Tuesday, July 31, 2018

1528 - Mrs. Bird's Brood

A junco family nested in our hanging planter out front this summer.  We noticed birds fluttering nervously every time we used our garage, and they were pretty angry when we tried watering the planter.   I shoved my camera into the foliage and was surprised to get this photo. 

Since then, we stopped using the garage and set up a drip-watering system for the plants to be used until the eggs hatch and the young fledge.  


Friday, July 27, 2018

1527 - Jor-El's Final Day On The Job

See, this is funny if you realize that Jor-El, Superman's father, is giving the weather report for the planet Krypton just before it falls into its own sun.  Jor-El would totally do this since he's the head of the Krypton Science Council, the body that governs the entire planet.  He was also the only one to warn against the wobbly orbit of Krypton, at least in some of the comic books anyways.  In desperation, he rebels by sending his son Kal-El on a spaceship to Earth just before Krypton is incinerated, and Kal-El becomes Superman.  


When I drew yesterday's illustration of the black side of Krypton being destroyed along with the white, I had intended Samu-El Jack-Zon (name courtesy of my friend Earl who is wise in all things related to The Man Of Steel) to be watching television, and Marlon Brando with his utterly dispassionate performance from the 1979 Superman movie would signal the end of civilization.  I couldn't figure out how to stage that, so I split up the two ideas.  I just worked this one out as a sort of sketch since ironically it's so hot out right now I'm thinking our own planet is falling into the sun.  I am sleeping days and working nights, or trying to. 


Thursday, July 26, 2018

1526 - Krypton's Blackest Day

My friend Earl and I had running a commentary about the fate of the planet Krypton, Superman's birthplace.  Going by the maps of the planet intended for Silver Age comic books, Kryptonian society was split between "Old World" and "New World" populations.  Not only did the Old World and New World thinkers remain philosophically distant, each civilization remained physically distant: each society occupied separate continents on opposite hemispheres of the planet.  Tucked into the corner of the Old World Hemisphere was Vathlo Island, which no word of a lie was a reserve intended for all of Krypton's black people.  At least the mapmakers conceded that Vathlo Islanders were considered to be highly advanced.  

All of this information came as an uncomfortable surprise to my friend Earl, who is the biggest fan of Superman.  Earl surveyed his massive collection of Superman comics and found very few references to any black citizens of Krypton, let alone any who would have been powerful enough to influence cut-throat Kryptonian politics.  Now Earl is suffering from white guilt, and given the starkness of the Krypton map I agree with him. 

I can't say if Superman's artists were being racist.  Likely, they were used to dealing with a roster of white characters that had been established for decades, and simply tacked on Vathlo as a means of being complete with their maps.  Comic books of that age were entertaining, but not particularly enlightened.  The focus would be on cranking out as many original stories as possible while remaining on time and under budget for publication. 

Looking at Vathlo Island another way, Kryptonian civilization would have become so advanced that heterogeny - a mixing of cultures - would give way to a reverse feudalism, in that people would naturally cluster together in mutually-supportive groups of super-scholars.  Krypton's science and politics seems to be composed of powerful yet isolated special-interest groups.  

Kryptonian  technology is well advanced from ours.  In their ancient past, Kryptonians were spacefaring explorers, discovering and colonizing distant planets.  Deciding that imperialism demeaned their values, and after the inadvertent obliteration of their moon, the people of Krypton decided to remain exclusively on their home world.  Still, it should be no problem for any citizen to travel from any of the major cities on the New World Continent to the wilderness of the Old Continent in moments.  Despite the physical distance between them, the New World and Old World peoples should have been able to communicate easily.  I figure they chose not to, however.

Since Vathlo was so advanced, they could have provided early warnings that Kryptonian industry was out of control, that the core of their planet was poisoned, and that an erratic orbit would vault Krypton into the sun.  Superman's father, Jor-El, was a leading member of the Science Council on the New World side of the planet, and nobody listened to him either.  All that would be left for the people of Vathlo would be to ride Krypton into oblivion.  Even then, it seems to have been the New World side of the planet that led the way into the afterlife.  

Saturday, July 14, 2018

1525 - Re-Lion On Photoshop

My cousin's family in Edmonton sent me a very sweet picture of themselves:
Even a casual observer will notice that the baby doesn't look particularly happy, and that some of the colours in the image are not right.  Fortunately, I'm good with Photoshop.  I made the proper corrections and now the baby is much happier:

Much, much better.  

Friday, July 13, 2018

1524 - The Left Hand Of Artless

On JSVB, the thirteenth of every month is Ungood Art Day.  Instead of showcasing things that are great, Ungood Art Day raises the curtain on my flubs and bad choices.

This is an early version of one of my drawings of Superman.   It turned out okay, in fact I prefer the black and white lines to the coloured version.  The only problem I have was that I don't know what Supes has in his left hand.  It kind of looks like a gym towel...? I should know, I drew it.  I was trying to have Superman open his suit jacket, but I lost track of how clothing works and merely inked the vague lines I had pencilled.  

I ended up replacing the cloth in Superman's left hand with Clark Kent's eyeglasses, which worked better visually and thematically.   

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

1523 - Sim Bleak House

Cleaning out his office space, my friend Earl discovered a twenty-year-old disk labelled "Bleak House" with texture files that I had made for customized characters in the old Sims videogame.  Each picture is a flat image designed to wrap around a specific three dimensional digital model.  He sent me this file out of nostalgia. 

The Sims was a virtual dollhouse that allowed you to create or re-create people and move them into buildings of your own design.  In his younger days, Earl lived in a ramshackle old house with his room-mates and friends Ron, Allan, and Carrie.  Earl nicknamed the place "The Bleak House Of Blahs."

One rule of The Sims was that efficiency made the little virtual people happy and inefficiency did not, since their time was very limited and travel across the house to get from the bedroom to the bathroom, and then across the house again to get to the kitchen and so on, would cause them to squander their day's opportunities.  One of the rules of the Bleak House was that you had to traverse the house across multiple floors to get to a bathroom, or around several corners to get into the kitchen, and that the bedrooms were set out as far away from each other as possible. It even had a wildly improbable "Pittsburgh Potty", a freestanding toilet at the end of an open hallway - upstairs. The place had an interesting architecture, that was for sure.  And it was incredibly inefficient, so it had earned the name "Bleak House" by makings its residents miserable with having to navigate its corkscrew corridors and dead-end lavatories.  

Naturally, making a virtual Bleak House for myself was a priority, and I spent many dishonourable hours  running Sim Earl, Allan, Ron, and Carrie through the wringer of destiny.  As karma would have it, I lost all of my files maybe twenty years ago.  And then the other day Earl rediscovered them, hooray!

Sim Earl wore jeans and a Star Trek shirt.  His face was frozen with angry perplexity.  Sim Ron had immaculate groomed hair and never removed his cherry-red supermarket bag-boy uniform.  Blond Sim Allan was forever immortalized wearing nothing but a laundry-greyed towel and fuzzy maroon slippers (one day I had to run an errand out to the Bleak House, and Allan answered the door in this get-up: he would have had to run down switchbacked stairs, sail across the kitchen, dodge past the phone cubby, and accelerate along the main hallway and through the portico to get to the door to see me.)  At least back then he had his hair.  Beautiful Sim Carrie was a strong fitness enthusiast.  In fact, she was simply strong.  I elected to have her wear her electric pink and blue leotard.

As a bonus, we have mildly ambitious me in my 1990's suit, and my svelte wife in tights and a Mickey Mouse shirt.  Why my wife and I have no heads, I am not sure and I don't recall.  

The Sims (and their original character templates) are the intellectual property of Electronic Arts, while Star Trek imagery belongs to Paramount Pictures (a subsidiary of Viacom) and Mickey Mouse of course is beholden to Disney. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

1522 - There's A New Tariff In Town

So it's the Fourth Of July, and we have fireworks.  Just what is the White House planning these days?  Is this new wave of nationalist protectionism a prelude to war?  Are Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim merely pawns on a chessboard played at by Russia and China?  Or are the new tariffs simply a consequence of executive greed?  

Poor Superman, considering his Canadian origins, will have to balance his chequebook more carefully every time he changes from Clark Kent into The Man Of Steel, now that steel is twenty-five percent more expensive.  

Superman is the intellectual property of DC Comics, as subsidiary of WarnerMedia.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

1521 - It's Canada Day, Baby

My wife suggested that I draw a baby for Canada Day.