It was a nice day outside and the dogs seemed to insist on staying out in the yard for a while, so I found time to scan, clean, tone, and letter this page.  I’m really hoping that I’ve done an effective job with staging and visualizing a scene of extensive dialog, however brief it might be.  I also just realized that I should have at least indicated the lockers off to the girl’s side.

It was a nice day outside and the dogs seemed to insist on staying out in the yard for a while, so I found time to scan, clean, tone, and letter this page. I’m really hoping that I’ve done an effective job with staging and visualizing a scene of extensive dialog, however brief it might be. I also just realized that I should have at least indicated the lockers off to the girl’s side.

Impression of Madoka Magica

Puella Magi Madoka Magica is an anime series that I’ve heard many good things about, so I added it to my queue on Netflix. Earlier today the housesitter went to work and I was left alone with the dogs again. Thus I streamed all twelve episodes in a marathon.

A girl named Madoka has a dream of a magical girl (think Sailor Moon) being beaten in an epic battle. Later she actually sees that same girl at school. A fanciful cat-like creature runs to Madoka for help, but soon she caught in the middle of a battle involving another magical girl. After she survives, the creature offers her and her friend wishes in exchange for becoming magical girls themselves to battle evil spirits.

The artwork for the characters has a somewhat generically cutesy style that is typical of contemporary anime. The exact meaning of the slang “moe” is a bit too complicated to get into here, but it fits the vast majority of characters here to a tee. However, the scenery is great, and the artwork is beautifully colored all around. The animation is well above average to begin with and becomes spectacular during the magical battles. Speaking of which, the dreamworlds where the magical battles take place, with their really unconventional painting and animations, take on a nightmarish psychedelic and surreal quality.

My, what do I say about the story? If you stick around long enough, it doesn’t take long before you realize that this isn’t a simple Sailor Moon wannabe. Though the characters are somewhat archetypical, they aren’t completely generic, much less cliched or flat. Discussions between characters and internal monologues bring out real emotion and depth. The plot takes some increasingly dark and bizarre turns. As it went on towards the grand finale, I could only say to myself, “What the h—-?” and “Whoa.” It seriously compelled me to stream the entire series; it was just as well that I was left alone for so long.


Meaty nuts and tender catfish?  That sounds like a nice, healthy boost in protein.  Maybe I should share this with the lady who gave me some personal training at the gym.


NUTTY CATFISH NUGGETS


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (a little over 200 degrees Celsius) on Bake.  Grease a cooking tray or spray it with cooking spray.  Have a mixing bowl, a mallet, a plastic bag, and a lifter ready.  


Toss between a half-dozen and a full dozen catfish nuggets into the bowl.  Carefully pour on just enough olive oil  to coat them after being spread.  Roll around the nuggets until they are completely coated.


Put almonds, walnuts, and cashews  in a plastic bag.  Use a mallet to bash and crush them into much smaller pieces.  In any case, toss the pieces onto the nuggets along with plain dry bread crumbs.  Roll around the nuggets more.


Not all of the pieces of nuts will stick.  Try to push the excess pieces onto the nuggets with your hands.  As you set the nuggets onto the tray, shake more bread crumbs on top.  After the nuggets are laid out, put the tray in the oven and let the catfish cook between 15 and 20 minutes or until the fish easily flakes when pulled with a fork.


Afterwards, use the lifter to lift the nuggets onto a plate.  Take out three little bowls; pour honey-mustard sauce into one, plum sauce  into another, and hickory smoke-flavored barbecue sauce into the third.


Now Pengee’s ready for seafood! Are you?

Meaty nuts and tender catfish? That sounds like a nice, healthy boost in protein. Maybe I should share this with the lady who gave me some personal training at the gym.

NUTTY CATFISH NUGGETS

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (a little over 200 degrees Celsius) on Bake. Grease a cooking tray or spray it with cooking spray. Have a mixing bowl, a mallet, a plastic bag, and a lifter ready.

Toss between a half-dozen and a full dozen catfish nuggets into the bowl. Carefully pour on just enough olive oil to coat them after being spread. Roll around the nuggets until they are completely coated.

Put almonds, walnuts, and cashews in a plastic bag. Use a mallet to bash and crush them into much smaller pieces. In any case, toss the pieces onto the nuggets along with plain dry bread crumbs. Roll around the nuggets more.

Not all of the pieces of nuts will stick. Try to push the excess pieces onto the nuggets with your hands. As you set the nuggets onto the tray, shake more bread crumbs on top. After the nuggets are laid out, put the tray in the oven and let the catfish cook between 15 and 20 minutes or until the fish easily flakes when pulled with a fork.

Afterwards, use the lifter to lift the nuggets onto a plate. Take out three little bowls; pour honey-mustard sauce into one, plum sauce into another, and hickory smoke-flavored barbecue sauce into the third.

Now Pengee’s ready for seafood! Are you?


Thankfully, the housesitter has been spending a good deal of time at the house while my parents are in Italy.  I had some time to work on another page for Lux-Luna.  However, I worked on this one slowly especially since I had to do some heavy erasing and redrawing in order to make the compositions and the halls look halfway right.  I’ll be on the lookout for more opportunities to work on this comic.

Thankfully, the housesitter has been spending a good deal of time at the house while my parents are in Italy. I had some time to work on another page for Lux-Luna. However, I worked on this one slowly especially since I had to do some heavy erasing and redrawing in order to make the compositions and the halls look halfway right. I’ll be on the lookout for more opportunities to work on this comic.

Impressions of Assorted Animated Movies

Just as I said I would do in my last post, I streamed an assortment of animated movies while babysitting the dogs. I streamed quite a few movies this time, so let me cut the chit-chat and get all my impressions down in typing.

The Rabbi’s Cat is about, well, a rabbi and a cat in North Africa. One day, when the cat eats a parrot, he suddenly starts talking. The scenery shows particularly extensive detailing and hatching in the linework. The artwork for the characters shows a somewhat rough cartooning style. The animation is decent. The story, though, is downright haphazard and focused—apparently it was taken from assorted story arcs from the original comic. The movie aims at a more genteel kind of comedy, but it’s actually kind of dull—even the parody of Tintin is a major missed opportunity. The good news is that there is a real theme of human unity and difference, well as the search for life under God, and a commentary on flawed relations among different people, as seen in the friendships and relations among the characters here.

I already watched Alice once while briefly studying film early in my collegiate days and later saw a very amusing video review from Oancitizen, so now I decided that I’d sit down with this again. Though Alice is largely live-action, I am including it here because it is directed by respected animator Jan Švankmajer and features extensive stop-motion animation. You might have guessed that it is based on the novel Alice in Wonderland—but this is an even less straightforward adaptation than the Hobbit movies!

There are plenty of freakish-looking puppets, many of which are made from dead animals. Alice—or more specifically Alice’s mouth in extreme close-up—provides extensive narration, including the dialog for the other characters. The sets and props, as well as some random or violent actions, give a much grungier tone than is normally associated with Lewis Carroll’s story. Speaking of which, this motion picture is less a story than a surreal painting that moves, so it’s best to go in with that mindset and let the movie wash over you.

Some of you anime fans might recall the name Captain Harlock. Some time ago I read that there was a new computer-animated movie in the works and I was really interested in seeing it. I didn’t get around to reading any reviews, though, and I didn’t even know until now that it had a proper American release. I figured I might as well include Harlock: Space Pirate in our marathon.

There is an elaborate backstory that is already laid out in opening texts. Humans went out into space but ended up ruining planets. They tried to return home but a war erupted, after which a governing body was formed to prevent anyone from returning. An immortal space pirate has been a thorn in this regime’s side for decades. Within the actual movie this space pirate takes a new member into his crew.

This movie has quality graphics. It also has solid animation which unfortunately becomes rougher in the larger-scale battle scenes, though all of the action setpieces remain spectacular. There are plenty of impressive special effects and intricate settings too. This is reportedly Toei’s most expensive production to date and it shows. As far as the “uncanny valley” factor, I honestly have difficulty seeing that, possibly due to my Asperger’s Syndrome, so I’d have to leave it to others to decide how bad that issue is here.

The story in Harlock, though, is half-baked. There are all sorts of pulpy sci-fi elements and mumbo-jumbo seemingly thrown into a blender and the plot is not entirely coherent. It doesn’t do much to make me interested in the characters until much later in the movie. I will say that there is an honest effort at conveying the theme of death and rebirth.

Next up we have ParaNorman. The studio Laika has made a name for itself with stop-motion movies with a creepy edge. In this one, a young boy in a small town sees ghosts and regularly talks with them. He is rejected by most of his peers and estranged from his own family. Soon his uncle comes along and warns him of a witch’s centuries-old curse.

The animation is as smooth as possible for stop-motion puppets. It is downright lively, in fact. Everything is beautifully constructed and detailed. There is a number of fairly typical but still entertaining characters. The story actually takes a seriously emotional turn in the third section—here I should only say that it’s far from a typical zombie apocalypse. Early on even a very intelligent child can see that this is a story about the need to overcome fear and the need to for acceptance of those with different gifts—it does nearly become preachy, but it’s still affecting.

In The Triplets of Belleville, an old lady sees her grandson becoming deeply sad and lonely. She does her best to cheer him, giving him a dog and a bicycle. Over the years she trains him and eventually enters him into the Tour de France. Some gangsters kidnap him along with other cyclists and take them to a distant city, which is like a caricature of New York. The old lady and the dog follow him and eventually come across a long-retired trio of singers. Eventually they work together to rescue her grandson.

If that sounded like a spoiler, the story really is essentially that simple. It’s effective, though. The movie features a very goofy and exaggerated style of drawing and animation. Much of the humor, in fact, might come from just how goofy things look and move. I recall Genndy Tartakovsky saying recently that he went into animation because he liked to laugh at movement—one might see that the director of this movie had the same idea. There is very smooth and fluid animation throughout.

The last item for this post is The Emperor’s New Groove. Apparently this was originally planned as part of a string of dramatic epic musicals, but it ended up being changed into a silly little comedy. A bratty Incan emperor is the target of an assassination attempt gone wrong; instead of dying he turns into a llama. He ends up with a peasant whom he doesn’t like but is forced to go along with so that they can resolve this situation. There is some fantastic comedic animation and great voice-acting, particularly from David Spade, Eartha Kitt, and Patrick Warburton. There is lush scenery too. This should be a decent diversion for your family.

Impressions of The Big Boss, The Crow, and Skyfall

My parents are in Europe again and I’ve been put in charge of caring for the pets, so I will stream movies from Netflix while babysitting the dogs. Here are a few action movies that I streamed over the past couple of days.

The Big Boss comes first. Bruce Lee is in it. His character moves into a town that turns out to be run by mobsters and thugs.

The dub is spotty; sometimes it’s decent, sometimes it’s week, and in one spot the voices are completely mismatched. The cinematography and direction are utilitarian. The story is thin and it can become dull. For a movie like this we expect to see martial-arts fights. There are a fair number of them, and they are fast-pasted and viscerally exciting while sometimes being bloody. Bruce Lee shows the legitimate screen presence that helped establish his fame.

The Crow comes next. Bruce’s son Brandon is in it. His character is a guitarist who is assaulted and murdered along with his fiancé. He bursts out of the grave, accompanied by a crow (possibly actually a raven) and soon takes brutal revenge on his killers.

This movie features much slicker, even artful cinematography. The musical scoring is very moody and stirring. The villains come off as more hammy than menacing. Brandon Lee, much like his father, also has a real screen presence. The Crow’s superhuman abilities, though, reduce the tension in his confrontations with criminals. This fact, along with the downright viciously vengeful behavior towards the human antagonists, takes this down to the level of hollow revenge fantasy. In all fairness, a few scenes do try and humanize the Crow as well as young girl with whom he comes in contact. Many of you, though, would definitely not appreciate how the rape and murder of the guitarist’s fiance is treated as just another motivator—many people online have commented on how problematic that trope is.

Daniel Craig is completely unrelated, but nonetheless he’s the lead in Skyfall, the last movie that I’ll talk about in this post. This might actually be the only James Bond movie which I’ve really sat down to watch. James Bond is seemingly killed in a failed mission and the agency MI6 is in trouble. Bond discretely returns but he is troubled after many years of service.

It’s a James Bond movie. You should expect chases and gunfights. The opening chase in particular is creatively staged and intense. As for the story, the fact that it really shows the veteran Bond’s vulnerability what apparently sets this apart from other entries in the series. That does help lead this movie away from the goofy spy-movie stereotypes that the Austin Powers series parodied.

I already have several things queued up on my profile on Netflix. Next I’ll stream an assortment of animated movies. You can look forward to some little commentaries on those too.


Hey, that last panel does make for needed practice in interaction among characters and dynamic posing.  Anyway, I hope that you like next year’s comics as I plan to spend a while in developing the series in the meantime.

Hey, that last panel does make for needed practice in interaction among characters and dynamic posing. Anyway, I hope that you like next year’s comics as I plan to spend a while in developing the series in the meantime.


It’s just as well that I’ve come to the end of another planned scene within this comic.  I need to let my followers know something.  My parents will soon leave for yet another vacation in Europe and they won’t come back until almost the end of the month.  Though the housesitter agreed to help me, for most of the time I’ll be alone caring for the animals.  Between that and my usual daily duties I am not likely to have much time to work on more pages of Lux-Luna for the blog.  However, you might expect some sketchbook studies and a few miscellaneous drawings—and since I stream movies while babysitting the dogs you can also expect more texts on those too.

It’s just as well that I’ve come to the end of another planned scene within this comic. I need to let my followers know something. My parents will soon leave for yet another vacation in Europe and they won’t come back until almost the end of the month. Though the housesitter agreed to help me, for most of the time I’ll be alone caring for the animals. Between that and my usual daily duties I am not likely to have much time to work on more pages of Lux-Luna for the blog. However, you might expect some sketchbook studies and a few miscellaneous drawings—and since I stream movies while babysitting the dogs you can also expect more texts on those too.


Guess what?  I’ve been planning on a series of seafood recipes too!  What better host for this series than our very own Pengee the Penguin?  When my parents talked about cooking salmon for dinner, I knew that I might as well make this the first entry in Pengee the Penguin’s Seafood!


GREEN-TINTED SALMON


Preheat the oven to Broil; you may also need to turn up the dial for the temperature as high as possible.   Turn three burners on a stove-top to medium heat.  Grease a baking tray or spray it with cooking spray.  Have a stirring spoon, a meat brush, and a lifter ready.


Place a salmon filet on the tray.  Gently brush the filet all over with olive oil. 


Sprinkle a small amount of parsley flakes and a small amount of dill weed on the salmon.  Use your best judgment in regards to exact amounts, keeping in mind their strong flavoring.


Place the tray with the salmon into the oven for a total of approximately ten minutes, give or take a few depending on the filet’s thickness, or until it easily flakes when pulled with a fork.


While the salmon is cooking in the oven, pour pesto sauce into a saucepan and put it on a burner.  Allow it to warm up and stir occasionally.  


At the same time, place the other two pans on top of the other burners.  Toss a generous amount of chopped spinach into one pan and several artichoke hearts  into another.  Sprinkle a little more parsley and dill onto each.  Pour on olive oil then and constantly stir and turn the vegetables to saute them.


Once the salmon is done, take the tray out of the oven and briefly set it aside.  Scoop the spinach onto a plate.  Use a lifter to place the filet of salmon on top of the spinach.  Scoop the pesto sauce on top of the filet.  Top the pesto-covered filet with the artichoke hearts.  


Now Pengee’s ready for seafood!  Are you?

Guess what? I’ve been planning on a series of seafood recipes too! What better host for this series than our very own Pengee the Penguin? When my parents talked about cooking salmon for dinner, I knew that I might as well make this the first entry in Pengee the Penguin’s Seafood!

GREEN-TINTED SALMON

Preheat the oven to Broil; you may also need to turn up the dial for the temperature as high as possible. Turn three burners on a stove-top to medium heat. Grease a baking tray or spray it with cooking spray. Have a stirring spoon, a meat brush, and a lifter ready.

Place a salmon filet on the tray. Gently brush the filet all over with olive oil.

Sprinkle a small amount of parsley flakes and a small amount of dill weed on the salmon. Use your best judgment in regards to exact amounts, keeping in mind their strong flavoring.

Place the tray with the salmon into the oven for a total of approximately ten minutes, give or take a few depending on the filet’s thickness, or until it easily flakes when pulled with a fork.

While the salmon is cooking in the oven, pour pesto sauce into a saucepan and put it on a burner. Allow it to warm up and stir occasionally.

At the same time, place the other two pans on top of the other burners. Toss a generous amount of chopped spinach into one pan and several artichoke hearts into another. Sprinkle a little more parsley and dill onto each. Pour on olive oil then and constantly stir and turn the vegetables to saute them.

Once the salmon is done, take the tray out of the oven and briefly set it aside. Scoop the spinach onto a plate. Use a lifter to place the filet of salmon on top of the spinach. Scoop the pesto sauce on top of the filet. Top the pesto-covered filet with the artichoke hearts.

Now Pengee’s ready for seafood! Are you?


The plot thickens and I try my best with body language, facial expression, and erasing sketches before getting decent compositions.

The plot thickens and I try my best with body language, facial expression, and erasing sketches before getting decent compositions.


I realized that I probably need to include an important reminder.  “Bean Fairy” is not meant as an insult towards Hispanics or gay men.  The Bean Fairy is an original character of mine who appears in comic strips on the Weblog.  With that out of the way…


THE BEAN FAIRY’S MISCHIEVOUS MAGICAL MUSICAL BEANS


Turn a burner on a stove-top to medium heat.  Have a stirring spoon ready, and you may want to have a can opener ready as well.


Open up a can of black beans and a can of red kidney beans.  Partially drain the cans but leave some of the liquid from each.  Pour the liquids into pan to coat the bottom.  If you opt to soak the dried beans overnight, drain all of the water then lightly coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil.


Pour in the black beans and red beans and begin stirring.  While stirring, sprinkle in a small amount of paprika, a moderate amount of ground cumin, a small amount of oregano leaves, a small amount of dry minced onions, a small amount of black pepper, and a moderate amount of chili powder.   Use your best judgment in regards exact amounts, keeping in mind their strong flavorings, especially the cumin and chili powder.  Stir to mix the seasonings throughout the batch of beans.


Keep the beans in the pan and the pan on the burner between five and ten more minutes more, stirring frequently, until at least some of the liquid has evaporated.


Scoop the beans into a bowl or onto a plate.  


Try it soon and let me know what you think!

I realized that I probably need to include an important reminder. “Bean Fairy” is not meant as an insult towards Hispanics or gay men. The Bean Fairy is an original character of mine who appears in comic strips on the Weblog. With that out of the way…

THE BEAN FAIRY’S MISCHIEVOUS MAGICAL MUSICAL BEANS

Turn a burner on a stove-top to medium heat. Have a stirring spoon ready, and you may want to have a can opener ready as well.

Open up a can of black beans and a can of red kidney beans. Partially drain the cans but leave some of the liquid from each. Pour the liquids into pan to coat the bottom. If you opt to soak the dried beans overnight, drain all of the water then lightly coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil.

Pour in the black beans and red beans and begin stirring. While stirring, sprinkle in a small amount of paprika, a moderate amount of ground cumin, a small amount of oregano leaves, a small amount of dry minced onions, a small amount of black pepper, and a moderate amount of chili powder. Use your best judgment in regards exact amounts, keeping in mind their strong flavorings, especially the cumin and chili powder. Stir to mix the seasonings throughout the batch of beans.

Keep the beans in the pan and the pan on the burner between five and ten more minutes more, stirring frequently, until at least some of the liquid has evaporated.

Scoop the beans into a bowl or onto a plate.

Try it soon and let me know what you think!


And now on to the next scene in this series of comic strips.  I think that I managed to pull the exact expressions that I had in mind for the boy’s face with help from Scott McCloud’s Making Comics.

And now on to the next scene in this series of comic strips. I think that I managed to pull the exact expressions that I had in mind for the boy’s face with help from Scott McCloud’s Making Comics.

Here is another redrawn screenshot alongside the original. As you can see, I didn’t want to simply trace the background, so instead I added some atmospheric gradients that should hopefully give it more of a nightmarish, bloody feel. I might have done a better job with this one than the previous one. Okay, tomorrow I’ll get back to work on the comic.

Here’s something new: Redrawn screenshots. I’ve seen other artists redraw screenshots from animations in their own normal drawing styles. I figured that maybe doing a few might be a good exercise. Though I worked directly off a screenshot saved in my Kindle Fire, I assure you that I did not actually trace Sailor Mars. Of course I had limits for how much I could reproduce, especially within an afternoon before going to work at the steakhouse. I put up both versions in this post for comparison. I hope that this little trial is a successful one—in spite of the face not coming out as I had hoped—particularly since I have another one in the works too.


Again, figuring out the perspective on the spiritual entity was tricky.  I also realized that I failed to keep the boy at a consistent spot in relation to the circle that he made on the ground.  Oh well.  Live and learn.  I hope that at the very least it doesn’t look completely amateurish and I’ve engaged in engrossing storytelling thus far.

Again, figuring out the perspective on the spiritual entity was tricky. I also realized that I failed to keep the boy at a consistent spot in relation to the circle that he made on the ground. Oh well. Live and learn. I hope that at the very least it doesn’t look completely amateurish and I’ve engaged in engrossing storytelling thus far.