Saturday, December 19, 2015

STAR WARS: The Prequels Vs The Originals - A Critique and Some Fan Art








As a long time Star Wars fan, I've had the same reaction as many others: I still love the originals and don't much care for the Prequels. The problem I see, however, is the argument that "the Prequels were only bad because they were over-hyped." While it is true that they could never live up to the expectations of the Originals, hype isn't the only factor that comes into play when analyzing these films. As a writer and quasi film-junkie, I've spent the last 15 or so years trying to figure out what makes a story a successful story. Disregarding financial success (in which case, all of the six Star Wars films would be considered successful), the biggest differences between the Prequels and the Originals are the realistic motivations of the characters.


Let's take Han and Leia vs. Anakin and Padme for an example. Han is a charming, confident, roguish scoundrel and Leia is a strong-willed, take-charge, no-nonsense leader. Despite the initial friction and differences between the two, they end up together. Their romance feels natural and realistic because separately, they have individual character motivations that we can relate to and admire. We root for them to get together, and we root for them as heroes, because they're written realistically enough as to remind us of people we would want to know and befriend in real life.


In contrast, let's discuss Anakin and Padme. Anakin is a whiny, creepy, rebellious, rage-and-hate-filled teenager. Padme is a pushover. She's also dry, doll-like, bland, boring, and... (I can't think of other synonyms for "bland"). She's a damsel in distress and a liability. While the argument could be made that this makes them realistic, the problem is that it doesn't make them realistic heroes. If there was an actual "War of the Stars," I wouldn't want these two leading me into battle. I would want Han and Leia, because of their strong leadership qualities.


Aside from the hero aspect, there's the romance aspect. Though it could plausibly be said that these two characters might end up together; on screen it feels awkward, forced, and uncomfortable. To me, it's the equivalent of the two weird kids in my junior high class hooking up. More power to them, but it's not a story I particularly want to hear about, much less take two-to-six hours watching.


That's the main difference I see between the new films versus the old: the characters in the new ones make decisions based on weak or confusing motivations. They just don't feel like characters that I would want to know or care about, and therefore I've never been able to become emotionally invested in the Prequels.


One final thought: the characterization problems I've discussed above are aspects of writing. In my experience, good writing will always trump visuals as far as a good story is concerned. Impressive visuals only enhance a movie if it has a captivating and engaging story as a strong foundation for those visuals. To quote George Lucas himself: "Special effects are just a tool, a means of telling a story. People have a tendency to confuse them as an end to themselves. A Special effect without a story is a pretty boring thing." I wish George had followed his own advice when making the Prequels. I really do. Unfortunately, he didn't and we have the Prequels as what they are - flashy special effects without a well-written story to give them substance.


Here's hoping that The Force Awakens does a better job. My prediction: it'll be better than the Prequels, but still won't fully capture the magic of the originals (a Herculean task). We'll see. :)


P.S.  If you want a short synopsis of why the prequels had problems, I would suggest the following two videos (For Episode II, at least).



Tuesday, March 10, 2015

BlazeBeard in Ballblazer, and BlazeBeard with Fairies



A mashup of BlazeBeard and Ballblazer, from "The Player and the Doodler," a let's-play that I do on Tumblr:  http://theplayerandthedoodler.tumblr.com/


Another mashup with BlazeBeard. This time he's with the fairies from the Sierra game, "The Black Cauldron."

BlazeBeard is my current character from our Pathfinder Campaign: "Up in Ashes," on Twitch: http://www.twitch.tv/progstorm.
or on YouTube:




BlazeBeard, Jocko, and Retoll Vs. Pudding Monster

An encounter in which BlazeBeard had his clothes and part of his beard melted off by a pudding monster.
From our Pathfinder Campaign: "Up in Ashes," on Twitch: http://www.twitch.tv/progstorm.
or on YouTube:

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

'Lil' Red Pocket Sketchbook 2013-2014


The front cover. This Sketchbook is 2 inches by 3 inches.


An explanation of the contents: 
This Doodle Book + Stick-Figures may include: Robots, Monsters, Beetles, Bugs, Angels, Demons, Dinosaurs, Stick-Men, Space Ships, Aliens, Octopi, Jellyfish, Fish, Ogres, Goons, Gremlins, Goblins, Squares, Circles, Cyclopes, Monkeys, Dragons, Abstract Designs, Shapes, Tanks, Planes, Cars, Creeps, Cred, Weirdos, Freaks, Bats, Cats, Dogs, Rats, Mice, Cheese, Ducks, Bees, and Ghosts...


Frogs with wings and scarab beetles.


Angel and Robot


Robot, Three Aliens, and Matt Cowley




Random Shapes, Robots and Aliens and Smiley Faces




Radial Design/Mandala




Radial Design/Mandala




Alien Designs and Robot




Electro Tessla Coils




The Chicken-Footed Tiggle-Swank of the Land of La-De-Da (Monster)




Jellyfish Monsters




Random Microbes or Crop Circles




Random Robots and/or Aliens




Ancient Mask and Random Monsters




Crying Monster and Random Monsters




Octopus Monster by Kelani Andersen





Eye Designs



My brother Tim, as a monster




Awesome One-Eyed Zig-Zag-Legged Bug Monsters!




SHINY-MAN 3000

Possibly inspired by Mega-Man.



A genie from a lamp.




My Neighbor Totoro? Or Toe-Toe-Roe?




More of SHINY-MAN 3000. Rocket Boosters and Gun-Arm.




A jellyfish alien/monster thing.




Notes from Church:

"The Savior will make up for what I can't."
"I will continue to strive, trusting in His Atonement to make up the difference."
"I will always have shortcomings in this life - that is what the Savior is for."



A Cyclops Robot with several antennas.




Left Page: A Cyclops Robot with several antennas.
Right Page: Random Shapes, Alien Dog and other random aliens.




Long-Legged Alien Stick Figure Dudes.




On this bookmark, some new words I learned: obfuscation, ostention, bivouac, petulant.
A few attempts at a poem: 
"Iron Ire"
"Riled with Iron Ire"
"A rhino, riled with iron ire, charged and stamped out a fiery pyre."


Some Poems:

"The Land of Bland is full of sand,
and you can stand where you planned
with your hands on the sand,
but you can't do a handstand,
or you'll land unplanned,
with your hands in the air,
and your head in the sand!"

"A ton of tongue twisters you can tell to your sisters."




Some other poem attempts:

"Run One Red Light"

"An appalling apparition appeared to appeal an ape for an apple which he apparently peeled."

"An appraising (surmising) young sir praised a surprising prize for a surprise party of surmizable size."

"A goat with a coat lived deep in a moat where he smote all who poked him with smoke from his throat."


Beetleships Flying and Shooting



I enjoy drawing these giant, spotted marshmallow-man-like monsters. They have a great feeling of weight to me, like an ogre or a troll, but with a softer side. smile emoticon




Note From Church:
"Other people have been on this path. I can see where they're at. I can accomplish this, too."
- John Stavast




The Mushroom Kingdom? Definitely inspired by Mario. I love the simplistic designs of the original Super Mario Bros. I believe that's what made the game so iconic. Plus, it was fun to play and had great music.




Left Page: Another drawing of "The Chicken-Footed Tiggle Swank of The Land of La-De-Da."

Right Page: Subatomic Particles or Planets? YOU be the judge.



Shiny-Man 3000 in different poses, using different types of gun-arm weapons! Reminiscent of Mega Man (1990), anyone?




More Awesome One-Eyed Zig-Zag-Legged Bug Monsters!




Random Microbes




Notes From Church (1-19-14):
"You don't have to continue in pain and guilt before you repent. Repent now, and the burden will be lifted."
"Turn to your Savior."




An army of Marshmallow Mans with Mushroom Heads.




More Microbes? With angular tentacles.




Egg-Shell Head Robots. Cracked to the Core.




A Random Purple and Orange Monster.



A Rocket Ship Robot, inspired by my nephews' drawings.




Left Page: 

Rockets and Rocket Ships!
Right Page:
Another Egg-Shell Head Robot!



Chicken-Footed Tiggle-Swank:

The Chicken-Footed Tiggle-Swank
of the land of La-De-Da,
Liked to catch the flying squibs,
and shove them in his maw.
He'd chew on them and crunch them up
(He liked to eat them raw.)
Soon, there were no more flying squibs
In the Land of La-De-Da!




Radial Symmetry Design (Mandala)




Robot in Futuristic Japanese City with Zeppelins




Mushroom Mans



Many Spidermans



The Land of Scary Robots 1




The Land of Scary Robots 2




The Land of Scary Robots 3




The Land of Scary Robots 2 and 3




The Land of Scary Robots 4




The Land of Scary Robots 5




The Land of Scary Robots 4 and 5




The Land of Scary Robots 6 with a Ziggurat




Shadow Men and Shadow Snake



Left Page: 
The Land of Scary Robots 6 with a Ziggurat
Right Page:
Shadow Men and Shadow Snake




The Slithering Zither of Zalamandragonstan!
The Slathering Zather of the Land of Zagran!
The Zig-Zag-Ziggurat of Zig-Zag-Istan!




One Eyed Aliens With Many Arms and The Marshmallow-Mans from the Marshes of Marmalade-Land!




One Eyed Alien With Many Arms.



Superhero Chibis:
SHINY-MAN 3000, Rocket-Man and the Unbelievable Bulk!




The Land of Scary Robots 7



Left Page: 
Superhero Chibis:
SHINY-MAN 3000, Rocket-Man and the Unbelievable Bulk!
Right Page:
The Land of Scary Robots 7




The Land of Scary Robots 8



Bram Tragic with Graffiti Vs Evil Eye-Bug



Left Page:
The Land of Scary Robots 8
Right Page:
Bram Tragic with Graffiti Vs Evil Eye-Bug




Green Graffiti Dragon and Bram Tragic Painter



Rock Graffiti Monster




Left Page:Green Graffiti Dragon and Bram Tragic Painter
Right Page:
Rock Graffiti Monster




Sun Graffiti Man Left Page



Sun Graffiti Man Right Page



Sun Graffiti Man


Black Graffiti Dragon



Purple Graffiti Butterfly Girl



Shadow Man Creates a Maze



Church Notes From 2-23-14:
When doing the Lord's Work...
"The power behind you is always greater than the obstacle in front of you."
-Christopher Landry




Hippos Study Insert



Left Page:
"Elephant!"
-Isaac (Age 3)




Right Page:
Little Boy in Africa: Elephant, Crocodile, and Hippos




Left Page:
"Elephant!"
-Isaac (Age 3)
Right Page:
Little Boy in Africa: Elephant, Crocodile, and Hippos




Spiderman In the Land of Scary Robots 1



Spiderman In the Land of Scary Robots 2



Power Generator



A Man and His Frog



Japanese Berry Branches



Ravenous Beast



Left Page:
Japanese Berry Branches
Right Page:
Ravenous Beast




"This book now is done.
Boy, wasn't it fun?!
Maybe, if you're lucky,
I'll start a new one...
4-3-14




Inside the back cover. 
Mr. Reese and all contents © 2014




Left Page:
"This book now is done.

Boy, wasn't it fun?!
Maybe, if you're lucky,
I'll start a new one...
4-3-14

Right Page: 
Inside the back cover. 
Mr. Reese and all contents © 2014




Back Cover.
And now this book is done. On to the next one!