Thursday, April 26, 2012

Day 274: Michelangelo is a Drug Dealer

This post is not entirely about Michelangelo selling drugs. It's partly about that, but only in a round-about way. Really this post is about a book. An awesome book that you can read the first part of right now for only $2!

So there's this guy, Robert Brockway, who writes from, one of my favorite time-wasting internet sites. I have long counted Mr. Brockway among a handful of my favorite columnists/contributors to the site and I really enjoyed his book Everything is Going to Kill Everybody. In fact I liked it so much (and happened to be reading it at the time that I started this blog) that it inspired my Day 3 post and picture.

Well, guess what? Robert Brockway has written another book... sort of. I mean he wrote this thing, and it's book length, but you can't physically buy it in a store and only the first episode (of three) is out. Did I mention it's only $2? Here's the run-down:

RX: A Tale of Electronegativity is a sort of dystopian-future sci-fi adventure tale. It stars Red, a drug user/pusher/inventor/tester who wakes up in a strange place after testing a new type of drug and wacky hijinks ensue! Generally these hijinks leave him in mortal danger, or at least pants-less. Co-starring are QC and Byron who have their own set of problems and, in my mind at least, are the perfect balancing characters to round out Red's ultimate adventuring party. Well, maybe not Byron, he seems pretty goddamn useless, but you need a third so who am I to argue?

This shit's full of crazy nano-tech mixed with lots and lots of drug use (and some robots). It's pretty awesome and there are a number of ways to enjoy it. Allow me to elaborate.

Visit the official website here to read about the story and buy your digital download of Episode 1:

After that you have a couple of options for getting the rest once they're released.

1) Just, you know, wait for them to come out and then pay your $2. It shouldn't take too long; Episodes 2 and 3 have already been written.
2) Write a review for Episode 1 and submit it by following the instructions on the site to get your name on a list for a free copy of Episode 2
3) The best option? Kickstart that shit.

There is a Kickstarter campaign going on for two more days in association with this book. This is not to fund the book, but is more like a pre-order program complete with bonus gifts. I suggest doing this because in addition to getting Episodes 2 and 3 you can also help fund a game based on Episode 1! Only catch is the video game only happens if he hits the $7,500 mark. So, you know, give generously and all that.

I hope this has inspired you to check out RX: A Tale of Electronegativity. I was initially intrigued by the unique approach to publishing and the low price point, but I ended up really liking the story so I hope some of you will take a chance on it as well.

As for why I chose Mikey for the picture, my first thought was Donatello because he's the only one smart enough to synthesize these drugs, but he's really more of a tech guy and Red is pretty anti-technology, at least in the form of his own enhancements. After all, it might interfere with the drugs. Out of the other three Turtles I think Michelangelo comes closest to Red's interesting lifestyle. This picture depicts Red at the beginning of the story, waking up in a strange place amidst the ruins of a maintenance bot with his arm display flashing "OVERDOSE." All-in-all not a great way to start a hangover.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Day 273: The Turtles Visit Middle Earth

In my last post I mentioned, briefly, my love of Middle-earth and everything it encompasses. Today I'd like to expand a bit on that.

The reason it's been on my mind lately is that my wife, after reading The Hobbit several times in the past made up her mind to finally finish The Lord of the Rings. She's tried before, but never got past The Fellowship of the Ring, and as much of a fan as I am I can totally understand. Tolkien's writing is not everyone's cup of tea; he's very descriptive and his love of lengthy discussions far outweighs the amount of action in the story. But we both love Peter Jackson's film adaptations and the recent trailers for part one of The Hobbit have us very excited to see Martin Freeman as a young Bilbo. So in anticipation of re-entering the epic film version of Middle-earth she decided to finally finish the series, and she did complain about some parts being boring and Tolkien's uncanny ability to kill momentum but overall she really enjoyed it.

As for me? I love it all. The councils, the walking, the endless discussions of old legends, the songs (especially the songs!); all those things that make the books difficult or boring for most people are the things I love. I wasn't always this way, though. My love of Middle-earth is one that has been growing since I first read The Hobbit sometime around 4th Grade. Tolkien's writing is sometimes a bit weighty, especially for a child, but The Hobbit is much more accessible and I've always read things at a higher level than my age. I enjoyed it even if I didn't understand it all and then I moved on to The Lord of the Rings since I had them all in a convenient box set my aunt had given me.

At first I was really only interested in the story. There was so much needless trudging through forests and across plains and talking and singing (those fucking songs!). I remember distinctly giving up on the songs early on and just skipping over them when I first read the books. Or how about Tom Bombadil? What about that guy?

If you've read the books or were a big fan of the movies you likely know Tom Bombadil. Purists crucified Peter Jackson for his omission of the character, while other people were so happy to not have to listen to one of his stupid songs. Personally when I first read the books I hated Tom Bombadil, but now I love that guy! He's such a great character, but if you look at the story objectively he isn't really necessary and I think Peter Jackson did the right thing in leaving him out. I think I'll include a bit of him, though, as this is my blog.

Hey dol! merry dol! ring a dong dillo!
Ring a dong! hop along! Fal lal the willow!
Tom Bom, jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo!
Old Tom Bombadil is a merry fellow,
Bright blue his jacket is, and his boots are yellow.
None has ever caught him yet, for Tom, he is the master:
His songs are stronger songs, and his feet are faster.
Over time I continued to revisit the books and I began to get drawn more into the world rather than just the events of the story. I started to wonder about the Elves and where Sauron came from and all those things fantasy nerds wonder about. I started reading the songs and paying more attention to the smaller, seemingly insignificant details. Eventually I read The Silmarillion which was the most amazing thing that ever happened to someone wanting to know more about Middle-earth and its origins.

The Silmarillion is the Middle-earth bible, and not in the sense that it's a great reference book. It's the Middle-earth bible in the sense that it starts out with the creation and shaping of the world, and moves on through the tales of the ages from there. This is not something I would recommend to a casual fan of the series unless you're really really interested in Elvin genealogy.

So here I am, now (sort-of) an adult with a deep love of all things Middle-earth. I don't really have strong feelings about that world becoming "cool." I know a lot of people hate seeing things they love get popular and bastardized by the mainstream, but that's really never mattered much to me. I'm happy that more people have been exposed to what was my introduction to the fantasy genre, but I realize most people won't take it as far as I have. That's fine. Everyone else can move on and forget about the Hobbits and Ents; I'll continue to love Tolkien's world for my own reasons.

About the picture, it kind of looks like the Fellowship, except there were nine member of the Fellowship and only four Turtles. I just tried to represent the major races matching the personalities of the Turtles as much as possible. Leonardo is men, but in his case specifically a ranger. They're from an old blood-line of the first kings and much more noble than your average Joe. Donatello is an elf (even though that kinda looks like a Gondorian pattern on his vest). I don't really have a good reason for this except that I've always liked the elves. In hindsight he should have been a wizard. Magic is as close as you can get to technology in Middle-earth without being evil. Raph is a dwarf, of course. Red beard mixed with a love of fighting and quick temper? done. Michelangelo, I feel, best represents the Hobbits. Why fight when you can eat, drink, smoke and generally enjoy life to the fullest?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Day 272: Donatello's Birthday Party

Guess what? My birthday was a few days ago. Ordinarily I don't get too excited for my birthday. I don't hate getting older--most of the time I have to do mental calculations to remember exactly how old I am--I just feel a little uncomfortable with the amount of focus people put on me all of a sudden for one day. This is not to say I haven't enjoyed my birthdays. I've had some good times, last night included. I didn't have a party; we just met some friends for dinner. I got lots of cool Spider-Man and TMNT stuff including the new IDW Volume 1 collection of the original comics autographed by Kevin Eastman!

My wife took the theme of the night in a different, but equally nerdy direction (she threw me a TMNT party a few years ago; I'll get to it in a bit). Over the last few years she's really cultivated a love for baking and decorating things and she's gotten pretty damn good. One of my other (many) loves is Tolkien's Middle Earth. I love all of it, not just Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit, but the entire world and all its lore.--

Before I start rambling about Middle Earth I'm going to stop here and promise to explore this in another post.

--My wife has read The Hobbit several times, just finished Lord of the Rings all the way through for the first time and we're both waaaay excited about the upcoming adaptation of The Hobbit. So this year, she made me a book cake. An awesome book cake that looks like it has real pages and... just look at this thing!

It's huge and awesome and, most importantly, delicious. I chose Strawberry cake without knowing what she was making, so she put a cream cheese layer. Get it? Strawberry's and Cream Cake. As in, "Do you remember the taste of strawberry's and cream, Mr. Frodo?" There are layers of meaning to this cake (as well as just regular layers).

So anyway, I drew this picture of Donatello (me) ready to blow out his candles on his birthday. I'm going off the assumption that the Turtles aren't really brothers in the genetic sense and so they celebrate different birthdays. The others aren't screaming in horror, they're singing "Happy Birthday" to him.


Instead of writing a big long post about my birthday this year I thought I'd share a few pictures from my TMNT birthday from a few years ago.

 My sweet Donatello cake

Ninja Turtle cupcakes made by my good friend Crystal! The TMNT heads were ring party favors.

My friend graciously let me cut the cake with the broken hilt of Narsil. 
Apparently cutting cakes with a sword is a thing I do. I cut my Spider-Man groom's cake with a samurai sword.


Here are a few pictures my mom gave me of when I was younger. Proof that I have always loved the turtles.

Me at 5 years-old. Note my coordinated outfit.
 My 6th birthday cake.

6 year-old me at some school carnival thing.
Clearly they didn't have a Donatello cut out.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Day 271: Donatello Pets a Stegosaurus

Did I mention last post how awesome Stegosauruses are? Because they are incredibly awesome. Clearly they are the best kind of dinosaur. I mean, just look at that guy! He's got awesome spikes on his tail for defense, but he's not a mean dino. Plus, check out those sweet plates. He was rockin' a full-body mohawk before mohawks were even a thing! Stegosauruses were the original punks. They probably got along with everyone too. They were probably like the cool guy at the party who feels comfortable talking to everyone and who everyone likes to talk to because he's got confidence. Stegos don't need your approval. They thrive on their own majesty so you can either get with their program and be a cool guy too or get eaten by a bunch of compys like the little baby your are.

You can keep your T-Rexes and Velociraptors (which weren't as scary as Jurassic Park made them seem, you guys); if you're lookin for me I'll be at the arcade kickin it with my pal, Stegosaurus, because Stegosauruses probably love video games.

Side note: When I drew this my wife commented on what a good drawing of a stegosaurus it was. She was unaware that I used to draw them almost as much as I used to draw Ninja Turtles, so that's where my skill comes from.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Day 270: Teenage Mutant Jurassic Park

I've been re-reading Jurassic Park and The Lost World. I first read those books when I was probably in fourth grade and at the very beginning of my Michael Crichton fan days. My wife recently bought me the Jurassic Park/Lost World Barnes & Noble collected edition with the white embossed cover and silver-edged pages so I decided to revisit what I remembered being a great book.

Not to discourage anyone from reading it, but Jurassic Park did not entertain me in quite the same way the second time around. It was, even in what should have been the most exciting parts, kind of boring; Crichton's writing style leaves something to be desired when there is action involved. On top of that the characters are almost entirely unlikable or, at best, boring. More often than not I was rooting for Ian Malcolm to die to save me from reading another simplistic diatribe on the magical predictive properties of chaos theory. Even Mr. Hammond doesn't seem like the wide-eyed child he is in the movie, but just a greedy salesman. He doesn't even really seem to care that his grand kids are lost in the park with a rampaging T-Rex.

I don't say this very often, but in this case I feel like the movie was much better than the book. The characters are better developed so you invest more in their survival and the creepy charm of Jeff Goldblum balances out the asshole in Ian Malcolm. Plus, Samuel L. Jackson, amiright? Really my only beef with the movie is no Stegosaurus cameos. What the hell, Spielberg? They were/are* amazing and majestic creatures; clearly the best dinosaurs ever. They should have been included in the film.

The Lost World is another story, because I don't really remember much about the movie except that the first time I saw it I thought, "Wow, this isn't really like the book at all." I have to say, I am enjoying The Lost World much more than I did Jurassic Park. Maybe it's because I didn't have the preconceived notions from the film version, or maybe it's just written better.

So, about the drawing. This is a call back to one of the most classic scenes from the movie with Muldoon, Ellie and Ian Malcolm being chased by the T-Rex. I made put Donatello in Ian Malcom's place because they're both smart guys, but then I realized almost everyone in the movie is some sort of scientist and Raph probably has the closest personality to Malcolm. Oh well, next time I do a Jurassic Park drawing I'll remember that.

In related Jurassic Park news everyone needs to go here and donate some money check this out.

Do you remember when I posted about my friend being in Aliens on Ice? Well that theater company is planning a tour to bring their unique version of Jurassic Park to cities across the country. They've got a Kickstarter going to raise the money and they're so very very close they've made it! When I first wrote this post two days ago there was still time to donate and secure a ticket to a showing, but due to circumstances beyond my control I'm only just now posting it. You should still go to the kickstarter page for information on where and when you can see the show.

*Stegosauruses are very much alive and well in my dreams.


I mentioned once that I was supposed to post this two days ago. I tried to scan it last night and couldn't do it so I left the picture next to the computer. When I sat down to scan it just now I found this note from my wife. She told me she added the "No joke" part because she didn't want me to think she was being sarcastic. Thanks for the compliments and appreciating my art.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Day 269: Turtle Cookies

Today was supposed to be a Jurassic Park themed drawing, but then I left all my drawing stuff at home and didn't have time to draw my picture after work. Turns out I actually did a drawing, just not a traditional one. My wife, Shaun and I went to see Andrew Jackson Jihad tonight and my wife made them cookies to which I added a little box art.

I won't write a narrative about the whole night because my last post about an AJJ show was pretty long and I'm also pretty tired and running on about 3 hours of sleep, but it was a great show.

We got to the venue a little late because I ended up working late. There were (I think) six bands playing but we only heard a little bit of about half of them. We hung out on the outdoor balcony of the venue for a good portion of the night because it was so nice out.

We talked to AJJ's merch guy, Evan, for a while. He was very excited for the cookies as well as for my wife and Shaun's Princess Bride t-shirts (I swear they didn't both wear Princess Bride shirts on purpose). It was also his birthday so we high-fived for April birthdays (mine's next week) and left him a tip to speed him on his way to a hazy birthday.

While we were on the balcony Ben (AJJ bassist) sat with us for a little while. We've had several semi-lengthy conversations with him and he's always a super nice guy. Sean's nice too, but we didn't see him until after the show was over. One thing I love about seeing them live is they're always so friendly with everyone they meet and are willing to hang around and talk to the fans.

The show was amazing. They started out playing acoustic like usual, but then played the last half of the set as a full electric band. If I'm not mistaken this is the first time they've toured with a full band and it was really pretty great. The band turned what was already a fun time into a true punk show. Mosh pits opened up and people were crowd surfing. It got a little crazy, but it was a lot of fun.

I'm starting to ramble due to exhaustion so I think I'll leave it at this. The show was great, the guys were great and I'm already looking forward to their next stop in Austin.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Day 268: Titanic: A Metaphor

This was my original idea for a TMNT Titanic drawing. It's a metaphor for Leonardo and Raphael's relationship throughout much of the Turtles' history, always butting heads and breaking down their teamwork. Of course in this version Raphael kills Leonardo along with around 1,500 other people, so...

It's not a perfect metaphor, but you get the idea.

I also realized that in yesterday's post I erroneously colored the stripe along the deck of the ship red when it should have been white. Please excuse this oversight. I strive for realism in my images and I should have fact checked myself before coloring.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Day 267: Titanic (Fan Request)

This is not just any fan request. This is a request from my biggest fan... my wife. Let me backtrack a bit and explain.

My wife, aside from being a big space nerd, is also a big Titanic nut. Now I don't just mean she loves the movie Titanic, though she does (I'll get to that shortly); she legitimately is a Titanic fan, or at least as much of a fan as you can be of an event that killed over fifteen hundred people. She's fascinated by the whole story and has read books about almost every aspect of it making her pretty much the Titanic authority among everyone we know (besides maybe her mom).

Now, couple that interest in the historic event with her love of Leonardo DiCaprio (which I think started with Titanic, but let's not split hairs) and it should be obvious that Titanic is one of her favorite movies of all times. And if you hadn't heard that it's back in theaters in 3D right now for the upcoming 100th anniversary of the sinking, well, now you know.

So long story short, we saw Titanic in 3D last night.

I will go on record right now and say two things that I'm sure will prompt my wife to keep a hard copy of this blog somewhere to refer back to in the future. First, in my opinion Leonardo DiCaprio has proven himself to be a pretty goddamn good actor (plus he's named Leonardo) and second Titanic is actually a really good movie. We've been over-saturated with images of it since 1997 and it's become something of a joke, but really, it was damn impressive when it came out and it still is. There's a reason it won all of those Oscars.

Anyway we saw Titanic last night and I was really impressed with the upconversion to 3D. It looked really good, way better than Thor which I think was the last 3D movie I saw. And I'll let you know right now I hate this 3D movie trend. I think 3D is a bullshit excuse to charge an extra three to five bucks per ticket and if given the choice I will take 2D almost every time (Pixar is the exception. Their movies are gorgeous in 3D and they can do no wrong in my eyes). So, yeah, the 3D actually looked good and wasn't distracting, and unlike most 3D movies it wasn't dark or muddy at all. I may not like all of his work, but James Cameron is a technical genius.

So we watched the movie and everyone cried (except me cause Titanic makes me sad, but not like that) and I snickered a little every time they showed a shot of the stars because all I could think about was Neil deGrasse Tyson getting all snarky with James Cameron. I also couldn't help but make mental jokes about Lord Theoden captaining the ship and Professor Perry sneaking radioactive mutagen onboard. Plus, I don't have a problem with my wife drooling over Leo so I made sure to give her a thumbs up when Kate Winslet dropped her robe for the portrait scene just to let her know I was enjoying the movie as well.

After we got home I talked to her a little about what I had been planning on posting here, but hadn't had time to do.

Me: I was planning on doing a Titanic inspired drawing. I thought of a good one.

Em: Oh god, is it a "draw me like one of your French girls" scene?

Me: No.

Em: Is it "I'm the king of the world!" with Casey Jones and April O'niel?!

Me: No, but that's not actually a bad idea.

Em: No, wait, can it be me and Leonardo-(at this point I honestly thought she was talking about Leonardo the ninja turtle)-DiCaprio?... And the ninja turtles can be killing Hal and Lovejoy in the background with x's over their eyes so we can be happy forever!

Me: Umm...

Em: You know, you said you would do fan requests.

Me: That's true.

Em: And I am your biggest fan.

Me: Haha OK, you have a point.

So there you have it. I don't think she expected I would really draw this, but I did because she is my biggest fan and it was a pretty funny idea. I know, all of my humans look terrible, but sue me. All I ever learned how to draw with any regularity was ninja turtles.

So tomorrow I'll be back with my original idea for a Titanic drawing. I promise the post will be much shorter.


A bit of unrelated news: new blog friend Jaime wrote an awesome post about this blog yesterday. She's got a great site and she's a huge Ninja Turtle fan so you know she's cool. I have plans to add a couple things here and one of them is a list of web friends and sites I personally enjoy and her's will definitely be on the list. In the mean time go check her blog out.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Day 266: Master Splinter Molding Young Minds

It was recently pointed out to me by an anonymous reader that in the 9 or so months that I've been posting to this blog I have yet to draw a picture featuring Splinter. I've done all the Turtles, Shredder, Casey Jones; I even did a picture with Venus de Milo, the most universally hated character from any of the iterations, but somehow I missed Splinter. Well I'm here to remedy that right now. Splinter is an important part of the Turtles' mythology and he needs to be represented. So here's Splinter imparting his wisdom on his young pupils. Ironically I didn't intend to make the Turtles look young, but they kinda do anyway. And no, I don't know why the Turtles in the foreground are smaller than the ones further away. Perspective is not my strong suit.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Day 265: Journey (Again)

You may or may not remember my lengthy post about my 20 minute preview of the game Journey from last year. It was full of flowery words and lots of praise about why Journey was my number one most anticipated game for this year. Well the full game finally came out almost three weeks ago and I just played it today. The reason it took me so long was because for games like this I prefer to wait to start until I know I can give it my undivided attention for at least a couple of hours. With Journey I wanted to have the house to myself long enough to play it through in its entirety (which ended up being about 2 hours).

Now onto the game.

I've started this "review" three times now and deleted several hundred words worth. It's hard to write about the mechanics of the game without in some way taking away from the things that I found amazing about it. The gameplay is simple and well developed, but at its heart this game is about creating an emotional journey for the player as you lead your character on a literal one. The sense of isolation, even when paired with another player, is immense. I've said it many times, but it really reminds me of Shadow of the Colossus which is one of my favorite games of all time.

Of course in the game you're not alone. A major part of the emotional journey is sharing it with the random companion you are paired with. It's strange how connected you can feel to a perfect stranger when you can't talk to them and don't even know their name. It makes communication more difficult in some ways, but in the end you feel an attachment to this person because you're in this adventure together with literally no one else to help you see it through. While the game does make you feel isolated, you don't ever feel alone, and that is incredibly comforting, especially in the end.

When I finally completed the last long struggle with my companion it was sad and exciting and sort of unbelievable all at once. I don't want to get into plot details, but there was a real sense of "if you can't make it, I'm not going to make it" about the whole thing. That's not a gameplay feature, you can absolutely make it on your own, but by the end you don't want to.

I feel like I want to say so many things about my one brief play-through, but my words seem inadequate to capture the feeling of the game. It's really something you have to experience to understand. I realize this is not a game for everyone, but the people that get it will love it.

The levels, characters and mechanics are simplistic, but beautiful; the music is beyond amazing. These things make the game worth playing but it's the emotion thatgamecompany was able to tap into that make it more than memorable. I don't know how many times I'll revist Journey but I do know I'll never forget my first.