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.