Monday, June 27, 2011


When I was growing up, Pokemon and Digimon were my bread and butter. The most awesome, coolest shows around, my stalwart favorites. I had this bunny I dragged around and pretended to be a Patamon, I dreamed up a million ways how they could make a Pikachu real. I made up my own worlds based on them, imagined a bunch of fanfiction about Ken Ichijoji and Eevees... um, not at the same time. I never imagined a cross over or anything. But there was something wonderful about having cute little superpowered pets that were my loyal friends.  These were beautiful shining worlds away from adults, where you could romp around in forests and just... be. And then I got into Dragon Ball Z and I forgot all about those silly shows. There was manly things to watch, dangit!

Even though I had grown past watching the Pokemon show, I still indulged in its other media. Especially the card game... god I was a card game addict... But thats not what I'm talking about here! I read and enjoyed two Pokemon comics, Pokemon Adventures, which paralleled the games, and The Electric Tale of Pikachu, which paralleled the anime. Even though I was past thinking how wonderful it would be to have a Pikachu, these two manga captured that special feeling about the world. A world of adventure, and of friendship. Were fantastic creatures are everywhere, and will be your friend if you reach out. A world to wander in without worry, or maybe small trivial worries. The Electric Tale of Pikachu had a bit of "crap, where are we gonna get the money for this???" but most of the time, it was just a big, bright world.

And this brings me to what I actually want to talk about. Mokepon.

Mokepon is... well, it's okay, but it has the feeling of the amateur writer that I cant shake from page to page. The art is amazing, but the characters feel stiff, like they're only a step up from talking heads. The story is interesting, but the execution is... well... it goes up and down, it took a chapter or so to really get into it. And the main character, jeez, I feel like I've seen this guy a million times. Heck, nobody really feels like they have depth to them.

But I'm telling you, read the dang story, all none of you who read my blog. While I was reading it, I got that same feeling. I got the feelings I had when reading Pokemon Adventures. This is a bright, colorful world of adventure! A world of cuddly pals where kids can have fun without fear! And the main character knows he lives in this world, he just doesnt care for it.

I have read dozens of Pokemon fancomics at this point, and none of them can really seem to grasp this same wonder. Most respectful approaches seem more interested in cracking wise than really getting into the mood. Any comic with a cynical approach usually just strips out all charm to the world, which I feel is missing the point.

But Mokepon gets it right. Any feeling of artistic immaturity I get from it is stifled, because this author understands that childlike awe that makes up Pokemon. Just because you've grown up past the Pokemon world doesnt mean the Pokemon world has grown up with you. Just because you dont buy into friendship, battles, and all the other tiny little Pokemon details, it doesnt mean that they change. It feels like, as an adult, you pick up the Pokemon games again, and you are just so frustrated with how insipid it all is. Your feelings arent going to change anything, you're going to go through with the ridiculous exercise anyway.

In that sense, I can understand Atticus, the main character, perfectly. He is wonderfully suited to this comic because he has very little variation to him. And his Charmander, or Dragonthing, is there to try and bring him back to his younger mindset, to care about the world. Dragonthing doesnt succeed right away, of course he doesnt. But you can see the journey that's in front of the two of them, its the journey you see a million times, of friendship and teamwork. But its interesting, because that part's not glossed over in the first chapter, its the entire point of the comic, the developing bond between Pokemon and Trainer. I wouldnt be surprised if they become much stronger friends than any of the moony-eyed children, because they had to struggle to connect, to see eye to eye. Um, maybe, this is just me guessing.... but see? Even though I think the craftsmanship is a little shoddy, this comic gets Pokemon. I can get into the world just as well as I could with the two professional comics. And this one's free!

In a final word... Pokemon Adventure is for when you're ten, when the world is new, broad, and without problems. Electric Tale is for when you're fourteen, when you know there should be a few issues here and there that call for explanation, but you're still into the idea. Mokepon is for when you're eighteen, where you've grown up past the ridiculous aspects, but Pokemon will always have them anyway. If only to make it hard for you.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Haibane Renmei

Over the past few day I watched a very peculiar anime. There was no action, nor wacky hijinks. The cast was comprised of the residents of a female dorm, but none of them wore exploitative clothes or looked particularly innocent or cute. In fact, I thought a few of them were boys, and it took a while to realize that these women had breasts at all. Everyone had very mild and very believable personalities, nobody sported any kind of crazy, bombastic traits. The drama never spirals into "are these people goddamn INSANE?!" or cheap "worst possible ending because life is CRUEL." It just follows and examines a batch of Haibane, angels born from cocoons, as they go about an ordinary life in a demi-mystical walled off society.

If this sounds like the most boring anime in the whole world, well, I dont blame you for thinking so. There are so many opportunities where the show could have gone hog wild, wallowing in all the insipid tropes that typically make up anime. I mean, just from the description alone! All-girl angel dorm having to live alongside humans in a walled-off world? With so many pitfalls, its amazing how many are carefully avoided. This is a finely tuned and crafted show, whimsical and light, and it demands you treat it with respect. It's not here to put up with your ideas of what an anime should be. It says "You sit your butt down and watch something reasonable, dangit! Fine, you can have exactly ONE sailorish costume, but its a dress that goes past the chick's shins, but thats all the anime you're getting mister!!" And I respect it all the more for that. It wasnt the most interesting show I had every watched, but the characters were likable and believable, and everything that makes up their world is the same.

On the other hand, theres a reason entertainment usually hunts down and languishes the extremes, why anime is well... animesque. Its what's interesting and facinating to us. We see enough ordinary life every day, and when we want to be entertained, we want to see crazy things. Even shows based firmly in real life, firmly in the world of the viewer, like high school or the office, still show people and events that are fantastic, beyond normal. And even though this is a show about angels, there really isnt much thats fantastic about it. Its like a toned down version of freaking Aria, which is boring and mundane fantasy while actually falling into anime pitfalls.

I found Haibane Renmei fascinating, and at least worth watching. Mostly because I like a good exploration of character and lifestyle. But I dont blame anyone for falling asleep and dumping the DVD in the trash can.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Art Update: Good God, What Have I Done?

I made... a monstrosity. A two-day distraction from real work on my comic. A tribute to MASCLE!!!

And yet it still taught me some things, especially about shading. Its better to have clean strokes that look like they know what they're doing, rather than having hesitant little lines that are very exact.

Which is something I shouldve already known, because that is a very important aspect of drawing. Seriously, if you're very specific on where the lines should go, it starts looking like a mess.

But yeah, a fun distraction. Submitted it to a contest, because I could use the money. I hope it goes somewhere!!!

EDIT: BAHA! Yeah right, even someone who has a moderate profile is dragging thier fans into this, so numbers, the sole judge of this contest, is going to rate the people with the most previous fans the best. Not that people shouldnt go support thier favorite artists... but it means theres absolutely no chance for no-namers trying to get thier work out, where human judges might pick out underviewed works. Of course then you have the bullcrap of taste getting in the way, soooo there's always gonna be issues. But even if my comic goes up, I doubt I'd win, unless a miracle happens.

Dang, and I needed that 300$! >< Financial issues...

The numbers-only thing sounds good in theory... heck, I liked the sound of it when I read it. And then I remembered that this is the internet, and the gap between the big-namers and the absolute nobodies.

Ah Well.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Best Worst Art?

You ever draw a throwaway panel, trying to make it look as ridiculous as possible with clashing colors and thrown together shading? Have you ever zoomed back from that image, blinked, and realized that you've created something that not only looks good, but looks better than everything else you've drawn? I mean, I was avoiding making my character designs complicated; I know eventually I'd wind up spending three days detailing five billion lace ruffs in the name of FASHION. And then I draw THIS:

He looks like Some kind of anime character based around hunting or some crap! He is wearing no fewer than three headbands! Two of which are on his wrists! His Bracer looks like those polished chunks of iced dirt! Why does this look so coooool?? How did I shade this so well? It actually looks cell shaded instead of like... pillow shading.

I may be going for a soft style but... not fluffy marshmallow pillows soft.

I dont know how to cell shade, yep. Anything good I draw is outta dumb luck, for I am Le Amateur MaxTreme, Das Maximum.

UPDATE: I really, really hate when I draw something better than I usually do, and I'm not sure why its better. Looser linework? Sparcer shading? The lack of necks?! Blargle! Why do I have no friends with a good technical eye?!