Friday, 15 March 2013

London, Ps4 & Books!!


Forgetful as I am, I somehow completely forgot to mention that I was going on a trip to London.
In fact, I completely forgot to mention it on any form of social media until I had the presence of mind to Tweet a picture of Buckingham Palace! (which was really kind of over rated... just saying)
But now I am back to repent my sins and give a brief and completely interesting recanting of some of the events that transpired there.

First of all, I should mention that I went on the trip with three of my most wonderful best friends, Alison, Ayesha and Zara. (with whom I may or may not have a semi-secret special project currently under way)

We went on the trip with University to attend something called Four Designers, though being much more inclined towards Illustration and ashamedly uninterested in Graphic Design I ended up spending my time exploring London more than anything else.
I had a good rummage around all of the museums and galleries (all being the ones that were free) and had a glance at all of the usual big London attractions. (that were free)

I've never been one for the usual tourist style expeditions, so I was a little underwhelmed with the stuff people tend to get excited over in London.
Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the London Eye...
They were alright, but I'm a jaded young philistine who doesn't appreciate these things.
What I did enjoy much more was the museums and galleries, especially the science museum and natural history museum.
The science museum was full of fun interactive stuff, which always appeals to my man-baby nature, and the natural history museum had dinosaur bones which excited me greatly, something anybody overly familiar with my drawings should not be surprised by.

Oddly enough our little group spent a very large amount of our time there sitting about in Hyde Park feeding birds and squirrels.
London critters are much more comfortable with people than those from places I frequent.
There were even some very vibrant green parrots just hanging around that wiggled down a branch to eat some seeds I was holding, which was a pleasant experience.

As incredibly interesting as I'm sure it is reading about somebody else's min-holiday, there are other exciting things to discuss and I don't want this blog post to be so obnoxiously long even I can't be bothered to read it, so I will now move along to something that has been the focus of all my yearnings as of late.

(this is probably how I looked through most of the event)
As I'm sure most people reading this will know, Sony recently announced the PlayStation 4 at a conference that was streamed online by IGN and a few other websites, and as the gaming enthusiast I am I sat and watched the entire thing from start to finish. (plus the extra hour of coverage IGN added on either end.)

Let it be said, that at the start of the current console generation I was very firmly seated with the Xbox 360 as my primary gaming device of choice, but a few years ago I made the swap over to the PS3 and have found it harder and harder to go back to my 360 after the changes Microsoft persisted in making to what I once considered a wonderful machine.
Many people may love the 360, but I just can not stand anything Microsoft has done to the console in the last few years, and I find there entire business practices revolving around the 360 and its games to have become very sleazy and unfriendly to the users and the gaming community at large.

I realise Sony is a faceless corporation that exists solely to make money, but it feels distinctly un-faceless to me.
I feel a sense of community from the PlayStation team that I never had with an Xbox, and even if it doesn't necessarily make all the best decisions in terms of business, I find it easy to respect a lot of the choices Sony has made with its game and consoles.

Almost everything announced at the conference appealed to me in a big way, from the way the console works to the games showcased.
I'm hoping to see a lot more over the next few months, assumedly at E3, but I feel the want of a new console burning strong within me, and Microsoft will have to do a lot to impress if they want to win me back for the next generation.
I just pray I will somehow have a good source of money to take from by the end of the year when the consoles start hitting shelves.
I've already started putting pennies away.

On a small side-note.
A lot of people have been complaining that it wasn't a revel because we didn't get to see what the console would actually look like.
Although it would be nice to see what it looks like, consider this.

If I find an empty shell with nothing alive inside, I would call it an empty shell.
If I find a living creature that had somehow lost it's shell, I would still call it a turtle.
It's just naked.


I've managed to read a fair few books recently.
I'm still yet to complete a good few of them, but I'm making progress which is good.
I was lucky enough to go to a book signing by artist Staz Johnson (who from all I can tell has abandoned the internet) who worked on Judge Dredd.
The signing was for the release of the new Dredd book Day of Chaos, which I have since read and thoroughly enjoyed!
I had a chance to stand and talk to the artist for a while and got some really nice information from him, including a few tips on how to draw good backgrounds and a little guide through his process of planning out and drawing for a book.
He even let me have a look through a folder with the original pages in which was a very pleasant experience!
Joining my new 2000AD marathon I also read through Judge  Dredd: Origins, which I'm sure you can assume is the origin story of Judge Dredd.
There's still a lot of backstory I'm missing from the 35+ years of Dredd stories, so it was good to read a book that helped fill in a little of those gaps.
The one standout thing I took from the book was the name of an artist, Kev Walker, who's art is absolutely phenomenal.
He only illustrates the first few sections of the book, but his style is something I really enjoyed seeing in a Dredd Story.
In many ways it's similar to Mike Mignola from Hellboy or Uli Oestere's art in Hector Umbra, very different from the majority of styles I have seen in 2000AD thus far.
The artist that takes over from him, Carlos Equerra, is alright, but I found Walker's art to be much more charming and of drastically higher quality.
I've since got my hands on another Dredd book, Mandroid, which is illustrated entirely by Kev Walker.
I look forward to sinking my teeth into that visual delight, but for the time being I am diverting into a few other books so I don't get overloaded on grimy sci-fi police stories.
The first non-2000ad book I've read in a little while would be Cardboard by Doug Tennapel.
I've been a fan of Tennapel's books since I found out the creator of Earthworm Jim had been creating graphic novels for a good many years and picked up Ghostopolis.
I've since read a few of his books, and Cardboard easily takes the place on top, possibly rubbing shoulders with Ghostopolis which I am still very fond of.
Tennapel's art is always very animated and expressive, which is something that I find isn't very consistent in a lot of comics.
In some ways his art reminds me of Jeff Smith's Bone and how the characters always gave you a wonderful sense of movement between panels.
I also really respect the way Tennapel seems to have dedicated himself to telling a lot of definitive stories, ends and all.
It seems like the norm in the comics industry is to avoid any real endings so that you can keep the series going on forever.
Even though there are still plenty of climactic scenes, they have a tendency to become a bit lost and leave the reader (or at least me) somewhat jaded knowing that characters very rarely stay dead and almost always find some way to reverse whatever tragedy has befallen them.
Theres a distinct lack of finality to a lot of comics that I feel can be to the detriment of the story.
I'd care a lot more about Batman or the Joker dying if they hadn't done so more times than I can count in the past only to be worked in again a few issues later.
Some series really work with this, like The Walking Dead or even 2000AD where to an extent the lack of an ending is a deeply important aspect of the story being told and  events that take place have a very long lasting and obvious effect on the rest of the story.
When a character you love dies in The Walking Dead they aren't ever coming back, and there are events effecting the current stories in 2000AD that happened before I was even born.

Tennapel's Books always seem to have a definitive ending, and that is something I really enjoy seeing.
No endless streams of sequels or prequels, just a self contained story with a beginning, middle, end and no more.
I've been a huge fan of Adam Phillips (Chluaid) since I first gained an interest in animating some time in the early 2000's.
Where my tastes have changed over the years, and many of the flash animations I used to love have much less appeal to me now, my love of the Brackenwood series has only grown.
The shorts Adam Phillips creates are truly beautiful, and are some of the greatest examples of what a single talented man can do when he has a creative ambition.
Before I learned about Flash or more traditional methods of animation, I used programmes like Pivot stick animator and even Microsoft Powerpoint to create very basic animations.
It was only when I emailed Adam Phillips that I was treated to a response explaining a little about how he got in to animation, and the programmes and methods he uses in creating his shorts.
I can easily say were it not for Adam taking the time to reply to my email those years ago I would not be doing what I am today.
I came across this book not long ago when checking to see what Phillips had been working on recently, and had to order it once I learned of it's existence.
The book is fairly small and black and white, but it is a very exciting look into the process behind creating the characters that appear in the Brackenwood series.
It's a pleasure to spend time looking at the sketches Phillips makes, and learning small tidbits of interesting information about each character. (and getting to see what Bitey looks like under all that hair...)
This is definitely a niche book, but I would urge anybody that is a fan of the Brackenwood series to seek a copy of there own.
Reality Not Included is an anthology comic/concept art book made by a group of students on Kickstarter.
I backed the book a while ago and had the book arrive just the other week.
There are a lot of different art styles through the book, with the vast majority being beautifully drawn and the rest being at very least good.
There are pieces of artwork spread throughout the book in between the comics, and each piece is really wonderful to look at.
The stories in the comic sections are very interesting to read through too.
Each story is very short, but some of them have very unique and interesting ideas to show, and all of them have a charm about them.

I was particularly fond of Mazzy by Mathew S. Armstrong and Old Friends by Anthony Holden. (with special mention to Soap by Joey Majdali)

I'm not sure if it will be available to purchase anywhere now that the Kickstarter is over, but I highly recommend it to anybody interested in an anthology full of creative comics with a lot of good ideas.

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