Saturday, November 22, 2014

Mini Ninjas' Sokara: An Adventure in Autodesk Maya

After about 2 weeks of work, filled with frustration, toil, and anguish, I have finally finished the first of hopefully many Mini Ninjas characters. I'm planning on starting out with a simple animation involving Pagi and Sokara, and then hopefully progressing to making all the rest of the characters, the Attitudinous Squirrels included.

I know that Sokara is kind of rough and blocky, but that was my intention. I wanted to have a character that would be easy to model for my reintroduction to Maya. I also wanted to keep in the theme of my simple character design in the comics.

There were a few problems that I ran into with Maya. The biggest of which was modelling. Apparently, there is no easy way to vertex model in Maya, like in Blender. Let me explain: in Blender, you can start with two vertices, then extrude off on one vertex to get a new vertex. You can continue to do that until you have a series of points that make up a line. You can then use 3 or more vertices to create a face. From there, your just continue to create faces until all of your vertices are stitched together. In Maya, trying to extrude vertices will give you a mess of random spikes.

I tried using the CV curve tool to make a series of lines that would later be lofted together into a solid object. That wasn't working, mostly because I'm still working on getting a grasp on 3D space and wire meshes. After trying that for a about a day, I gave up and used Sculptris to model Sokara's head. It worked very well, except that her head was all weird and lumpy when I imported it into Maya. After spelunking around the internet, I eventually found a nice tutorial on how to simplify my geometry in a way very similar to the reduce brush in Sculptris and the Decimation Master in ZBrush.

Sokara's pants were another huge issue. Again, I tried creating curves, then lofting them together. That failed miserably. More spelunking found me this video, which taught me some of the basics of box modelling, a subject I was once familiar with, but had forgotten.

After all the challenges I faces with the rest of Sokara and the tidbits that I had learned, making her hands were a snap. The only thing that was easier to make was Sokara's hair. I cut a polygon sphere in half, then grabbed every other vertex, then drug them down. I duplicated that mesh, then shuffled around the vertices, then repeated the process a third time. The hair is the part that I'm the most pleased with, since it's a pretty perfect 3D representation of her hair in the comics.

It was a long and difficult journey, but I'm glad that I chose a simple character to start with. Pagi will be much easier to model. My next big challenge will be rigging and animating Sokara and Pagi.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Hello Kitty Online: The World of Warcraft for Little Girls

So I've probably come pretty late in the game to Hello Kitty Online (HKO). I'm not sure how long it's been around, but it's been around long enough that only a few people actually still play it. Most of them, I suspect, are my age (20-somethings). It's deserted fields and beaches remind me of how deserted EverQuest is now. And that game used to be hot stuff. My dad, my sister, and I all used to play EQ. I think we stopped playing shortly after the Moons of Mayhem expansion came out. You know. The expansion with the cat people.

I've really been enjoying playing HKO. It's reminiscent of vanilla WoW. You run around clubbing things until they fall asleep, gather caterpillars and spinach leaves off of a potato plant,  mine gravel, maintain farms, and so on. It's a very light, easy to play game. It doesn't require spaz reflexes, continuous patch updates, and, best of all, there's no lag!

The biggest drawback for most people, I suspect, would be how adorable this game is. All of the Hello Kitty characters are included, including the ones only hardcore HK fans know about, like Cinnamaroll, Keroppi, and My Melody. All of which I know because I am a self-declared, hardcore HK fan. Although I don't watch the TV show...

I've tried to convince some of my friends to jump online with me, but to no avail. My sister already plays, so I can jump on with her when her busy Air Force schedule doesn't prevent her from playing. I can't even convince my boyfriend to play! I'm sure some of you are laughing at this, since, clearly, no man would ever be caught dead playing such a ridiculously adorable game. But let me tell you: whenever my boyfriend and I are mall crawling, he always goes into the Sanrio Hello Kitty store with me. Sometimes he even buys me some things. I guess my boyfriend is pretty open-minded about Hello Kitty, but not so open-minded as to play the game with me.

I hope I've convinced one or two of you to join me on HKO. If you want to hit me up, my character's name is Lisarisa on the US server, JackieSpicer on the Int'l server. Hope to play with you soon!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Mini Ninjas: A Stupid Comic with a Stupid Premise and a Stupid Art Style

So, as I think a fair few of you know by now, I have started a webcomic. I started posting last month as an experiment to see if I could maintain a regular webcomic. I tried back in 2011 with the comic Ninja Obsessed. It was a comic about an elementary schooler who had found an app to become a ninja and his big brother. The origin of the comics came from a few drawings I had done for my Naruto obsessed high school buddies. The pictures I drew were essentially Tobi actually like a little boy and Deidara acting like a kill-joy. (See a sample of their crazy adventures in the show here.)

I thought it would be cool to make an on-going comic of it, but I didn't want to have to work under the rules of fan fiction comics, so I developed my own spin on the Tobi-Deidara relationship. A ninja obsessed youngster with a talent for finding apps and his cooky engineer big brother. Unfortunately, I had to discontinue the comic when I had some health problems crop up.

With my health under control, I've decided to get my Mini Ninjas comic rolling again. I started this comic back when I was in high school in '07/'08. It was based around a ninja game that I played with my sister and her best friend. Since I was the oldest, I became the Sensei. My sister had a fascination with Gaara from Naruto and goth/emo trends, so she was the grumpy, emotionally challenged gakusei (student). Her friend was much more upbeat and cheerful, so it was fun to play off of each other. I am afraid to say that we were strongly influenced by the Naruto show at the time, although I have since repented of this grievous sin. We made little head bands for ourselves out of bandanas and paper. Since I was the sensei, I got to wear the real head band, although I didn't mind lending it out.

After we'd run ourselves out prancing back and forth in the yard, arguing with one another, and generally making a mess of our room, I decided that we should make a comic of our exploits. The next day, we went to church and got to talking with our other friends afterwards. My sister's other best friend wanted in on the deal, of course. So I had to draw her into the comic. And after that, my sister's first best friend's big brothers thought that they should be in it, too. Later that week, I printed the first ever copies of the Mini Ninjas comic books. They were maybe 6 pages long, but, hey! It was a comic book. I shared them with all my friends, hoping that I might make it a regular thing. Unfortunately, it never worked out. I have no idea if any of my friends kept the originals. They might be worth a fortune, someday, if my evil plans come to fruition.

The characters, Sokara, Kida, Pagi, Goropo, Shichi, and Sensei are exaggerations of my friends and myself at the time, but they were also fairly accurate. Pagi's real-life counter part squawked a lot. Especially when my sister tried to ruffle his 'do. Goropo's was mellow and kind of full of himself. Shichi and Kida were pretty much complete spazzes, and my sister was especially emo. Or, at least, was trying to be. My parents had to have a talk with her about the excessive amounts of eye makeup she wore.

So I took a couple year break from Mini Ninjas to pursue my college education. At one point, I sat down and drew a bunch of strips that I never published to my website. Lo these many years later, I found them and was able to post them all up as a buffer as I started to get back into the swing of drawing the comic. My first exercise was redesigning the characters. I have learned that noses are an important part of a character's face and so included them in my redesigns. While I'm still getting used to making noses, I'm also learning how to make my comic less crappy. My characters are drawn in dollar store pen on paper that I got in high school for free. I don't use sketches before I ink: I just roll with it. So that makes for some pretty goofy looking comics. I'm also trying to make my lettering look better. That's the number one complaint I get from my friends.

Making comics is a lot of fun. This Mini Ninjas experiment seems to be going well. It'll give me time to develop my other two comics: Powersuit Girls and Smurfs with Syringes. I may not do the smurf comic, but I really like the sci-fi powersuit girls idea. I'm also looking forward to inking and water-colouring the panels. At this point, I'm not sure when I'm going to start the comic. I've been working on character designs and my water colour skills, but not much else, at this point. I'm spending more time settling into my new college (again...) and relearning Autodesk Maya and ZBrush.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy: So Nice, I Saw It Twice! Then Thrice, then frice...

Guardians of the Galaxy: This movie has got to be one of my favorite movies that I've seen in theaters. I say this because I have seen it not once, not twice, but five times. I am pretty proud to say that I have the majority of the movie memorized. It drove my boyfriend crazy while we watched it his second time, my fifth time, and I was quoting right along with Drax.

A lot can be said for this film. Apparently, those that made it expected to it be received by a few people, making just enough over the 'flop' point. (That would be box office returns of <$1mil.) But that was far from what they got. "Guardians of the Galaxy earned $11.2 million on its Thursday night pre-opening, surpassing Captain America: The Winter Soldier's gross ($10.2 million) for the biggest Thursday evening start for a movie in 2014." (See Wikipedia article on Guardians of the Galaxy.) It was widely received and well loved by many, myself included.

For a lower budget film, I have to say that their graphics were pretty darned amazing. Sure, they cheated a little bit. (I mean, look at the Dark Aster. Nothing but a bunch of textured, flattened cubes.)But they didn't cheat on the story, or on Rocket's fur. Rocket looked like he could have been a real raccoon, trained to walk and talk like a person.

My favorite scene in the movie was where Groot got over-excited and killed a bunch of Sakaaran foot-soldiers in a tunnel. He reminds me of an enthusiastic child. My second favorite scene is in the combat scene in the prison, when Rocket catches the gun, then has a grand old time shooting anything that moves.

My least favorite scenes were the two scenes where extras were just hanging around on set, showing a minimum amount of emotion. These were the tail end of the bar fight and the big, ending combat scene. So, the bar fight. "Whoa, whoa, whoa. Rocket. $40 million credits." In the real world, those scum of the bar would have perked their ears up: "$40 mil, huh? I could sure use $40 mil..." I mean, really guys? I have Streetwise level 0, and I know that. So, the big ending scene. The whole city has been evacuated. Shiny! The Dark Aster crashes into the city, destroying vast, glorious structures, but doesn't harm any people. BUT WHAT IS THIS? Suddenly, the whole city spurts up from the ground like a crop of cucumbers in a wet season? I dunno,guys. I think the continuity editor messed up his job. The only reason I can figure that they did those scenes that way was to give the audience people to connect to in the film, making it feel more like they were there, that this whole scene was very important. A lot like how the Indians use Brahma in their religious paintings.

On a much smaller mess-up scale, the scene where Gamora is being drug away to the bathrooms to have her throat sliced, then Quill goes scooting off after her. When Rocket wakes up, his fur is all flattened against his face, but then, hey! presto: his fur is all fixed.

So I have my complaints against the movie. But honestly, three scenes that I don't like out of a ~2.5 hour flick? Nothing to be sneezed at! I absolutely adored the movie. I'm looking forward to when it comes out on DVD and Bluray. My dad was joking that I would just put it on loop for a couple weeks.

It's been a couple week since I saw it last, so I'm thinking that I might go and see it again. I needed a bit of a break, even from the greatest movie I've ever scene. (Well, that's an over-exaggeration, but it's true for now.) If you haven't yet seen GoG, I highly recommend it. It was well worth the $30 something dollars that was spent on it for my sake.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Mini Ninjas Comic: Today the World, Tomorrow the Galaxy!

So, I'm pretty darned excited. It turns out that my webcomic, Mini Ninjas, is being viewed internationally. And, on top of that, my Facebook page for NinjaObsessed.com is being followed internationally, too!

Don't believe me? Here are the stats for my Mini Ninjas comic:

Monday, September 29, 2014

How is Crowdfunding Changing the Media Production Industry?

Here is the final draft of my research paper on crowdfunding and the traditional media industry:


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For the past 60 or so years, our movies have come from large production companies, such as MGM, Paramount, and other companies associated with Hollywood or the MPAA (Motion Picture Assc. of America). Traditionally, future producers would pitch their ideas to the production studios and investors. With the advent of crowdfunding in the last few years, movies can be produced at professional quality, independent of a large studio. Crowdfunding gives the creators complete control over their project and allows them to keep editorial rights. Crowdfunding doesn’t take away the movie pitching: the creator now pitches his movie to a broader audience. Also, crowdfunding can’t generate as much funding as traditional funding, as is pointed out in, “Why Kickstarter Can’t Usurp the Hollywood Entertainment-Industrial Complex,” from Wired.com. So the question we ask is not, “will crowdfunding replace traditional studio funding?” but, “how is crowdfunding changing the media production industry?”


Crowdfunding isn’t that new of an idea. In Hamilton’s paper, he traces it back to Athens, where the earliest form of consumer can be found. Hamilton believes that the decline of crowdfunding in its original form came in the mid-18th century. But in the late 20th century, he says that consumer production in the form of crowdfunding reappeared, meaning, “users are free to choose whether and how to produce through financing.” (Hamilton 2014, p. 498) According to Hamilton, the development of modern crowdfunding “requires the participation of users,” (Hamilton 2014, p. 500) rather than a separate entity producing for the users with feedback only after the product has been produced, as in MPAA studio films. The popular definition of crowdfunding today is essentially internet funding through a site like Kickstarter or IndieGoGo. Crowdfunding connects future producers to their audience in a way that production companies can’t.


Traditional studio films may not be in direct contact with their audience, but, like crowdfunding, the audience can talk through their money. How well or poorly a movie does in the box office can be a large determining factor for future movies produced. In this case, however, if a movie is a ‘flop’ (box office revenue <$1M), the investors lose capital. The studio can try to prevent a ‘flop’ through surveys and research like the demographic research in the MPAA’s Theatrical Market Statistics. On crowdsourcing sites like Kickstarter, the producer can see that a movie is a ‘flop’ if it doesn’t reach the funding goal. One such ‘flop’ was “Darci’s Walk of Shame,” a movie that actress Melissa Joan Hart attempted to fund via Kickstarter. It only made 2% of its pledge goal before Hart cancelled the project. The article by PhDs and PhD candidates from the University of La Mancha, Spain, (Martinez-Canas, et. al. 2012) asserts that crowdsourcing can test the interest in a project before any capital is lost. It can help the artist change the focus of their project to better suit the needs or desires of the funders, who become the audience, without going through a middleman funder, as in MPAA studio films. A traditional studio produced movie may have a higher risk of losing capital from a film, but the movies will have a budget that is difficult to get through crowdfunding.


Films produced by studios in the MPAA generally have a larger budget than independent films produced through crowdfunding. With a smaller budget, crowdfunded films might have a harder time making films with believable visual effects, experienced and talented actors, or compelling stories. This is almost certainly why many of the films produced on Kickstarter are documentaries. It is not impossible, however, which can be seen from the reviews of “Veronica Mars.” In The Wrap (Gilman 2014), Gilman quotes critics who thought highly of the film. Duralde of The Wrap is quoted: “The ensemble cast is generally fast and funny … even Mars newcomers will find themselves welcome in their company.” Gilman also quotes Sharkey of the LA Times, who shares a similar opinion and glowing review of the movie. The reviews praise Bell, the leading lady, for her performance and the story. But while this movie was produced independently, its fanbase was built through traditional media outlets.


“Veronica Mars” had a strong fanbase and the well-known producer Rob Thomas helping to make it a successfully funded movie, something that many indie films don’t have. This suggests that while Hollywood may not be a perfect system, those that come from it are more likely to be successful with crowdfunding. In the case of “Veronica Mars,” Thomas pitched it to various production studios, but was turned down. Since the fanbase had already been built up, Thomas was able to take his movie concept to the fans. And because he got funding from the fans, he had complete control over the production of the film.


Sørensen, a PhD with research interests in digitization, says that online funding “gives editorial and creative freedom to the filmmaker. This can be difficult to maintain when a project is fully financed by and contractually tied to a broadcaster, because the broadcaster’s commissioning editor will typically also act as an executive producer and potentially have significant say in the editorial of the film.” (Sørensen 2012 p.737) Sørensen also says that online funding leaves the rights to the film in the creator’s hands so that he can continue to shop his film around to secondary markets, such as DVD rental and streaming sites. The concept behind crowdfunding is an attractive alternative to many producers who might otherwise be unable to create their movies.





Figure 1. MPAA & Kickstarter Movies Produced by Year. Sources: The Year in Kickstarter (2011): https://www.kickstarter.com/year/2011 and Theatrical Market Statistics (2013): http://www.mpaa.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/MPAA-Theatrical-Market-Statistics-2013_032514-v2.pdf


Since it’s creation in 2009, Kickstarter has helped thousands of movies get funding. In Figure 1., the amount of Kickstarter movies produced are compared to ones produced through MPAA members and non-MPAA members. While most of the movies produced through Kickstarter should more appropriately be called documentaries, they are not likely to have been produced without Kickstarter. Kickstarter films may also have been produced independently, but still be accounted for by the MPAA. The Theatrical Market Statistics numbers for non-MPAA films could also include Kickstarter films. While many Kickstarter films may fit into the MPAA or non-MPAA category, many more do not, but all of them were tailored to suit their audience. Even though MPAA movies may have global distribution, Kickstarter distributes to audiences the MPAA may never reach.


Crowdfunding won’t replace the traditional media industry, but it can strengthen it. Crowdfunded films are also strong enough to stand on their own, without the support of the film industry. Crowdfunded films can be produced at professional quality, receiving good reviews from both fans and critics. And the fans can talk with their money, telling the producers what they do and don’t want in a film. With the support of their audience and fans, producers can maintain creative and editorial control over their projects. But even if the films are made independently, they still benefit from the traditional media industry, whether by associating with an MPAA member or by building up a rep through the traditional industry.

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References


Gilman, Greg. (2014, Mar.). ‘Veronica Mars’ Reviews Agree It Is Kickstarter Money Well Spent. The Wrap. Retrieved from http://www.thewrap.com/veronica-mars-reviews-kickstarter-critics/

Hamilton, J. F. (2014). Historical forms of user production. Media, Culture & Society, 36(4), 491-507.

Luka, M.E. (2012, Oct). Media production in flux: crowdfunding to the rescue. Retrieved from http://wi.mobilities.ca/media-production-in-flux-crowdfunding-to-the-rescue/


Martinez-Canas, R., Ruiz-Palomino, P., & Pozo-Rubio, R. (2012). Crowdfunding and social networks in the music industry: Implications for entrepreneurship. The International Business & Economics Research Journal (Online), 11(13), 1471. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.nu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/1418719648?accountid=25320

Mele, N. (2013, Apr). Why Kickstarter Can’t Usurp the Hollywood Entertainment-Industrial Complex. Retrieved from http://www.wired.com/2013/04/game-of-thrones-vs-veronica-mars-is-this-really-the-end-of-big/

Sørensen, I. (2012 Aug.). Crowdsourcing and outsourcing: The impact of online funding and distribution on the documentary film industry in the UK. Media, Culture & Society, (6), 726-743.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Introduction: How will crowdfunding change the traditional media production industry?

I'm pretty excited, because I get to turn in my first writing assignment in my first call at my new college, today. This is only the introduction to a research paper that I will have written by the end of the month. Please feel free to comment.

For the past 60 or so years, we have mostly gotten movies through large production companies, such as MGM, Paramount, or other companies associated with Hollywood. With the advent of crowdfunding in the last few years, movies are being produced at the same professional quality, but by independent producers in small companies or by the ‘big names’ without a large company backer. Crowdfunding gives the creator complete control over their project, but it does not take away the movie pitching: the creator has to pitch his movie to a broader audience. Also, crowdfunding can’t always get as much funding for a movie as traditional funding could get, as is pointed out in “Why Kickstarter Can’t Usurp the Hollywood Entertainment-Industrial Complex” from Wired.com. So the question is not, ‘will crowdfunding replace traditional Hollywood funding,’ but ‘how will crowdfunding change the traditional media production industry?’

Citation
Mele, N. (2013, Apr).  Why Kickstarter Can’t Usurp the Hollywood Entertainment-Industrial Complex. Retrieved from http://www.wired.com/2013/04/game-of-thrones-vs-veronica-mars-is-

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Exciting Things in Life

Well, today has been an exciting, new adventure. Not only have I started my first class in my new college, but I've also started a web comic. It's true that I only just transferred away from my junior college to a local 4 year university, but things got complicated at that university. Long story short: that university I was going to said I couldn't get my degree for another 4 years. My new university, National University, says they can get me out in less than two years. National is a weird and new experience for me since there's a class a month. It means that I can stay more focused and have less time to get distracted, like I would in a semester system.

My other new development in life is starting what I hope will be a regular web comic. I've been working on the comic on and off for a long time, something like 6 years. I had a bunch that I had posted to my website and found a stockpile that I had not yet scanned into my computer. So I've got a nice backlog of comics that will carry me through 'til the second week of October. I'm hoping this will give me enough bandwidth to focus on college in addition to the web comic.

Life is exciting! I'm hoping I don't get too overwhelmed.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Web Comic Dilemma

Well, guys, I have a problem. I have two web comic ideas that I really want to do. Both are very story-oriented. Both involve a fairly complicated style of drawing.

My 'Fahrenheit 451 and March of the Morons meets Smurfs with Syringes' story is a little less are intensive, but is story intensive. It's also more of a short story, so it would be hard to make a continuous web comic of it.

My second story, 'Power Suit Girls Solve a Mystery a Month' is *very* art intensive. I would want to do ink and water colour in a realistic style. Think of the better Marvel and DC comic. It isn't as story intensive as my smurfs comic would be, but I would still have to generate a sci-fi mystery story a month. And I would have to do more than 1 comic a week. You just can't have a good mystery in 4 pages.

I think I've settled on restarting my Mini Ninjas comic. It is not only easy to draw (pen on paper), the art style is supposed to be really crappy. Also, the comic is very much joke oriented. It'd be much easier for a first time reader to jump in and get instant entertainment.

Now for the self-promotion: check out my website! You can find my Mini Ninjas comic here: http://ninjaobsessed.com/art/comic/minininjas.shtml
I also have a selection of other stupid comics, the stupidest of which are my Harry Potter comics, found here: http://ninjaobsessed.com/art/comic/Harry/

Have fun and comment!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Points of View Paper about Blake’s Ancient of Days, 1794

WILLIAM BLAKE, Ancient of Days, 1794. Colour Print.
British Museum, London

William Blake’s Ancient of Days is a  piece which at first makes one think of the Christian God as he creates the universe, which also seems to be suggested by the title. Blunt postulates that this print is not Blake’s representation of God, but is a daemon. Blunt, Morris, and Berger agree that Blake saw reason and logic as limits to human imagination. Blake’s Ancient of Days represents the mythological deity he created that represents the rationality that he found so contemptible.
According to Berger, Blake made a “religion and philosophy out of everything that was regarded by the eighteenth century as contemptible or ridiculous. It was a rationalistic age, basing upon reason its philosophy, its religion and even its poetry.” In Blake’s Ancient, he represents the logical and rational nature of the being portrayed by the compass that comes from the being’s fingers. Blunt states that, during the late Middle Ages, the compass had come to represent mathematics, science, and philosophy. He goes on to say that Blake had attributed a significance to the compass. In the case of this print, the compass is one of the attributes of Blake’s deity, which Blunt identifies as ‘Urizen:’

“He form’d a line and a plummet
To divide the Abyss beneath;
He form’d a dividing rule;
He form’d scales to weigh,
He form’d massy weights; 
He formed a brazen quadrant;
He formed golden compasses,
And began to explore the Abyss.” 

From Blake’s own words, Blunt ascertains that “the essence of the creation of Urizen therefore is the imposition of the rational methods of mathematics on chaos.” He explains that Blake saw reason as the limitation of the infinite, the constraint and destruction of imagination. According to Blunt, Urizen was also associated with the Christian God. He quotes the First Book of Urizen, which has a passage similar to a passage in Genesis, referring to the six days of work and the seventh day of rest. Due to these parallel accounts, Blunt assumes that Blake intended to draw this parallel, thus associating Urizen with the Jehovah of the Old Testament. So it appears that Blunt believes the association between the being in Ancient of Days and the Christian God isn’t completely unfounded, although the being in the print is an invention of Blake.

According to Blunt, Blake often associated rationalism with the Greeks, especially Plato. Blake is quoted as saying, “Christ addressed himself to Man, not to his Reason. Plato did not bring Life and Immortality to Light. Jesus only did this.” Blunt states that Blake compared Urizen’s beliefs to the views presented in Plato’s book Timaeus. Blake and Plato agreed that order was imposed on chaos. Byt while Plato considered it a positive think, Blake did not. But while Blake did not agree with Plato, he did use Platonic symbolism borrowed from a Medieval theme.

In Morris’ article, he supports Blunt’s view that Blake was anti-reason and science. Morris quotes Robinson, a contemporary of Blake, who says that “he would not admit that any education should be attempted except the cultivation of the imagination and the fine arts.” Morris states that Blake found that the truth of reality could be attained through artistic expression, rather than through philosophy. “Imagination thus became for him a real world to which he gained occasional entrance in a glowing flash of intuition, a haven of refuge where he could find true beauty.” Morris says that Blake led a life of disappointment, far removed from the visions that he portrayed in his work. As life did not meet up to the inspirations that  Blake had, he found it supreme to reject life and to have faith in "the visions of his soul."

Morris states that Blake believed that childhood was the purest state that man should strive to attain. Childhood is "that age of exquisite illusion when lif is not to be reasoned about, but the world is a toy of the imagination, and the delicatelycoloured visions of the chhild are the only real things of life." Blake believed, Morris says, that art's purpose was to express an idea so that it's meaning would become apparent. The most perfect ideas were those purely created by the imagination, like the ideas of a child.

Morris postulates that Blake's etchings and prints convey a sense of movement and power based around a strong study of form, which would have been more philosophical, but around simplicity. Blake would condemn the focus of the Greeks on their forms represented in a form achieved by the careful study of nature. Morris states that Blake believed that the Greeks had been "estranged from the world of imagination." Morris contrasts Blakes view by comparing the fairy tail-like works of Blake to the mythology of the Greeks, where neither gave the audience a better understanding of the world. That would have been in opposition to Blake's belief in the supremacy of imagination over reason.
Unlike Blunt's article, Morris focuses more on the artistry of Blake's Ancient of Days. He states that, while Blake believed  the "integrity of the bounding line." He states that the figure represented is characteristic of Blake's work. "The tremendous Titanic energy of the crouching figure in whose eye the foreknowledge of of destiny resides." Morris does not mirror Blunt's assertion that the being of Ancient of Days is not an amicable being, but a being who that constrains humanity by the restricting power of reason. Morris concludes by stating that Blake’s work was so important because “imagination and inspiration were both fundamentally the expression of personality.”

Berger states that, according to Blake, there was a being that separated himself from the infinite Unity. Berger says that this is the origin of Urizen, who is represented in Ancient of Days. As the story of Urizen continues, Berger tells us that Los, another of Blake’s deities, was tasked with removing this new personality, this Urizen, for the Eternals, and binding him to time. “He is the smith who will bind Urizen in the chain of Days and Years.” This, according to Berger, was Blake’s Beginning of Time. The story is similar to the story in Genesis. Berger states, “The story in Genesis… [signifies] to Blake that Urizen tore himself  apart from Eternity, and that Time began.” Both Blunt and Berger seem to agree that Blake associates Urizen, represented in Ancient of Days, with the God of the Old Testament. Berger says that “We must not forget that the visible universe is only an illusion created by our senses and having no existence except in our own minds; that it is a kind of intellectual mirage, a product of the state of the soul personified and ruled by Urizen, material in its nature and, as such, unreal and transitory.” Berger goes on to tell us that our senses lead us to rationality and Reason, which is personified in Blake’s Urizen.

It seems that Berger, Blunt, and Morris all agree that the being represented in Ancient of Days is Blake’s mythological representation of Reason, Urizen. Blunt states that the compass that Urizen is using divides the chaos up into a rational universe. Both Berger and Morris agree that Urizen divides the chaos into a rational universe, but neither make the connection that Blunt makes of the compass being Urizen’s tool. Berger and Blunt both agree that Blake considered Urizen to be a daemon, a negative force in the universe. Morris does not seem to agree with this. He does not specifically state that Urizen is a positive force in the universe, but he does not imply that Blake considered the deity a negative thing. Morris sees the power and the majesty in Ancient of Days and seems to feel that Blake was representing a great being. From the evidence presented by the Berger and Blunt, I think that Blake really did despise reason, logic, and all things rational. Berger and Blunt make a strong argument that Blake personified this distaste in the form of Urizen, who is represented in Ancient of Days. And while it might seem that the being is a representation of the Christian God, the God of the Old Testament, the evidence presented by the authors makes it clear that, while associated with Jehovah, the being is in fact Urizen.


*          *           *          *          *

Bibliography

Berger, Pierre. William Blake: Poet and Mystic. Chapman and Hall, Ltd, 1915.

Blunt, A. “Blake's 'Ancient of Days': The Symbolism of the Compasses.” Journal of the Warburg
     Institute. 2, no. 1 (1938):53-63.

Morris, Llyod R. “William Blake: The First of the Moderns,” The Forum 51 (1914):232-239.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Jhonen Vasquez: Taking Over-Exaggeration to an Extreme

As an artist, it's always fun to look at the work of other artists, especially the ones who's work I particularly admire. Recently, I've been looking at a lot of Jhonen Vasquez's work. He's worked on various things, most of them comic or TV related. Some of his most popular works are 'Invader Zim,' 'Johnny the Homicidal Maniac,' and 'Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja.'

One of Vasquez's character designs, the middle of which is a typical, over-exaggerated expression.


Most of his work I don't care much for. His characters are generally more over-the-top than I like and drawn in a way that is intentionally gross. He also frequently over-exaggerates his characters' facial expressions when conveying an emotion. I do like his character designs for 'Randy Cunningham,' as well as his intense action pieces. My favorite of his pieces, to date, is 'Floor Damage.' I love the strong, emotional expression, the action and lines of action, the monstrosity emerging from the floor, and the loose, abstract nature of the figure.

Floor Damage by Jhonen Vasquez


Most of Vasquez's work has a horror feel to it, like something otherwise normal has gone terribly, terribly wrong. Most of his art, as I mentioned above, takes this to an extreme: he achieves the horror feel by deforming some main attributes as much as he possibly can. For what I feel are his better pieces, he only treads the edge of the horribly wrong and down-right ugly. Instead of over-emphasizing the character, he over-emphasizes the action. These more subtle pieces of his have been my inspiration for one of my more recent pieces. As of yet, it is untitled.

Untitled by Amaryllis


In my piece, I mimicked his character designs in 'Randy Cunningham' for my main character. I tried to exaggerate the action in my character to create the horror feel, then drew on the various horror movies I have seen to create a monstrosity. I don't think that I'm anything like as good of an artist as Vasquez, nor do I think my design carries the same feel as his work. I did appreciate having his work to draw on to expand my own capabilities, however. I hope to someday be as capable an artist as Vasquez, while creating far less ugly and over-done works.