Saturday, April 28, 2012

New Super Hero Squad DVD Available


The Super Hero Squad Show- The Infinity Gauntlet: Volume 3 is now available for purchase at a retailer near you. It contains six episodes of the television series including "This Man-Thing, This Monster" which I wrote and which features a number of Marvel's classic monster characters such as Dracula, Man-Thing, Werewolf By Night, the Living Mummy and others. It also guest stars Nina Dobrev of The Vampire Diaries.

There are also two earlier episodes that I scripted in the Super Hero Squad season one set available below.




Thursday, April 26, 2012

Recommended Novels



Sean Cloran asked me to recommend some novels that I thought were worth reading.

I actually don't read a whole lot of fiction and what I do read tends to be short story collections and the classics, such as Charles Dickens, mixed in with not so classics such as Tarzan, or genre fiction, mostly horror. I don't read a lot of contemporary fiction.

With that in mind, here are some recommendations of more current fiction that comes to mind that I really enjoyed. I'm not going to say too much about the books themselves, as I often think it's best to just dive in with no expectations. I will say that each of these is a novel that I highly recommend.



My favorite novel of all time is The Tin Drum by G√ľnter Grass. It's a masterpiece told in first person by Oskar Matzerath who is born with full adult cognitive awareness and decides at age three to stop growing. The story recounts his odd, touching, and often humorous adventures through World War II and postwar Poland.



The Cement Garden by Ian McKewan is the unsettling story of children who hide the fact that their mother has died and try to resume their lives as if nothing is wrong.




Little Brother  by Cory Doctorow should be required reading for everyone under the age of twenty and   adults can certainly benefit as well. It's the story of four high school students in an San Francisco where freedoms have been stripped away even further than they have now who decide to fight back against the Department of Homeland Security instead.




The Road by Cormac McCarthy was one of my two favorite books the year I read it. It was so compelling that I read it in one sitting (which is actually not difficult to do). It's a bleak post apocalyptic journey of a father and son trying to survive in a world which has been reduced to ashes and it's absolutely amazing.



The Brief History of the Dead - Kevin Brockmeier deals with a devastating world wide plague , a woman isolated in the Antarctic, and The City which exists in the afterlife which has a major population surge and then depletion, all somehow connected. This is a charming read full of ideas and engaging characters.



Motherless Brooklyn (and pretty much everything else by) Jonathan Lethem is a fun detective novel of sorts whose protagonist also has Tourette syndrome.



The Night Watch series by Sergei Lukyanenko is simply one of the best offerings of supernatural intrigue out there. Two groups of supernatural beings with varied powers try to manipulate each other and the human world while maintaining an equilibrium that is to one group's advantage over the others. Very imaginative. While it diverges from the book quite a bit, I also recommend the movie adaptation of Night Watch. Day Watch, not so much.





Fledgling - Octavia Butler follows an apparent young girl with amnesia as she slowly pieces together who she is and the answers are a bit unsettling for her. This book is riveting all the way through. It stands alone, but it's clear Butler was planning to further explore this world she created before her untimely death intervened. I would have loved to have seen what came next.






Titan/Wizard/ and Demon - John Varley are the three books I would buy the rights to if I could turn any work of fiction into a movie. An expedition to Saturn discovers a strange satellite which turns out to be an artificial inhabited world run by a madwoman.  Fun, crazy imaginative, funny at the right times, and simply fantastic, this trilogy rocks and main character Cirroco Jones is one of my favorite fictional characters of all time. I devoured these books until I got to the last thirty pages or so of Demon, then began slowing down because I didn't want this story to be over.




Monday, April 16, 2012

Do You Like Monsters?


If so, be sure to visit my companion blog, The Grim Gallery  where I post an image of a different monster every day. 337 so far and thousands more to go. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Preview of the Hitchcock Show at Gallery 1988


As I mentioned in the previous post I have three pieces in the upcoming "Suspense & Gallows Humor" show at Gallery 1988:Venice. Above is a piece I did based on Psycho which is a 3-D cut paper collage. Here's a detail of the section behind Norman's elbow...


... a hole in the wall which reveals Marion Crane in the next room getting ready for her final shower.

This piece changed a bit from my original concept which was going to include more taxidermied birds and a more muted pallette with the eyes of the birds and Norman's eyes being the most colorful elements drawing the viewer's focus to them. To enhance the sense of voyeurism, I toyed with adding an actual electric rice light to the room with Marion undressing, and also planned to have a window behind the table with the iconic house showing in the background with a single window illuminated the same yellow as the birds eyes with Norman's mother's silhouette against it.

In the end I thought this would make the piece too cluttered and busy and opted to streamline it down to Norman posing with his hobby.


The second piece is based on The Birds. This is also a 3-D cut paper collage. I knew that this movie, and this scene in particular would lend itself really well to the 3-D format. I didn't even bother to sketch this one out first. I spent a lot of time cutting out crows of various sizes. Thankfully they work perfectly as silhouettes. I actually ended up with an extra kid and many extra crows when I was finished. Like the Psycho piece, there became a point where any more elements would have made the piece look too bust, crowded and overworked. There are around seventy individual crows on the piece but give an impression of more. I spent a bit of time arranging the fleeing humans in order to give the piece a sense of forward motion, but other than pointing them at their victims, applied the crows more or less randomly  to give them more of a feeling of chaotic aggression.

For the third piece, you'll just have to wait until this weekend when you can either visit Gallery 1988 in person, or check it out on their website.

Click on any of the above images to see them larger.

Monday, April 09, 2012

New Upcoming Gallery Show


I have three pieces in the "Suspense & Gallows Humor" Alfred Hitchcock show at Gallery 1988: Venice. The show opens on Friday, April 13th at 7:00 PM. If you're in the Santa Monica area drop by. There are a lot of fantastic artists taking part.

I'll be previewing two of my pieces here on Wednesday.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Scooby-Doo Where Are You? Trade Paperback



DC Comics has put together a trade paperback collecting a bunch of Scooby-Doo comics. This includes two of my earliest Scooby-Doo stories. One of them I still like quite a bit and features a pair of characters that made numerous guest appearances in other Scooby-Doo stories I wrote. The other story is one I don't like nearly as much. There's a lot of fun stuff here by my fellow Scooby scribes and artists though. This makes some great reading for kids and adults who still nurture their inner kid.

Available at a comic book store near you, or via Amazon.

Here's the DC solicitation information followed by a link to purchase this through Amazon:

Follow the classic kid detectives Scooby, Shaggy, Fred, Velma and Daphne, as they travel around in the Mystery Machine van, getting into trouble and solving some crimes along the way. This title collects issues #1-6 of the all-ages series.
Color/B&W: 
Color
Page Count: 
144
U.S. Price: 
12.99
On Sale Date: 
Mar 28 2012
ISBN: 
Trim Size: 
Comic





Monday, April 02, 2012

Ask Me Anything #19





It's time once again for "Ask Me Anything." This feature runs on the first Monday of every month and gives you the opportunity to ask me anything you might be wondering about me, my work, or anything else I might have a possible answer for. 

Head down to the comment section and post your question. I'll either post my answer in the comment section as well, or answer it in a special post all its own sometime later in the month.

Please take the time to view the previous questions so that we don't wind up with a lot of repetition. I've been asked a lot of good, thought provoking questions in the past as well as some really banal ones. all of which I tried to answer. You can see the previous questions by visiting Ask Me Anything  #1#2 ,  #3#4#5#6 , #7 , #8#9,  #10,  #11,  #12 , #13#14,  #15 , #16#17 and #18.  Answers not found following the questions can be found in the archives section for each associated month.

Now ask away.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Way back when, Sean Cloran asked what the specific supplies were that use in creating my collages. At the time, my son's cockatiel dismantled the lens to our digital camera (in a split second of amazing dexterity while my son was trying to take a picture of him) keeping me from supplying the necessary visuals to answer this post. By the time I'd picked up a new camera I'd forgotten.

So at long last, here is my answer:


As you can see my tools are pretty simple. My favorite pair of scissors is a cheap pair of Crayola scissors I picked up years ago when the Bradlee's department stores went out of business. I only wish I had bought more of them. I've looked pretty extensively for the same type, but they don't seem to exist any more. They're pretty easy on the fingers and have some nice action. I do have a back up pair of scissors that I don't like as much which cost a dollar.

The scissors with the orange handles are a pair of Fiskars scissors made for very small detail work which I don't use all that often.

For the first few years I worked in collage, I only used the one pair of scissors. It took me a while to feel a need to use an X-acto knife. I now use one a lot with the #11 blades which work great, though the tips tend to break pretty easily. I probably go through 1-2 blades per collage, though I just finished one that used up about 10 blades. I tend to work pretty small, so the X-acto works well in getting into small details.

My glue is simply an Elmer's glue stick. I prefer the blue gel looking washable school glue sticks, but will use any. I don't like working with liquid white glue because it needs to be watered down and has a tendency to buckle the paper. Also, it's messier to work with and glue, even when it dries can be seen on the paper and detracts from the look of the finished piece if it gets on the side it's not meant to. I'll use white glue on occasion with some of my 3-D pieces as it holds better. I've yet to have pieces of paper dropping off because of the allegedly inferior glue sticks.

I also use tooth picks for applying glue stick to small pieces of paper and for manipulating these bits of paper into position on the work in progress.

The ruler comes into play mostly for measuring than creating straight lines, and the measuring tends to be for setting the depths of the various layes in my 3-D collages, though I prefer to just eyeball it.

I cut everything on a self healing cutting mat, though I've used cardboard and scrap paper in the past. I have an entire table to work on now, but for a long time used the space where my keyboard sits on my writing desk. I'd just push it out of the way and work on that tiny 5 or 6 inches of space.

For paper, I primarily use the card stock that you can find in the scrapbooking section of craft stores, as well as magazine and catalogue images, though I only use those as colors, patterns, and textures, never using actually images found in the photos such as an actual hand or telephone.


For the 3-D collages, I'll often create a miniature model of what the piece will look like mostly just to figure out the layers and the engineering. These models, such as the one shown above, aren't really detailed, but help me figure things out for the actual collage so that I'm not wasting large sheets of paper.

That's pretty much it.