Friday, August 30, 2013

My Avengers Project: The Other Guy

Natasha Romanoff: You're a monster!
Loki: Oh no, you brought the monster.

It took me a little while, but I'm finally doing an update in my Avengers series. Yay! I had originally planned on doing Captain America next, but that didn't turn out exactly as planned. However, I think it'll be fitting to do the "climax" with the Cap. For now, I give you, The Other Guy:

The Hulk is not my favorite of comic book stories. Who really cares about a guy who hulks out as some green, rage monster? I didn't. I actually enjoyed Ang Lee's The Hulk mostly because I found it an original, artsy take on the story with a great soundtrack and a deeper, darker look into the Hulk's story, yet even then I still wasn't that impressed with the Hulk's story. It wasn't until Mark Ruffalo's performance that I stopped to take notice. Obviously everyone did. Mark Ruffalo wasn't the star and he didn't get all this screen time to develop the character, but somehow he gave us the most convincing Bruce Banner yet. We can praise Joss Whedon again and his great writing, but I think Mark Ruffalo himself gets a lot of credit. He played Bruce quietly, and I think that is the key right there, the contrast between man and monster. Bruce is a little awkward, a little paranoid, but entirely unobtrusive, while inside of him he holds a raging beast that threatens to break the normal existence he is trying to maintain. There is a tension and a depth there that Ruffalo expresses so well through his nervous body language and dry, pessimistic humor. It makes you think about the inner turmoil of this man and the monster that was unleashed within himself. In this storyline, it was Bruce Banner's taking part of the "super-soldier" program (the one that made the one and only Captain America), that made him what he is. He was mistake, or so it seemed. I think it is intriguing to see The Hulk as a sort of alter ego to The Captain. Steve Rogers, though a man who was outwardly weak, was given the super power because of the strength and integrity of the man within. On the flip-side, The Hulk is the creation of unworthy, little men desiring power and doing everything they can to manipulate it. Indeed, Bruce Banner spends most of his time hiding and running just so no one can misuse the "other guy". Even Loki's plan was centered around the Hulk, hoping for his transformation and the much needed destruction that would ensue. Obviously all pretenses of trying to control "The Hulk" for selfish ambition fails in the end, which leaves Bruce Banner a haunted Dr. Jekyll at the mercy of his Hyde. Or is he?

The Hulk 2003. Science. So pretty and yet so dangerous.
Another intriguing contrast/comparison is between Bruce and Loki. When Bruce meets Loki he claims his "brain is a bag full of cats" denouncing him as crazy. Funny coming from a man with a "condition". In my post on Loki I talked about his dual nature, and in this way also Bruce has a dual nature, that struggle within himself. Yet unlike Loki who must choose one or the other, Bruce has the unique position of embracing his duality and becoming something better because of it. What was awakened in him was out of his control and ugly, but doesn't have to remain so. Tony expresses the idea of his condition being a privilege rather than a hindrance, an opportunity to something greater. Tony points out that the gamma radiation exposure should have killed him, but it didn't. Maybe then Bruce, like Steve, could be worthy of this fearsome power. Not because of any greatness in himself per se, but because of a humble understanding of what it would mean to bear this power. Bruce Banner is a superhero after all, just not your average run-of-the-mill kind. I would love it if they made another Hulk film post-Avengers with Bruce embracing this new role and no longer being the pawn of everyone's ambition. It would be awesome. More Ruffalo, please.

For my own piece, I kept it simple, with the vivid colors of green and purple. It was difficult for me to create movement in the piece, but thankfully to my current obsession with veins/trees, I was able to add the pattern of the veins throughout the piece. I thought it was fitting, since the Hulk is a part of him, running in his veins, part of his system and body makeup. This is science after all! Also, it wasn't a coincidence that the composition is similar to my Loki piece, except flipped. In this way I wanted to express that same duality which is like, but unlike Loki's; the raging Hulk materializing behind the unassuming Bruce Banner, separate, but part, and the path before him is one that is unlike either. Here is a detail:

Thus ends my Hulk post. Prepare for the Cap next time around! Stay tuned!

That's my secret, Cap. I'm always angry.

He makes everything beautiful in its time . . . Ecclesiastes 3:11

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Prophets of Baal

And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” 1 Kings 18:26

I'm pleased to be able to post something of my Elijah graphic novel. With my announcement on my Facebook page of my going to be at the Phoenix Comicon (yay!), I'm endeavoring now more than ever to work on my graphic novel. I intend to do some promotion of it at the Phoenix Comicon in preparation for the end of 2014 release date. Still trying to figure out all the logistics of all that, but for now I have something to share of what I've been working on. I give you the Prophets of Baal:

Art by Kazuto Nakazawa
My graphic novel is inspired by several things, one of the things being Asian art styles, but this piece particularly was inspired by The Animatrix. I finally got around to watching The Animatrix after wanting to watch it for years now. I was a little disappointed that more effort wasn't put into the animation, but overall I thought it was a well done collection of stories. The stories and style are very philosophical and subtle and makes the world of the Matrix very intriguing to me again, but two stories in particularly stood out to me in both story and unique artistry, Detective Story and Program. The first is just hands down my favorite. A Film Noir detective story in the Matrix done in Anime style? Yes, please! I found it was the most artistically clever of all the stories, looking as if it came straight out of a Film Noir, but having the detail and grittiness of 1940s newspaper photography. It was beautiful, and like every true Noir, ends in exquisite tragedy. For my piece particularly, though, the story Program was the most influential. Another great short story about a young woman, Cis, who is challenged by a samurai in whether or not she'll stand with Truth or choose the bliss of
Art by Yutaka Minowa
delusion. It was done very much in the style of the ancient Japanese paintings, with simplistic composition, fluid lines, and minimalism. It too was very beautiful, and I knew that is what I wanted for this piece. Minimalism is already a component of my graphic novel, but for this piece I chose to make the surroundings very graphic, with the shadowy tree and alter, and the blood red sun. This abstraction of the background enables me to focus on the action going on, with the fluid lines coming forth from the alter as three agonizing prophets cut themselves bloody for their false god. It not only brings emphasis onto the bloody scene, but I think the starkness adds to the concept of the falseness of these prophets, who, though go through much agony to call upon their god, receive no answer. I want to be able to express the spiritual dryness and emptiness of the religion of the false prophets in the surroundings as much as I am able, and gnarled trees and empty landscapes will be part of my design. I also like how the tree branches mimic the bloody streaks and trails on their arms. Also, as you can see from examples from Program, having the minimalist backdrop adds to the dueling aspect the story, of protagonist vs antagonist. That was an artistic decision I has already developed earlier on and have further been inspired to develop as I continue creating. Here are some more images from The Animatrix: 

Exquisite movement and powerful composition!
I love it so much!
The texture! The texture! I must always have texture!
I'm also excited to say that I've made my official Facebook page for my graphic novel, Elijah: A Graphic Novel. So, please like my page because that's where I'll be putting the latest news! I'm so excited about everything that is happening with my work. Well, here's hoping my next post will be Avengers-esque!

He makes everything beautiful in its time . . . Ecclesiastes 3:11