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Archive for the ‘illustration’ Category

del Toro discusses his process, trials with Hollywood, The Hobbit, At the Mountains of Madness, monster theory, and squashes his daughter with his gut in Daniel Zalewski’s fantastic New Yorker profile.

“The Hobbit,” he said, “is much less black-and-white. The monsters are not just evil. They’re charming, funny, seductive. Smaug is an incredibly smart guy!” Del Toro later said that he inevitably imposed his sensibility on source material: “It’s like marrying a widow. You try to be respectful of the memory of the dead husband, but come Saturday night . . . bam.

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An 8-Bit Conundrum

This graphic appeared in Wired a few years ago. I was immediately piqued by the fact that I could recognize a few of the characters. Curiosity quickly turned to Obsess Much? as I realized that each figure or ensemble represents a real (presumably) musician. I absolutely love this piece for it’s pixel-pushing meticulousness. When I presented it to a circle of my friends, they attacked it with geeker savagery. We are still stumped by a small handful of them. (Highlighted in blue)

Here are our answers. I’m reasonably confident of them – our dorkus-maximus peer-review process required photo evidence and nearly-unanimous-consensus.

Help fill in the gaps!

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Here’s a fun little trailer for League of Legends Season One:

I don’t play WoW. Apparently, this is a spin-off from it, and the Trailer is marketing for the game. Which is cool.

If one peruses the LoL website, you can check out the multiple characters, and it’s pretty staggering: artistically, it’s like you took comic books, Mortal Combat, pro “wrestling”, steam punk elements, Harry Potter, Frank Frazetta, Pokemon, D&D, pin-up models, cute anime characters, and Capcom into an blender, and this is what you’d get. It’s like a unified theory of role-playing, power-wish-fulfillment, and avatar-powered escapism. And it’s pretty grand.

These MMORPG games are an artistic borg- “What? Superheros? Sure. We’ll take ’em. A He-Man-type comic Orko sprite-thing? Yep. Magic chick in an improbable bustier? Yes, please. Sauron-huge guy with proportionally ridiculous armor? Uh-huh. Werewolves? Well, WHY the f*@k NOT?!?” And I’m not even capping on the sensibility; there’s something amazingly, geeksomely democratic about the whole thing.

Watching the two teams of super-hero archetypes in fantasy-sheep’s clothing Avengers Assemble! into two fighting forces for “the Final Battle” would make Jack Kirby proud. You’ve got your huge bruiser-type, your hot-chick-who-can-best-any-man, your thief/mage, your magician, your small-yet-mighty lil’ guys- it’s the Superfriends vs. the Legion of Doom, WoW-style. When I saw it, I was like, “Of course it was heading in this direction: take the proven super-hero soap-opera, skin it with fantasy elements, add some FIGHTING…” and there you go.

When I saw BioShock a couple of years ago, I was really taken by how it combined Myst-like storytelling, remarkable cinematic design (both character and sets), with Doom and Silent Hill-like scary atmospherics and action. Intense. I think at this point, it’s beyond safe to say that the true visionaries are working in games, not movies.

Taking chances in the box, not worrying whether someone’s nephew (who got the studio job because of staggering nepotism) will greenlight a project if he can get his client/good friend on board. Game production is punk rock, in the box (the computer, rather “artistic box”), with an unlimited budget for effects, costumes, and sets.

What of story? (more…)

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Fortune May 2010

Check this out: Chris Ware was commissioned to do a cover for Fortune. Can you believe they rejected this?

Everyone knows Chris is an artist of some intensity, which for the most part has been directed toward meticulous cartoon dissection of childhood trauma.

Maybe they thought – based on the scenes of Jimmy’s Grandpa – that he really had an instinctual sense for the Depression Era, and that this was a relevant visual cue. I could buy that. Maybe they even imagined he would do something unblinking, and pointed. You know: EDGY. When your mind’s eye floats back over his slavish cross-sections of emotional hurts, can you say you felt any strident political viewpoints leap off the page? After being offered this platform, Ware ripped off his Jimmy Corrigan sad-face mask and revealed: STAB YOU! Turns out that intensity has also been quietly set on Simmer over the economic crisis.

What the art director at Fortune didn’t see in Ware’s work, that maybe he should have, is his comfort with brutal honesty. Painful things don’t incidentally happen in Ware stories: he meditates on them. Maybe the guy who draws an intricate schematic of your heart being ripped into 6,000 pieces isn’t going to pull any punches with the corporate looting of the American economy.

What I love about this: Ware is a smart guy. He knows what Fortune’s niche is. (What’s their name again?) Let’s just say that if Bill Greider ever walked in the lobby they would ask him if he needed directions. Ware KNEW they would never, ever run this piece. But I picture him in his studio, setting the record straight with every futile pen stroke. For the few thousand or so people this would leak to on the internet, anyway.

God Bless you, Mr. Ware.

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Here’s a little animation I’ve been working on for about a month, using the audio from a stand-up performance I did in January at Room 5 in Los Angeles.

I know. Fourteen curse words in 3 minutes 50 seconds (they are bleeped out in case anyone’s worried ’bout work). I’m not proud of it. But I do think the overall piece turned out ok.

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I cannot wait to see this. The scene in the trailer where Banksy scales the wall effortlessly to escape the cops is tre´ Ninja.

This, to me, is the purest example of art needing a valve. When people will risk criminal prosecution to exercise free speech, creativity, and really, hard-ass-work, I think there’s a pretty compelling case for the world always getting its prophets when it needs them.

It’s just a ride.- Bill Hicks

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Finished another page section. It’s getting detail-y-er.

It is almost impossible to describe how difficult it is to sit down and draw these daily, but I’m doing my best. A actor/writer friend suggested Steven Pressfield‘s book, The War of Art (which I cannot suggest enough for everyone), and it describes and names the process of Resistance- basically, that insidious little bastard that keeps you from working on your goals. The book is an invaluable weapon in the daily battle. I’ll write more on it soon, but for now, back to the Lab again.

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Here’s a quick ballpoint pen ‘n Sharpie study of pin-up artist extraordinaire Rolf Armstrong.

Some examples of Armstrong’s stunning work can be found by just doing a Google Image Search.

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Finally posted the latest couple of Kenwoode pages. You can check ’em out here and here.

“Finished, it’s finished, nearly finished, it must be nearly finished Grain upon grain, one by one, and one day, suddenly, there’s a heap, a little heap, the impossible heap.” – Samuel Beckett, Endgame

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I don’t follow college ball, mostly because I went to art school, and I don’t have an alma mater team, unless there’s a World Champion Thunderdome of Chiaroscuro or Font Kerning of which I am unaware, where you’re allowed to use a color wheel, linseed oil and a mace. (The Color-arnage!) I do, however, follow the NBA like a sterilizing rash I need to keep an eye on, lest it flare up and destroy my swimmers.

My team, the T-Wolves, is, well, agonizingly bad despite a potentially encouraging future (possible Ricky Rubio, 217 draft picks this year, Kevin Love, and an improving Corey Brewer.). And despite the fact that David Stern is, well, a wretched person (2007 Suns-Spurs debacle; the New York Ewing crapfest; the 2006 NBA Finals screw-job against Dallas- and I hate Dallas, but they were HOSED by the officials. Don’t believe me? Do a Google search for “2006 NBA Finals.” What’s the 2nd and third choices? Smoke there’s fire, son), I keep getting drawn in like a tubby kid passing Cold Stone Creamery.

I also always check out Canis Hoopus (weird, unhealthy Darko-mania indeed), the T-Wolves fan blog that has like, 20 guys on it that are either basketball savants, or they work in mind-numbingly boring jobs in Minneapolis skyways and have nothing better to do than run complicated algorithms on Evan Turner vs. John Wall. Most likely a combination of the two. Not that I’m complaining- I love the site. Makes me feel like I’m still ice-fishing instead of cursing a blue-streak at L.A. drivers. But it can be discouraging: “Yeah, I follow ball a bit.” No, you don’t, dood. Not like these guys do.

The point is this: because of the Hoopus guys salivating over the chance that the Wolves get the number one pick (we won’t- we’re McHaled- the new synonym for “doomed”) and running the numbers on Ohio State’s Evan Tuner, I was introduced to one Mark Titus, Pine-Rider Extraordinaire.

Check the style, one-time:

(Warrant song is great, but it could use a “Heaven Isn’t Too Far Away” third chorus key-change to elevate it to Code Awesome.)

Mark’s blog ‘n charity here. Buy a t-shirt. Help some kids, dammit.

KENWOODE UPDATE: Been quite the slug in 2010, I know. Just moved, had some freelance illustration to finish, and I’m finally settling down. I really do have finished pages to post, so I’ll be doing that this weekend. Promise. (Takes shot of tequila)

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Here‘s the second section of Page 7; I just looked at the dates (I sign each panel as I finish ’em) and realized I haven’t done one in almost 10 days. I’m on it.

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Prince, Jack White with Marshmellows

I have a friend who despises Madonna, hates her with every fiber of her being. She believes that any artistic success Madge has had is due, for the most part, to attaching herself to a successful hot producer and sucking the producer’s young artistic blood, then moving on, like a horrifying Cruella DeVille-like mosquito (to mix the hell out of a metaphor). Patrick Leonard, William Orbit, Nellee Hooper, etc, in my friend’s view, most of Madonna’s success has been linked in varying degrees of success to whomever is “hot” at the moment. And to her credit (and artistic damnation), she’s been pretty great at this sonic cannibalization.

I would contend that Madonna choosing producers that make her “come alive again” artistically is quite a self-reflective and brave talent, akin to male bands picking Rick Rubin to work with. Willfully choosing someone that challenges you is no small feat, choosing to spend time with someone who will knock you off your comfortable pedestal and keep you gloriously uncomfortable.

Which is why artists pick Rick Rubin (and maybe why Madonna should herself one day): he’s a brilliant, back-to-basics producer who somehow has figured out the formula, which seems to be:

  1. Have creatively bankrupt band and/or singer rent a house to record in.
  2. Have said band and/or singer bring already written songs and play together in a room.
  3. Mix said band and/or singer in a way that is a throwback to their original, basic sound.

Which got me thinking. Who are some artists that should be working with certain producers to really shock them into a transcendent album? I humbly submit:

(more…)

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Illustration experiment, Reclining Girl Wit’ Beasties:

Reclining Girl Wit Beasties - 2009 Dan McNeill

From a sketchbook drawing, Illustrator, Photoshop. There’s some Paul Gauguin/Gustav Klimt influence somewhere in that brain-mire. Unfortunately, there may be some Patrick Nagel, as well.

Original sketch after the jump: (more…)

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Here’s a small Dave Cooper study I did, from Suckle: The Status of Basil:

CooperStudy01Good Lord, my scanning sucks. Pen and ink on watercolor paper.

Dave’s one of my favorite artists working. His paintings are jealousy-inducing. Check ’em out on his site (some NSFW).

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I’m not a big video game player (at least not since my Donkey Kong days- the Glory!) but occasionally I fall into one like Alice down a rabbit hole. The SSX series completely had me for about 2 years, I enjoyed the hell out of the lo-fi World of Goo, loved the ambition and scope of the  claymation-meets-Edgar Allen Poe CD-ROM The Dark Eye, even if it was fairly static and uneventful.

And BioShock made my head explode.

Above is the trailer for Machinarium, by Amanita. It’s a point and click game for PC and Mac, and the world is just beautiful. I think this is where games need to go: creating not only interactive worlds, but lush, designed worlds with a unifying artistic vision, even down to a cohesive pencil-style and design. Imagine Dave McKean’s Mirrormask as a playable game. Shane Acker’s 9 might’ve been more successful as a game, although I haven’t seen it, and should just shut the hell up until I do.

These are exciting times for creators to be alive.

Boing Boing has some really nice sketchbook pages from Amanita’s Jakub Dvorský and Adolf Lachman, as well as some stunning screengrabs. Check it out, y’all.

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This song almost sounds like an outtake from The Damned’s Anything album (not one of their critical faves, but I loved it). Huge reverbs, poppy and to the effin’ point, man. Nicely done.

And the video is really beautiful: organic, lush, and the amount of depth is really staggering. It’s a nice Gorey homage without seeming like a rip-off. This scene with the spirits reminds me of a children’s book on ghost stories I used to have; man, I wish I knew the title of that book.

Picture 1

Hats off to Mr. Timms. Hire him and pay him lots of money, Hollywood! Now!

Dammit you hacks!

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Picture 1

Don’t know Eric; for some reason, I scribbled his website on a bar napkin. Maybe I met him in LA. But his reel is here, and it’s pretty stunning. Hire him and pay him lots of money. I know I will someday soon.

Gotta project for him already. Wait ’til I get ludicrous amounts of cash, Epstein!

(Or, if you ever wanna work pro-bono on something…)

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Brian+Eno+eno

Wired has a great little article from March about Brian Eno’s art school days here. A couple of things struck me about the article:

  • The deliberate introduction of randomness in Brian Eno’s life, and the idea of changing artistic and social roles to facilitate new and interesting art. Eno’s art professors would have the students assume characters that were out of their comfort zone, to elicit reactions that were of them “playing a role.” Much like the old Oscar Wilde quote (“Give a man a mask and he’ll tell you the truth”), if you give students a mask or role to play, they’ll create new, “true” art, that is, true to the role they’re playing.
    Reminds me of Prince and Tom Waits adopting characters to get themselves out of their rote songwriting modes. Also reminds me of long-form improv training, of getting yourself “out of your head” and comfort zone to spur yourself to new risk taking.
  • How much this pointed Eno in the direction of Oblique Strategies, which is a great tool for breaking yourself out of artistic ruts. (Great PDF of printable cards here.)

I had a great instructor in art school (“You want fries with that?”) who used to tell us, “You’re only doing your job as a creative if you are constantly on the verge of getting fired.” Which seemed imminently true to me at the time- the profs who were safe, and needed their jobs had the worst work. The ones who were devil-make-care were actually  selling work and working at ad agencies, rather than writing bullshit artspeak proposals for federal grants.

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Simply my favorite illustrator working right now. Love, love, love his work. His site is here.

288-aI have a t-shirt with this design that I’ve got more compliments than any other thing I’ve ever worn, period. (I dress poorly.)

Viva la Tartelin, brother!

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Checked out a comic/collection of Tori Amos illustrated songs from the library, and the front cover was this beautiful little illo:

cbt_01Pretty nice. Stuntkid, aka Jason Levesque has some pretty great stuff on his site here. (Some is NSFW, so just a warning.) A bit steampunk, a bit photo-realist, a bit surreal. Really nice stuff with an organic, Illustrator feel ‘n’ depth.

He just released a 82-page book of his prints. He’s got his own skateboards, too!

Great work, Sir Kid of Stunt.

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russ01I was trying out my new Faber-Castell PITT Artist Pen the other night (Righteous, BTW), and drew and inked a study of Russ Nicholson’s fantastic front illustration to the original Fiend Folio (seen here, pencil marks and all). You know, the one with the great black and white illustrations, rather than the full color, super-hero-y bullshit that TSR started putting out after the First Editions.

Man, I’m old school about my monster drawings. I loved Russ Nicholson- he was part Gahan Wilson, part Gerald Scarfe, part Shel Silverstein. His creatures always had a comic menace to them, as if they would crack wise whilst slitting your throat. His ink work is so organic, and although there’s so much mark-making, it never feels busy to me.

I also loved Dave Trampier, Erol Otus, Jeff Dee, Jim Roslof (at times), and Bill Willingham (also at times). Trampier’s Wormy was amazing, and Otus’ stuff was weird to me as a kid, but I find it stuck with me in an odd way. I’d love to see a collection of this stuff, besides the horrible scans from old, dying websites.

So Russ, if you’re out there, you should really put up an official website. I’d love to see either an online collection of your work, or a book (which I’d most definitely buy). And Erol, you’re website has been promising to come into view “in the near future” for far too long. Come ON, man!

(If anyone has any leads where I can find any of these collections, I’d appreciate it.)

UPDATE: By the way, I do commissions. If anyone wants me to either draw and ink them an illustration, let me know. We’ll work out the price.

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