December 19, 2010

The Graveyard War: Part 2

Here is a picture that I took of the previously mentioned Graveyard War, as drawn and explained to me by a young boy in one of the drawing classes I teach. I’m honestly not trying to exploit a kid’s artwork, I just really think that this is just too awesome not to share! Click for a larger version.

There are some other things going on here that are pretty interesting. I think the gun on the right side is meant to be a water gun, and the random ovals above are from water balloons, which made it rain somehow.

The tombstones read from right to left. The first one says “Imposter“. I had to help him with the spelling on that one, but it looks like I spelled it wrong. It should be “Impostor“. Whoops. The other tombstone is actually a response to the one next to it, and says “No I’m not“. Talk about getting the last word! I think this has something to do with how this Graveyard War first started. What appears to be a dog or a rabbit towards the left is supposed to be a mouse, if I remember correctly. I don’t remember if the mouse is dead or alive.

Another interesting detail to make note of is the barely erased remains of a prior drawing attempt around the upper-middle region. I had suggested that everyone orient their papers horizontally instead of vertically so that they had more room to draw many characters standing together. So he (sort of) erased the little bit that he had already drawn and started again without being bothered at all by the ghost of the drawing that could have been.

I just think this is a really cool peek into the mind of a creative kid who has let all of his ideas keep spilling out onto the page, yet still has everything making sense in his own mind. He has no regard to how his own skill level and dexterity can’t keep up with his vivid imagination, nor should he at this age. Some kids let that spark fade away and get stressed out about how their drawings don’t look like how they want them too. Others just never really had the spark in the first place, and aren’t interested in getting it.

Anyway, our friend here was in my class this weekend, and he was drawing a ninja. He asked me who a ninja should fight, so of course I told him to draw a pirate. He didn’t believe me so I said it could be a Karate Pirate. He did end up drawing a pirate, and then he drew himself fighting both the ninja and the pirate. This is epic. Clearly, too epic for any camera-phone to capture, so my description will have to do.


December 18, 2010

The Graveyard War

Over the 10+ years I’ve been teaching kids how to draw, I’ve encountered some real funny characters, as in both the kind of characters kids draw and the kids themselves. I’ve got so many funny stories but this one from last evening takes the cake.

I was teaching a class comprised of a young group of kids, and their drawing abilities are kind of all over the place, as is their ability to pay attention.

On this night, one student stood out. I’m not sure how old he is but he must be quite young. He’s far from being the best artist I’ve seen, but his enthusiasm for the material is through the roof. He knows all the super heroes and just loves this stuff. He usually shows up on the weekends, though he hasn’t been to every lesson and so he came to this class to catch up. It’s been a lot of fun having him around, but this class in particular was hilarious.

The lesson was about drawing characters with different ages. The assignment was to draw 3 or 4 characters, each one with a different age. Well, my little friend here took it a couple steps further and started adding more and more extra stuff, creating a huge storyline as he continued to draw. I’ve seen this from kids before. The more they draw, the bigger and longer the story gets, even through everything is on one picture.

His picture started with a drawing of a Grandpa, two kids, and a tall skinny guy. These were pretty much just vaguely humanoid scribbles, but at least they were of different sizes, so he got that part right. Things got really exciting when he revealed that the tall guy was wearing an eye patch. I thought that was interesting because, from a character design standpoint, that is something that creates visual interest from the audience. So I asked him if he had a story about why he was wearing this eye patch. He said it was because the kids in the drawing had thrown rocks at the guy’s face.

So I asked if the guy just happened to have been carrying the eye patch with him this whole time, since he would only be wearing it after getting hit. I was told that he needed to keep an eye patch with him because of his boxing. Makes sense to me! He also added both peace signs and a skull and crossbones to the guy’s shirt, though I convinced him not to add another eye patch on the other eye. Perhaps he was a pirate hippie?

Things took a grim yet amusing turn when it was decided that his confrontation should take place in a graveyard. So he started drawing tombstones and told me that the rocks that the kids were throwing came from breaking the tombstones with a hammer. I did not ask where the hammer came from, but apparently this whole graveyard attack was masterminded by the Grandpa, who was getting the kids to fight for him.

In fact, this was no simple attack. As the story continued to develop, I was informed that Grandpa and the tall guy were having a war! They were at war with each other! Perhaps I should have asked what started the war, but instead I informed him that wars were usually held between entire countries, not just a few people. So he said “This guy is from England, this guy is from Britain, and this guy is from Africa… I mean Canada!” I told him that Canada and England never went to war, we just wanted independence and said goodbye. So he asked me “But how do you know how to say goodbye in England?” So I said that it was “Cheerio!”

At this point I am laughing too much to make any suggestions, and the kid is just having a blast with it. The story continued with more and more things added to it, with new twists and turns, including a tombstone for a mouse that got involved for some such reason. Everything he drew he would either explain it to me or just speak aloud what was happening next. None of this was at all a part of the activity I had instructed everyone to work on, but at least he was drawing and enjoying it, which is the most important thing when dealing with the young ones.

As class was about to wrap up, we were talking about our plans for the holiday break. I was asked what I was going to do, and always feeding the fire, I came up with something ridiculous to say. So I said “I’m going to…” and just before I was about to say “…get into a big fight!“, this kid, with the most sincere and believable tone of voice I’ve ever heard, honestly finished my sentence for me by saying “…beat up a lot of wrestlers?” I laughed so hard and told him yes, that is in fact exactly what I would be doing.

You just can’t make this stuff up, folks. This one kid’s drawing in this one class was almost as good as Axe Cop. Some kids can be taught all day and night and they just won’t take to it, but this little fellow was right in his element. The quality of his artwork didn’t really matter. This crazy, imagination-expanding, creativity developing stuff is what teaching kids how to draw is really all about.


November 29, 2010

Transformers Prime

Cartoons are just great, aren’t they? Esspecially right now when there are so many cool new ones. I want to talk about that in more detail later, but right now I’m going to share my thoughts on the newest Transformers series, Transformers Prime. And since I’ve updated around here, I can now add pictures to this blog a lot more easily, so this will be a lot more exciting to look at than just another wall of cyan text.

This new show is airing in the US on a new network called “The Hub“, which Hasbro has a big stake in. Of course, that puts me and other International fans at a slight disadvantage when it comes to watching this stuff, but only a slight one. I’m not sure when the show will air in Canada but that doesn’t really matter as I have now acquired and seen the 2 episodes that have aired in the States.

So far, so good.

Peter Cullen and Frank Welker reprise their classic roles as Optimus Prime and Megatron. Optimus sounds and acts much like one would expect, which is great but slightly predictable. Megaton, on the other hand, is a little different. It’s still sounds like Welker, but he’s not the same raspy voiced idiot from the original Transformers, he’s a colder, more understated character. I like it. Also of note is Steve Blum‘s Starscream, which is also a lower sounding, darker portrayal of that character, and the great Jeffery Combs as Ratchet, who is quite a cranky doctor.

Although it’s not a sequel to any other Transformers show, it’s good to see Bulkhead back from Transformers Animated. I hope to see other characters from other versions of the franchise appear, not just the same old batch of G1 mainstays.

Cliffjumper is totally The Rock. Seriously. He’s not around for very long but it was crazy hearing The Rock’s voice coming out of a Transformers character, if you smell what I’m cooking.

When the show begins, the Transformers are already active on Earth and have been their for quite some time. I think this is a great idea as it adds potential for both exploration into the future and the past of this story down the road without bogging down the beginning moments with the same dry sequence of showing them wind up on Earth and choosing their alt-modes that several other Transformers series have started off with.

 The animation isn’t mind blowing for a CG show but it’s good enough. My copies of these episodes are not great so I can’t judge too much. Some of the artistic choices in the show are a bit… unique, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it. The look of the robots is sort of a combination between Animated and the movies. I know any time any new show comes out there are people who appear out of no wear just to say “I don’t like the designs!” without really knowing what they are talking about , but those people are lame.

It’s a really serious show thus far. I wonder how it will develop.  The visuals are dark, the music has got a kind of foreboding atmosphere, and the plot seems to be going in a surprising direction. Will it always be this grim?

What really struck me most about the show is that, in my opinion, the best character thus far is definitely Arcee. I’m very surprised about that, but it’s welcomed all the same. She is a cool, blue, tough biker chick in this version, and she gets more attention in these first 2 episodes than even Bumblebee. She’s also the one who hangs out with the lead human character so I’m assuming the spotlight will be on her quite a bit.  That’s perfectly fine by me, and I think it’s interesting that a girl character gets put into such a prominent spot in what is typically perceived as a “boy’s” franchise. Times are changing for the better.

Anyway, when it comes to this stuff, I’m pretty easy to please most of the time. I have enjoyed and will even stick up for Transformers series that many loud (and obnoxious) members of the fandom absolutely hate. But it’s still good to be able to say that I like what I’ve seen and I’ll be looking forward to more.

November 1, 2010

Am I done?

Am I? Am I really?

I think so. There’s new stuff here. More changes yet to come as I continue to tweak things, but for the most part… I think I’m done.