Monday, September 01, 2008

I used to be able to draw. It was one of the few things I felt was really any good at. I haven't done a lot over the last few years. The other day I bought a graphics tablet. Woo-hoo! It was a cheap tablet (£30 from Aldi) but even so I thought it would make drawing the cartons (of which you may have noticed a spectacular dearth recently) a lot, lot easier.

I was wrong.

I make my cartoons in an ancient version of Adobe Illustrator and I just can't get the hang of using the tablet with it. The tablet works. There's no problem with the hardware it's just the chair / input-device interface that's the fucking problem. I can't just draw in Illustrator with it. I can use it in Photoshop, no problem - though it was initially a bit odd seeing what I was drawing with my hand down there ---> appearing on a screen up there ^ - but after a few minutes I got it. It is, after all, no different from the relationship between the mouse and the cursor or pointer. (Even Daisy made that jump of dislocation within a couple of hours playing.) It's no problem in Photoshop. I just can't get the bits of my brain to join whatever dots need joining up to let me get it to work in Illustrator.

Most of the problem is, I suspect, that I have taught myself how to use Illustrator by crashing around fining buttons that do interesting things with one click long after I have worked out laborious ways of doing the same thing using every other tool in the box. I don't so much draw my cartoons, as build them by putting layers of shapes on top of one another, reshaping and merging them and doing stuff that is more like the 'techie drawing' I learned at high school than drawing. It's more like collage and CAD than anything else. (I should have bought a book, it would have saved me a lot of heartache. But been a lot less fun) Whatever it is I'm doing, it isn't drawing. So I have now have to unlearn a lot of these laboriously self-taught techniques or invent some other new ones (or buy a book).

Another reason for the lack of cartoons is the unusually heavy load of high quality crap movies that have consumed my waking (and not so waking) hours this month

  1. Escape To Victory
    -I was tired; it was on the box. I have no excuse.
  2. Born Romantic
    - semi-decent Chick Flick.
  3. TRON
    - a watching (as if I needed an excuse) prompted by the news that some fuckwits are making a sequel, and the presence of a house-guest who wasn't allowed to see it when he was six and has never had the opportunity since. Act One gets crappier every time I watch it. Acts Two and Three just get better and better.
  4. The Incredibles
    - Because I haven't seen Wall-E yet I can still say this is the best thing Pixar have done. This week's Kid's Pizza Night movie.
  5. Silver Bears
    - Dull predictable Michael Caine movie that had 'International Co-Production' stamped alll over it. Apparently it was a comedy.
  6. Attack of the Puppet People
    - brilliant title; dull film in which a psychotic doll maker shrinkifies people and puts them into glass jars to take out and play with when he's lonely. Very set-bound and not a lot happens. Most of the 'enjoyment' to be got from this was admiring some OK (for the
    budget) model work and some really lousy back projection and spotting the joins. Not a lot of attacking goes on either.
  7. The Giant Claw
    - again. I told you I would watch this one again and again. Tonight we have a couple of French Couchsurfers staying with us. They are both, totally unbeknownst to Mrs JM who invited them, afflicted with the same Real Bad Movie bug as I am. I introduced them to The Giant Claw. We laughed like drains in two different languages.
  8. The Incredible Melting Man
    - (MST3K) I also introduced them to Mystery Science Theatre 3000. See, travel does broaden the mind; come to Scotland and discover crappy American movies!
  9. Robot Monster
    - aka 'Is that the one with the Gorilla Suit wearing a diving helmet?' - apparently the director knew a guy with a Gorilla Suit who wasn't working that week and just bunged a helmet on him. Mercifully short at 62 minutes, this is one of the most incomprehensibly awful SF movies of the period. Really. It makes no sense whatsoever - and then turns out
    to have been a dream all along, which might explain some of it but not why our Gorilla-suited Robot Monster falls in weird, bondage-crazed lust for the last nubile human girl on earth, or where the dinosaurs suddenly come from (answer: from One Million Years BC starring Victor Mature), or why the Destroyer of Mankind (the human population of the earth is down to eight at the startof the action) is hanging around Bronson Canyon with his Intergalactic Communicator Thingy sat on a rickety wooden table alongside the world's first automatic bubble machine (it even gets a pre-title credit). It makes Plan 9 From outer Space look classy. Shot in 4 days for $16,000, it somehow managed to take something like a million dollars at the box office its first year - making it a most, commercially, successful bit of ulra-crap. It must have been great being a cheapo movie maker in the 50s.
  10. The 4D Man
    - once more scientists meddle with things 'Man was not meant to know' and once again one of them turns into a rampaging monster who needs to kill to live. But this time it actually nearly worked because of some cracking acting and some halfway decent scripting. (And Lee Merriweather - hubba hubba!) Terrible score though. Randomly placed chunks of loud attacking Crash Jazz does not make for tension, mystery or romance.
  11. Spy Kids 2
    - disappointing sequel to an adequate piece of nonsense.
  12. Young Einstein
    - again, it always makes me laugh.
  13. King Dinosaur
    - (MST3K) A masterful combination of hundreds of feet of stock footage of everything from wildlife footage from several continents, the obligatory V2 taking off, the obligatory Atom Bomb explosions, and about seven thousand four hundred and thirty two individual shots of people flipping switches, inter-cut with four actors walking past the camera a lot, pretending to hide from Very Small Lizards shot in Very Close Up. And one of the best bad lines from a movie in ages:
    "I brought the Atomic Bomb, I think this would be a good time to use it."
    A delight. Another moment of genius was having one of our scientist explorers peering into a microscope while wearing a giant space helmet.
    The second Bert I Gordon movie of the month (he was also 'responsible' for Attack of the Puppet People) - and the second to use footage reused from 'One Million BC' (it cropped up in Robot Monster as well) - two of either would be enough, but two of both is starting to hurt.
  14. Labyrinth
    - better than I remember but I could have done without the bloody songs. Still the kids liked it.
  15. Como Agua Para Chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate) -
    Vastly disappointed. This was the first time I have seen the film and I was bewildered by the crappy, hurried and clumsy editing. It robbed the movie of the magic I remember loving in the book. Turns out the version I have is 30+ minutes short of the original Mexican release (but longer than the US version). I'd love to see the full thing but I doubt if it would live up to the book. Even allowing for the crappy hatchet job there were real problems with the direction.

    Mind you, for some strange reason,
    I really liked this scene

  16. The Lost Continent
    - (MST3K) Dreadful 1951 SF yarn in which a revolutionary prototype atomic rocket (ie the same old stock footage of a V2) crashes on a radio-active island populated by dinosaurs and has to be rescued by Cesar Romero and various other chainsmoking military scientist chappies one of whom, the obligatory Brooklynesque comic relief, has a very weirdly disturbing sexual thing for aeroplanes. Very odd. Unfortunately also very dull.
  17. Howard The Duck
    - I finally got round to seeing Howard the Duck. It took me thirty years and was not as hideously dreadful an experience as I had feared. Despite some really dire music, John Barry at his most syrupy livened up with a couple of Thomas Dolby songs, an opening act which should have killed any movie stone dead (this film cost a fortune and bombed at the cinemas) and some dreadful, dreadful writing- I ended up almost liking bits of it.

    Bits like this.

    Mostly it was the performances of a (very young) Tim Robbins, and a (very sexy) Lea Thompson (Who? I hear you saying. Trust me - she was hot!) and a virtuoso display of scene stealing from Jeffrey Jones as an Evil Overlord of the Universe. When those three were on screen there was some real fun being had. For some reason the script got better
    during the second act. The plodding punning of the first act gave way to some genuinely funny gags in the second. I actually laughed. Still, it's not an experience I will ever want to repeat. The strange sexual relationship between Howard (a three foot two Alien Duck and Beverley, tall sexy white girl) was present in the comics but had been toned down for the movie. By toning it down (instead of eliminating it) they made it even more disturbing than I remember it being on the page. In the comics Howard and Beverley were just boyfriend and girlfriend who happened to be different species. In the movie it verged into the pervily bestial.
  18. Journey to the Seventh Planet
    - written and directed by the wonderfully named Sid Pink (who also produced the deliriously weird Angry Red Planet which I watched last month) is a strange Danish American co-production vaguely reminiscent of Lem's Solyaris and Ray Bradbury story The Third Expedition from The Martian Chronicles. Pink may not have been the best director in the world but the man was trying to do - above and beyond the run-of-the-mill Hollywood dross of the day.There were ideas in both these movies that deserved better. More time would have helped for one thing; this film was shot in a week. I'm off now to track down some of his other SF movies: Reptilicus (1961) sounds good.
    Looking through the reviews of his movies the word that seems to crop up more often than any other is 'odd'. I like odd. Odd is good.
  19. Spy Kids 3
    - A rarity; a threquel that was better than its predecessor. The kids liked it too but I suspect they missed the Tron gags.
  20. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension
  21. - Wow! Doc Savage on acid. One of those films that three minutes into it you realise you haven't got a clue what's going on and four minutes later you realise you probably still won't have a clue at the end - so you might as well just lay back and enjoy it. A film so stuffed full of oddities (like Rastafarian aliens, The strange presence of watermelons in engineering labs, a whole planet whose entire population is called John) and so many throwaway jokes that I suspect it will stand several repeat viewings - if only for the scene where John Lithgow attaches electrodes to his tongue for no other reason than to cue a flashback.

No comments:

Missing CD? Contact vendor

Free CD
Please take care
in removing from cover.

Copyright (c) 2004-2007 by me, Liam Baldwin. That's real copyright, not any 'creative commons' internet hippy type thing.

(this copyright notice stolen from

eXTReMe Tracker