Saturday, August 2, 2008

Batman Returns Movie Review

Batman Returns Movie Review

I figured I might as well get another comic book movie review in. Batman Returns was lofty in it's look and design, as I expected, but I got the feeling that I was duped again by the critics who proclaimed it the best thing since sliced bread. Somehow, I got the feeling some of them were selling tickets. It could have been MUCH shorter, like maybe an hour. It had about eighteen endings. All of the performances were excellent, but the length of the movie dragged them down, and I found myself not caring what happened in the end. I get the point of Batman being a somewhat reluctant hero, and I understand his connection to the citizens of Gotham, but I liked the approach in Spider-Man 2, when the people are carrying him out of the train. I got tired of watching the Joker's henchmen suddenly appear and know exactly what they're doing. I know it's fantasy, but what the Joker is able to do with his loyal, apparently highly trained thugs is so preposterous that it lost it's dramatic appeal. Even if the Joker is supposed to be a metaphor, I found the film over the top, and TOO violent. I believe it suffers from what most studio films are suffering from. There's so much money involved that it becomes an exercise in pulling out all the stops. Despite this, here is a heartfelt congratulations to the most talented people involved in the film, which are the designers and special effects artists and sound artists--anyone and everyone involved in the look and sound of the movie. Well done.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Iron Man Movie Review

I recently saw the Iron Man movie. I liked much of it but I thought they missed out on good performances by the entire cast. It could have been a much better film. It's the ending that really killed it for me.I love the transformation Stark goes through. I thought the writer and director were wise not to make Iron Man an anti-war movie, but more of a play it smarter war movie. I think it rightly points to the notion that even huge defense contractors with a staff full of geniuses can get too complacent in their strategy and find the easiest way to make a buck by building more destructive bombs. Some people felt the Stark International logo on the weapons was too much, but I thought it was appropriately comic-book like. I rarely think of superheroes in comics as Science Fiction. To me they are pure fantasy, and when fantasy is done right, it's fully embedded in the period in which it is created. For that reason, I didn't mind a company logo on every bomb in the film.
I thought it was great that they identified Muslim against Muslim violence, as well as American against American, Muslim against American, and American against Muslim. I also liked that none of the characters come across as having some better knowledge of exactly how to fight the war on terror. Everyone is searching for answers by the end of the movie.
You can see how the instincts of Robert Downey and Jeff Bridges can really make a film. They just have the right touch in every line. They are believable and compelling--except for Bridges at the very end, but I believe that's not his fault. His motivations changed. At first he wanted what was best for the corporation and maybe the country. By the end he just became a screaming, jealous murderer. I thought the script was patched together at the end.
Beautiful special effects. Beautiful closing credits. When I saw the trailer for Iron Man I said that it would be as big as Spider-Man. I think I'm right. We're looking at 3 movies at least.
I won't see Hulk. When I saw the cgi in the commercial I just hated it. I don't think there will be as many Hulk movies.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Always Have A Muse

Always have someone near you who inspires you creatively. My muse is my wife Ilona:

I took this at W Hotel in Manhattan.

Cover and Splash Page

Here's the cover for the first issue. I'm learning about digital painting as I go along. I think for the next one I will start in Illustrator and finish in Photoshop, and keep it a little more transparent. It might look more like watercolor. I will consider starting with the base tone and removing color with the eraser tool. This one looks like oil. It also has more of a traditional look. I'll go a little more modern, less Pulp in the next one, though I like this and I like the logo in this color scheme.

This is in progress. It's the only splash page in the first issue. I will show the finished inking and then color. We have to cover too much ground in the first 22 pages or so to allow for more than one. Originally, I was not going to give Corvus a necklace or feathers on her wings, but Steve wanted her to appear more eccentric. I thought her eccentricities would be more apparent when she was "out of costume" but I'll go with Steve's instincts. He is slowly wrapping his proverbial fingers around the characters. He is developing thoughts about what each one will do or say, in addition to the main plot. Things like. "I'm gonna kick your aaasssss."

Or, "Look OOOUUTT!!"

Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Little About Arthur

Who's Arthur?

Arthur is a young man (about 20) who, after facing death, begins to question the path his life has taken. He is a brilliant emerging scientist, channeled into solar energy science by his parents, who try to protect him from the memory of a tumultuous childhood with their all-encompassing guidance that has been constant for sixteen years. His scientific mind is questioning, but almost entirely empirical--until his friend Amira shows him the necessity of his emotions. While he trumpets the uses of nanotechnology in the laboratory, we learn that nanotechnology is killing him, and only Amira can save his life.

Here he is with a gel disc. Along with nanotechnology, we also get into smart materials in the book.

A few more sketches.

The key question for Arthur is whether he will heed Amira's guidance, discover his own path, and follow it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

More Logo/Title Treatment Changes

I'll get to who Arthur is very soon. Just thought I'd mention that the logo/title treatment has once again gone through some changes, and they are visible as the header above. Sometimes you can't see something quite right if you've worked on it too much and you don't have a second pair of experienced eyes to give an honest opinion. I simplified this even more and I think this will be the final version.

Brother Steve suggested that I add even more detail to Corvus' costume, so that she appears even more eccentric and obsessive. I will work on this...

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Little About C of P Characters.

Here is secret agent Corvus throwing a gel disc at Amira.

Corvus is mute, apparently for psychological reasons। Steve and I will deal with this in future stories. For now, we find out that she is eccentric, and is obsessed with tactile things such as beads, feathers jewelry, fabric, textured glass, etc. She surrounds herself with these things and wears them.

I recently visited the Bergdorf Goodman Christmas windows in Manhattan. These windows are works of art, in my opinion. They are visually spectacular, like fine jewelry, but they are also dramatic, alluring and clever. Above all, they reach into the imagination in a very modern way. Anyone who visits Rockefeller Plaza at Christmas should take the short walk to view these windows. They are always worth seeing. This one reminds me of the character Corvus, sitting in her own space, surrounded by things that she collects obsessively.

Amira is a Sunni Muslim. Sunnis represent the vast majority of Muslims worldwide. They believe that the original Caliphate(ruling body), following the death of Muhammad, was chosen by Shurah (democratic process). It's leader was a man named Abu Bakr. Shi'a Muslims believe that the Caliphate must extend from Muhammad's bloodline, and/or from the bloodlines of those who were anointed by him into the Caliphate.

Honestly, when I read the headlines in the Middle East, the infighting between Sunni and Shi'a always sounds like racism, power grabbing, or gang warfare. It doesn't sound like theological differences.

Anyway, Amira is definitely not associated with any of that, and in fact, she shuns it. She does associate with Sufism, which is the Mystical sect of Islam. There is a Mystical aspect to all of the three great monotheist religions. In Judaism it's called Kabbalah. It does not have an official title in Christianity, but it's poets are known collectively as mystic saints. These include Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint John of the Cross, and Teresa of Avila.

There are mystical aspects to Buddhism as well. Bodhisattvas seem to fit into a Mystical context. The best way I have figured out how to describe a Bodhisattva is that it is a person who has achieved enlightenment, just like Buddha, but has chosen to remain somewhere between this world and the next, as they are dedicated to helping others achieve enlightenment. When you see a sculpture of a Bodhisattva, they have specific hand gestures which indicate a transcendent path from the material world to enlightenment.

Amira has the power of invisibility, and lasers on each wrist. She also has a special light effect, which causes disorientation of an enemy. All of this will be described in more detail in the book. Steve and I will try to at least partially describe the nanoscience behind some of the ideas. To my surprise, much of what we have learned indicates that the special abilities of the Children of Perseus are not impossible in the distant future--just not within fifty years...but hey...that's comics!

Amira will sometimes quote Sufi poets, including Rumi, who is well known around the world. More important, she is Arthur's friend, and she is willing to risk her life to save him just as he saved her...but who's Arthur...?