best of the drawing of the day: monumental

(This is the follow up to the last post with the great C.C. Beck art in it, which you really should go back and look at if you haven’t already.  It’s much better than anything an otter could draw.)

Iowa, Jack, and the Professor are visiting one of those more or less awful student shows at the Sauk Trail State Gallery, where they encounter a series of rather large silk screen portraits of local hero Foursquare.  Jack, off camera, is a delightful combination of smug and embarrassed.  You know the artist is one of the many young women who are crushing on Foursquare, a phenomenon that Jack is just structurally incapable of understanding.  She is just exploring the relationship between superheroics and celebrity, through the lens of the classic propaganda poster.  She could have picked anybody.

Iowa, of course, isn’t buying it.  The Professor is going to need another plastic cup of free wine.

The original image I based the drawing of Foursquare on  is a great old Fawcett cover where Captain Marvel is looking at an image of himself carved into the stone of a (lunar) mountainside a la Mount Rushmore.  As the Professor says, it is truly monumental.  (And here it is, finally– it’s the cover of Captain Marvel Adventures # 143.)

A quick look through the other Kekionga drawings on this site will show just how strongly Jack/Foursquare’s character design is  based on these classic Beck designs.  So much so that even the people in Kekionga are starting to notice.

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cc beck and captain marvel

The major artistic inspiration for Kekionga is the original Fawcett Captain Marvel, and especially the work of C.C. Beck.  So why not spend the weekend with a couple of beautiful Beck drawings of the big Red Cheese, both of which are going to inspire sketchbook drawings. And also next week’s online comic.

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distraction: a toy camera

Every photographer should have a toy camera.  The combination of a low fi plastic lens, minimal controls, and no way to review the images on the spot means there’s nothing much to do except see potential photographs in the scenes around you and try to frame them.  The important stuff, in other words.

My latest toy camera is this bright pink Holga digital.  It offers three options to the photographer, only one of which is an actual control: color/black and white, 3:2/square, and sun or clouds.  You can see in the notes above what that means: “clouds” is a normal exposure (according to the camera’s rudimentary light meter), while “sun” is one stop underexposed.  The camera also has a very basic peephole viewfinder that shows you a square.  It’s a square image dreamboat, really, and I am shooting only squares on it.  Here are a few samples  They are all straight out of camera.

 (You can see more on my Instagram @kekiongacomics.)

Shooting with a camera like this is as close as you can get to pure photography.  Anybody else out there have a toy camera?

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fifty superheroes: number thirteen

Erik Walks-on-Air is, of course, a flying hero.  In fact, he’s what I think of as a pure flying hero– he doesn’t use technology or magic, and he doesn’t have “flight” as just one item on a list of mighty powers.  Erik is a guy who can fly, and he is set up for it, small, light and lean, and he has some kind of eye adaptation that allows him to skip the goggles.

His costume is based on World War I era “dazzle” camouflage, which uses randomly assigned large areas of geometric patterns of light and dark (stripes, blocks, chevrons, diamonds) to break up the silhouettes of large objects.  This makes them less visible from long distances, especially to observers using low fidelity observation gear.  Like, say, an early submarine periscope– the usual application of dazzle was on naval vessels and cargo ships traveling in convoys.  I’m pretty sure Erik doesn’t think his dazzle suit actually hides him, but it is somewhat confusing and it looks cool.  Especially since the pattern is always changing …

I will admit that Erik’s hero name sounds like a storybook “Indian name”– that’s more or less on purpose. He was originally designed to be Native American, but if that smacks of cultural appropriation to you, he could just as easily be from an created culture or subculture. Or maybe he’s the one doing the appropriating and is either creative and naive or a bit of a jerk.

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sketchbook week: anpu’s album

Sketchbook Week returns with a new online album of sketchbook drawings of everyone’s favorite retired god.  It’s called Anpu’s Album and there are nine cool Anpu portraits there right now.  I plan to add more as I either draw or find them.  

The image above is just a sample: find the complete album with commentary on my Official Facebook Page here.  (It’s a public page; you do not have to be a member of Facebook to play!)

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distraction: steam locomotive

Here she comes! Sketchbook Week will return tomorrow and probably extend into next week because of this locomotive.  Sorry.  It’s all very easy to blame the steam locomotive when you want to play with cameras all day instead of working on what you are supposed to be working on. But the fact remains that you do not see steam locomotives every day, much less get to hear and feel them traveling at speed through the same familiar grade crossing where you sometimes have to wait for coal, hazardous liquids and new pick up trucks on your way to the grocery store.

So please enjoy these photographs of Old Seven Sixty Five.  Note that I have never photographed a locomotive in motion before.  (Pentax K-5iis Kilo/ Pentax 35mm f/2.8 Macro Limited)

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random image from my sketchbook

Plans.  What are these plans you speak of?  Ha.  Life snickers scornfully at your puny plans.  But since it’s sketchbook week, here is a random image from my sketchbooks.  I mean that– I pulled the book of the shelf and opened it at random, and was reminded that on the 13th of April, 2014, I bought a big black marker. Looks like it was the kind with two tips, a broad one I used for the basic lines and a fine one I used for the face and the details.  Just for the fun of it, I left this image in full color instead of converting it to pure black and white, so you can see the layering and the varying levels of solvent in the marker as the pressure changes.  There is nothing like the drawing experience you get with a high quality marker that’s perfectly fresh, but it never lasts long.

One of the basic uses of the sketchbook is to experiment with new tools and (attempt to) learn to control them.  This character probably represents the essentially wild nature of drawing tools– the marker is barely under control here, and it will never entirely be tamed.

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fifty superheroes: number twelve

The twelfth* of the fifty superheroes is the mighty Man-O-Taur.  And I have mixed feelings about him.  Not about the drawing, which I quite like (doing the whole thing with the scritchy-scratchy pen is always a fun technique) nor about the character himself, who is handsome and well designed (but my own internal standards) but by the idea that a person/being of a non-baseline body type is automatically “different” enough to fit into the super-category.  Am I being morphist here?

So let’s assume that the  Man-O-Taur has a ton of other interesting powers beyond being just “a bull guy” who is big and strong.   Should he be a tech hero (it might be fun to design his armor) or a magic user?  Or even better, make him a psionic, with his powers all in his head and no visible manifestations at all, even a costume.  In that case he could be a real “Ferdinand the Bull”, who dislikes physical confrontation and prefers to sit back and smell the flowers until conflict is unavoidable, then stop the problem with a basically pacifistic use of psi.  Invisible brick wall, anyone? Instant, non damaging unconsciousness?

The Man-O-Taur is also a vegetarian and tries to restrict his carbon footprint.

(The word “twelfth” is extremely weird, with the way the “v” changes into an “f”.)

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sketchbook week: the sketchbook placemat drawing

Here on the blog it’s Sketchbook Week!   Movie Week seemed to go over well, so this week will be dedicated to images from my sketchbook.  Posts will include two more of the Fifty Superheroes from last year’s ongoing project, an album dedicated to a single Kekionga character, and maybe a readers’ choice entry if I get some good suggestions.

But let’s start with the ever popular crossover.  This image is a crossover between a sketchbook drawing and a placemat drawing.  It was drawn on page from my sketchbook, with one of my good fountain pens (the new Pilot 92, a bright orange demonstrator with a gold nib) but otherwise, it functions purely as a placemat drawing– starting with a single line with no corrections and of course no pencil underdrawing.    The first line was the lopsided circle enclosing the moon.  I added the figure on the right, intending it to be a wolf girl (to go with the moon), but her rounded ears made her an African Painted Dog instead. (Or a Cape Hunting Dog, if you prefer.)   I put the wolf on the left instead, made him a boy to go with the girl, and there you have it, a canine couple dating by the light of a benevolent although not quite circular moon.

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movietime at the cinemark: the fate of the furious

(Movie Week concludes, for now, with the second of the catch-up reviews.  We’re now ready to go to some more movies: bring on a carefully chosen selection of summer blockbusters and also a new actor-driven caper movie that my movie going companion is very interested in.)

It’s a well known fact that the world is divided into two groups of people: those who think the Fast and Furious movies are a ton of fun, and those who think they are dumb,  way over the top, or both.  What is less well known is that those two groups overlap.  I am in the intersection, so sue me.

The Fate of the Furious, oh flick of the dubiously clever title, is the eighth outing in the series following street racer Dominic Torretto (Vin Diesel) and his chosen family as they embark on a wildly unlikely series of adventures that usually involve cars that go very fast. This one is notable for being the first film in the series produced after the death of actor Paul Walker, who played Dom’s partner, best friend, and eventually brother in law, Brian.  That character is missed, but life goes on, and so do these movies. The action never stops until it goes too far, as usual.  All is well, and this movie is just fine if you like this kind of thing.

In case you want to be surprised by a late viewing of Fate (not that it’s very surprising), click to read a paragraph that really belongs above the cut (except that it’s spoilery), and the usual random notes. Continue reading

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