24 February, 2012

GP TV. Ep02.

This is the second in a series of videos that in some way feature Greener Pastures. Broadcast on February 2nd 1995, I think this is the second time Greener Pastures was seen on TV, once again on Bert Newton's Good Morning Australia. Bert must have loved comics at the time!

The wonderful Annette Shiel is interviewed for her role as curator of ACE: the Australian Comic book Exhibition, which toured the country in two mostly identical travelling exhibitions from 1994 to 1997. It was a very good exhibition from an historical point of view and even spawned a book on the subject called Bonzer: Australian comics 1900s-1990s.

Greener Pastures #1 gets a great look-in at the 5 minute 30 second mark, featuring the cover for quite a while and being used as a prop in one of Bert's jokes.

Big apologies for the wavering sound – this has been digitised from a 17 year old VHS tape.

Cartoonists work shown:
Will Donald
Tim McEwen
Cartoonists and/or their work I can't recognise or can't remember also appear. My apologies for any omissions. I'm not an expert on most of the really historical stuff, so off the top of my head I can't name a lot of the creators there.

Hosted by Bert Newton
Aired February 1995
On Channel 10

19 February, 2012

What I Watched Last Month…

Still playing catch-up, so this is what I watched…

September 2011

Minority Report. (on DVD)
I've never seen this sci-fi pic from Spielberg, and popped it on one Friday night. In fact I didn't even realise it was a Spielberg film until his name came up on the screen.
It was a longer movie than I anticipated — I think I was expecting something a little fluffier and not so earnest. I liked the interesting concept of the central McGuffin. The telling-the-future, and then attempting to prove the prophesy false schtick, made for a real time-travel conundrum feel to it too, but with an added, interesting layer of twist.
I didn't love it, but neither did I hate it. I wonder if really it hasn't aged particularly well in the 10 years or so since it was made. It felt a little undercooked in places. There were certainly some plot holes that were more than merely niggly, and that I found quite annoying. I really was hoping to be more impressed with it than I was, both in regards to its look and the story. It's expectedly twisty, as a thriller should be, and happily I didn't see all of the twists coming, although I wasn't trying too hard either. Some though were painfully obvious from the very beginning.
I was surprised that this was directed by Spielberg. It didn't have nearly the emotional impact/resonance/weight that I'd expect it too coming from him. In fact, the main emotional thread was kind of weak and a bit hackneyed, with a resolution that was far too pat.
In the end, it's not a sci-fi flick I'd recommend watching.

Raiders of the Lost Ark. (on DVD)
Purely coincidentally, another Spielberg-directed movie. This one of course is a classic.
There's not much I can say about Raiders that hasn't already been said, other than to state that I love it heaps, and even after watching it many times over the years (the first time being in the cinema!) it still makes me laugh, cringe and thrill.
I revisit it now with even more admiration than ever. Besides the wonderful characters and the fabulous adventurous story, it's the framing, use of silhouettes and shadows, and of depth into the frame, that is part of the incredible storytelling skill that makes this film so great.

13 February, 2012

Review: Digested.01

By Bobby Nenadovic.
Published by Gestalt Publishing.

I've tried to keep an eye on Bobby Nenadovic's work for a number of years now, but from what I can remember his published pieces before this had been pretty sporadic. That's why I was so pleased to hear that he was finally going to begin some serialised publishing — a commitment to getting stuff out there on some sort of a regular basis. Not that commitment is an issue when it comes to Nenadovic, as I believe he is a diligent creator and that he works quite hard on his comics. I think that's really paying off here.

This first issue of Digested is made up of three parts: the lead piece which will be a serialised, long-form story; two short, self-contained stories; and then a text piece which is a conversation between Nenadovic and Tom Bonnin, another Australian comics creator.

Nenadovic's art style is cartoony, and quite idiosyncratic. Although his cartoon style may seem broad, it's also quite calculated and finely presented. He obviously loves the black & white medium and really knows how to use his fine pen line, spotting of blacks and cross-hatching/grey-toning. The cartoon style, black & white art, conforming to a grid, and deft use of silent and/or repeated panels are all ingredients that Nenadovic knows how to employ for well paced, well told, quirky stories. Add to this the ability for his characters to do some wonderful acting, either in broad, cartoony sweeps or with more subtle and fine mannerisms, and the storytelling is very enjoyable and accomplished.

The presentation of Digested is very handsome. It's a square format floppy of 24 pages, with a colour cover, all professionally printed on quality, low-gloss paper. Nenadovic's ability as a graphic designer is evidenced in the design of the whole thing — it's nicely understated and straightforward, much like his cartooning and storytelling. It makes for a very smart package.

It's hard to comment on the story content of the opening pages, which are the beginning of the ongoing serialisation of "Oxygen", as there's almost nothing of it. Looks good, but the story could be absolutely anything at this stage.

The second section has two shorts, which are good, well told stories in themselves, but I'm not overly keen on the the whole genre of short autobio pieces that often leave a story feeling half finished. The first one here, an overheard conversation called "Train Ride", does finish with what I would call an ending, while the second short, "First Date" ends just at the point where the hinted mystery hits an interesting high. Sure it's a "Wha--?!?" kind of moment, but I really really want to see how that then is played out — how did the characters involved handle the revelation in the last panel and what are the consequences? If I were being told this story at the pub or over lunch I'd certainly be asking "So what did you do then?!? What happened next?!?" I simply feel like it's a story begun but not finished.

The final section of the issue is an interesting exchange via email between Nenadovic and comics creator Tom Bonin about their influences, practices and other thoughts about comics. Worth reading, to be sure, and a great addition to the book as a whole, but I'd rather be reading comics. (My last comment there is a little tongue-in-cheek obviously. I'm here for the comics Bobby!)

Probably the only disappointing thing about Digested #1 is that it's very short at 24 pages, and somewhat dissatisfying in that. It's a good thing that I'm dissatisfied with that because it means I was enjoying the work so much that I wanted more than the 15 pages of comics therein, but dissatisfied none-the-less. That's not to say that I feel ripped off, at only $2.95 it's certainly not too expensive for the quality that is on each and every page of art and production.

I was certainly looking forward to issue 2 and beyond at this stage, and I'm so glad several issues have materialised since this first. All of them are well worth buying, and that is most easily done through the Gestalt Publishing website. Get the whole series! http://www.gestaltcomics.com/store/digested/

10 February, 2012

What I Watched Last Month…

In fact, what I watched in…
August 2011

Green Lantern. (at the movies)

This was bad. Really bad. What a hodgepodge, incoherent, boring mess. With other comics adaptions raising the bar so high — even some of the not so great ones — there really is no excuse for this sort of writing in such a big budget movie. I can't believe they were able to make something that should have been awesome, epic and with great heart so boring and tedious instead.
My biggest problem (and maybe I'm wrong, since I'm not the biggest GL scholar) is the getting of Hal Jordan's character so essentially wrong. In this movie Hal's a frightened man, letting his daddy issues get the better of him, while he does stupid, dangerous things, seemingly acting irresponsibly. My understanding of the character is not that he must use courage to overcome his petty fears, but that he's genuinely courageous without a second thought. And not in a foolhardy way like he is in this film, but in a thoughtful, smart, self-sacrificing way.
The writers here often fell into the trap of presenting exposition out of nowhere, very clumsily, including telling us a lot about characters instead of showing us. It would have been great for Sinestro's character's journey, for example, if we had seen more of his frustration with his lack of power, despair at losing Abin Sur, and desire to fix it, instead of being left with an empty husk of little-to-no discernible motivation. His changing to the evil protagonist for the sequel will bear little weight as a consequence.
The biggest downfall in this regard though, was the force-feeding of the audience the whole Green Lantern Corps lore before the opening credits, which felt awfully like the opening introduction of an eighties TV action show. Surely the audience and story would have been much better served learning these things more naturally through Hal's own journey of discovery. Instead this was boring, confusing, counter-productive, and emotionless.
I don't know what Geoff Johns' run on the GL comic is like, having never read it, but if I were him, I wouldn't be proud of putting my name on this as an executive producer.

04 February, 2012

The all new, old, older Colin…

An A3 character study.

Here's the first look at a slight redesign of one of the characters from the original Greener Pastures series. Why redesign him? Various reasons, but mainly two – in this new story he's matured, as in he's a little older than he was in the original series, and also I'm hoping my drawing skills may have matured a little as well.

What you see here are the pencils for the study. I'll be inking it sooner or later. I'll show you that when it's done.

01 February, 2012

What I Watched Last Month…

Since I'm still catching up, this is what I watched in…
July 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. (on DVD)
So I re-watched this one as a warm-up to HPatDHP2. I'd originally seen it at the theatre, and this was the first time I'd watched it on DVD since then. I found it much easier to watch and to just ease into and go with than when I saw it at the cinema, and so found it more enjoyable. Well, a lot less painful anyway. It is still merely a very long, and sometimes tedious prologue though, which probably could have been folded into one final movie instead of split from it.
I can see that they were trying very hard to create desperate and foreboding oppressive tone, which may be most visually obvious in the almost constant use of desaturated colours, as a set-up for how dire the circumstances are in the HP universe, but whether or not it was worth it is debatable.
The whole thing is very episodic in nature, but I guess that's what this sort of journey is all about: a long, long period on the run — gruelling and trying.
The plot and story still has too many holes and silliness for my liking. My biggest gripe though is the reality that if you really want to know what's going on you have to read the books. That means the movie makers haven't actually done their job sufficiently well, with HP fans always having to explain the why's & how's to the uninitiated too often.
The production design and look of the last few HPs, especially the depiction of magical battles, has been on a steady upward curve, creating an exciting, consistent but never stagnant look.
On a side note, I've come to really enjoy the portrayals of the characters by these child (now adult) actors. These guys have really made the characters their own. Radcliffe's portrayal of Harry is now inseparable from the screen character, regardless of how good or bad he actually is as an actor. His mannerisms, personality and physicality are Harry Potter on screen. He's got quite the recognisable silhouette too, in both stance and shape.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. (at the movies)
As I said, watching HPatDH1 on DVD was a warm up for this, which I watched. To be honest, I never got around to writing my thoughts down at the time, and too much time has passed since to give fair commentary. I do remember though audibly cheering when Neville Longbottom cut off the serpent monster's head. I loved that!

Captain America: The First Avenger. (at the cinema)
I enjoyed this movie so much that I saw it twice in the space of a week. Twice! Once in 3D (which only happened because the ticket was free) and then once in 2D. I'll get this out of the way first up and say that, while the 3D isn't bad, there is a lot of brilliance, colour and definition lost compared to the 2D screening.
I thought the origin was extremely well handled, very close to the comic book version (as I know it from the 60s retellings), simply cleaning it up and fattening it out in all the right places. Steve Rogers' personality was great, and this was the aspect that stopped CA:TFA from being the overly patriotic, jingoistic film many people were worried it was going to be. That and the fact the villainous forces were Hydra instead of Nazis, which amazingly also helped with the believability of the storyline, practically removing Captain America, et al from the war as it was actually historically happening.
The visual effects in the pre-super Rogers that created the scrawny version of the character were amazing. I totally forgot for most of the time that there was visual effects trickery going on. Brilliantly done.
The middle part of the film probably had the most leaps in logic, but once the costume was properly wrapped around the super-soldier, it all picked up wonderfully again.
My only real disappointment with this movie is the fact that Cap has only had one adventure in World War II. I would have loved seeing two more period films showing war action, The Howling Commandos, and the Red Skull's comeuppance with Bucky Barnes living through most of it.