Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Haters Gonna Hate: The Dark Knight Rises

I often feel that a highly critical fan base can help ruin the very thing it's clamoring to improve, whether the property concerned is a movie, comic, or tv show. In this instance I'm responding to the upset over Bane's garbled voice in The Dark Knight Rises, but my feelings extend beyond this one particular episode.

I used to work in a independent video store called Starstruck Entertainment, and there I would hear rants from scores of fans of this or that, explaining how their beloved franchise should be handled. One thing I've realized is that no two fans of one franchise completely agree on how they (ie. those Hollywood hacks) should make the thing they love. What's more, I've found that even the individual isn't completely sure of what they want.

They want the titular character to remain iconic and unchanged, yet fresh and compelling. They want it all, and the internet amplifies these conflicting opinions so word may reach someone in charge. Sometimes that can be a good thing. Other times I fear it threatens artistic license. By pandering to a broad audience we risk missing out on bold visions of stories and characters we know and love. We stop taking risks, period.

In the case of the current Batman franchise and its helmer, Christopher Nolan, I have so far been very satisfied. Nolan is not a perfect director. His action scenes are poorly framed and sometimes confusing, but his bold vision of a Batman in a contemporary setting revitalized the character. Admittedly, both films contain flaws, but are so minor it feels petty to complain. The Dark Knight exceeded my expectations and transcended its own genre, becoming not just an excellent comic-book movie, but a great piece of cinema. For a long time after watching it, I honestly didn't want to see another installment. I couldn't imagine another picture hitting all those heights. I was content.

However, now we have the final chapter in Nolan's contemporary Batman saga, and Bane, the main antagonist, is seemingly difficult to understand. Considering the character wears a bulky mouthpiece (supposedly from suffering a near-fatal injury), and his only complete scene took place in a noisy aircraft, it doesn't seem unreasonable that it should be so. There's a chance Bane's impairment and the aesthetic of his voice will help define the character in an interesting way. Tom Hardy's performance, which is assuredly physical, may be thoughtful and nuanced enough to render words moot.

My point is, I have faith in the production of the film, and want to know as little as possible before enjoying it in theaters. When filmmakers have proven they have a distinct and interesting voice, wouldn't you want to hear what they have to say?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Warm-Up Sketch: ANDRUS

This began as a loose warm-up sketch that I tightened up and added on to infrequently throughout yesterday. This morning I decided to finish it up with some colour before starting my page duties on Teuton. I used markers and watercolours. I would love to colour all of Teuton this way.

We've hit a point in the story where Andrus is trekking across Lithuania on horseback, accompanied by Jadvyga and Asura. Together they're searching for Perkunas' axe. I took this story beat as an opportunity to freshen up his look. In my mind, Andrus has selected a better class of dress and armor before starting his journey. The fortress of Pilenai was overtaken by the Pagans earlier on, so its halls are open and everything is for the taking. This will be Andrus' third or fourth wardrobe adjustment in the story so far, because I like to imagine these characters doing things off-panel, such as eating, using the outhouse, washing, and changing clothes. In fact, the only time we actually see Andrus change is in issue 3, where he's preparing to duel Vakaris.

It's also a sign of my learning curve. When I started this book I still had a lot to learn about the kinds armor and garb people wore in the 13th century.

As it's now full-blown winter in the story, other characters will get spiffy new duds.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Another look at one of the nasty Trolls to come along in TEUTON vol.2, where clubs will be swung, things will be smashed, and someone just might get hurt. Stay tuned...

Here is a piece I'm very excited about. It's been sitting in my inbox for a while and now seems as good a time as any to share it:

Isn't is lovely? By artist Miko Maciaszek, this whimsical portrait of Andrus is typical of Miko's ornate and painterly style. Fred and I had the pleasure of meeting Miko at this past Fan Expo. As neighbors, I spent the weekend admiring his work. Specifically, an extremely fun illustration inspired by The Hobbit. Miko shared an interest in the Lithuanian mythology Teuton explores. Thusly, a fine partnership was struck. Expect to see Miko's contribution in the pin-up gallery of our next printed volume of Teuton!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Upcoming in TEUTON vol.2

Trolls are coming!

If you're keeping up with current pages of TEUTON vol.2, you know that our hero Andrus is at the mercy of a fearsome pagan thunder god, Perkunas, and now must cooperate with his sworn enemies to retrieve a mythical axe. However, the wilderness which they will soon brave is filled with terrible dangers: Trolls.

Above is an early concept drawing for our forest-dwelling trolls. While this look isn't re-defining the mythical creature by any stretch, it fits with my idea of Trolls: gigantic, hairy hominids that have neither shame nor empathy. I imagine them as terrifying mythical hillbillies that are often inbred and oafish, but strong and lethal. They'd be too dumb to make clothes or armor, which is fine since they'd never feel the need for garments. This of course means their privates would show, and might be distracting if they're bouncing from panels to panel, swinging clubs and stomping people. Fred, the writer, asked me show some decency. "Guys (ie. potential readers) hate weiners."

Is that true? Or are scary troll dongs exactly what the industry needs?