I watched a lot of cartoons and movies. I draw incessantly and carry a sketchbook everywhere. I work in animation and self-publish my books. There are monsters in the streets, don't wear red. Mad bulls and monsters hate that color. I still watch cartoons.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Mark Andrews

Colossus was first published in 2000 by Crazyfish. I read it and was blown away by the scope and audacity of the story. It was epic. I had not met its creator then. Shortly after I joined Pixar a certain production with an adjective that usually precedes the word, "Hulk" was starting to crew up. A story supervisor was brought in to do Story Supervising on that golden production. It was then that I came face to face with the force of nature that is Mark Andrews.

Mark talks to you as if he's trying to drown out an F5 class tornado behind him--and winning. It was all clear to me now. Mark had done the book straight ahead, pen and marker--just did it. I'll find out later that that is the only mode on the "Mandrews," as he's sometimes called here, operates. Straight ahead. More like, blasting through. I suspect that he consumes plutonium pills.

A sample page. Sneak peek at the new Colossus.

Well, the occasion of this post is that he is re-doing Colossus. Yep. A book that is done and working well and great, he's re-doing. Originally at 120 some pages Mark is going for more pages. Can't blame the guy. He can, after all, do it. Once he sets his mind to it, it's a foregone conclusion. If any of you have seen the storyboards done on The Incredibles, you'll know that he wrangled that monster job (20,656 story frames) and set the tone (as well as do a ton of the boards himself), and if there was any wavering it was never apparent. So, doing a comic book of nearly two hundred pages in record time is a mere mortal walk in the park.

Brad Kick-ass-and-tell-it-like-it-is Bird on the right and Mark Blood-n'-Guts Andrews on the left. A rare docile moment for those two. Must've been after Sunday mass.

An entry on Powells.com about Colossus.

Winds heavy with mist and lands shaped by times unimaginable set the stage for COLOSSUS, a being forged of metal...and something far, far more! From the Annie Award-winning storyboard artist of THE IRON GIANT, this tale of intrigue and adventure is sure to ignite the imaginations of fantasy lovers everywhere, as the intense ferocity of medieval battle engulfs the life of a wayward hero for hire. It`s the yearning for complete humanity that drives Colossus to work, and eventually to all-out war, against the tyrannical overlords of the medieval world he calls home. Creatures of the occult and beasts of legend hamper his existence, but it`s an existence through which he`s committed to persevere! With a pin-up gallery featuring Mike Mignola, Troy Nixey, Scott Morse, and others, COLOSSUS is presented here in one hefty volume destined to reign as a favorite on any bookshelf.

This is just three pages in. Mayhem is still in the offing

He is chasing a deadline that will put him in a table at San Diego Comic-con this summer hawking a brand spankin' new version of his opus. I'm thinking you all ought to know to find him and get a signed copy. In the meantime he's hard at work. In the mornings when I still had an office near him I would holler at his solid mass looming over his dwarfed Cintiq, "Mark!" He knows what I'm asking.

"Page one hundred thirty!"

I'll skip a day or a week. Then remember to poke my head in.

"Page one hundred forty-five!"

"Page one hundred sixty-one!"

He's closing in on his printer's deadline. Like this was ever in question. I had agreed to do a pin-up for him and if my process is like most of you, I'll agonize over it over some days and change my mind a dozen times. One drawing. And each day I can hear Mark tighten his grip on that story, now expanded to have a proper prologue and story expansions to add to an already satisfying whole, his grin getting wider.

"Page one hundred sixty-six!"

No tornadoes about. Just Mark.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Electric Posters: The world of Piotr Szyhalski

Electric Poster series. At first you think the punch lines will be funny—they phase in, ghostly and accusing. The graphic success of appearing to be from some Orwellian past is complete and haunting. Perhaps it's because it rings true our suspicions about the present time. Maybe we are so doomed to repeat it all, or that we dread that we've become all that we say we oppose. And the strangely funny thing that draws open, though just wistful really, is that it is just all too blankly human and that there is nothing to do.

I try to dig around the site to find out more about who made all this? I even emailed the person. No answer so far and really I should have done more digging instead. I found out more about the designer. Excert from Paul Haeberli's Sound Image and Text introduction to the exhibit.

For me, the work of Piotr Szyhalski (Pronunciation: Pea.oh'.tr Shi.hal'.ski) is some of the most inspiring and exciting art work that is being created today.

Mr. Szyhalski's unusual approach to art expresses itself in many ways. He creates leaflets, paintings, posters, booklets and web pages. He does not accept money in exchange for his art - his work is always given freely. Piotr has had shows of his paintings in galleries, but again, these are never sold, instead they are painted over or destroyed.

Piotr does not create for some elite, but instead makes work that is accessible to anyone. He shows how propaganda can be used in service of the people instead of against them.

"There are two things that make the Internet environment particularly interesting to me. One, the direct connection between the artist and the audience. . . . Two, the ultimate negation of the material value traditionally attached to the concept of art. . . . My work communicates complex meanings while remaining nothing but an electric impulse."

- Piotr Szyhalski excerpted from the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Six years ago, Piotr came to the United States from Poland where he studied poster design. He currently teaches at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

Piotr is one of the most exceptional visual artists working today. His brilliant works incorporate inspiring text, careful typography, beautiful photography and clean design.

I found this site as well, also by Piotr Szyhalski, The Inward Vessels of the Spleen. It's like falling into a rabbit hole and you're Alice. I haven't explored all the links which promises to reveal only the arcane or deliver more hauntings. I'll give it the proper time, in time.

Selected transcripts from the online opening for The Electric Posters Exhibition at the Silicon Graphics Innovate Online Gallery, April 16, 1997.

And as if that wasn't enough he has this: Our Victory Book is a small book printed on very cheap paper that is meant to be given to people in "hospitals, jails, schools, studios and banquet favors."

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Sanjay and Louie

Doing this properly. I was too frazzled to post lead images from my friends' debut at APE. But making up for it here. Louie Gonzales and Sanjay Patel are outstanding artists and very driven creators/storytellers. Louie does story work and After Effects for a multitude of story crews and is currently obsessed with making his books and tooling video cameras to shoot like film. Sanjay's notoriously talented as an illustrator but is known to the world as a top flight animator. They just debut their books at APE last weekend to resounding success. Congratulations to both of them. Visit their respective sites below.


Monday, April 11, 2005

Tadahiro Uesugi: Big update on his site

Tadahiro Uesugi Update! I am on the lookout for this because he is like Moby Dick: a rare specimen who is out there on the high seas and if you are diligent enough to keep watch you're bound to spot the giant crest the waves. whotta catch! (or cache). A few of the new images here I saw on his computer that long ago time we visited (which means that he's got a back log of work yet ot be unleashed and he's comfortably doling them out. Smart guy). Amazing lot this is. He kills me. Go to his site now--here.


APE this past weekend! Although Enrico and I were reluctant to show up with no new books for this, our favorite of conventions (hey, it's local and the people are there to meet the creators and independents rule the day. What more can you ask for?) we had a great time being there to meet more new people and see a lot of old friendly faces as well.

I'd detail of the goings on but work is pressing. Sanjay Patel and Louie Gonzales both had debut books here at APE and it's a resounding success judging by the responses people tell me after they visited their table. Those books are so good. Congratulations guys! More animation friends in the fold of sel-publishing. San Diego threatens to have even more of our colleagues jump into the fray. Many late night vigils I see as I walk the quiet halls. A certain Incredibles Story Supervisor is unleashing his opus--and I do mean OPUS--on the world this summer as well. Watch this space for more news.


Thursday, April 07, 2005

Drawing post just because

Photoshop. Entirely digital. Immediate and instant.

Finished a sequence that's been on my plate for ages it seems. So, what do you do to ritualize an end to something? Draw, what else? Needed some verve and action as well as do sketchy with a Photoshop brush. It's what I'm thinking of a standard brush for a production, likely one of a handful. Limitations are necessary. Been needing to exhale for a while. Cryptic, no?

I haven't visited a Nina thread at the Sketchbook Session's forum. Rayl started this way back and Barnaby Ward resurrected it from a year ago. See various interpretations of Nina by the community. Here.

drawingboard.org This is an art community. People post all manner of drawings, including nudes. So, you've been warned.

Monday, April 04, 2005

In Gerald Hiken's living room

Drawing of the moment. Under a dark cloud. My own creation, I understand.

Read a passage of Proust given as a take home from a living room performance at the home of Gerald Hiken. It was such a gift, that night. To hear and see the performance of this man's craft in his own living room somewhere in Palo Alto. My Sunday was that much calmer--and needing it lately--because I was recounting the evening as I re-read the passage from Marcel Proust's "Swann's Way."

"And as soon as I had recognised the taste of the piece of madeleine soaked in her decoction of lime-blossom which my aunt used to give me (although I did not yet know and must long postpone the discovery of why this memory made me so happy) immediately the old grey house upon the street, where her room was, rose up like a stage set to attach itself to the little pavilion opening on to the garden which had been built out behind it for my parents (the isolated segment which until that moment had been all that I could see); and with the house the town, from morning to night and in all weathers, the Square where I used to be sent before lunch, the streets along which I used to run errands, the country roads we took when it was fine."

I can describe it this evening myself but others have done it better already. Palo Alto Weekly article by Robyn Israel from October 22, 2004.

My thanks to Pete Docter for our drive over and impromptu (we were late and chowed like they were giving medals) and Mary Coleman for herding us to Gerald's world.

The Banff Centre

The Banff Centre this past Easter weekend. The whole thing had to be named and it came to this: Boarding: Stories & Snow Summit. If you knew what you are offering with the location and the attendees you'd call it what it is as well. There was snow, lots of it. When most snow around you is going to be man-made or at least enhanced at this time of the year Banff and the surrounding areas had tons of it. As wondrous as that was there was something else that captivated me. The Banff Centre itself.

“Banff has offered artists the opportunity to pursue their work in an environment of inspiring physical grandeur, in company with fellow artists engaged in the act of creative exploration, in an institutional culture shaped by profound respect for the creative process. The gifts that Banff has offered to the creative spirit: the power of place, the luxury of time, the synergy of community, the opportunity to pursue hard creative work both in isolation yet in a community of like-minded people, remain important and relevant.”

--The Banff

Is this place real?

After a two hour and some flight over western Canada, an hour and forty-five airporter ride through flat Calgary in the dying light of Good Friday, surrounded by ominous mountain ranges still radiating faint illumination of their own I was now removed from any expectation of the familiar. Then further to drive past lodgings and shops of downtown Banff and after a quick steep incline I am deposited in front of a building in what seemed like your standard mountain installation that surely should reveal itself to be a façade for the world domination factory underground. After the van leaves there is only the whisper of snow flurries and lone light at the door.

The front desk was very quiet and deserted: now I'm sure that wherever they might be expecting me I am nowhere near it. But there was movement. A person! I mention that I am here for the conference and the girl readily asked for my information and set to giving me information of where to go and what to do. I'm at the right place after all.

The days that followed is now a memory of a whirlwind of activities that proved to be, well, quite a revelation and rather transformative. My part of this conference was a delight to me but it was because of all the great people I met there. My talk about story and storyboarding went rather well--I'm told by everyone in glowing terms how the talk and the Sunday workshops were inspiring and that's how I come to know this. Always a good idea to cross check when it comes to impressions.

As I understand it, the Banff Centre is fully funded by the government and "residents" get to live here and left alone to do their work. Scientists, business leaders, artists, writers, filmmakers…what have you. Craft a business plan, create an opera, prepare for a one-man exhibit, write the novel…or not. No pressure to even succeed at it. You are left alone. There are even cabins in the artists colony set off from the main campus, each designed by an architect, likely to their own satisfaction, what they think a retreat cabin for artists/writers could be (one was designed with the nautilus/golden mean layout and another is an actual boat lifted from a harbor and set in the middle of the woods). There are also more austere boxes that only leaves you room for a bed and a table which is fine by me if I were possessed by the muse and need no more distractions.

So, there you are, you have done the time and created your opus (or not) and then you leave. You take it with you and do what you will of it. The center has no stake in it. Huh? No cut? No expectation of any trade for this oasis of clarity and actual space and nourishing to do it in? Nope. Nada. Nada thing at all.

Oh, I love this so much.

The story workshop exercises. What a great group this was. Notice how animated everyone is. The stories we heard from everyone was just pure gold!

At a mixer after my talk in the convenient bar right next door—you probably thought this was going to be a stuffy place, didn't you?—I was further talked through by Sherry Moir about how many who start their residency here walk around rather lost and still not believing that this exchange is that one-sided. After a while they relax and get to the business of working. I tell Sherry that the obvious comparison is Shangri-la, of course. It has been called that. I tell her about my one escapist daydream of a place in my troubled adolescence and how strikingly close that mind picture resembles the centre. She shared how others seem to have similar stories of how they come to be at the Banff Centre, including herself. I like the mystical call and response that somehow happens in our lives and careful of what to characterize it as. So, we leave it as that and just maybe a faint hope that it is as magical as that.

I hope to return to this environment again someday and bring along my wife and kids. It is meant to be shared. And if you have the means and opportunity to go to the Banff Centre for any of their programs do try to make it happen, you won't be sorry.

My thanks to the organizers, Ken Bautista (Hot Rocket) for contacting me; Peter Hansen and his lovely family, Ruby and Donna Leny for the wondrous tour of Banff and Lake Louise; Lindsey Aufricht for welcoming me and giving me the campus tour, Sherry Moir for the inspiring dialogue; Terry Willox for the sage conversation; The speakers of the weekend, talent and grace all: Kris Pearn, Woody Woodman, Chris Tougas, and Jordan Oliwa. There are hordes of people I am forgetting—please forgive me. Everyone at the Banff Centre and the Banff New Media Accelerator Program.

Chad Kerychuk (digitaldreammachine) started this whole thing rolling to include me by mentioning my name as a possible speaker, my thanks to him for touching this off. Read his very thorough recounting of all that went on (I was only there for two days of the thing, see)in his blog here.

Special mention: Joel Ben Izzy. I used two of his workshop exercises that weekend. He had generously given his blessing for me to take them on the road.

My thanks to Tess and the kids for maintaining me through all. I am nowhere near as clear of anything without their guidance.


The Banff Centre
Banff New Media Accelerator Program
Hot Rocket
Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Digital dream machine blog

Joel Ben Izzy

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