Mutual Benefit

mutual benefit 72

I was originally going to call this “Mutual Admiration Society” but when I was drawing it I wrote “Mutual Benefit” instead. I don’t ask for these ideas; they just come to me.

Funny and true story: I was drawing this and Annie walked into the room and looked over my shoulder at the drawing. She said, “Ugh!” Then she asked, “Is that for (name of client redacted)?”

Me: “No.” (Laugh) “I can’t imagine (name of client redacted) paying me to draw this.”

Annie: “I can’t imagine anyone paying you to draw that.”

I could almost hear the ‘bu-dump-bump-tish.’


Happy Halloween

pumpkinbear 72

Pumpkinbear


Orctober

One of the illustrators whose work I enjoy and admire, Zhu Bajiee, mentioned some sort of ‘Orctober’ thing where he presents images of orcs. OK, I can get on board with that.

Here is a drawing I did recently where I was trying out some sort of funky new Japanese brush pen thing (I really like it) and drew a character that I am working on for something else. He isn’t really an orc, but his face is fucked up and I guess that makes him orc-ish (sort of). Really, I just wanted an excuse to post this picture:

oscar 10 4 14

Then there is this picture that I drew a while ago of orcs hanging around killing and getting killed:

Castle Ortrar: Guarded by orcs wearing Converse All-Stars Hi-Tops.

Castle Ortrar: Guarded by orcs wearing Converse All-Stars Hi-Tops.

I particularly enjoy the dude with an arrow in his forehead. Makes me chuckle every time.

And, finally, a drawing from a few years ago that I always liked. These are goblins (cousins of orcs, I guess), but I think close enough:

More Artworks

 


Too much cake (or watching “Pacific Rim” 2013)

pacific rimAnnie indulged me by accompanying me to see “Pacific Rim” (the film by Guillermo Del Toro) at the theater the other night. Why I wanted to see Pacific Rim was simple:  dinosaurs fighting robots. But when the film was over, I left the theater feeling overstuffed — as if I had eaten too much cake. Sometimes you get exactly what you think you want and you end up feeling kind of sick at the end.

Pacific Rim is a film by Guillermo Del Toro where giant monsters (known as ‘Kaiju’) periodically crawl up out of a fissure/portal to another world in the bottom of the pacific ocean and attack coastal cities, much like Godzilla did in 1954. In order to defend themselves, the humans construct giant robots called ‘Jaegers’ which are piloted by pairs of humans who need to establish some kind of ‘mind bond’ with one another. The humans discover that the kaiju are being sent by aliens who are intent on taking over the earth. The pace and ferocity of the kaiju attacks increase and a smaller number of robots and robot pilot teams have to fight harder than ever to stem the tide. Idras Elba (Stringer Bell from The Wire), Ron Perleman (from just about anything) and that good looking guy who plays “Jacks” on Sons of Anarchy are in this movie along with a lot of other people.

Everything in ‘Pacific Rim’ is huge and loud and colorful and complicated. Hong Kong (where much of the action takes place) looks like the city from ‘Blade Runner’ with flashing billboards, lots of umbrellas and Asian people crowding around street vendors in narrow, dangerous streets. When the kaiju battle the robots, cargo ships get used as baseball bats, they knock over buildings like drunken men in a bar fight might knock over tables and chairs and the humans just need to scramble to get out of the way and hope the robot kills the kaiju before the city is completely destroyed. It is Greco-Roman wrestling and martial arts on a grand scale — each second of battle is accompanied by noisy, anarchic, glorious destruction.

I wanted to like it; I really did. I grew up on shows like ‘Ultraman’ and ‘Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot.’ I loved the ‘Kaiju’ movies where actors in rubber dinosaur suits stomped on cars, knocked over buildings, waded through the ocean like it was a kiddy pool and swatted planes out of the sky. So why was I underwhelmed by ‘Pacific Rim’?

I suspect the biggest part of the problem is that I am no longer 9 years old. As a young sprat, I probably had an inexhaustible appetite for seeing cities get destroyed and screaming commuters running away in fear as the army, once again tasked with the impossible job of fighting Godzilla, rolls in to get squashed and stomped on until the monster gets bored and wades off into the ocean to sleep beneath the waves for another couple of years. The ‘kaiju’ movies of the fifties, sixties and seventies did not benefit from modern digital imaging; everything was done with models. You could usually see the fishing line that the toy airplanes were strung from as they buzzed around Godzilla’s head like mosquitoes.  The ‘tanks’ which fired countless artillery shells at the monsters were clearly toy models. When Godzilla grabbed a commuter train in his mouth like bulldog grabbing a string of sausages, you could see that it was a model train. They would then cut to a crowd of Japanese salary men and housewives shrieking in terror and running for their lives. Like many children, I had a fascination with things that were very large and very small. Much of my fascination with Godzilla was probably based on the fact that I knew exactly how the illusion was created, and, dammit, it looked like a lot of fun. What kid wouldn’t like a movie that looked like the adults had made it with toys, fireworks and elaborate models of tall buildings? As an adult, I can imagine that I might watch Godzilla movies with a certain amount of nostalgia, but I doubt I could muster up the same level of enthusiasm if I had been an adult when I first saw those films on TV so many years ago.

In ‘Pacific Rim,’ on the other hand, the elaborate (and often visually overwhelming) effects didn’t make me think that the film makers were playing with scale as much. If memory serves, when Ishiro Honda made ‘Godzilla’ in 1954, he frequently placed the camera at a low angle… the camera was down there with the toy tanks as they rolled up to fire at Godzilla. The camera then switched to Godzilla’s point of view where he looked down at these tiny, annoying vehicles that were shooting at him.   Godzilla, like King Kong, was sometimes seen looking through windows at the tiny humans hiding inside. The director was always reminding us of the size of the monster. In ‘Pacific Rim,’ thanks to modern technology, the camera circles the action like a fly buzzing around the room. A lot is gained (the ship that one of the robots uses as a club really looks like a ship — it doesn’t look like a 1/72 scale model ship) and stuff is always exploding, flying around, shattering or getting squashed, but something in the experience of watching a film about a very large monster that makes humans insignificantly small and weak is lost — when the kaiju and the robots of ‘Pacific Rim’  wrestle and punch each other, the crumbling buildings and squishing cars seem much more incidental, like the furniture in a room that gets knocked around while two normal sized humans are fighting. Although ‘Pacific Rim’ has better special effects, I didn’t find myself as aware of the scale of the monsters and robots, perhaps because our vantage point is not moored to the human scale that Honda attempted to covey in his much less technically sophisticated 1954 film.

The ‘story’ isn’t much. The human robot pilots have conflicts with one another. Indifferent government bureaucrats have cut robot funding in order to funnel all of the money into some government contractor’s ‘Kaiju wall’ bamboozle project (and we see a Kaiju promptly burst through the wall in Sydney, Australia — clearly walls are not going to keep the Kaiju out). Idras Elba/Stringer Bell is slowly dieing because he was the pilot of one of the earliest Jaeger robots and was exposed to too much radiation. ‘Jacks’ from “Sons of Anarchy” (I don’t remember his real or his Pacific Rim name) redeems himself and falls in love with an Asian woman who helps him pilot one of the robots to victory. There is some badly explained and not entirely clear sub-plot where a scientist geek discovers that he can ‘mind meld’ with the brains of the kaiju much like the robot pilots ‘mind meld’ with each other in order to control their giant machines. Ron Perleman steals the show as a blackmarket dealer in kaiju body parts who dresses like a 19th century pimp with golden armored shoes and has a fondness for butterfly knives. Even though these actors were entertaining, none of the human part of the movie was interesting enough to make me want to care.

Everyone and his brother/sister has probably seen this already. If you haven’t, it is worth seeing on the big screen simply because, well, it is such a goddamn spectacle that would probably lose too much if viewed on the small screen at home. Del Toro spent a gajillion dollars making this thing; if you want the full effect of all that CGI, you will probably have to go to the theater. If you go, bring a child along; they will enjoy it much more than you will and perhaps you can catch a ‘contact high’ off of that child’s enthusiasm.


‘The Croaking Fane’

Goodman Games annouced that ‘The Croaking Fane’ by Michael Curtis is in stores as of 2 days ago. Link: http://www.goodman-games.com/5078preview.html
As usual, I contributed a couple of inky scrawls. The title page shows the usual group of player character mopes about to get donkey puched by some toad-goyles:
croaking fane frontispiece 72 dpi sized


Psycho Wizard & Familiars

Wizard & Familiars pen and ink 2013

Wizard & Familiars  2013


edit: I added a headline to this originally untitled post because, without a headline, it looked like this picture was a part of the post above it. I want to assure concerned members of the public that there are, as far as I know, no depictions of full frontal male nudity in ‘The Croaking Fane.’


Lizardman mind control

By now you have probably heard that Mike Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch, suppliers of man-whore wear to the masses, said some nasty things seven years ago and now people are really mad because he said nasty things about fat people and ‘aspirational branding’ and other bullshittery. People got very angry and protested in the streets.  The squawks of outrage created by this ‘terrible event’ where a rich cocksucker said he didn’t want to sell clothing to fat or ‘uncool’ people has eclipsed the story of a Bangladesh factory collapse that killed more than 1,000 people who were making clothing for the US market (and may have even been making clothes for Abercrombie & Fitch). Factories collapse and workers die? The consumer shrugs and heads to the mall. A CEO says he doesn’t want to sell clothes to unpopular kids? We get mad, grab our placards and hit the streets. Are our priorities just a bit fucked or what?

Look at this picture where I compare Jeffries, Cocksucker in Chief of A&F, and a lizard man:

lizard-man and jeffries

No way that creature on the left is a human!

Is that motherfucker terrifying or what? His face just looks like a mask pulled over his lizardy skull – the weirdly fake prominent cheek bones and the flaccid lizard lips…  under that obvious wig is probably a zipper that starts at the top of his skull and goes down his spine, allowing the lizard-king to show his true form… those fake teeth probably pop out like dentures, allowing him to chew his human babies with razor-sharp fangs. The lizard-humanoid hybrids are exactly what David Icke has been trying to warn us about!  Jeffries is clearly one of the hybrids in disguise… Wanting to ‘create an aspirational brand’ by saying he will not sell clothes to the unpopular kids at your high school is the least of his crimes… child sacrifice, cannibalism, plotting the overthrow of humanity – that’s the shit we are talking about. This dude is more evil than Ming the Merciless


Online Bestiary & Mermecoleon & Fun Facts about Perytons!

I recently found an online bestiary at http://bestiary.ca/index.html that is too good not to share. For example, look at this most excellent crocodile:

I love the human feet sticking out of the mouth — and the curls on the creature’s back. Plus it’s got a face like a bear and very human eyes. The bestiary informs me that the ‘cocodrilus’ weeps after eating a man.

Inspired by this most excellent bestiary, I decided I wanted to try to draw an ‘ant-lion’ aka myrmecoleon. The bestiary tells me: There are two interpretations of what an ant-lion is. In one version, the ant-lion is so called because it is the “lion of ants,” a large ant or small animal that hides in the dust and kills ants. In the other version, it is a beast that is the result of a mating between a lion and an ant. It has the face of a lion and and the body of an ant, with each part having its appropriate nature. Because the lion part will only eat meat and the ant part can only digest grain, the ant-lion starves.

OK, well, I have already decided I want to go for version 2 because version 1 is probably only scary to ants. So I start thinking about ants and lions and how I can combine them… I look to my online bestiary for help and all I get is this:

OK, not quite what I was looking for… I’m guessing the above is a drawing of ‘version 1.’ So I looked at pictures of ants and pictures of lions and doodled some in my sketch book… not my best effort, but so far I have this:

Not terrible, but also not quite there yet. I think the lion head needs to look more insecty and the insect body needs to look more leonine.  This is just drawing 1. We’ll have to play with it some more.
In other interesting news, the ‘Peryton’ is NOT really a creature of myth like the harpy or griffin… it first appeared in Jorge Luis Borges’ “The Book of Imaginary Beings” (published originally in 1967 in Spanish, later published in English translation in 1969). Who knew?
According to Borges, the peryton casts a human shadow until it kills its first human; thereafter it casts a peryton shadow… so the illustration by Sutherland from the AD&D Monster Manual is quite correct!


Helena Zmatlíková on Monster Brains

This cool-as-hell illustration (and others) appeared recently on one of my favorite sites, Monster Brains. The artist is Helena Zmatlíková. Visit Aeron Alfrey’s Monster Brains for more

7 heads and 3 eyes on each head = 21 eyes.

Work in Progress – Beholder Attack

Perhaps two years ago I was working on a painting of a group of adventurers getting their asses handed to them by a beholder, It was inspired by this Wizards of the Coast thing from 2011 where they had all of their artists illustrating the same scene (a beholder fighting PCs) and I wanted to put my own spin on it. I got to a certain point, then put it down and didn’t pick it up again until recently. Original link on wordpress site here.
Here is what it looks like right now (not the best picture, but OK):

Here is what it looked like 2 years+ ago… there was an intermediate stage but I don’t think I photographed it:
And below is the original artwork by Wayne Reynolds. If you visit the wizards link above, you can see all the different versions of the same scene by different artists.
No, I don’t think Wizards is going to be calling me soon, either: