I’ve been re-watching Sucker Punch a lot lately and have been humorously admiring how misunderstood it is. It’s almost comical how a movie that comes right out and says “I am about the negative connotations surrounding the constant sexual abuse and objectification that women endure,” gets reviewed and dismissed as “just another pandering male geek fantasy of objectified sexualized women.”
I could write a book on the various subtle metaphors and messages Sucker Punch visualizes, but I don’t wanna bore you all. But to demonstrate what I mean let’s just dissect a small piece of it.
Before we begin we need to understand two things. First, Director Zach Snyder made the film with the express intent of it being a feminist critique on geek culture. If you don’t believe me, hear it from his own words: www.filmschoolrejects.com/feat… (we will be using a few quotes from that interview later anyway). Second, we’ll be talking specifically about the Extended version of the film because that’s much closer to Zach Snyder’s original vision. It’s no secret that the MPAA highly censored and altered Snyder’s original intent by forcing him to cut scenes out, resulting in one of the most key bits of dialogue to be cut. The Extended version puts that scene back in so that’s the version we’ll be talking about. There also might be spoilers so be warned!
Sucker Punch is a movie with multiple layers of reality. The film follows the exploits of Baby Doll, a girl who’s been hospitalized in a mental institution after an accident where she was trying to prevent her sister from being raped/assaulted/murdered by her greedy step father. To cover up the crime, her step father bribes the institution workers into lobotomizing Baby Doll.
To escape the hell of the institution Baby Doll regresses into a fantasy world set in a brothel, an illusion to allow her and the other inmates cope with the fact that they are being sexually abused and assaulted by the very people who are there to protect them. Baby Doll and her companions hatch a plan to escape by stealing items while Baby Doll distracts the workers with her sexy dancing.
Whenever Baby Doll dances, we regress further into an even more stylized fantasy world which comprises the movie’s elaborate special effects driven action set pieces. And this should be a huge tip off. We are told by the other characters that Baby Doll’s dancing is a very raw and sexy performance that literally stupefies the men around her. But in the film her dancing sequences are expressed as over budget special effect laden eye-candy utilizing geek culture iconography and references. That is literally the movie commentating on itself by tricking audience members into coming to watch a film to gawk at the sexily dressed women being “empowered” by comparing it to a strip tease.
And speaking of that “gawking” the film teased at, it never lets you enjoy it. Yes, the women are dressed in stereotypically sexy outfits, but the film very purposefully never gives in to exploiting them. There are no gratuitous boobs and ass shots, no shots of the women’s cleavage in slow motion, no slow pans up the bodies of the women so that we can “enjoy” it the way the audience likely expected to. And that’s deliberate. It’s the film critiquing nerd culture’s love of seeing women dressed up in elaborate costumes and objectifying them while pretending they’re “empowered.”
Would you say the film is a critique on sexist geek culture? Zach --- It is, absolutely. I find it interesting, in a lot of ways, that this movie – of all the movies I’ve made – has been universally hated by fanboys, which I find really interesting. It’s like a fanboy indictment, in some ways. They can’t have fun with the geek culture sexual hang ups. It’s funny because someone asked me about why I dressed the girls like that and I said, “Do you not get the metaphor there? The girls are in a brothel performing for men in the dark. In the fantasy sequences, the men in the dark are us. The men in the dark are basically me: dorky sci-fi kids.
So now let’s look at the first action sequence with all this in mind. At this point in the movie Baby Doll has been brutalized. She’s been institutionalized. She’s seen those around her that she loved die. She’s been helpless and at the mercy of a horrible man who has every intention of killing her and her spirit. Given that this movie has a feminist voice, let’s look at the first action scene as if she was a woman part of the first wave of feminism that happened in America.
Dance Fantasy: Samurai Showdown
Where is Babydoll? In an old established temple. A symbol of traditionalism. Standing alone in a world that is cold and harsh. What does Babydoll first do when she arrives? Completely by accident, she nevertheless disrespects the tradition. What does she want? Freedom. She is at her most vulnerable and powerless states right now. She wants to break free of these bonds that surround her, but she doesn’t know how. And she’s scared of what will happen when she tries. What is she given? Two weapons. One symbolic and one superficial. Swords are usually (at least in stories) symbolically masculine. For Babydoll to take up the sword it’s rendering her symbolically male: IE she has to fight the traditionalism by pretending to be male. The gun is a bit more complicated as it’s superficially masculine. Guns are less manly in shape but they’re often rendered as a form of masculinity. What happens next? Babydoll is confronted with 3 ginormous symbols of traditionalism (samurai) and told to “fight” with no guidance on how. What’s the first thing that happens in the fight? She is knocked down by the traditionalism. Considering her name is Babydoll, and she’s the most child-like dressed of the group, is it really hard to understand what this is saying? The beast came up and kicked her before she even had a moment to defend herself. What happens in the fight? She uses her symbolic male sword to take down the first foe. It takes her a bit but she finally does it. And what’s the first that happens as soon as she does? She comes under repeated fire by the second warrior. She has to dodge the barrage of bullets attacking her before using the superficial gun to take her foe down. And once she’s done that she’s more in control and the third samurai is shown to be less confident and powerful. She’s able to strike easily and take the foe down with little to no effort.
And do I even need to mention the symbolism of the temple being reduced to rubble as a direct result of Babydoll standing up for herself?
The whole fantasy is a visual representation of the earliest forms of feminism. When women were restricted by traditionalism, how they had to pretend to be masculine to make any headway, how they were forced into their “place” by the traditionalism, how standing up for themselves was dangerous, how it put them directly in the line of fire, and how scared and nervous a woman with power was seen by the men. The whole fantasy lines up perfectly with women wanting equality from the traditional patriarchy, how they had to fight to get anywhere, how they came under fire, and how they ultimately rose to have enough power to make progress.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at history and see what you get:
A very condensed explanation of First Wave Feminism (source Wikipedia) The majority of first-wave feminists were more moderate and conservative than radical or revolutionary—like the members of the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA) they were willing to work within the political system and they understood the clout of joining with sympathetic men in power to promote the cause of suffrage. The first wave of feminists, in contrast to the second wave, focused very little on the subjects of abortion, birth control, and overall reproductive rights of women. The end of the first wave is often linked with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution (1920), granting women the right to vote. This was the major victory of the movement, which also included reforms in higher education, in the workplace and professions, and in health care.
See what I mean?
And the rest of the movie is no different. Each action sequence can be read as a step for feminism as it grows and gets better, and the dialogue in the brothel fantasy world makes it pretty clear that they are talking about geek culture and sexism specifically. SPOILER: Later in the film Blue, the owner of the Asylum, comes in and kills all the other girls one by one before finally turning on Babydoll. Remember that the metaphor of the movie centers around geek culture. What does he say?
I try, To give you all a good life.. I try.. I do. And all I ask for in return is respect.. Honesty.. A give and take relation ship. But its come to my attention.. Its come to our attention, That a few bad eggs, Led by one egg in particular, Have spit in the face of that generously. And are plotting against me. Me.. Your protector.. Your friend.. Your employer! *Holding gun* Plotting to take away my most valuable possessions! You know what it feels like? Like Im this little boy, Sitting in the corner of the sandbox while everyone gets to play with my toys, but me. So Im going to take my toys and Im going to- *Shoves Baby Doll into a light*
Think about this for a second. The biggest complaint women have about geek culture is that men in particular treat the women like they own them. They hyper sexualize them in the magazines but then get angry at them for dressing up as those characters and trying to own them. The brothel and the Asylum are metaphors about what it’s like to be a woman living in the geek culture. They are abused. They are disposed of. They are demanded to entertain and perform for the guys who slobber all over them. To not show emotion when others around them are silenced. Threatened to never stand up for their rights. To never fight back.
In the extended cut, Baby Doll is seduced by the High Roller. Remember that throughout the film he’s been the constant threat. The one who will lobotomize Baby Doll in real life. He quietly and soothingly lulls Babydoll by tempting her with all the promises of things she desired most. Remember: The movie is about how geek culture tries to control it’s constant need to sexualize and objectify women.
“All I require from you is a slither of a moment. To have you not by force, but simply as a man and a women. To see in your eye, that simple truth, that you give yourself to me freely. Not because you have to, but because you want to. Now of course, for such a gem, I will give as well. I'm willing to give you freedom. Pure and total freedom. Freedom from the drudgery of everyday life. Freedom as abstract ideal. Freedom from pain. Freedom from responsibility. Freedom from guilt. From regret. Freedom from sadness. Freedom from loss. The freedom to be happy. Don't close your eyes; I need you to look at me. The freedom to love.”
And then we cut back to the Asylum as Babydoll is rendered a comatose vegetable. Babydoll might be in bliss, but she is not the same. No one looks at her the same way again. And Blue, the man in charge of the Asylum, tries to take this opportunity to have his way with her only to realize too late that he has taken away everything that made her unique.
I understand why this movie didn’t get a good reception when it came out. It was advertised and marketed as a male geek fantasy vehicle but the movie itself is the exact opposite. If you read any reviews about it and the reviews complain about the way the characters are dressed, then they clearly missed the point of the film. The more I watch Sucker Punch, the more and more symbolism and metaphors I see. And oddly enough, it’s aligning itself very closely to how I view geek culture and the whole sexism and objectification of women that I’ve been complaining about for months. I didn’t appreciate the film much when it was released, but I’ve been appreciating it much more now and I hope that you can see why.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that the film is perfect. It has it’s flaws like any film does. And this review and dissection isn’t meant to change your mind or “prove” that it’s a good film. I know many people who did understand the message it was trying to say and still don’t like it. I just wanted to give you guys an insight into a film that has been, in my opinion, wrongly labeled and attacked for the very things it’s trying to denounce. It’s a gorgeously shot film with a very specific and polarizing message to say and I think it deserves a little more praise than it’s generally given.
I'm getting really sick of the idea that the only good action movies or video games are ones where everything is all serious and dark. It's the whole "gritty" concept blown to extremes. But through all the countless games I've played and movies I've watched, I think that we could back off a bit from being too damn serious and have some fun once in a while.
Take the latest Die Hard movie as a prime example. From the start it's a dark, gritty, almost monochromatic movie with a 20 minute car chase sequence at the beginning so over-the-top that it's almost cartoony. But the way it's shot is atrocious and there's no character development what-so-ever that 40 minutes into the film I was looking at the clock wondering not only "when will this be over," but also "what the f*** did I just watch?"
Contrast that to something like Independence Day. People like to rag on Independence Day because it's so "goofy" and "absurd." But what helps the film is that we're given time to enjoy the characters so that when all hell breaks loose we are more invested in what happens to them. Not only that but the action scenes are staged so much better. You always know what's going on, who's in trouble, where the threat is, and get giant in your face "money shots" of the big-budget special FX. It's campy, but it's more enjoyable than watching terrible shaky cam car chases in monochrome blue/grey with people we don't know or care about doing flips and crashes in a city we have no geographical knowledge or understanding of.
I think that's also the difference between the latest Superman movie and The Avengers. While Superman wallows in dark depressing introspective angst, the Avengers has light hearted humor and developed characters that interact with one another. Even though both movies end with a spectacular battle sequence, I think it's Avengers which pulls it off better because I friggin' CARE about what happens to them all and I enjoy seeing them react to the crazy shit that keeps being thrown their way.
Take a look at the recent batman trilogy. Which one stands out as being the "superior" film? The 2nd one, right? Why? Because the Joker is such a unique character and while he's obviously a terrible threat the guy absolutely LOVES what he does and his laughter and enthusiastic attitude towards causing chaos helps beak up Batman's self loathing depressing bitter angry persona. Something that the first and third films struggled with.
Video games have this problem too. I often complain about Final Fantasy and one of the reasons is because it's so damn depressing and mopey that i don't give a crap about any of the characters when something bad happens to them. I've never seen them happy so I have no contrast for when they should be feeling sad.
Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon is also an amazing game which interesting characters, but the whole thing wallows so deep into the depressing side of things that I can't honestly finish the game. It's too depressing to even want to experience and there's little to no joy in the entire thing. Gorgeous to look at, yes, but unpleasant to sit through.
Skyward Sword, on the other hand, is a bright and colorful game. There are serious events unfolding throughout and the relationship between Zelda and Link is incredibly intense at points. But despite how serious it can get, there's always levity and humor to help put things into context. Link and Zelda's relationship wouldn't mean anything if you didn't spend 20 minutes at the beginning of the game having fun together. And when things start getting too serious there are always unique fun characters to break things up and make you smile. Contrast that to the brown and gritty M rated games that keep coming out. They're so dark and moody there's no reason to care if something "shocking" happens to any of the generic characters.
Levity is important and I'm getting really tired of seeing everything be turned all sour and despondent. We shouldn't be afraid of the silly. That's why we go to movies and play video games after all, to experience things we can't see/do in real life. You can be realistic while still being fun. And you don't have to obscure action with shaky cam confusion. It's entirely possible to film an action scene with breathtaking shots and skillful direction.
2012 is a terrible movie. It has tons of plot holes and the characters are pretty generic and weak. But you know what? I'll take the crazy destruction scenes from that film over any Michael Bay abomination any day. At least when I watch crazy shit happen in 2012, it's gorgeous to look at and not just a series of motion blurred garbage obscuring any chance of understanding what the f*** is going on.
I don't really have a point to this journal. It's just something that's been on my mind lately. If you like any of the movies or games I talk down about, that's entirely ok. I am not calling your opinion bad or anything. Some people like to feel that way when they see a movie/game. I personally don't and I think the contrast between humor and serious business is an important thing that keeps getting overlooked.
I have to admit, I am incredibly surprised by the overwhelming success and appreciation of the recent comic "A Yoshi Story"
In less than 24 hours the comic has generated almost 200,000 views and been featured on a number of different outlooks including DA's tumblr, facebook, ICanHasCheezeburger, Memebase, and more.
As much as I would like to take credit for the comic, I want people to give proper credit due to DA user Commisar-Erdno for writing the story in the first place. All I did was draw it. Credit for the concept and execution goes to Erdno. So please be sure to check their DA page out and tell them how much you loved the comic.
It's also rather fun to see the comic being used as a Rorschach Test of people's optimism/pessimism. Either way, it's still fun to see everyone's interpretations of the story.
So thank you everyone for your support. I really did not expect a comic about a Yoshi sacrificing itself to save Mario to become so popular and loved by so many people! I really appreciate it!
So last time I wrote about Skyrim Mods, I asked for people’s suggestions on what mods to use. I thought it might be fun to list a bunch of the mods I have and provide links to where you can download them all. I’m fairly certain that all the mods I have listed here are also available on Steam if that happens to be your method of playing Skyrim.
Guard Dialogue Overhaulwww.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/…? Updates the Guard dialogue to be much more diverse and has them comment more specifically on your accomplishments in the game rather than repeating the same dialogue over and over again. Flyable Broomstickswww.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/… Adds a crafting recipe and a levitation spell that makes brooms flyable. Be a witch! Footprintswww.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/… Adds footprints for when you run in snow or ash. Makes animals and dragons leave prints as well. Good for hunter immersion. The Paarthurnax Dilemmawww.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/… Makes it so you can still be a blade without having to kill Paarthurnax. Rainbowswww.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/… Adds rainbows under very specific and rare weather conditions. Splash of Rainwww.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/… Adds rain splashes to uncovered areas and makes plants react to it. Also adds ambient rain sounds while indoors. Helgen Rebornwww.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/… A massive quest to rebuild Helgen. Fully voice acted and scripted. Remarkably well done. Help the townsfolk rebuild the damaged city from the opening segment of the game. Lots of perks and includes a player home. Highly recommend it! Run for your lives + When Vampires Attackwww.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/…www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/… Makes the NPC characters run inside during a Dragon or Vampire attack respectfully. Unfortunately they are not compatible with each other (can result in towns becoming deserted because everyone is hiding inside even when an attack isn’t happening). So I strongly recommend you pick whichever one you think will be most valuable to your gameplay style. Enhanced Wetness and Puddleswww.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/… A simple mod that enhances the wetness to areas around water. Adds some amazing subtle effects to Markarth which I really love. It does, however, conflict with Realistic Water Two due to both trying to update meshes and textures. I recommend installing Realistic Water Two first then installing Wetness and Puddles. If it asks you to overwrite something, hit skip. That should solve any conflicts. Realistic Water Twowww.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/…? Overhauls all the water effects and enhances them accordingly. An absolutely AMAZING mod that takes the generic water effects and makes it 10x more realistic. I HIGHLY recommend this mod. Cutting Room Floorwww.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/…? Adds content that was originally cut from the game. Not necessary but just kinda cool to see stuff that could’ve been there. Destroy the Thieves Guildwww.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/…? Allows you to wipe out everyone in the Thieves Guild and put corrupt officials in jail in Riftin. For people like me who hated thief quests this is an awesome additional quest. Beautiful Citieswww.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/…? A simple mod to enhance all the cities around the world to be a little more pretty. Adding trees and foliage here and there. Extremely unobtrusive, this mod doesn’t go into overkill and compliments the gameplay extraordinarily well. I highly recommend it if you wanna just spice up your towns just a tad. Point the Waywww.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/…? Adds more signs to the roads so you don’t have to keep checking your map to figure out where you’re going. A very simple but effective mod. Lanterns on the Roadswww.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/…? Another unobtrusive mod that adds lanterns along the road to make them seem more active. Helpful for people who play with realistic lighting mods. Wearable Lanternswww.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/…? Makes it possible to fuel lanterns and attach them to your body while traveling. Again, very useful for people who play with realistic lighting mods, and helps you see better in caves. Mercywww.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/…? This mod makes it so that when enemies cry out “mercy, please don’t kill me” they don’t just get right back up and try to attack you. Instead they become neutral, allowing you to pickpocket them 100%. For people like me who like to play honorable characters, this is a godsend! I hated having to kill people who begged for mercy. Smelting - A Way to Recyclewww.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/…? This mod allows you to melt down swords and armor you have into ingots. Just a simple mod that makes the immersion a lot better as it gives you the ability to get rid of worthless swords and trade them in for material to craft better stuff with. Get Drunkwww.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/…? Another simple mod that just enhances the immersion. Wine and other alcoholic beverages will distort the visuals for a period of time and sometimes cause you to stumble. The effects also stack, so don’t drink like 30 Skoomas in a row, ok? Dragon Souls to Attributeswww.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/…? This adds a shrine up on High Hrothgar that you can meditate under to convert Dragon Souls to Perks. 10 Dragon Souls equals 1 Perk. Great for players like me who have more Dragon Souls than levels, plus it’s kinda costly so it keeps you from abusing it. Perseid’s Inns and Taverns - Realistic Room Rentalwww.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/…? This mod changes the Inns and Taverns in Skyrim to look different from each other. In addition it allows you to rent rooms for longer than one day. Also, each inn has a different stay price, so not all inns cost a measly 10 coins. Poor Taverns have little money, and popular Taverns have lots of money. It’s a great enhancement to Skyrim’s boring Tavern look. Only two downsides. Due to the added dialogue, the NPC’s might not speak the words to certain questions. Not a problem if you have captions on. Also you might need this update to fix some mesh errors: www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/…? Immersive Bedswww.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/…? Adds a simple “going to bed” animation. Compatible with Hearthfire houses and Dawnguard vampire coffins. Generous Dovahkiinwww.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/…? Adds a simple dialogue box that increases the amount of money you can give to vagabonds. Also allows you to give sweet rolls to children. Doesn’t actually change much, just makes you feel better about those poor people on the streets. Training Dummies and Targets Upgradewww.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/…? This mod makes it so that hitting Training Dummies and Targets will increase your levels. So they actually DO help you train! Shrine Worshipers and Pilgrimswww.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/…? This mod adds pilgrims who travel to specific shrines to worship the gods they believe in. It just enhances the immersion by giving these people something to do. They travel in caravans and go from town to town. Sometimes you can trade with traders. Get Snowywww.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/…? A very simple mod that enhances the colder areas quite effectively. It just adds accumulated snow to your body if you’re out in a snowstorm. It affects all animals, creatures, and NPC’s too. Makes places like Winterhold College much more realistic. Also works great for Frostbite and Survival mods. Winter is Coming + Cloaks of Skyrimwww.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/…? www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/…? Adds a variety of different cloaks to the NPC of Skyrim. You can use animal pelts to make fur coats or linen wrappers to make cloth ones. Each town and region has their own cloak for guards. There is a patch that makes both these mods compatible too. It just helps enhance the world more. Bandolier - Bags and Poucheswww.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/…? Adds craftable pouches that you can wear to help increase your carrying capacity. You can wear more than one at a time, and there are different sized bags you can craft, giving you a lot of options to upgrade your carrying. GuruSRs Divorcewww.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/…? This makes one of the Mara shrines at the Temple of Mara divorce you from your current mate. This is helpful for players who have lost a spouse but can’t remarry. Skyrim Toy Storywww.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/…? Adds craftable toys to give to your children. They won’t play with them, but it’s just something to help your immersion a bit more. Waveswww.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/…? This mod adds the large waves from Dragonborn to areas around Skyrim’s coast. Works pretty well but can look odd at times. Just another enhancement to make the environment feel more alive. Wet and Coldwww.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/…? Makes the environment feel more realistic by making NPC characters dress up according to the weather. It also adds effects like cold breath for when NPC talk, to drip effects when you get out of water. Very subtle effects but well worth the investment I think. Green Water Fixwww.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/…? This is a simple mod to fix an underwater glitch that I started to encounter where I couldn’t view anything when I went below the water. Marriable Seranawww.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/…? This just makes it so that you can marry Serana after a certain point in the Dawnguard questline. I’ve installed it but I think I messed up my chances somehow. Populated Lands, Roads, and Pathswww.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/…? This mod adds more NPC characters who travel along the roads. Anyone from Adventurers you can hire as followers, Thieves looking to mug you, or Hunters to trade with. Just makes Skyrim less... desolate.
Big thanks to everyone who gave me advice on which mods to install and recommended ones to try out!
I've been under fire recently for having the audacity to admit publicly that improving my art has never been, and never was, an ultimate goal of mine. Apparently that's like committing some sort of mortal sin in the art community. I've had trouble expressing myself about it too, because brushing off improvement for improvement sake makes me look like I'm uncaring, egocentric, and stubborn. But after a recent post I was given much more clarity in understanding the issue and I wanted to share my thoughts with you.
In the recent exchange I was basically told this: "If doing what you love isn't about dedicating your life to improving your art, you aren't an artist."
Maybe I'm old fashioned, but making art has never been solely about the technical expertise. Even in college, outside the handful of foundation courses you take in freshman year, perfection of the craft is often secondary to concepts and ideas and your ability to evoke feelings and emotions in your audience.
Technical proficiency is important, yes, but it is not the sole driving factor. Thank goodness it's not, because if it was everyone would be making nothing but realistic paintings like Leonardo and Michelangelo, and the art world would be stagnating and boring because everything would be the same.
DA is an art community, and part of that means helping people grow and become better artists. However, sometimes I think we place far too much importance on the technical side of things. It's very well and good to offer feedback to an artist you think will help them improve, but it's another thing entirely if you take their stubbornness or slow-to-change attitude to heart, become personally offended by it, and retaliate with trolling and tumblr blogs about them.
I make comics because I like telling stories. I like to see people laugh at my character's foibles. I like to build their suspense, and hit them with twists and turns. I want them to feel sad or happy during key events. I want my audience to enjoy what I produce. That has been, and always WILL be, my overall key goal as a cartoonist.
Now then, despite me saying improvement is not an ultimate goal for me, I still recognize it as something to keep in mind in the back of my head. Many people have told me that artists change their styles gradually over time (which is true), but those same people seem to disregard this when it comes to me because I am not changing fast enough for their liking. To many of these people, my lack of change within the span of a few DAYS is enough to throw a giant hissy fit over. Since SYAC is a near-daily comic series, I can understand people thinking I'm stagnating, but I know I am growing gradually and that the results will show for themselves eventually.
To prove this, please take a look at this comparison: The left image is the first ever SYAC comic, the right is a much more recent one, the difference of about a year and a half.
While there are a lot of similarities (such a lack of a background, but honestly that's not really important for this particular series), it should be pretty obvious that I've improved. It's still cartoony, it's still simple and basic, but the lineart is smoother, the characters more iconic, and the shadow tones less grey and muddy. Is there a lot to still improve upon? Of course there is. Have I not improved at all since I started? That's absurd.
This is why I heartily resent people bringing out complaints that I'm committing some sort of mortal sin for not dedicating my entire life towards being the best comic artist ever. You can offer me advice and suggestions, but do not expect me to grow by leaps and bounds overnight. I listen to every criticism, comment, feedback, and complaint that I get and while I might have a bad attitude about some of that, it does sink in.
I realize my own strengths and weaknesses and understand that improvement for me will be a longer and slower process. It's gradual, and sometimes it can take years for this stuff to show itself. Jim Davis, for example, has taken close to 30 years to perfect his style, while Scott Adams hasn't really changed much at all in the past 20 years. Hell, there are artists here on DA who haven't improved at all. It's all about gradation and understanding that not everyone has the same goals, desires, passions, skill, and attitude about art as you.
Anyway... I'm tired of talking about this, and I'm sure you're all tired of hearing it. So this is going to be the last time I address this (if I can help it). Let this be my final words on the subject and let's move on already.
To sum things up: 1. Improvement for improvement sake is not my ultimate goal, never has been. 2. I acknowledge that I will improve, but gradually over time and not overnight. 3. You can offer feedback and criticism. 4. I am under no obligations to follow your feedback and criticism if I feel it doesn't help me towards my goal.
The promise of the Internet was that unlimited information and experiences would draw us together. But instead it seems to have driven us apart.
For years I've observed this behavior but haven't been able to vocalize it correctly. Originally I called the behavior of collective opinions as "the hive mentality" of the Internet. But that wasn't exactly right and I often got called out on it. The most prominent example was when I made a comic about a guy disagreeing with opinions and being shouted at till he remained quiet, eventually fading into the background with everyone else. The consensus of that comic was that if you disagree with someone you aren't bullied into not speaking, but instead are free to go someplace else where people who do agree with you exist. And you know what? That wasn't what i was trying to convey, but is sadly true. The Internet is not a hive mind. It's many tiny pocket echo chambers of mutual agreements.
And this is becoming a growing problem, I think, because no one wants to ever compromise or try to come to an agreement on anything anymore. Want to bitch about a movie? Find a group of people who hate it and join in. Conversely did you enjoy something but see everyone hating it? Find others who enjoyed it and bask in their mutual appraisals for things you like.
I feel like this is where a lot of the internet's smugness and snarky attitude comes from. Because the only time "drama" appears is when these widely different groups butt heads with each other, usually to the point of completely ignoring the other side simply for being ON the other side.
I can't help but feel that when people cozy up to other like-minded individuals and use that as their justification of their actions, that we are taking a sever step backwards. I think it's very important for us to learn how to deal with and come to terms with issues without constantly flying off the handle.
Disagreeing doesn't mean there has to be a fight. You can disagree while also being respectful and inoffensive. And just because someone might disagree with you doesn't make them automatically wrong or their attempts to explain why they disagree as a personal attack upon you.
I've been ruminating about this for a while, but it wasn't until the reviews for Star Trek: Into Darkness and Iron Man 3 came out that I've been able to make sense of it. Both films have been widely polarizing and it seems like no one is trying to come to see from the other side. Rather its become opposing sides fighting back with one another, with no room for serious discussions.
I don't like this echo chamber the Internet has. I don't like that If you disagree with someone you can just hide behind others who agree with you. It's cowardly. It prevents us from having to deal with other people's opinions while heightening our own. It's a tremendous ego boost, but a terrible social hindrance.
And just so we are clear, I'm entirely guilty of this as well. We all are. And to be honest... I don't know how we fix it. It's reached a point where I don't know if its possible TO fix.
The world is not black and white. I really wish we could stop trying to compartmentalize everything into yay or nay categories. And the worse part is that I think a lot of it is done subconsciously.
What do you think? Have you experienced the irrational one sidedness I've spoken about? Agree disagree? If so, why and how? Lets discuss this openly as I feel it's a very important issue we need to address.
I'm a nerdfighter and if you don't know what a nerdfighter is you can watch this video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=FyQi79… But one of the coolest things about nerdfighteria is that we have our own minecraft server called... wait for it: Nerdcrafteria!
Nerdcrafteria is one of the most awesome Minecraft servers I have ever participated in. The server is broken up into several different worlds. The Main World, The Nether, Minington, and Gladitorial. All of the worlds have borders around them preventing players from roaming too far and making the strain on the server too much to handle, but all of the worlds are also massive enough that you likely won't notice.
The Various Worlds The main world is where towns and cities exist. You cannot break blocks here except on town plots that you purchase with the server's equivalent to money = Llamas. This helps prevent griefers from destroying all your hard work and gives you a place to call home. If you don't have enough money to buy a plot of land you can purchase a temporary apartment room instead. This world is also where you'll sell most of your hard earned ores and buy goods from other players. There are a lot of shops and stores and awesomely geeky things to look at here (such as a full recreation of Hogwarts). You're allowed to have one home and apartment in every town, so if you want you can have multiple bases or shops in each town.
Minington is the mining world where all the players can mine for resources. Every Monday night it resets so that the ores will remain constant. Each reset is a new world, so that means each Minington (the hub town near the spawn) has to be rebuilt every week. This poses a lot of fun challenges and it's impressive how fast these towns spring up. Because Minington is where you're suppose to mine griefing (the act of taking blocks from something you didn't build) can occur, but luckily there are things to prevent this. Mods can be called to check up on griefing. They can see who placed or removed blocks, they can ban or fine the people responsible, and they can restore any blocks that were taken. The basic rule of thumb is don't take what you didn't place on your own, and it works quite effectively.
The Nether is just like Minington except in the Nether. It resets every week and you can mine there to your heart's content... though I think most people try to avoid it.
Gladitorial is the server's PVP world. I haven't actually played it before so I don't know anything about it, but I assume it's where players can play Spleef and other PVP games. Nerdcrafteria is more about community building and sharing and being friendly, and the PVP was only added because people demanded it. Hank didn't want to add it originally. But it's there if you like PVP stuff.
There was a creative world you could access too, but it's been moved on to it's own server. The IP address for that is creative.nerdcrafteria.com and it works much like the main world of Nerdcrafteria: IE you buy a plot of land and you can build to your heart's content on that land but you can't harm other people's plots.
Llamas Killing hostile mobs and mining for ores are the primary way that you earn llamas (money) on this server. Don't kill sheep or cattle, as you will be fined. There's no reason to kill sheep and cattle anyway as they provide you with resources (wool and milk), so please don't go around killing them. You can also set up your own shops and stores where you sell or buy items for a set price. I can tell you right now that selling diamond pickaxes and swords with enchantments on them is a great way to earn money fast, as they are always in demand. Once you have money, you can buy plots of land, apartments, or buy more items and equipment. You can even buy a warp to make finding your town plot easier.
Safety Precautions There are a lot of plugins running in the background to keep the games running smooth. For example, there is a clear-lag plugin which deletes entities to keep the processing of the server down to a minimum. It comes once every 10 minutes and is preceded by a 1 minute warning. This is important to know because blocks that you've mined but haven't picked up yet are considered entities and will be deleted. You don't want to lose any diamonds or gold that you've mined when clear-lag comes around.
Another plugin is the deathchest. Right now it's deactivated but usually what happens is if you die all of your inventory will be put into a chest. So the good news is you keep your inventory, but the bad news is you have to find the chest again. Worse still, people can grief your chest so it's in your best interest to be as safe as possible or set your home often to prevent losing it all.
Word filters are another way to keep the server clean. There is a filter on the word "lag" which changes it to "fun." This is a harmless way to show that, yes, we do have a word filter in place to keep people from being potty-mouths. Avoiding the filter will result in a ban so... don't swear.
There are a lot of commands you can use, such as setting "home." Set Home will set a temporary spawn wherever you are standing. This is useful when you're exploring as you can always warp to the main world then back to "home" to clear out your inventory so you can keep mining.
Server Info The server IP address is Minecraft.nerdfighteria.com Just enter this when searching for a new server in Minecraft and you'll find it right away. They just upgraded to a new system and there might be a few bugs for the next few days, but overall it's a very good system. 250 players can play at once and the server has been upgrade to run on 30gb of memory.
ENJOY! Nerdcrafteria is a wonderful free server that is extremely friendly and awesome. If you like minecraft and want to play on a server that is grief free and open to creativity, please log on and have fun! And of course... DFTBA!
Saw Frozen finally. Gotta say, it was much better than I thought it was going to be.
Like many of you, I was privy to the ongoing “takedown” of this latest Disney cartoon through various forums and blogs online. And this is a spectacular reason why you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover. So much of the pre-release hatred was focused on trivial things (some of which had been changed without the community knowing for a long time) and on pointing out minor technical errors that I kinda feel like people were WANTING to hate this movie from the start. (And full disclosure here: I even participated in some of that pre-release hate.)
To be honest, after I saw it I felt kinda “meh” about it. But the more I’ve let it sink in and the more I’ve thought about it after the fact, the more I began to appreciate it (Which is always good). It’s better to have a movie start off meh and become a favorite over time than one which you think is decent but gnaws away at you until you realize how awful it really was (I’m lookin’ at you “Man of Steel”).
And to be fair, this isn’t a perfect movie. It’s very weighty in the front with story exposition and there are a couple pointless musical numbers (smurf rocks). It’s also not very impressive visually. The “Disney Style” of 3D animation is becoming quite... boring. This is, unfortunately, what 3D animation fails to accomplish that 2D animation does so well. In 2D animation you can vary the line weight and the way the characters are drawn to shift and change the animation style quite a bit. But with 3D... all the characters look like the same stock “good guys” we’ve seen in hundreds of other 3D films both Disney and others alike.
However, what pulls this movie out of the mediocre is it’s central sibling love story and a surprising twist that comes halfway through the movie. They played it up so well that I honestly didn’t see it coming, and it made just enough sense that it allowed me to buy into the twist despite the dramatic shift in character tones it takes.
One of the biggest issues with this movie, interestingly enough, is that the advertisements on TV are not selling what you get on the big screen. From what I understand, most of the adverts center around Olaf the Snowman’s goofiness. And that’s honestly a shame because Olaf ISN’T really a central character. He’s just enough on the side that he doesn’t obscure the real focus of the story, and he’s just endearing enough to not be annoying. If it wasn’t for this false advertisement campaign I’d probably say the internet wouldn't have hated Olaf so much.
The best part of the movie (for me) was the musical number “Let it Go” in which Elsa releases her full potential as a Snow Queen and sheds off her inhibitions. Some of the songs are hit or miss (smurf rocks ugh), but that one in particular was astoundingly performed.
It’s nice to see Disney take jabs at their own storytelling tropes without it seeming cynical or mean-spirited. The twist that happens halfway through the movie is set up so perfectly you almost expect it to work before they pull the rug out from under you because you’ve grown up on Disney’s unique formula.
Overall, I enjoyed it much more than I thought I was going to, and the more I think about it the more it grows on me. Like I said, it’s not a perfect movie, but it does a fine job on it’s own. Thoroughly recommend (especially in 3D for the snow effects alone).
Geeze... I go away for a week and so much happens! Sorry this will be another long journal, but you can skip through to stuff you wanna read if you like.
Washington Bridge If you haven't heard by now a bridge in Washington collapsed. No one was hurt, thankfully. As someone who remembers the tragedy of the Minnesota I-35 collapse, it makes me very happy that no one died. Glad everyone is safe and here's hoping maybe we'll start looking into how bad our bridges actually are and... I dunno... fixing them?
Xbone Microsoft unveiled the Xbox One to boos and hisses. I can't say I blame them. Every piece of information about the console makes me cringe in the worse possible ways. The sad thing is, despite how epically awful it is... it's still going to sell phenomenally because it's got Halo and Microsoft's deep pockets to back it up.
Star Trek: Into Darkness I enjoyed the hell out of it. It's a fun movie. The actors all are getting into their characters and roles quite nicely. The special FX are very well done. There are some fun twists and role reversals. And overall it's just a fun time at the movies. Just like the first one, only less mopey.
Iron Man 3 Also entertaining as hell. I liked the fact that Tony Stark has to survive a great deal of the film without his trademark suit, which helps round out his character more and shows that he's more than just a guy in a tin can. I like that he is suffering from PTSD after the Avengers, though I wish they had kept that stuff a little more seriously and not made it into a running gag for most of the film. I also LOVE the big twist in the middle of the movie. I think it's hilarious and it works. It's also a good stand alone film and one you can watch without having seen Avengers and also one which rounds out a nice trilogy.
MCBA Comic Con Had a good time at MCBA comic con. A fan gave me Rainbowdash and a Fluttery keychain (both of which are situated on my computer desk now), thank you very much! Sold a lot more than I thought I would considering how little I had to sell. Sadly I had to leave early on Sunday because I had to catch a flight to Massachusetts, so I was only there for one day. Better than nothing.
Facebook I've been trying to keep in touch a bit more with my facebook account. So while I was away most of this week, I still commented upon stuff when I had the opportunity. This journal isn't the first time I've been talking about the new Xbox for example.
Pin-Ups Ok so here's an unusual question. About 7-8 months ago I made a series of pin-up drawings of various cartoon characters swapping out each other's costumes. I call the series "trading places" and no it's not related to the Eddie Murphy movie. I'm not sure if I should post them here or not. I think a lot of people would enjoy them, but as I used to do fetishy work before I'm apprehensive about posting anything that might be remotely taken as somewhat possibly kinky. Granted this is DA, so I'm sure the work I'm doing is insanely MILD compared to what reaches the frontpage but I figured I should ask first anyway. Should I post these pin-ups?
Hobbit On a similar topic, I have a series of Hobbit illustrations as well. I drew them in the style of the Rankin Bass 1970's cartoon, but focused on depicting scenes that weren't in the cartoon but were in the book. Scenes like Beorn and the Arkenstone, or the great stone giants fighting in the rain. I made it into a little booklet that I was presenting at the MCBA and I am wondering if I should post them here as well? It was more of an exercise of style mimicry than anything else, trying to evoke the same hand painted backgrounds with the highly detailed cel animation. Thoughts?
Commissions Because of the trip to Massachusetts I had to put a couple commissions on hold. Just wanted to give you'all a heads up that I am still working on them. Just wasn't able to when I was away from my computer for such a long time. I'll try to get you guys something tangible this weekend to make up for the delay, ok?
Done ok that's it. Sorry it's a lot but that's what happens when I leave unexpectedly for a week.
PS: Special thanks to for making the "bear" themed Icon I'm currently using! Thanks dude!
Have any of you been watching these? Animator Paul Rudish (famous for Dexter's Laboratory and Samurai Jack) has been hired to do 19 animated shorts featuring Mickey Mouse and company. The cartoons are, naturally, very graphic and reminiscent of the 1930's "rubber limb" style, but with a modern twist. Here's a sample:
Sorry fans from other countries, but apparently this is only for American viewership Although I am told that if you install something called ProxMate in your browser you can unblock them for your region...
As of this journal there are 4 of the 19 shorts currently available on YouTube under the names New York Weenie, Yodelberg, Croissant de Triomphe, and No Service.
You know Disney, I don't get you sometimes. After gutting the 2-D animation department back in April (laying off 9 long-standing top artists), and after continuously turning down 2-D animated feature after feature... you're still capable of producing work like this with such imaginative style, color, pacing, and animation quality. Why can't you apply this level of commitment to a feature film?
Hats off to you Paul Rudish. These shorts are amazing and I wish that during my time in college I had something this artistically inspirational in animation to look forward to.