I was getting ready to go to bed when my brother said, “Hey, you aren’t going to do a Saint Patrick’s Day post.” I was tired, but I said I would give it one try and see how my quick and dirty skills are holding up. I was happy with my quick draw skills and the rest is history.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day everbody. Don’t drink and drive. You know even my Leprachaun has a designated driver and he is a legendary magical creature.
Virtual reality or at least the prospect of it has been around for quite some time. The results have thus far been rather disappointing, but now a team of British academics thinks they have got it all figured out.
“A virtual reality helmet that recreates the sights, smells, sounds and even tastes of far-flung holiday destinations has been devised by British scientists.
Armchair travellers wearing the device will be able to hear the roar of lions on safari, smell the flowers of an Alpine meadow or feel the heat of the Caribbean sun on their face – all from the comfort of their sitting room.” —Daily Mail
Video games, travel, education, business meetings it all sounds great, but what I really want to know is what it would feel like to experience art like this:
Imagine art that you could feel, taste, smell, and experience in a comprehensive environment. If it were an art piece in the desert you could feel the heat and taste the sand all to the sound of some Bedouin music. If it were a piece on the ocean you could feel the ocean breeze and the mist of water on your face, taste the salty air, and hear the relentless crashing of waves. The prospect of designing a reality for your artwork is something I would love. It would be a kind of artist’s Matrix.
I only put such an absurd headline to paper to highlight by ridiculous overstatement the sheer madness of viewing a Kindle 2.0, 3.0, or a future Apple e-reader as a potential killer of the print comic as suggested in the article by the equally absurd headline “Could Kindle Kill Comics?” which was recently featured on Yahoo News.
The principle argument suggesting a print comic apocalypse surrounded a quote by a DC comics executive who declared at New York Comic Con that, “[Comic books are] a business that is very low margin and very low print run, so if 10 percent of the readers migrate to an e-device, that is going to throw off the economics for 60 percent of the books that are published in this country.”
First off, color e-ink is not right around the corner and is still somewhat in its infancy. Given that the low power e-ink is a principle selling point for the Kindle, the notion of offering color comics in the near term is just not on the table at least yet. Four shades of grey are just not going to cut it.
At the same time, the Kindle might offer an interesting outlet for existing Indie Comics and webcomics which happen to publish in black and white. Zero printing costs and a means of distribution sounds like an awfully sexy niche even while it won’t turn the comic world on its head.
It is equally ironic that the likes of DC and Marvel are suggesting that future e-readers would distinctly effect the economics of low margin smaller run print comics. It could just as easily be argued that a true color e-reader would offer a more economically sound means of distribution with lower costs for these marginally profitable books. There is nothing to fear inherently from changing economics if you are willing to adapt. Learn from the stupidity of the music industry will you?
Big time comic books have increasingly become about creating a base of support for a blockbuster picture that later grosses hundreds of millions. Marvel and DC are exploring new avenues in webcomics, motion comics, and subscription models any of which may forever change the economic landscape for print comics. I actually view it as a very positive sign that they are doing so.
However, in the end nothing will replace my print comic: its feel, the reading experience it provides, or its collectibility. It is a false choice to present this kind of either or scenario. I enjoy the prospect having my comic experience enriched and supplemented by motion comics, films, eBooks, or whatever the latest and greatest that comes along. I may keep a wary eye on the future of comics lest my weekly pilgrimage to the comic book store be rendered a quaint tradition of a bygone era, but us comic fans are early adopters after all and on the balance I choose to embrace the future rather than be threatened by it.
At the beginning of Coraline, one is presented with a lonely heroine grabbing a divining rod and wistfully following its lead. Instantly, I was brought back to when I was kid where I could be free to follow my imagination wherever it took me. It was a nice first step down the rabbit hole.
Based on the children’s book by Neil Gaiman (of The Sandman fame), the film is a marvelous display of imagery courtesy of the stop-motion genius of Henry Selick who also directed Nightmare Before Christmas.
Coraline is an isolated little girl living in a new environment with busy parents who seem to pay her little concern. An annoying neighbor boy named Whyborn (constructed especially for the screenplay), two bizarre has-been burlesque actress spinsters, a bizarre Russian gymnast, and a trickster black cat voiced by Keith David (the voice of Spawn and Goliath in the TV show Gargoyles) are her only companions.
Coraline finds a door in the wall to another reality in which her parents are attentive and loving, but in which everyone has horrific buttons sewn over their eyes. The alternate reality first is presented as the ultimate escape for an unhappy girl, but as the dream reality and the real world begin to blur, it quickly descends into something much more sinister.
Comparisons to Alice and Wonderland abound, but the movie visually breaks new ground that reinforces tried and true themes in novel ways. I have always found myself partial to these types of magical realities.
I really don’t want to give away more than that except to implore you to support this film and the artists who made it. The garden scene in particular will blow your mind with vivid colors and an amazing praying mantis tractor.
The “other mother” is also one of the best character designs I have seen for an evil witch in a while. She is certainly up there with some of the most menacing witches in film bettering some of my favorites like the Grand High Witch from Ronald Dahl’s Witches, the witch mother of the Sheriff of Nottingham in the Prince of Thieves, the Wicked Witch from the Wizard of Oz or any of the Disney witches including those from Snow White and Sleeping Beauty.
As an artist, I am simply blown away by the surrealistic vision that was put on screen and this marvelous presentation of the dream reality. Unlike the sleek and smooth perfection of the CG realm, I could see and feel the textures of Coraline. Even the slight imperfections conveyed an eerie feeling that stayed with me throughout the movie.
My artist’s instincts believe in imperfection as a basis of conveying a reality even in a completely fantastic form. Whenever, I watch a CG film I can’t help but feel that I am being lied to. There is no doubt that Selick has achieved a new state of the art in stop-motion animation managing its weaknesses and exploiting its artistic advantages to great effect.
Watching Coraline, I just couldn’t stop thinking about the state of film animation in general. The CG Pixar films, Kung Fu Panda, Shrek, ect. have their place and I enjoy many of them, but frankly a lot of what we have been getting lately has not been all that great. It is like the difference between a digital painting and oil painting. In Coraline, I could feel the brush strokes and it didn’t feel like a lie. It was a little reality constructed painstakingly by hand.
Coraline certainly pushes the limits of what a child can handle, but I noticed a lot of children in the movie theater. In fact, I think a child exiting the theater summed up the film best. Her mother asked her how she liked the film to which she responded, “It freaked my head out.” I found this a most appropriate response to a movie that contained both a child’s greatest fears and wondrous dreams. It freaked my head out too and I loved it!
As a little bonus, check out the HBO First Look featuring Coraline and just try not to jump out of your chair to see the movie if you haven’t already:
I am illustrator in the entertainment arts focused on visual development, character design, layouts, concept art, and anything in the realm of visual storytelling. Around these parts though, I'm letting it loose Simian Style and devolving into a higher state of consciousness on the boundary of an infinite-dimensional manifold in quasi-time. There's plenty of room down this rabbit hole! Learn more About Me and check out the Portfolio.