Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Prisoner of Azkaban - Harry Potter

     It's been far too long since I've drawn anything Harry Potter. Here's the Wiz Kid, himself solemnly swearing his up-to-no-gooodness!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy VILLAINtines Day!

     Here's yet another take on the Teddy Ruxpin characters for my make-believe fan reboot of the series. Specifically, wannabe bad guys Tweeg and L.B.

     Someone once asked who I would cast as the voices for this reboot that I've concocted. Thinking about that sort of thing is always fun for me, so here's who I've come up with for these two.

Jack W. Tweeg - Corey Burton (Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, Adventures of the Gummi Bears)

L.B. - John DiMaggio (Futurama, Batman: The Brave and the Bold)

     Of course there's nothing saying that these choices are right and other choices would be wrong... well... except for me. I'm saying that.

These choices are right.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Meet The Smidgeons!

     On a couple of past occasions, I've toyed with this idea of placing tiny cartoon characters in a real environment. They used to be robots, but I guess I grew a little bored with that part of the idea so I decided to start over with the whole thing.

     I had talked about how difficult it was for me to come up with a name for these guys. I asked my wife for input and she instantly came up with "smidgeons." What can I say? She's the best. I also thought it'd be fun to imagine them as a series of children's books, and in doing so... also imagine that I was actually successful! Fun, right?

Enjoy the Smidgeons!

Friday, January 26, 2018

The Silly Nate Film Club - The Last Jedi

     Is it too late for me to talk about Star Wars? Is everyone pretty much over it by now? That’s ridiculous. The answer to both of those questions will always be a hard, “NO.”

     So here’s the thing… I’m not usually one for firm absolutes. I’ll often say something like, “I don’t like collard greens” and then I’ll later reconsider my whole outlook and be like, “Have you tried the collard greens? They’re totes yum, yo!” Some may call it being wishy-washy. I like to think that I’m just really good at embracing change… I like to think that, at least. After all, only a Sith deals in absolutes! Of course when you say, “ONLY a Sith” that statement, itself, becomes an absolute, so…….. wow…. That was a bad movie. Where was I going with all of this?! Oh yeah.

     One thing that I’ve been changing my mind about quite regularly, as of late, is the latest installment in the saga from that galaxy far, far away. I’m speaking, of course, of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Like collard greens, sometimes I like it… sometimes I don’t. UNLIKE collard greens, I’m willing to type a long blog post over it going into extensive detail on my exact feelings.

     I went into this movie with A TON of expectations. Everyone did! The Force Awakens was a barrage of setups, and we spent two years speculating over how all of our questions were going to be answered! We’re talking millions on top of MILLIONS of people each forming their own individual expectations for what they thought/wanted The Last Jedi to be! It isn’t hard to see how “dangerous” this is… is it?

     The movie begins and in no time, we’re back there on that mountain top watching Rey hand Luke Skywalker his father’s lightsaber. What’s he going to say? What could he say to satisfy the said millions? I feel like it would be similar to watching a sequel to Christopher Nolan’s Inception and having a filmmaker tell us whether or not Leo’s top keeps spinning. We each have our own ideas on if it does or doesn’t and ANY answer, one way or the other, would ruin the original ending. The same is the case here. The Force Awakens ends on such a magnificent beat that following up with any one specific answer would only deflate the moment. So what happens? Luke chucks the thing over his shoulder. THROW AWAY your expectations, kids! As he says much later on in the film, “This is not going to go the way you think!”

     And why should it? Why do we have to know what happens BEFORE it happens? Isn’t it considered a good thing for a movie plot to be unpredictable? While I would answer “yes,” I’ll admit that, on opening night, I was one of those people who was disappointed that things DIDN’T go the way I thought. What has Luke been doing? Moping. Who is this Snoke guy? It doesn’t matter. Who are Rey’s parents? They’re nobody. These are not the answers I originally wanted and coping with the devastating fact that I am a fan who was flat out WRONG has been quite the rollercoaster! In the film’s behind-the-scenes featurette, Daisy Ridley says that what director Rian Johnson has done with The Last Jedi is “unexpected, but right.” And after getting over myself a little bit, I see that that’s exactly the case.

     Let’s start with Snoke. I could, and have, spent hours coming up with my own head-canon on what this guy’s story is. Was he a maybe friend of Luke’s? What happened to his face? He seems old, so he was probably around during the time of the Empire. Where was he? What happened to his face?!? I was a little frustrated with not having any of these questions answered, but then I thought about C-3PO and the red arm he had in The Force Awakens. There could have been 15 seconds or so where Threepio explains what happened to his old arm, but it would’ve been a waste of time! Who cares?! It had nothing to do with the actual plot of the movie and wouldn’t have affected the characters in any way whatsoever! The same is the case with Snoke. Like Threepio’s arm, I’m sure Snoke’s backstory will make a mildly entertaining graphic novel or something, but for the sake of The Last Jedi, it doesn’t matter. The characters that may already know it, don’t need to hear it again and the characters that don’t know it… don’t care.

Oooh! What if the story of Threepio’s arm and Snoke’s backstory are one in the same?!

     When you get down to it, the only thing The Last Jedi needs Snoke to be is a catalyst for Kylo Ren. Here’s a guy who doesn’t just want to be the next Darth Vader. He wants to be even “better” than Darth Vader and to do that, he more or less needs an Emperor Palpatine. He needs an evil master to guide him down that particular path. In The Lord of the Rings, Gandalf gets the characters to a certain point in the story and is then removed to allow them to develop even more on their own. It’s the same with Snoke and Kylo. Masters are what their pupils grow beyond? Well Kylo Ren, albeit violently, does just that.

     Now on to a more sensitive topic. Let’s talk about Luke Skywalker! After my initial viewing, I would have summed up Luke’s “arc” like this: He drinks the breastmilk of a giant Zoidberg thing, whines a lot, projects a fake image of himself that looks like Billy Mays, then dies. Needless to say, I was somewhat hurt. It’s been more than 30 years since we’ve seen this guy, and when we finally get to see him back in action, what’s he doing? That!! Milking a Zoidberg!!

Two words: Pee. Yousa. 
     I had this guy built up into another John McClane! I wanted him to look at that lightsaber Rey was handing him and be like, “Keep it! I’ve already got one!” Then he lights up his green one and the two take off to save the day! I wanted a Luke that not only gets to fly the Millennium Falcon, but is awesome at it! I wanted a Luke that could use the Force to crush a whole squadron of AT-AT’s! I wanted a Luke that would go lightsaber-to-lightsaber with Kylo Ren and give that little punk the metaphorical spanking he deserved! I EXPECTED these things to happen, and I basically got the opposite.

     Aaaaaaand then I came around to another way of thinking. The Force Awakens faced the daunting task of creating a Star Wars villain that would trump Darth Vader. Rather than attempt this impossible feat, they instead worked the difficulty into the story and gave us a villain who’s jaded by the fact that he can’t trump Darth Vader! I would argue that The Last Jedi does a similar thing with this whole Luke business. There was someone else, besides myself and millions of others, who expected ridiculously great things from the legendary Jedi… and that’s the character Rey.

     When the film starts, Rey is in our same shoes. She’s heard the stories of this hero and, even though she’s probably never seen Die Hard, also wants him to be this John McClane type character that swoops in and basically does all the things I listed above, thus saving the galaxy from evil. What we’ve done, Rey included, is place Luke up on this pedestal and when you place someone on a pedestal, even if they’re a fictional character, you’re only setting them up to disappoint you.

     Luke Skywalker was never this Superman that we, for whatever reason, wanted him to be. He helps redeem his father in Return of the Jedi, yes, but when it comes to stopping the bad guys and saving the galaxy, he receives more credit than he deserves. Its Anakin Skywalker who ultimately saves the day and Luke is the one who’s left behind to get all of the glory. It stands to reason with this glory would also come a heavy burden. It’s up to him to maintain this peace that exists, and when he senses this new evil growing in his nephew, he does what he’s always done whether right or wrong. He acts on instinct.

     The Last Jedi shows us Luke finally reevaluating this whole problem solving approach. He charged in without thinking, and in doing so, lost the son of the two people who mattered to him most. Now he’s going to do the opposite of what he did on Dagobah when he rushed off to save his friends, he’s staying put. He's removing himself from the equation. All great characters have depth and Luke is no exception. The Last Jedi adds to that depth, but with depth, comes some pretty serious flaws. UNEXPECTED… but RIGHT!

     Now back to Rey! After all, this isn’t Luke’s story anymore. It’s hers. For Rey to continue to be the active protagonist that she is, she needs to be able to stand on her own two feet. If Luke turned out to be the legend she believed he was, there wouldn’t have been anything left for her to do. She would’ve just been there in the background! What happened with Luke wasn’t what she wanted, nor was it what we wanted, but it’s what needed to happen to make Rey step up to the foreground and take charge of the situation as the new hero of Star Wars! It’s the same with Finn, Poe, and Kylo Ren. If these are going to continue to be great characters, they can’t just be along for the ride. They have to make mistakes, learn their lesson, then grow the heck up! Luke’s not going to hold Rey’s hand and solve all of her problems. Neither are her parents. She can cry about this, or she can straight up jack those dirty old books and do like she’s always done – figure things out for herself!

     So yeah… I’ve flip-flopped quite a bit on Episode 8. If I had to pick a favorite scene, it would probably be the one where the sage master Yoda returns to pass on a few more words of wisdom to his former pupil. He tells Luke that failure is the best teacher. This is a lesson that pretty much every character in the film has to learn, and it’s a hard one, both for them as well as for myself as a fan. Now I don’t mean to be saying that if you didn’t like The Last Jedi, then you fail as a fan. When it’s all said and done, this is just a movie, and it’s perfectly fine to not like a movie. I think it’s important, however, to base one’s opinion of a film on what said film actually is, and not on how it compares to one’s specific expectations. This is the lesson that I learned from The Last Jedi and having learned it, I’m prepared to enjoy Episode 9 for everything it offers.

…Just so long as it has Lando.

They put Poe on the same side as the bad guys because he basically kills most of his friends.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Topping Off 2017

     At one point, last year, I decided to make the header graphic on this blog one that I could change out every month. It's just a simple little thing that helps keep the ol' blogspot looking fresh.

     After I switch it out each month, however, the old one goes away forever. Therefore, I decided to post them all here just for the sake of my own posterity.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 25, 2017

Have Yourself a Random Little Christmas

     I thought it'd be fun to celebrate the season with some random characters from various Christmas specials.

Feliz Navidad, everyone!

Grandma from A Garfield Christmas
The Great Ak from The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus
Wendell Porcupine from Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas
Miss Jessica from Santa Claus is Comin' To Town
Lucy from A Charlie Brown Christmas

Friday, December 15, 2017

Penguin Suits - Luke Skywalker

0 days until The Last Jedi!

What are you doing looking at my blog?!? GO WATCH IT!!! NOW!!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

My FAVORITE Characters from The Disney Afternoon

     So last week, I was somewhat of a Negative Nelly and went on a small rant over which characters from The Disney Afternoon (a group of tv shows that I have the utmost admiration for) I liked the LEAST! Well now I'm counteracting those negative waves with some positivity. Here are my FAVORITE characters from The Disney Afternoon!

*everyone sighs from relief while simultaneously gasping with delight*

Monterey Jack
     I kicked the last list off with Rescue Rangers, so I'll go ahead and do the same here. First up, the cheese-chaser from down under who's always ready to throw a little shrimp on the fondue - Monterey Jack! 

     The reason I love Monty so much is basically because of the way he talks. Hearing Jim Cummings use an Australian accent to say things like, "Too-la-roo, boyo!" or "Bonzer move, Chipper me lad!" is just something that I apparently never grow tired of. 

     It's not only how he says things, but also the things he says! In practically every episode, Mr. Jack here will say something referencing one of his many past adventures. "This reminds me of the time I got shanghaied in Shanghai on a junk full of junk," or "This is better than the time I rode a walrus over Niagara Falls!" and not once do the other Rescue Rangers say, "That sounds fascinating, Monty! Please tell me more about the time you were bushwhacked by bush wrens!" Nope! They just ignore him and go on as if he didn't say anything at all. Well, it's their folly, if you ask me. They're only denying themselves of what I'm sure is a treasure trove of anecdotes that are, at the very least... delightful!

Launchpad McQuack
     As I've said before, my favorite show from The Disney Afternoon is DuckTales. This being the case, picking one character as a favorite isn't an easy thing to do... but it is something I have to do. So here he is! Duckburg's own breathing crash dummy, Launchpad McQuack! 

     Launchpad has an amazing amount of clarity with everything, including himself. He knows he's not a good pilot, and he never tries to hide this fact. But despite not being good at what he does, he loves doing it, nevertheless. Launchpad doesn't let something as trivial as expertise stand in the way of doing what makes him happy... and there's something admirable in that, I suppose. It'd probably be best, though, to do any admiring on the ground.

Bigtime Beagle
     Okay. I lied. I have two favorite characters from Ducktales. In the original Uncle Scrooge comics, the Beagle Boys didn't really have individual names or personalities. Ducktales, on the other hand, is different! And the Beagle Boy with distinctest of the personalities, for my money, is Bigtime! The point man for most of the Beagle Boys' capers, this little guy is cunning, assertive, and probably best personifies the collective traits of the comic book Beagles - mean and clever. 

     There are a few times when other Beagles, like Bomber or Bankjob, take the lead but it's never quite as fun. To quote the man himself: "You can't have a good time without Bigtime."

Such eloquence.

     And lastly, there's Gummi Glen's resident wizard, Zummi Gummi. Of all the Gummi bears, I think Zummi is the one I can relate to the most. He has before him a wealth of knowledge and expertise from those who came before him, and is perfectly content spending every one of his waking hours pouring over every last detail. Zummi wants desperately, and even attempts at times, to make his own mark on Gummi history, but I don't think it's ever really an obsession. More than anything, I think, Zummi is content just having so much to geek out over while remaining confident in his own abilities and accomplishments. 

     I'm talking, of course, about Gummi bear magic spells. You know? Being able to light a candle from across the room? Without a match? 

That's the dream.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

My Least Favorite Characters from The Disney Afternoon

     As I've said time and time again, I'm a big fan of the shows of The Disney Afternoon! Now that I've made that absolutely clear, however, I must admit that I'm not a fan of every single aspect of them. There are few characters here and there that I just don't care for for one reason or another, and it's them that I've decided to devote this blog post to.

So here they are: my LEAST favorite characters of The Disney Afternoon!

     First up is the primary titular character of Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers,... Chip! Now, of course, we can't have Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers without Chip, but one thing we definitely can do is have him not be such a jerk! He's constantly berating Dale (hiiiiiis brother??) in front of the rest of the team! He bonks him on the head and calls him names! Sure, Dale's a big goof off, but he's the heart of the Rescue Rangers, man! AND he's proven himself valuable time and time again! Ease the heck off, Chipper!

Doofus Drake
     My favorite show from The Disney Afternoon is, without a doubt, Ducktales! There's one character in Ducktales, however, that even as a kid made me wince a little. I'm speaking, of course, about Doofus. I would always give a disappointed slump anytime I'd realize that a Doofus episode was coming on. Oh sure, I'd still watch it in its entirety (it's still Ducktales after all) I'd just watch it with a little less enthusiasm. I find him annoying. Plain and simple. Oh! And why is he called Doofus? Is everyone, even the adults, calling him an idiot to his face because bullying is such a firm staple of Duckburg life?!? Or is his name actually Doofus?! If so, then his parents are horrible people... I mean,... ducks.

Morgana Macawber
     Speaking of ducks, next up is the apple of Darkwing's masked eye, Morgana Macawber. I guess my main beef here is just that she bores me. I mean, I get it. They're both creatures of the night, so to speak. He's a masked vigilante and she's a mystical enchantress, or whatever, but that's pretty much it. A lot of the time, Morgana comes across as a bit of a doormat for Darkwing. I'd much rather see a love interest who acts as a foil to his super-sized ego.

Gusto Gummi
     And last, as well as least because thats what this is... a list of leasts, is Gusto Gummi. I dunno... Gusto's alright, I guess. It's just always bothered me that his name breaks form and doesn't end with an 'i'. I suppose you could say that it symbolizes his character's non-traditional nature and opposition to conformity... but screw that! I don't like things that are different!

     And there you have it, my least favorite characters of The Disney Afternoon! I bet you're all glad I cleared that up, huh? Of course, I must admit, while I don't particularly care for watching these guys on screen, they sure were a ton of fun to draw!