As you've noticed I haven't posted anything in the past few days. Unfortunately, I've been in "recovery mode". In the last journal entry I mentioned that I'd been sick; while I thought I had gotten over it, I hadn't--like an ex-girlfriend, it still hung on and refused to let go.
It's related to the change of seasons and the....well, unusual weather. Here in New Jersey where I live it has been around 70 to 75 degrees for the last few days--in October. Talk about an "Indian summer". The weather hasn't been normal, so there goes my internal barometer.
Thankfully, I have gotten much better, even though I still have some sore muscles and I'm starting to hear things creak as I move--so I've gone back and completed work that I was in the middle of working on before being hit. Believe me, it isn't easy to draw when your hand is shaking like the Waco Kid's (a no-prize to whoever gets the reference!). As things stand:
--Segaman--the comic is pretty much done. Page four will be the last page to be worked on, but the remaining pages should be posted before the weekend is done.
--Sneakylizard--Just about done with the preliminary sheets for Tiffany. The reason why it took me so long to get
it done is because I just was not satisfied with what I was doing. I ended up going through quite a few sheets of paper--but honestly dude, don't fret. I'd rather take the time and re-start and re-draw something to get it right than post a piece of garbage. Look for the prelim sheet to be posted over the weekend. Perhaps the hardest thing was making her not look like Victoria!
Speaking of illness...who is tired of the media panic over Ebola?
(Warning: Strong language ahead)
I normally don't go into politics or media criticism here, but for the past couple of weeks I've watched as the American news media has lost their collective shit over the fact that three people in the US have come down with Ebola, and one has died. We keep hearing the word "outbreak". Bullshit. There is an Ebola outbreak, and that's in the African countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. It's the worst outbreak of Ebola since the virus was first identified nearly forty years ago.
Make no mistake--Ebola is no joke. It is a deadly disease with a high mortality rate. But it is not easy to catch. Contact with bodily fluids of an infected person will guarantee that you'll get it. There is no cure, only a treatment regime that may or may not work. But that does not excuse the media telling us to crap our pants and bend over and kiss our asses goodbye. It does not excuse the media telling us to distrust the CDC--whose scientists have been studying Ebola for years. I'm not a virologist--but I'd put my trust in someone who's dealt with this thing over some yahoo on the Internet spewing out rumors and falsehoods. No, Ebola is not airborne--while it is a virus, and virus do mutate (something we all should have learned in basic Biology)--in the years since it has been discovered, an airborne mutation has not been found. There is a variant, Ebola Reston, that infected a monkey house in Virgina, which was the subject of Richard Preston's book The Hot Zone.
But here's what pisses me off even more about the media's coverage--the idea that we're all going to get infected a la Outbreak or Contagion. Think about this:
--More people in the US will die this year of the flu, heart disease, cancer, suicide, gunshot wounds, and bee stings. So far only one person has died of Ebola in the US. Only one.
Also, in the Caribbean, an epidemic is going on caused by the chikungunya virus--a virus spread by mosquitoes with symptoms that mimic dengue fever, but it isn't fatal in and of itself. This is something that I have a personal stake in, since many of my relatives who live in the Caribbean (Jamaica) have been affected. And considering that it's hit Jamaica hard, yes, I am more worried about that than I am about Ebola.
Decades ago, President Franklin Roosevelt told us that "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." It seems our media has chucked that out the fucking window.
Thirty-five years ago, a film came out whose tagline was, "In space, no one can hear you scream."
Well, there was a lot of screaming--in the theaters. The film was Alien, and it's turned the big 3-5 this year. Alien still remains the definitive science fiction horror film, and when I re-watched it recently, a few things stood out. First, the film has barely dated. Sure, there's the "chunky" tech--the computers don't have flatscreens and there's an encrustation of buttons--but the characters' hairstyles and costumes haven't dated. The old school VFX worked for the film. And it's a slow burn of a film--it takes its time, it isn't in a hurry except at the end.
We all know of the infamous chestburster scene, of course.
But could Alien be made today? I doubt it. Nonetheless, the film spawned three sequels, the two Alien vs. Predator films, a whole bunch of merchandise, and the "prequel" Prometheus. Aliens, the first sequel, is regarded as one of the best sequels ever made and both it and the original film are perfect complements to each other. This year, there's the release of Alien: Isolation, a survival horror game that ties into the first film and goes back to the mood of the film. In terms of the cast and crew, Sigourney Weaver, who played Ripley, has gone on to become a great actress in her own right, and has returned to the role of Ripley for the three sequels. Ridley Scott, who directed Alien, went on to direct Blade Runner, Black Rain, Legend, Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven and Prometheus, his return to SF. Scott is a director with an amazing eye for visuals, and it was clearly evident in Alien. Sadly, some of the original creative crew of the film have passed on. Jerry Goldsmith, who gave the film its unearthly score, passed away in 2004 after a long and productive career as one of Hollywood's greatest composers. Dan O'Bannon--who first came up with the idea for the film and co-wrote the original script with Ron Shusett--died in 2009. And this year, we lost H.R. Giger, whose surrealistic "bio-mechanical" art inspired the creation of Alien, and it was Giger who designed and sculpted the "alien" landscapes and the life cycle of the Alien, including the final creature (or "the eighth passenger").
Here's the trailer from 1979 for Alien:
Also celebrating 35 years--the venerable Mobile Suit Gundam franchise. Who would've thought that an anime that had poor ratings would become a smash hit and spawn several sequels, series set in alternate universes, and a massive amount of merchandise? Yet the truth is there--Gundam has not only become a, well, brand, but it kicked off the "Real Robot" era in anime (the early to mid 1980s), inspired millions, and helped the careers of several top names in anime. Director/creator Yoshiyuki Tomino broke the mold of the "boy and his robot" story and created a gritty, no-holds barred war story. Of course, Yoshikazu Yasuhiko's character designs were not extravagant but realistic, and Kunio Okawara's mecha designs set the standard for years to come.
And Gundam is returning to the US, courtesy of the Right Stuf and Sunrise.
Twenty-five years ago, Ghost in the Shell and Berserk first appeared. Both of these manga have been turned into anime, have spawned various merchandise including video games, and are damned good stories. Berserk is still running, while GiTS completed its run. Both are top examples of their respective genres--Ghost is perhaps one of the best cyberpunk stories ever created, a solid science fiction series created by Masamune Shirow following his popular Appleseed. Berserk is a dark fantasy that would give fans of Lord of the Rings heart attacks--it's closer to Game of Thrones than Tolkien--but it remains a great manga to read, and seeing Kentaro Miura's artwork evolve from volume to volume has been eye-opening. Still, despite the anime adaptations of Berserk, a live-action version--possibly a TV series for cable--would be very cool. It's certainly a better prospect than a live-action Ghost.
Still, Ghost in the Shell hasn't gone away--the two seasons of the TV anime Stand Alone Complex are fantastic works that blend science fiction with a police procedural flavor. And then there's the "prequel" OAVs, Ghost in the Shell: Arise. Having seen the first two episodes, I can say that while I have issues with Arise, I still found it worth watching.
All right, I've rambled on enough. Now I've got to get back to work.
"I sell my soul, but at the highest rates."