March 1 update

I haven’t updated for awhile; I haven’t done much to update about, so there hasn’t been much to race over here and talk about.

Some things:

I’m trying to get back into drawing. I’ve picked up some more source material and have been scouring them there Internets for things to inspire me. There are a couple of books I’d like to check out, also – although it may be closer to my birthday in April before I actually buy any of them. So far, I’m running into the same sorts of things that I knew about me and drawing in college. I’m a respectable mimic – I can see something that another person has produced and I can make a reasonable copy of it (like the Boba Fett drawing I’ve been posting in-progress shots of on Facebook). But I haven’t done the work to develop the “artist’s memory” needed to conjure up much of anything on my own. I need some back-to-basics work on perspective, etc., and I want to put some more work into figure drawing and anatomy, starting probably with a crapton of stick-figure poses to work out relative size of body parts, etc. Lots to do; I just need to start making the time to do it.

I went into a comic book store yesterday and actually emerged with comics, which is probably the first time that’s happened since I was at a convention in Philadelphia about five years ago. I picked up the special Tomax and Xamot issue of “G.I. Joe: Cobra,” which is an OK story saved by a brilliant layout gimmick, and the first four issues of IDW’s “Transformers” series. I loved the character design and art in the Transformers books, and since they’re early issues there are a lot of full-body “hey, we’re introducing this character” drawings of the major Transformers like Optimus Prime, Jazz, etc. At first glance (I haven’t spent much time with the books), the design is a combination of the old-school Generation 1 stuff and the more modern and realistic Transformers from Michael Bay’s movies without being that over-the-top and ridiculous. I’ll spend more time with those this week.

I was also tempted by some “Aliens” and “Predator” books from Dark Horse, but thought I was spending enough on the G.I. Joe and Transformers stuff as it was without going completely insane in there.

Buying comics again was fun; I even had a little chat about comics in general with the wife of the guy who runs the comic store while she was ringing up my order. I was big-time into collecting comics in high school and college until the secondary market blew up like the Hindenburg around 1995. At one point, I probably had in the neighborhood of 5,000 books, although the vast majority of those were sold off almost 15 years ago. I brought the 150 or so that I didn’t part with home with me out of my parents’ basement and have had fun looking through them, and my resurgent interest in drawing has brought back my appreciation for the talent of the people who provide the art for those books; some of them do really amazing work. It also made me want to dump a bunch of money into the Batman trade paperbacks and graphic novels at Book World downtown, just because of the art. I held out — for now. I’ll probably try to hunt them down for cheap on eBay.

I saw a couple of movies with Mel this weekend – we rented “Inglourious Basterds” and “Black Dynamite” (well, I rented Dynamite; Mel had nothing whatsoever to do with that). “Basterds” was an OK movie that could’ve been amazing, suffering greatly from Quentin Tarantino’s excessive need to hear his characters talk about absolutely nothing that serves to move the film along. It was similar to “Death Proof” in many respects; when Brad Pitt’s character was on screen, “Basterds” was fantastic and, often, absolutely brilliant. When he wasn’t on the screen, the film was a nearly-insufferable bore fest that caused me to question the necessity of entire scenes. Death Proof was similar with its presentation of Kurt Russell’s character; when he was on screen, it was amazing. When he wasn’t, it was mind-numbingly boring.

“Black Dynamite” is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen. It was an absolutely perfect sendup of 1970s Blaxploitation films, and I laughed like an idiot through most of it. It was at the same time a detailed and meticulous tribute to an era that brought the world films like “Blacula” while at the same time being a straight satirical sendup of those same films. There’s a hilarious scene with an intentionally-visible boom mic and, later, a fabulous missed flim edit during a fight scene that reflect just how carefully this movie’s creators worked to replicate some of the absurdities of 1970s-era low-budget action movies. Those two scenes alone are worth the time spent to watch the movie; they’re amazing. “Black Dynamite” also features impossible trans-oceanic helicopter travel; teleporting heroes during kung-fu scenes; fantasic one-liners; and a closing fight scene with the film’s ultimate villain that you really just have to see to believe. I absolutely loved this movie.

Andy Bartlett

By day, I am the executive director of communications and marketing at Bemidji State University. The rest of the time, I'm a husband, father of three, and proponent of super heroes, lasers, space ships and explosions.

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