Well, other than Christmas Day itself, I've been spending my seven-day break alone and been having a great time. Deciding to take the opportunity to just kick back and unwind (as I've worked like a dog this year), I've done just that and had a pretty relaxing break.
Although I've watched no TV shows beyond Dr Who and Wallace & Gromit (loved all the film references), I've mainly been watching a ton of movies. I finally caught up with some DVDs that have been hanging around (some since last Xmas!), as well as a few new ones (have to say that the extras on The Dark Knight are some of the dullest I've ever seen as they're mostly technical stuff with no real insight into the shoot---and why the hell are they devoting literally half the extras, including repeating scenes from the main feature with no alteration or comparison, to Imax, a format you can't exactly appreciate at home? Other than the fact that Christian Bale really stood on the top of that Hong Kong building and that the hospital explosion was real not CG (which is why it looked so good), I learned next to nothing of interest...and watching the main feature, how does Batman bend the barrel of a gun like that? He's Bruce Wayne, not Superman!).
While the TV schedules initially looked quite crap, I've managed to catch quite a few gems. With Howl's Moving Castle on yesterday and the Cat Returns on E4 later, that'll make four Studio Ghibli films I've seen on TV this month (nothing can prepare you for a racoon transforming his bollocks into a ship and sailing away like Frodo Baggins!), I've caught three Hitchcocks, Dr Strangelove (overrated but certainly worth a look) and typically tepid Channel Five adaptations of Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Journey to the Centre of the Earth---they sure do like to talk in these Hallmark productions, don't they?
Also managed to clear my reading pile (except for two books to eventually read on my lunch breaks) in preparation for one of my New Year's resolutions: draw more sequential pages. I have three short strips I want to do initially, the second of which will be for Rol, before hopefully getting into the groove and preparing some samples for the next Birmingham show. Yesterday I stumbled across reference to an upcoming book online, quickly investigated further and immediately ordered a copy. The book? Al Williamson's Flash Gordon: A Lifelong Vision Of The Heroic. At 256 pages, this book collects all of Al Wiliamson's Flash Gordon material, from the 3-part adaptation of the 1980 movie and the three issue 90s Marvel mini (both of which I've only just obtained within the last year or so--oh well, at least they'll look clearer on superior stock and hopefully I can pass the issues on to some art-appreciating pal) to the Union Carbide promotional work and King Comics issues from the 60s, which I've never seen. Flask Gordon? Al Williamson? I'm there! Can't tell you how excited I am about this book, looking forward to it almost as much as the upcoming Dave Stevens book.
In fact, this inspired me to return to a Flash Gordon pic I'd drawn in clean line that I intended to finish off but never did due to a few compositional issues. Instead, I pencilled, inked, shaded and coloured a completely new version this morning (as above): it's not as great a figure drawing as the first one but I balanced the design better, resulting in a stronger piece overall despite a less confident pose for Flash.