Friday, June 17, 2016

Let's Read a Weird Preview of Barlowe's Expedition!

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Current Science was one of the many, many magazines passed out in classrooms during the 80's and 90's, most of which were spin-offs of Weekly Reader.  This one specialized in science (of course), but would occasionally give some attention to speculative fiction.  There were issues with reader-submitted science fiction stories and an issue (which I have lamentably lost) that previewed the book Jurassic Park.  And there's this preview of Wayne D. Barlowe's Expedition.

This is, in fact, how I learned about Barlowe as an artist and where it finally clicked that fantastic creatures in film, books, games, and so on had to have been designed by an artist - a creature designer if you will.  Sadly, in hindsight, the article itself isn't very good.  The illustrations are, of course, unbeatable, but I'm not keen on how the residents of Darwin 4 are presented as a puzzle to be solved.  I do like that prompt for fanart at the end though...

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Next week, I'm taking a mental health break and then...

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...we finally start in on this feast.


Draw of the Day!

Here's a Barlowey critter I drew a while ago.  I figure something has to be swimming in that river...

7.24.08 Wayne D. Barlowe Type Thing

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Let's Update Our Knowledge of Dinosaurs... in 1993!

Oh boy. This one is a doozie.

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June 11, 1993 was the premier date of the original "Jurassic Park" movie, which means that today is it's 23'rd birthday.  To celebrate, let's take a look back at this Time Magazine cover story meant to not only get us hyped for the movie, but also to bring people up to speed about dinosaurs.  It's all old news to us (woah, dude, birds are a kind of dinosaur?!?) but the illustrations are quite lovely.

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There's also a neat article about "Jurassic Park" where we're reminded that the special effects team was kind of terrified that their creatures wouldn't be convincing, that paleontologists were on the whole very enthusiastic about the film, and that poor Tianchisaurus (nee Jurassosaurus) might have the most ghastly species name of any animal, extinct or extant.

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Art of the Day!

Last month was Mer-May! Here's a cute Mer-Fay and her nymph buddy.

5.17 - "Watch What I Can Do!"

Friday, June 10, 2016

Sad News

My beloved aunt and Godmother passed away last Sunday morning.  Yesterday was her funeral.  This whole week has been an awful whirlwind of mourning and heartache and I'm just now able to write about this here.

My Godmother was an incredible, wild, vivacious woman who loved me like another daughter.  Her loss is so monumental, my entire body hurts like I've been gutted.  If you ever met her, you'd never forget her, and you'd feel heartbroken too, because she brought joy and light to so many different people. 

I think that was the only happy aspect of her wake; the line to pay her respects went around the block (twice, curling like a seashell, according to some!) and the room was so crowded that I kept crashing into people - but they were all people who I love and who love me.  That was my Godmother's effect on everyone and I don't have any better word for it than magic.  There are a lot of angels in my life but she - she's my Faery Godmother. 

Life is never going to be the same without her.  But the world turns, time passes, and shows must go on, so new posts will go up as scheduled.  Drawing and writing helps keep me from despairing, and it helps me a lot to remember and laugh about the past.  We all know 2016 has been a really crummy year so far with all the profoundly creative people we've lost, so I think the best thing to do is fill the void with more creativity.  Art and imagination are the magic in this world and we need more.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Let's Look at the State of Superheros Back in the Day!

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You've probably noticed that in the 2010's, superheros are a pretty big deal.  Back in 1994, there were also lots of superhero shows -lots, as we shall see in a minute- and "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers" was a monster hit.

So of course, more Sentai series flooded the airwaves to cash in ride the tide.  I wonder if anyone has any nostalgia for "Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters from Beverly Hills"?  (Which, unbelievably, it turns out isn't made up by the author as a joke to see if us readers in the future were paying attention.  Although maybe, given later series like "The Mystical Knights of Tir-Na-Nog" [Sentai and also Irish folklore as interpreted by somebody who saw the commercial for "Celtic Moods" once] and the insane "Big Bad Beetleborgs" [Sentai and also classic movie monsters and a horrifying Jay Leno Genie thing because sure why not], it's not that unbelievable.)

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But it's in animation that we find more of the established comic superheros in 1994.  This deeply strange (oh, we will get to that) article credits "Power Rangers" for the rise in popularity while ignoring the fact that, under some title variation or other, arguably the greatest superhero animation in recent history has been going strong for several years now.  I speak of course of "Batman: The Animated Series", which the author of this article enjoys because he can watch it with his six-year-old son, since it's easy to tell that Batman and Robin are good guys.  Not like in "Gargoyles", where the titular characters look scary.

Now... six is definitely a little young for "Gargoyles" to be fair.  It was the show you had to take notes on after all.  But the thing that strikes me as weird is that it's not only the little kid who can't process the series; that'd just be understandable.  It's also the grown-ass adult who can't understand that the monstrous-looking but very honorable Gargoyles are good guys, even though they fight obvious villains to protect the city and Goliath spends at least half of every episode talking about duty and bravery and generally being Proud Warrior Guy With A Very Sad Back-Story.

You know, like Batman is a Proud Warrior Guy With A Very Sad Back-Story.  Though the author just doesn't get who Batman is and why he fights villains and... uhhhhgh...

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There's other weirdness, including a dismissive mention of "X-Men" and a very brief side-glance at "The Tick".  There's also a surprisingly fair explanation of why Disney was way out of their tree when trying to market "Gargoyles".  (I still can't look at their initial home media release's cover without thinking, "Ahahaha, damn..."  Looks like the States got that "Moms, this is totally an OK Disney movie to buy for your kids look how everybody's smiling cutely" cover while European markets got something just a tiny little bit more indicative of the actual show.)

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Draw of the Day

Everybody has a "Gargoyles" fan-character, here's mine. She's a library Gargoyle of course.

5.18 - A Library Gargoyle

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Let's Argue the Merits of Wishbone and Gawk at International Cartoons

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Boy, do I wish either of the cover stories in this pair of TV Guides was as interesting as these little lesser articles I found inside.  It's 1997, and the Goosebumps story is a snore and the Elmo story is too kid-friendly.  There isn't a word of dissent for either entity in either article, though you would have heard plenty in reality (and this is where I link to the AV Club's fantastic interview with R.L. Stine.

The potential ire is instead saved for a show that up until a few years ago, I'd have sworn was a weird dream: "Wishbone", the totally-educational-you-guys-we-swear live-action series where a terrier imagines himself as the heroes of classic literature.  If you don't remember "Wishbone", the article below isn't a bad summary, but it's nothing compared to watching the show itself.  Heck, I can remember a brief, shining moment when even the TV Tropes editors joined hands in mutual respect and harmony and agreed, "Yeah, this was a weird one."

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Now we're in 1996.  Cover story "Rugrats" is already the pre-"Spongebob" Nicktoon that refuses to go away, but never mind that...

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What are children in other countries watching?  Well, it's pretty easy to find out now, what with the Internet and all, but articles like the following were all we had in '96.  It's an interesting selection to be sure.  I like how some of the summaries are deeply misleading (apparently Mortadelo is an Animorph?)

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Sketch of the Day

Random video game critters:

3.30.16 - Final Fantasy 5 and Animal Crossing

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Let's Struggle to Understand "Pokemon" and the V-Chip!

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Hey, did you know that adults have a hard time understanding "Pokemon"?  Isn't that hilarious and relatable?  Well, sure...

You know, except for the piddling detail that I *am* an adult and I love "Pokemon".  Grew up with it even.  And in 1999 I would probably give people my age who do not understand - just understand, not even necessarily like- "It's a role-playing game.  There are magical creatures with special powers that are either strong or weak against others.  You befriend and train a team of six such creatures on an adventure across the country" the side-eye.  (Hell, I don't even know how I'd react now to a person who was in college in 1999 who still does not get "Pokemon".  I hope this never happens; it would be awkward.)

Pretty sure everybody understands collectable magazine covers though:

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(This is where I remember thinking of Togepi as a Scrappy-Doo like pest at the time.  "Soul Silver" proved me wrong.)

Here's the article in full, and there are just so many great things in it.  The "Damn kids these days would rather enjoy (thing) than play the way I did when I was their age", the author's uncomfortable fixation on Misty's legs, the "This is totally cockfighting and also gambling and addiction and probably other bad things," the note that there is no inherit value in the trading card game cards but there totally is in old bottle caps (wtf?), the peek into the very late-90's trend of how everything collectable is totally going to increase in value someday you guys, and the assurance that "Pokemon" is definitely going to be a short-lived fad that nobody is going to care about in, say, twenty years.  Mmm-hmm.

I am especially in awe of the bit where he wants us to "imagine a baby Rosie O'Donnell" when picturing Pikachu.  That is the Year 1999 handily condensed into one single sentence.

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^^ I also really love those bonkers episode summaries and how they just flat-out spoil what Marill looks like without you having to do the puzzle.

Of course 1999 wasn't all cute magical elemental monsters.  This was also the year of TV ratings and the V-Chip.  I can't overstate how this was such a huge, controversial deal back in the day.  And now it's just something we live with.  It's weird how that happened and makes articles like this very strange to read in hindsight.

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Drawing of the Day

Some of those older Pokemon designs, yo...

3.3.16 - Purple Pokemon

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Let's go Behind the Scenes of "Walking With Dinosaurs"!

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Man, I almost tossed this issue out without even flipping through it.  I mean, that cover.  (I do find it funny that a very dark and serious drama based on what was happening behind the scenes of the Three Stooges was teased... thus.  Then a few years later, rumors started bubbling of a feature film telling the same sad story and peopled with fine dramatic actors, and then when it finally arrived it looked like... this.  Point is, movies about the Three Stooges are probably destined to be confounding.)

I'm very happy that I did not, because nestled deep within the pages is this fine little article about the original "Walking With Dinosaurs" miniseries.  And it's labeled as something you adults can watch with your children because why would you ever otherwise watch something about dinosaurs, which are for the children, I guess? 

I appreciate that there's a little acknowledgement of the controversy over "Walking With Dinosaurs"; how a great deal of it is purely speculative.  But I wish it was presented in less of a "pedantic scientist hates fun" way.  I'm from the future, speculative biology bordering on straight fantasy "documentaries" on the Discovery networks and the idea that paleontologists spend much of their time whining about accuracy instead of enjoying things is just going to get worse.

But never mind all that; here's the article in it's entirety:

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Sketch of the Day

For no reason (except for I don't think I've shared them here yet), gestures from the World Figure Skating Championship Exhibition:

4.3.16 - Skating Champ Gestures