Summer Sasquatch

Summer Sasquatch

Little gifts would be left on the back porch, or sometimes by the barn. Wildflowers planted in strange places. Stick figures hung from tree branches. They believed the.. creature.. was trying to be nice, in its own way. Perhaps it was saying “thank you” for not shooting at it, when the neighbors often would. Maybe it was just trying to give back a little something, in trade for what it took.

They appreciated its thoughtfulness, but still wished it would stop mauling their sheep at night.

Ant-Man vs The Hulk

Hulk vs AntMan

I learned how to draw from comic books. I’d copy the shapes, make my own stories, and in the process learned a lot at an early age about composition and visual storytelling. Don’t get me wrong, I have a degree in classic studio art and art history too, and there’s no substitute for submersion in the classical arts. But I take the history of the comic book medium and how much it shaped my creative and professional life, very, very seriously.

The earliest drawing I remember, when I was six years old, was of The Hulk farting so hard he knocked down Manhattan.

Shiny Things

Shiny_Things

Explorer: The indigenous lifeforms were easy enough to reprogram. I am in control of a creature with a penchant for finding metallic objects and clever enough for basic puzzle solving. With any luck I can use it to help secure the parts I need to repair my ship and get off this strange rock. It attacked me a couple of times, but the force shield held well enough. Down to forty percent power but I think the beast is smart enough not to try it again.

Creature: Alien put buzzy thing in my head, tells me to do things. I do what it tells because it points me to shiny things. I like shiny things. When it stops taking me to shiny things, I think I will kill it and eat it. I hope it is soon because my suit itches, and my helmet keeps fogging up.

Climb Change

Climb Change.jpg

“Nonsense! There is no such thing as “man-made climb change”. How high or low in the sky we reside is a natural occurrence, nothing more. To believe our tiny forms could affect the massive land beneath our feet in any way is the height of arrogance.”

And Then There Were None

Cars_part_2.jpg

The arm’s doing a lot better, so I think it’ s time to graduate to something more complicated and retire this “pop culture vehicle” series. It feels appropriate to bring the series full circle back to cars. Interestingly, it seems that our infatuation with cars somehow came to a close with the 1980s. What happened?

Personally, I think the cultural shift might be traced to the lack of individualism in modern cars. Starting in the 1990s the design paradigm shifted towards sleek, rounded sameness. No sharp edges, no distinguishing characteristics of any kind. Is it a Nissan Sentra? A Toyota Corolla? Honda Accord? A Camry? Sonata? Without a logo most people would be hard pressed to pick any of them out of a lineup. And the high end cars dispensed with descriptive names altogether, and just went with a random assortment of letters and numbers. “A8L”? “XF”? “Q40”? “528i”? “S600”? These hardly match the evocative names of yesterday’s “Challengers” and “Stingrays”.

On the big screen it’s a tough sell symbolizing stoic individualism, when the hero arrives in a car so unmemorably interchangeable that they have to pull it right up to the camera so the audience can see the logo up close.

Maybe we’ve moved on from the symbolism. A character no longer needs a horse or a car or a helicopter as a stand-in for his innate prowess. The Jason Bourne’s of the world can excel driving anything, even a clunker mini. The Fast and Furious can just build their own cars to spec, then crash them without concern, because they can just go build another. Maybe we’ve just externalized what cars represented and grafted it onto the characters directly.

Or maybe modern cars are just really boring.

It’s About Adventure, Darkness and Death

Submarines

Submarine movies for me are basically all horror movies. Compartments are always going to flood. Someone is always going to drown. Someone is always going to have to make the terrible decision to let someone else drown. Someone is going to have to watch someone else drown through a small porthole. Someone will often be electrocuted. Someone will occasionally be crushed by explosive compression. In some rare cases, someone’s head and/or body will explode from explosive decompression.

While submarines are similar and often used as a substitution for spaceships in adventure stories, they come saddled with a key difference: we know how water works. We’ve all choked on a drink. We’ve all gotten water up our noses. Most of us know how to swim, or not, and have inhaled water instead of air while submerged. We’ve had leg cramps and found ourselves unable to swim those few inches back to the sky. We’ve been knocked down by waves and lost our sense of up or down. Some of us have been caught in riptides. Some of us have even drowned and been revived.

For most of us space is a fantasy, and all of the ways that things can go wrong in space we think of abstractly. But with submarines, we know very personally and viscerally what the consequences of the worst case scenarios are. Water is mean in so many ways that we can only imagine space to be.

Have Time Machine, Will Have Already Traveled

TimeMachines

Is time travel more interesting as mere transportation, or as a reality changing tool? If you really had a properly functioning time machine that could move backwards and forwards through time, what problem could you not solve? Just go back in time and fix it. Screw it up? Go back in time and fix it again.

Which may be why the scope of time travel is often limited. The time machine is broken, or stolen, or out of power. Or there’s no machine at all and a person is just randomly propelled through time and space. Sometimes, the problem is simply ignored, with mixed results.

Doctor Who, for example, uses a functional time and space machine that can go anywhere and anywhen in the universe. Yet nearly every episode features a “beat the clock” sprint through streets and hallways. Why? Why not step into the Tardis, roll the clock back fifteen minutes, then casually stroll to the doomsday machine and save the day? Because that’s boring. So they just pretend they don’t have a time machine, until they want a time machine.

Or Terminator. From our perspective it’s been 30 years of humans foiling killing machines sent from the future. But what’s Skynet doing exactly in the future? Was it sending a Terminator in, then looking around for a few seconds to see if it worked and the future changed? Would it even be aware the future changed? Or was Skynet just a cold, calculating dick, sending dozens of Terminators back at the same time, each to a different year in the past?

The only film so far to really attempt to deal with time travel causality with truly brutal logic, was Primer. It showed how complicated the consequences could be from even a very limited time travel ability (backwards one week only). The events and story were so complex fans of the film created a massive flowchart to track all of the different realities and characters generated. It’s almost required to watch the film again immediately, multiple times, just to keep up. For many people that sort of time and brain investment isn’t entertaining either.

So is time travel more interesting as mere transportation, or as a reality changing tool? We may never know. But what we do know, having read all of this, you have now traveled ten minutes into the future. Ta daa!

Helicopters Were Cool Once, and Young

Helicopters

There was a time, sometimes referred to as “The Nineteen Eighties”, when nothing was cooler than a helicopter. Hot cars? Sure. But the most extreme, the most awesomely radical heroes, all rode or piloted helicopters. They had ridiculous names like “Stringfellow Hawke”, and it didn’t even matter, because they were pilots, and had experimental stealth attack helicopters hiding inside mountains.

And the actual pilots, the stunt pilots that pushed these machines in between buildings, or into car chases under bridges and power lines? Pretty much all of them were Vietnam veterans. Probably no coincidence most of the show characters were ex-Vietnam vets turned private eyes. That was cool, too.

Unfortunately a couple of high profile on-set accidents (Twilight Zone: The Movie was the most tragic) led to significant safety reform, and that was pretty much the end of helicopters in tv or film as anything other than transportation. Now whenever you see an actor near a running helicopter, the rotors are CG, and if the budget is low they don’t even spring for the wind machine to blow their hair around.

But I’ll never forget that special time, the era when cars chased helicopters chasing cars.

It’s About Survival

vintage_boats.jpg

I noticed a trend on completing the third entry in what’s quickly becoming a series on fictional vehicles. It turns out each vehicle type has a sort of narrative personality.

Cars, for example, are used mostly to either escape or chase. They’re almost always in some way representing freedom; freedom to run away and freedom to pursue. They basically replaced the horse in pop culture storytelling. Marshals and gunmen became cops, robbers and detectives.

Spaceships, with similar roots in classic westerns, tend to focus on exploration. It’s seldom about reaching a destination, and more often about the adventure that happens while on the journey. They represent the frontier, the unknown, and our curiosity to see what’s out there. Star Trek as Lewis and Clark, Battlestar Galactica as Wagon Train.

And ships? Well, unfortunately with ships the narrative seems to focus on getting lost, claustrophobic imprisonment, and watery graves. The “drama” with ships is apparently most potent when everything goes wrong. It makes some sense narratively, as ships and boats are often majestic to be sure, but kind of slow-moving and dull when trying to tell an exciting story. So it’s mostly when ships are attacked, or sinking, or sunk, that they drive an exciting narrative.

I’m thinking of doing fictional helicopters next. I’m curious to see how their narrative roots fit into the series.

Jumping is Just Falling With Style

Jumping_Cars

I did not fall with style. I went down in that hard awkward way when physics and gravity conspire. All it took was a deep hole in the sidewalk, some leaves, darkness and shadow to keep it a surprise, and I was on the ground before I knew I was falling. I dislocated the ulna (elbow) on my right arm, and snapped the radius in two. I dislocated the ulna on my left arm as well, because why not.

Three weeks, two surgeries, and a shiny new titanium plate later and I’m finally on the mend. Naturally I’m right-handed, so I’ve had to do everything wrong/left-handed, while also recovering from a dislocation. So today’s illustration is the first thing I have attempted to draw since the break. It was actually what I had planned to draw the day I fell, except more complex (a dozen cars instead of just five). It took three times as long to draw less than half the planned sketch, and it’s excruciating, but at least I can still put pen to paper.

Xray with new titanium plate for those interested.

Morning Doom

Morning_Doom

Doom’s Journal
August 29

The castle was cold this morning. If I hadn’t already executed the facilities manager I would go execute him right now. I contemplated using the Time Platform to go back and execute the facilities manager yet again, but decided the consequences would be a distraction.

Susan arrives today.

I still have to go through my notes, memorize my lines, and get the new “lair” set decorated and prepped. I really think this World Conquest Plan could be the one, it pushes all the right romantic buttons. It will make Reed look witless and controlling (not difficult), force the brother and the brute to act overprotective, and show Susan she can be empowered and fully equal to any man. In fact the entire scenario can only be defeated by Susan. Not fire, nor intellect, nor brute strength will have any effect. Only the thoughtfully applied abilities of Susan can save the world today, and “defeat” Doom.

It will be difficult of course. There’s little point in just handing her a victory, not when I’m trying to show her how strong and independent she can be. If during the day’s events her brother, or her damnable boyfriend were to be maimed (oh darn), or even killed (hee hee!), then so be it.

I changed my mind. I am going to pop into the Time Platform and execute that idiot facilities manager after all. I think it will be just the thing to relax me.

The Meeting

godzilla batman

His spine tingled, a mix of excitement and fear he rarely felt anymore. He had heard the rumors, but never believed them. An urban legend, mass hysteria, a story to scare children. But there he was, standing right in front of him. He shouldn’t get this close, but he wanted to really see, really know. Frozen in this moment, afraid to move, afraid to breathe, only one thing went through his mind.

“Oh shit, Batman is real.”

Nerd Porn

stormtrooper girl

Roald: No, I’m serious. I think there’s money to be made with nerd porn. You name it. Star Wars, Star Trek, Galactica, Space:1999, UFO, Thunderbirds, Lord of the Rings, and on and on. Just dress some cute girls up in Boba Fett and Starbuck costumes, throw them on a bed-

Wyatt: Would it be a bed? Maybe it should be a holding cell, or brig or something-

Roald: -Throw them in a brig, spritz them down, add a link to Paypal and watch the money roll in. I’m telling you this could be my internet bubble.

Wyatt: I don’t think that means what you think it means. Are you seriously considering becoming a pornographer?

Roald: Nerd pornographer, and yes. And thanks for reminding me to add Princess Bride to the list. So, do you want to know what I’m going to call the site?

Wyatt: No, not particularly.

Roald: Oh come on. Please?

Wyatt: Ok fine, don’t whine. What are you going to call it?

Roald: Han Shot First.

Wyatt: ….

 

Casual Murder

crow korea

What’s happening in North Korea is insane. So few people seem to understand the truly dystopian nightmare its people have endured for decades. They don’t need high-tech NSA type surveillance, through old fashioned fear and paranoia they have instead created a massive self-policing state that far exceeds anything Orwell could have imagined. If someone speaks ill of anything, even something simple like low food rations, they could be reported by a neighbor or friend. It is illegal to even sing songs from South Korea, and doing so can brand them as an enemy of the state. There is a constant fear that if anyone see someone else violating any rule, it is a loyalty test and if you fail to report it then you will be the one arrested. Thus the perfect self-police state.

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It was supposed to be dark

batman adam west

They had playwrights. They had playwrights and novelists lined up to write the scripts. They planned to reveal a hopeless gotham dystopia awash in the throes of a never-ending crime wave. Villains so terrible, so exceptional, that only an exceptional and terrible anti-hero could fight them. It was going to be like nothing ever seen on television, challenging, groundbreaking.
 
They found an actor, suave and handsome, had a real edge. His voice was an engine at full rev, power barely held in check. He was a playboy and a cad, and rumors swirled he would be the next 007. He was the embodiment of their vision, a bored socialite forced by circumstance to fight for the life and soul of a city. They were set to make drama, to make history.
 
And then he put on the suit.