Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The "Jurassic World" Challenge!

Believe it or else, a fourth "Jurassic Park" movie is a thing that is happening and will be among us very soon. A great deal of ink, sweat, spit, blood, and feathers have flown in the paleontological community about this upcoming film. Personally, I think it looks like either hot garbage or a complete and utter sh*tshow, and I can think of at least five other movies I'd rather see this summer but haven't gotten around to yet. (I would also rather kick myself in the head than watch "Jurassic 4: The Legend of Hammond's Gold" but whatever.)

But instead of getting angry about dinosaur movies, why don't we channel that energy into a force for good? Our buddy David Orr at Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs explains:

So here is an idea. It's pretty simple. I call it the Jurassic World Challenge. If you're buying a ticket for the movie, it's a fair bet that you also have that much money to give to the people who bring prehistory to life in the real world. Think of it as a matching fund, crowdsourced. See the movie, do some good. The official rules:

Donate the equivalent of your Jurassic World ticket price to paleontological research


Spend the equivalent of your ticket price on the wares of an independent paleoartist

Of course, you don't have to pick one or the other. Buy some art, give some money to a research effort, enjoy the movie.

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There is a handy list of charities over at Chasmosaurs and nearly every paleoartist I know has a DeviantArt, Red Bubble, or whatever shop.  And yes, I helped.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Time for Part Four of the Bookshelf Tour!

These next two shelves are... eclectic.  They've got nearly all my nonfiction after all.

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Predatory Dinosaurs of the World: A Complete Illustrated Guide, Gregory S. Paul - Still the most-referenced dinosaur anatomy guide I have. My copy is practically loved to death.

The Dinosaur Heresies, Robert T. Bakker - The classic.  Still a must-read.  She isn't shelved yet but I've got Raptor Red around here too.

The Reader's Digest North American Wildlife, The Editors of Reader's Digest - This kind of has a cute story behind it.  It was my grandparents' field guide and Grammy gave it to me before she passed.  Yes, it's outdated like crazy, but it's still not a bad reference and by golly it's staying in the family.

Feathers: The Evolution of a Natural Miracle, Thor Hanson - Gorgeous book that simplifies a surprisingly complex subject.

Picture books by Michel Gange, Tiffany Turrill, and Bill Peet - All are very nice.

Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic - Not much to say here, I've loved these books since childhood.

Retro Hell: Life in the '70s and '80S, from Afros to Zotz, The Editors of Ben is Dead Magazine - I've seen a lot of "Oral history of the late 20'th Century" books but this is my favorite.

Future Evolution, Peter Ward and Alexis Rockman - Got this for the title expecting something akin to Dougal Dixon's books. It's very much not that, but it's worth a read for anyone interested in speculative biology. Speaking of...

The Snouters - Harald Stümpke and Leigh Chadwick - The classic tongue-in-cheek speculative biology.

All Yesterdays and Cryptozoologicon 1, Darren Naish, John Conway, and C.M. Kosemen - Spectacular speculative art of animals real and imagined.

Expedition - As I said before, Barlowe rules and his books are essential.  I've got his Guide to Extraterrestrials and Guide to Fantasy on another shelf.

A Field Guide to Mesozoic Birds and Other Winged Dinosaurs, Matthew P. Martyniuk - Beautiful guide and such a wonderful idea you wonder why it hasn't been done before.

The complete Field Guide to Little Known and Seldom Seen Birds of North America collection, Cathryn Sill and John Sill - I've been planning a long post about these books for a while. Maybe this year...?

The Noble Approach: Maurice Noble and the Zen of Animation Design, Tod Polson and Maurice Noble - Haven't had the chance to properly read this yet but it looks fabulous.  Looks like the focus is on design and layout, making this more valuable than just a collection of Noble's art, though that'd be enough.

Magic Color Flair: The World of Mary Blair, John Canemaker and Mary Blair - Outstanding, must-have collection of Mary Blair's art and design.

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Picture books by Chris Van Allsburg, David Wiesner, and Maurice Sendak - All are outstanding.

Hark! A Vagrant Collection, Kate Beaton -  If you're unfamiliar with this comic, it is adorable and hilarious.

A Creative Companion, SARK - OK, so SARK is a little "woo-woo" as the TetZoo crew would say, but I haven't found another "get that imagination going" book that worked for me as well as this.  Your mileage may vary.

Legendary Northwoods Animals: A Farcical Field Guide, Galen Winter and John Boettcher - Terrific woodcut-style illustrations highlight this guide to mythical North American animals.

Cartoon Animation, Preston Blair - A must-have. I'd even go so far as to say this is the one animation/cartooning instruction book you really need.

Puddles and Wings and Grapevine Swings, Imogene Forte and Marjorie Frank - Dated but excellent arts and crafts instruction book with tips on (to borrow a phrase) raising a Wild Child.

Crafts and Hobbies: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creative Skills, the Editors of Reader's Digest - Another book I "inherited" from my grandmother. It's a good all-around reference guide.

Tetrapod Zoology 1, Darren Naish - A fine collection of some of the earlier articles on Naish's terrific website.

My Year of Flops, Nathan Rabin - Print collection of the very funny former Onion AV Club feature.

Inside Disney, Eve Zibart - An essential for the Disney theme park geek's library.  Insightful and fascinating.

Dragons, Leonardo's Notebooks, and Peterson's Birds - A small selection of economical art books I've collected over the years.

And, of course, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Omnibus, Douglas Adams.  Happy belated Towel Day!

And right next to that, the most beautifullest thing in this world, space for more books!

I'll be taking a little break from the Blog, but I'll be back in July.


Sketch of the Day!

More original "Final Fantasy" weirdness

3.26.15 Let's Play Doodles

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Bookshelf Tour Part Three!

Art books, reference books, and picture books this time, as well as some books I already mentioned in previous posts.

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Jan Brett's Christmas Treasury - I love Jan Brett's art and this is a very nice omnibus of her charming Christmas-themed picture books.

Enchanted Drawings: The History of Animation, Charles Solomon - Outstanding, must-own art book and condensed history of (mostly American) animated shorts and features, with a few stops along the way to briefly discuss animated commercials, music videos, and special effects.  Starts with "Gertie the Dinosaur", ends with "Jurassic Park", and has a wealth of animation art throughout.

Your Favorite Seuss -Basic, but good, collection of art from Dr. Suess' classic picture books.

After Man and The New Dinosaurs, Dougal Dixon -The first of many speculative biology books!  I've reviewed both books before and while they are dated, they are essential for the science-fiction illustrator's collection.

The Alien Life of Wayne Barlowe - Criminy, I need to show more love to Barlowe on this here blog.  We'll run into his better known books later, but this is a very nice overview of his art and career.  It makes me long for a book showcasing all his creature designs for films, though.

Gnomes, Wil Huygen and Rien Poortvliet - Essential, gorgeous book.  I love the world-building so much.

Faeries by Brian Froud and Alan Lee and Good Faeries, Bad Faeries by Brian Froud - Faeries is yet another must-have for your illustrator's library.  It's gorgeous and inspiring.  Good Faeries, Bad Faeries is a fine companion.

Arthur Rackham, James Hamilton - Haven't had a chance to properly read this one yet, but it's a very nice collection of Rackham's illustrations.

Mythopoeikon, Patrick Woodroffe - A former library book I discovered at my college's book sale and it blew me away.  Great psychedelic art.

Since the World Began: Walt Disney World - The First 25 Years, Jeff Kurtti - An essential part of any Disney theme park nerd's library.

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Birds: The Definitive Reference to Birds of the World,  Dr. Christopher M. (ed.) Perrins - Found this giant, beautifully illustrated book in Buck-A-Book and it's been in my library ever since.

The Encyclopedia of Animals: A Complete Visual Guide, Fred Cooke and Hugh Dingle - An illustrated animal encyclopedia is a must-have and this one's pretty good.

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And here's a pile of picture books, any one of which I'd recommend heartily.  We're almost finished with the tour!


Sketch of the Day

The first "Final Fantasy" continues to be strange.
3.26.15 Let's Play Doodles

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

It Really Was Better When I Was Your Age. Deal With It. Let's Kill, Refurb, Marry Extinct Attractions!

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This is going to be an interesting one, because I'm not quite sure what the age-range of the bloggers who participate in Kill, Refurb, Marry is.  Bringing up extinct attractions will inevitably date many of us.  Let's get right into it.

Kill: "Honey, I Blew Your Eardrums Out Shrunk the Audience" - At first, I thought the "Kill" section here seems a little strange.  "Extinct attractions are already dead, by definition, and anyway MAH NOSTALGIA!  EVERYTHING WAS BETTER WHEN I WAS YOUR AGE!  FACT!"

Then I remembered that the attraction that turned me off the "Audience Abuse" subgenre of 4D shows forever, "Honey, I Shrunk the Audience", was a thing and thought, "Oh, no, nevermind.  That thing can go right straight to hell."

Refurb (more like "reinstate"): "The Magic of Disney Animation" But With Actual Animators Animating Things Again - In the original version of this attraction, you watched a short, very funny film that explained how animation is created and then got to walk above the heads of animators working on films.  I can't express how awesome this was.

In the current version, you stand in line to meet costumed versions of the characters standing in the very same places the animators used to work and get to watch the closest thing a real theme park has come to the "Mr. DNA" movie in "Jurassic Park". Also, I got yelled at for wanting to walk down a corridor that had actual animation concept art displayed on the walls.  Yeah.

Marry: "Horizons" - Was there any doubt?

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I'll be honest.  I'm still a little angry that I'm not currently living in an undersea building with a sea lion buddy.  I WAS PROMISED UNDERSEA BUILDINGS AND SEA LION BUDDIES!  ALSO, SPACE-HOTELS!

Then again, I am able to wish my relatives Happy Birthday instantly with time and space being no problem.  It's not as fun as Horizons made it look though.

Next Time: Resort Pools! The big surprise here would be if anyone chooses anything other than Stormalong Bay to marry.

Important Note: I was unaware that the date for this entry had been pushed forward to June.  Oh well, here it is early.


Sketch of the Day: Yi qi yi qi yi qi!!!

4.29 - Meet Yi qi!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

In Which the Bookshelf Tour Continues!

More books!  Here comes shelf #2:

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That's All Folks: The Art of Warner Bros. Animation, Steve Schneider - Once upon a time, there was a Warner Bros. Studio Store in my local mall, right across from the Disney Store.  And it was actually far more awesome than the Disney Store, because it sold original animation art.  It also sold this very nice art book, which can be found for dirt cheap now and is a must-have.

Disney's Art of Animation: From Mickey Mouse, To Beauty and the Beast, Bob Thomas - I got this beautiful book at the Animation Gallery, the proverbial gift shop you'd exit through after experiencing the original Magic of Disney Animation at Disney MGM Studios (curiously, the gift shop is still there in essentially it's original form).  Note that there are two editions; this is the older and far better edition which chronicles the making of "Beauty and the Beast".  That section of the book alone is worth hunting it down; getting a nice concise history of the Disney studio with it is icing on the cake.

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Cartoon Animals and The Encyclopedia of Monsters, by Jeff Rovin - I got these two at good old Buck-A-Book and, as with the aforementioned Macmillan Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals, I'll be keeping them until newer and more accurate options ever appear.  These two books are crazy extensive, and I've never quite found anything like them.

The Encyclopedia of Cartoon Superstars, John Cawley and Jim Korkis - Similar, though smaller in scope, to the above Jeff Rovin encyclopedia.   These were among the first books to try and catalog every animated character, so I can cut them some slack.  There's a nice selection of art and information about failed projects involving the characters, but it'd be very nice to have an updated book.  This one only goes as recent as "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" and it's a little jarring not seeing "The Simpsons" or "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles". The complete text is online at Cawley's personal site.

Spirits, Fairies, Leprechauns, and Goblins: An Encyclopedia and Giants, Monsters, and Dragons: An Encyclopedia, Carol Rose - Never realized how many Encyclopedias of Weird Stuff I had.  These two are very good and I highly recommend them.

The Last Dinosaur Book: The Life and Times of a Cultural Icon, W. J. T. Mitchell - A very, very unusual book I (luckily, it turns out, since this is very hard to find) picked up at an antique store just based off that intriguing title.  It's an analysis of dinosaurs in human culture and I might have to re-read it and give it a full review someday.

Traditional Tales From Long, Long Ago Hardcover, Philip Wilson - Very nice collection of Celtic folktales with charming illustrations.  Plus my copy came with that radical bookmark.

Our first run of picture books!  We've got some Chris Van Allsburg, Janell Cannon, and a stray Berke Breathed.  More on the latter in a bit.

Fairy Art: Artists & Inspirations, Iain Zaczek - Another art book I've yet to read, but this is a very nice collection of classic fantasy art.

Voyage of the Basset, James C. Christensen and Alan Dean Foster - The illustrations in this book are outstanding, almost on the same level as Dinotopia.  The story... ehhh...

The Katurran Odyssey and Animals Real and Imagined, Terryl Whitlatch - I love Terryl's creature designs like crazy and I dearly wish she had a proper omnibus of art.  These are pretty good and we'll see The Wildlife of Star Wars later on.

Dinotopia, James Gurney - The complete collection.  Need more be said?  These are essential.

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The Complete Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson, The Complete Far Side by Gary Larson, and The Bloom County Library by Berke Breathed, and others - My three all-time favorite newspaper comics.  The omnibuses are essential if you are a fellow fan.  You'll notice I also have Breathed's picture books and the three Outland collections, Larson's There's a Hair in my Dirt! (on it's side), as well as the Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book and (on it's side) the Prehistory of the Far Side.  Both are easy to find and essential companions to the complete collections.

Next week:  We take a break for Kill, Refurb Marry.  Then, NEXT next week, more books!  Nonfiction books for the Nonfiction God!  Reference books for the Reference Throne!


Sketch of the Day!

"Skies of Arcadia" reminds me of "Treasure Planet" except weirder.
3.22.15 - "Let's Play" Doodles

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

In Which I Give You A Tour of My Bookshelves!

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For my birthday this year, I cleaned my bookshelves!  This is a Big Deal!

Seriously, I follow a lot of blogs by other illustrators and the one thing we all seem to have in common is breaking out in chronic literature, as in the above wonderful Arnold Lobel poster.  Now that my books are as organized as they are probably ever going to get (which means that they are actually in bookshelves; I really did have piles of books all over the place), it seems like a good time to give you, dear readers, a tour.  This is going to take a couple of posts and table-breaking photos.

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Going from left to right (this shelf refused to photograph well thanks to the light seeping in from the adjacent window):

Jim Henson: The Works, Christopher Finch - This is one of the first art books I owned and it has spoiled me rotten ever since.  Loaded with concept art and history, this is a must-have.

Sesame Street Unpaved, David Borgenicht - Nice companion to The Works and very similar in format.  Plus you can currently find it for dirt cheap on Amazon.

Chuck Amuck and Chuck Reducks, Chuck Jones - Even if I wasn't such a Chuck Jones maniac, I'd consider these books essential. They're packed with concept art, anecdotes, and drawing tips.

Imaginative Realism and Color and Light, James Gurney - These books together have a wealth of information for painters. I don't paint very often, so I appreciate them more as a collection of Gurney's artwork.

Various Anatomy for Artists Books - Hey, remember these guys from the very earliest days of this blog? Wow, that takes me back.  Specifically, I've kept Burne Hogarth's Dynamic Anatomy, Ken Hultgren's The Art of Animal Drawing, Fritz Schider's Atlas of Anatomy for Artists, and a little later we'll be seeing Eadweard Muybridge's essential Animals in Motion, Ellenberger and Davis' Atlas Of Animal Anatomy For Artists, Eliot Goldfinger's Animal Anatomy For Artists: the Elements of Form (it was on sale), and Katrina Van Grouw's The Unfeathered Bird.

Character Animation Crash Course, Eric Goldberg - I've been referencing it more than I thought I would when I first reviewed it.

Paleoart Galore! - OK, let's see here. We've got The Macmillan Illustrated Encyclopedia of DINOSAURS and Prehistoric Animals, at least until an updated reference of every known prehistoric animal comes along, Mark Witton's beautiful Pterosaurs, Henry Gee and Louis V. Rey's beautiful beautiful Field Guide to Dinosaurs: The Essential Handbook for Travelers in the Mesozoic, Gregory S. Paul's Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs, William Stout's awesome The (New) Dinosaurs, the two Dinosaurs: Past and Present exhibit catalog books (I haven't read them but my succinct review of this wealth of classic paleoart is gasp photo love.gif), and Dinosaur Art: The World's Greatest Paleoart. And there's more on other shelves...

The Art of Maurice Sendak, Selma Lanes - I haven't been able to properly read this yet but it's an excellent collection of Sendak's art and since you can find copies for under ten dollars, it is a must-have.

Adventure Time: The Art of Ooo, Chris McDonnell - Here's the first series-specific art book I've found that's as good as the two aforementioned Jim Henson art books. It's a must-have for fans of "Adventure Time" and is packed to the gills with concept art, interviews, and trivia.

Next, more animation, comics, and children's books.


Sketch of the Day!  The first "Final Fantasy" is a little strange, it turns out.

3.26.15 - Let's Play Doodles

Monday, April 20, 2015

"Do something instead of being afraid." - Let's watch 1990's Earth Day Special!

Remember back in 1990, when Gaia appeared in front of a kind-of-evil Robin Williams in the glorious form of Bette Midler and would've died if not for the valiant efforts of Neil Patrick Harris in-character as Doogie Howser M.D.?

All joking aside, yes, it's the cusp of the 80's and the 90's.  Yes, looked at from a certain angle, it's the weirdest "Always Sunny in Philadelphia" Prequel / "Ghostbusters" and "Back to the Future" Sequel ever.  And yes, this is a nearly two-hour movie where Gaia appears in front of a kind-of-evil Robin Williams in the glorious form of Bette Midler and would've died if not for the valiant efforts of Neil Patrick Harris in-character as Doogie Howser M.D. (and as far as I know, Michael Eisner wasn't involved).  And yes, there is a scene where Midler-Gaia, in a last-ditch effort to save herself, litters, and the litter lands near E.T. (who's just kind of there for reasons unknown), who turns it into a book that teaches some children and IDK, WTF.  But dang me if I wasn't genuinely moved by this special.  I mean, that bit with Kermit and Robin...
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Sketch of the Day!

In honor of all the adorable amphibians out there, meet my #Salamandersona!
3.26.15 Salamandersona