August 2012

If Batman Were Voiced by the Cookie Monster

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7enjABApKWE&w=640&h=480]

 

I swear something has broken in my brain as of late. First the cat singing Game of Thrones has me laughing like a child and now this. Turns out that if you take Christian Bale’s bonkers Bat-voice out of the movies and replace it with the only-slightly-less-bonkers Cookiee Monster voice, the result is something so stupid it deserves a nobel prize.

Wonderful.

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Practitioners 6: Carlos Ezquerra

As a catch up for all new visitors to Beyond the Bunker, we’ll be representing the original Practitioners series 1-55 (Simon BisleyChris Bachalo and featuring the most influential comic creatives in history). Thoroughly incomplete but featuring legends like Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Frank Miller and Alan Moore already more will be hitting the site every two alternate weeks. For now though, sit back every Tuesday for a run-down of the men and women who created the comic industry we know today. (Or check the full list in the menus above). This week: 2000AD Legend and Judge Dredd creator Carlos Ezquerra.

Judge Dredd (2012) is lifted from the early days of Dredd developed but Wagner and Ezquerra

In the modern day of high detail precision artwork Carlos Ezquerra might seem like an odd choice but he is the visual grandaddy of heavy weaponry, science fiction city scapes and the most famous Judge ever to walk the streets of Megacity One, spawning a major movie featuring Sly Stallone and a generation of Judges under the awe inspiring steely gaze of the foremost tough guy in British Comics. It is easy to underestimate the effect that the design work that went into Judge Dredd had as like all genre defining moments it becomes a feature of everything that comes behind it. The weird part is that Carlos Ezquerra wasn’t the first to see his artwork on the title in print.


Carlos Sanchez Ezquerra was born in November 1947, in Zaragoza and has worked under the alias at times of L. John Silver. A Spanish artist who find a home in the British Comics Industry and inspired a generation of young budding artists to pick up a pen and never be scared to draw a weapon at whatever scale we felt like. He loosened the rules and maintained plausibility simultaneously. An emotive and beligerent artist who pummelled the page with aggressive and broad visuals in a very clear and distinctive style,

Be in no doubt that the most easily recognisable British Comic Book character – aside from Desperate Dan and Dennis the Menace (now there’s a crossover we all wanna see) was brought to life visually by Carlos Ezquerra. British Comic book writing legend John Wagner sent Ezquerra a poster of Death Race 2000 with the central character, Frankenstein in black leather on a motorbike as the source of inspiration for the character. Ezquerra sent back Dredd – armoured, leather covered with zips and buckles and the world reknowned badge pinned to his chest. His conceots for Megacity One and the equipment and clothing was deemed too advanced for the title as it was intended and so Pat Mills – who had taken over as writer after Wagner left disillusioned over financial arrangements behind 2000AD – pushed Dredd further into a post apocalyptic future. Now that’s a sign of a great concept designer – advancing the designs so much it alters the original pitch for the better.

Unfortunately for Ezquerra, newcomer Mike McMahon was to introduce Dredd to the world in Prog 2 of 2000AD – Dredd a scrawny shade of his original self. Ezquerra, enraged at being removed from the strip he designed left and returned to ‘Battle’ comics. Until Prog 9 – in which Wagner’s ‘Robot Wars’ story line began with a rotating art team – including Ezquerra. The strength of the storyline saw Dredd become the most popular character in the magazine. Ezquerra’s work became synonomous with the stone faced law man.

While it can’t be argued as faultless – his grasp of anatomy stops at long chins and gollum faces its his lasting legacy that secures him a position in the annuls of comics history. The Dredd and the Strontium Dog he created visually perfectly embodied the strength and hard bitten nature that was needed in the environment that had been developed for him to stride through. Ezquerra, like many other exceptional artists, has a sparing and economical style that carries as much information as his more precise or detailed peers. But its in the simplicity that he communicates better what many others have struggled to in page after page of meticulously rendered panels. When two tough guys walk out onto the Cursed Earth just how many lines do you need? – thankfully Ezquerra’s chosen for you.

A determined and clear minded individual who stuck to his guns as well as any lawman he ever drew – Ezquerra was removed from his post and could have been left to the annuls of comic book history. But he returned and stood out alongside his creation and perservered to receive the credit he deserved. He represents the optimism and determination needed to be a comic book artist, subject to the whims and turmoil of an ever shifting industry.

Dropping Science: Neil Armstrong 1930 – 2012

Like every one of us will one day do, Neil Armstrong today departed the Earth. Yet unlike almost all of us, it wasn’t for the first time. Only a few times in a generation does an individual pass into legend, I think we can all safely say that such a moment has occurred today.

You can read the BBC’s full obituary here but we shall simply say, Rest in Peace, Neil Armstrong and thank you.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMINSD7MmT4&w=640&h=480]

 

Red Dwarf X: Cat and Kryten Synchronise

There’s a countdown going on the Dave website to mark the confirmation start date of Red Dwarf X (according to Rob Lewellyn it’ll likely be the end of September. There’s a bit of a buzz on this one (more so than the last 3). The live audiences are back, giving the show it’s homely, old school, theatrical feel that was lost back in Series… um… VII.

I love Red Dwarf, so far ahead of it’s time it’s cheerful and apocalyptic at the same time. It’s capacity to just be damn silly sets it miles apart from anything else. I started watching as a teenager, when I was bought the videos of Red Dwarf I and II, having asked for any Red Dwarf video that could be found after watching 10 minutes of Polymorph in Red Dwarf III before my Nan switched it off. From The End, through to Confidence and Paranoia and Better Than Life, it wasn’t what I remembered but it was awesome none the less. Absorbing all of the books that inspired it the only thing I haven’t heard is the audio book.

Firmly trapped in the era of the Crystal Maze, Knightmare and Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor Who this was a time when Sci-fi didn’t take itself too seriously (alla Battlestar, Star Wars and Star Trek) and I loved it twice as much for that. I even drew most avidly a comic strip called Star Nutters, lifting pretty much directly art and ideas from Red Dwarf, Val Semeiks’ Lobo and Hitchhikers (with a few ideas of my own thrown in).

I lived Dwarf for years and steadily, as I’ve got older, I kind of left it behind. But I’d love the idea of going back to then and watching I-VI back to back one last time. Maybe one day I’ll be able to do I-X.

Moon's Song of the Week: Paradise by Wild Nothing

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cP8wfslr7hY&w=853&h=480]

 

There’s definitely something of an absence makes the heart grow fonder quality about 80s music, that is to say that most of the 80s revival movement has been complete rubbish. Fortunately, every now and then a band comes along with an exception. This is one such example from American “Dream Pop” act Wild Nothing.

Paradise is a lovely example of how you take the best aspects of 80s pop and turn them into something that still works today. You can get it for free from their website.

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Panicked Artist Defends 'Blurred Muppet' Fresco

Without a doubt my favourite thing I’ve seen all day. Poor lady in Italy / Spain (wasn’t paying attention) has botched a Fresco in an ancient church. A finely painted Fresco has been decimated by this 80 year old enthusiast as she sort of swirled it into a vague circle and added some eyes. This is something every artist has been through at some point. You’ve had a ‘great’ idea and given it a go only to be told by onlookers that your ‘Rugby Player has claws’ and my favourite as I painted a dragon on a window ‘why is that horse green?’ This however is different. This lady has actually drawn a pancake head on Jesus. I wish her all the best but her terrified response to the world media descending on her is absolutely hilarious.

Good Morning. Here's a Cat Singing the Game of Thrones Theme

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEg4SEch27w&w=853&h=480]

This is a cat called Arya. Arya loves Game of Thrones just a little bit less that her owner loves faffing about with autotune. If you’ve been pining for the show since the end of season 2 earlier this year then this…will not help in the slightest. But you probably won’t be able to stop watching, regardless.

Thanks internet.

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BTB Film – [Box] Fresh

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaXBVSnCJa8&w=640&h=480]

[Box] Fresh is a parody of youth TV and is pretty much the first short film I ever made. A few friends and I (including Paul Wade and my then-girlfriend-now-wife)  got together in Canterbury and decided to shoot a few sketches that we’d been kicking around. This was the final result and I’m still pretty proud of it. It comes from that awkward time before I realised I needed to keep my own daft face behind the camera rather than in front of it but the blind freerunning skit is still a joke that I’m very pleased to have written.

The movie won us a Best Editor award and led to us going on to make loads of other things, so Box will always hold a special place in my heart.

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Before They Were Famous: Lord of the Rings Bloopers

While a minor production of a fantasy novel was being knocked together some years ago in the misty and rainy hills of New Zealand some were messing about with cameras. The good nature displayed throughout just about nails the heart and feeling that came pumping out the cinema screen along with Orc blades and arrows.

As expected, Sir Ian McKellan reveals himself as the fool of the set, grabbing the close-ups whenever one is mentioned. But in real terms every thing in this low res video apparently shown first on an NZ news channel only reinforces the heartwarming creativity and sense of fun and camaradarie that made the Fellowship what it was. Whatever, it’s funny!!

Practitioners 6: Patricia Mulvihill

As a catch up for all new visitors to Beyond the Bunker, we’ll be representing the original Practitioners series 1-55 (Simon BisleyChris Bachalo and featuring the most influential comic creatives in history). Thoroughly incomplete but featuring legends like Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Frank Miller and Alan Moore already more will be hitting the site every two alternate weeks. For now though, sit back every Tuesday for a run-down of the men and women who created the comic industry we know today. (Or check the full list in the menus above). This week: 100 Bullets and Loveless clourist and long-running Azzarello creative partner, Patricia Mulvihill.

Admittedly, occasionally there is a pecking order in comic books. The content and context attributed to the writer and the visual acuity always attributed to the artist (penciller) with the remaining accolade available to the inker- presuming its not also the penciller. However, one relative unknown in the comics industry enhanced the shape of an already exceptional series created by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso. While her name never appeared on any front covers of the 13 Graphic novels generated by its run, 100 Bullets would never have been so affecting and impressive a read for the reader without the skills of Patricia Mulvihill.

Taking the lines of Eduardo Risso – and taking on the torch passed by Grant Goleash after issue 15 of 100 Bullets (that ultimately ran for a further 85) – Mulvihill emellished and enhanced the contours and shapes formed by the stark black and white detail of Risso’s inks. With a simplistic and uncluttered layout it is perhaps too easy to overwhelm and distract from the artwork but Mulvihill brought the artwork into even greater focus with an advanced and misleadingly simple-looking palette of colours. A profound understanding of the correct use of opposing shades and colours – simple environments – even those rendered by an artist such as Risso – were converted into emotional spaces. Ignoring conventional lighting and tonal rules a powerful display of colours was applied generating tension, clarity, danger, fear, wonder and languishing emotion and lust. It is a true professional who makes something so delicate and precise look so infinitely simple and I believe Patricia Mulvihill deserves recognition for her contribution.

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