Friday, November 28, 2008

No Pain, No Gain

Thanksgiving is over and the the New Year looms right around the corner, just beyond 30 days or so of holiday madness. If you're like me, you've stuffed yourself beyond capacity this turkey day and you're rolling around on the floor in the aftermath of major gluttony. You might be thinking, "Why exercise now? It's cold outside and I have a full month of procrastinating before making any damn resolutions." To that, I say, "I agree."

I'd still like to share the "Virtual Coaches" I designed for They made a special widget you can attach to your facebook or myspace account that will give you occasional fitness tips in varying degrees of compassion. Click on it above. It was a challenging job because they sent me photos of real trainers and wanted caricatured versions of them. I don't plan on following their fitness advice until January but feel free to jump on the treadmill with them.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I saw MILK last night at a free preview screening in Chelsea and I loved it. I was really impressed. I'd heard some gossip about it just being "okay" but it was thoroughly enjoyable–and moving. Sean Penn delivers such a heartfelt, solid performance...I fell in love with him over the two hours I watched him struggle against odds greater than I can ever imagine. Plus, James Franco was absolutely dreamy as his main squeeze. Go check it out, even if you don't know the history behind the true story. You will be awestruck at Penn's first major portrayal of a gay character.

A week or so before the screening, I was commissioned to do the above illustration of Sean Penn as Harvey Milk for Genre magazine. It was a real challenge because the film wasn't out yet, and I wanted to create something really recognizable for a historical gay figure that most people have never heard of AND it still needed to resemble Sean Penn. I'm hoping the angular, funky visage I drew works. I like how the deconstructed flag motifs work all around him, but I was concerned about the face. Both Penn and Milk have oddly proportioned, yet oddly attractive faces, so it was tough. I looked at as many historical photos and MILK movie stills as I could get my hands on. I just hope I did them justice.

Oh, and to someone who commented that I should post more often, I promise to try! I've been so busy either going out or marching in rallies against Prop 8, that I am just getting back to posting. But check it: ME and MY PROTEST SIGN made it onto the AfterEllen blog next to pics of Whoopi Goldberg at the march!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Fears of the Dark

As much as I loved the raw, historically urgent, black and white animated tale of Persepolis, that film-going experience pales in comparison to this year's Fears of the Dark! I finally caught this film last night, at New York City's IFC Center, and it BLEW ME AWAY.

After seeing it, I realized how LONG it's been since I've been authentically transported to an inspiring new realm by a film. That realization was sad for me, because I tout myself as being much more of a feverish film fan usually. I suppose WALL-E had a similar effect on me, but I expected it to, because PIXAR has built such a beautiful reputation over the years, and their latest treat surpassed their last brilliant offering. What was surprising about Fears of the Dark was that it opened a whole new viewing experience for me, one that was refreshingly different from your typical CG loaded adrenaline-fest. Mind you, it has CG imagery, but it does an expert job of blending it with traditional methods of animation. The combination is graphically intoxicating. This film is both new and old in feel, and I love it for that. It feels classic despite its newness, and it evokes pure graphic poetry with its imagery. It's been a long time since I've seen visual storytelling on the screen this artful.

The film is a series of nightmarish short stories. Each story is book-ended by an ongoing narrative concerning demonic dogs and the film is punctuated by reflective comments by a crazed neurotic philosopher musing on the banalities of life. These moments are very French, and it's all very arty, but in an accessible and non-perplexing way. The short stories throughout the film all deal with fears in the broad sense of the word, not just campfire ghost stories.

The list of contributing graphic artists includes several European masters and a couple American masters of the craft. All the short stories in the film are brilliantly done which genuinely makes it hard to pick a favorite section. Included are amazing sequences by Richard McGuire and Charles Burns, two graphic artists I've loved for years. McGuire was a huge influence on me while I worked at Primal Screen studio and Burns has always been a cartoonist that's creeped me out in the best way possible. (The still at the beginning of this post illustrates his masterful ink lined sense of creepiness.) I recently saw an exhibit of Burns work here in NY, so his style has been on my mind a lot lately, so this film came at a perfect time.

All in all, I highly recommend this film if you're a fan of dark humor and horror stories or if you're a fan of any of the artists involved. The experience brought to mind the same thrills I got as a child by reading Edward Gorey's sinister strips or by watching Tim Burton's early, pre-fame animation sequences, namely Vincent. The opening to PBS's "MYSTERY!" series comes to mind as well, along with some of the creepy animation work of Rene Laloux.