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All posts for the month January, 2015

Face Off Season 8 Episode 3: Animal Plant Hybrids

Published January 28, 2015 by vfdpixie

This week, the artists headed to the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, where the Super Bowl 7, the 1959 World Series and the 1932 and 1984 Olympics took place.  They met Ve Neill, McKenzie and Glenn Hetrick who stood by a selection of flowers with animal medallions attached.  Inspired by movies like The Hunger Games and The Running Man where characters had to fight for their lives in deadly competitions, the gang had to create a predator which was a hybrid of a deadly animal and an exotic plant.  They would create in teams of 2 which were randomly picked.  Ve told them to make the creature scary-she wanted to be frightened, and Glenn added that they should integrate elements of plant and animal, not just slap a flower on the creature’s head.  They also got a neat surprise:  Josh Hutcherson from The Hunger Games was going to be a judge on the reveal stage! The artists were all pumped when they heard that and headed off to create their plant/animal killers.

It was great to see all the teams meshing really well.  They collaborated and problem-solved in the best ways possible during this challenge.  The judges also applauded the coaches for their input, because it was definitely noticeable with all the great work, and Josh was really excited to be there since he is a huge fan of the show.

Anthony and Logan got the Warthog and American Pitcher Plant.  They decided to use the warthog’s large nostrils as eye holes for the model and give it open rotting flesh.  They didn’t have too many issues, and they were satisfied with the large menacing creature.  The judges liked all the details, and Josh liked the eyes.  They were safe.

Kelly and Daniel chose the Scorpion and Delphinium.  They planned to created a hard shell with petal forms.  By now we all know there will be trouble in the mold room, and Kelly started off with rushing to make hers.  Daniel helped her out and wasn’t as worried about their time crunch, but she didn’t want to end up in the bottom again.  Daniel fabricated a cool sectioned tail, and their scorpion hybrid looked really scary and had a great profile.  The judges liked the paint job, and the look was enough to keep them safe.

Ben and Darla picked the Ram and the Cactus.  Mr. Westmore loved the unique concept and just warned them to not make the eyes too human.  Ben was the other mold room casualty.  The mold got stuck and when they eventually got it opened, they ran out of time to clean it out.  They cowl was also too big, so they had to cut it down to fit the face piece.  The end result was a menacing creature with a great shape.  The judges liked the face and horns, and Neville liked the unique form.  Actually, Neville thought it was the best makeup on the show, like, ever.  Ve thought the paint job was “awesome” and Josh thought it was scary and demonic.  This put them in the top looks.

Julian and Adam had the Bat and Sugar Bush Protea.  After Mr. Westmore told them to change the nose on their sculpt to look more bat-like, they toiled away, but the final makeup was too light.  It had a nice profile, but Glenn thought it looked like a “batichoke”.  Ve called it a “psychedelic artichoke with a bat face”, and Josh wanted to see the face a little darker.  This not very scary creature put them in the bottom looks.

Emily and Regina worked on the Hyena and the Shampoo Ginger.  Early on in the sculpting phase, Regina’s cowl wasn’t matching Emily’s face, so after Mr. Westmore’s input and hashing it out, they switched so that Regina sculpted the face and Emily did the cowl.  Emily also coloured hemp in different earthy hues to create texture.  Even though they were running out of time, and hot gluing in last looks, their hybrid was a scary sight!  The judges thought it was demonic looking and liked the palette.  They thought the proportions worked well, liked the organic colours and cohesive concepts.  This beautiful character with a gorgeous silhouette was in top looks.

Stephanie and Alan had the Thorny Dragon and Cockscomb.  They decided to use the flower colours on their creature.  Their foam cowl was a total mess and he spent a long time patching it up.  The sculpt ended up being interesting but there was no dimension with the bright yellow colour.  The judges thought there was a lack of detail, and the sculpt was too soft.  It needed more texture, and the venom sacks that Alan devised looked like a goiter to Neville.  Glenn felt there was an anime feel to it and this yellow, far from ferocious creature put them in the bottom.

Rob and Jamie chose the Piranha and the Blue Thistle.  They wanted to do a Gill Man type creature but Mr. Westmore felt the face was too literal and he wanted more interest there.   Rob created a “dreadlock” look with leaves he made out of L200, and they created a pretty scary creature.  Jamie and Rob had some really cool details in their makeup and the judges loved it.  This toothy hybrid kept them safe this week.

The top team was Ben and Darla.  The judges felt the Ram was one of the most incredible concepts ever seen on the show, and the bold concepts and the back of the cowl put them at the top.  Ben was the winner since he sculpted the amazing cowl.  He promised that if he ever won a Spotlight Challenge, he would propose to his girlfriend, so he did!!  I’m thinking she said yes.

The person going home was Alan.  The judges had a hard time chosing since all the makeups were great, but Alan’s misguided venom sacks affected the appeal of the character.  The judges told him to hold his head up high, and Josh told him not to give up.  Alan felt he had grown on the show and will continue creating with makeup.  Just to keep a tally, Team Laura has lost one artist, and now so has Team Anthony.  I’m hoping for some more surprises next week!

Dark Moon: A Musical Sci-Fi Comic Trip into The Unknown

Published January 27, 2015 by vfdpixie

DarkMoon_Gallery01

Dark Moon by Freematik (2014)

Art by Benedick Bana

Dark Moon is an otherworldly comic book experience.  Created by Tom Freeman, a.k.a Freematik, a California-based artist/producer, this indie sci-fi horror comic will take you on a musical space journey.

In 2067 after an asteroid collision with Earth, seven survivors led by Dante, a theoretical physicist, find themselves teleported to a mysterious moon to escape the aftermath.  They are thrown into survival mode as this moon is not yet explored and there is only speculation whether it can support life.  Soon after their arrival on the moon, danger sets in as terrifying alien life forms show up as their greeting party.

This story is made unique by the soundtrack created specifically to enhance the reader’s experience.  Each of the 20 tracks make scenes in the comic all the more intense as the action unfolds.  And this soundtrack is, as the kids say, DOPE!!  D-O-P-E, DOPE!  I am biased as I love electronic music, so I really dig this melding of hip hop and trippy, dark electronic soundscapes that create a true sci-fi mood.  My top picks are:

Dark Moon Theme

When Fear Sparks In Your Heart featuring Mad Shad and Lokey

Alien Invasion

The Creatures Attack

Trapped featuring Agent 216

Synthetic Intelligence and This Dark Moon featuring Myka 9

The vocals give you insight to what the mindset of the characters may be and what they may be feeling, and the production is top-notch.  There are also some additional sounds available to enhance the main soundtrack.  What Freematik hopes is that you follow along with the music and encourages you to create your own playlist to fully experience the comic.

Benedick Bana’s slick and beautiful artwork creates an almost 3 dimensional feel, making the action jump off the page with accents of blue and red amidst the dark extraterrestrial landscapes.  The aliens will also float your boat if you are a monster fanatic like me-they are imposing, toothy and vicious.

The first issue of Dark Moon is quite the cliffhanger.  It left me wanting to know more about Dante, the survivors and the moon they have landed on.  While the intention is for the soundtrack to be the primary storytelling device here, I hope the following issues will delve deeper into the characters; who they are and their motivations by using more in-depth, natural dialogue between them, better overall writing and perhaps the use of caption boxes as a narrative guide, as well as more great music for this 4 part multimedia vision.

A print version will soon be available, but you can download the comic here at http://www.darkmooncomic.com where they are offering the full first issue AND soundtrack for a mere $2.95, and there is a really cool “motion book” of the story here:

http://freematik.deviantart.com/art/Dark-Moon-Issue-1-Transported-to-a-Dark-Moon-491512045

and a bandcamp link where you can also purchase the entire soundtrack and comic download plus the additional sounds:

https://darkmooncomic.bandcamp.com/

Check it out!

Graphic Novel Memetic and the Meme of Destruction

Published January 24, 2015 by vfdpixie

memetic

Memetic issues 1-3, BOOM!Studios, 2014

Writer: by James Tynion IV

Artist: Eryk Donovan

I grew up with rotary dial phones that were soon replaced with push button faces. Next came the portable, brick-sized cell phones you could carry on a purse strap.  Fast forward to this day and age, and the cell phone and tablet are now basically pocket-sized computers that help run our lives and keep us connected in a zillion ways through texts, messaging, websites and apps.  I have always been a bit of a gadget nut, and I love to see what those crazy kids come up with next, but sometimes it can be overwhelming with all the über-connectedness and social media.  It seems that you need to check in to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and any other social media outlet du jour frequently to stay up to date, in the know, and valid.  It is a job unto itself, and some take it very seriously.  What if these very same outlets were the harbingers of an apocalyptic event?  What if you had access to an image literally everywhere you looked, and what if that image wheedled its way into your brain to ultimately self-destruct?  This is the premise of Memetic, a 3 part graphic novel that will make you think twice about the power of modern communication.

memetic2

Aaron Sumner is college student who is having boy troubles.  He is on the verge of breaking up with his boyfriend Ryan when a meme of a happy sloth, the “Good Times Sloth”, becomes viral in a matter of minutes.  After seeing this benign, cutesy image the viewer is overcome with a sense of euphoria and well-being.  Unfortunately, the meme is lost on Aaron because he has ocular and hearing impairments that prevents him from getting the full effect of the picture.  His friends, indeed everyone in town, is talking about the image, and Aaron begins to feel uneasy about the fervour.  He isn’t the only one.  Retired Colonel Marcus Shaw is worried by the lightning fast euphoria and frenzy associated with the phenomenon, and calls on his former intelligence colleague Barbara Xiang to look into it since he suffers from macular degeneration and has very little sight left.  The euphoria takes a sinister turn when 12 hours after seeing the image, the viewer goes berserk, tearing anyone at arm’s length limb from limb.  What follows is a dark, cautionary tale about an image that ends the world in just 3 days.

 

memetic3

Creator and writer James Tynion IV brings us a scary take on how things could end literally in the blink of an eye.  He uses some great, non-traditional characters to tell his modern tale of doom, and the story travels with the same speed as you would imagine the meme to reach millions; fast and unforgiving to anyone that sees it.  He points out how chilling it is to be at the mercy of relentless information, how a shared experience may unify in the worst way possible, and how being an outsider could both save you and put you in doom’s way at the same time.  This literal representation of what a meme is, how it spreads, mutates and has the potential to be a thing of destruction, does a great job scaring the crap out of this reader.

Eryk Donovan’s frenetic illustrations create a real sense of chaos and destruction, in fact, just flipping through the pages will leave you unsettled even before you start reading the story.  Don’t skip the last pages of the 3 volumes where you’ll find mock Facebook and Tumblr pages that provide info on each character, and the last issue has a great section where Tynion and Donovan interview each other.

Being connected in cyberspace is a given in this age of technological advancement, but if you have ever questioned its immediacy and effects on society at large, Memetic will certainly give you a horror, sci-fi take on a familiar internet and social occurrence and maybe get us to shut off the phone, laptop or tablet…but just for a couple of hours.

Face Off Season 8 Episode 2: Game Changer Part 2!!

Published January 21, 2015 by vfdpixie

We had to wait a whole week to see what would transpire when McKenzie threw a curve ball at the contestants.  Not only did they have to work in teams with a former champ as their leader and coach and create two alien beings, but also come up with another creature!  The aliens didn’t crash-land on Earth, they landed on a planet ruled by primates.  The artists would have to create a tyrannical primate ruler.  Since Rick Baker would be on the judges’ panel, they got an extra day because they had to impress him due to his “primate” body of work (Planet of the Apes and Harry and the Hendersons).

They had to choose from 4 types of monkeys:  the Squirrel Monkey, Brown Lemur, White-faced Capuchin and a Mandrill.  The furry models were all in the lab so the artists could get up close and personal as they designed the third alien.

Team Laura chose the Squirrel Monkey.  Their monkey was a tyrant that hunted the two crashed aliens.  Greg decided to take on the task of sculpting the monkey face and Emily was going to hand-tie the hair for the ape tyrant.  Mr. Westmore was concerned about the time Emily had for ventilating the hair as that usually took a long time, but she was up for the task.  Laura was concerned that Greg was losing sight of the monkey’s proper anatomy.  In the end, their crashed aliens looked great!  The judges loved the sculpts, unique forms on the older alien and the beautiful paint jobs.  Rick Baker thought it was successful.  Unfortunately, the monkey didn’t get a glowing review.  The profile didn’t look like a primate to Neville, in fact, Rick thought it looked like a turtle.  They really noticed the lack of anatomically correct details.  Greg ended up in the bottom for that.

Team Antony chose the Mandrill.  They went with a more realistic monkey look, not a human hybrid.  Alan got the job of sculpting the monkey.  Kelly started with her mold for their male alien and ran into some trouble.  Ben helped her out but scolded her as he did it.  He would soon find his own troubles as he used Alan’s hands for a cast.  They didn’t turn out properly at all, and he had to scramble during last looks, eventually gluing some splitting and covering it with burlap.  Kelly was not happy with the final looks.  The judges saw some issues with the aliens.  The paint wasn’t the same, with one alien being more matte than the other and there was a lack of detail in the sculpts.  They also thought the male alien was too busy.  There was also the issue of the hands.  Rick thought they were distracting and wished they had just painted the model’s hands. They did, however, love their monkey ruler which I thought was menacing and looked like a tyrant.  They thought it was great and liked the largess of it.  Ben was in the bottom because of the hands.

Team Rayce picked the White-face Capuchin.  Their monkey empress enslaved the arachnid alien.  Logan took on the monkey sculpt, while Regina slowly worked on the arachnid face.  Mr. Westmore liked the improvements made by Anthony on the alien sculpt, and advised them to make more of a muzzle for the monkey queen.  Regina also fabricated for the first time and made a cool crown for the queen.  Their arachnid cowl had some tears so Logan had to learn on the fly and fix it.  On the reveal stage, their higher form alien did not look symmetrical.  The judges noticed that but their insect alien was well-managed and had great attention to detail.  The only thing Rick didn’t like was the uniform colour of the alien’s body and costume.  They loved the monkey queen!  They thought she was fabulous, had a great paint job and showed aging well.  Rick liked the variation with the hair colour.

There was a cool moment on this episode.  After the first day of the monkey sculpt, the coaches showed up at the artist house and they had a nice barbecue to get to know all the contestants on their teams.  It was a chance for them to relax after an exhausting day.

The winning team was Team Rayce.  They loved the arachnid insect alien and the monkey queen.  The winner of the challenge was Logan because of his monkey sculpt and the cowl on the arachnid alien.  They also loved Team Laura’s older alien for the colour and transition from front to back and the shape of the head.

The bottom artists were Kelly because she went big but it didn’t work; Ben for those awful hands; and Greg for the bad primate sculpt and the bad paint job.  Greg went home because his makeup didn’t come together.  Rick told him a story of how when he started out, he was told to go home and give up, but he didn’t.  He told Greg not to give up before he left.  What a great guy Rick Baker is!  Good luck Greg, and definitely don’t give up!

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