Tuesday, October 31, 2006


These masks all look like photos of corpses from the real-life, forensic experiment called the "Body Farm" in Kentucky. They're genuinely creepy. The photography is excellent. I wish I could talk to the guy who took the pictures.

Monday, October 30, 2006


These pictures are all from the coffee table book called "Chicken Little" by Monique Peterson. I feel sorry for Peterson because she had the thankless job of trying to put a positive spin on what appears to be a story of endless woe in the making of that recent film. I never worked on a 3-D film so I can only guess what it's like. If the book is right it couldn't be much fun. The programs are clunky and unresponsive and seldom do what the animators want them to do.
Maybe the strong suit of the 3-D programs is backgrounds and props but even there the results are mixed. The car (below) looks great but the theater (above) looks somewhat cold like something made out of a Leggo set. I can't imagine the cottage of the Seven Dwarves having any emotional impact in this style.

Everybody knows that computers are the future of animation but that future isn't here yet. Right now 3-D animation programs confine us to a style of literal, unimaginative drawing that dates back to 1910. Even the stories animation tells have to be crippled to fit the limits of the medium. How can that be considered an advance?

BTW, I just got Amid Amidi's book, "Cartoon Modern" and it looks great! I'll do a blog about it when I have a chance to read it!

Sunday, October 29, 2006


These days men's fashion really sucks. How did that come about? Everything is shapeless and looks like it came from a one-size-fits-all store. I don' t mind skateboarders' fashions because they're funny. You have to admit that wearing parachute-size pants almost below the buttocks is hilarious. No, what I object to is the urban gangsta look. Gangsters should look debonair and swashbuckling. I can't imagine Bogart taking any of these guys into his gang.

What's with the dress-length t-shirts and the tuke (spelled right?) caps that cover the ears, even in the summertime? Well, at least they're flamboyant and that's something. What I really don't understand is the middle class suburban variant exemplified by Chicken Little's clothes. What's with the tight green Arnold-Palmer T and the shapeless, oversized shorts? Click to enlarge it; the shorts look like the bird has a load in his pants. What man who wants to attract women would dress like he was wearing a diaper?

 Ditto the buccaneer shorts that the kid is wearing in the tiny picture. Oops! Blogger deleted the picture but you know what I'm talking about: long, wide pirate shorts and thick, rippled sneakers that look like astronaut boots!

Girls won't wear this stuff. They ransacked the past and came up with tight 70s bellbottoms and bare midriffs.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Unfortunately these won't look like much unless you enlarge them and even then they're not reproduced big enough for the full impact to get across. I can't figure out why some graphics make such a bold statement when blown up and others don't.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


I've always wanted a set of muscles like the ones on the Doc Savage covers. That and a whole closet of torn t-shirts. The problem is that working out is boring, or at least it seems that way to someone who doesn't do it. There must be another way... And this is it! It's a little elaborate, maybe a tad expensive, but this guy is on the right track I think. A suggestion: loose the padded pants. They detract from the realism. That top combined with natural, skinny legs would be a killer combination!

Every year I hope the Halloween costume industry will put out a good set of fake muscles but they never do. Look at the tacky shirt this kid (above) is wearing. The muscles look like curdled milk. Oh well, maybe next year.


I love these two masks of womens' faces. They're both funny, vivd and full of energy. I especially like the bukram mask of the girl with black eyebrows. Bukram is a great medium. It allows for mass production but it retains the feel of a customized piece of folk art. There's a web site that has detailed instructions on how to make bukram masks. I may take a stab at it sometime. The monochrome mask with the big teeth is kind of ugly but I offer it here because a frontal view on an upshot face is an interesting juxtaposition. The cardboard witch and the Opper-style cartoon characters are nifty examples of good design that's made to sell for pennies. The witch looks like it was influenced by Nabi theories.


Please bear with me till I get this straightened out!

Monday, October 23, 2006


Bosom is a Victorian word that you don't hear too often nowadays. It denotes breasts which are not just big but are...expansive. Do Dolly Parton and Jane Mansfield have bosoms? Yes, I think so but I can't say for sure without examining them. A real bosom requires a certain amount of chest area above the boobs. I'm not a bosom fetishist, mind you, I like all kinds of breasts, but like all men I follow any news about this area with keen interest.

The last famous bosom that I know of was owned by Elsa Maxwell, the famous hostess of the 40s and 50s. That's Elsa in the caricature and the cooking ad. Hers was a noble Milt Gross - type bosom. I wonder what she looked like when she was young, something she's definitely not here. When Elsa departed the world she took bosoms with her. No, wait a minute. I forgot about Aunt Bee.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Here's (above) a technique I haven't seen before. The pumpkin is stripped of all it's skin and the pulp is sculpted by itself. When it's lit with a candle the face is eerie and luminous.

Elsewhere on the page the black pumpkin is a nice reminder that pumpkins can be painted. The green cabbage head below is interesting. It seems that early Halloween theorists toyed with the idea of using vegetables other than pumpkins to represent the holiday.

Saturday, October 21, 2006


I like secular people...most of my friends are secular...but this post is a criticism of an extreme of secularism, something that historian Niall Ferguson calls vacuous secularism. The vacuous variety believes that religion (Christianity in the case of the West) never accomplished anything of value and was never anything but an obstacle to progress. That's just silly.

We all know about the Inquisition, Galileo, the witch burnings, forced conversions and all that. Those were horrible, no doubt, but is that the whole story? Extreme secularists claim the Dark ages were the fault of Christianity, but were they? 

You could argue that the Christians pulled Europe out of the Dark Ages by patiently working with barbarian princes to re-establish the rule of law. Did Christianity oppose science in medieval times? Mmmm...it depends. Lots of non-church people opposed it too. Most medieval scientists were clerics. In this period Aquinas argued that Aristotle's method of scientific enquiry was right and the Church officially backed him up. Did secular people and Greek books begin the Renaissance? Maybe, it depends when you date the beginning of the Renaissance. 

Technological marvels like the Chartes Cathedral (picture above) and the sophisticated organization of markets predate the Renaissance. Some of the most important painters at the beginning of the Renaissance were clerics and/or committed Christians.

Well, it goes on. Do we Americans owe our liberty to secular or very mildly religious people like Paine, Jefferson and Franklin? Yes we do, but we also owe it to protestant Christians who believed the King had exceeded his authority. Go back to Cromwell's time in the 1600's when the Puritans chopped off the head of the King and established parliamentary government. Modern liberty dates back to the time when Puritan members of parliament reasoned that no prohibitory laws should be made that are not specifically mentioned in the Bible. They reasoned that Earth was a place where we have to be tested and some repulsive things must be made legal if that test is to have any meaning.

Who killed more people for reasons of dogma, secular states or religious states? Secular Hitler triggered genocide and a war that killed 50 million people. Secular Stalin killed a lot more people than Hitler and some say secular Mao killed more than Stalin. And what about Pol Pot? Did the Inquisition or the Crusades kill comparable numbers? Every secular person is free to establish his own morality but Christians are constrained by the Golden Rule: "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Plenty of Christians don't honor this but aren't you glad that they at least believe it as an ideal? I could go on. I'm not arguing for Christianity here, just fairness in evaluating the role Christians played in history.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Here's some interesting ones. I thought you might like the horn with a picture of a witch who looks like a Jewish dad. Then there's the scarey moon that looks like it might be named Fred. Somewhere in this jumble there's also a cereal box from the 40s with a witch cut-out on the back.

 For comparison I included a contemporary Halloween-time cereal box with a monumentally stupid message about nurturing on the back. You should click to enlarge it so you can read the text. Below is a skeleton drawing by Harryhausen and a vintage pumpkin-and-devil picture from Halloween's golden era in the 1910s and 20s. Or maybe I should say "Hallowe'en" like the picture does. I've seen that spelling before. Does anyone know anything about this?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


I have a small but well-loved collection of funny Halloween masks, which I keep year 'round along the top of some book shelves in my living room. I was hoping I could add one mask a year to the shelves but most years there are no good funny masks and I have to make do with what I've already got. 

This year I don't know what to think. I like the middle-aged man mask with the red nose and white glasses (above), I just don't know if I like it enough to give it a place of honor on the shelf. I mean I could get the cheesy Smith Brothers beard with the penile nose (above) instead. I know that would fit in. Then again living rooms are supposed to be tasteful. But then...well, I'll think about it.

BTW, how do you like the cardboard crescent moon with the black cat on its nose (somewhere above)? The guy who designed that is my hero. He made it possible for kids to own something funny and beautifully designed for the price of a candy bar! I also like the poster of the pumpkin on the stairs.

The hanging pumpkin with the teeth is really well done but it probably costs a fortune! I don't see the point in making Halloween things that kids can't afford. Some people want to turn Halloween into a kind of adult Mardi Gras. That'll be fun for us but it'll cut the kids out. Do we really want to do that?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


When I did "Tales of Worm Paranoia" I hired a dialogue specialist (Mark Schirmeister) to help me punch up the dialogue. Thanks to Mark I got "...from the lowest protozoan crawling on his belly in the lowlands, to the great speckled trout that leaps in pristine, crystalline lakes in the uplands (sorry I repeat these lines so often). " When I hired Mark I was only doing what live action producers routinely did in the big studio era. They brought in specialists to punch up every aspect of film making. 

There were action, romance, comedy and lighting specialists just to name a few. These people didn't do the whole film, just the parts that lent itself to what they do well. Today advertising still follows this practice. A beer commercial will call in a glass photography specialist to film the close-up where the beer pours into the mug. That seems perfectly natural to me. 

The question I'd like to pose here is, why doesn't the animation industry follow this practice?

One of the differences between classic animated features and present-day ones is that modern features are almost completely devoid of imaginative set pieces. Dumbo had the "Roustabouts", "Casey Jr.", and "Pink Elephants. " Where are the modern equivalents? What happened? If modern studios have trouble conceiving of stuff like this then why don't they seek help outside the studio? Why don't TV artists working on serious shows run their comedy sequences past outside comedy specialists and visa versa?

The audience doesn't want to see the best that a particular unit can produce, it wants to see the best that possibly can be created, no matter who does it. My advice to both TV and feature producers is to build time into the schedule to run some of the finished scripts and storyboards past appropriate specialists for a punch-up.

Monday, October 16, 2006


OK, based on this drawing (click to enlarge) I claim that my daughter "owns" neck hairs! If you've got a better neck hair drawing put it up now or forever hold your peace!

I may as well add that the original title of this drawing, emblazoned with marker over the top of the page, was "Hi! My name is Eddie! I am fat!"

Hmmm... this post seems a little sparse. Here's (above) a couple of photos to bulk it up, and a pithy caption to accompany them: "Scrumptious tongue mystery hat!!!! Noodle stretching putty service....tomahawk?"