Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Martian Way (by Chris Foss)

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In my Dan O'Bannon tribute I mentioned his work with Giger, Moebius and Chriss Foss. I didn't realize until now that Foss has gone represented here. No more. Enjoy one of my favorite pieces by him.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Night Rider of the Astral Plane

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Originally done for
the LP Charge by Paladin

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Frazetta Fest

Back of an 1966 album by Herman's Hermits. Quite a party.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Russian Arabian

Arabian subject, Russian illustrator Vania Zouravliov.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Catholic Gators (do you know how they go?)

Illustration from an era undoubtedly filled with intense anti-catholic fever. Context aside,it is nonetheless an intriguing use of the paradigm shift principle in drawing.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

In the wharf, by the fisherman's shack

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See more intriguing, unusual(and a little bit busy) art from
Asako Hayashi

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Blue Star

Wonderful little cyberpunk-like drawing from Juan Gimenez.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

To market, to market

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Can't get more organic that that.

Artist unknown. Circa 1880's.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures-Show Review

Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures is the best cartoon series of the 1980’s (it also happens to be the only, because it is actually cartoony and brought that back to tv animation). You could argue that as far as importance goes, it stands abreast Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (for proving animation can start as multi-media franchise) and Ducktales (an entertaining action animated show that lead to bigger budgets via syndication). But in terms of flat out entertainment it beats them all.

Actually, it is probably the best-animated show of the last quarter of a decade. Even better than Ren and Stimpy, it’s kindred spirit and the reason most of you know about this show (myself included)? Well, in terms of preferences, I would say yes. I like the sheer outlandishness, the caricature/parody of superheroes that Mighty Mouse operates under much more so than the sitcom character studies of Ren and Stimpy (though Mighty has some of that as well, along with comic book madness, vintage animation homage, and more). Also, Ren and Stimpy ran for five seasons, only two of which are worth watching really, while Mighty Mouse was on fire for the entire two seasons it was on.

There are some episodes here that are worthy of being in league with Loony Tunes and the Flesichers in terms of ideas, execution, designs and overall enjoyment. Don’t touch that dial [which really nails down how much better the show was than the 80’s glut], Mighty's benefit plan, the littlest tramp, still oily after all these year and others are phenomenal and I was laughing and grinning at every moment.

This show is so good that every episode of original material is fun, if not funny (the former is not quite as good as the latter, but more than acceptable). At the absolute worse of non -recycled material the episode is an extremely good execution of what tiny toons tried. Little wonder since the members of team ultimately responsible for this show went on to that show as well (and animaniacs, Batman the animated series, Wall-E, etc).

You may have noticed I was very careful to note the terms non-recycled and original. Yes, there are some episodes that not only reused footage from the show itself, but the old terrytoons. One particularly good use is Ice Goose Cometh (another great episode) to show the relationship between Gandy and Sourpuss, and how abusive it was. The others are not quite that clever, although some of new adventures segments have totally different dialogue and voices that made laugh out loud in spots once I accepted it was a clip show.

It’s hard to describe the general mood and presentation of this show. John k, involved in only the first season, once said the Hanna-Barbera characters were harder to draw than the loony tunes, because it was the same principles but more specific. A similar evolution treads through this show, there is a strong base line of animation traditions but through trial and error and long wanted freedom there is anarchy, a healthy vulgarity that runs through this show. It’s the outlandishness—sort of—of independent comics but the professionalism assocaited with 1960's marvel comics. It’s like Jim Tyer madness, but he is the rule not the exception.

Sometimes this show is so inventive and crazy it barely slows down for us to take it in. Multiple repeats are rewarded with this show. Even freeze framing, which is insane considering nobody had any idea to tape Saturday shows, and there was no syndication to re-catch it. There were so many talented artists in this show—maybe the most per production levels—all trying to get in their jokes and idea they have suppressed for so long, that it is impossible to get them all in one viewing.

I don’t want to delve into too much detail because half the fun was the sheer surprises I saw every few episodes; people I didn’t expect, a particular drawing, an off hand verbal joke. All amazing. While I saw a few episodes before on the Internet I was not expecting the level of creativity to last through the entire run of the show. Simply put, this show is great. Even its flaws are illuminating. This is the kind of grandiose madness that I have been waiting for in my childhood for Saturday morning cartoons but never really got. This is one of the best things I have ever seen in any medium.

Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures-DVD stuff

Presentation and whatnot is pretty good, some double imaging, but nothing as bad as on the loony tunes DVD.

The extras, as stated, are three Terrytoons, two commentaries, and one half hour behind the scenes documentary. The Terrytoons are pretty good (better single episodes exist, but these are quite satisfactory) the commentaries are pretty fun and fairly informative, and the documentary is just flat out great.

A lot of the time I’m not really for extras, as long as the show is good, but this behind the scenes is no fluff. Everyone involved has interesting stuff to say, is pleasant to listen to (sad truth; some animators are boring technicians or have annoying voices) and because of the mass creativity involved everyone has some valid reflection of the show. And if nothing else you get some hilarious Ralph Bakshi impressions that conspire to make you believe Ralph really was like that.

Speaking of Ralph Bakshi, and he does get his two cents in, this documentary goes a long way to show that although he and John K. are most often credited, this show was really an amazing cauldron of talent. Tom Minton gets quite a bit of attention, and slightly less so for Jim Reardon (and they are important, being the long term writers) but it wisely doesn’t dismiss Jeff Pigeon (character animation), Vicki Jenson (colors) Tim Bruce (animation) and many more. You almost feel that it’s a document of a bunch of friends at a party that incidentally created a great show.

This doc is also essential viewing, but only after you see all the episodes. You watch them, and get a good percentage of the intent and love it, and then you see through the stories here some of the bizarre in jokes and you realize why there were so many Bakshi caricatures (probably averaging one an episode, at least) and odd surreal passages become clear. It makes you wan to watch the show again, which is perhaps the highest compliment you can pat a made for DVD TV documentary. Don’t miss it.

Overall this is easily one of my highest recommended purchases, and great crowd pleaser. Get it.

Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures-Afterthoughts and constructive criticism

No complaint on the show, awesome.

So awesome in fact that I wish that every episodes had commentary, more than just the two. All except one of my favorite episodes get no commentary love, and don’t touch that dial deserves one.

Now the documentary is two-fold: if you are new to this show this is probably more than enough. If, however, you are a raging consumer of animation history and a big Ralph Bakshi fan (like myself) this documentary is still great but kind of a big tease. Nevermind the fact that I wish it was at least an hour long. In it there are interspersed footage of a PBS special (extract seen here) an amateur recording of behind the scenes from one of the cartoonists, and other sources, none of that is included on the DVD. I know people hate overlapping info or footage, but damn it, I don’t like being told what I think is interesting or not. Include it.

Also, there is mention on the commentary of cut footage and different mighty mouse theme songs and it isn’t here either. I don’t begrudge the people who did the DVD, they probably had little money. I’m more annoyed as the people who gave little money to spruce up the DVD.

However, this is all trivial with the fact that this show is on DVD, and I can enjoy it and show it to my friends and they enjoy it. So with that in mind, slight frustrations aside, thanks guys for putting this awesome show on disc.