Wednesday, February 29, 2012

SMA's Classic Commercial Reviews: Crossfire!

I love this commercial. It has A LOT going on with it. I love how the narrator reveals this post-apocalyptic Mad Max-era arena where kids fight each other through flames in this epic game is "sometime in the future." Leaving our innocent minds to believe...THIS COULD BE OUR FUTURE...and...NO PARENTS! AWESOME! The dueling kids arrive on a hovercraft version of the game pieces and UH OH, there goes the budget for the commercial. Immediately the duelists are whisked away from the crowd to humiliate each other in privacy.

Essentially this game is hockey or soccer with a marble gun as the players whose objective is to knock a puck into the opponent's goal. From this idea alone, I was totally on board. Apparently if you lose or "get caught up in it" you will be lost within the spacetime continuum. So...keep practicing?

What makes this commercial so epic and memorable is the awesome soundtrack where this guy is literally singing his heart out to promote this game. I love it. All of it. CROSSFIYAHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, February 24, 2012

SMA's Awesomest Episodes Ever: Captain Planet Vol.1 "The Conqueror"

In this feature I discuss different episodes from various television shows that have stuck with me well past childhood.

Let me warn you now. There will be many Captain Planet references on this blog. MANY. I know this show was a propaganda machine, but hey, it succeeding in turning me on to the power of recycling; and even gave me the desire to become an environmentalist when I grew up. That said, I can't shake the thrill I get when the Planeteers let their powers combine or the call to duty I feel when Captain Planet utters "The Power Is Yours."

This was essentially a "Power Corrupts" episode of the series and it is interesting to note how soon an episode of this nature came up so early into the first season of the series. The chosen five of the Spirit of Earth, Gaia were tasked to investigate a meteor that crashed on a small island and the destructive fire it raged upon impact. Overwhelmed by the conflagration, the Planeteers only recourse was to summon Captain Planet.

After extinguishing the fire, the Planeteers soon learned the meteor was actually a spacecraft which harbored a malevolent being named Zarm who lured the Planeteers with the promise of power through iron gauntlets well beyond the power of the rings they currently wielded. The Planeteers power levels surged as promised as evidenced by the summoning of tidal waves, hurricanes, giant islands, and intense flames simply by uttering the name of their element suffixed by the phrase "of conquest." As you can imagine, the power granted came with a catch and soon corrupted the hearts of the Planeteers further.

Setting their sights on making a bigger impact on the world, Zarm goaded the Planeteers to disarm a military base housing nuclear missiles by force. A power display by each member of the team left the base in shambles and their blatant abandonment of Gaia's principles of peace forced the deity to become mortal and suffer alongside her world.

The only member of the team who was left unaffected was Ma-Ti thanks to his power of heart keeping him pure. Together with the mortal Gaia, they revealed the truth to her Earthly champions. Gaia revealed she knew Zarm from long ago when he was a former spirit of the Earth who fell from grace because of his desire for power. He left Earth for another world which fell into complete destruction and ruin and ultimately, devoid of all life. In seeking a new world to influence, Zarm set his sites on Earth and Gaia.

With their minds cleared and spirits renewed, the Planeteers called on Captain Planet to exile Zarm back to space and the unknown.

It was a good change of pace to see the plucky teenagers get corrupted by their power, because, they ARE teenagers and are prone to rebelling and doing whatever they want. The message of power corrupting was pretty ham-fisted, but it got through nonetheless even to the point that I still remember some of the dialogue verbatim.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

SMA Sketchbook Profile Week 6: Wonder Woman

This sketch came as a delightful surprise. This book was still in its inception at the time of this sketch and I didn't have a full-on agenda in synchronizing what characters I wanted a specific artist to do. Right after Khary finished my sketch we talked for a bit about art and the WWChicago show were at. Khary brought up Keron Grant (another artist I've followed for about as long as Khary) Khary mentioned Keron was at the show, and even more--a few tables away! I was overcome with shock and anticipation, obviously.

Keron is a fellow Jamaican like myself and I immediately made a b-line to his table. Again, I had limited reference for Keron to draw from due to the seemingly obscure nature of my book and for the life of me I couldn't think a single character I wanted Keron to draw, let alone an obscure one he would mostly likely recall from memory. I was always a fan of Keron's female artwork and a stunning image of Wonder Woman he did prior.

Without a plan, I just went for it. I greeted Keron and let him draw any female character he wanted in my book. I figured since I love how he draws ladies, whatever the outcome I'd be satisfied. I left for a bit to tour the show and give Keron some time to draw and when I returned he gave me this beauty of Wonder Woman. I secretly hoped to myself that he'd draw her. The image equally demonstrates her strength, grace, and beauty. I couldn't have asked for more.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

SMA's Awesomest Episodes Ever: Darkwing Duck Vol. 1

In this feature I discuss different episodes from various television shows that have stuck with me well past childhood.

It's no surprise most fans of the cartoon series, Darkwing Duck know that the titular character's creation is heavily based on/inspired by DC Comics' Batman. In the episode, "Time and Punishment" the writers of the series penned a love letter/parody of the classic Batman story, The Dark Knight Returns (DKR).

In DKR, we find a future, older Batman who retired from his crusade shortly after the haunting death of his partner Robin (Jason Todd). Fueled by an unyielding sense of justice and the violent emergence of the criminal gang, The Mutants, Batman once-again dons his costume to restore order to the chaos.

Much like DKR Batman, Darkwing Duck forged his persona of Darkwarrior Duck from loss; specifically the presumed loss of his daughter, Gosalyn. As a noted rebel to authority, Gosalyn disobeyed her father during a bust of the villainous duo QuackerJack and Megavolt as they were about to travel to the future in their time machine, the Timetop. Gosalyn accidentally hitched a ride to the future to find the criminals of her home St. Canard were gone under her father's watch, but a much more disturbing reality remained in his wake.

For decades, Darkwing thought his daughter ran away and from the loss, resigned himself to a malaise towards crimefighting. In seeing the streets as unsafe for everyone, Darkwing becomes Darkwarrior to purge the streets of criminals in his beloved city. However, driven by loss, anger, and bitterness Darkwarrior placed every citizen in his crosshairs for even the slightest offense.

The attitude of Darkwarrior Duck is very reminiscent of DKR Batman in his zero-tolerance handling of criminals. Nice touches were added in the design of Darkwarrior's costume and car--clearly inspired by the DKR Batmobile. As an added bonus the writers even included a nod to the creative team of DKR when Darkwarrior learned of a crime happening at the corner of Miller and Varley St. (DKR was written/illustrated by Frank Miller and colored by Lynn Varley) As a comic fan, this was a easy way to win me over and the nods to DKR were just icing on the cake.

Still making an impact today, BOOM! Studios recently began a new ongoing comic series for Darkwing Duck with the inaugural arc entitled, "The Duck Knight Returns."

Thursday, February 16, 2012

SMA Sketchbook Profile Week 5: Usagi Yojimbo

Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo is, of course, a favorite of mine hence his inclusion in my sketchbook. However, my introduction to the character was not through his comic, but through the immensely popular "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" animates series of the late 80s and early 90s. As a kid, I was notorious into turning everything into a sword; from appropriately-sized sticks from outdoors to discarded paper towel rolls. I had pet rabbits growing up and so the imagery of a sword-wielding rabbit with a unwavering sense of honor really captured my attention and admiration. In short, he looked cool and was badass. Plus, since we're both vegetarian, he's extra cool! ;)

I've been a fan of Khary Randolph for a long time before we've every met. I frequented his website looking for new art and was amazed at what he (and still does) develop. I also uphold a personal desire to include an number of talented Black artists in my book and Khary is definitely in the upper echelon. At the time, Khary had a stint working on the TMNT comic, so this request was a cakewalk for him.

We finally met at Wizard World Chicago back in 2008 and I had the chance to gush in person. Khary’s got a quiet cool, in his personality and in his work, so it was pretty easy for me to choose the silent samurai and baddest bunny rabbit in comics for him to sketch.

The stoic pose, falling flower petals, and color contrast (accentuated by the red marker to illustrate a warrior’s work is never over) seals the deal and his cool.

Throwing in the badass “Whut” quote, gives this piece 1000 extra points, because seriously, if you just took out a dude looking that cool what else would you say to wide-eyed onlookers?