Friday, February 13, 2009

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Penny Arcade taught me to draw

Gabe and Tycho (Mike and Jerry), the characters/creators of Penny Arcade, made for a fine highlight of last weekend's NYComicCon. Their Q&A session was hilarious, particularly when answering my question about whether or not the two of them are friends in real life. (Look out for the audio to that and other parts of ComicCon soon at
Also fun was their panel on how to draw comics. Though intended for younger kids, it was really enlightening. In fact, the only time it got boring was when the talk was highjacked by 20-something-year-olds wanting to ask ridiculously unnecessary questions about the anti-alias nature of Photoshop. Just Google some tutorials and let the little kids learn how to draw faces.

Anyway, I want to thank them for coming to the east coast, and say how excited I am about the next PAX.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The first half of Disney/Pixar's "Up"

This weekend, at NY Comiccon, I was one of the lucky 300 people that caught the first half of Pixar's upcoming animated film, Up. I have a lot more to say about it than just that it was good, or that it literally brought me to tears within minutes, or that it easily surpassed my expectations. I have to say why.

I should begin by saying that I have been worried about Up. What little information is available about the film led me to believe that Pixar was taking an inadvisable turn away from its focus on character development, and towards the far too expansive realm of gimmicks and cheap humor. That could not be further from the truth.

Two things highlight this perfectly. The first is a scene from the beginning of the film's second act. A series of events has landed the characters in the following position: Carl, the old man, and Russell have fallen from their floating house, which then begins to fly away from them. Carl manages to catch hold of it by grabbing on to a dangling garden hose, and then Russell grabs ahold of his dangling leg. What matters most is what doesn't happen next; Carl's pants do not fall down. The comedy of the situation is in the well-animated and subtle actions of the characters, and the high quality voice acting. This is a very important distinction, when some studios can't even make a trailer without resorting to unimaginative potty humor.

The second thing is a bit of a spoiler, and if you'd rather (as it seems Pixar would prefer it) see Up knowing relatively little about it, you may not want to read this paragraph. Indeed I was very surprised by a clip I saw before the screening that revealed that there are talking dogs in the film. Surprised and distressed. Obviously, talking animals are an age old staple of the animation industry, and one that didn't seem to have a place in Up. In fact, though, the talking dogs are great, as Pixar takes that cliche and puts a interesting spin on it. The dogs themselves are not talking; instead their collars are a high-tech device that speaks for them. The result is a type of multi-tiered animation that is very interesting and funny to watch. On one tier, the dogs themselves bark and emote just like normal dogs, while on the other, they're emotions are translated into spoken word. Instead of the dialogue being lip synced, it's closer to being emotion synced.

For these, and many other reasons, you can rest assured that I will be in line to see Up when it's released in theaters this May. And as far as Pixar is concerned... I will never doubt again.