Thursday, July 27, 2017
In July 1964 Capitol records released a collection of previously British releases titled "Something New." The collection contained songs from the British release of "A Hard Day's Night" as well songs from the British "Long Tall Sally" EP such as "Slow Down" and "Matchbox," along with a German language version of "I Want to Hold Your Hand."
The release of Something New would become a suggestive comment on the Beatles legacy. Something New delivered previously uncollected Beatles a year after The Beatles became an international musical and pop culture.
Over the following decades, there have been countless Beatles compilations, rarities, remixes, biographies, documentaries, films, and tributes, each boasting a different evaluation of the multifaceted group.
Harry Truman in his biography "Plain Speaking" was quoted saying "There's nothing new except the history you don't know." With the launch of Sirius XM's The Beatles Channel this past May, it seems there are always new things to discover about the band. Just when you think you knew everything about The Beatles, The Beatles Channel provides a plethora of facts that are as fascinating today as they were years ago. Their process, their habits, their struggles and their opinions continually captivate, and listening to their songs and stories reiterate just how everlasting their charisma remains.
Hosts like Peter Asher, Dennis Elsas, Chris Carter, Bill Flanagan and celebrity guests including Ron Howard, Don Henley and Billy Joel share stories and analysis that make The Beatles Channel an engrossing addition to The Beatles chronicles.
Tuesday, July 25, 2017
|Splash page highlighting some of Mike Ploog's best work.|
Following the success of the original 5 POTA films and the advent of the POTA TV Series, Marvel published a great BW magazine (bigger dimensions than your average comic book) which could be scooped up for a handsome dollar at your local newsstand (if they hadn't sold out yet!).
In a former post where I mentioned POTA and gave away two self-designed POTA tee shirts to lucky readers, I highlighted the brilliant pencil art of Tom Sutton and the writing of Doug Moench in the most amazing and visually inventive Ape Art a kid could witness. In this post, I am sharing the contributions of two additional art greats - Mike Ploog and Rico Rival along with the striking cover by artist Bob Larkin.
|Bob Larkin's POTA cover illustration |
promised new and unusual
interpretations of the POTA universe.
In 1974, I was mere young pup, and somehow managed to finance a few issues of this rare mag. To say that I was incredibly pleased is an understatement. The cover of issue # 13 by illustrator Bob Larkin had me transfixed for years. Since then I've researched a lot of Larkin's work, and this cover may be one of his best published pieces. The reflected light and additions of red contours on the primary Ape's left side are outstanding and contribute to raising this art above the norm. The background showing the ape and the girl tied at the stakes while more apes dance a "dum-dum" around their fire are direct as they can be. This is going to be one Ape tale that General Urko himself would cherish.
|Mike Ploog's narration is lush in black and white.|
Ploog's use of high contrast black inking is complemented by his deft placement of grey tones throughout. Like an old black and white movie, the lack of color can work wonders in the right hands, and Ploog captures a mood of despair and mystery with his handiwork. Ploog had a distinguished career in movies as a story and concept guy for many years following. Doug Moench's writing is more memorable here than in many of his Marvel and DC super-hero titles.
|Escape from the Planet of the Apes |
lovingly illustrated by Rico Rival
If Rico was missing all the fantasy subjects he and other Philippine artists were doing at DC back in the seventies, it's not evident. The splash page alone makes me wonder just how the heck this guy was so good? He clearly relishes the drawing of drapery, people, poses, action, pantomime, mood and emotion, embellished with his bold line work and immersive staging.
Many of today's comic artists would probably copy movie snapshots for an illustrated movie adaptation. Rico Rival instead draws the daylights out of the story and makes this interpretation feel like a brand new totally original ape animal .
If you have a day to kill, kill it with these two genius artists. You will be mesmerized and astounded over how beautiful comic books can be in the right hands.
Friday, June 30, 2017
A strong factor in being hired by EA many moons ago was to integrate cinematic storytelling into sports video games. In this, I faced many technical and leadership obstacles across the team and the studio. EA Sports had been a heavy Producer-dominated culture back then, and giving the Art Director ownership over visual game features was viewed with much skepticism by the old guard. In time, the Art Director community grew into a united front, gaining influence and resulting in dramatic cameras, improved visuals, and better storytelling. Until now, however, Madden never truly reached a complete cinematic narrative combining film, gameplay and programming.
With the unveiling of Madden 2018's "Longshot" story mode, users can control the story path and progress of Devin Wade as he navigates the challenging prospect of the NFL Draft. Unlike earlier story modes, the "Longshot" feature doesn't rely on stat screens and user interface controls to display results. Unfolding like a film, users play mini games and compete in drills to influence Devin's performance, his career prospects, and ultimately his failure or success.
I am proud to have been reunited with two former Disney colleagues in designing storyboards for this new feature. Before he achieved recognition for his story contributions on worldwide animation projects, my pal Woody Woodman and I were budding storyboard artists toiling for promotions under the Disney roof. "Longshot's" Head of Story, Tom Labaff, was my former animation mentor during my training period on Mulan, and has since crafted boards for Blue Sky and Digital Domain, while somehow managing to squeeze in a hefty bunch of published illustration gigs! If you want something done, give it to a busy person.
The ultimate bonus for me was reuniting with Writer/Director of "Longshot," EA Art Director Mike Young. Mike helped elevate AD efforts across NCAA Football and Madden year after year. I learned a great deal about Art Direction from him, and enjoyed his effortless style of leadership. I should also mention, he put up with and often encouraged my goof-ball sense of humor. "That's right, Sizzlechest!"
I look forward to the release of Madden 2018's "Longshot" on August 25th. I promise to keep my "showboating" to a minimum.
Thursday, May 11, 2017
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
It's interesting to see the direction evolve from costumes true to the art direction of the new "Final Fantasy: Storm Front" video game, to the upbeat and festive demeanor that is so crucial to "The New Day's" identity. You can see the progressions in the costume designs, the entrances, and the ice cream cart that the WWE Superstars ride down the ramp and into the ring.
Monday, April 17, 2017
I was in the mood to do some quick Tarzan studies tonight. Once again I lost track of time, so I can't say exactly how long each took. It's safe to say I did them in about 90 minutes total. What a realization that occurs each time....either I am pleased with the quick results, or horrified. I would say a mix of both tonight. The monkey in the last frame (Nkima) is particularly bad. From one of my favorites - "Tarzan and the Lost Empire."
Thursday, April 6, 2017
With A-List Superstar matches, captivating story-lines and a few surprises, the City of Orlando, Florida exploded in spectacular entertainment.
I had the privilege to work with the talented WWE Creative team to design the wardrobes and entrances for the WWE Superstar Hosts of Wrestlemania 33, "The New Day." In a viral-style cross promotion with Square Enix's "Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood," Superstars Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston, and Big E made their debut in Final Fantasy inspired costumes while riding a Final Fantasy-themed Ice Cream Tricycle. Assignments like this are a blast for an Artist like me!
Every detail of the wardrobe was meticulously planned. In an iterative process of design, ideas evolved from conventional to more daring and dazzling. The results were successful, and full of paintings, model sheets, concept art and storyboards. Final Fantasy fans will notice the decor of Chocobos and Moogles on the Ice Cream cart and the cartoon caricatures branded on the Jumbotron. As WWE Superstars, "The New Day" can showcase anything with their outrageous presentation and lively charisma.
I helped design Triple H's entrance, one where H drove his custom bike down the show ramp with wife Stephanie MacMahon on board. Orlando Motorcycle Police provided them a regal escort into the ring.
I'd like to express my thanks to WWE for giving me the opportunity to work with such talented colleagues - artists, writers, and creative directors - on the spectacular pre-production of this titanic extravaganza.