Saturday, October 31, 2009

I just realised...

About two or three weeks ago, I started feeling pretty crappy. I had a headache, slight dizziness and was generally achy and...well, the polite way to say it is I had to visit the bathroom a lot.

I'd also just been put on a new medication, and checking on the side effects, almost everything I was feeling was on the I decided to give it a week to see if it went away or if I'd have to see the doctor about adjusting my meds.

About a week later, I was feeling fine...but Sunny started to have exactly the same symptoms that I had. She went to the doctor and found out she had the flu...and was told that because of the particular symptoms she was having, the same ones I had a week before she got sick, it was more than likely the dreaded swine flu.

Now, here's the thing. As a diabetic, I'm considered to have a 'compromised immune system'. The way the Doctor explained it to me is that it's like I've got HIV, just not as bad. In simplest terms, my blood is very bacteria and virus friendly.

In other words, if there's a disease going around, I'm way more than likely to get it than a non-diabetic and I'm likely to have it for longer.

Then...after Sunny got over her flu, despite the fact we were in close quarters the entire time, I never got sick.

So, guess what that means?

It means that the first time I was feeling under the weather, it's about a hundred times more likely that it was the fucking swine flu and not side effects from my meds.

So...yeah. This killer disease that's going to end all life on earth and the reason you shouldn't leave your home without a hazmat suit... I had it, fel a little under the weather, and got over it...without ever realising I actually had it in the first place.

Oh, and considering more people have died this week alone from the regular flu than have died from the swine flu ever... I somehow think that this disease isn't quite the biblical plague certain news networks would have us believe.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

In defense of smokers.

Well, it turns out that here in the upstate, there are wheels in motion to completely ban smoking in public places.

Now, first, I should point out that I quit smoking over a year ago. A public smoking ban won't effect me at all...but I still don't like it.

Now, don't get me wrong, I have absolutely no problem with banning smoking in public buildings and resteraunts and I certainly believe that littering with cigarette butts should be illegal and carry a hefty fine...but attempting to stop people smoking outside or in 'traditional' places like bars and clubs is just wrong.

You see, second hand smoke really isn't an issue, health wise. Second hand smoke causes less damage than walking alongside a busy road. Without going into statistics, let's just look at the common sense answer. You have to smoke for years to significantly increase your risk of lung cancer. If it takes years of smoking twenty a day, walking past someone in the street who is smoking just isn't going to do you any damage.

Basically, it boils down to a comfort thing. People want a smoking ban because they don't like the smell of cigarette smoke. My question is: Why is the comfort of non-smokers more important than the comfort of smokers? If it bothers you that someone is smoking around is that any different to someone being bothered by not being allowed to smoke?

Let's put this into perspective.

I really hate it when I walk down the street and someone who just bathes in perfume or cologne walks past me, but there's no law to ban people from wearing cologne in public. I don't like it when someone is listening to music on cheap headphones with the volume turned up as high as it can go, but you can't kick them off buses. I really, really hate assholes who talk on their cellphones loudly in restaurants...and you can bet your life that there will never be a cellphone ban.

Basically, banning smoking in public just comes down to something a minority of people do that the majority doesn't like. That's something that comes down to individual discretion, not a matter for the state legislature.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I may have to kill someone.

So, a few minutes ago, Sunny was watching Jeopardy when the promo for the local news came on.

"I wonder what stupid bullshit they'll turn into a panic today?" I thought, half sarcastically.

Then the promo started.

The screen changes to show a fat, ugly, uneducated, borderline retarded redneck bitch who says:

"How do you keep a pedophile from coming through the Xbox."

Cue cheesy anchor: "Coming up, how the Xbox isn't all fun and games for one South Carolina family."


Your kids aren't 'under threat' from pedophiles unless you're dumb enough or lazy enough to not supervise them and check in with them occasionally.

Here's the deal. If the Xbox is a 'pedophile threat', then so is your phone, your computer, your cell phone, pager, mail...fuck, even going outside into any public place puts you at risk of running afoul of a pedophile.

I am just really, really, really tired of all these so-called 'news' channels making shit up, blowing shit completely out of proportion and running stories based on zero fact and evidence in order to scare the shit out of parents and get ratings.

What I'm even more tired of is these asshole 'parents' who complain because they have to actual parent their kids.

It's not Microsoft's job to raise your kids for you and it's not the internet that's putting your kids at risk... it's you that's putting your kids at risk for using the Xbox and Internet as a baby sitter.

I am officially done with TV news. It insults my intelligence.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Get over yourself.

Ok, someone I barely knew at highschool sent me a friend request on Facebook this week. I ignored it, but took a look at her profile.

It's really amazing for me to discover that there are people who haven't grown up, matured or changed one iota in the fourteen years since we left school. The people who still think anything that happened in highschool actually mattered.

I'm also amazed that people can be so self absorbed.

For example, the very first post I saw from the girl who sent the friend request was "OMG, I'm officially being stalked! Why is it always me???"

No, you dumb bitch. You're not being stalked, you're just being the same shallow, self absorbed douche you always where.

Back in Highschool, the girl in question would be bored or just upset about not being the center of attention for five minutes, so would pick a guy and start flirting with him. Then, if that guy ever said so much as a single word to her ever again...he was 'stalking' her.

Yeah, that's exactly what's happening. You walk up to a guy, basically rub your tits in his face, act for a few hours like he's the greatest guy on the planet...and when he comes up to talk to you the next day and ask if you'd maybe like to go do something his weekend...he's a 'crazy stalker'.

I know it really buffs up that fragile ego to build this false reality where all these guys are absolutely obsessed with you, but the truth is, you're really not that important. No-one's obsessed with you, no one's stalking matter how much you want them to.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Did you know?

Did you know that I have an all new blog? One that I...ummm....started nearly a year ago and completely forgot about?

Did you know that this blog had now undergone a total facelift and I'm actually posting at it again?

Did you know that this blog, 'Scrawlings from a Diseased Mind' is chock full of artwork and art-related posts that the vast majority of my readers here don't give a fuck about?

Well, you do now! 'Scrawlings from a Diseased Mind' is where I chronicle my ongoing attempt to not draw like a totally untalented asshole. See if I can keep up my 'sketch a day' schedule for more than a week!

Head over there and check it out...or don't...most of the reason I started it was to not bother you guys with the art crap you're not interested in.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Keep two.

I'm not a very superstitious person, but there are few superstitions I always follow:

  1. Never get between two mirrors.
  2. Never, under any circumstances, touch the Dungeon Master's dice.
  3. Never trust a dog with orange eyebrows.
  4. If your first sketch in a new sketchbook goes wrong, you've cursed it forever.

A couple of days ago, I bought a new sketchbook. Tonight, I found myself unable to sleep, so I came into the living room and finally worked up the courage to de-virginize my new sketchbook.

Sketchbooks (or notebooks if you're a writer) are both a blessing and a curse. If you completely cheap out and buy a spiral-bound book with terrible quality paper, you never really want to use it. It's uninspiring. If, on the other hand, you get a really sexy sketchbook, you never want to use it because it would be like scrawling a shopping list on Unicorn skin.

That's what my new sketchbook looks like. It's sexy

You see, and empty sketchbook has so much potential. You know how in adventure movies like Indiana Jones the hero opens his notebook and it's filled with hand-drawn maps, notes in perfect copperplate handwriting and sketches of skulls and keys and hieroglyphics? That's what you want your sketchbook to look like. You want someone to discover your sketchbook on your coffee table, open it up and be like "Holy shit! Did you draw this???".

Then you look at the ridiculous scrawling you delusionally call 'your art' and realize that's never going to happen. Better to leave the awesome sketchbook empty on the shelf, where it can keep it's amazing potential forever. One day, when you're really skilled enough, you'll take it down and fill it with the artwork that's worthy of it.

Unfortunately, that day never comes.

In all seriousness, I think every artist, of any every skill level, needs two sketchbooks.

You see, there are two ways to look at a sketchbook. The first way is like I mentioned above…that when it's full, the sketchbook, in itself, is a completed work of art.

The second is a far more realistic way of looking at a sketchbook. I repository for all your ideas, both good and bad, experiments, practice, etc, etc. For example, I have a sketchbook that has pages and pages of nothing but noses drawn from different angles, pages of really gimpy looking hands, mouths, stick figure 'thumbnail' sketches for when I wanted to work out a composition for a 'real' piece.

Basically, it's like the writer's notebook. If it's filled with page after page of exquisite prose, perfectly worked out without a single crossing out or bad idea that went nowhere, it's not a real 'working notebook'. It's as polished and 'finished' as any book on the store shelves. Only when it's got hastily scrawled ideas, scratched out paragraphs, indescipherable notes, phone numbers and the occasional 'Call Mom' note…it's not a real notebook.

So that's my advice to all the artists out there. Buy two sketchbooks. One to be a workhorse when you're experimenting, and another to be your collection of 'pretty' art.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Glance Inside My Diseased Mind...

One of the downsides of loving to draw is occasionally you'll just be doodling out of boredom, not really paying attention...then look down at your piece of paper, look at what you've drawn and be forced to ask the question:

"What the fuck is wrong with me?"

You see, I was just sitting at the computer desk, watching an episode of the Angry Videogame Nerd when I grabbed a sheet of paper from the printer and started doodling. The first thing I drew, when I was still paying attention, was a slightly better version of Swampy the Fun Badger then I just let my pencil move on it's own.

I mean, a palm tree thinking 'shit'? An angry thirsty fish? What is wrong with me? Click the image for a closer view of my madness.

Oh, and as for Swampy, I just had to change his cigarette for a big cigar, and I figured Swampy the Fun Badger (Who's just so much fucking FUN!) would be the kinda guy who would DEFINITELY have a straw AND a sparkler in his martini glass. Any ideas on how to make Swampy even MORE fun would be greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Finally Finished For Realz...

After finally managing to get a new brush and re-stock my supply of Bristol, I finished my Halloween Witch Pin-up....which nearly ended in disaster when the stupid effing cat decided to leap onto my drafting table. I just managed to lift the brush from the Bristol in time and managed to stop the ink-bottle from tipping over.

It's now for sale for the low, low price of just twenty bucks in my Etsy store

This is where it comes from...

After yesterday's rant, '' responded with:

"oh! and where does all that angst come from my friend? :)"

I'll tell you where it comes from, Mr. Moleskiner...

There's enough pretension and snobbery in the art world already without a bunch of clueless morons adding even more by acting like a particular brand of sketchbook has magical powers.

I looked at your profile and saw the blogs you follow. Why is '365 moleskine drawings' better than '365 sketchbook drawings' or even '365 drawings'? Why 'e-moleskine' or 'my online Moleskine, instead of 'e-sketchbook' or 'my online sketchbook'?

I'll tell you why. It's for exactly the same reason a nine year old girl wants a Hannah Montana notebook for school instead of a boring plain one.

I mean, look at your username. Why are you identfying yourself by the particular brand of sketchbook you use.

Imagine if I didn't call sketching sketching, I called it Staedler-ing because that was the brand of pencil I use. Maybe I don't call inking 'inking' either.

What? You wanna go to Starbucks and pretend to write on your laptop? I'm sorry, I can't go, I'm Faber-Castelling today. Maybe I'll come over tomorrow and show you my new Strathmore.

As I said yesterday, the only reason you mention the brand of sketchbook you use is because that brand is somehow 'cool'.

Now, here's the thing. I've had this argument before, and 'Moleskiners' all love to point out that famous artists such as Matisse and famous writers such as Hemingway have used Moleskines, and you know what? That's completely true.

The part you miss is that they just bought a sketchbook. Moleskines weren't fashion accessories in 1910...they were just another sketchbook...and the truth is, the only reason 99% of people who own Moleskines today is because people like Matisse and Hemingway owned them.

It's classic shiny-equipment syndrome:

"If Matisse owned a Moleskine...and I own a Moleskine...that must make me just like Matisse!"

Then, of course, once your friend has one, and your other friend buys one, you have to buy one so you're not left out.

...aaaaand we're back in the schoolyard. You buy a Moleskine for the same reason that the 9 year old girl I mentioned at the start of this post wants a Hannah Montana notebook and the same reason her 8 year old brother wants the Turtles one or the Yu-Gi-Oh one...but not the Pokemon one because no-one likes Pokemon any more

Now I'll be completely fair. Moleskines have two real things going for them. The internal pockets to store things are nice and the paper is usually decent quality. The downside is that pockets aren't worth an extra thirty-five dollars, and the last place you need high-quality paper is in a sketchbook.

In the end, if you call yourself a 'Moleskiner', you're just like a runner calling yourself a Nike-er.

So that's where all this angst comes from, Mr. Moleskiner. A bunch of people turning into zealots over a simple consumer product and slightly clever branding. A gang of morons who think what you draw or write with does more for your 'artistic credentials' that what you actually write or draw. The same kids who have a ton of potential, but don't improve because they've convinced themselves that anything their pencil deposits on the paper is pure gold and anyone who thinks otherwise is an idiot who doesn't understand their 'style'...people who ruin online communities that started out as cool places to share artwork and ideas but quickly devolved into mutual appreciation societies where talentless morons draw pictures of ten year old anime girls in lingerie and circle-jerk to how talented they are.

You wanna know how to spot a real artist? He's the guy drawing with whatever he has on whatever comes to hand.

The poser is the guy sitting in public, drawing in his fucking Moleskine with a custom 'sketching set' with thirty pencils in it.

Mr. Moleskiner, I believe I have answered your question.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Moleskine Notebooks

Let me be absolutely clear:

If you own a Moleskine, you are a douchebag.

Let's say I'm walking down the street and I see a guy walking along with a regular old sketchbook/notebook in his hand or under his arm. What does than note/sketchbook say about him?

It says, "Here is a guy who likes to draw things or write things down."

Now, let's say that same guy is walking down the street with a thirty dollar Moleskine in his hand. What does it say about him?


Oh, and for the record, the only think in his Moleskine is a shopping list, his mom and dad's birthdays and a fictional girl's name next to an equally ficticious phone number inside a heart.

Here's the deal, kids. You can get a 5x7 hardbound sketchbook at your local art supply store for four bucks. You can buy a spiral-bound notebook at the Dollar General for seventy five cents. If you're willing to spend twenty or thirty dollars for a Moleskine, you're not buying a book to sketch or make notes in, you're buying a fashion accessory to get noticed with. Stephen King wrote the first draft of Carrie on a card table in his trailer's laundry room. Picasso sketched on napkins. Having so-called 'cool' or 'artistic' stuff, does not actually make you cool or artistic. It makes you a massive posing toolbox.

Basically, if you own a Moleskine, you're the equivalent of the guy who takes his laptop to Starbucks to 'write' so people will see him writing and notice that he's a writer.

In fact, you're worse than that. You're the guy who pulls out your iPhone on a crowded bus and then pretends to have a conversation on it, just so people will notice you have one. You think everyone's looking at you and thinking you're obviously so successful and cool…when everyone really just thinks you're a massive wanker.

So, yeah… Moleskine = Douchebag. Remember that.

Yeah...we're a little weird.

A few weeks ago I was sitting in front of the TV with my stepson Frank, playing a little co-op Call of Duty: World at War.

A grenade landed at my feet, and I chucked it back just it time to make it explode right next to the guy who threw it at me in the first place.

"I love killing guys by chucking back their own grenades." I said.

"Swampy the fun badger?!?!?" Said Frank, looking at me like I'd grown an extra head.

"What?" I said.

Long story short it turned out that when I said "I love killing guys by chucking back their own grenades", Frank had misheard and thought I'd said "Swampy the fun badger."

Yeah, I don't know how he got that either. They don't sound even remotely alike...even when you're concentrating on a game and you have the sound turned up nice and high.

Well, a character was born in that moment. Swampy the Fun Badger. A badger who is just so much f**king fun, he'll make you're head explode.

Today, while I was out buying more art supplies, Sunny brought up a very interesting question. What does Swampy the Fun Badger (He's just so much F**KING FUN!!!) actually look like?

Well, Sunny went to take a nap this afternoon, and in a fit of boredom, I pulled out my sketchbook and did a quick (and I mean 30 seconds quick) portrait of Swampy. It looks really bad, but in my sleep deprived state, it made me giggle like a schoolgirl.

I'm seriously thinking of taking this Swampy the Fun Badger (He's just so much MUTHAF**KING FUN!) idea and sinking some real time into it, maybe spend a couple of hours doing a proper drawing.

If nothing else, it'll make me laugh....because kids, the one thing you can say about Swampy the Fun Badger, it's that that mother f**ker is one S**TLOAD of f**king fun.

I think he should be on a surfboard in the final pic.

I don’t think I’ll ever get used to this.

In England, the seasons change very gradually. It slowly gets colder as you near winter, then slowly warms up (although not by much) as you near summer.

In South Carolina, the seasons change over the course of a few hours.

For example, five days ago I was sitting on my couch shirtless because it was too hot in my house, even with the air conditioning and a fan on, to wear a shirt.

Today I was sitting on my couch wearing jeans, a t-shirt, a hoodie with the hood pulled up and a blanket over my legs. I was also drinking a great big cup of hot coffee…and I was still freezing my ass off.

How do you go from mid-90's to low 30's in just five days?

Personally, I blame Al Gore and his climate change magic.

Fuck you, Al Gore.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Took some doing, but...

I did the inking for the Halloween Witch drawing today. Managed to get all the way through it relatively painlessly, then dragged my wrist through the wet ink while finishing up the last effing line. Had to completely start over. Joy!

Anyway, I just finished the second attempt and I’m really happy with how it turned out. It’s not completely finished yet, but I can’t do the spot blacks without a brush, and I’ve not been able to run out to the art supply store yet.

Anyway, I’m really happy with it. It’s one of the few drawings I finish that looks somewhat professional.

Take a look and tell me what you think.

Weird…but useful.

This morning I was doing a preliminary sketch for a Halloween drawing I'm making.

One of the weird things about drawing is I can finish one, think it's as good as I can make it, then hours, days or even weeks later, I can notice a glaring mistake that I can't believe I missed.

I've spent hours lovingly inking a drawing, only to discover days later that a forearm is twice as long as it should be or an ear is totally in the wrong place.

Then today, something strange happened.

I'd finished the pre-lim sketch and was almost completely happy with it. In fact, I liked it so much for a forty-five minute sketch that I decided to take a picture of it and post it. So I grabbed my camera, set it to 'copy' mode, stood by my drawing desk and lined it up…

…and I instantly noticed a major issue.

When I was sitting at the desk, I didn't notice anything wrong. Looking at the picture on my cameras tiny 1.5" screen, I saw that the one of the character's legs and feet were just plain wrong instantly. You can see it here:

There's on old drawing 'trick' where in order to check your anatomy and proportion is right, you flip the image by looking at it in a mirror. For some reason, looking at it flipped makes any errors far more easier to notice. I kinda understand how that works, because it's literally making you look at your image in a new way.

What I don't understand is how it's much harder to notice an error on an 11"x14" drawing when you're standing right in front of it, than it is to look at the same drawing on a 1.5" screen…especially when the flash is making the graphite from your pencil glare.

So, basically, I spent half an hour today swapping between sitting at my drawing table and standing up looking at the drawing through my camera.

Very, very odd…but also highly useful.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

People Who Should Die Painfully #3721

People who use the word 'Guesstimate' should die horribly in a series of fires..

It actually makes me a little angry that my spellcheck actually recognizes it as a word. Use this word in front of me and I'll be overtaken by an almost uncontrollable urge to punch you as hard as I can, right in the center of your face.

It's a completely redundant word.

Guess: to arrive at or commit oneself to an opinion about (something) without having sufficient evidence to support the opinion fully: to guess a person's weight.

Estimate: to make an educated guess regarding the worth, amount, size, weight, etc., of something.

So, if you're guessing at something, you're taking a shot in the dark without any information. If you're estimating something, you're making a guess, but with a limited amount of information.

So, what in the blue fuck does 'Guesstimate' mean? I'll tell you what it means. 'Guesstimate' means 'Estimate'. You can either take a guess, or you can estimate, you can't 'guesstimate' It's a total fucking oxymoron.

If you use the word 'Guesstimate, you're an asshole and you should die in a fire.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

For those who are interested...

Click for full size view.

Now I jus need a title to list it under. Any ideas?

Tinkerbell’s Hairy Vagina.

Well, today I discovered I have two new diseases: Can'tleaveitthefuckalone-itis and Don'tquitwhileyou'reahead-osis.

Regular readers will know that I've been drawing again recently, and I finished the 'fairy' piece a few hours ago (I'll post it later if I remember).

For me, there are two ways a drawing is born…with difficulty or with a lot of difficulty. Suprisingly, I breezed through the preliminary stages of this drawing and had almost no problems at all, which should have forewarned me that inking was going to be a bitch…but it didn't, and I suffered for it.

I drew the pose, a semi-tricky one with a bit of foreshortening (that I usually suck at) and achieved moderate success. I scanned it, blew it up a little and then transferred it to Bristol board with my lightbox, which is also usually a little tricky, but again, I had no problems.

In fact, I inked the figure, added the fiddly bits of detail and had zero problems…then about an hour after I'd 'finished' the drawing, I do what I always do…approach it again, spot something I don't like, then dick with it until I almost ruin the picture and wish I'd just left it the fuck alone.

For example, as I discussed in my last post, I dressed the character in an outfit that is a hybrid of lots of different references. One of the things I looked at was ballerinas, and you know how ballerinas wear a leotard type thing with some form of skirt that is purely for show and not really there to cover anything? Well, I used a form of that…only returning to the picture, I noticed it might look a lot better if I made the 'underwear' part black to match some of the rest of the outfit….so I did.

I looked at it. My stepson Frank looked at it…and we both agreed that instead of looking like black lacy material, it looked like the poor fairy was inadvertently showing off her 'lady garden'. I covered it with process white, and re-drew in the leotard in white…only this time I made a line a little too thick and placed it off center, which meant she'd just gone from seventies playboy style and had given herself a Brazilian.

Luckily, I got that fixed, but then decided I didn't like her mouth. She was just a bit too Angelina Jolie and not quite enough Tinkerbell. So instead of blotting out the lips with process white and then sketching in her new lips with pencil first, I went straight for the ink-stick. Firstly they were way too high and made her look like she had the world's biggest chin, then they were off center. Finally, I got them somewhat right, although now she does have 'full lips' thanks to them being raised off the paper by three coats of process white.

I do this every time. I never 'finish' a piece, I just force myself to stop dicking with it before I ruin it any more.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Commenting on my last post, blogger genius MC Etcher said:

"A complete copy of the outfit doesn't seem very creative, but I don't know that it's stealing.

Also, even if you tried to copy the outfit exactly, there would be any number of small differences.

As long as you create the image from scratch, it's your image - stealing would only come into it if you're copying and pasting, making a few changes, and then posting it as your own work."

I find this whole subject very interesting. I've heard from a lot of professional artists that the way you learn to do something is find someone's work you admire and imitate them until you have it down. Eventually, your work is a mixture of so many different artist's work, plus your own spin on those techniques, that you develop your own style. Stylistically speaking, there's no such thing as stealing. If someone told me: "Hey, you draw eyes exactly the same way Adam Hughes does!", my response would be "Yeah, so?"

However, I think there's a difference between copying style and copying content.

Which brings me to Etcher's 'small differences' line. Is an imperfect copy really any less of a copy than a 'good' copy?

I was particularly interested in this line:

"As long as you create the image from scratch, it's your image - stealing would only come into it if you're copying and pasting, making a few changes, and then posting it as your own work."

I think (and correct me if I'm wrong) that Etcher is looking at this more from an 'effort' point of view. That if someone puts the time and work in to create an image from scratch, even if they're attempting to copy an existing image line for line, the result is a 'new' image.

Personally, I think doing that creates a legitimate piece of art, but I'd still consider that to be 'stealing'. For example, if I took a Spider-man poster and tried to draw it myself, line for line, I'd have a piece of art that would showcase, at least, my technical ability…but I think Marvel would have different point of view if I then claimed ownership and tried to sell prints.

I think it's a matter of walking a line between what is generic subject matter and what is specific intellectual property. For example, if I draw a child wizard complete with robe, pointy hat and magic wand, I'm safe to sell it. If I put round glasses, messy black hair and a lightning shaped scar on his forehead, I'd get in trouble.

This is my problem with drawing this fairy image. I almost always use reference when I'm drawing, For example, if I was drawing a wild west scene, I'd go on google search and find lots of pictures of cowboy hats, gun belts, duster jackets…because in order to draw something, you have to know what it looks like. However, in the case of the wild west picture, I know enough about the subject to know what's generic and what isn't. If I spot something I'd like to use in the fairy image, I have no idea if I'm just 'borrowing' a generic piece of jewelry or if I'm copying the 'fairy literature' version of the 'One Ring'

Where is the line, exactly?

So, with Christmas rapidly approaching, and South Carolina employers still stubbornly allowing me to carry out the 'immigrants take our jerbs!' stereotype, I got it into my head to crank out some more artwork for my online store.

This time around I decided to hedge my bets a little. The few drawings I've sold in the past have conformed to the 'sex sells' principle, consisting of risqué artwork with a gimmick to give the buyer an excuse to buy it. (Porn? This isn't porn! It's ART!)

So I sat and thought about what I can draw the best (women), the best 'genre' that scantily clad women fit into and can still be considered 'art' (fantasy) and finally a concept that someone would want to buy, but was still 'family friendly' enough to hang on a ten year old girl's wall.

I mulled this over for a few days and came up with one word…'Fairy'.

That was easy from a conceptual standpoint. Somewhere between cartoony and realism, a fairy (or fairies) flitting around next to flowers or toadstools. India ink on Bristol, with maybe a touch of glitter as a gimmick and I have something that someone would part with twenty bucks for.

The problem is the concept is easy, the details aren't.

I pulled out my sketchbook and started with some concept sketches, the sketches I use to block in the basic composition. I'd draw in the figures, even pulled some references off the net of pretty flowers…when I suddenly realized that, other than tinkerbell, I had no idea what fairy clothes looked like, what jewelry they wear, how they style their hair, etc, etc.

This might not seem like such a big deal, but pu a figure in the wrong clothes and suddenly you don't have a drawing of a fairy, you just have a chick with butterfly wings.

So I went to Google image search and started to look for some reference…which brings me to my main problem.

Picasso once said that good artists borrow and great artist's steal…but where exactly is the line between inspiration and plagiarism? For example, if I find a drawing of a fairy online, is it stealing if I completely copy the outfit, even though I'm putting it on a completely different character in a completely different pose? How about if I take one part of an outfit from one drawing, another from another and so on and so on.

This is kind of a big deal to me because after I put my first few pieces up on etsy, I was browsing the 'competition' on eBay when I stumbled across a drawing that was very familiar…and it turned out that someone had downloaded my preview images off etsy (I hadn't thought to watermark them), and was selling them as 'prints' of their own work.

Yeah, failing to sell a drawing then finding someone's selling copies for two bucks a pop kinda pisses you off.

So what do you reckon? Where does inspiration stop and stealing begin?

Friday, October 09, 2009


Last night, after a particularly grueling six song set on Rockband (Hitting that bass drum pedal at 300bpm for ten straight minutes makes you 'feel the burn'), I took a break and found myself doodling on the big whiteboard behind my desk.

Five minutes later I had a sketch of a Zombie saying "Graaaaaaar". For good measure I wrote "OH NOES! A ZOMBIE!" next to it.

The next morning I woke up to find Sunny had added a drawing of a cat next to it, saying "Quick! Where's the nearest Wal-mart?"

"Sweetie?" I said. "I get the 'nearest Wal-Mart joke', but why is it a cat saying it?"

"Ummmm…" Said Sunny. "Because that's all I know how to draw."

It's a good job that it's common knowledge that cats hate zombies…or someone would have looked really stupid.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

It’s magic!

Regular readers will know about my proposed 'Stupid Law', a law that aims to punish acts of extreme stupidity rather than reward them. For example, when some complete idiot decides to use a toaster while in the bath and somehow survives, he wouldn't get a large cash payout from the toaster manufacturers because they didn't specifically state that their toaster shouldn't be used under water…he'd go to jail.

Well, I have a new law to complement the first.

Today I stumbled across a question on 'Yahoo Answers' from an adult woman asking if there was a spell that could turn her into a mermaid.

Ok, let me work on this for a second first. She claimed she'd had enough of wars and people fighting and wanted to 'leave it all behind'. Her answer, of course, was to become a mermaid and live in the sea.

Putting the ridiculousness of turning into a mermaid aside, why do people have this Disney-esque view of nature? If you don't like wars and fighting, going to live with the animals is the last place you want to go. Sure, human kind has guns…but nature pretty much boils down to: "Fight and kill for whatever you need to survive, then fight and kill to keep it." Try watching a few National Geographic documentaries instead of Disney movies, that'll give you the general idea.

Anyway, this girl isn't really what inspired this post. You see, one adult who believes in magic is really pathetic and sad, but there are weirdos everywhere. The thing that really made me shake my head where the comments. The vast majority of the people commenting where berating her for her claiming to be a witch, when everyone knows that real witches can't turn into mermaids and if she really was a witch or did any research at all she'd know that.

That's right. People weren't having a go at her for believing magic is real and wanting to turn into a mermaid. They were getting angry because they were 'real' witches and this girl was making them look bad. I mean, they go into the woods at midnight wearing long black gowns and burn incense and chant a spell to make that guy hey like fall in love with them…but turning into a mermaid…that's crazy!

This is where the new law comes in.

You see, I have no problem with retards spicing up their pathetic little lives by hanging around with other retards and pretending magic is real. I don't care if my next door neighbor decides to call herself Cassandra Mysterio-Stormwind and wears a homemade black velvet gown with stars sewn into it.

Basically, if you believe in magic and spells, that's fine…you just shouldn't be allowed to vote.

I don't think that's too unreasonable, right?

If you're from the developed world and still believe in magic in 2010, I'm sorry to be the one to inform you, but you just don't have the intelligence or reasoning ability to cast a vote.

The best thing about this law is there's absolutely no way to fight it. When the witches and warlocks complain about being denied a ballot, you just tell them to use their magic to reverse the law or make the candidate they like be elected. It's perfect. Any actual legal action they take is, in itself, proof that magic isn't real. Why start a lawsuit when you can chuck some random shit into a cauldron, chant over it and get whatever you want?

A couple of days ago, I was sitting in the waiting room of my local Doctor's Care office when, rather fittingly, a 'medical alert' special report came on the TV.

The 'report' was on the recent rise of reported cases of autism. The reporter spent all of five seconds explaining how the increase in reported cases of autism could be down to better diagnostic procedures, then said how the Center for Disease Control stated that environmental factors such as the food we eat 'couldn't be ruled out'...then spent an hour and a half talking about how it's possible that everything from canned beans to cell phone towers can give your kids autism.

I had to laugh when I pictured the phonecall from the news station to the CDC:

"Hello, Center for Disease Control. How can I help you?"

"Hi, this is Fox News 4, we're running a special report on the current increase in Autism and wondered if you had any comments?"

"Oh, that's really nothing to worry about. Autism isn't on the rise, it just appears that way because Doctors are getting better a recognizing it."

"Uhhhhh.... Ok."

"Thank you for calling. Can I help you with anything else?"

"But what about the foods we eat? Could, say, a pregnant woman give her unborn child autism by living next to a cell phone tower or from drinking artificially sweetened soda? What about pesticides in veggies?"

"No, no, no. You don't understand. There's no significan increase in autism, it's just that doctors are now diagnosing patients with autism specifically rather than something non-specific such as mental retardation. For a long time autistic kids were misdiagnosed with all kinds of disorders, from ADD to Social Anxiety Disorder."

"What about wireless internet? Those routers have to be pumping out some killer radiation, right?"

"... Ummm, look. I don't think you're getting this. There's no real increase in autism cases, it's..."

"How about immigrants? All those Mexicans handling food can't be healthy."

"I'm sorry, but I don't know what you want from me. There is no increase in autism. It's just more cases of mental issues are being recognised as that specific disease."

" me out here. I'm trying to write a sensational news story here. This isn't sensational! It's not even designed to terrify gullible people!"


"Tell you what. As an official employee of the CDC, can you state, categorically, that environmental factors have absolutely zero effect when it comes to kids developing autism?"

"Of course not. But..."

"Good enough. click"

Tonight on Fox: People have finally got it through their heads that swine flu is only as dangerous as regular flu and there's already a we're going to come up with some other bullshit to make sure idiots tune in!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


Well, after yesterday's little Ninja Gaiden 2 adventure, I did something I've never done before…returned a working game to the store.

That should tell you a little something about that…that…'electronic product' right there. (I'm sorry, but I refuse to call it a 'game', games are fun and are meant to entertain)

I've been a gamer pretty much since I could walk. One of my earliest memories is of playing a game on the Acorn Electron when I was around 2 years old. I've played and beaten more games than I can count, many of which are notoriously difficult. In the 27 years I've been a gamer, I have never returned a game unless the disc (or cartridge or cassette tape) was damaged.

Considering Gamestop makes 99% of its cash from buying and selling used games, I was actually surprised the guy in the store gave me my money back, even before I mentioned I'd be handing it straight back to him for another game.

My Stepson was with me again, and this time we settled on 'Pure' a quad-bike racing game.

Normally racing games aren't my thing. As I've mentioned in the past, I play games for the same reason people watch movies, for a good story and a fun experience. I especially dislike the full on 'racing simulation' games where a single mistake means your race is over. Sure, it's very realistic, but realism and fun don't necessarily go hand in hand. I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who like that sort of thing (and the sales of games like Forza Motorsport back that up) but it just doesn't float my boat at all.

I want a fun experience…not a few hours of frustration and stress so I can prove I'm slightly more masochistic than all the other masochists with a good lap time.

'Pure' on the other hand, is a hell of a lot of fun. It's definitely on the arcade side of racing games rather than the simulation side and is full of massive jumps, cool tricks and a couple of very interesting game modes.

In fact, it made me think about something.

Pure is just a hell of a lot of fun. It doesn't take massive amounts of skill. In fact, you can get around most tracks without ever lifting off the gas or touching the brake (This won't get you a great lap time or land you in first place, but you'll do well enough to unlock the next track). There are no great big 'write it all over the box' gimmicks either.

This is something I wish game creators would rediscover. Games don't have to have absolutely stunning, bleeding edge graphics that look a hundred times better than their competition. They don't need ultra elaborate physics engines, deformable terrain, destructible environments and all those other gimmicks. They just need to be a hell of a lot of fun.

For example, one of the best games I've played this year is 'Trials HD' on Xbox Live arcade, and that's a remake of a freaking flash-based browser game with souped up graphics. Also, every bad game I've played this year has been based around a gimmick or feature, like 'Fracture' which was a bog standard, boring, unimaginative shooter with weapons that could morph the terrain…or Farcry 2, that was a buggy, frustrating mess, but looked absolutely gorgeous.

It's a lesson that mainstream games companies seem to deliberately miss. I mean, the 360's 'killer app' before Halo 3 came out was 'Geometry Wars', which from a pure gameplay standpoint could be replicated on a PS1.

Basically, games are meant to be fun. They're meant to give the player a fun experience. It doesn't matter if the game is gorgeous if i's not actually fun to play.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Ninja Gaiden 2 is a fucking JOKE

Ok, so one of the things we did today was go pick up a pre-owned game at gamestop. My stepson is staying with us for a while, so he came into the store to help me pick something out.

As I said at the time, the past few times I've been to Gamestop I've been standing there with cash in hand, with nothing I really wanted in my price range. Today there were a few. 'Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood', 'Pure' and 'Prince of Persia' to name a few. However, because my stepson said he'd played it and liked it, we ended up buying Ninja Gaiden 2.

I got home and played it for an hour.

This is not a game. This is a frustration-based endurance test for sugared up teens who are masochistic enough force themselves to play through this shit so they can have bragging rights over other sugared up teens.

Don't get me wrong, it's actually quite fun in places, but on the second level we got to a boss that was not just 'difficult', but actually felt like the game was cheating. It honestly felt like I'd personally wronged the game's creator in some way and he was getting his own back by having a boss on the second freaking level just rape me over and over at will.

I wish I was exaggerating.

Basically, this boss is capable of blocking 99% of your attacks, meaning the only way to have even a slim chance of winning is to peck away at him, taking about a hundredth of his health with one perfectly timed attack, then spend the next five minutes dodging his undodgeable attacks.

His attacks? Well, some hit you no matter what you do. You dodge, he hits you anyway. You block, his attack goes straight through like it's not even there (and it doesn't even absorb any of the damage.) Basically, to beat him you need about a hundred perfectly timed attacks. He can kill you…no exaggeration, in three attacks that you can't block or dodge.

What I want to know is what masochistic asshole considers this to be entertainment.

Sure, there's the achievement of beating the game and the bragging rights…but after spending half an hour trying to beat this boss fight, the best way I can explain it is that it's like hitting yourself in the testicles with a lump hammer twenty times, purely so you can brag about being able to take twenty hammer blows to the family jewels.

I would rather stick needles into my sack than play this game any more.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

And So Say We All

I have to admit that I had very little interest in Battlestar Galactica when it first started. I remember watching the original series as a kid and being totally unimpressed. Then, once the remake had started, the few episodes I caught didn't impress me much either, mostly because BG is the most confusing thing ever when you're dropping in halfway through season 2.

Anyway, over the past month I finally sat down and watch all four seasons from start to finish.

When the credits rolled on the finale, I was sure I'd just watched one of the best sci-fi series ever recorded, but I was even more sure that there were a ton of plot holes, unanswered questions, contradictions and some pretty inexplicable character interactions.

The best way I can describe it is it feels like two writers alternated episodes and they couldn't quite agree on how the characters felt.

For example, Adama starts with an understandable hatred for the cylons, then is completely won over by Athena, then flips the fuck out when he hears Saul is a cylon…but then tells Saul he's the best friend he's ever had in the next episode. Chief Tyrol is even worse. You never know from second to second who he likes and who he hates. One second he comes across as one of the good guys, the next he's clubbing a number 8 over the head with a wrench without blinking. Don't even get me started on Starbuck… she flips from a sympathetic character to an insufferable bitch from second to second.

The weird thing is that it's a lot of these contradictions that make it such a great show.

It's the first sci-fi series I've ever watched where there isn't a single two-dimensional cookie-cutter character. They're all flawed, and in a lot of cases, profoundly damaged. The good guys don't always win and the bad guys don't always get their comeuppance. It does something all good sci-fi does, it holds society up to a mirror. It shows he last survivors of humanity, some who sacrifice themselves for the greater good, and the others who take food from starving children.

Long story short, it's a great show.

Friday, October 02, 2009


When I saw the first "Saw" movie a few years ago, I was pretty damn impressed.

Not only was it a genuinely scary and suspenseful horror movie, it was also a mystery that I didn't manage to figure out in the first fifteen seconds.

I'm not trying to brag here, but a large part of my degree was narrative structure and theory. This means watching movies for me is a lot like watching a magic show when you know how the tricks are done. However, in the first movie, I identified the minor character that was going to become a major part of the story in the third act, spotted the clues that pointed to him being the bad guy...but also realised this was an obvious red herring, so worked out it was the other minor character...because he'd done nothing in the story, didn't have a defined role, but the writer had gone to great pains to make sure we'd notice and remember him.

Then, something amazing happened. It turned out the writer had studied a lot of movies, knew exactly how to fool an audience, but had done something special:

Imagine watching a magic trick being performed when you know the secret behind it. You're watching the magician palming little sponge balls, expertly pretending to put them under those little plastic cups while using classic misdirection so the audience will expect them to end up under cup one. You, however, because you know how the trick is done, know the ball is really going to end up under cup three.

He turns over cup one, the ball isn't there, causing the audience to gasp and you to smirk. He turns over cup three...and it's not there either.

It turns out the magician wasn't just faking moves. He was faking faking moves as well.

Basically, and I don't use this term often, the first Saw movie was a work of borderline genius.

Which really pisses me off the Hollywood has done it's usual thing by completely missing the point of the movie and running it into the fucking ground.

You see, Saw was a perfect stand alone movie. It tied up all the loose ends and didn't lend itself easily to a sequel. Then Hollywood saw all the money the original made and instead of deciding it did well because it was a really good story, they decided the reason it did so well was because a lot of people die in elaborate and gruesome ways.

This is like seeing The Beatles in the 60's and deciding that their massive success isn't down to the once-in-a-generation musical genius of Lennon and McCartney, but because people their hairstyles, or because Ringo has a big nose.

What followed Saw was a series of 'torture porn' movies with boring stories and obvious cliched twists that even a retarded chimp can see coming from a mile away.

The reason I'm writing this is because I can understand, if not condone, a bad sequel made purely to cash in on the success of the first movie. I can even understand a third.

I just saw an Ad on TV for Saw 6. Six. That's one great movie and five shitty sequels.

There's just no such thing as an original movie anymore. I mean, why be creative and make something new when you can just churn out another crappy sequel?

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Invisible work

I turned on Sunny's laptop this afternoon and discovered it wasn't connecting to the internet.

I disconnected and reconnected to the wireless network, I rebooted the computer...I was just getting ready to check the router when Sunny asked me what was wrong.

"Your laptop can't access the internet." I said.

"Oh, it's ok." She said as though it wasn't a problem. "It's been doing that all day."

It was then that I realised something. Sunny's got so used to me fixing computer problems that most of the time she doesn't realize that the reason these things start working again is because I fix them.

If the laptop doesn't connect to the internet, just turn it off, wait a while, and when you turn it back on again it'll be working.

I'm not sure whether to be proud or offended. On the one hand, I'm obviously doing a good job keeping everything up and running. On the other, I can spend three hours in front of the computer trying to track down a problem, and to everyone else it just 'magically' starts working again.