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11th-Jun-2012 10:06 pm - why Prometheus disappointed me...
I went to see Prometheus at the cinema recently and I was very excited. Partly because it was carrying on in a vein of sci-fi that I really like (the crossover of ancient history with far flung advanced civilisations from space) and partly because it looked gorgeous.

I, like many, was very disappointed. It was gorgeous, the effects were unstoppably brilliant and the acting was universally outstanding… that, if anything, made it worse. There was no story, character development was hazy and contradictory, the series of events were confusing and convoluted and the whole thing was an exercise in feature-length exposition and pretention. In my opinion.

I wanted to like it, and I was entertained by the aforementioned performances and visual effects, and maybe that disappointed me even more. So a search for an explanation or at least a reason for why it didn’t work was high on my priority list even though I came away disappointed with the film.

My lady found me this: http://cavalorn.livejournal.com/584135.html. If you’ve seen the film I suggest you read this guy’s blog. It’s great and my blog post won’t make any sense unless you do!

It’s a brilliant explanation and certainly clears up everything that seemed to be confusing about the film. This journal entry is by no means intended to attack the writer of this blog (as I said, I think he’s done a great job) or rant and batter you about the head with my opinion, more to put in words why I’m still disappointed with the film (maybe even more so) and many other films that operate on a similar storytelling ethic.

This explanation of Prometheus proves that there is quite a strong backing, and a lot of thought to the film, and if it’s true that Ridley REALLY DID INTEND ALL OF THIS PREPOSTEROUS POSTERING, then WHY DIDN’T HE PUT IT IN THE MOVIE? It’s not in the movie. It’s just hinted at, and that’s not storytelling.

In the old days of stories told by word of mouth, you didn’t hint at what happened. BECAUSE THEN NO-ONE WOULD KNOW WHAT HAPPENED. You told it. And the exciting thing was HOW, either through, song, rhyme, poetry or powerful beautiful description you drew your audience in and with respect to their fore-knowledge and intelligence weaved a narrative experience for them to engage with and explore. If you don’t put up the road and the sign posts how the hell are they supposed to know where to go?

Using overt religious and philosophical allegory is not an excuse for bad storytelling. The bible is all allegory and parable and as such is consistently misinterpreted and twisted to mean whatever those people want it to mean.

This does not make the bible a brilliant story that is worthy of acclaim for narrative brilliance and storytelling mastery. The bible is DELIBERATELY a book of mystery and interpretation which people use as guidance, they get their own help and assistance from it in their own way.

No-one’s going to make a movie of the BIBLE.

I’m not saying you have to make story points so ridiculously obvious that even a child could understand, and thereby do what Hollywood does all too often and treat its audience like idiots… but I AM saying you have to TELL YOUR STORY. Who is the intended audience for this film? MASTERS LEVEL PHILOSOPHERS AND ARCHAEOLOGISTS?

Hiding behind interpretation is bad storytelling, there is no excuse for that and it annoys me. If I wanted I could interpret anything to be anything. That’s what conspiracy theorists do and they’re hardly credited as being the most credible or reliable purveyors of information.
As it stands I DO know a lot of these obscure philosophical and historical references that this film apparently hides it’s story behind, but that doesn’t mean I understood the film. Having someone line up a load of explanations in parallel with the ‘plot’ of the film does not mean I missed the boat on understanding the films complexity, it means those very ideals (all of which are brilliant and deserving of being a apart of the mythos of the film) WERE MISSING FROM THE FILM AND YET ARE CLEARLY INTEGRAL TO THE STORY.

It means the FILM NEEDS A GUIDE. IT NEEDS A KEY that you take into the cinema and watch it with and I’m not sure that concept is going to catch on.

Stories teach us things. They not only teach us about moral choices and the human condition, but they can actually teach us facts, historical or scientific facts. Countless movies have been made telling true stories about events of our own history in order to teach those who don’t necessarily fancy settling down with an ancient tome of pre-history in the library, about what happened. Entertainment is one of the greatest ways to learn things as you engage with it on a higher level and realise that sometimes, just the facts are brilliant stories in themselves.

Science Fiction can teach us about scientific facts but it can also teach us about technology, it can warn us about the misuse of advancement and development through the medium of hypothetical imaginings and extrapolated theorising.

Stories are amazingly powerful things.

Prometheus could have taught everyone about all these brilliant ideas, about ancient cultures ideas of sacrifice to bring forth life, about the importance of our history and the negligence humankind often has for its world… but it didn’t.

The film didn’t actually SAY any of that at all. It relied ENTIRELY on foreknowledge. Which means it doesn’t deserve any credit for it! Only the guy who wrote the blog post I linked to earlier deserves any credit for the entertainment gleaned from understanding Prometheus. He did what the movie makers didn’t do. HE TOLD THE STORY!

It wouldn’t have been an insult to us intelligent viewers if the film had cleverly stated something we already knew. We would have all gone ‘oh wow, that all lines up! Amazing!’ we would have gone away and researched further into the titbits it had revealed to discover more and realise that even more lined up with Ridley Scott’s great vision. And we would have loved the film. It would have been a film that lined up historical fact and teachings of the nature of humanity with a new story and a context of space travel and exploration and as such would be the movie I was expecting to go and see.

Instead it was elitist and pretentious. It revealed nothing and expected all the work to be done by the audience saving any work to be done on actual storytelling or character development. Those who didn’t know what it was alluding to come away having learnt nothing, and those who do actually know a bit, miss the boat because the film never outright connects itself with any one of these great ideas.

And the few who do make the connections and feel as though they have understood it, haven’t learnt anything new and have done all the work.

They’ve essentially been presented a blank canvas, upon which they wrote all of their own ideas and philosophies, and then stood back, appreciating their own work and crediting all of it to Ridley Scott!

Prometheus doesn’t teach us anything. It doesn’t even ask the questions. It just sits and expects us to write the story ourselves.

That is not what I come to a story for.
5th-May-2011 02:42 pm(no subject)
dont come running at me all at once iPhone games developers, because i have come up with the greatest idea for an iphone game yet. move over crazy SHERDS, this is gonna be mega.

Its called 'Drop it on Roger' and the game play is essentially that. You must drop things on Roger. Here's the setting:

Roger is a spy. He has broken into a secret facility and stolen A SECRET DOCUMENT. something that mustn't be revealed to the public. This building is protected by a secure intruder alert system but Roger is a sly little pooch and has shut it down. At its wit's end, the Central Computer locks all the doors in the facility and resorts to you, a lowly air conditioning system program. You must assist the Central Computer in stopping Roger.

Using a limitless supply of HEAVY BOXES in the attic of the facility and the ridiculously complex system of fans and air ducts you must coax HEAVY BOXES to fall on Roger's head.

Each level is a room, the very bottom of which is where Roger is, running back and forth desperately trying to unlock the door and escape. Each room has a time limit which is the time it takes Roger to pick the lock and escape the room. Above the room is a veritable maze of fans and ducts which you must guide a box through so that it falls and hits Roger on the bonce. once you do that, you will stun him but he will still move onto the next room. As will you.

Here's a screenshot what i drew all by myself.

The controls are simple. One touch of the screen turns all the fans on. One touch turns them all off. When a fan is on, the HEAVY BOX moves in the direction of the arrow only, and when it reaches a wall it stops against that wall. At any point if you turn the fans off, the box will fall. If you catch it in another stream it will immediately move in that new direction but if it hits the floor it will break and you'll have to use a new one. There will be bonuses for having the fans on for the shortest amount of time and for completing the room with only one box or in the shortest time possible.

There will be a slight over-arcing narrative about what the facility is doing and what secrets Roger has been able to steal. This will of course be a humourous narrative (yeah, ive been playing Portal 2, im alright with blatant hero worship and imitation)

so there you go. if you're an iphone video game developer and you're reading this GO MENTAL but make sure you use ME to illustrate the game and create all the game sprites... thats all i ask. if you dont i will drop things on YOU. oh and ive already created demo levels of this at home on a crude games development program so ill poshen them all up a bit and make them availiable for download if you like? yeah?

next big hit people... next. big. hit.
11th-Mar-2011 02:01 pm - pulp scifi pics i found
i love this stuff. i dont want to draw stuff like this but i definitely draw inspiration from it... i love the ridiculous-ness. some sci fi is a bit caught up in whats real and what's possible.
i love going back to the roots of it all and showing us impossible worlds, flights of fantasy... lets go somewhere you can never go.
its raw imagination and its ace, check these i found on a recent google haul:

this one particularly is amazing. we need more Nautipuss.

and i love this monster... i dont think even it knows what it is

awesome Vangelis cover. this reminds me of Chris Foss stuff...

odd... but great. reminds me of Twelve Monkeys.

im not sure how old this last one is... looks newer than the rest, but its got the same sensibilities... i like it a lot.

hope you like
23rd-Feb-2011 11:02 am - a 7STRING page....

so im currently knee deep in 7STRING issue 1.
it feels so good to be finally drawing this after what seems like EONS of planning. the whole thing is gonna be full colour like this what you see here.
im going to release it as issues at cons and such, all the while hoping someone at the top will give a shit.
nothin's gonna stop me drawing it though.... this is me for the rest of the year... at least.

so i'll post the odd page to whet yo appetites.
this is an early page.
hope you like
3rd-Feb-2011 11:43 am - COMIX CHATVALANCHE
So, first up, apologies for not having posted in a while. ive kinda had my head down, working non-stop and actually haven't had a chance to come up for air and actually THINK about what im doing. I think thats what this blog is good for. To air my thoughts about comix and the work im doing and if anyone reads it or gives a shit then thats a bonus. Mostly i kinda need to get it out.

You see, ive been thinking about what it is thats driving me so hard at the moment. To the extent that although i feel like im drawing some of my best stuff EVER im still not happy. And then i worked it out the other day.

Its validation. I could draw the greatest comic book of ALL TIME but if no-one saw it, or no-one cared it would be rather pointless. Now dont get me wrong here, im not saying i have drawn the greatest comic book OR that i am only drawing comix for the accolades of my adoring public. Im really not.

Im drawing comix because i love them. Because i love the industry, the community and i love other comix creators. I love how with a comic, you can single handedly create a world and then tell a story within it. You make it exist and you control every element. How your world and your buddy's world can sit on a table next to eachother, like parallel universes... I truly believe comics to be the best medium for telling stories...

The validation i require is being a part of that world. For people to see me as a comic book creator, creating worlds and comics that they enjoy. If i love it so much and have put so much of myself into it, i want to be recognised as part of it. I want to be part of the gang.

To a certain extent i do feel part of the gang. Im a regular face at UK cons now and i have many people who come to seek ME out and are always happy to see me. This makes me IMMENSELY happy. I also have a group of comix dudes, we always hit up the same cons and i love all of their work. You guys know who you are...

But i think they, like me, want to KNOW that they are a comic book artist. And im increasingly getting the feeling that i will never know for sure. That you are only a comic book artist in the eyes of OTHERS (other artists and your audience). From my own eyes i am just a guy who struggles to draw in the time left over from his dayjob, which he needs to pay the rent, and then goes to bed every night wishing he could just draw and somehow live because THATS ALL I WANT TO DO WITH EVERY HOUR GOD SENDS.
Its like im always disappointed because i cant say with absolute 100% truth:
i instead have to suffix it with:
'...who works at a school to pay the rent and self-publishes his own books whilst simultaneously bankrupting himself'

I want to be able to wear it as a badge. When i first came out of uni i got a cleaning job and had to clean at the high school i went to as a kid. I could see all the teachers who remembered me, looking down at me as if to say 'wow, he's done well for himself hasn't he'
the few that talked to me i would manage to force into conversation: 'yeah but im ALSO working as a freelance illustrator.' the truth was i was getting max 1 commission a month and nothing more.

I think its totally natural to want to be able to turn around when someone asks what you do and say that you are doing what you love and what you've aspired to do all your life. Instead its always a bit complicated and there's always a part of it that makes the whole thing sound rubbish in other people's eyes.

I do know that most artists have a dayjob. And its the lucky ones who either make it big, get a grant or live some other way that can do it all the time and hence can call themselves 100% hardcore comix dudes. But i bet if you asked them they wouldn't say its so, completely for certain.

I guess what im saying is, in this industry its really difficult to know where you stand. Because even the huge names in comix aren't celebrities (except maybe Stan Lee but we all know he doesn't really count).
Bottom line is, as much as i dont know where i am and whether i will ever be a comic book artist in anyone else's eyes, im gonna keep drawing.
Its like thats the only thing you can ever be sure of... whether you're drawing or not. And i am... so if you are too... lets be comic book artists together.

Here's a transformers picture i drew for Titan. If they like it i might get a transformers gig. that'd rule. fingers crossed.

1st-Nov-2010 11:57 pm - latest pictures, news and SUCH
Hey guys, i just finshed drawing this:

... and im supremely happy with it. its the cover for my hype building extravagant introduction to my major comic project 7STRING. a collection of short stories in full colour introducing the characters and world from my upcoming musical sci-fi epic. it will be for sale at my table at Leeds Comiccon and then after that ONLINE!! in a special shop i will create from nothing but CODE.

i also drew this cos i love autumn:

i love this season so much. that chill in the air without it being cold. Halloween and Bonfire night and my birthday. Its all just right. You can be outside for ages and not get too hot or too cold providing you're dressed right
and the girls. they have this amazing combo of slightly revealing and wrapped up warm. this picture was a sketch i did in my sketchbook of a girl in town. i love how she's wearing hotpants with kneesocks but then a jacket and scarf. its so conflicted but so goddamn awesome.

also dont forget to check out my DAILY webcomic Cat and Meringue at their special website

thanks dudes, hope you all good

hey guys, just a little shout to say Cat and Meringue have their very own spot on the web now. head to http://catandmeringue.wordpress.com to see their adventures updated daily. im actually really into it (which is good considering im drawing one every day) and i have big plans. so jam a big spear-shaped bookmark into that page and check it out every day!
also i got this amazing tribute from the legendary Nikki Stu:

i would love to see what anyone else made of the cat and the meringue...
hope you're all gooooooood
8th-Oct-2010 11:22 pm - Kari and her Palmsprint

just finished drawing this and thought id share... im well happy with this one. been in a bit of an art funk lately hating on my stuff, whenever i get like that ive got to draw myself out of it and that usually means spending ages on a pic to get it perfect... ive got this damn close to perfect.

hope you're all having a good nite
1st-Oct-2010 02:42 pm - more delicious Cat and Meringue

27th-Sep-2010 08:40 am - CAT and MERINGUE
my new daily comic. It is the adventures of a Cat and a Meringue in a boat of modern design.

i will probably update weekly on LJ but if you follow me on Twitter you can watch the epic unfold on a day by day basis. im @nichangell

hope you all good
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