Sunday, May 16, 2010

Joel's New Hair

For a long time now, I've been trying to devise a new hairstyle for Joel from "Forever 16". The one he's had until now is a vestigial trace of my old drawing style - I used to give all male characters that weird frizzy hair, back before I learned how to design more distinct humans. I keep trying to get rid of it, but no style I've come up with has looked satisfactory. I do like this one, though - that longish mop-top look is what I've had in mind for Joel all along, and it's really tough to make it look right, but I think I'm getting a bead on it at last. I'll keep playing around with it, but I know I'm headed in the right direction.

Doesn't Matter If You're Black or White

News about Pokémon Black and White, the games that'll launch the fifth generation of the Pokémon franchise, is pouring out like so much salt. We now know about the region they'll be set in, the Pokémon you'll be able to start with, and how advanced the graphics are (light years ahead of Generation IV, in case you haven't seen 'em yet). But what really caught my attention is the revelation that the playable characters are a couple of years older than they have been in the past. It's generally implied that the trainers in the Pokémon games are about 10 or 11, so it's believed that the Black and White trainers will be around 13 or 14.

And that got me to thinking - what'll that mean for the anime? For the last two generations, the female trainer has joined Satoshi and Takeshi on their travels, and if they keep up the trend, it could make for an interesting new dynamic, juxtaposing an older traveling companion with the guys. Satoshi might end up learning a thing or two from her for a change, and we all know how girl-crazy Takeshi is - imagine what it'd be like for him to travel with a girl who's closer to his age range. And this is a bit of personal preference here, but I'd really like it if Generation V got rid of Pokémon contests and replaced them with the Pokéathlon from HeartGold and SoulSilver. The as-yet-unnamed female trainer, judging by her promo art, strikes me as the sporty, tomboyish type, which doesn't seem suited to contests as we've seen them in the past; the athletic spirit of the Pokéathlon seems like it'd fit her much better.

So if all this came true, it could mean some very interesting changes in the world of Pokémon in a couple of months. I tried to predict what things may be like, but only time will tell if it turns out to be a reality.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Blitzball, Cosplay, and Other Geeky Things

I actually started this two weeks ago, but it took me 'til today to finish. Never let it be said that I'm not devoted!

The concept of blitzball from Final Fantasy X really grabs my interest, despite the fact that I've never actually played a FF game. But hey, a sport that's played entirely underwater is bound to get my attention one way or another. I thought it might be fun to draw Tidus training a newcomer to the game - in this case, Sora from Kingdom Hearts (the only FF-related game that I have any sort of experience playing). Turns out, he's pretty darn good at it!

On a semi-related note, when I was searching for blitzball reference pictures on DeviantArt, I came across numerous photos of people cosplaying as Tidus, including a nice seaside set from an artist named Risachantag (here, see for yourself). I used to think cosplayers were just the ultimate geeks, but now I'm beginning to realize that there's some artistic merit to be found in the activity. I'd like to try it myself sometime - I talked about it once with one of my former coworkers, and he said I could probably pull off a decent costume of Satoshi from "Pokémon", which is right up my alley. I already have the right hair color and length, and his Kanto-era outfit is a pretty easy costume to make. I could collaborate with my friend Missi (a.k.a. AUMAKUA23 on DeviantArt), who's both a photographer and a seamstress who's done some very elaborate costumes in the past. I'll let you folks know how it develops!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Dive Talkin'

I was talking with Mat-The-Hedgehog recently about how there have been a couple of episodes of "Pokémon" where characters have been able to speak clearly underwater with no explanation as to why. Probably the most famous example is the "Revenge Match at Hanada Gym" episode of "Weekly Pokémon Broadcasting Station", wherein Kasumi talks to her Pokémon underwater and even commands Gyarados in an underwater battle. And yet she still has to hold her breath. Gah, the physics of "Pokémon" could drive Stephen Hawking insane.

Anyway, it inspired me into drawing this. Whenever I draw Pokémon art, I try to apply a bit more real-world logic to the characters, which I know is ironic considering we're talking about a show where small monsters shoot fire and water and electricity at each other all day and nobody dies. But I couldn't resist throwing this logical wrench into the works - Hikari and Satoshi decide to have an underwater battle, only to discover that they can't command their Pokémon through a mouthful of bubbles. Dur-hey...

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Talk To Me, Baby

This place has been quiet lately, but I'm gonna try to put some more stuff up this month. Here's something I whipped out earlier today - over on ToonZone, some folks in the Disney forum are discussing A Goofy Movie. It's generally regarded as a cult classic among '90s kids like myself, and even though I think it had some flaws (I maintain that it probably shouldn't have been a musical), I really like the way it captures the air of mid-1990s teenage culture. It kinda influenced "Forever 16" in that regard, so I definitely have to give the movie credit.

And after being reminded of the movie, I had the urge to draw Stacy and Roxanne. Gosh, they're cute, aren't they?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

You Bastards

I'm sure by now, most folks have heard about the big hullabaloo over at Comedy Central, wherein another episode of "South Park" got a couple of crazies on the Internet all in a dither. Only this time, the crazies were a bunch of Islamic extremists who wished death upon Trey Parker and Matt Stone for daring to depict Muhammad on the show. So naturally, Trey and Matt did what they do best - they made an episode making fun of the incident. And Comedy Central censored the everloving hell out of it, including bleeping out a minute-long monologue at the end about censorship vs. free speech. (Irony? What's that?)

I can kinda understand why they'd censor the Muhammad stuff (these are terrorists, after all, and they have a history of overreacting), but censoring Trey and Matt's opinion on censorship just goes way too far. Will "201" ever be broadcast again, or even made available on DVD? Probably not. And now Comedy Central has even tightened security at their studio, no doubt in an effort to make sure no brown people sneak in and try to blow the place to smithereens. All because some people have no sense of humor. Once again, the terrorists win.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

New Character Day

Aside from Michelle, I really don't have much experience drawing non-white characters, but you know me, I'm always looking to broaden my horizons. So I sketched out this African-American girl recently, and I'm so satisfied with how she looks that I want to make her a recurring character in "Forever 16".

I decided to name her Kendra Williams, but I'm still ironing out her role. I'm against the idea of tokenism, so I know I don't want to have an African-American character just for the sake of having one - I want to give her a personality, and something to do with the other characters. At first, I wanted to make her Aaron's girlfriend, but then I realized that I'd have to get rid of one of Aaron's funniest character traits - lusting after celebrities that his friends know he'll never get to meet (he used to have a crush on Britney Spears until she shaved her head; now he's got a thing for Megan Fox, and he's eagerly waiting for Miley Cyrus to turn 18). So now I'm thinking she might work better as Michelle's friend, someone who can give her romantic advice. And since I've gone this long without Joel or Michelle or anyone else ever realizing that Abby has an unrequited crush on Joel, maybe Kendra should finally be the one to see the light there...that could open up some intriguing story possibilities.

Monday, April 5, 2010

All This Time You Were Pretending...

Music has a weird effect on me - every time I hear a song, doesn't matter what song it is, my mind starts going to work on a visual accompaniment, like a music video. To that end, I guess you could say I share a lot in common with the classic Warner Bros. directors like Friz Freleng and Chuck Jones, who used music as a jumping-off point for so many of their cartoons. Freleng in particular did a lot of cartoons paired to music ("Rhapsody in Rivets", "Holiday for Shoestrings", "The Three Little Bops", etc.), and his sense of timing couldn't have been more impeccable - the images on the screen match up perfectly with the tune on the soundtrack.

I think music videos should be the same way, but it's hard to sync up live action to a prerecorded song with such precision. So a lot of the videos I play in my head lean towards an animated influence, and I come up with a lot of really precise gag ideas based on the song and the artist and whatever concept I gravitate towards. And one song that seems to have the strongest connection to that Warner way of connecting audio and visuals is Avril Lavigne's "My Happy Ending".

No, it's not a great song, but it spawned a concept that I love. The first time I heard it (back in 2004, when it was new), I thought about the line "So much for my happy ending", and I was reminded of Tex Avery's 1941 Merrie Melodie "The Heckling Hare", in which the ending gag was excised by the studio brass and the resulting fit that Avery pitched to Leon Schlesinger ended up costing the Texas-born director his job. So I thought "Wouldn't it be clever to do a video for a song about a relationship that didn't end the way it was supposed to with a shot-for-shot tribute to the Bugs Bunny cartoon that also doesn't have its intended ending?"

So now, every time I hear the song, I picture Avril Lavigne and her desperate ex-boyfriend clashing in a battle of wits that plays out the same way it does in "The Heckling Hare", only with a number of obvious spoofs here and there. For instance, the famous gag where Bugs bashes the dog in the head with a club - I changed that to Avril bashing her boyfriend with her electric guitar, and the moment of impact occurs right at the crashing guitar note immediately after the first "So much for my happy ending" in the first chorus.

Or the gag where Bugs squishes a tomato in the dog's hand, making him think he crushed the little bunny rabbit - in my version, Avril grabs a pen from her songwriter Butch Walker (who pops up solely for the sake of this gag and then disappears) and squirts ink in her boyfriend's hand, who then tries to wipe it off on his pant legs...and while he's distracted, Avril bashes him with the guitar again.

The infamous ending gag, where Bugs and the dog fall off the cliff, is reproduced fairly faithfully - boyfriend falls, and Avril observes and walks away while singing the quiet "It was everything, everything that I wanted" immediately after the bridge...then as the guitar and drums thunder back up on the next line, she falls down the hole and off the cliff too. But I made one big change at the end - Avril skids to a stop in mid-air while the instrumentation briefly cuts out on the third-to-last "So much for my happy ending", while her boyfriend crashes into the ground, after which she hops down to pull him out of the crater his body just made, and proceeds to beat the snot out of him for the last couple of lines of the song. Iris out on Avril beaning the poor dope with the guitar one last time, and over the Merrie Melodies rings, we get the parting scrawl "That's Avril, Folks!"

Avril Lavigne is not a great musical artist by any stretch of the imagination. But I figure if you've got a bad song, the least you can do is try to make it look fun. With this and other animated music video concepts I've devised, I can enjoy a song even when it wouldn't be entertaining otherwise. If I ever go to one of those fancy animation colleges like CalArts, I'd sure like to turn this into my year-end project.

Stay tuned, 'cause as my sense of celebrity caricature improves, I'll be sharing other music video concepts I've devised. Sometimes, I even take the opportunity to heckle the artist whose song I'm depicting - wait till you see what I did to Amy Winehouse.

Friday, April 2, 2010

You Said a Mouthful

I know I've been underwater a lot this week, but I can't seem to help it - all my inspiration seems to be coming from under the sea right now. Case in point: in the course of my regular browsing, I recently came across a music video on YouTube from Swedish pop singer Nilla Nielsen. The song is called "Just Dance" (and thankfully, no, it's not a Lady Gaga cover), and she "sings" the whole thing underwater. What really caught my eye was the way there always seems to be a big bubble at the roof of her mouth while she's lip-syncing (it's especially evident at 1:42 into the video), and I thought "That'd be cool to draw." Somehow it seemed to fit that Jocelyn should be the one to emulate it - she's the musically inclined female in my cast of characters, and as I've established in the past, she does have a singer's voice.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

So Fresh, So Clean

Ever since I became an "American Dad" fan, people have been telling me that I've got to put Hayley underwater. It took me a while to decide on what she should be doing there, but then I remembered Fresh2o, a British non-profit organization dedicated to purifying the world's dirty fresh water sources. They drum up celebrity support by photographing big-name contributors like Keira Knightley and Kelly Brook underwater (which kinda sends a mixed message, if you think about it - I wouldn't want to drink water that people have been swimming in), and Hayley seems like she'd fit right in. Klaus, on the other hand, is a little more apathetic.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

American Handstand

The rain around here has been so bad lately, my entire front lawn was a lake yesterday morning. In case it isn't obvious, I can't wait for summer. Fortunately, I can draw whatever I want, so for Michelle, summer's already here!

Every time I draw a character upside-down, I have to turn the paper upside-down too. Not that this is a handicap, mind you - I've tried doing it the other way, and it always comes out looking weird. It's hard to flip the center of my brain where I keep my character models on its side.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I've Seen Boobies

To date, I have only seen one episode of "Total Drama Island", but I learned a lot from it. Namely, that the show has a lot of potential to be funny, but it's buried under a distracting miasma of shoddy Flash animation and ugly, angular character designs. Normally, I don't judge a show by its animation (for instance, "South Park" is very crudely animated and I still think it's extraordinarily funny), but with TDI, it's just too much to bear. Maybe it's because I watch "Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends" and I know Flash doesn't have to look this bad on a TV budget.

I tried to take a crack at reworking some of the characters to make them more aesthetically appealing. I made very subtle changes to Izzy, Lindsay, Gwen, and LeShawna here, but I tried to give them a stronger sense of three-dimensionality and solid character structure while still maintaining the basic style of the show. It's a delicate balance, but I think I pulled it off.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Ain't I A Stinker?

My girlfriend and I have been watching a lot of Looney Tunes together lately, and any kind of heavy exposure to the classic Warner Bros. cartoons is guaranteed to get my artistic gears turning. I drew a couple of quick Bugs Bunny sketches last night while reveling in my Golden Collections.

The Looney Tunes may not be in great shape right now, but at least we have a bunch of them on DVD. And that's definitely something to be grateful for - my girlfriend's friend's daughter is nearly two, and everyone agrees that I should bring over the Golden Collections for her to watch. The more kids get exposed to the classics, the better!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

What The *#%@ Do YOU Want?

Out of all the characters I've created, Jocelyn Stafford has to be one of my favorites. She's evolved a bit over the years, too - she started off as a rather one-dimensional bully, but that disappeared when I hit upon the idea to make her a bit more political, pulling for the Democratic party despite being raised in a staunchly Republican household. It helps to explain her rebellious attitude a bit better, I think.

Jocelyn's always been a rocker chick, though - her design was very heavily inspired by a girl I saw at the mall one day, whose bleach-blonde hair and fishnet stockings under black boots immediately screamed "cartoon character". Long-time fans of my work might notice that I've augmented her character design slightly; she now sports a scorpion tattoo on her left arm, to contrast the butterfly on her right. They represent the angry and sensitive sides of her personality, respectively, but she keeps the scorpion on the side closest to her heart because she's definitely more deeply rooted in the aggressive side. (But when she's alone with her boyfriend Steve, she's a pure romantic.)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Disney Renaissance II: Indefinitely Postponed

People were hoping that The Princess and the Frog would be the turning point for Disney animation. Most folks who support the hand-drawn technique were anticipating that it'd revive the interest in traditional animation and perhaps even kick-start another Disney Renaissance. To a lot of people, it was supposed to be the next The Little Mermaid.

Instead, it seems to have turned into another The Black Cauldron; a film that was supposed to get people talking and usher in a new golden age, but just fell way short of everyone's expectations instead. And it's pretty obvious why. I've said this before, but it absolutely bears repeating - why Disney tried to release this thing one week before Avatar and hoped it would be a smash hit is beyond me. NOTHING could compete with Avatar. The fact that it was James Cameron's comeback and that it was released in 3-D (meaning it was guaranteed to gross high no matter what, thanks to the extra cost of a pair of glasses with every ticket) meant that no other movie in the theaters stood a chance of topping it at the box office. The Na'vis flourished while Tiana sunk like a stone.

So what did Disney executives learn from all this? To plan their release dates for their animated films a little better? Heck no - Rapunzel is still slated for the week before Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Only it isn't called Rapunzel anymore; Disney decided to change the name to Tangled, and the focus isn't going to be on the princess anymore. Oh, and you know The Snow Queen, the movie they've been working on for who knows how long now? Yeah, that's finally ceased production. Yes, Disney has decided that The Princess and the Frog failed because it was about a girl, and they're changing all their forthcoming animated features to make absolutely sure that they don't have female leads. Thanks, Iger, you just set Disney animation back about thirty years.

In the world of Disney animation, I was really hoping 2010 would bring about a Renaissance. Instead, we seem to be getting the Dark Ages, complete with the bubonic plague. (Oh well, at least there's always Pixar.)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Drowning in Drama

Nothing's impossible for Kim Possible! Even when the situation looks extremely dire, you know she's got one more trick up her sleeve. This is that brief moment after she stops struggling, but before she remembers "Oh yeah, I've got that spring-loaded mini-circular buzzsaw hidden in the cuff of my right glove. No big!"

I sought to go in another new direction with my underwater art this time. I got rid of the blur, for one thing, but I also experimented with not tinting everything blue, and I devised yet another new way of coloring the bubbles. Yay or nay?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

My Top 10 Favorite 'Toon Girls - #9 So White

Some of you might not even be familiar with this character, but she's an extremely significant contributor to the history of animation. Bob Clampett's 1943 Merrie Melodie "Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs" is alternately considered one of the cleverest and funniest Warner Bros. cartoons ever made and one of the most racially insensitive Warner Bros. cartoons ever made, but if you step back and take a look at it, it's actually kind of progressive - after all, it's one of the few films made during World War II to show African-American characters actively participating in the war effort. So White herself actually acts as the cook for the Sebben Dwarfs' army camp, while the Dwarfs themselves are able soldiers who blast the heck out of the wicked Queenie. I like So 'cause she's a dreamer, but she has a few characteristics that the original Snow White didn't have - a spunkier personality and a hep singing voice supplied by Vivian Dandridge. And out of all the characters in the film, So's character design is the one that's the least stereotypical. You can't deny that the film is politically incorrect, but you also can't deny that So White is easy on the eyes - by any standards.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Ticked Off In Toontown

In the last few weeks, I've been noticing a lot of the stupid things people say about animation. Some of the things that have really got me angry:

- One of my coworkers stating that "King of the Hill" was the dumbest animated show FOX ever had
- People complaining about how The Incredibles needs a sequel
- One guy insisting that "Pokémon" doesn't deserve to be faithfully translated from Japanese to English because it's a kids' show
- People deciding that Seth MacFarlane's fourth show will suck before they even know what it's about
- Warner Bros.' attempt to hop on the Alvin and the Chipmunks bandwagon with live action movies based on Marvin the Martian, Tom and Jerry, Yogi Bear, and Speedy Gonzales
- The fact that the aforementioned Speedy movie will be produced by George Lopez, who vows to keep the character as far away from the classic cartoons as possible because he thinks they're racist
- The recent announcement that the Bone movie will be done with motion capture
- People insisting that Disney hasn't done a decent animated movie since 1961
- And finally, one joker I found on the GAC Forums who insists that all animation everywhere should be like Tex Avery's cartoons, and that anything that doesn't conform to that mold is utter garbage

How come all of a sudden, when it comes to animation, it seems like everyone's got their head up their ass?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Michelle's Underwater Room

Inspired by a series of photos I found on Flickr, I decided to draw Michelle typing away on her computer underwater. And then I went the extra mile and decided to put her entire bedroom underwater - it's been a while since I did the whole flooded room concept. I may end up turning this into a series featuring all the "Forever 16" kids in submerged bedrooms. I already have concepts in mind for the others.

It's hard to see 'cause of the blur I put on here, but the books on Michelle's shelf provide some insight into her interests. There's a lot of computer science and web design stuff, along with books on art and animation. She's definitely one of the more expressive kids in the group - I mentioned earlier that I'd thought of putting her on the swim team, but now I've decided to divide her time between computer studies and art studies. I think she'll make a good painter.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

My Top 10 Favorite 'Toon Girls - #10 Jessica Rabbit

For a long time, I've wanted to do a series of drawings depicting my ten biggest cartoon crushes...but now that I have a girlfriend, I can't really call them "crushes" anymore. Still, I respect these characters, and I wanted to pay tribute to 'em anyway. So here we go, counting down from #10!

I'd be stupid if I didn't include Jessica Rabbit on this list at some point. Watching Who Framed Roger Rabbit for the first time when I was a kid, Jessica was the first woman (animated or otherwise) who made me first perk up and go "Whoa, hello, women are awesome." And of course, Kathleen Turner's voice acting really gives her that perfect sultry tone, guaranteed to drive men wild, while also being quite clever at the same time - she loves her little hunny bunny Roger, so much that she's willing to bash him on the head with a frying pan to make sure he won't get hurt. ("Makes perfect sense.") And any toon who's brave enough to fire a gun at Judge Doom earns a page in my Awesome Book. So what keeps her at the #10 spot? Well, her figure is entirely impossible - there's not a woman alive who could ever hope to have those breasts, and those who do are simply deluding themselves. Kinda builds up false hope among us geeks, don't it? If nothing else, Jessica proves that there is such a thing as having a body that's too perfect.

You Know What You Should Do?...

For those wondering, yes, new art is coming soon. I just wanted to devote a lot of time and effort to my next couple of drawings.

The problem inherent in talking to people about what you draw is that they always have their own ideas for what you should be drawing. Take last night, for instance, when I told one of my coworkers about the characters I created for "Forever 16". Suddenly, he starts going "Oh, you should have a character who's really good at building stuff, who could, like, build a rocket to the moon" and "You should have a girl who plays tennis and who's really stuck up and no boy wants to talk to her" and so on.


It's my comic. The characters I created for it evolved organically over the course of several years. Who are you to just start rattling off character archetypes and telling me to utilize them for no reason?

This isn't the first time this has happened, either. I got a lot of folks on DeviantArt bugging me to do stuff in my art that I really don't feel like doing. When I was on my underwatertoons account, one guy kept asking me to draw a scene with plesiosaurs. I thought he was asking for a commission, but apparently, he just thought my underwater drawings would look better if I put dinosaurs in the background.


You know, it's bad enough when people try to tell me how I should be drawing, but at least it'd be a little better if their ideas were actually, y'know, good.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I Hear Voices

I think any cartoonist has gone through the process of trying to pin down voices for their characters. It took me a while to figure out exactly who I hear speaking when I read my "Forever 16" comics in my head, but here's what I came up with.

Joel Maxwell – Jonah Hill. He has that perfect mix of intelligent and juvenile that I think fits Joel perfectly.
Katy Maxwell – Ashley Tisdale. Vapid, shallow, and easily riled. What better way to describe Katy?
Tina Maxwell – Kathy Bates. Very matronly when she needs to be, but also full of sound and fury.
William Maxwell – Chevy Chase. Beaten, downtrodden, easily defeated, and incredibly gullible.
Aaron West – Will Friedle. That perfect tone that makes him sound like he only thinks he knows it all.
Michelle Hsien – Alyson Hannigan. Smart, considerate, and very playful, without sounding the least bit ditzy.
Jocelyn Stafford – Alecia Beth Moore (a.k.a. Pink). Harsh, voracious, and unrestrained, she's the ideal match for Jocelyn's spontaneous bursts of individuality.
Steve Nelson – Jason Mewes. Very quiet and subdued, but also capable of being wild and strung out.
Ashleigh Russo – Jenna Von Oy. An energetic fast-talker, exactly the way I've always envisioned Ashleigh from the start.
Abby Morgenstein – America Ferrera. Not only is the voice a great match, she also served as the physical inspiration for Abby; I can't imagine anyone else doing her voice.

I like to keep these in mind in case "Forever 16" ever makes it into animated form. Though I support the idea of casting professional voice actors, I made this list to reflect the celebrity-casting trend that's been prominent in animated features lately, since if I did get to animate these characters, I'd want it to be in the form of a movie. When Pixar casts their movies, they go based on how well the voice fits the character, which is exactly what I tried to do here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Atop the Fourth Wall

No, not a post concerning the inimitable Linkara - though his comic-based webseries is awesome and I urge any fans of the medium to check it out.

Anyway, I was recently thinking about the use of fourth wall-breaking comedy in comics and animation, and how there's only so much of it I can take before it becomes annoying. Moments where the characters directly address the audience, refer to their artificial surroundings, or otherwise step out of their role and remind the viewer that what they're watching is not real, can be very funny if it's done right and very annoying if it's done wrong. The old Looney Tunes cartoons always seemed to get it right, because they never took themselves seriously. When Bugs Bunny cuts the film at the end of "Rabbit Punch" to get out of his predicament, or Yosemite Sam threatens to shoot a guy in the audience in "Rabbit Every Monday", or when Daffy Duck flusters with his sadistic animator all throughout "Duck Amuck", nobody gets taken out of the story because the whole thing is in the spirit of fun. There's no complex narrative there, it's just gag after gag.

But when there's an actual attempt at a real story going on, a fourth-wall gag feels out of place to me. The American dub of "Pokémon" has had a long history of doing this - stuff like Meowth pointing out that he wasn't drawn with a nose in "Pokémon Scent-sation" or Jessie rationalizing her padding-filled plot with the offhand remark of "We have to fill a half-hour" in "Hypno's Naptime" just comes out of nowhere and rubs me the wrong way. (For the record, the Japanese version of "Pokémon" takes itself a little more seriously and generally doesn't do stuff like this.)

Basically what it boils down to is that fourth wall humor works best when there's no real focus on story, or when the show or whatever in question is going strictly for laughs. I rarely use fourth wall humor when I'm telling a story because I want my readers to feel that my characters and their situations are real; having them turn to the reader and say "Ridiculous, isn't it?" would ruin that illusion. That's why I don't do any fourth wall gags in "Forever 16" - those characters feel very real to me, and I hope to elicit that same reaction from my audience.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Who Wants Cookies?

T-shirts with stuff on 'em make up a significant part of my wardrobe. I like shirts that say "Check me out, world, this is what I watch on TV." I have exactly one "Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends" t-shirt, the one with the house and a big group shot of imaginary friends going around to the back...but I don't wear it much because Cheese is front and center on it. (And I think we all know my thoughts on Cheese.)

If they made "Foster's" shirts with Frankie on 'em, though, I'd wear them all the time. And so I started kicking around ideas for what one might look like. This is one of two ideas I had, based on Frankie's one weakness. God help her, she just loves those cookies.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


I'm so excited about having a blog, I can't even wait 'til my drawings are finished to share them with you!

This one draws its influence from three different sources. For one thing, I recently bought the new book in the Disney Archive Series, "Animation", which is full of original Disney animation drawings from all walks of the studio's history. A few nice drawings by Milt Kahl from Alice in Wonderland served as my jumping-off point. I also drew inspiration from the underwater photos of Elena Kalis, a.k.a. Sugarock99 on DeviantArt, whose "Alice in Waterland" series is one of the coolest things ever put on film (I was thinking of this one in particular). And of course, I had my old GAC buddy Mr. Semaj in mind the whole time I was drawing this - he makes no secret of his fondness for Alice, and I think he'll get an especially big kick out of this one.

In case you're wondering, yep, I do plan to ink and color this. I just wanted to preserve the original pencil drawing before I do.

The Wet Look Is Out

Drawing wet clothes is tough. But it's a fun challenge, 'cause I usually draw underwater scenes; it's not often that I draw what the characters look like right after they get out. It's rare that you see Michelle get angry at Joel, but this seems like an appropriate scenario for that.

That's Michelle's pool, in case you were wondering. I was toying with the idea that she's on the high school swim team, but I'm not sure if I want to go with that - "Forever 16" already has one athlete (Aaron), and I've already established that Michelle is into computer science, so another extracurricular activity might not be very plausible.