Character sketch

So, I google “how to write a character sketch” to kind of help me with this project. I liked the way that Staci set up her character and her story with a little opening rather than a point by point description, so I thought I would run with it! I did do an outline in my sketchbook before I created this opening. I know it’s short, but I didn’t want to focus on the story line as much as I wanted to create what my character was like. Like I said, I have been incredibly inspired by comics! Enjoy!

IMG_7159

As I waited, I thought about how this all got started. Maybe chasing down a purse snatcher, scaring away muggers, keeping the backs of my community. Eventually I got the mask, dulled my feminine features so people were thrown off, and didn’t think to trace these acts back to me. I hid in the shadows, and I waited.
I read the comics. of course I daydreamed of kicking some evil ass. But I used to also spend my days selling art and knitting. I’m quiet and shy, and goofy! Excersizing was just a thing i did to keep healthy. Now it’s literally a tool. If I don’t stay in shape, I lose.
I need a snack…ooh that local comic con is in a couple of weeks…focus!
There they are…

Early Summer Round Up

Greetings, friends!

I woke up feeling like posting on the Easel but have few creative endeavors to share to date so the format this morning is much more stream of consciousness than anything with purpose or intent. So we’ll call it a round-up, shall we?

Summer: I am so thankful summer is here. For the excess vitamin D, the outdoor pursuits, barbecues, and movies. Speaking of movies, I have so far loved Star Trek and Iron Man and am hoping to catch up with The Great Gatsby soon.

In Star Trek, I thought Benedict Cummerbatch made the transition to ruthless villain flawlessly and naturally. I found him to be quite the bad ass in Sherlock but can appreciate that many characteristics of the ingenious but harsh super detective translate well into a driven and unstoppable science fiction super villain. I also find This incarnation of Star Trek to be refreshing and inspiring because it features the youth of a civilization driving the efforts for exploration, making the key decisions, and all while they are still discovering their own potential and pushing the bounds of their limitations both in ability and protocol. It really makes me want to get out there and DO something.

I know not everyone agrees, but I really enjoyed the time Tony Stark spent outside the suit in Iron Man 3. I think it helped to ground someone who was prone to giving into impulses like handing out his home address to terrorists. He needed that. But that’s Tony Stark for you: a little bit of Batman, a little bit super science, and lot of Rock n’ Roll. I also loved the give and take of aid between Pepper and Tony. She was bad ass herself, was she not!? Three cheers for strong female characters being given their due in mass comic media!

Comics: Speaking of comics, recently, in an effort to understand a friend’s favorite old comic book character, I gave Journey into Mystery featuring Lady Sif and Beta Ray Bill a chance. There is some great and positive interaction between Lady Sif and Jane Foster but Beta Ray Bill was only introduced in the final few panels so we’ll have to wait until next month to comment on him. I’m also sticking with Captain Marvel, and a few Adventure Time Titles which are all going pretty well. I’m a little worried about the new Batwoman arc in which Batwoman is charged with unmasking Batman by the evil morally ambiguous behind-the-scenes supernatural organization that currently holds her previously-thought-dead sister captive. Too much of the family is involved in the story but that is always an important theme in the Bat-verse. Captain Marvel is currently in an Avengers Assemble crossover called The Enemy Within. Lots of good teamwork so far and I’m looking forward to where this goes.

Books: My most recent reads of the summer have been the Night Circus by Erin Morganstern (finished) and Cosmos by Carl Sagan (in progress). I highly recommend The Night Circus which is highly immersive and builds and builds until the end. The visual images are so striking and the ties between the characters are strong and emotional. Cosmos amounts to a non sequitur in my reading habits. Standing in Half Price Books during their Memorial Day Sale, I decided I wanted to know about Space again. We’ll see how long this lasts.

Anyhow, I hope everyone is kicking off their summer as they wish. How is everyone else faring?

In Celebration of Will Eisner Week: My Adopted Love of Graphic Novels

After reading on Tumblr that this week is Will Eisner Week in celebration of the man and all novels graphic, I decided it would be a great excuse to write about my adopted love of comics. I say adopted because, like any good kid of the ’80s-’90s I had always loved superhero cartoons (Batman: The Animated Series, X-men, and The Amazing Spiderman) but I was mostly unaware of any comic that wasn’t printed serially in The Morehead News. It wasn’t until I took a Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing elective while in Upward Bound that I ventured into Neil Gaiman’s Sandman #19 A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I was impressed that it had won major awards in categories traditionally restricted to prose formats. I was intrigued by the enhanced storytelling garnered from the combination of art and word and ink, and panel.

In college, a friend lent me my first superhero graphic novel, Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. While it wasn’t the Batman I knew and loved from the Animated Series, I did appreciate the medium as a potential for exploration of grim dark futures and What-ifs. In the early post 9-11 years, grim dark wasn’t difficult to accept in entertainment. The two distinct Batmans, initially quite opposed in my mind, forced me to connect the plausible dots between continuity and conjecture. I realized for the first time that flawed heroes are more interesting than the perfect action figures from childhood. I didn’t learn these storytelling motifs from English class, I picked it up in a graphic novel.

I can’t remember if it was before or after Brad and I began dating that he introduced me to Marvel’s 1602, pretty much my favorite what- if of all time. How can super humans and super science in the Renaissance not win me over? The only timeline point I’m really certain of is that he probably started taking me seriously as a dating prospect when I asked him about Batman– I’m not sure what specifically, but it definitely changed things– conversations stretched on into hours and group superhero cartoon-viewing plans were made that eventually would involve only the two of us. Half a year of mutual pining could have probably been avoided if I’d been as interested in Dr. Doom as I was in Batman, but hey, we still both agreed to include the local White Crow Comics in the itinerary for our first date.

Despite taking the occasional advice of a co-worker and reading classics like Watchmen and V for Vendetta, I didn’t really start reading individual comic issues until DC’s Identity Crisis came out. I met the Question and Renee Montoya by following 52 and as a result began exploring Gotham’s other characters which led me to one of my current favorites Batwoman. The art style, intense color and ingenious use of alternative panel layouts makes for incredibly dynamic storytelling. I love that Batman deals with the themed human villains and Batwoman patrols the mythical/magical beat. The most recent story arc, World’s Finest was a team up with Wonder Woman to defeat Medusa and the Mother of all Monsters. I’m kind of wondering if the next story arc will have an Egyptian bent given the final spoiler in the last issue. Then maybe a return of Isis? Only time will tell, but I feel pretty confident I’m only reading too much into a single panel.

These days I also follow Captain Marvel and Kelly Sue Deconnick’s run on Avengers Assemble as well as most of the Adventure Time titles. My husband is the major collector but he keeps me in mind when planning his folder. I have had (male) friends tell me I only read the girl titles, and while they do speak to me first, I also like to support the need for the comic industry to at least think about female readers and creative teams. The only real miss I’ve had has been Sword of Sorcery. I love the world building of Gemworld but I think the story is just better suited for younger readers.

Obviously, comics and graphic novels are a major component of Brad and my entertainment diet and hopefully always will be. This week I’ll do a few more posts about recent comic news and next weekend will be the local Lexington Comic Con, of which there should be lots of Errant Easel coverage. I hope you’ll chime in with your thoughts as well. Looking forward to celebrating Will Eisner Week the Errant Easel way!

The Adventures of Tintin — In which the author overcomes great ignorance and is reminded of her love for pulp

“I seek above all to tell a story…and to tell it clearly.” -Hergé

Stephen Spielberg must have been chanting this mantra while directing his first animated film and homage to the pulp comic strip of the same name “The Adventures of Tintin.” Tintin, a gallant young reporter, and Snowy, his faithful canine sidekick, become entangled in a quest for treasure and redemption when they fortuitously purchase a clue-concealing model of the good ship Unicorn. The plot of the film was driven by action sequences  as quick, crisp, and convoluted as is expected in the pulp genre. Tintin makes for a fun hero who uses his wits, investigative instinct, and often his strong right hook to solve his problems.

Do not be mistaken. I held many prejudices, all of them as unfair and unfounded as prejudices tend to be, walking into the theater to see this movie. It was animated.There was an animated dog I assumed to be the main character (I mean really, what kind of name is Tintin? Of course it must be a dog’s name, I presumed.) And worst of all in my mind, it was attached to Nickelodeon.  Recalling my personal disappointment in and generally lukewarm feelings toward Nickelodeon’s movie adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events, I arrogantly refused to place faith in the folks that introduced me to three engrossing seasons of Avatar: The Last Airbender. How ignorant on all accounts.

My husband did not understand my reluctance. “It’s kind of like if Superman comics were told from the perspective of Jimmy Olsen.” And he was kind of right. Instead of a character traditionally driven only by his reaction to a greater being’s initiative and orders, Tintin catalyzes all of the action. From his impulsive purchase of a model ship concealing clues to pirate’s treasure to his uncanny ability to know who to punch when, the storyline progresses like a freight train. In contrast to modern action icons who tend to be portrayed as more rugged (think Daniel Craig as James Bond) was a little jolting to see such a baby-faced hero pull a gun so instinctively, but it was appropriate to the source material. There were other nods to Herge including framed newspaper articles detailing Tintin’s adventures from the comics and the use of Herge’s likeness to depict the caricaturist in the opening of the film. From these tributes and the preservation of the spirit of pulp adventure, it was evident that Spielberg, Wright, and others working on the film were fans of the source material.

I ended up loving the animation in the film and the convoluted plot of the story. I have had a long time appreciation of pulp elements in book series including Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, classics like Around the World in Eighty Days, and television shows such as The Lost World. Of course the appreciation depends on not demanding too much from the genre. Pulp adventure is not particularly known for character development, so don’t expect too much here and you’ll never miss it. If you like pulp adventure, globe hopping, and quests for treasure, or as Brad put it “an hour and a half long episode of Duck Tales,” you should make a point to see The Adventures of Tintin. Or in the words of Thompson and Thompson: To be more precise, you should make a point to see The Adventures of Tintin.

Captain America – I’m excited about this film!

Punching Hitler - all in a day's work

With the upcoming Captain America movie premiering this week, I thought it would be a great time to tell you how excited I am about this film.  Not only is this movie about one of the most beloved characters in comic book lore, but it’s a WWII movie!  Not a Michael Bay version of Tora! Tora! Tora!, but a real WWII movie full of America’s number one solider punching Nazis and being badass.

For those not familiar with Captain America: The First Avenger plot, I’ll give it to you in brief as I believe it to be.  Steve Rogers is a weak young man.  He’s been rejected by the Army numerous times.  Finally, he’s allowed to join, but on the condition that he is to be a part of an experiment.  The result of that experiment is that Steve Rogers becomes a super solider!  The serum works – lets pump everyone up with this right?  No.  Something goes wrong, things that I don’t want to go into happen, and the super solider serum is gone.  We are left with Captain America and a war to win.  The mysterious Red Skull and HYDRA play a part in the film I’m sure ( I mean, how can they not!  Red Skull is on the poster and trailer..He’s Capt’s arch-enemy – craziness…)  Anyways, that’s my take on it, and I can not wait to watch it on Thursday night!

So, in honor of the release of Captain America: The First Avenger, I’ve decided to showcase three films set in, or around, WWII.  These films may not be well-known to you, which is why I chose them, but they are wonderful and are really worth the watch.

Hope you enjoy!

The Great Dictator (1940) is really Charlie Chaplin mocking Hitler before the United State’s entrance into WWII.   This film is both funny – there is a Prince and the Pauper flair to it – and moving.  The final speech the character makes gives me chills (even when Robert Downey, Jr. gave it in the film Chaplin).

Here is a link to the final scene – check it out, play it in the background http://youtu.be/45BotfjfGpE

The Hill (1965), looks at an aspect of war I know I never really think of, the prison camp.  Now, I don’t mean Stalag 17 type of prison camp where it’s enemy soldiers guarding our boys as they plan their escape.  I’m talking where our own are kept for crimes committed while on duty or in uniform.  The Hill takes place at a British prison camp in North Africa.  Sean Connery is fantastic as Joe Roberts, a man who refused orders to run headlong into enemy fire.  The dynamic between the prisoners and their guards – all soldiers in the same army – is interesting and, at time, tragic.

Mister Roberts (1955), like the most successful films, blends tragedy with comedy.  It is a very humorous film that focuses on a ship that is not in the thick of things and an officer that so badly wants to be.  The captain is tyrannical and is constantly undermined by “Mister Roberts.”  The interaction between the characters is wonderfully done and the cast is spectacular.

Comics and Art – One in the Same

I love doing drawings of my friends in a cartoon style – not caricature, cartoon.  While I have thought of making a web comic, I don’t think, at this time anyways, I have enough stories for those characters.  I’m more of a single panel kinda gal I guess.  I would love to include these characters in some of my paintings.  Why can’t comics and paintings be combined?  I mean, aren’t a lot of paintings just single panel comics?  Yeah, I’m looking at you specifically pop art movement.

literally a comic panel painting

I guess it just really depends on your point of view.  Lichtenstein, with his large panels directly inspired by comic book art, and Rembrandt, with his richly detailed figures and scenes, aren’t really different from one another in the sense that they are trying to tell a story. As viewers,  we don’t have to know the story they are specifically trying to tell – we just have to be willing to look at it.  It’s then that we put our own view, our own experiences, into what we see and the story becomes ours to an – extent.

"What's that officer? What are we doing? Well, umm...nothing, we're just...uh, waiting on..a friend! Yeah, we're waiting on a friend!"

That’s what I want to do – tell stories that others can see and make their own, using characters and scenarios from my life.

So, as I look for a character to use, I wanted to show a few examples of the figures I’ve already created.  I’ll update as I add new characters and figure out who I want to be the “star” of my paintings.

Mittens - Manga style

No evil shall escape my sight!