For f**k’s sake. Terrorists are not under your bed. They are not hiding around every corner. They are not in the seat next to you. The few that are out there only win if you start to think they might be.
In 2005, a gaggle of weak-minded twits blew themselves up on the London Underground. I and 1.2 BILLION other passengers per year still use it. Could another attack happen? Of course. But so could fire, flood, collapse or accident. You could get hit by a bus as you exit the station! There are a thousand-and-one terrible things that could happen to you today and, I assure you, unless you live in some third world sh*thole, the odds of a random yahoo causing you physical harm for political or religious reason is one of the least likely to occur.
By watching The Interview in theatres, you would have been more likely to choke on a popcorn kernel than get caught up in any kind of threatened reprisal.
F**k you Sony. I’m buying an Xbox…….
Comedy films are the best example of this practice. I’ll see them eventually, but they almost never tempt me into a cinema viewing.
The Interview however, I may go to see twice. I don’t have any kind of inside knowledge about how funny it will be, nor does the known plot scream “must see!”. I’m simply going to make a point of catching it at the flicks out of pure spite toward the hacking group who are making terror threats over it.
The Interview is about a celebrity journalist and his producer, who land an interview with the leader of North Korea. The CIA recruit the duo and charge them with the task of assassinating him.
The whole thing smells a bit like the Cold War classic Spies Like Us. The DPRK, however, isn’t as renowned for its sense of humour as it is hysterical overreaction, and has taken the movie’s release as an act of war.
Though no official ties have been made between North Korea and the group behind the Sony hack and ensuing threats, it’d be surprising if someone else was behind it all.
Comedy has always been the best way to destroy a tyrant, so let’s all point and laugh.
I monitor content on DA via “browse” as it changes regularly and has work that the community thinks to be high quality. It’s generally where I spot artists whose material I want to see more of. Over the past few days, though, after posting a response to DA inexplicably choosing the letter “Z” to be their logo, people mentioned that the “Super Pretentious” cartoon had surpassed DA’s own “Boldly” journal on the “What’s Hot” list. Thinking that to be funny as hell, I switched to “What’s Hot” to keep an eye on it.
Obviously, over time, both entries started dropping down the list, but within the past 48 hours or so, the “Super Pretentious” cartoon seems to have vanished altogether, but the “Boldly” journal that it was ahead of still remains
I have no idea how DA’s “What’s Hot” list is maintained, but that seems rather odd.
Have I just been censored?
"Hi there! The algorithm for What's Hot is based on surfacing deviations that are receiving a lot of traction right now, so while your comic was receiving an exceptionally large amount of traffic in its early hours (the reason for its appearance near the top of What's Hot), it's not receiving that level of traffic anymore, and as such appears further down. Given the level of views your comic is still receiving today, it is entirely possible that it is still on What's Hot, although some amount of pages back. I hope that clarifies." - DA Staff
For those not in the know; SPECTRE was the villainous organisation that was constantly trying to trigger World War 3 in the early Bond movies and pretty much every super-villain that 007 was sent out to stop was a member of the SPECTER hierarchy. At the top of this criminal network was the shadowy figure known only as “Number One”, who, after a multi-film build-up, personally introduced himself to Bond (and the audience) during You Only Live Twice as Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
Now, the last anyone saw of Blofeld was when Roger Moore dropped him down a chimney, and SPECTRE was never mentioned again because of an ongoing squabble over ownership of the name. During Daniel Craig’s tenure as Bond, an underworld organisation identical to SPECTRE was hinted at but, disappointingly, named “Quantum”. More disappointingly, despite being really rather good, Skyfall ignored the previous two films and veered away from the narrative that had been laid down. There was no mention of Quantum or of Bond’s investigation into it, as there had been across Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. I was hoping for an introduction to the new Blofeld, or at least a hint of fluffy Persian, but all we got was that rather fruity fellow who liked monologuing about his rat-killing grandmother.
But here we are with Bond #24 being named SPECTRE and money being put on Christoph Waltz to play the role of uber-villain Blofeld.
Screw Star Wars. THIS I am excited about!
The shape created by the bullet-hole is enough to have me geeking out.
The new Star Wars teaser has me bouncing up and down in my chair with glee. I’ve watched it a dozen times and I cannot wait until I get the chance to see it on the big screen, but there is one teeny, tiny thing that just rubs me the wrong way. It’s a really stupid thing, too. Something that, when I tell you what it is, many are going to ask why it’s worth getting in a twist over.
That stupid lightsabre.
And it IS stupid. It’s a really, really bad weapon design and people are going to be taking the piss out of it for years to come, I’m sure.
Ever since Darth Maul showed up with his two-bladed sabre (I believe it was called “The Compensator”) a new sabre gimmick has been required with each further expansion of the mythology. We’ve had purple sabres, Ventress had her twin sabres, Grievous did his Cuisinart-thing, etc, etc.
The gimmick Star Wars VII seems to be employing follows the age-old practice of defining a villain as “evil” by “adding more spikes”.
The lightsabre design in the trailer appears to be based on a traditional sword or rapier, but one that was devised by a person who has no experience with bladed weapons.
The cross-guard (that bit that runs the horizontal to the blade’s vertical, just above the hilt) is there to protect the user’s hand. Turning it into a focused jet of searing hot plasma rather negates the purpose as it’s more likely to lop the user’s fingers off than injure their opponent. Which is dumb.
THAT is what is sticking in my mind from the teaser. It’s not the incredibly cool and rather lethal looking squad of Stormtroopers or the low flying XWings or the barrel-rolling, TIE dodging Millennium Falcon. It’s the stupid sabre. And that annoys me, because I want to love everything, but bad designs just slap me in the face like a rotting fish.
Having played through both Borderlands 2 and The Pre-Sequel, I’m not entirely sure that either Gearbox or 2K really knew themselves why Borderlands worked, because both additional entries into the canon failed to grab me in the same way.
Here are the reasons why I thought Borderlands was great, and why it’s sequels weren’t.
1: The opening.
There are very few games that set the scene as perfectly as this. In just under 2 minutes, you know everything you need to: Going by that weird dog-thing, Pandora is an alien planet. The crusty looking billboard suggests it’s a frontier world which people were lured to a long while back. Marcus’s pep talk implies a “gold rush” atmosphere and his heavily armoured bus lets us know you can’t be sure when and where danger is going to come from. Not that any of that should make you think this is a serious, po-faced game. Backed as it is by a kick-ass tune and the squelching sound of road-kill, this whole sequence informs us that Borderlands is a comic book illustrated by a crazy person using dark humour for ink, and you’re going to enjoy the ride.
The intros to Borderlands 2 and The Pre Sequel simply didn’t spark in the same way. They had a checklist of everything that featured in the original and it shows that they were simply ticking boxes. Tune? Check. Character introductions? Check. Gore (without understanding why it was funny in the original)? Check. There’s just no charm to it. I could watch the original over and over. These I just skip past.
2: It was set in a desert.
Pandora seems to be a very arid place. Nothing but jagged rocks and dust. The only places you’ll find any kind of flora is around the pipes discharging waste from the scattered, run-down looking population centres.
This was awesome. It gave a real Mad Max vibe and made you feel like you were in the middle of nowhere. It gave more of a reason as to why everyone was so crazy, here; they were all desperate, fighting tooth and nail to stay alive.
The sequels f**ked this all up. You have no idea how annoyed I was when I found Borderlands 2 kicked off in the tundra and remained in a more-or-less temperate climate for the duration of the game. You get to see a little bit of the old desert, but there’s some dull, Mordor-like volcano-level between you and it. It didn’t actually make any sense that it was still there, either, as the planet had undergone some sort of climate shift since the original.
3: There were a sh*t-ton of guns.
I’m sure there were more guns in the original game than in the sequels. Probably not as many potential variations, but there were certainly more gun-cases lying around. I felt like I was tripping over them. Borderlands basically invented the concept of “shoot-and-loot”, which is why the lack of “loot” in Borderlands 2 and The Pre-Sequel really grates. In both sequels there seemed to be an age between the moments when I found myself torn over what gun to keep and which to ditch. That was one of the most memorable aspects of the original. It felt it had been diluted in favour of set, special weapons granted by NPCs upon completion of missions, which detracted further from the sense of achievement found through exploration of the environment.
4: You were alone.
There wasn’t much NPC interaction in Borderlands. Your main form of communication with Pandora’s population was by shooting them in the face. Those not quite as crazy talk briefly over the Echo communication system, outlining some of the missions. On the whole, though, there’s not a lot of chatter. I liked that. It added to the sense that you were on your own out here, and no one really cared if you lived or died during your treasure hunt.
In the sequels…..people don’t shut up.
Scooter was memorable in the first game because he had a few good catch-phrases and some really funny lines, all of which added to the backwater nature of Pandora. That all changes in Borderlands 2 when he, like the rest of the returning cast, have their roles expanded. They talk and talk and talk and aren’t funny or memorable at all, partly because they’re not terrible well written but mostly because their voices are drowned out by the gun-battles they always choose to call you during.
5: It wasn’t epic.
Your role in Borderlands was entirely selfish. Regardless of what the weird Angel kept saying over the radio; you were a prospector, going out into the wilderness to pan for gold. There was no other agenda, no grand, world-saving goal, which really made the game stand out from other shooters. As with the desert setting and the lack of NPC chatter, it added to the sense of isolation. This was a game about YOU. YOUR progress is the focus.
Again, this wasn’t something that carried over to the sequels. What happens in Borderlands 2? Oh, there’s an evil, invading empire and you have to join the resistance to fight them off and save the world.
How very original.
Having completed the Pre-Sequel, and heard mention of an approaching war, it seems that we’re not going to see a return to anything that made the original Borderlands so special, which is a damn shame.
Ass Creed: Unity hit the headlines because of it doesn’t just play bad, it’s flat out broken.
I’ll repeat what I said in the journal with the Watchdogs prediction: look at the back catalogue of a studio before spending money on their products. If that back catalogue is nothing but a brown, faecal smear, don’t buy them! It doesn’t matter if it looks like the greatest thing ever, it most likely won’t be. Or worse, it’ll be as shoddy as a Ass Creed: Unity.
As with Michael Bay films, I swore never to waste any more of my precious time on Ubisoft games. There’s just better things to play than the likes of clunky Ass Creeds or hateful Far Crys.
One of Ass Creed: Unity's many glitches.....or proof that Ubisoft is run by those aliens from They Live.
“The Force Awakens” is right up there with “Return of the Jedi” and “Revenge of the Sith” in that it implies a focus on the hokey religion; in my mind, the most boring element of the Star Wars movies and what always seems to be the focus of Star Wars video games these days.
When we otherwise see epic space battles and Machiavellian plots, I just hate it when things cut to a pair of guys in bath robes talking very slowly about how everything of f**king interest leads to the f**king Dark Side. All they seem to want to do is sit in a beige room on space-futons. It’s just dull.
The first Dark Forces game saw you play as a bounty hunter, blasting his way through waves of Storm Troopers. It was ace! In the sequel, the same bounty hunter became a Jedi and the franchise immediately lost its charm.
Knights of the Old Republic is always put on a pedestal, and while I’m sure it’s an exquisite RPG, it’s all about Jedi, which means I’ve never had any interest in playing it.
The XWing and TIE Fighter games were all about space combat in the Star Wars universe. I’ve played both to completion many times. Why? Because there’s no Jedi bullsh*t gunking up the works. No lightsabres. No banal waffle about the Dark Side. Just epic space battles and political intrigue.
Star Wars is at its best when it’s about WAR among the STARS and at its weakest when the Jedi are wheeled out as a cure-all for whatever situation has cropped up.
YAY! But, at the same time: YAWN.
1: The managerial lead behind any software patch or update must have their home address made public at the time of its release.
2: A metal plate must be placed beneath the doorway of all shops and stores, which will become electrified if anyone should stop within them.
3: You must pass a spatial awareness test before being permitted to use a shopping trolley.
4: Use of marijuana must become compulsory in Russia.
5: Nurses must receive the same wage as the players of any professional sport.
6: Politicians must have experience working in the field that they want to govern.
7: The entire staff and their families of any company that employs cold calling are to be executed.
8: Firearms must be made to look like giant, purple dildos.
9: News outlets may only ever publish or broadcast facts, not opinions.
10: Someone must explain why religious texts should be taken more seriously than fairy tales.
Add your own!
It’s all being taken very seriously by certain parties. Some scientists have approached the UN and asked for the issue to be addressed in a more formal capacity, with a hope that laws against these machines taking certain roles will be put in place. Specifically “killer robots”. They don’t want to see a machine deciding when it’s right to pull the trigger.
That concern is perfectly understandable, but there’s another that is less touched on: are robots getting too cute?
Robots that look like cute animals, or big-eyed children are designed to evoke a nurturing instinct in people. There are worries that this will have a negative impact on social interaction within society, with the people that rely on them, such as the elderly, preferring them over actual people.
Personally, I’m hoping such machines exist when (or if) I hit old age. I like the thought of having SOMETHING watching over me that has the capacity to call for help if I cannot. We’re not all zombies because of television and texting hasn’t eradicated verbal communication. I doubt a robotic helper will cause the downfall of society.
My rants when tech fails on me may make me sound like a Luddite from time to time, but I find the relentless advancement of science incredibly exciting. All I think when I read articles about robots is “Cool! Can we choose what they look like? How much will it cost to get my robot housecleaner to look like Morrigun from ABC warriors?”
During the lead up to the Winter Olympics in February, for example, while large gentlemen with flails were beating the sh*t out of small, female protesters, Putin seemed to make a great effort to always mention homosexuals and paedophiles in the same sentence, as though the two were somehow linked.
I’m not suggesting that politicians elsewhere in the world don’t pull the same trick in order to rally a hysterical mob in their favour, but the Russians do it with all the subtlety of a brick.
In what I’m assuming is less an effort to protect the fragile psyche of Russia’s youth and more an attempt to thwart another dastardly Western concept (namely fun) from taking root: members of the Public Chamber want the government to curb Halloween celebrations, stating that horror-themed parties “induce low feelings” and “turn into orgies”. Halloween is “ideologically and culturally alien to the Russian way of life” and “extremists can use such holidays for criminal purposes.”
“Russian officials should promote national holidays and celebrations instead of imported ones."
What kind of alternative to Halloween is offered by Russia? Well, October 31st is the “Day of the detention centres and prisons workers”.
The chief thing I take from this latest gem of Russian political totalitarian bat-sh*ttery is how conflicting the ramblings actually are.
I’ve, regrettably, never attended an orgy, but I doubt that it would induce “low feelings”, or that “low feelings” would go on to incite an orgy.
A Russian take on the Western "Zombie March"......more horses than I would have expected.
After reading through the comments in my previous journal, I feel the need to clarify a couple of things.
First: Tracing. Does. Not. Help. You. Improve. Your. Art.
Never has, never will and you’re kidding yourself if you think otherwise.
Second: Emulation is not tracing. People seem to be having trouble telling the difference.
Tracing does not teach you anything because all you’re doing is copying the line work of an existing image. All the real work has already been done. You’re not learning how the image is constructed or discovering for yourself how to use your drawing tools to create the desired effect. You’d be better off just outright copy/pasting the base image and saving yourself the time.
Emulation on the other hand, be it simply trying to recreate an existing image by eye or (even better) going all out and trying to adopt an existing style, does improve your method. By “reverse engineering” an image, you work out how it was created and gain an understanding of how to create the same effect again, or even improve upon it. Assimilating and adapting this knowledge into a method that feels natural for you is a good foundation/support to your own personal style.
Now this was really hard in the VHS era, because a paused image on a VHS is usually either broken up or shakes so much that you’ll have some kind of fit if you look at it too long, it depended on how cheap and sh*tty your machine was.
But I worked really hard at it, man. I spent ages getting the linework just right, I was so careful, and when I peeled the page from the static cling of the bulbous, cathode ray tube screen, the character looked exactly right on the page. And you wanna know what I took away from that endeavour? What all that effort taught me?
Jack f**king sh*t.
You don’t pick up or develop any skills by tracing. You don’t devise and perfect your own methods by tracing. You do not progress as an artist by tracing. All you get is a loss of credibility, especially in this day and age, because even if you rip off the work of a lesser-known, hack-cartoonist like me, someone’s gonna spot it and call you out.
Things brightened up a bit last week with “Mummy on the Orient Express”, which would have been great had the titular express been the ACTUAL express rather than an entirely unnecessary futuristic version travelling through deep space.
Tonight’s episode, “Flatline”, by comparison to the eight episodes that preceded it, was a work of goddamn art. Brilliant! Utterly brilliant! It’s unfathomable as to how all the other trashy stories were greenlit when this gem of a tale was also in the mix.
I shan’t say anything more, and I urge people not to post any spoilers, but it is without a doubt this series’ “Blink”. It's worth wading through all the garbage like "Kill the Moon" in order to see.
Something's not right, here
Guys are fascinated by them.
Through single-digit ages, they find the very concept of them hilarious, and when puberty kicks in the mere thought of lady-lumps generally causes some movement in the trouser department. These weak-willed creatures will follow them anywhere and they will do almost anything if it means simply being permitted to gaze upon them for a few moments more.
The entertainment industries, from the big movie makers to the lowly art whores (like me) know this, and have played upon it for years in order to separate males from their money. As a result, mass media is awash with the female form in all manner of provocative poses and dress.
Many women are fed up with this, but is the whole thing “sexist”?
Well, it’s impossible and indeed wrong to say a whole industry is one thing or another. Ultimately it’s all one, big, dumb organism that simply moves with the cultural winds. It perpetuates what sustains it. It’s only when you break it down into smaller elements that you can accurately identify what is and is not sexist.
An industry that is almost entirely staffed by one gender will naturally create products that primarily appeal to that same gender, but something that is created with the intention to titillate isn’t sexist. It only becomes so if it is held up as an expectation of how a gender should behave.
Let’s use a fictitious video game as a basic study.
This game is made by an all male development team, so it’s naturally going to cater to male tastes. This team all love the Frank Frazetta style of swords and sorcery, so this game reflects that: the main character is a scantily clad warrior princess who is animated to be as provocative as possible and who emits orgasmic groans every time she launches an attack.
None of that is sexist, just immature. It’s indulgence of male fantasy, designed by males for males. Electing not to appeal to a female audience doesn’t make you sexist, just dumb for alienating a group of potential consumers.
Moving on, when the game ready for sale, it is promoted with full page ads in the gaming press featuring the main character in a sexy pose. This alone wouldn’t be sexist, but the tag-line reads “Are you man enough to take control of me?”
That is sexist (and horribly out-of-date). It suggests inferiority/superiority based on gender, which is the definition of sexism.
Everything else is simply visuals and how offended someone is by those is dependant on that individual’s personal attitude toward them. Puritanical minds will see every piece of exposed flesh as an affront to their sensibilities, the more hormonal driven will be thankful for a new piece of material to add to the Wank Bank and the level-headed will treat it for what it is and ignore or follow it without fuss.
As you may have noticed, I draw lots and lots of absurdly proportioned females, but I have never been accused of being sexist or that I objectify women. I’m putting this down to the fact that I try to inject personality into my pin-ups. Yes, they are drawn that way to titillate, but the characters ARE characters, designed only to promote a sense of care-free, confidant fun and never used to belittle or demean.
The Sorceress from Dragon’s Crown was obviously drawn to titillate and is constantly being held up as an example of sexist character design, but if you look at how she moves in the game, you see that she’s a comedy character, intended to look absurd.
That one of the “old” superpowers would do something to upset the delicate balance that’s been in place since the end of the Cold War was unthinkable. After everything that happened in the 20th century and the blanket of fear and doubt it cast over the world, what kind of person would risk a return to the dark days?
Well, Putin gave the answer, there. I thought the chap was sinister, but ultimately harmless. A cool headed fellow that had as much pride in his nation as any other Russian. For a while last year I was even thinking; we really don’t need first strike weapons anymore. Who are we going to use them on? We should take them off-line and pour the funds we’d save into energy research. A golden age for all of us could be just around the corner!
Unfortunately, I was wrong.
It turns out that Putin is a total egomaniac and the personality cult that has built up around him is just as dangerous as any that’s existed throughout history, both to the people under him and the world at large.
I was worried when he invaded Ukraine. Seeing stuff like THIS makes me even more concerned. If statues of him start getting erected, I’ll officially be terrified.
There are people comparing Putin to Hitler, which I think (at this point at least) is inaccurate. He’s not there yet. He’s more like President Bush, playing on the fears of the nation and creating enemies where there are none in order to get his own way. For Bush it was convincing Americans that there was a suicidal goat farmer under every school-bus so that he could invade Iraq. For Putin it’s all about convincing his people that the West’s only intention is to undermine all things Russian.
The chief difference between the two is that apparatus was in place to get rid of Bush. Putin, by contrast, is essentially a dictator. Nothing can shift him and he knows it. He can do as he pleases, and IS.
Russia’s problem isn’t the West. All the people want here is a return to the stability that’s existed for the last 20 years. The stability that gave Russians the freedom to dig themselves out of the Soviet muck and turn their country into the glittering superpower they deserved it to be. Russia’s problem is Putin: A man with a romanticised view of how the world should be, with the old ways restored and him sitting on top, lording over it.
Hitler tried that in the 1930s. It didn’t work out well for anybody then, and all it’s doing now is making people think “Churchill was right. We shouldn’t have stopped marching until we reached Moscow”.
To be a Top Gear presenter you need two key skills, beyond that of the ability to drive and talk at the same time: you need to be able to irk the natives, intentionally or otherwise, and have the ability to get the hell out of Dodge before the pitchforks have been handed out and the torches lit.
Both have been demonstrated today by Clarkson and Company, who were filming a Top Gear special in Argentina; a place I imagine to have a fairly chilly view of anything overtly British even at the best of times.
By coincidence or design the numberplate on one of the vehicles being driven was H982 FKL. The producers of the show insist it was the former, but the protesters that surrounded their hotel and pelted the crew with rocks claim it was the latter – a reference to the Falklands War of 1982.
So, the Top Gear lads scarpered, leaving their vehicles at the roadside and questions as to the fate of the show and Jeremy Clarkson’s future with the BBC. The Corporation is no longer defending his juvenile, school-yard humour. They gave him a warning a few months back that he would be sacked if he made “one more offensive remark, anywhere, at any time”.
…..well….I guess he technically didn’t say anything….