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Archive for December 2007

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Buckle Up, It's Going to be a Bumpy Year

I've got a feeling it just might be an even rougher ride for the world in '08. We're going to need a tuff little New Year's Baby who'll be ready to throw down and get his freak on. Think he looks up to the task? Let's hope....

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Howl at the moon tonight, take a good whack at a SpongeBob piñata and let the silly string fly. Blow it all out then steel yourself for what's to come. Happy New Year from the Blue Moon Crew!

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Not So Little Voice

I've been listening to Little Voice, the debut album from Sara Bareilles since its release in July, and have no desire to stop. Each song by this singer-songwriter is a gem. Her supple voice and solid piano are front and center throughout, as Bareilles deftly handles a plethora of genres, covering pop, rock, R&B, soul, as well as quieter confessionals, most with a bluesy or jazzy touch. sara-bareilles.jpg The production is big when it needs to be, each song arranged perfectly, employing just the right instruments, or Sara's own multi-layered backing vocals. Her lyrics are sharp and memorable, delivered with subtle or punchy style as is called for. With her first single, "Love Song," she finds a clever twist in well-mined turf. And the rest are also just a plain pleasure to listen to. Usually, when I find an artist I like I can't wait for more, for their follow-up to be released as soon as possible. Not so with Little Voice. This one will do more than fine for quite a while longer.

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Don't Let the Bedbugs Bite

I've been working on my children's book, Night of the Bedbugs for quite some time. I made good progress on the final art over this last year, and am about to step up production on the balance of the final art, with a plan to self publish in hardcover format. Here are the pencils and final color art for page three. bedbugs_03_pencil.jpg bedbugs_03.jpg I'll be posting here more updates as progress continues.

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Arms Wide Open

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I'm looking to approach the coming new year with this kind of attitude. Sometimes interesting stuff spills outta you when you're just doodling with a pen. I like it, at least.

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Christmas Dove

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Squirrels and birds have been showing up for months on our new deck, but we hadn't seen a dove...'til Christmas day.

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Merry Christmas!

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Mary really went to town with Photoshop for the official Christmas family photo this year. Even the presidents are getting in on the act!

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Emily was awestruck and transfixed when we finished lighting and decorating the tree a week or two ago. We're still using most of the very same strings and big lights we had for our tree when I was growing up.

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We're spending Christmas day right here at home this year. Gifts and brunch and chocolate and toys and sledding and steak dinner. Yum! Peace to you this Christmas. Have a great day!

 

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Some Kind of Wonderful Life

It's easy to view Capra's It's a Wonderful Life as a simple morality play, a light confection complete with an angel named Clarence, ringing bells and an ultra-happy ending; all elements of what many have come to call Capra-corn. But there's more at work in this movie, an examination of the dark side of the American dream, and signified by more than just the twenty-minute film noir nightmarish interlude. It's why the movie has become such a holiday staple and has stood the test of time. If it was all just frosting, one wonders whether it would have become the phenomenon it has? wonderfullife01.jpg Certainly, the humor, fantasy, theatricality and overt romanticism of It's a Wonderful Life make it easy to watch and a sheer pleasure, even (or perhaps especially) upon repeated viewings. Within the first few minutes, most are weeping already as young George is slapped around before Old Man Gower realizes what George has done for him. There are fanciful references to travel and adventure, a young girl whispering her undying love, and an unending cast of characters that make the viewer feel right at home with George and Bedford Falls, almost as if they'd grown up there themselves. wonderfullife02.jpg As lovable as the town is, though, George can't wait to escape. He's filled with hope and an anxious yearning to "see the world" and do and build Big Things. This kind of dreaming big is quintessentially American, the idea that regardless from where one comes, something bigger and better can actually happen. George (and many Americans) are sometimes setting themselves up, and many times do not realize other dreams worth living right in their own backyard, right in front of their faces. wonderfullife03.jpg With Peter Bailey (George's father, who's already earned his wings, as the butterflies behind him in the photo above attest) and in Mary, especially, the possibilities for a wonderful life for George right in his home town are made abundantly clear. But it's not enough for George. He's got something else in mind, something he believes will make him happy. Perhaps it's because he wants something from life just different from the one he knows, something beyond what his father has achieved before him. wonderfullife04.jpg His father's death, and then his brother's departures keep him shackled to the tiny town, delaying and snuffing out his dreams. Due to circumstance and out of a sense of obligation, George does what he has to do, all along hearing train whistles, looking out on the horizon and building toy bridges and train sets, in feeble attempts to keep lit the fire of his long-held passion. wonderfullife05.jpg All throughout the movie, George's frustration is palpable, even during the angriest marriage proposal ever to soul mate, Mary. He's constantly kicking things, then screaming at people, even his own family. This sense of suffocation or claustrophobia is what makes Potter's offer of employment and riches so tempting, if only for a moment. Now, Potter is cartoonish and a gross stereotype, and many will say this is then an indictment of capitalism. But one can say the Bailey's could have run their business a bit more efficiently, and if George had taken the route his hee-haw pal Sam Wainwright did, it may not have been all bad. It's just another path, another choice. After all, Sam offers George many chances to do well financially, and really comes through in the end, with cash when George needs it most of all. That Sam the businessman isn't a bad guy. The point for George isn't that his life is better because he stayed at the Building & Loan, it's that when he stayed, he would've been better off being more happy in his choice. wonderfullife06.jpg Thanks to the bumbling Uncle Billy, money troubles provide the trigger for the years of aggravation to come boiling up for George and spill over. At a point of absolute desperation, he destroys the symbols, therefore the possibility of his big dreams, lashes out at his children and others, finally praying to a God in which he's not sure he believes for guidance and help, ready even to destroy his own life. wonderfullife07.jpg The aid comes in a form unexpected to George, a 200-plus-year-old angel who favors Twain. Amidst the fantasy and comic relief, George is thrown into a nightmare of his own wishing, a world where he's never been born. In a movie so full of laughs, life and joy, George finds himself staring into the abyss, a vision far worse than never achieving that for which he's always strived. Before he finds the abyss staring back at him, he pulls himself from the brink, begging for his life to return. For so long, all while searching for and following his bliss, he hasn't truly appreciated all he has, all he's accomplished, whose lives he's positively affected. While pursuing happiness, he's missed countless opportunities to choose to be content, even if it's not all for which he's ever dreamed. wonderfullife08.jpg Even with the happiest of happy endings, one can not say George will live the rest of his life in utter contentment, that he'll let go of those old dreams, but one can hope that he's seen the light, that he (and us, the viewers) will be a little more appreciative of what he's got, and the loved ones who surround him. One thing's for sure, as we see those same butterflies reappear in the last scene, Clarence is not the only one who's earned his wings.

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Raining Snowmen

snowmen.jpg More of the Fingerhut snowman I posted the other day.

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Elven Pie

pie_elves.jpg These were prepared for a series of two-color stickers for Mrs. Smith Pies some years back. I preferred my initial elf sketch, but they wanted something cuter. It's not always easy for me to figure as an artist why a client wants one thing over another, especially when I'm attached to a certain drawing that's rejected. That's the way it goes, though, and I did the second elf, no problem. At least I've got a place here now to show my other li'l elf.

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Who Needs Proof?

I've been reading more comics again of late. I went to a comic book shop last week for the first time in over a year, and picked up PROOF #2 (from Image Comics), which is written by a friend of mine, Alex Grecian. I've seen it in some form or another over the last year and a half, from the earliest pages, pre-publication. But it's quite another thing thing to see it all printed, and so nicely, at that. This is one fine book. proof.jpg PROOF is John Prufrock, otherwise known as Bigfoot. He works for The Lodge, an underground U.S./Canadian cooperative which protects mammals and other weird creatures from each other. In this first story arc, "Goatsucker," the reader follows rookie Lodge agent, Ginger Brown as she meets her new large, hairy partner, as well as other members of the lodge, including faeries, jackalopes and dodos. They team up in their inital case here to deal with the goatsucker itself, Chupacabra, or Mexican Bigfoot. This comic is creepy, humorous, thoughtful, and tons of fun to read and look at. Grecian and artist and co-creator Riley Rossmo are enthusiastic collaborators, giving readers plenty of bang for the buck. The stories and characters and the world they inhabit are dense and well thought out. The art is unique, rough, experimental, and pulls you in. A myriad of facts, asides and musings are interspersed throughout in the form of pop-up Cryptoids, a clever device that adds depth and insight, slowing the pace down nicely to avoid a too-quick read. If that weren't enough, each issue features a back-up that's integral to story, and there are many pages of articles, essays and letters to round things out. Rossmo's art is lively and organic. Though stylistically different, he reminds one of a young Paul Pope, experimenting from one style to the next, not letting anything slow him down. Energetic and prolific, he makes this fellow artist jealous. As for the writing, Grecian knows what he's doing. These two together are passionate about PROOF, are well ahead in terms of production and are ready for the long haul. A great thing about this book is that one can read it lightly and just for fun, and it works well in that vein. But if one wants to dig deeper, there's a lot going on under the surface that become more clear upon multiple reads. For example, let's examine Prufrock's name. Taking its cue from an early T.S. Eliot poem, we find that character feeling alienated and disappointed with the society in which he lives. No doubt our Bigfoot hero feels like he doesn't fit in. He may be a mammal, but not one of us, so provides a no-longer-missing link between humans and the other creatures you'll find in this fascinating world. There's a bunch more I could write about, but the highest compliment I can pay these guys is that for the first time in a few years, PROOF has me eagerly awaiting a monthly comic as its released. I've read issue #3 and could easily request more in advance from Alex directly, but I want to go on the ride with everyone else. So I've subscribed through heavyink.com. It's totally worth it. You want proof? Pick up the comic, too. Third issue is due December 27th.

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