 

Then I looked at the image again and realized something horrible: I couldn't remember ever seeing anyone wear the Infinity Gauntlet on their right hand. I was about to send a fresh slab of failure to the one guy out of all my acquaintances who would know immediately that this was wrong. Crap.

But then I realized that I could simply flip the art in Photoshop. As Doom says,"SCIENCE! WHAT A BOON TO VILLAINY THOU ART!"

Buttons pressed, image flipped and saved, and the card was printed and mailed to the Project Pat head honchos. Pat got the art book this week and seems very happy with it. You can see all the book artwork here.

I'm glad to have been invited. I'm glad the notion felt fun. And I'm glad Pat likes it. This was a Good Thing all around.

Friday, January 20

Little Hulk on the Prairie

After decades of denying Little House, (I'm old enough to remember it airing Sunday nights on NBC), I have been converted to the show via my wife, The Countess. If you ever get a chance to see her early school pictures, you'll notice an uncanny resemblance to Half-Pint.When we honeymooned in Atlanta, we would return to our B&B after sightseeing and watch catch a marathon airing of the series. Her sly plan to expose me longterm to small increments has built up my immunity to the show, and now I happily put it on as background noise.

A few weeks back, I commented on Twitter (@GregoryDraws) about our recent upgrade to a 1080p TV connection:
Little House on the Prairie looks glorious in 1080p. Even Nellie (You heard me, Oleson). Oh poop pickles! Typhus in Walnut Grove!
I got replies from two (two!) Nellie Oleson accounts. 

Wednesday, I posted this:
On Little House right now, Caroline & Mary are at a math contest. Laura can't run the house, becomes enraged, turns into Hulk-Pint.
And that sparked this one-page comic:

You never know where ideas will come from.

Monday, January 9

Bossk Office: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Ladies and gentleman, I am not a qualified film reviewer. I know that I like and what gives me the icks. I have the critical mind of yogurt. Thankfully, I have found the perfect twosome to hash out the strength and weaknesses of movies, the 1980s and 2000s toy versions of a bounty hunter from Empire Strikes Back.

Folks, this is Bossk Office.

Chipper Bossk: I'm almost afraid to ask you what you liked most about Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Surly Bossk: I'm not ashamed to say I liked the movie.

Chipper Bossk: It's not a film that one usually says "they like." It's a hard-R adult thriller set in a brutal environment, both in terms of the climate and the human cruelty on display. The film ends with a golden street light that provides no warmth, only illumination. That fits the movie to a T, but it's not what the typical American movie audience is conditioned to like.

Surly Bossk: Three words about this film: Interesting people thinking. That's the movie. But the dark elements, for many, mean it's not an "entertaining" movie.

Chipper Bossk: No, I didn't enjoy it, but I  -- Oh, I know. I appreciated it. Most of it, anyway.

Surly Bossk: Dish. 

Chipper Bossk: This is obviously based on a book as there is a level of consideration we normally wouldn't get in a movie thriller: the way Daniel Craig's glasses hang under his chin, the title character's diet. In a typical movie, these things would be discussed for easy filler dialogue. Here, they just happen, and they reveal character. I appreciate that. But the movie also has flaws.

Surly Bossk: Like the central mystery. 

Chipper Bossk: I wonder about this. Again, for the American audience, the mystery is rife with cliches because we are swamped by serial-killer mythologies. We have weekly TV shows -- dramas and documentaries -- devoted to method killing. This book is almost ten years old. It can't bring much new to our cultural buffet table. I think the movie makers decided to deal with it as if they are covering a classic song. Not to reinvent, but to refine. The presentation of the mystery details and the dramatic exposition are technically precise and good. But the lyrics to this song are dated.

Surly Bossk: The monologuing is almost embarrassing.

Chipper Bossk: Man, that hurts the film.

Surly Bossk: I'm glad the movie continues beyond the mystery. 

Chipper Bossk: Yes, and that emphasizes the characters. We really need to break down the film into three elements:
1) The mystery.

Surly Bossk: Dud. 

Chipper Bossk: Agreed. 2) The characters. This is the reason to see the movie. These are better than what we normally get for the cost of a movie ticket. I'm curious about them. I happily follow them throughout the film. And they don't pander to us. They move forward by necessity and curiosity. They are driven.

Surly Bossk: Especially her. When she gets a plan, she's moves like a bullet. 

Chipper Bossk: They do a good job making her superlative but credible.I do wonder how Craig's character is described in the book. He doesn't act like James Bond, but here he obviously looks like him. That sometimes hurts the film.

Surly Bossk: But Craig isn't acting like Bond. 

Chipper Bossk: No, he's not. Both actors are really good here. Everyone is, really. It's a superior film as craft.

Surly Bossk: But let's be honest: The story is pulp. 

Chipper Bossk: Utter pulp. And that gives us the third element to consider: 3) The story. This is noir. Straight up. Call it Nordic noir if you want, but this is hard-boiled mid-century American pulp noir -- Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler and Richard Stark. It just happens to be in modern Sweden featuring a girl with some awesome earrings. And for folks who don't know noir and expect a typical Hollywood tidy story, they won't "like" the film either. This uses a language they don't understand.

Surly Bossk: Well, we like noir. And so we like this film. 

Chipper Bossk: As much as one can like something so harsh and dark. Which can also be said about the title character too, I s'pose.

Friday, January 6

Go Buy My Shirts

If'n you go to GalleryMIA in Asheville, NC (or visit their website after they revamp it and add my stuff), you will find shirts with my art on them. I walked into the store today and There. They. Are.

I've waited years and years for that Buddha/Shiva mugs art to get on a shirt. I spent weeks drawing it for a prospective client only to be told by that it looked like I stole it from the Internet. I took that to mean it's too good for an artist to whom we plan to pay so little. It's simmered in my art folder ever since.

I have a Groupon for that store, but it's bad form to use a coupon to buy your own work. Isn't it?

More art and shirts to follow in weeks to come.