Sunday, 29 July 2012

How ya Feline?

Been busty with lots of household chores this weekend but have managed to sneak in  a bit of colouring, as well as a manga-style Catwoman redesign for Project Rooftop. Above is said Catwoman with newly coloured, recoloured or amended other bits...

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The Dark Knight Rises: Spoiler-free Review

Okay, going into this I suppose I had to think about how I felt about the first two instalments: overall, I really liked them but Christian Bale is almost always unlikable so I wasn't keen on his Batman, but the realistic depiction and quality of the film making carried the movies through. Both were more cerebral, attempting to be taken seriously as cinematic art rather than celluloid entertainment.

While the trailer for DKRises was underwhelming, I'm not keen on Anne Hathaway (avoiding everything she's been in: don't think I've seen any of her films) and I hate Bane, I was intrigued by the chances this story could take. Batman could have his back broken or even die. Who was this new character John Blake? Could he be a Jean Paul Valley-like replacement Batman?

So, how was DKR? Other than being surprisingly daylit compared to the shadowy previous episodes?

Well, I warmed to Bane. Tom Hardy bulked up sufficiently so that Batman actually looked ludicrous trying to punch him out. The odd manner of his speech made Bane more than a one-note villain. There's a new female character called Tate: I figured out her true purpose within a few minutes but wasn't prepared for the switcheroo coming towards the end, that was well done. In fact, the whole movie worked very well: not sure it needed to be so long and feature so little Batman but the plot threads, reaching back through the last two movies and pointing towards a fateful conclusion, tied together well.

While Avengers was a feel good entertainment ride, DKR was far more gloomy but did reach a few moments of triumphant emotion: the final scene, the police marching in unison and a certain escape all built to emotional crescendos, helped by that booming Hanzs Zimmer music.

Anne Hathaway was a revelation as Catwoman, instantly becoming my favourite screen depiction. This was the comic version finally done right on the screen. Her fluid moods, slightly kinky aggressive side, femme fatale allure and elegant sexuality made her the epitome of the character. There's one scene where she fights alongside batman, and that just felt like the comic vibe all over.

And John Blake? Well, I thought it was odd that a certain character addressed him in a certain way, leading to a nice moment later on and in a way, I feel cheated as the film's climax hints at great opportunities for future instalments that we'll never see...

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Ariel Automatic

Drew two Disney princesses and kept them as on model as I could, even using similar colouring styles from the refs I had. Have to say, much as I hate my own stuff, I'm pretty happy with this one...

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Ooh, Betty!

I hate the whole idea of the Red Hulk as it detracts from the original green Hulk and similarly, I disliked the Red She-Hulk as it lessened (and threatened) Jen Walters as She-Hulk. I also hate the Red She-Hulk codename, it sounds like a placeholder until a proper name is settled on.

Anyway, for some reason the idea recently came to me to draw Red She-Hulk and She-Hulk together, no idea where that came from. I had trouble with my first sketch of RSH (or Betty from now on) so scrapped it and started again. The results are much I started Jen and that turned out crap and I won't be posting that!.

I'll probably get around to doing another pass and will combine them together as originally envisioned but until then, here's the original and completed versions of Red She-Hulk...

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Why that's Super, woman!

Recently finished that ginormous Paul Levitz History of DC (which was heavily sanitised and a surprisingly quick read for 700+ pages...but then again, it's an art book not a comprehensive history...) and stumbled across a Silver Age Superwoman I'd never seen before. Luma Lynai was a heroine called Superwoman on a distant planet called Staryl who fell in love with Superman but they couldn't stay together as her powers only work under an orange sun and Earth's yellow sun would kill her like Kryptonite would Superman.

Anyways, although the costume was quite basic, it reminded me of Power Girl's and I fancied drawing her...but then I thought what slight tweaks could you do to make it slightly less cheesy? Well, I got carried away and redesigned the whole costume while trying to keep the original emblem and colour scheme. I still hope to get around to doing "real" Luma but the drawing juices haven't been flowing today (abandoned a She-Hulk and Red She-Hulk pic as just wasn't happening).

So here's a DCNu-style take on somebody you probably never knew even existed...

Monday, 9 July 2012

Amazing Spider-Man

So, I finally saw the Amazing Spider-Man today and what did I think? Well, though I think Spider-man 2 is still my favourite Spidey movie...I think overall Amazing Spider-Man is the best of the bunch.

Ok, we have to understand this is a new interpretation and accept that this is a different take on Peter Parker, so once that's a given...

The cast were pretty perfect. Garfield is great as an edgier but still identifiable Peter Parker haunted by the disappearance of his parents, setting up the through line of this planned trilogy a la Nolan's Batman trilogy. Emma Stone is similarly picture perfect as Gwen Stacy, not quite as sweet as in the comics but instantly likable and far better than the previous trilogy's wishy washy MJ. I could never stand Aunt May and any scene with her pretty much stunk up the originals and while Cliff Robertson was good as Uncle Ben...Martin Sheen gave a far more rounded, natural performance and I was more affected by his passing as we had seen more of his interactions with Peter. Sally Field was also the strongest incarnation of May, never the downtrodden feeb from the comics.

I had concerns about Ifans but he was ok, although I hated the characterisation of Connors (Dylan Baker's was spot on). Also, the Lizard looked exactly like Killer Croc and nothing like the comic Lizard: would it have been too hard to make a leaner, meaner version?

(Below from left to right are the comic Lizard, the movie Lizard and then Killer Croc...)

The more realistic take worked well and I was absorbed into Peter's world way before he started developing his powers. I disliked the material of the costume but Garfield's silhouette was again just picture perfect for Spidey's physique and he moved pretty well. I wished there was more audience-pleasing web swinging but when let rip, those few sequences were pretty good.

With the Stacys, their fates are never guaranteed so future instalments will always be slightly fraught, though I predict the third instalment ending with the Green Goblin and Gwen Stacy both karking it. This leads me to wonder which villain could fill the baddie slot in ASM2?

Overall, the film beat the Raimi ones on most levels...but there was just something special missing from this movie. It was good but lacked that indefinable "oomph" to propel it into greatness. It's done better than predicted and I hope it continues to do well but hope future instalments beef up the formulaic plot line a bit...

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Gone To Texas

Just another pic request completed today...

Saturday, 7 July 2012

The Light Fantastic

Over at Project Rooftop, they've put out a call for Fantastic Four costume redesigns, to be co-judged by Start Immonen (so no pressure then!). I thought this would be fun but actually it turned out to be surprisingly difficult...

As the team are essentially explorers not crimefighters, my first instinct was to add pouches and stuff which would use Pym particles to reduce all their equipment into their pouches. This would be activated by sensors in the glove fingertips, which would also activate a com link as they team would be separated quite often but need to remain in communication.

However, I prefer sleek, elegant costumes over unnecessarily complicated ones (so the original Infantino Flash design from 1955 is far better than the silly "defaced"-that's what it looks like to me- DCNu version, a shame as I think I'd actually like to read the book...) so jettisoned extraneous paraphernalia. I think the team's physical attributes benefit visually from an uncluttered look rather than a ribbed Hitch-style design and I wanted to keep a test-pilot/flight suit look while being instantly recognisable as the FF. This meant retaining a circular collar motif if possible and the main colour blue.

After loads of thumbnails and combinations, I had a version I was...comfortable with and cracked on with the finished designs. Ben, Reed and Johnny took a single side of A4, which meant Sue was drawn at almost twice their size as she took a whole separate sheet. I think the design is OK, traditional but current without going OTT. When it came to colouring, I hit a problem I still can't resolve: which works better, the white trim or the light blue? I like the "pop" of the white but the cool blue seems smoother and somehow feels more true to the team.

Anyway, results are here, see what you think...

Friday, 6 July 2012

Wot Up

been off work for a while and have been pretty occupied (which meant my plans to see the new Spidey film went out the window three days in a row: will see it Monday for definite now) but have managed to get a few things done.

I've cleared most of my reading backlog (hallelujah!) but still struggling with the 75 Years of DC Comics book. Purely because of its physical size, it's uncomfortable to read for long periods of time but is quite sanitised, no mention of the company being founded on the back of criminal activity or of the Siegal/Shuster case but has revealed one unknown fact: DC is long held to be name after Detective Comics but internally it was believed to be named after Donnenfield Comics, the owner at the time. Nice book but not much meat to it so far.

The latest original DC animated movie turned up this week, Superman vs the Elite. Although Marvel's animated programme started first, DC's far outweighs it in terms of output, quality and voice casting. The fact they're usually based on specific storylines also helps (I WISH they'd never cancelled the New Teen Titans Judas Contract project!) but while The New Frontier condensed it's storyline into one movie (my favourite of the bunch) and the Dark Knight Returns will be spread over two movies, Joe Kelly and Doug Mahnke's single issue of Action Comics forms this movie. Essentially highlighting Superman's continued relevance against Authority analogues the Elite, this is an acceptable instalment but ranks towards the lower end of the series.

The title sequence is great, featuring an iconoclastic punk mish mash of the 60s and 70s animated versions of Superman though there is one bit that's just plain wrong. At one point (and the word is used repeatedly by Manchester Black), Superman says something like "Acting like a wanker". Superman shouldn't say wanker! They art staff did good research to depict Mancunian streets but surely somebody should realise the emotive content of that word, probably equivalent to the F word...just seemed wrong to me, not the word just the character saying it.

Finally, I always wonder why people want to engage in cosplay but stumbled across a sight (after finding a cosplay reinterpretation of some Adam Hughes images) and can't deny the quality of some costumes, examples below...

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Jungle Fever

Over at The Weekly Themed Art Blog, I posted a Tarzan pic for this week's thread, which is Literary Superheroes. I wasn't happy with the result so today I did a little tweak and it's a lot better, though still not perfect.

I repositioned his knife arm (which looked odd to me), adjusted the perspective/angle on the torso and thickened the tree slightly so it looked less like a Nik Nak. Comparison piece added below...

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

DCPu Spawns MarrvelPu? UPDATED

UPDATED: just added a higher res of this that floating thing with the SHIELD emblem possibly an Ant-Man or Bug vehicle? Meanwhile, the Avengers roster is expanding to I18 rotating members...

Marvel will be relaunching (but not rebooting) their line with new titles, creative teams and costumes later this year...a sneak peak has been released and I HATE the Cyclops head, hate hate HATE!. The costume is dull but ok but that mask just looks awful. Gone is the trademark elegant visor in place of a head-spanning X that looks like a Cylon gone wrong.

Spidey's got a tweak, cap looks like Ultimate Cap, Hulk seems to be wearing unnecessary armour, Iron man's black and gold and who's that with eye patch, Cable? Quite like the Nova outfit but want Rich Rider not that Sam that Jeph Loeb introduced (I know he lost his son and it's sad and hard but there was already an episode of Smallville dedicated to him and a DC comic devoted to him and the naming of a character just seems a step too far into self indulgence for me).

Just as well that Marvel is so unwelcoming for readers that I don't read the X-line anymore then...

General Ramblings

So, outside of recent scribblings (thinking about doing a Tarzan for TAB but am a bit drawn out at the minute), here's a few other recent thoughts...

Movies: Prometheus was a bit of a mess wasn't it? Great ideas and themes but as a story, it fell apart and there was no attempt made at characterisation 9especially compared to Alien!). Did like how it wasn't the obvious prequel we all thought it was going to be though...

Also watched Attack The Block, something I avoided at the cinema as I thought it looked chavvy and unlikable. I heard good things though and gave it a go and within 15 minutes or so was really hooked i...the central characters were pretty unlikable but that added something to the tension. Despite being obviously hampered by the budget, the creatures were surprisingly unique and effective, the plot was gripping (with occasional barbs of social commentary) and overall the film was actually pretty entertaining...

TV: since being off work, I have had to navigate the shark-infested waters of daytime TV. While on in the background, I have to admit to Glee of all things winning me over a bit. Yeas, it's quite camp but I like the way it presents outsiders sympathetically, the songs mirror the themes of the episode (though I still hate most of them) and the cutting remarks. Todays episodes featured lines such as "Did you know dolphins are just gay sharks?" and "I spend my nights making out with my cat and watching Ghost Whisperer".

Overheard at the hospital recently:
Islamic zealot: "If you believe in Allah, you will go to paradise but ONLY if you believe. And you can never leave..."
Uninterested lady at his mercy "Ah, that's a nice of cup of tea..."

Finished The Wind Through The Keyhole, the latest Dark Tower novel by Stephen King (dedicated to the gang at Marvel). While not adding to the overall storyline, it's a nice detour that shows more of Roland's early days as a gunslinger and reveals more of the cultural standing of the gunslingers. Slight but rewarding, a nice fairy tale that adds flavour to the series.

Also managed to clear all my backlog of reading, except for 75 Years Of DC Comics. This monster is humongous and it was only when I cracked it open, I realised I had no idea how to read the thing when lifting it was such a bloody ordeal! I can understand why the manufactures issued a separate reading stand for it...I've instead taken to opening it using an armchair to support it, so it's not a comfortable read (and so far has revealed no new info but left out quite a lot of the unsavoury details, this is very much a sanitised history).

Also, I now love Sainsbury's Won Ton Soup but have developed my own surprisingly tasty homemade alternative (celery, mushrooms, spring onions and stock cubes go a long way!)

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Restless Colouring

Aaargh. I've not slept properly for weeks and feel like a shuffling zombie. I started finally reading Paul Levitz's 75 Years of DC Comics yesterday (from over £100 down to £75 in an Amazon sale and after vouchers I'd earned, the book only cost me £30 or so, bargain!) but soon realised I have no easy way of doing so: it's so hefty it's hard to even lift so I have had to open it in an armchair and read it kneeling!

Anyway, as threatened, here's the coloured Mucha style pic and the jaguar, a quick five minute colour job...