Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Invader Zim

(Surprisingly, this image is from facebook.com.)

Here is a cartoon that has gained so much popularity despite the fact that it only aired on Nickelodeon for two short seasons. Invader Zim was a cartoon created by Jhonen Vasquez (aka Chance Scolex) in 2001, and it was filled with dark humor that many of my friends and myself have deeply enjoyed.

 (This image is from fanpop.com.)

The story is about an alien from outer space named Zim. His race is attempting to conquer the galaxy and he wants to prove to his rulers, "the Almighty Tallest" that he can conquer a planet. Zim was actually banished beforehand due to his destructive behavior the last time he was given a chance to conquer a world, but Zim quit being banished. In order to get rid of Zim once and for all, the Almighty Tallest trick Zim into going on a secret mission to conquer a planet in the furthest reaches of space. They hope Zim will just die wondering in space.

(This image is from http://papi3rh3rz.deviantart.com/art/DIB-125150229, but it doesn't exist anymore.)

Surprisingly, Zim ends up landing on Earth. From then on, the story just gets ridiculous if it hadn't already.

There is a good amount of funny characters that help make this cartoon really funny. Zim has a robot servant named Grr, but since he is busted up, he remains completely stupid. There is Dib, the class reject who is obsessed with revealing Zim as an alien. There is Gaz, Dib's sister who is always angry at everything and is probably the smartest character on the show. There are plenty of other characters who appear in the show. Most of them just show how dark and twisted or how dumb and ignorant the world is.

The final episode was a hilarious Christmas episode that hinted at more episodes, but they were never made. Perhaps Nickelodeon pulled the show for a lot of the dark humor. I have heard rumors that Jhonen Vasquez quit because Nickelodeon wanted to restrict what could be shown on the show. Jhonen Vasquez's humor can actually get much darker than Invader Zim. Jhonen Vasquez is also well known for his comic series Johnny the Homicidal Maniac. I have not read the series myself, but I have heard that it can get really dark, morbid, and filled with rude language, but it is still really funny. I think I will read it eventually.

It is a shame Invader Zim didn't continue. More cartoons on TV today would be a lot funny if they were more like this one. This cartoon had great punchlines and timing. The animation was also very good and helped a lot with the humor.

Monday, February 27, 2012


I was just looking back at this funny Valentine's Day card I received from my parents. I noticed when I got it that on the back there was a website address to Brian Gordon's (the illustrator) weekly comic written called "Chuck and Beans". I find that odd to find a web-comic website advertised on the back of a Hallmark card, but today is a new day. I checked it out and it was mostly cute, short comics.

Most of the web-comics I have seen are primarily comedy based. They sometimes have action sequences or other events happening in them, but mostly they have the last box as the funny punchline. There are a few really good web-comics I read continuously.

VGCats stands for "Video Game Cats," and it is a hilarious web-comic that makes fun of video games. They tend to take a long time to post new comics, but whenever they do, my friends and I love it. There's a link in the corner of their website for a side comic called "Super Effective" that makes fun of Pokemon and remains in black and white. That also takes a while to update. This web-comic is probably of the best quality out of all I have seen.

Dr. McNinja is a web-comic about a ninja of Irish decent who has become doctor. I'm not sure how the illustrator came up with this idea for a character, but it is really funny. He is not the only strange character. He has family, friends, coworkers, and enemies that have weird quarks to them. This is a web-comic where anything and everything can happen: dinosaurs existing in the present time, lumberjack giants, a unicorn turned into a motorcycle, mummy curses, zombies, cyborgs, and even pirates!

Goblins is a web-comic that focuses on three different story lines in a world based on Dungeons and Dragons. One is a group of goblins that have taken up character classes in order to become stronger. Another focuses on one goblin from the same tribe who is always afraid because he was foretold that he would die horribly, and he ends up with some interesting powers and companions. The third storyline follows a human warrior and his dwarf companion after their raid of the goblin tribe had gone wrong. It is an interesting story that often questions what is really good or evil, what we can do about fate, and how far one should go in order to save a friend.

Cynide and Happiness has the most simplest style out of the web-comics I read, but it is still very funny. The figures are all stick figures and they are always on a blank, white background. The humor for this comic is always very dark and would never be seen printed for public viewing due to its questionable nature. Surprisingly, multiple people work on this web-comic and they manage to post a new comic very frequently. These people have even created some hilarious flash animations! You don't need to read this comic from the very beginning, you can read any entry.

Ctrl+Alt+Del is a web-comic based mainly on this one guy who is a very avid video game player. There are other characters that appear throughout the storyline, and they are all likeable. There are sometimes comic posts that are not continuing this specific storyline and are based in the world of a recent video game release, somewhat like VGCats.

I myself have tried to make a web-comic. I think my style might have been too complicated to produce each week, and it didn't gain any popularity because it wasn't in the same funny format as all other web-comics are in. I think I will make Zheph Skyre into a flash animation instead.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Oracle Pirate

Here is another sketch of a major villain from my Zheph Skyre series. He is a pirate who can see into the past and future. His element is water, so he has power over the sea, ice, and clouds. I know it sounds cliche, but he does bring new meaning to "shiver me timbers"...

This is a rough sketch that I made. As you can see, his skeleton is showing underneath his flesh. At first I wanted to make him a complete skeleton, but the sketches didn't look right when I tried to combine his upper body with a spider for the bottom and it takes a long time to draw out even that much of a skeleton. I decided to make his flesh just transparent like water. He appears more capable than a fragile skeleton. I didn't look online for any references for spiders, snakes, deep sea fish, or anything else that I might need for this specific drawing. I began to wonder though, should I really stay with the form of a spider for his main body? In order to stick with the sea motif of his character, I decided to go with a giant crab instead.

I thought at first that I would simply put his skeleton half where the head of the crab would go, but for some reason I didn't want the claws in front. I wanted the tips of the long legs to be sharp like blades. I decided to just have his skeleton half come out on the back side of the giant crab. That way, he is less open for attack with such a wide visual range. The sketch beside the crab form is somewhat of a combination of a shark, insect, deep sea fish, and a Medusa head. This will be the more powerful, faster form of his. I like the sketch of his transformed Medusa head in this sketch more than the previous.

I'm keeping most of his background a secret for now. I was thinking of naming him Osium. There are not that many "O" names.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Hayao Miyazaki


I saw a review today of Hayao Miyazaki's Ponyo. I do agree with this review that a few things seemed odd in this movie and it seems much more cute than Miyazaki's other animated movies, but it is still a very good movie with terrific animation that I am glad to own. I watched the movie with English subtitles and it is better in my opinion. There are not that many Anime movies or shows that are better with English dubs.

I have seen a few other movies created by Miyazaki and they have all been very good. I have seen Spirited Away, Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro, My Neighbor Totoro, and Howl's Moving Castle, but Princess Mononoke is my favorite. I still want to watch some of his other movies including the most recent movie he helped write The Secret World of Arrietty.

Hayao Miyazaki is a Japanese manga artist, film director, and animator. He co-founded an animation company with Isao Takahata called Studio Ghibli. His work is very creative and the animation is spectacular. He is an inspiration to animators like myself.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Good Earth Dragon Sketch #2 & #3

Here are two more sketches of the good earth dragon from my Zheph Skyre series.

As you can see, I tried the hard tusks and the hard trunk, but it didn't look right to me. One comment I got was that the tusk looked like some sort of tentacle coming out of it's mouth. I knew I had to rework it.

Here the tusks have become two trunks. I was going to continue this sketch, but it occurred to me that this still didn't look right. I think this creature looks much better when the head is pointed down. Since this creature is based on an elephant and a bison, it should behave more like those animals. Even though the neck has been extended, I think the head should be pointed down. Earth Dragons would probably keep their heads pointed to the ground anyways...

I'm also wondering about the arms of this dragon. Should I make them appear think or keep them thin?

In the background of the sketches I quickly drew full body views of some of the dragons from my series. It is best not to waste paper.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Avatar the Last Airbender

I was watching the first episode of Nickelodeon's series "Avatar: The Last Airbender" on my Wii with Netflix. I have already watched the entire series, but I had my cousin over and I wanted to show a little bit of it to him. I know we couldn't watch even the entire first season in one day, but I wanted to at least show him the first two episodes to spark some curiosity into him.

I myself really enjoyed the series. I never watched the live action movie M. Night Shyamalan produced and I don't ever want to. I heard the reviews about the movie and I have seen a review of it. I am not too surprised it wasn't that good considering this movie tried to squeeze the entire first season into one movie. I know the series was split into three seasons, but there's twenty episodes in the first season. Sure there were a few episodes that didn't move the main plot along, though they were usually funny, but there was still too much detail to pack into one movie. Besides that, just by seeing the trailer I knew they messed up the characters' persona. They were making the series seem more serious than it should have been. I mean, it does have it's dark moments, but they cast also lets loose and there are some funny moments.

What really interested the audience was the amazing fight scenes that were animated in this show. There were all sorts of fighting styles. The main four fighting styles called "bending" were based on the four elements: Air, Water, Earth, and Fire. However, there were fighting styles that without bending and yet they proved to be very affective as well. From what I have heard, they based the fight scenes on real life fighting styles. It's just another example of what thought processes must go into animation. The style for the characters is based on Anime which I also enjoy. It makes me wonder what other shows the US will try to make based on Anime.

The cast was very enjoyable too. Many characters who were good showed flaws of inner demons at times, and even some of the villains showed some sympathetic qualities. Some turn of events for some characters are surprising, but not completely unexpected. The plot was great.

There were also various creatures throughout the show which helped add depth to this world these people lived in. Most of the creatures were a combination of two from real life. I personally would have went into more detail on some of these creatures.

This series is worth watching and I suggest it to anyone who is into action, comedy, and animation. I have seen the trailer for "The Last Airbender: Legend of Korra" and I look forward to watching it when it does come out.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


I have been renting games from Gamefly for the past few months. It has given me the chance to play so many games for my Nintendo Wii that would have cost me more to buy them. I own multi-player games for my Wii because it allows me to play with other people when they come over. Single player games are the only games I rent from Gamefly because I know I probably won't ever play them again if I own them. I learned that from owning the Playstation 1 and the original X Box.

One of the games I really enjoyed was No More Heroes. It is a game about an assassin named Travis Touchdown who is trying to become the number one assassin. From what I heard, the Japanese creators of this game were spoofing our American culture, and we can see that just by the weapon he uses is pretty much a more realistic version of a light-saber. Even if it was spoofing our culture, I still really enjoyed the obscure storyline and the game play. This game uses the motion control of the Wii mote very effectively. I would have kept this game for nostalgic purposes. I also rented the second game, but it was not as good.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 was another game I rented. I started to play the 1st one on my friend's Wii, but I didn't finish it. I heard this game was pretty much the same except for the addition of Yoshi, which I liked playing with. Some of the characters and storyline didn't seem that interesting though.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was another great game. I heard it was very similar to Ocarina of Time, but I tried playing that game and I didn't care for the annoying fairy Navi who kept pestering you while you were playing the game. Midna was a much better replacement since she is much more part of the story and has a dark persona. I really liked the game play since you could transform into a wolf and as a human you have so many useful gadgets that are awesome.

I just finished playing this game. It was alright, though flying on the back of the bird was annoying at first because they didn't mention in the game how you fly higher. I really didn't care for Fi, the replacement for Midna and Navi. Fi just sounds like a computer who calculates all the time. The gadgets were very similar to the previous game, but I did like how you have to upgrade them. What I liked most about this game were the characters in the storyline. Link seemed like a more realistic boy, Zelda was a more interesting character though she wasn't a princess this time, and I even liked the flamboyant villain Ghirahim. I have mixed feelings for the final boss though... (SPOILER ALERT: it isn't Ganandorf, it's someone called Demise. He looks cool in his final form, but he looks ridiculous as that monster called "The Imprisoned" and he doesn't seem to be able to do that much as you face him. Even Ghirahim has more tricks than he does.)

There are some other games that I have rented like Donkey Kong Country and Kirby's Epic Yarn. Those two games were alright. I tried to play Red Steel, but I returned it before I could ever finish it. I liked the shooter aspect of it at times, but the swordplay stank and I felt dizzy at times when the smallest movement of the Wii mote made the camera spin.

I'm going to stop my subscription to Gamefly soon. There aren't any other single player games out right now that I feel like playing. I want to play "Kirby's Return to Dreamland" and "Rayman Origins," but both of those are multiplayer so I will just add them to my permanent collection. Maybe I will start up Gamefly again when the next Nintendo system comes out, which should be this summer. I heard there will be more games for gamers than the Wii had. Besides, I want to start up Netflix on my Wii and watch some movies and Anime series I have not had the chance to see.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Carrie Moyer Exhibit

There is a new installation of artwork in the Contemporary Gallery at the Worcester Art Museum. It features paintings done by Carrie Moyer.

Her work is obviously abstract, with odd shapes and vivid colors. I find it weird that she uses acrylic paint. My teachers from college had us paint with acrylic only because oil paint would ruin the galleries. The teachers all suggested that when we leave college to try oil paint instead, and they told us we would get better results. I have also noticed many more paintings in museums done with oil paint than any other medium. Alas, there are artists who can use anything in order to make great art. I once saw beautiful scenes of nature done entirely by Crayola crayons, and I mean a full grown man used the type children use.

I also find it funny that she uses glitter in some of her artwork. Glitter just seems like a cheap craft material, but she uses it sparingly mixed with the paint.

Check out her work at the museum. This gallery will only have her work for a few months.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Evil Wind Dragon Sketch

Here is a sketch of an evil wind dragon from my Zheph Skyre series. I started drawing it the exact same way I drew it before, but then it hit me. I did the same thing of combining the beak of an owl with the mouth of a rabbit with this creature. I didn't have that much of badger features for this dragon as I did for vulture features, so I added the badger's nose. I think it is an improvement.

Also, I've uploaded more content to my website. I still have more to finish, but it is getting better.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Raven Queen

Happy Valentine's Day! For today, I will post a sketch of an evil antagonist from my Zheph Skyre series. She sort of ruins the idea of love, but whatever.

I was thinking of calling her Bestillia, but I am not entirely sure. I do like the name a little bit. For a while I was wondering what to make of this character's origin. It seemed a little odd to me at 1st just to add a female character to the group of main antagonists, but I believe she will fit perfectly. I was going to make her the third species of immortal monsters that pass on their genetic traits by biting victims like vampires and werewolves, but I'm now thinking of making her similar to RA Salvatore's "Spider Queen".

In the world of Drizzt Du Orden, the evil dark elves, the drow, worship a deity that created them from her image, the Spider Queen. This deity called Lolth is feared as a bringing of chaos and destruction even in the alternate dimension where she lives. Spiders are mainly her symbol, and her punishment to drow who don't follow her rule is turning them into a half drow half spider creature called a drider.

In the world of Zheph Skyre, things are different. This character's element is wind, and spiders aren't associated with wind, so I'm thinking of making her the Raven Queen. There will be dark elves in my series, though I don't think I'll call them drow, have them live underground, and worship spiders. This race of evil elves will follow the Raven Queen though.

The Raven Queen has quite a few abilities including flight, unmatchable speed, the ability to produce any weapon she wants, taking the form of others, wind based magic, regeneration from drinking blood, and more. She is also a seductress. I think she's the only female evil character of mine who is.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Rock Music

I recently ordered 3 CD's online because I can't get them on ITunes. All three of them are Japanese bands that I had heard from specific Anime shows and online. It has just gotten me to think about my taste in music.

My earliest exposure to music was very weird. Since I have autism, my mother and my speech pathologist helped me speak through many methods, including "Hooked on Phonics". One method my mom took was having me listen to two CD's from my dad's and her's music collection. Mostly she played "The Beach Boys" and "Meatloaf: Bat out of Hell 2" to me on noise canceling headphones. I am not entirely sure if I liked the two bands equally or not, but I can say that the CD cover for Meatloaf has always been awesome to me. Few covers have such dark, epic illustrations.

My taste in music did eventually expand, though I was still very sheltered when it came to these sorts of things. I recall really liking "I'll be There for You" by the Rembrandts just because it was played at the beginning sequence of "Friends," but that was back when "Friends" was worth watching. I also recall liking Chumbawamba's "Tubthumping" since they played that song on the radio often. I never tried to get a CD of either one of those groups though.

My first CD, besides a few burned CD's from my brother, was System of a Down's "Steal This Album." I began to like them after seeing their music video for "Chop Suey!" on MTV back when they actually showed music videos. Mostly System of a Down was my favorite band of all time. Of coarse my taste in music has been expanding since then.

I also like Slipknot, Disturbed, Static X, Gorillaz, Evanescence, Rammstein, Enya, Dido, Unsun, Within Temptation, Damone, Delain, Maximum the Hormone, Girugimeshi, High and Mighty Color, Curve, MDMFK, Godsmack, Blueman Group, and Kidneytheives. Yeah, my taste in music ranges from Metal to New Age.

Artists require all sorts of things for inspiration, especially music. My taste in music generally has to make me imagine fantastic fight scenes, explosions, magic, machines, and spectacular adventures when I feel pumped full of energy. I have my relaxing moments when I want to hear some music that calms me, but it still has to sound good to my ears.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Magic the Gathering

Today after I went snowboarding at Mount Wachusett, I went to the store That's Entertainment to play Magic the Gathering. Magic the Gathering is a collectable card game that was first introduced by Wizards of the Coast, the same company that introduced the game Dungeons and Dragons, in 1993 by the mathematician Richard Garfield. There have been plenty of other trading card games that have been similar to Magic, but few of them have had as much of a success as this one game. Yu-Gi-Oh! by Konami is the strongest competitor.

 This is the back of all Magic cards. They have not changed the design ever. You can see the five basic colors you play with in the game: green, white, blue, black, and red. You usually build a deck around one or two of the colors. Few can use all five...

One of the best feature of Magic the Gathering is the ever changing styles of artwork introduced to the series. Numerous illustrators have been employed by Wizards to create images for these cards.

You can see here an odd picture on this creature card done by Dan Frazier. This began as a card from an old edition, but it was brought back for a later edition. Some of the pictures used on these cards are fan favorites.

Here is a creature card of a terrifying horse creature called a Nightmare, which was illustrated by Carl Critchlow. I like how the horse looks deathly. You can tell this is an older card by the surrounding border being white. They later changed it to black. They have come up with different designs for this side of the card since the opponent can't see it.

This is one of my favorite illustrations on one of my cards. It was done by RK Post.

This is another of my favorites, and it is shiny. They make some cards shiny sometimes which increases their value. This was done by Ron Spencer, and the shininess just helps magnify it's awesomeness.

White cards used to be mostly just pictures of men at arms, beautiful creatures like unicorns, serine, and honorable images. Black was always morbid, green was always of beasts, red was always of fire and goblins, and blue was always about wizards and their academic studies. As time went on, all of the images used for Magic grew darker and darker for all colors. Here RK Post made a white creature terrifying.

Here's an illustration by Scott M. Fisher. Even when women are depicted on these cards, they are not portrayed as beautiful. Perhaps they want women portrayed with more of strength and fierceness instead.

Here is an enchantment card with an illustration by Mitch Cotle. I have used a few of these cards, so they are no longer in pristine condition. I apologize.

Here is a shiny spider card done by Greg Staples. I find it interesting to see only one spider that is of a light color. As you can see, this creature belongs to two different colors. That is seen often now in Magic.

Here is an artifact card done by Tomas Giorello. Artifacts generally have no color. I find it odd that this edition came up with some interesting images with mice, foxes, and snakes combined with people.

In more recent editions, they have began to have artifact with a color in it. Sometimes it is difficult to figure out what you are looking at in these images. This was done by Anthony Francisco.

Magic the Gathering has had an influence on my artwork. I suggest to all to try to play it at least once. It is harder than Yu-Gi-Oh, but it appeals to an older crowd.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cape Cod

For the past three days, I was visiting my grandparents at Cape Cod. There wasn't much that I did there besides relax, went with them out to lunch at two separate restaurants on two separate days, went with them to see certain sights, watched the movie "The Departed", and played Scrabble with my grandmother. Usually I would go to the beach while I am there, but since it is still winter, we were limited. It was still nice to visit and see them.

One place we decided to go to was the Cape Cod Beer Brewery for a tour and free samples. They are a small beer factory that distributes beer throughout Cape Cod. It is too bad that they only distribute in Cape Cod because their light beer "Beach Blonde" was actually good! I haven't ever had a beer that I liked, but I found one. The others were strong.
 There was a gift shop that had some of their large glass bottles that they reuse and merchandise from local businesses. It was interesting.

Here is a pamphlet for the Edward Gorey House in Yarmouth Port, MA. We didn't visit it this time, but we went the previous time I visited the Cape. Edward Gorey was a children's book illustrator and a etch artist. I liked his work because some of it appeared to be dark like bats, black birds, and other strange creatures. The museum was originally his house. I suggest people to visit when they are in the area.

I also suggest going to the Cape Cod Museum of Art. They have an interesting sculpture collection outside. We didn't get a chance to go in, but I will try to next time.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

First Friday Boston February 3rd 2012: Part 3

Here is the last page for this past 1st Friday Boston. For the past three days I have been at my grandparents' in Cape Cod so tomorrow I will post something about it.
Unfortunately this studio was not open on First Friday, but the poster on their door was impressive, so here is a business card for Pictex.

Here is a business card for Sandy Belock-Phippen.

Here is a business card for Sharon Sass. Even though her paintings are realistic, I like the unrealistic, bright style she uses for her paintings.
Here is Sophia Ainslie's business card.
Here is Susan Gheyssari's postcard.

Here is a postcard for the Soprafina Gallery where Rhoda Sapers and Sarah Kahn had their work displayed.

Here is Terry Levin's business card.

 Here is a postcard for Sharon Hayes.

Here is Tom Ouellette's business card. He was the man who was painting people when I entered his studio.

Here are some photographs I took while I was there.

Here's someone who made strange sculptures with wire. It was hard to just pass by without taking a look.
Here are some art peices of girls' desses.
This artist painted huge paintings of pop art.
It is interesting how certain artists go about painting glass.
Here are a few more paintings.
Here is the inside of an artist's studio. The artist is sitting on the coach. My guess is he is waitning for people to finish looking at his artwork before he takes questions or comments.
This studio was closed unfortunately, but I wanted to take a picture of it. I know how this photographer took this picture. He removed the shutter for a short time. He must have had some sparklers or fire works going off.
Here are some interesting paintings. I'm not sure what they are, but they still caught my eye.
Here are some landscape paintings I saw.
Here are some more paintings from the same studio.
Water is a popular subject of art. It is not surprising as it covers 70% of the Earth's surface.
I think these began as landscape paintings, but the artist chose to add something entirely imaginary to them.
Some more strange wire sculptures.

After 1st Friday Boston, I stopped by my sister's condo to drop off the painting I made for her birthday of our two cats since she was on my way home.