Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Goblin Week 2020 _World of the Dark Crystal_ Brian Froud Master Studies

I have, if I do say so myself, an impressive collection of art books.  One of my favorite things I used to do was take one, pour over it, and draw from the illustrations in my own Sketchbooks.  My version of a Master Study, a very important learning method for any artist.  Any time I copy from a professional, the results always eventually end up more "me" anyway, but I still learn a lot from mimicking my favorites. 

I've never really thought to share such studies but A. I got a copy of the gorgeous concept art book The World of the Dark Crystal, which I never thought I'd get to own.  It's been reissued to celebrate "The Dark Crystal Age of Resistance" series which, goodness, is a genuine miracle.  Like, go watch it right now instead of reading this.  Anyway, the book is a fantastic collection of Brian Froud's concept art for the film and loads of world-building notes. 

And B. it is Goblin Week, my dudes!  And so, here are some Brian Froud-y gobliny "Dark Crystal" critters.  Drawing these little guys was so much fun and it makes me want to draw more studies like these (eyes the "Labyrinth" concept art book on the shelf).

You'll notice a note on the first page.  The Sketchbook I'm currently using is a Design Ideation LS PAINT.  And it is... fine.  It just doesn't take watercolor paint very well at all and the pages are thin enough to bleed through.  It was very nice for these pencil drawings though.  Note the pages are actually a creamy white paper; the rusty background on these images seemed to suit these little goblins better.

1.21.20 - Goblin Week Brian Froud Studies

1.21.20 - Goblin Week Brian Froud Studies

1.21.20 - Goblin Week Brian Froud Studies

1.21.20 - Goblin Week Brian Froud Studies

1.21.20 - Goblin Week Brian Froud Studies

And now for some bonus sillyness:

1.21.20 - Goblin Week Brian Froud Studies

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

The Triumphant Return of Walter Fozbek!

Few things make me happier than getting to finally tie up a long-dangling loose end. 

You may recall that way WAY back in the summer of 2011, I wrote two long, weird posts about The Double Disappearance of Walter Fozbek by Steve Senn, a short, weird book that I mostly remembered for it's very short, very weird animated adaptation that aired as part of the anthology series "CBS Storybreak".  I strongly recommend reading those posts because there's a lot of information in them.  Like I said, this is a very weird book.  (You'll also get to enjoy some early-installment weirdness.  Who the hell is this person who actually enjoyed the taste of an IPA?  Certainly not I?)

As happy as I was to finally find the book, I still longed to watch the cartoon again.  I figured by now that it was lost to the ages, Lost Media if you will.  But it turns out that there's a small but dedicated contingent of YouTubers finding and uploading as many "CBS Storybreak" episodes as they can find.

And, miraculously, "The Double Disappearance of Walter Fozbek" is among them!  What a great way to kick off the new decade!  Here it is:



Goodness.

I remember practically every minute of this strange little cartoon. It's really close to the book, aside from a somewhat streamlined ending, "Flintstones"-ish prehistoric gags and all.  There's also a touch more existential angst.  Like, certainly "The Last Unicorn" this ain't.  But that scene where Walter (remember he's the only human in a world of anthropomorphic animals) is face-to-face with the fossil remains of another human (remember humans are extinct in this world); that kind of thing messes you up as a kid. 

Between the New Kids on the Block Christmas Special and "Walter Fozbek", this has been a very good time for “Yay I KNEW it was real!  And, now that I can finally watch it after 20-30 years, I completely understand why everyone looked so confused and slightly concerned when I tried to describe it to them.”

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Art! A cute pudgy Unicorn and her tiny Fairy friends to bless our 2020's.

4.19.19 - Pudgy Unicorn

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

A Happy Holiday To All!

Here at the Blog, we've explored all kinds of holiday specials, the good, the bad, and the weird.  In all those years, one special evaded me.  It was a Christmas special I only saw once ever and remembered... not fondly.  Not fondly at all really.  In fact, I remember it being pretty bad.  The thing is, how bad was it, really?  It seemed this would forever remain a mystery.

Until this year.  The YouTube search finally came through.  Some wonderful crazy person (screennamed Ram Jam) finally uploaded it.  Cue the jingle bells and popcorn drum machine and sparkly synths, and journey back to 1990 with me, cause it's time for "Merry Merry Christmas".  It's time for the New Kids on the Block cartoon Christmas Episode!



So.  It's not just that this is as bad and weird as I remember from the one ever time I saw this during the one ever time it aired.  It's worse and weirder.  It's like they purposefully went out of there way to make a "Star Wars Holiday Special" for boy bands.  My favorite WTF moment is that moving "Biscuit in a Santa Claus suit stares out the car window contemplating the magic of a Christmas night in New York City as Jordan Knight falsettos the sh*t out of a sad/inanely cheesy Christmas song" scene.  All the songs are from the "Merry Merry Christmas" album which... is a Christmas album that exists.

I also think we can all agree that this is a (very very distant) second-best ever production involving Donnie Wahlberg where there is a sad weird kid and mystery everywhere and a character who turns out to be a ghost in the end.



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Since I know maybe three of you here are as thrilled about this crappy decades-old cartoon as I am, here is another present.  Over the summer my aunt, cousins, and friends all got puppies.  One day the three little sweeties all came over for a puppy party, and how could I resist?  So here are cute drawings of cute dogs!  Happy, merry, holly, jolly season's greetings here!

8.19.19 - Dog Studies

8.19.19 - Dog Studies

8.19.19 - Dog Studies

8.19.19 - Dog Studies

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

2019 National Dog Show Sketches!

It's that time of year again!  My current Sketchbook is a Design Ideation LS Paint, and it's pretty nice so far.  Anyway, on to the doggies.  It's tradition after all.

12.6.19 - National Dog Show Sketches

12.6.19 - National Dog Show Sketches

12.6.19 - National Dog Show Sketches

12.6.19 - National Dog Show Sketches

12.6.19 - National Dog Show Sketches

Saturday, December 7, 2019

"We call this making the best out of what we can control!" - Thoughts on "Frozen 2"

Note that this review will contain some spoilers for both "Frozen", "Frozen 2", and their various spin-offs.  For now, just know that "Frozen 2" is awesome, and may even be that rare sequel that not only equals but exceeds the original.  I really can't wait to do a deep-dive into it for the Princess Project when it hits home media.  Go see it.

Back when I first reviewed "Frozen", I dedicated an entire paragraph to Olaf.  As you might recall, most of the marketing for the first film centered around him and suggested he'd be a Jar Jar Binks-esque annoyance.  And then it turned out this weird little snowman was in fact a good emotional support buddy who is trying his best.  I'd go right ahead and consider Olaf a top ten Disney Sidekick.

And that status is pretty much sealed by the end of "Frozen 2", because our dear little ugly-cute snowman friend goes through an entire existential crisis.  Seriously.  To the point where Olaf's solo song has a bridge (I guess?) that is just him screaming in blind terror.  Having the cute little sidekick character suffer from extremely relatable anxiety is, if you will excuse me, a bold f-ing choice.

Especially when you consider, and I'm not the first Disney fan to make this joke, that back in the day, "Frozen 2" would've been direct to video with dodgy animation, only one good song if even that, and at least one wrong-sounding character and probably two.  The plot would be maybe Hans has magical powers and is back for revenge, or Anna and Kristoff have kids and they go on their own adventure that feels very familiar somehow, or, I don't know, Sven wants to join an all-deer country band but that'd mean leaving all his friends so he doesn't.  The best scene, unintentionally and by a long shot, would be when Kristoff yeets his entire self out a window.

Instead, "Frozen 2" is a story about getting older, dealing with change, suffering with grief, learning of the ecological and political nightmares caused long ago by your foolish ancestors and finally atoning for them, and ultimately finding the place your heart wants to be in.  It's an intense journey; "Frozen" was already pretty dark and complex, and I think that's the reason for it's enduring popularity.  But once the plot of "Frozen 2" kicks in, all our old friends are -as the young people say- Going Through A Lot.  I was half-expecting the end credits gag (which is cute, to be sure) to be Anna in group trauma therapy.  Her solo song late in the picture; man...


Speaking of, the songs!  I've more or less sold this movie to skeptics by simply stating, "This time, Elsa gets two big solo numbers."  They're both excellent, I love them both, and they're destined to be anthems.  That said, the very best song might be the haunting folk ballad lullaby we hear throughout the film that's full of spooky Fairy Tale imagery (and that, if you're like me and are inclined to notice such things, sneakily foreshadows the whole movie.)  I love that they've brought back "Vuelie" as a theme, and... I'm guessing you've already heard about Kristoff's big number...


Most of all, my very favorite aspect of "Frozen 2" is Elsa's journey, which is really the one thing I needed them to not screw up.  I will not spoil it but it is beautiful.  And not just for the fact that a long time ago I argued that while political powers are awesome, magic powers are objectively better and having both is The Best, and I'm astonished and delighted that this movie agrees with me, so there.

For more posts in this ongoing series, go here, or click the Chronological Disney Animated Canon tag below.

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Art of the Day!

Here's a question posed by a little kid I know and... I did not know how to answer.  I mean, I couldn't, because I haven't seen "Ugly Dolls" (and I probably will not; I'm betting most of you completely forgot there was an "Ugly Dolls" movie too).  But now I'm wondering what would've happened if we could've watched "Frozen 2", where the one very definitely a villain/bad guy character is long gone and the antagonistic forces at work are more internal and abstract.

I'm also wondering what they'd think of "Wreck-It Ralph"...

7.7.19 - "Bad Guys"

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

"Roger Rabbit and the Secrets of Toontown"

Goodness, I don't even know where to begin with Richard Williams.

I, like many, first learned of the man thanks to "Who Framed Roger Rabbit", a film that simply does not exist without Williams.  This awesome television special, which I remember watching during its premier, is an astounding look behind the scenes.  And it feels like it's from a completely different planet now: animators, voice actors, and effects technicians are all given as much attention as the human stars.  More in fact!  Imagine!



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Art of the Day!

7.19.19 - Loons

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

"Defunct TV: Jim Henson"

While I love the Defunctland channel anyway, they've completely outdone themselves with this fantastic six-part tribute to Jim Henson.  A wonderfully edited tribute to a wonderful man, it covers everything from "Sam and Friends" to "The Muppets at Walt Disney World".




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Art of the week:

5.25.19 - Impressionistic Geese