Saturday, December 18th – 2018
SJW Shame Army Try to Put The Whammie on… PewDiePie??
Saturday, December 18th – 2018
SJW Shame Army Try to Put The Whammie on… PewDiePie??
Saturday, Dec 1st 2018
I failed at Math, but Mandelbrot still inspires me
I had no idea what was going on! I couldn’t understand how the other kids could listen to the gobbledegook language the teacher was speaking, (like the muffled wah-wah noises the off-panel teachers in the Peanuts cartoons spoke with), nod with bored expressions, -and write it down and understand it and pass tests and such! It was amazing! I’d just feel stunned and look around sometimes for the hidden camera. No way did any of that make sense..!
But it did, and I failed often and badly.
Still.., there’s always been something about numbers which appeals to me. I find the whole mystery fascinating. And, to be fair, I was very good at geometry. -In a balancing kind of way, I was very good at it when it served to confound the other students. That was my mystery language! -Once I could visualize things, there was no stopping me! However, that’s a rather limited super-power, because once I got beyond 3 dimensions, it became impossible to visualize the results, and I become lost and hopeless once more. I’m evidently a creature meant to function best in 3D.
I decided a couple of days ago to do some thinking about Fractals. -They’re nothing new, and everybody has seen the famous shapes on the covers of science magazines and nerdy posters, but I couldn’t remember how they worked or why, so I decided to figure it all out again. It didn’t take too long, because fractals are really quite simple, so that even a dunderhead like me can work it out.
And the Mandelbrot Set blows my mind!
Check it out:
Z = Z² + C
The idea is that you pick some arbitrary number for Z and for C, run the equation, and when you do, you get a new number out the other end. Then you take that new number and make it equal Z, and then you run the equation again. Rinse and repeat. You get a unique number every single time. Then you use a basic plotting scheme with simple rules. X, Y coordinates. -And you end up putting dots all over the chart. Those dots create fantastically complex shapes that never seem to repeat.
When you run the equation a HALF BILLION times, why, you get a shape which is super complex and deep. The authors of this little math experiment made a video (above) where they zoom into it, and it feels like you’re a parachute jumper falling endlessly into god’s eyeball or something
Anyway, I thought that was cool; how you can find an infinitely deep shape in such a simple equation!
Wednesday, November 21st, 2018
Sneaky, Creepy Old People. WHY??
Well.., I just watched the latest episode of The Flash. I don’t know why I do this to myself.
But in doing so, a question occurred to me…
Well, check out the episode trailer first to get up to speed…
I’d like to see the sudden appearance of the Too Good To Be True, Wonderful Person (the long lost parent/scientist/captain/leader/king/compatriot/etc.), turn out to NOT be a shape-shifting, corrupted, demonic vampire creepazoid from another galaxy or whatever. To NOT be Too Good To Be True! To actually be true!
I mean, we have been hit with it so many times in pop culture story that we inwardly cringe at the very first tell tale signs, at the immediate appearance of the smiling benefactor, the long lost father figure, the Good Captain To The Rescue, -or the marvelous restorative town discovered in the heart of the desert. Whether our heroes are armed with spears, super-suits or phasers, the instant they meet the Seemingly Good New People, we harrowed viewers hunker down and emotionally prepare ourselves for the inevitable betrayal. They’ll be cannibals or witches or something. Every time! We know this story, are intimate with it.
After seeing hundreds (it must be hundreds at this point), of depictions of this particular story twist, it is obvious that we are collectively obsessed with the idea that Newcomers Offering Wisdom and Gifts, are bad.
What’s up with that?
Is it based on some kind of deep truth we need to warn ourselves about on an almost genetically expressed myth level? Like, “Beware Snakes and Wolves” or “Stepmothers try to kill you”, or “Don’t take candy from Strangers”?
I can see the logic in that.
But I also wonder.., is it some kind of dark programming designed to separate us from people who might actually have something good to offer? Closing us off to help, opening us to attack and subversion from genuinely vile forces which pretend to be our peers? “Don’t trust those nasty rescuers, precious, stay here and listen to meeeee. hsss.”
The problem is that I can think of examples in real life of both situations being true.
Maybe discernment, its learning and application, should also be a part of the story universe. Hm. Maybe it already is.
What do you think?
My Keto Breakfast ~ Five Years of JUST BACON..?!
It’s been a long while. Capaldi’s series was too painful to watch, and I tuned out. A waste of an excellent actor!
But now it’s a woman! That seemed like a spectacularly foolish idea. I’ve always felt that if you wanted to have a cool time-hopping female adventure character that you should probably make your own rather than co-opt an existing one. -Unless, of course, your goal was not to make a good story, but to divide and conquer a target population. Either way, I had to see this for myself.
My impression? Jodi Whittiker is more of the same thing; a wasted talent like Capaldi and Smith before her. She does a passable David Tennant impression, which is high praise coming from me. I’ve measured every Doctor since Tennant on a scale of 1 to Tennant. (Get it?) So, I like her. She’s maybe a 6 or 7 that scale and seems earnest enough. I believe she’s the Doctor, though that’s where it ends. I don’t find her particularly special; All the doctors before her were stand out charismatics, engaging, each demanding attention so you could figure out what their deal was. Whittiker doesn’t leave me wondering, and she hasn’t grown on me over the course of several episodes. But whatever. She wasn’t horrible, and that’s something these days when I associate Horror with Doctor Who, (and not in the way a production team should take pride in).
I was surprised to discover that I could even go along with gender fluidity thing within the context of a cool sci-fi character, -if the whole production didn’t reek so highly of psychological manipulation and socio-political agenda. -As if this was always where the story would naturally go and the radical leftist PC movement had nothing to do with it. (What do they say in England? Bollocks!).
Because.., those scripts..! Wow. And I thought Moffat was bad as the previous show runner! (Well, he was bad, but only because he was a creepy over-sexualizing, psychopath-loving incompetent. In my humble opinion.). This new stuff however… Ick! -It’s preachy identity politicking, virtue signaling ‘progressive’ lecturing -where it isn’t Daleks or Cybermen who are the enemy, but Humanity itself! This is the kind of media squeezed into existence once it has passed through the gate-kept, racist, misanthropic anti-reality filter system typical of SJW nihilism.
-Pretending to be noble and good while, really, merely seeking an excuse to inflict shame as a weapon because, bottom line, they like to hurt people, they resent the Creation and see themselves as the perpetual victim of existence itself. The writing room team for this latest BBC offering is either made of up of such individuals (to make a very generous use of the term), or they are unwise or possibly just spineless folks who have been conned into believing/following the propaganda and now serve such masters. The result is the same: Bad stories with sound-bitten, ersatz “insight” in lieu of actual thought or anything approaching fun and adventurous narrative. A diet of over-simple memes on social media have spoiled the public appetite for actual political discourse. (And, it would seem, their ability to digest it.) And instead give us… this.
If you want to dominate a species, the best way is to make it hate itself, voluntarily drug itself, eat the wrong things, think dissonant thoughts and unravel all its points of strength at every one of its most fundamental roots, even succeeding in turning the very sexes against each other! Who needs Yin and Yang when you can have all Yin all the time, baby! -Stir up class wars and race wars, turning the entire species against itself, (we’re hurting Mother Earth!), so that all the white knights are heralded into action, so that the punishment called down and delivered upon us is actually welcomed in the belief that we are deserving.
Divide and conquer via mind-games. Now THAT’s a fantastic con job!
But hey, what do I know? It’s just a TV show, after all. And what does Story have to do with the psychological health of Humanity?
New Stardrop and New T&K!
Actually, these early May pages are both a bit overdue. I was.., distracted a touch by the process of moving house.
In the process of packing up, hauling and then unpacking everything to put away on new shelves and in new closet spaces and on new table surfaces etc…. Not counting all the many copies of same comics and graphic novels in their stock boxes, but definitely counting everything else… I realized that I had handled and considered the purpose, history and ultimate fate of every single object I own. Just think about that for a sec..!
-From knick-knacks and old photographs of me smiling with friends, a rubber-banded collection of Empire Strikes Back gum cards, pliers, screw drivers, solar panels, favorite spoons, paint brushes and.., well, just everything! I took a total inventory and now have fresh in mind thousands of objects large and small. I can’t recall ever having done this before, not ever so thoroughly. This move was different from other moves. It seemed to go on a lot longer, on both ends. I even at one point, found myself going through, sheet by sheet, every drawing and painting I’ve ever done. I’ve never done that before! It was quite mind and soul expanding, taking up the better part of a day, with many exclamations of, “Oh wow! I remember drawing this! I remember where I was when I drew this, the people who were near…”
Turns out I own a half-dozen little wooden six-sided dice and a collection of miniature rings you can make chain mail out of, but tiny. I also own a small bag of stick-on googley eyes. Or rather, I did. I tossed those. You just have to let some things go…
Owning stuff is a huge responsibility, a weight. I ditched (literally) few hundred items on the side of the road for the Spring Cleanup. It was both sad and liberating at the same time.
Do you own your stuff, or, as you strain and trudge for the hundredth time up and down stairs in the rain, is it the other way around?
Anyway.., I am now nearly all settled into my new place. I’ll have to take some photos and post those soon. It’s a very different environment! I’m surrounded by gardens and country side stillness with thick woods stretching back up a great hillside, up to a hidden and abandoned 100 year old fruit orchard which still, I am told, hangs with fruit and is protected by a wall of thorns.
Some exploring is in order, I think.
But there are comics still to make! And my new digital Dell Canvas ought to be arriving tomorrow morning to adorn my fresh studio. Keen!
Okay. Sleep soon…
Have a great Friday, everybody!
Wolfville, Nova Scotia,
October 11th, 2018
New Thieves & Kings 2018
And here we go!
It has been a long (LONG!) wait, and I want to roundly thank everybody who has exercised such enormous patience over the years while I have rested and recharged the T&K batteries which ran dry a decade ago.
I found myself, after many years of singular focus, sitting at my drafting board at the end of a long night blinking at the realization that I was no longer in a Thieves & Kings mood. -An awkward and terrifying position for any creator to find himself in, but it was true! I no longer cared deeply about the characters. I no longer heard their voices or felt their emotions running through me.
Several upheavals arrived including the loss of some critical film storage leading to the inability to keep books in print. (I fixed that years later but.., dang!) And most pressing of all, new stories, new characters demanding to be paid their due attention.
I remember running into, on the streets of Toronto, a weird and edgy author, one Crad Kilodney, self professed Street Writer, and one of the undisputed kings of self-publishing. Crad had been among my early inspirations. He wrote, pressed and then stood on street corners selling his own books and stories. -He had no agent, no distributor or book store representation. It was just him and a box of books and his street corner, making a hard living as a self published author. His autobiographical work was amazing, in which he wrote about his experiences as a Street Writer. No insulation! -He waded directly into the middle of the stream of life and drank from it. If you were on the sidewalk as well, why, you could wade up to him and engage! That was his power and inspiration.
I might have been still in my teens at the time, and he gave me a piece of advice: “When it is time to stop, you must stop. When a writer continues to write after the inspiration has gone, the work turns into a disgusting parody of itself.”
That struck hard, and I carried it with me, promising myself to not create a disgusting parody. Thieves & Kings, right from the beginning had served as a distillation of my feelings for the world, a dense love for Reality and its inhabitants. It kept me awake in a daze through many nights.
The loss of the print film for the first two volumes was, I strongly believe, the Fourth Billboard.
The parable goes like this:
“As you are driving along the highway of life, the Universe will sometimes send you Important Messages about what you are supposed to do, where you are supposed to go. The first message will be a sign at the side of the road. If you ignore that, then there will be a second sign. The Universe will be heard. That second sign will be bigger, more insistent, directing you to change course from all your hectic focus. It is time to take an important turnoff into the unknown.
“If you ignore that sign and continue driving, the message will come again. This time a huge billboard!”
“If you ignore that, The Fourth Billboard will appear, and you will not be able to ignore it, because it will crash down on top of you.
“The Universe will not be ignored.”
There may be a Fifth Billboard for the truly focused, the stubborn and the terrified of failure, and it is probably on fire and has spikes. Fortunately, I didn’t need to run into that one. I can’t imagine what form it would have taken in my life. Lost film and the timely devastation of all my relationships and structures of stability was enough. I didn’t need an early heart attack or something!
Anyway, I took that turnoff, and while there have been regrets, there have also been many, many adventures, and some stories I am very proud to have been able to write and draw. And now, more than ten years later, after much living and learning, I found myself one day not too many months ago, realizing something quite startling and unexpected. I woke one morning dreaming and smiling and wondering about certain old friends I’d not properly thought about in ages.
I found myself once again in a Thieves & Kings mood.
These pages begin immediately after the closing panels of the Sixth Thieves & Kings volume, “Apprentices Part I”.
Jenny Mysterious and Stardrop will continue to move forward, (I am still in a Jenny and Ashelle mood), but they are going to be shuffled around in the schedule as I pull this multi-thousand page epic tale back to the front burner. At long last!
Thank-you all for waiting.
We open the first new pages of Thieves & Kings presented in over a decade with a Troll waking up (you see?) somewhere deep in the Sleeping Wood…
Wolfville, Nova Scotia,
October 11th, 2018
Mark at the Movies ~ Blade Runner 2049
Hey, hey! I just got back from a theatrical presentation of “Bladerunner 2049”. In, WOW, 3D.
I think I might be able to make peace with 3D. It doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon, so I guess I’ll have to. I find the pointless feature and extra expensive tickets and dopey glasses are only on my mind for the first three minutes, after which I am able to forget about them. And who knows? Maybe it will turn out to be one of those things where, after I complain about it enough and it miraculously goes away, I’ll think, “Huh. This 2D movie stuff seems kind of… flat somehow.”
ANYway… (I talk a bit about the meat of the film ahead, so proceed at your own risk.)
I really enjoyed this film! -Everything everybody has said in reviews and comments holds true. It looked great, maintained the esthetic and feel of the original, and it had a smart story which, yes, even made me tear up a couple of times.
The only thing I’ll add, -and this is not really a criticism.., more an observation…
It was very explicit. Very literal.
-By which I mean, it had a complex story which answered all its own questions and it all made solid sense. It was scripted, I think, by people with engineering backgrounds or something. That’s not a bad thing. You get a functional film out the other end. -Even one with a reasonable emotional range. And yet…
This new film was missing the lyrical quality of the first. -Where a young Ridley Scott was unafraid to make bold moves on screen without feeling any need to explain the rationale behind them, -resulting in a beautiful ambiguity which, I thought, echoed the replicants’ very search for soul.
By contrast, the characters in this new film sure *talked* a big game about feelings and miracles, even revolved the entire script around an amazing birth, and yet.., somehow failed to convince me they were really existing in the thick of those emotions, in that search for the ephemeral. Oh, and there’s a difference, boy! Too much engineering and not enough poetry. There’s a saying in writing circles…
“Show me, don’t tell me.”
This film reminded me of that off-label Star Wars film from last year. “Rogue One”. -That was also scripted by engineers. A tight, smart clockwork where everything also made sense. (And don’t get me wrong; I like things to make sense). But the magic was made material, a talking point, reduced to a crystalline resource which could be mined, measured and controlled -with technology and force of arms.
-It’s like the authors were aware that magic and soul or something like it is important, -the driving force for everybody’s actions after all-, but they didn’t quite grasp the root of the concept, convinced that these wispy, intense emotions were the result of just the 3D containers they happened to ride in.
Like the mysterious infant in Blade Runner 2049, the movie chased after that object representation while failing to recognize that the truly lyrical isn’t the object itself.
But like I said.., this isn’t meant to be a criticism. Just an observation of craft. (The movie was scripted by replicants trying their best? Ha ha!) And they came close. I’m not sure I’d have been able to do anything any better. I tend to lean more heavily on the engineering end of things myself; my inner poet can be a bit unreliable.
It was still a fine film! -I think the thing I was most happily surprised by was how much screen time Harrison Ford was given, and how he didn’t disappoint in his delivery.
It’s funny how I tense up and really hope people shine. -Like watching balance beam gymnasts and figure skaters and hoping, hoping, they don’t fall.
Nobody fell in this film. Phew!
To bump it up from an 8 or 9 to a perfect 10, the flawless routine just needed to be a little less mechanical and a little more flowing. A little more spiritual.
If you recall…
In the original book, the question wasn’t just about independence from slavery, but of *dreams*.
Wolfville, Nova Scotia,
October 11th, 2017
I thought it might be fun to make available for download the full-resolution (around 50 Mb) working file for the next episode of Stardrop. This includes the pencil and lettering layers. This is for anybody interested in trying their hand at inking my stuff… Give it a go!
I realize when looking at my pencils that I do a fair amount of detail work during the inking stage, so I tried to tighten them up a little more than usual this time for the benefit of anybody who might come across one of my scribbles and think, “Um, there’s a hand somewhere in that mess..?”
Please feel free to take liberties where you see fit. You’ll need to.
I’ve provided two file formats, both .tif and .psd which can be opened in your art program of choice. (ClipStudio doesn’t import layers from .tif very well, so if you stick with the .psd file, you should be okay.)
I’ll be posting my own finished version of this strip in a few days time, so you can compare! Feel free to send me a copy of your finished work if you feel like sharing!
Wolfville, Nova Scotia,
July 25th, 2017