Saturday, March 31, 2007

Randall Is Back!

Next week kicks off All-New Randall pages going live every Wednesday over at Pixelstrips. Check out a preview here and I'll be sure to remind ya'll come next Wednesday...


Lunchtime Spidey

The first in what will be a new feature here. Done with fine point micron pen and colored in photoshop.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Devil's Rejects

So I’m always on the lookout for some good old-fashioned Horror flicks. A few months back I re-watched The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (the Tobe Hopper version, not the crap that just came out) and upon growing older and a little smarter about film I realized that it is a really well made flick. It’s beautifully shot and expertly edited. For a film most people think of as one of the bloodiest movies ever it’s actually edited in a way that shows very little of the gore. It’s the unknown and unseen off-camera that is truly disturbing about Tobe Hooper’s masterpiece. You’re more scared of what can happen than you are of what has happened. (Even though what has happened is scary as hell.) It enters into the psychological aspect of fear while simultaneously showing a chainsaw wielding, skin suit-wearing maniac on screen. That’s a pretty neat trick to pull-off as a filmmaker.

This kind of horror film is rarely made today. I think it’s a mixture of a few things that has led to the rather sad state of the present day horror movie genre. Studios are almost exclusively releasing focus group tested movies. Sure there are exceptions to this rule, but for the most part a big studio isn’t going to consider a low-budget horror flick when the can release Saw 4 with a built-in audience. Why make a Devil’s Rejects when you can do Saw 4 and/or make a Chainsaw remake with CGI and the latest WB actress that happens to be on the cover of Maxim? These kinds of movies have that “built-in audience” that grabs The Suits attention more than sitting through an unknown pitch. This stuff goes right on down to comics these days. Why are they pummeling fans with “Event Comics”? Because they sell and they know people will buy them no matter what.

All right, on to the real matter at hand. My reaction to the closest thing to a 1970’s low-budget horror flick: Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects.

I really dug about 2/3rds of this movie. It had a little Chainsaw, a little Last House on the Left and even a little Bonnie and Clyde. Zombie did some really nice things with the camera and some really nice use of Needle Drops along the way. They got a little repetitive and at times I wondered if they only used the Needle Drop because they paid for the rights to the song, but nevertheless I was impressed by the look of the film. While there were a lot of old horror homage scenes (Like Chainsaw and Last House) there was that twist to them that made them not come off as a total rip-off. The only thing that really bothered me was the last half hour. The pre-established characterization went out the window when it served the plot as well as the use of a rather convenient and confusing plot devise. (The deformed mongoloid that saved the day and then walked into a burning house as if the reason for doing so obvious to the viewer.) The car scene at the end just seemed weird to me, almost like it was an afterthought, but hey, who am I to complain? There weren’t any CGI monsters and bad acting like you see in flicks like Saw or The Hills Have Eyes. Which, I should confess I haven’t been able to sit through because I suddenly become a luddite when it comes to making horror movies. They should put a cap on Horror movie budgets and completely ban the use of CGI in every one. Prove me wrong, but I haven’t seen it work yet.

Anyway, if you’re a horror movie fan, check out Devil’s Rejects. It was a pretty solid flick…. Especially if you’re a fan of 70’s horror movies.

Thanks for reading,

Friday, March 16, 2007

Diverging Comics Interview

My first post-lettering interview is up over at Diverging Comics dot com... Check it out here!

Big thanks to Sean and Wayne for the exposure.

Stay tuned for another Podcast interview next week.


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Another Sketchbook Bites the Dust

I don’t know of too many artists that don’t carry a sketchbook with them at all times. Some do incredible work in their books, while others like myself, use it almost as a diary. The bulk of my sketchbooks are filled with “Subway Sketches”. Which is something that was introduced to me by a teacher at Pratt. He or she (sadly I can’t remember what teacher is was) made it a homework assignment to bring in a few pages of our sketchbooks filled with people we drew on the subway. At first it was tough for me. I’d hunch over my sketchbook in a vain attempt to hide what I was doing but as time went by I reached a place where I could just draw without caring who was watching me. Although I do feel weird when the person whom I’m sketching realizes that I’m using them as a figure drawing exercise. A handful of times people have gotten up and walked away after realizing what I was doing but after the hundreds of people I’ve drawn that’s a really rare occurrence.

Unfortunately, working from home for 4 years made it tougher and tougher to fill up my sketchbook. I’d only ride on the train a few times a month but with my job forcing me back into the NYC Rat Race I just finished a great little sketchbook that Ereisa bought me back in 2004. I can’t believe it took me this long to fill up 192 pages but it did. So before I file this little book on the shelf with all my other spent sketchbooks, I thought I’d scan a few choice pages and throw them up here on the bog. Flipping through it’s really fun to see the work go from good to awful to horrendous to bad. It was also pretty wild to see quite a few rants about wanting to get out of lettering. I also did a few streams of conscious comix for the first time, something that I’ll diffidently be doing again in my new sketchbook.

So check out a few random sketches.

1. Cover
After I finish every sketchbook I go through it and write down anything that I did in it that I think I might need and/or want to use later on. There are 3 upcoming NYComix in this sketchbook and they’re noted at the bottom. I also did the Randall Redesigns in this in there.

2. NYComix Volume 2 Mini Comic Cover Ideas
I knew from the start I wanted to do a stencil, but none of these ideas made it very far.

3. Old Man
People get off the train before you can finish drawing all the time. This guy got up right when I started and it morphed into this weird thing.

4. Randall Redesigns
The redesigns just started in here and then went on to a bigger 9x12” sketchbook I use for character designs and page thumbnails for comix. I even do a few pages in that sketchbook instead of on art board. But that’s fairly rare.

5. Comix
Chris Ware’s sketchbooks got me into doing comics in my sketchbook. Something I never considered before. None of these will become more than this, but one will… (Although not the one I’m showing here.)

6. Monk’s Mood
Listening to Jazz on the subway is a favorite pastime of mine. This was done while listening to Thelonious Monk’s “Monk’s Mood.”

7. DMV
Not done on the Subway but at the Midtown Manhattan DMV. I think it was an almost 4 hour wait. The character is “Art” who I guess is becoming my other comic persona…he made an appearance in the first (and so far, only) “LazyComix Presents…” More of the ol’ curmudgeon to come.

8. Subway Sketch
One of the more tolerable examples of my subway sketches. This one done on the way home from my first day at the new job.

So there you have a few excerpts from my recently depleted sketchbook. I’m already 2 pages into a new one. Let’s hope this one doesn’t take almost 3 years to finish. Boy, that’s pathetic. I need to draw more.

In other news I’ve got a few things coming up including a few interviews. One in plain ol’ print and the other a podcast where you can hear me babble for over an hour. More on that stuff to come.

Stay tuned and thanks for reading,

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Reviews of Old Stuff

So 2 weeks down at the new job and only 2 blogs to match. Gotta get more into the swing of this thing and figure out a way to post more consistently. Even so, I wish I had some reviews of new comics to make but this week was an uneventful trip to the comic shop. Instead I’ve got a handful of old comics that I picked up at the NYComicCon.

The 2nd Annual New York Comic Con was pretty good. Much, much bigger than last year and from what I hear it was a more organized event. While there I picked up a few comics out of the dollar bin. “Dollar bin”, god-forbid they have a 50-cent bin. You’d think they’d sell more that way. I mean, I’m assuming this is all left over stuff. I know I would’ve picked up a lot more back issues at 50 cents.

Anyway I picked up the first 3 (of 4) issues of Evan Dorkin and Dean Haspiel’s-- The Thing: Night Falls on Yancy Street. Dorkin and Haspiel really had a grasp on what made Ben Grimm The Thing. They also clearly have love for the great Lee/Kirby FF of the 60’s and of 70’s Marvel books. I absolutely loved it and I wish they had that issue 4. Guess I’ll have to track it down. I don’t think this is collected anywhere, unless they packed it into the back of an FF trade somewhere. If anyone knows, shoot me a message.

I also picked up a random issue of “Web of Spider-Man”. (Issue 30) I remember that I had the issue back when I was a kid but after reading it (and not finishing it) I can’t figure out what made me remember it. It dealt with a character called “The Rose” and a new Hobgoblin. It was really convoluted and spent more time telling stuff that happened in other issues of whatever Spidey books they were putting out back then than it did telling its own story.

I also picked up Spider-Man’s Tangled Web #15 with a story by Paul Pope. Pope’s art is so good I’ll basically buy anything he does. I don’t know why this series was cancelled but the premise of the book was something I wish Marvel would try again. Self contained Spidey stories by established creators who primarily work in the “Indy” world. Bendis did this as well with Ultimate Marvel Team-Up. Maybe they’ll get back to this someday but I doubt it. Reading that Spidey story made me realize that I haven’t read an ongoing Spider-Book in a few years now. I’m still on my fanboy soapbox with Amazing Spidey. As long as JMS is on that book I won’t read it. I had hopes for Friendly Neighborhood with David and Weiringo but they kicked that off with that “The Other” storyline and followed that up with the Iron Spidey thing. And I’m not even sure what the other Spider-Book is. I will be picking up Ultimate Spider-Man when Stuart Immonen takes over. I’ve read the Bendis/Bagley version off-and-on but I grew tired of Bagley’s art after a while. I just can’t get into his work. Immonen, on the other hand, is an artist whose work I really enjoy. I lettered his stuff on Thor a few years ago and his style has really changed since then. I read a few issues of Nextwave and while his work was great I wasn’t a fan of Warren Ellis’ writing. I’m definitely looking forward to Immonen’s Spidey work, though. It’ll be nice to read some Spidey again.

Speaking of Warren Ellis I read his and Adi Granov’s Iron Man: Extremis trade last week. I lettered this storyline but didn’t read a word of it while I did. The book was chronically late and up against a deadline plus there were a few chunks of 20 plus balloon pages that would’ve taken me longer to read then letter, so it was nice to read it without really knowing what was going on. I’ve never read any of Ellis’ big stories like Transmetropolitan or Planetary and as I said earlier I didn’t love Nextwave or his Ultimate Galactus stuff so my expectations weren’t high. I gotta say though, I really enjoyed this story. Without spoiling it the story deals with a new version of the super soldier serum that was ingested by a terrorist hell bent on destroying the future. Ellis really jumped Iron man and the armor into the next generation making the armor more than just a wearable weapon. While there were some chatty parts they didn’t bother me much and there was plenty of action to make up for it. Really, the one thing about the book I didn’t love was the painted art by Adi Granov. While it was quite nice in places, the endless barrage of Tom Cruise reference got really old fast. This stuff is becoming more and more prevalent with Marvel books lately with guys like Bryan Hitch and the king of photo reference (or light boxing) Greg Land. I don’t know what’s up with it but man it annoys the crap out of me. It’s “Photo Reference” not “Photo Replication”. Nevertheless, check out the trade.

So there are a few comic reviews for ya. Maybe I’ll find some new books this Wednesday.

Stay tuned,