Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Rebooting Ruxpin - L.B. and the Bounders

     L.B. was the horrible little sidekick of Jack W. Tweeg. My version is a little more adorable than horrible. I think L.B. originally stood for Lead Bounder. I'd like this version to be a little more creative than that, but I can't decide. It could stand for something random... like Leonard Bernstein. Or maybe its a little more ambiguous, always standing for something different... like 'Let's Boogie' or 'Lazy Basta'...

Let's go with Leonard Bernstein!

     L.B. is part of a species known as bounders, which are basically little heads with legs. I went through several versions of L.B. before finally settling on the one you see above. I liked all my other tries so much that I decided to use them as the rest of the little guy's gang. I realize they all look pretty different from one another for being part of the same species, but there's no rule that says bounders can't be diverse in appearance.

The more I look at these guys, the more I'd rather see the little spinoff adventures of their own.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Rebooting Ruxpin - Jack W. Tweeg

     My "reboot" of Teddy Ruxpin continues with a little St. Patty's Day bloggin' of the green! Next in the lineup is the land of Grundo's resident green meanie, and my personal favorite, Jacqueline Willimena Tweeg!

     Jacqueline Willimena is, of course, my small change. Guys with girl names crack me up, I guess. Other than that, I can't really think of ways to change Tweeg much. I kind of like him the way he is... or was. 

     Tweeg is a sort of wannabe sorcerer who believes he can magically turn buttermilk into gold. His attempts to do so always fail, however, producing instead... buttermilk donuts. Hilarious, right?!? I thought Tweeg, or maybe his henchman L.B., could capitalize off of this misfortune and sell the donuts to help finance further experiments. Magic has to cost money, after all! You can't just get something from nothing! Equivalent exchange and all that jazz!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Rebooting Ruxpin - The Patchwork

     Reboots seem to be all the rage right now! Sometimes I think this is good, other times... not so much. Disney recently announced that they're officially rebooting DuckTales for the 30th anniversary of the series! This, to me, is an example of the good! 

     But anyways, a while back, just for fun, I started a little reboot of my own with the characters from the late Ken Forsse's The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin! I thought I'd keep it going, but FIRST... a recap of the ones I've done so far.

     Of course, there's Teddy, a spunky young illiop who travels to the land of Grundo in search of adventure. An illiop being sort of like a bear... only with clothes, I guess.

     Grubby is an octopede, and the clumsy yet loyal companion to our hero, Teddy. Grubby doesn't share Teddy's enthusiasm for adventure, but follows him to Grundo anyway, partly because he can pretty much be talked into anything and also because he just didn't have anything else to do.

     Next up is Newton Gimmick, a burly old inventor that used to serve as engineer on a royal airship before retiring. Gimmick now runs a junk yard in the small town of Bounder Pass, where he hires Teddy and Grubby as garbage... men.

     Leota the Woodsprite is a guardian, of sorts, of the forest. She's about two inches tall and doesn't have much in the way of magic, but what she does have IN SPADES is smarts! Leota can outwit the brightest of the bright and makes a pretty formidable foe for anyone daring to bring her forest any harm.

     Princess Erin is the headstrong heir to the throne of Grundo. She meets up with the rest of the gang on her quest to rescue her younger sister Eruzia from treacherous kidnappers. Epic stuff.

     The newest character I have to introduce isn't technically a character at all, but it is still a vital part of Teddy and his friends' adventure. It's the rickety but reliable airship that I'm dubbing, the A.S. Patchwork!

     It's like the old saying goes, you can take the grizzled old engineer out of the airship, but you can't stop him from just building another one out of spare parts found in a junkyard! ...okay. That's not a saying... It's not even that catchy... but it is what happened.

     Gimmick's ship, as you can see, is made from all sorts of different objects and was a ton of fun to draw! Who knows how Gimmick is able to get this heap of junk off the ground with just a big balloon, but in a world of talking teddy bears and 5 foot insects, a little suspension of disbelief is required, to say the least!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

You Failed Art School! BOOM! Roasted.

     Here's another batch of characters from The Office. Drawing... I guess you could call them caricatures(?)... isn't something I've done much of and I feel like it's pretty hit and miss when it comes to capturing the likenesses of these characters. For some, like Stanley, I feel like I nailed it on the first try. But with others, I must have trashed half a thing of post-its trying to get it right. My depiction of Pam resembled everything from Jake the Dog to Audrey Hepburn, but never really looked like Jenna Fischer. I finally settled with the one below. 

     Really, my goal was to capture the general feel of the character for something like an animated version rather than do an accurately detailed depiction. 

That's a pretty flimsy excuse, but I'm sticking with it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

World's Best Boss

      I once heard Steve Carrell say early on in the run of The Office that if you don't know a Michael Scott, then you probably ARE a Michael Scott. Being a 'Michael Scott' was implied as a negative since, during the first several episodes of the show, he's nothing but a slimy jerk. As the series went on, however, I grew to really like the character and started to actually root for the guy.

     It's fun to watch as a character gradually develops into an almost completely different character. I don't think I'd like to be referred to as a 'Michael Scott' if you were talking about Season One, but Season Seven? ...well... Probably no... Still no.

I've always considered myself more of a Darryl.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

I've Always Been Their Biggest Flan

     Some people use those little yellow post-it notes to write down little reminders and what not. Myself? I like to draw characters from The Office on them!

More to come!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Cupid Was Dead To Begin With

     So we all know how Charles Dickens gave us the Spirits of Christmas... well Silly Nate is giving you the Spirits of Valentine's Day! You're welcome, Earth!

Say hello to Single and Mingle!

     Single represents the more anti-social aspect of the holiday that just wants to curl up in a sugar induced coma until February 15th!

    Whereas Mingle here is all about socializing! Her philosophy on life can pretty much be summed up in three little words... BLING BLING Y'ALL!!!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

I'd Like To See Them TRY!

Radagast the Brown

    Here's my take on a couple of characters that I would like to have seen better developed in the Hobbit movies. It seems like if they absolutely HAD to stretch the book into three movies, then they could have used some of that extra time to expand upon these interesting, yet very minor, characters and give them a bigger part to play. 


     Take Beorn, for example. Here's a character that was actually in the book, as opposed to the character, Legolas, who was not. Yet, Legolas ends up with the most screen time and character development, even though the dude already had his trilogy! I suppose the filmmakers felt that it was a safer bet to give us something familiar rather than throw a bunch of new stuff at us. But (and I can't believe I'm even asking this), what's the point of introducing a character that can turn into a giant bear and then hardly spend any time at all showing him turn into said bear?!? 

     On the other hand, Peter Jackson has never critiqued my drawing abilities, so I probably shouldn't tell him how to make movies.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Silly Nate Film Club - The Prince of Egypt

     One of the things I love as much as drawing is watching movies. Not only do I love watching movies, but I really love TALKING about them! For this reason, I’m starting a new (and hopefully regular occurring) feature here on the blog. Introducing The Silly Nate Film Club! 

     Rather than give a typical review of recent releases, I thought it’d be more fun to do my best Robert Osborne impression and present films that have been out for quite some time, but are just as prevalent today as whatever blockbuster motion-picture that is currently selling out at the box-office. Of course, the word ‘club’ implies a group. If there’s anyone reading this who has seen the movie I’m talking about, make use of the Comments button and let’s get a discussion going! If you haven’t seen the film, then hopefully this will make you want to watch  it. 

     As you can tell from the rest of the content on this blog, I’m a huge fan of cartoons. Therefore, I thought I’d start things off with an animated film. Released in 1998 from Dreamworks Animation, and probably my favorite one of the company’s movies, it’s The Prince of Egypt!

     If you ask me, in the mid to late 90’s, Walt Disney Pictures pretty much ruled the roost in terms of theatrical animation. 1989’s The Little Mermaid sparked a comeback of sorts for them that continued with hit after hit! One of the many people behind those hits was film executive Jeffrey Katzenberg. In 1994, Katzenberg left Disney and cofounded Dreamworks with his fellow media mogul buddies, David Geffen and Steven Spielberg. 

     One of the new company’s first ventures into animation was The Prince of Egypt, an adaptation of the epic story of Moses. Like I said, when it came to… well, filmmaking in general, but specifically animation, this was hardly the execs’ first rodeo. Katzenberg played a big part at Disney and Spielberg was behind such classics as An American Tale and The Land Before Time. At the helm of the film was director Brenda Chapman, who also came from Disney. The Prince of Egypt was a milestone for Chapman, as the first film she would direct, as well as a milestone for Hollywood as the first major animated feature to have a female director. 

     I’m not sure what the exact strategy was, if any, for competing with Disney, but if it were me, I would attempt to make a film that tonally took things in an almost polar opposite direction from what the House of Mouse was known for. When I was a kid, there were several animated films that tried to copy the success of Disney with some fairy tale-esque story that ended up lacking in substance. I remember when I first saw a lobby standee teasing the release of The Prince of Egypt, I instantly dismissed the film as being another flop in this group. Boy, was I wrong! Dreamwork’s Animation really started things off with a bang! 

     The film itself starts things off with a bang… or rather a really powerful, let’s say… thud! As the giant stone head of Pharaoh Seti slams into view and begins an opening sequence filled with Egyptian soldiers killing the babies of their Hebrew slaves, we know that this will not be like any animated film we have ever seen before. Now, I realize how grotesquely gruesome that sounds, especially for a cartoon, but that being said, the film is still a lot of fun! For one thing, it’s a musical! What’s more fun than that? 
And look! ...shenanigans!

     One of the things that impresses me most with musicals is their ability to cram so much set-up and exposition into a single song! The Prince of Egypt does this with its opening number “Deliver Us.” Here’s a sequence that establishes the setting of the story (which, I suppose the film’s title also gives away), the cruel treatment of the Hebrews, the sacrifice that Moses’ mother makes to save her son’s life, and the events that lead Moses to becoming the titular prince! If The Prince of Egypt wasn’t a musical, I would guess that it would have taken a lot more screen time to accurately explain all of this… and it probably wouldn’t be nearly as good. But set to an epic song by Stephen Schwartz and Hans Zimmer, the whole thing is able to fit into a concise and very entertaining seven minutes! 

     Likewise, with the song, “Through Heaven’s Eyes,” we get to see Moses and Tzipporah’s romance gradually develop over a long period of time, but expertly portrayed in a dialogue-free montage that only lasts for about three minutes. With the ability to compress these types of plot points, the filmmakers create more time in the film to better develop the characters. 

     And it’s the how well developed the film’s central characters are that makes me love this film as much as I do. On the surface, The Prince of Egypt is the story of Moses leading his people out of Egypt, but at its heart, its this compelling tale of two brothers whose different beliefs force them against one another. This little bit of humanity that the characters have makes them much more relatable and is something that, I think, most biblical epics are lacking.

     The film’s predecessor, The Ten Commandments boasted an all-star cast and The Prince of Egypt is no exception in this regard. In fact, it’s almost TOO star-studded, if that’s possible. I had myself a little chuckle at just how much Jeff Goldblum’s character Aaron sounds so… Jeff Goldblum-ey. And during the end credits, while we read the names of these A-list actors, we’re treated to the pop version of the film’s song, “When You Believe” this time sung by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey in one of the most spectacular diva showdowns ever recorded!

"the... the very ESSENCE of chaos!"

     But that’s just me being silly. I really don’t mind the casting at all. Val Kilmer is perfect as Moses, as is Ralph Fiennes as Rameses. One of my favorite aspects of the film, dealing with casting, is how Val Kilmer also plays the voice of God. At first, I remember thinking, why couldn’t they get someone else? Did all the star-power exhaust the film’s budget? Moses is the only character that shares a scene with God, and the two sound exactly the same! What’s that all about?!? But then I thought about it for a second, and it began to make sense. When God speaks to us, it’s not a booming voice from the sky, but one that comes from within. Therefore, Moses hearing God’s voice from within himself would sound, to Moses, like… himself!

"uh... well, there it is."

     It ends up being a very subtle detail that I enjoy very much. Whether or not it was the intention of the filmmakers, I don’t know.

     Overall, I would call The Prince of Egypt a movie filled with chills. I get horrified chills over the Egyptians’ actions in the opening sequence. I get joyous chills during the montage of Moses finding a new purpose in life, and I get awe-struck chills at the climactic moment where Moses parts the Red Sea. It’s hard for me to say whether or not this Dreamworks’ film can hold a candle to the Disney classics. I suppose it doesn’t really matter, because in the end, we as an audience are left with a variety of high-caliber films to enjoy time and time again, regardless of who produced what. And with stellar animation, and superb story-telling, The Prince of Egypt will go down, in my book at least, as a timeless classic.