Every time I head into town I spend some time browsing the childrens books at the book shop.
I am not always that thrilled with what we deem worthy to dish up to our children.
Once stories were about shoving children in ovens, and being eaten by wolves and being torn to peices by monsters of some kind.
Now we have things like "I Love You So Much" and "Goodnight, Sleeptight".
The subject matter itself is less important to me than the art (I have no problem with sweet messages in books).
I looked at a lot of stuff yesterday, and with the exception of the classic illustrators (whose work is fortunately is still widely available here) I saw only one thing that I really took to - an adaption of Frankenstein, obviously for slightly older readers.
It was illustrated by a fellow called Drahos Zak and you can find a large image from the front cover of the book here.
Also, if you've got time take a look at my showreel, which you can find here or via the link down the right hand side.
I'm curious to know how well it downloads and if it looks ok.
Happy New Year to everyone and I hope some of you return to your blogs soon.
I seem to be the only one here at the moment and it's not so much fun on your own...
Friday, December 30, 2005
Every time I head into town I spend some time browsing the childrens books at the book shop.
at 10:18 PM
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
The man Damon is one of my pals at work.
These are all photos he took around this fine state of Tasmania, and as I'll be leaving it all behind soon, I thought I'd post them.
Also - I've finally posted my showreel - you can find a link to download it on the right, under Other Cowany Things.
It's mostly After Effects and editing, but there's a little bit of animation there.
I have no idea how well it downloads or what the quality is when it is downloaded, so I'd be keen to hear from anyone who bothers.
This is a looney, and nothing to do with pictures of Tasmania.
at 11:32 PM
Monday, December 26, 2005
Well I drove out to the Cmax to see King Kong last night.
It wasn't as good as I was hoping it would be but is was still pretty good.
There were a couple of surprisingly shonky visual effects, but all the animation is lovely.
That monkey is quite amazing.
Normally I'm not a big fan of Naomi Watts, but she was nice in this - she also looks like she's had something to eat, which improves her appearance.
Jack Black was pretty much doing a reserved version of his usual silliness, but it was entirely appropriate and I liked him very much.
There's some frenzied cutting and handheld camera work which gives me the shits (and a bit of a headache in this film).
But really - compared with most of the slop we're handed these days from mainstream studios, it was wonderful.
The action was great - in particular I liked the end of the brontosaurus stampede where they all trip over and fall about the place.
Again - that ape is just astonishing.
Some real life going on that is very lovely.
My favourite scene in the whole film involved Kong running rampant looking for the right blonde.
I'm sure there's plenty of subtext there...
at 9:58 PM
Thursday, December 22, 2005
I'm starting work on an animated series for children.
This morning as I watched yet another wretched, dreadful piece of supposed entertainment, I finally worked out exactly the ingredients I need to make it a success.
1) Start with a really, really mediocre idea.
2) Hire a writer who has never worked in animation. It's preferable to hire someone who has written lots of stuff for radio, that way most of the show can be characters blabbering endlessly to each other and we wont have to worry about all that movement (or animation as we like to call it).
3) Hire someone who can't draw that well to design the characters. This person should have some drawing ability, but only enough to liberally borrow from artists whose names he doesn't know.
The final character designs should be simple enough that they can hire pretty much anyone with a minimum of drawing ability to copy the style.
4) Hire some people to do shitty cartoon voices. It's important that these voices have a speech impediment (thank you Oscar) and an American accent.
It is perferable to hire voice actors who don't actually have an American accent and then get them to do one - poorly.
If you need a voice actor to do any accent from the British Isles, then hire an American.
In Australia it's important only to hire voice actors who think that an animated character voice is simply your own voice but speaking like you are mentally deficient.
If these things aren't working for you, hire a reasonably well known celebrity with a generally indistinguished and characterless voice to do VO duty.
Whoever does the voices in the end it's important that they are either a) forgettable, or b) annoying.
5) Make the show. Put in just enough effort to make it appear that everyone's put in an effort, but not enough effort that the show is any good.
at 11:50 PM
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
I just read this on David Byrne's web journal.
Artists and Schizophrenia
Read in The Guardian that geneticists now see links between crazy artists and just plain crazies. Geneticists have long been puzzled why schizophrenia (bi-polar disorder) hasn’t been eliminated by natural selection. Acute sufferers have trouble functioning, so their chances of producing offspring are low — so why has the percentage of people with this disorder remained more or less consistent (1%)? If they don't reproduce they should dwindle and eventually disappear — with the occasional random mutation occurring now and then.
It seems it was those crazy artists who are to blame. They think that the gene for creativity is one of a pair — and the other one, when present, produces full-blown schizophrenia. It’s been long recognized that schizophrenics are — when functional — creative, inventive, and imaginative. So now scientists think that schizophrenics share this “creative gene” with arty creative types, but sadly, the crazies got the other gene, too.
So here’s where the 1% comes from. Creative types, so scientists claim, have active sex lives — and often produce a fair number of kids, legitimate or not. And I guess all it takes is for both of the parents to possess halves of the creative/schizo gene pair for the offspring to be prone to the disorder. Hence the continued existence of the disorder in the species. If one accepts that wild arty creativity is important for the species as a whole, then the evolutionary reasoning is clear — except why must we have the unfortunate side effect of a percentage of crazies just to have the needed arties?
Maybe it’s like Asperger’s, a matter of degree. A little bit autistic or schizo and you are extraordinarily focused in the former case, or possess surprising insights in the latter. But if it goes too far and you’ve got a full dose you’re dysfunctional in both cases. But both are needed for society and our species, so the percentage of loonies and autistic rockers is the price we pay.
at 12:54 AM
Monday, December 19, 2005
I hope you don't mind making our friendship public knowledge.
This is a thank you for your lovely gift and even lovelier thoughts.
I love you very much also.
Your book is wonderful.
Perhaps the fact that Lear reminds you of myself is because he clearly lovely absolutely silly things, which I do also.
Rest assured we'll catch up before I head off around the world.
Love you heaps.
at 10:05 PM
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Here are some more cute characters in peril, something I return to often.
For some reason (being a portly type I imagine) I have been roped into playing Santa on and off since I moved to Tasmania.
It is a common thing in suburbs and regional centres, for have Christmas carol nights - big affairs in parks with local celebrities, well know singers from local theatre groups and all that.
I have played Santa at the last 2 Carols nights and it's been an entertaining and unorthadox affair.
I am usually interviewed by the MC then have to sing a couple of carols with another singer.
Year one we talked about what Santa wanted for Christmas.
We had rehearsed me talking about wanting world peace, but I changed it on the night and told the MC I would like a salad for Christmas, because it was hard to grow vegetables.
Last night was this years carols and we talked about how Rudolph has contracted bird flu (from a bird).
All very silly but heaps of fun.
Singing carols has always been a interesting one for me - I'm certainly not an orthadox Jew by any means, but I didn't grow up singing them much.
I had to learn the words for Jingle Bells, and fortunately Santa has only one line to sing in Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.
These are low res pics taken with my phone before I went onstage.
at 11:12 PM
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Sunday, December 11, 2005
Just Good Friends...
This is part of a pitch for a new sitcom.
It's about a gay couple who are killed in a boating accident.
They rise from the grave and in an effort to appear more "normal" pretend that they're not gay, but are in fact "Just Good Friends" - which will be the name of the sitcom.
I imagine that Jeremy Irons could play Frederick, the tall, thin, anally retentive gay zombie.
His portly friend (David) could be played by John Goodman who, thanks to the magic of special effects and crawling about on his knees, will appear to be shorter.
They both work for the same advertising company.
When Frederick and David try and eat everyone in the office, hiliarity ensues!
More than friends...
Singer/songwriter, noisemaker Tom Waits wrote a lovely song called Fish And Bird.
From the sound of it, it's probably based on an old folk tale.
It's about a bird and a whale who fall in love.
Because the bird can't swim and the whale can't fly, they can never be together until the moon is reflected in the sea.
With the moon reflected in the sea, it seems as though the whale is in the sky, and when the moon is shining, the bird is able to be reflected in the water.
It's a beautiful idea and a lovely song.
If you head over to this blog of Oscar Grillos (one of several he maintains) and scroll just a little way down the page, you'll find a photgraph of this dog I've drawn.
It's the most horrible thing in the world.
It looks like it's been digested by something big and unpleasant.
at 9:45 PM
Friday, December 09, 2005
Here is some real art!
I usually have something like this on the go but I don't often post them as they are large and difficult to take a quick snapshot of.
But it's real!
Real pen and real ink and real paper.
Later in the day.
I took a picture of myself with a digital camera today and I felt I somewhat resembled the French actor John-Claude Dreyfus, who most folks will know from the film Delicatessen.
He's got about 604 times more character in his mug than I do but I think there's a resemblance.
Also - here's a reworked song for all my friends out there who, like I, work in advertising.
To be sung to the tune of Jingle Bells.
Sitting at my desk.
Writing yule tide ads.
Pushing used car sales,
And things that help your abs.
Running out of time,
To finish all these bits,
The quickest way to sell this stuff,
Is use lots of perky tits.
Prices slashed right now.
We've dropped out pants,
Here's your last chance,
To save on puppy chow,
Everything must go.
Every one we know!
at 12:27 AM
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
I have just been called a "cock monkey" by the beautiful, yet unshaven Boris Hiestand.
I have been amused greatly.
To commemorate this important insult I''ve created an image of the cock monkey.
Some kind of baboon/mandrill hybrid, with a prehensile willy tail.
I rewatched the Blue Sky movie Robots last night (I was babysitting).
What a missed opportunity that was.
For those who haven't seen it, it's chock full of terrific design, great ideas, wonderful art direction, forgettable characters, average writing, awful voice acting (although some is great) and a horrible sound track.
The first 15 minutes are terrific - where the baby robot is "delivered" and all that.
Really sweet and funny.
And throughout there are some lovely moments.
Greg Kinnear and Jim Broadbent give great vocal performances.
There's a funny sequence in which the main hero is magnetised.
A lovely sequence involving a crazed mode of public transport.
Almost all the character design is delightful and in some instances inspired.
But on the whole it's dissapointing.
There's dreadful music throughout, especially over the end sequence (which not only has dreadful music but is also weird).
And the climax of the film is awful too.
And any fan of Futurama (one of my favorite shows ever) will have seen many of the incidental gags before.
And the animation is strange.
It's a 3D film that looks like it was animated like a 2D film.
A stylistic choice maybe?
I think it just looks manic and spiky all the time.
And here's a thing - this is the second animated film in recent years to ape Pixars, A Bugs Life in several ways.
The other is Chicken Run, although I think that's about 317 times better than Robots.
Each film has an inventor of some sorts for a lead character.
The lead character longs for something more - a bigger dream.
In ABL and Robots both lead characters head to the big city on a quest (very similar arrival sequences).
In ABL and CR both characters construct a giant bird to achieve their goals.
In ABL and Robots both "armies" are defeated by a band of misfits.
Anyway - now I'm just blabbering on.
So then. Robots. Perhaps I'd recommend you watch it with the sound turned off, which is a shame, because a lot of talented folks seemed to have had a hand in it.
at 9:20 PM
Everyone loves a llama.
It's because of the double "L".
It's not because they are friendly,
They're rude and bad tempered and smell.
It's not because they're helpful,
Happy to stroll hand in hand.
And it's not because they would come along,
And cheer when you played in your band.
It's not because they are tasty,
And when stewed, in your mouth they may melt.
No - Everyone loves a llama,
But only for the way it is spelt.
Speaking of animals and rhyming verse, if you don't know the work of Bill Peet go visit his site - there's a link on the right of the page.
On the site there is a page of excerpts from kids letters to Bill.
Some of them are hilarious.
Here are my favorites -
"I like the expressions you have in your books. You are a very good artist. Thank you for the letter. Please don’t write back. Your friend, Ronnie S."
"I like your books. My whole family likes them. My cat does not know we have them"
I especially like the conspiritorial tone of the last one.
I find it very amusing that the cat must be excluded from storytime.
Perhaps it has some kind of addiction, or some kind of mental imbalance.
A jealous streak.
at 2:40 AM
Some of you good folks may be familiar with the Batman stuff I've been working on.
I mostly post it over on drawingboard for the comic book experts to ponder.
It was requested I tackle a character called Two Face.
Here are my results.
I liked the idea of keeping him a normal man (with a big long head) but is fuelled by whatever madness is pressing him to violence.
I thought that the madness might be represented by a kind of crazy shadow.
In this last one I really want to show Batman getting whipped.
Why is it that he can only sustain punches? (in the movies at least).
I wanted to see him taken out properly.
Those are supposed to be scalpels poking out of his head....
Francesco F described it as Batman meets Twoface meets Taratino, which is very appealing to me.
at 12:08 AM
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Another intellectual sketch.
It's a little busy for my liking at the moment, and I've not got so much time to post.
Christmas is always a horrible time in production.
Same slop year after year.
The only difference is that it starts in August now instead of early November.
This picture is based pretty much on what I would do if I were menaced by a large, hungry dog.
This was done 15 minutes later.
The leaky pen tool in Painter was too much of a likeness for me to leave it at one single image.
at 4:29 AM