Friday, July 26, 2013

Commissioned artwork by Sebastian Van Esch

Today I present to you a commissioned artwork by Sebastian Van Esch!

SVE is one of the artists we had for my commission contest.  If you recall, the theme was a depiction of me taking on a killer robot, whether it was a robot, or a dude in a robot suit.  SVE took on the robot suit angle in the form of some mysterious green-skinned alien operating a vicious looking robot suit.

Gosh, where to begin on what I love about this artwork?

Let's start by saying that the overall appearance is very much like what you would see in the dramatic climax in a comic book.  From the looks of it, the fight was a real battle royale, with the robot suit taking most of the punishment (and it looks like I gave a little bit of hurt to the alien, too!).  So what you see here is a story having played out, and it's about to reach the dramatic end, with me about to deliver the final, punishing blow! 

Check out the damage to the armor.  I just love all the detail!  And down below on the street you see one of the robot's feet!  My guess: I took out its foot in order to keep it from standing, and it would mess up whatever he was planning to do, because he couldn't stand.  Heck, the whole bottom half of the robot is about to fall off, so it looks like this handicapping stratagem worked out, and that this battle is about to end!

And while you're at it, check out that perspective!  See folks, anyone who wants to learn how to do comic book art needs to master the art of perspective, and what SVE has here is a great lesson in perspective.  For one, you see the robot's left hand arching over my head, and my left hand hanging up and set up to come crashing down on his little green noggin!  And waaaay way down below, you see the robot's right foot!  It looks so high up you almost get a nosebleed!

Ah, and this artwork is also a great lesson in coloring!  Note how the color of the building actually frames the action.  The color of the building contrasts with the silvery armor of the robot and my white costume, which draws your eye right to the action.  In addition to the building color, there is a further concentration by the shadow behind me and the robot.  Very nicely done!

And last, notice that tension in my right arm as I hold the robot up.  It shows how strong I am, and it also emphasizes the curve in my other arm by complementing the arc.  It's like two sides of a bear trap about to snap shut!  Hell, no wonder the robot got so beat up!  Thanks for the excellent work, Sebastian!  It's all a great lesson on how to draw, ink, and color a comic page, especially the big climax moment!

Sebastian had asked me to not be afraid to offer some criticism, but in all honesty, there's not really much to criticize.  There would be only one thing, and it's nothing major at all, but Sebastian, since you asked, here ya go:  My hips are a little wider than that. How much wider?  Don't ask, unless you want to get beat up like that robot!  It's because of my wide hips that I wear the short white pleated skirt.  It's kind of a trick of fashion to use such a skirt to hide wide hips.  So there's your one criticism, Sebastian.  But again, it's nothing major, and it takes nothing away from the art.

Sebastian is a lesson in the use of rough drafts to come up with the final piece.  He sent the most rough drafts, and out of all that, he ended up with the finished artwork that you see here.  So to you young artists out there trying to break into the field of comic book art, SVB is a good example to follow!  

Thanks so much, friend!  Your artwork is a real treat!  :-)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Review: Meet Lazerman!

Today I will be reviewing a superhero who goes by the name Lazerman.

Lazerman is a superhero that I can relate to, because he's also a comic book geek!  LOL 

But heck, part of the reason many superheros take up the role is because of comic books, so it only makes sense that this guy, Alex Sanders, would want to don the spandex soon after being shot by an experimental laser, thus giving him the super powers of strength, flight, and a virtually bulletproof body. Being shot by powerful lasers happens every other day, right?

I read Lazerman 1 thru 4, and the link above conveniently provides those very issues should you want to obtain a copy for yourself.  And I feel that it's worth the dip into your comic book budget to get a copy!  :-)

Okay, before I continue, it's time to present the obligatory

**********WARNING!  SPOILERS AHEAD!  **********

If you have not read Lazerman and don't want what's in it spoiled for you, then STOP READING NOW!  You have been warned!

This beginning story arc is peppered with bits of oddball humor, like the computer geek friend who always seems to know someone who - very conveniently - can provide whatever service or skill that they happen to need at that time.  There's also the guy with the round glasses who always knows "backstory" of different characters, and happens to show up at the right time to give that backstory.  I suspect that this guy works for the NSA!

However, what I found really funny is that not only is Lazerman a comic book nerd, so is his first arch-villain!  Another thing I found funny about the villain, Razorman, is that despite the name, he always had a three-day beard!  The razors, apparently, are only for intimidation, and not for shaving.  Razorman is a legacy villain who comes from a long line of villains who tried - and failed - to make the ultimate war machine, which is a mechanical device that can go from an awesome razor-themed car, to a flying helicopter-looking machine, to a giant killer robot!  (Killer robot?  Where have I seen one of those before? )

Razorman accomplishes what his ancestors failed to do, and that's to complete the war machine - and what an intimidating device it is!  So what does he do the first time out?  Why attack the Statue of Liberty, of course!  Lady Liberty is Razorman's target because back in the day, the Feds spent money on restoring it instead of funding RazorDad's war machine project.  But Razorman is holding no grudges, you understand...

My favorite part of this story arc is when Alex is feeling frustrated because his first jaunt into doing the hero thing failed miserably.  Then as his friend is talking, he's looking out the window, and sees a toddler fall out of a window and about to plummet many stories down to the pavement.  Without even thinking about it, Alex flies to the rescue (as Lazerman, naturally).  Then other things pop up that require his super assistance.  Before he knows it, he's done the hero thing.

That's how it usually works when you're not trying too hard to be a hero.  The heroics tend to come to you.  If you think too much while you're doing the hero thing, then you may think too much about the danger you're putting yourself in by battling - for example - a guy who can fling razor discs like someone else flings a Frisbee.  In other words, if you think too much about your own safety, then someone else's safety is usually put into jeopardy.  Even early in his superhero career, Lazerman has already leaped into battle with little regard to his own safety, and thus he has saved others.  Welcome to the superhero club, Alex!

The story arc, while loaded with goofiness, has its own shades of darkness.  Apparently, there's suggestions of behind-the-scenes intrigue going on, and no doubt we'll learn if another super villain is in the works for poor Lazerman.  My question is this: In the hospital just after Alex was shot by the laser, it was suggested that Alex wasn't the only victim of these kinds of "experiments".  So, what happened to those other people?  Will Lazerman be seeing them soon?

Anyway, the big battle ensues, and Razorman is defeated!  Whoohoo!  Then after having saved the day, Alex is feeling pretty good about himself, and takes to flying around the Earth - and gets smacked by a plane.  Heh!  What a fitting ending for the world's goofiest laser-themed superhero!  There are other issues of Lazerman out now, but I haven't read them yet, because I wanted to do this review first.  However, I was impressed enough that I want to see "what happens next", and that's music to the ears of any comic creator.

Great job, guys!   Well done!  ^.^

And on a related note, I am part of something on Facebook called Creators United, which is a loose affiliation of comic creators, artists, writers, etc.  We are a group of comic lovers who are not affiliated with the "Big Two", but who aspire to work together to put out comics anyway.  It's still in its beginning stages, but it's a very ambitious group, and I see only good things ahead. 

To show my support of Creators United, each time I review a publication done by a CU member, I will post it to my new sidebar category conveniently titled "Creators United Members".

As you can see, Lazerman has the honor of being the first member to be posted to it. ------>

But it's just the first of what I hope are many more for me to review!  :-)

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Flying Man - a taste of life in my "universe"

What I like about this short film, The Flying Man, is that it captures the sense of fear and anomie that superhumans in my "universe" brought to everyone else whenever we first started to become publicly known back in the mid-2000’s.  What's to stop one of us superhumans to suddenly becoming a law unto ourselves?

That's the problem with the supervillains in my "universe" - it's not so much that they do evil for evil's sake, but that they think that they are not bound by the laws of humans.  That is, they believe that they are their own law, and their personal laws supersede human laws.  It's very hard to negotiate with someone who thinks that they aren't bound by the laws and social mores of the community that they live in.

For example, with my super strength, flight ability, heightened senses (sight, hearing, etc), and speed healing, if I ever went "rogue", it would be very, very hard to stop me.  If I didn't care about what others thought of my actions, if I was out only for myself, it would take the authorities a very long time and a great loss of life to finally put me down.

This is why I work for the government as its "superhero" - to provide a very public example not just to humans, but also to provide a very public example to the superhumans as well - that humans and superhumans working together can be done, and that there is another way for superhumans to be living than in their own little insular worlds.

I say this, because for most of human history (again, in my "universe"), superhumans had to hide who they were in order to be left alone and not raise fear among the regular human population –whether we meant to raise fear or not.   I did this hiding of my super abilities as well, before I accepted the government's offer to be their "superhero".  There were so few of us superhumans that for the most part, we weren't aware of others like us; most of us simply stayed in hiding because it was the easiest thing to do.

In The Flying Man, we see the fear that is arisen when someone with special abilities decides to make themselves judge, jury, and executioner.  It’s hinted that this flying man is killing only criminals, making him a combination of Marvel’s The Punisher and DC’s Superman rolled into one person.  But by what criteria does he make these decisions, and by what right does he carry out his “executions” (which is what dropping them to the ground from a killing height amounts to being)?

So you see, friends, why superhumans scare people in my universe.  Imagine The Flying Man not as one person, but almost a hundred, back in 2005 when superhumans decided to make themselves publicly known, and some took it upon themselves to remake the world more to their liking.  So watch The Flying Man, and get a taste of life in my neck of the woods.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

And now... the commission contest winner!

And there you have it!  The winning artwork, by the one John Rose!  First off, to give John the proper credit where credit is due, here is his professional site, and here is his deviantArt site.  To all potential clients of John: Hire this guy!  You won't be disappointed!  :-D

I want to start out my review by linking this artwork.  Check it out real quick, because it's related to what I'm going to say below.  John makes awesome pin-up style artworks, and it shows in the artwork of me above.  (You know, it'd be fun one day to see how I would look in the classic martini glass artwork!  LOL).

What I really, really love about this artwork is it's retro-esque style.  In fact, the semi-1940s look is the first thing the boss mentioned when I got the finished artwork from him.  I love the retro-looking robot with those "dryer hose" arms!  If this artwork was from an actual story, then I would imagine the robot's designer being an "old school robotics" type of guy who dreams of taking over the world with these kinds of robots.  Fortunately, he didn't take into account of just how strong I am!  That happens a lot, by the way - my opponents not knowing how strong I really am - and I take full advantage of that underestimation! 

Anyway, let's go ahead and check out some of the details here, because this is where it gets more fun!  Along with the retro-looking robot, notice how I'm drawn.  The outfit, especially that long, billowy skirt, conveys John's "1940s pin-up" style of art.  You see it in the face and in the style that the hair is drawn.  Of course, the coloring adds to this retro look even more.  This could easily be the dramatic conclusion in a 1940s comic book. 

On top of that, check out the composition.  You have one line of action in my right arm, pointing to the top right side of the artwork.  Down at the bottom of my skirt, you have my left knee pointing to the bottom right side of the artwork.  My other leg is pointing to the bottom left side.  And to complete these diagonal lines, the robot's torso is aligned in such a way that it points to the upper left side.  All four corners: covered!

Encircling these four diagonal lines is the robot's arms, both wrapped around the center of the page, and thus drawing your eyes there in the center of the action. The robot's arms are reaching for me, but they're actually grabbing your attention to the focus of the artwork: My furious punch!  Note that the immense impact of the punch is emphasized by the robot's backward and opposite motion from my punch, and further emphasized by his head coming clean off!  Adding to this even more is the robot's feet, one of which we can see the bottom of!  And last, the billowing skirt further focuses your eye in the center of the page, and adds one more final touch of emphasis of the thunderous punch I've thrown at the killer robot!

Bam! Boom!  POW!!!   

Awesome!!!  ^.^

Thanks, John, for one stupendous work!  I love it love it love it!  Whoohoo!!

You are now officially added to my Cool Links List!  --------------->

Well now, that was one fun commission contest!  Coming next month is going to be another call for commissions, but this time not in the form of a contest, because I hope to have more than one submission.  Details to come later this month.

Thanks for joining me on this wild and fun ride, my friends, and a special thanks to the artists who participated, and a congratulations to John Rose!  You rock!

See you all on Facebook!  :-)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th! Why I love the USA

A happy 4th of July to you all!  I hope you have tons of fun, hot dogs, and fireworks!  Have a great time, and be safe!  :-)

For today's blog entry, I thought I'd hit a little bit on why I love the USA.

*  For our freedoms - freedom of the press, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of peaceful assembly, and so forth.  No other country on Earth promises in their founding documents the freedoms that we all enjoy with our Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. 

* For our ability to have debates and discussions, and yet still get along.  Heck, I'm a living example of that.  I was born and raised to be a Marxist liberal like my parents, but somewhere along the way, I saw things differently and instead became a Tea Party-loving, free enterprise supporting conservative capitalist.  And while my parents aren't certainly pleased with how I turned out, we still get along.  Certainly, discussions at the dinner table can get a bit - animated - but when the chips are down, what matters most is that we all love each other.  I can honestly say that I would not be who I am today without the influence of my parents. 

* For our customs and traditions that help make us who we are as Americans.  For example, our traditional spirit of volunteering. You see this particularly during trying times like natural disasters.  You will always hear about ordinary Americans quickly planning how to ship food, medicine, and other supplies to the areas of the country that have been hit by some disaster, and many times you will see those who are even willing to volunteer time to help them rebuild. 

* For our ability to learn from our mistakes.  In the past, we had slavery, but thanks to the persistence of anti-slavery abolitionists, our country finally rid itself of this ugly sin.  It took a civil war to do it, but it goes to show the extent that Americans will go to correct its mistakes.   There's plenty still to fix in this great nation of ours, but I have faith that we'll do it, because that's what we do the best; even if we don't always do it in a timely fashion. 

Like many Americans, I am greatly concerned for the direction that our country is headed, but if we take an honest glance at our nation's history, we've always been concerned about the direction our country was headed.  And it is exactly that concern that has helped shape and mold our country very much like steel is heated and tempered in a fire to make it stronger.  It's also that great concern which demonstrates our love for this country, for if we didn't love our country, then we wouldn't worry in what direction it was headed. 

If you're a regular reader to my blog or FB wall, then you know where my concerns lie.  However, I have faith that we will eventually put ourselves on the right path, because that's what we do as Americans.  We may have to be pushed and prodded and even fought against to be put on the right path, but we do it eventually.  I have faith that we will continue to demonstrate that we are the proverbial "shining city on the hill"  because our hopes are greater than our fears.  Much greater. 

So have a great time out there today, and God bless you all.  And God bless America.  May Americans always strive to do the Lord proud.