Three Comics from SPX 2015 That Deserve the Animated Treatment

Time for my favourite post of the year: the one where I decipher which comics I discovered at the Small Press Expo (SPX) that are worthy of getting animated adaptation 🙂

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Six Questions Every Creator Needs to Ask Themselves

Everyone can create, but should everyone create? Plenty of great ideas never get off the drawing board, and seemingly terrible ones manage to make it all the way to YouTube. Everybody is different of course, but before they even start creating, here’s six questions every creator needs to ask of themselves.

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Why I would Turn These Five Comics from SPX Into Animated Series’

The Small Press Expo (SPX) is an annual gathering for creators and fans of independent comics and everything to do with them. It’s a two day affair that (mercifully) takes place near Washington DC and is often both a showcase and barometer for what’s happening in the indie comic world. It’s also full of many talented individuals creating some of the finest comics you can find. Given the relationship between comics and animation, you would think it would be a great place to discover great ideas to animate. You wouldn’t be wrong.

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The Courtship of Animation And Comics is Getting Ever Closer to Marriage

Animation and comics have always been somewhat related. The latter is, after all, a more polished version of the storyboard for the former. Using one as the inspiration for the other is a long-standing practise dating all the way back to the Fleischer Superman shorts of the 1940s. Tie-ins are nothing new either, being around at least as long as shorts but only really hitting their stride with the advent of television. So how do things stand today? Well, the relationship has become ever closer and could even be considered a full-on marriage.

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Five Comics From SPX With Animated Potential

This is the companion piece to last week’s post about pitching and how comics could play a bigger role for animation studios looking for new ideas. SPX from the previous weekend was a great experience and although I had to whoosh by everything in one day, it proved a productive and rewarding test of my theory. To prove it, here’s five comics (and a few honourable mentions) by independent artists that contain plenty of animated potential given the right resources and effort.

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Why The Practise of ‘Pitching’ Ideas Has To End

Pitching as an exercise is found in many corners of life. From thesis ideas to why you need a bigger garage, there is always an element of selling involved in order to see an idea come to fruition. Within the animation industry, pitching has long been the route by which many ideas get turned into actual animation. TV shows and feature films are pitched constantly either to studios or by studios. it. It’s an annoying practice that hasn’t necessarily evolved much or kept pace with technology. Here’s why it should done away with.

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Disney & Pixar Should Not Make Any Marvel Cartoons [repost]

Via: Screenrant

Just a little bit over a year ago I posted a bit of a rant about how Disney & Pixar had no business engaging in productions of Marvel properties, despite the fact that Disney owns the lot. My position hasn’t changed but the fact that there is a supposed co-production in the works, has spurred me to re-post it below.

There I said it. Disagree if you must, but please hear me out before you judge me!

Two years ago, The Walt Disney Company agreed to buy Marvel Entertainment in a massive deal that cost so much money, I could very happily live for the remainder of my years on 0.01% of it. The question arose at the time and it still exists today in what will the company do with the new acquisition?

Many answers abounded with one of the most prominent being the possibility that the Walt Disney Company could use its superior animation skills and artists to create some wonderful new Marvel-related entities.

There are numerous problems with this approach and I suppose the fact that we are discussing it two years after the fact is proof enough. Firstly, Disney and Marvel do not see eye to eye when it comes to their content.

Who would a Disney-produced Marvel TV show/film appeal to? Oh sure the likes of the X-Men films can be theoretically suitable for kids, but I’d be willing to be that the Old Maestro would be spinning in his grave at the thought of the company he built putting out such stuff.

Disney is purportedly all about the family whereas Marvel is about the individual. Each approach tends to deal with very different approaches to the story and characters and there is little common ground between them save for the fact that individuals can enjoy family-orientated entertainment too.

Who would produce the content? Marvel has its own department for such things but Disney has all the necessary staff. Can you imagine Disney artists working under people accustomed to comics? I can’t and I doubt the artists can either.

Comic animation is also very different to what Disney is accustomed to. The current artists wouldn’t be able to work on it so new ones would have to be found. Besides that, Disney has never done a comic-style film or TV show. Tron is about as close as they got and even then that was technically live-action.

On a related note, would Pixar take up the challenge? According to head honcho John Lasseter, no:

No, not at Pixar. We have The Incredibles, so we’ve done superheroes here ourselves and so we have that kind of history with Brad Bird doing The Incredibles.

Arguably the best situation is to run both companies independently. There is little common ground so why exert all the effort to merge for no real benefit. Unlike TimeWarner, Disney has no need for excuses when it comes to keeping its comic department separate from its animation one.

Baltimore Comic Con Recap

Just a couple of thoughts on the 2011 Baltimore Comic Con that took place this weekend. 🙂

  • Overall it was a lot of fun to just walk around and see stuff
  • There’s lots of diversity when it comes to comics. I saw people of all shapes, sizes and colours (the blue guy really stood out for me though)
  • It’s always great to get out and meet the artists in person and to see some of their artwork.
  • Once again, it was a pleasure to see Mike Maihack and to buy the second volume of Cleopatra in Space
  • I supported the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and picked up a copy of Will Eisner’s “New York The Big City
  • I was reminded that anyone who says women and girls aren’t into comic is lying through their teeth.
  • The bootleg DVD industry has to be feeling the pain of illegal downloading too. I mean, $50 for the entire series of Billy and Mandy or Kim Possible must have been a bargain at some point, but now that’s just crazy expensive.
  • The only way it could have been even more enjoyable was if I actually read comics on a regular basis.
  • Oh, and I saw Stan Lee through a gap in the curtains.

Disney & Pixar Should Not Make Any Marvel Cartoons

I apologise for this post. It is by far the worst I have written although I am sure it is not the last. The only reason I leave it up is as a reminder of the kind of post you should not post on your blog.

There I said it. Disagree if you must, but please hear me out before you judge me!

Two years ago, The Walt Disney Company agreed to buy Marvel Entertainment in a massive deal that cost so much money, I could very happily live for the remainder of my years on 0.01% of it. The question arose at the time and it still exists today in what will the company do with the new acquisition?

Many answers abounded with one of the most prominent being the possibility that the Walt Disney Company could use its superior animation skills and artists to create some wonderful new Marvel-related entities.

There are numerous problems with this approach and I suppose the fact that we are discussing it two years after the fact is proof enough. Firstly, Disney and Marvel do not see eye to eye when it comes to their content.

Who would a Disney-produced Marvel TV show/film appeal to? Oh sure the likes of the X-Men films can be theoretically suitable for kids, but I’d be willing to be that the Old Man would be spinning in his grave at the thought of the company he built putting out such stuff.

Disney is purportedly all about the family whereas Marvel is about the individual. Each approach tends to deal with very different approaches to the story and characters and there is little common ground between them save for the fact that individuals can enjoy family-orientated entertainment too.

Who would produce the content? Marvel has its own department for such things but Disney has all the necessary staff. Can you imagine Disney artists working under people accustomed to comics? I can’t and I doubt the artists can either.

Comic animation is also very different to what Disney is accustomed to. The current artists wouldn’t be able to work on it so new ones would have to be found. Besides that, Disney has never done a comic-style film or TV show. Tron is about as close as they got and even then that was technically live-action.

On a related note, would Pixar take up the challenge? According to head honcho John Lasseter, no:

No, not at Pixar. We have The Incredibles, so we’ve done superheroes here ourselves and so we have that kind of history with Brad Bird doing The Incredibles.

Arguably the best situation is to run both companies independently. There is little common ground so why exert all the effort to merge for no real benefit. Unlike TimeWarner, Disney has no need for excuses when it comes to keeping its comic department separate from its animation one.

It’s Comic and Cartoon Time This Weekend in NYC!

Via: MoCCA

Starting tomorrow at 9am and continuing through till Sunday evening, the Lexington Ave Armory in New York City will pay host to the annual festival of the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, better known as MoCCA.

I’ve never been before, but from listening (and eavesdropping) on twitter, it seems like its going to be a blast. The exhibitor list has been posted contains many, many artists whose work I am dying to see along with plenty of folks I’ve met before and am looking forward to seeing again. Besides that, there will be literally a ton of art on display and for sale.

I will be there on the Saturday (tomorrow) rambling about chatting to people. If you are about the festival yourself and you happen to see me, come up and say hi. I’ll be the tall fella with glasses wearing the brown cap. Don’t worry, I don’t bite (much) 😛

Why Visuals Are The All-Important Way Of Expressing Character Emotion

I need to begin this post by pointing out that that displaying emotion in a character is not the same as displaying attitude, something I discussed here and based on Michael Sporn’s original post.

In animation, when it comes to displaying emotions, the simplified or rudimentary character designs often necessitates the use of exaggerated facial expressions or whole-bod movements to convey the correct message, This is why the eyes of Tex Avery’s wolf always jump out of their sockets by about a hundred feet and why the Looney Tunes always jump a mile in the air when startled.

For today’s study, I will use the awesome comic by Faith Erin Hicks that is Superhero Girl. As you might expect, it’s quite a visual comic however the strip I have chosen does not contain any traditional superhero battles, punches or even feats of heroic strength. No, it’s a great example of just some of the emotions that characters have to convey and how even in a simplified form, the reader can fully interpret them.

Staring off with frame one. Here’s Superhero Girl conked out in bed. Besides the requisite zzzzs, there’s a gaping, drooling mouth and a pair of closed eyes.

All of these are the traditional elements of classic cartoon/comic sleeping poses. Walt Disney took some liberties with the Seven Dwarfs and their goofy sleeping positions, but there is no need for that here.

There is little if any emotion in this scene but it is safe to say that our protagonist is content enough in her own little world.

Onto frame two, and we have two poses. The first is the single eye focused exclusively on the ringing phone. There is little if any detail, but we can assume that the call is an unwelcome intrusion.

The second frame is an establishing shot. There isn’t much that could have been done as there is no need to show any emotion although the raised eyebrows, sideways glance and un-smiling expression suggests that there is some apprehension present.

Sometimes a frame or shot like this can be off-balanced as the animator or artist tries too hard to inject some excitement where none is needed. Getting something like this wrong is all too easy to do. It’s better to play it safe, no-one will be bothered by something that doesn’t seem out of place.

Onto frame 3 and we’ve got a smile! A big one at that too. Smiles are perhaps the easiest way to express emotion. Everyone smiles when they are happy and we all have a deep-down desire to be happy, right?

Although this is a relatively far shot, there is no need for a lot of detail. The emotion is easy to read from here. As is the slight apprehension that lingers in the leg-hold.

Sometimes a gesture like that would not even be present. The reader may not even notice it. However, small things like that have a habit of affecting the reader/viewer in ways that they may not consciously notice or appreciate.

This next frame is a great one. The extra-wide smile is a full grin, brimming with a certain kind of confidence. The tilted pose is another common trait. For me, it seems to suggest a kind of care-free feeling in that the character is not too pre-occupied with looking proper and formal.

The gaze upwards and away belies the nature of the frame and indeed, the very conversation that is going on. The sense of everything-is-not-as-it-seems permeates the scene.

Again, the simple pose and details of the frame say are a very important part of the frame as a whole. Without it, the words would be read in an entirely different tone that would lose the special meaning they carry here.

Back again to the full shot with the big smile. This differs from the previous panel in that there is no leg hold. The frame seems much more natural and our hero appears much more at ease with herself. The apprehension has vanished to be replaced by the reassuring conversation she is having on the phone.

This frame is another simple one and again, it is an excellent example of less is more. Sure, the conversation could have been done without the need for another smiling shot, but I think it adds much to the story and leads the reader into accepting the same sense of security and happiness as the character.A far-away shot with a frowny face pretty much says it all.

In these dual frames, we have a setup and a reaction. The first clearly displays dissatisfaction. There is no need for much detail here. The lowered eyebrows and puckered up mouth are proof enough of that.

The second frame provides a bit more necessary detail. The sullen expression tells us all we need to know about the character. The pose is irrelevant here and isn’t shown.

The upward gaze is directed straight ahead, almost at the reader themselves perhaps to convey the feeling of annoyance or maybe resentment.

A gaze like this does not at all convey ‘attitude’. Rather it convey emotion. Superhero Girl is annoyed for a reason, she is not pulling a face like this just for the sake of it. Faith has drawn a great scene that hits the nail right on the head.

From that rather pedantic look we move to one of awful shock and fear. The eyes are wide open, the mouth is agape in horror.

I think the face says it all really, although the raised right hand suggests an attempt to grab at something.

The wide-eyed stare is one of the exaggerations that animated and comic characters do great. It works very well as a statement of fear or shock and continues to be used for precisely this reason.

The fact that she appears to be staring into the distance as well contrasts nicely with the previous frame where the reader appeared to be given her attention.

And lastly:

This far-off shot sums her predicament up nicely and the expression is appropriate in its lack of detail. The arm hanging by the side. the lowered eyebrows almost resigned to the inevitable reinforce how she feels without calling attention to themselves.

So anyways, this particular strip serves as a great example on how characters are called upon to display a wide array of emotions and how the visual look and pose of the character can be the most important way of conveying those emotions to the reader. The same goes for animation with the only difference being that the characters are in full-motion in between the frames.

This post does not attempt to outlay any particular guidelines when it comes to displaying emotion, it simply implores you to use it well because it really can make or break a character.

As you can probably tell, I like this strip a lot, mainly because of the wide range of emotions on display. It’s not that they speak to me in any special way, I just happen to like they way the strip as a whole is drawn. So much so, that I bought the original.