Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009

commentary track

For the most part I have a hard time drawing in silence, I'm not sure why exactly. While music is good, I often like to play a DVD commentary in the background while I draw (this is a little problematic when I'm doing layout work, which requires more thinking on the part of my brain, but it's great for just sketching around or inking).

Here's a few of my favorite commentaries:

John Carpenter's The Thing--John Carpenter and Kurt Russell--Kind of the ultimate as far as enjoyable conversation goes...Carpenter tends to focus on things like lighting and filters when unchecked, but Russell keeps him balanced with great anecdotes (like their crazy helicopter pilot, "Lawrence of Alaska"...or the moonshine still that some of the crew constructed...or the fact that the first car actor Keith David ever drove was a stolen one). It's also worth it just to hear Russell mimic Wilford Brimley's line "AWL KIW YEW!!" and crack himself up, considering my friends and I have been doing that very same thing for years and years.

Seven Samurai (3-disc Criterion Collection)--Michael Jeck, Donald Richie, David Desser, Joan Mellen, Stephen Price, and Tony Rayns--Technically, two tracks here. The first one is by Jeck, who's clearly running off of some prepared notes of his...normally this might feel too artificial, but this is a movie that demands context, and you get it all here--from the studio worries about the film's production, Kurosawa's family history, the significance of the topknot to a samurai, the history of the Japanese period film, etc. Pretty much a Seven Samurai information download into your brain. Jeck also does commentary on Criterion's Throne of Blood DVD.

The 2nd commentary is divided up by five critics and tends to overlap with everything Jeck's track gets into. The best section of this one is Donald Richie's, who wrote THE book on Kurosawa films. Richie also has good commentary track on Criterion's Rashomon DVD.

The Conversation--Walter Murch--Murch describes how he managed to arrange the narrative of the movie in editing, after the film was finished shooting (and missing two day's worth of unshot material) and it's A) amazing that he succeeded so brilliantly, and B) disturbing that the movie wasn't always meant to be thus. It's also a movie Murch is uniquely suited to deliver commentary on, as its plot is so dependant on sound (Murch was the sound engineer on the Godfather films, among many others).

There's a great book of conversations with Murch called The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film. While I generally agree with others who have pointed out that comics have become too wrapped up in the particular styles of film storytelling, I do think some of Murch's obversations about film editing can be applied to comics storytelling in an unobtrusive way.

Friday, January 23, 2009

sketching during wartime

In the last two weeks we've gone through stomach flu, I've gone through a two-day migraine, and now we've got fevers going around, so finding time and energy to draw has been a challenge.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Saturday, January 17, 2009


"He said to me, 'If I didn't drink I'd be afraid I'd kill someone.' He looks at you that way and you just say, 'Keep drinking.'"

--David Cronenberg on Patrick McGoohan

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Saturday, January 10, 2009

William H. Seward

William Henry Seward, Sr. (May 16, 1801 – October 10, 1872) was a Governor of New York, United States Senator, and the United States Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson.

An outspoken opponent of the spread of slavery in the years leading up to the Civil War, he was a dominant figure in the Republican party in its formative years, and was widely regarded as the leading contender for the party's presidential nomination in 1860 – yet his very outspokenness may have cost him the nomination. Despite his loss, he became a loyal member of Lincoln's wartime cabinet, and played a role in preventing foreign intervention early in the war.

On the night of Lincoln's assassination, he survived an attempt on his life in the conspirators' effort to decapitate the Union government. As Johnson's Secretary of State, he engineered the purchase of Alaska from Russia in an act that was ridiculed at the time as "Seward's Folly".

Alaska celebrates the purchase on Seward's Day
, the last Monday of March.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Monday, January 5, 2009

old young self-portrait

A drawing of me looking shocked at how improbably young I am, done in ink wash sometime around 1995/96. In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit my hair has never really looked like this. Perhaps in mid-leap.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


I've been reading American Prometheus, a great biography of Robert Oppenheimer. It's just as depressing as you might imagine it would be.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


2008 was the year of Silent Running...

It seems that 2009 (specifically February) will be when the Zentradi arrive on Earth to kill Ben Dixon and try to figure out what's up with protoculture.


Dax's Word of 2009: dugong