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?