watching the watchmen

by brandon as book art — brandon Wed 11 Feb 2009 9:03 pm

Rorschach has scored 200 XP! Rorschach has achieved level 2.

Apparently this here picture has regained some slight internet currency what with the movie looming upon us and all. Around the era in which I still updated my art blog, I got a bit of criticism from other comics dorks, along the lines of “that picture is invalid! Everyone knows that Rorschach has symmetrical markings on his mask!” I thought it was pretty stupid at first, because the mechanism of the mask (two synthetic surfaces and an interstitial liquid, as I recall) would in real life have generated symmetrical markings about as well as your shirt generates symmetrical wrinkles, esp. when shit went down. But, I checked the book, and whoop de doo there is Rorschach with symmetrical markings on his face. I guess Moore and Gibbons were making some sort of metacommentary about the iconic status of (super)heroes with that, though I’m not sure I see where that metacommentary was going or if there was a comment behind it at all and not just mindfucking. Anyway, whatever: here is your freaking symmetrically-splattered chibi Rorschach, comics freaks from like three years ago. I serve it with condiments of social disdain. Taste the bitter flavor, and recoil!

A bit more recently I drew this as a bonus graphic to go on one of the posters for my comic. SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT

Rorschach has taken 1952 damage! Rorschach has been killed.

weekly book art: winter world

by brandon as book art — brandon Tue 30 May 2006 11:06 am

the golden-crowned kinglet in winter

Sigund F. Olson wrote in Reflections from the North Country: “If I knew all there is to know about a golden arctic poppy growing on a rocky ledge in the Far North, I would know the whole story of evolution and creation.” He could have substituted the kinglet for the poppy. Kinglets are drab-colored birds with a flaming red, yellow, or orange crest. When excited, kinglets can suddenly flash their crest out of their olive-colored head feathers. They are one of the most common yet least-known forest birds living in the Northern Hemisphere. When I see a kinglet hopping through a densely branched spruce tree covered with pillows of snow, I often imagine myself in its place, wondering how it experiences the world. Having a circumference of about the size of a walnut, the rate of heat flow from the body is increaseover a hundredfold from what it is in my human state. The world is suddenly that much colder, and a fate of freezing to death in the northern winter becomes an almost nightly possibility. However, the wonder and the marvel of how kinglets survive cannot be understood or appreciated except when viewed through the window of the adaptations found in the numerous other animals that share its winter world. It is their special means of cpoing that form context and continuity for the myster of how kinglets survive subzero temperatures. Each species opens, as Edword O. Wilson has said (in The Future of Life), “the gate to the paradisiacal world” that is a “wellspring of hope.” I agree: If kinglets can do it, than anything seems possible.

       â€“ Bernd Heinrich, Winter World

The book is also beautifully illustrated by the author, who has a lifetime of attachment to his subjects, so mine here is a fairly poor shadow compared. But I thought I’d give the bird-in-winter thing a shot. And for now, I’m hanging up this exercise, to work on other projects, the results of which I’ll also be posting here on a weekly basis, should anyone stumble upon it.

weekly book art: the name of the rose

by brandon as book art — brandon Mon 29 May 2006 2:33 am

William of BaskervilleYes. The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco. A wonderful book. But, if you are like me, you saw the movie before you read the book, and you spent a good 120 pages concentrating, trying, forcing yourself not to see Sean Connery every time William of Baskerville opened his mouth, which is really quite often; and then the effort not to read aloud paragraphs of William’s explications in your terrible, terrible faux-Connery voishe. Well then. A public service:

Brother William’s physical appearance was at the time such as to attract the attention of the most inattentive observer. His height surpassed that of a normal man and he was so thin that he seemed still taller. His eyes were sharp and penetrating; his thin and slightly beaked nose gave his countenance the expression of a man on the lookout, save in certain moments of sluggishness of which I shall speak. His chin also denoted a firm will, though the long face covered with freckles – such as I often saw among those born between Hibernia and Northumbria – could occasionally express hesitation and puzzlement. In time I realized that what seemed a lack of confidence was only curiosity, but at the beginning I knew little of this virtue, which I thought, rather, a passion of the covetous spirit. I believed instead that the rational spirit should not indulge such passion, but feed only on the Truth, which (I thought) one knows from the outset.
Boy that I was, I was first, and most deeply, struck by some clumps of yellowish hair that protruded from his ears, and by his thick blond eyebrows. He had perhaps seen fifty springs and was therefore already very old…

It’s not easy to bring to concrete form a description that’s so physiognomic and yet possessed of strange turns; I had particular trouble visualizing freckles on a fifty-year-old, especially a medieval fifty-year-old subject to the health standards of the time. But this turned out pretty well for a quick color job at 3 in the morning, perhaps. I may shudder later. In any case, drawing it purged me of the Connery image rather well, and hopefully looking at it will do a little of the same for whomever stumbles upon my little post here. The Name of the Rose really is a wonderful book.

weekly book art: troodon

by brandon as book art — brandon Tue 23 May 2006 11:02 am


Found a little dinosaur book in the shelf, called, simply enough, Pockets Dinosaurs. I got it as a reference when I was doing educational illustration full-time, but after I did I don’t think I ever really wound up drawing any dinosaurs. The featured dinosaur, Troodon, is one that was discovered after my dinosaur-obsessing prime, so it was relatively new to me I guess. The dinosaur book was of the rendering school where no dinosaurs except Archaeopteryx have feathers; obviously I took a different tack. It seems likely to me that all the small theropods had feathers, probably as signalling or mating displays. But I haven’t really been keeping up with the literature.

I’m not good enough (or interested enough) at this kind of rendering to sell it, really, but it’s fun to take a shot at it every now and then.

Oh, and things are late because my G5 is fried. Luckily I had my G4 still sitting around in a box in the corner, but man shit is a hassle. Anyway, somebody’s gonna be real sorry when I get around to IF this week.

Next in Weekly Book Art: The Name of The Rose! Wherein I try to dispel Sean Connery from the role of William of Baskerville once and for all.

weekly book art: it was a dark and stormy night

by brandon as book art — brandon Sat 13 May 2006 11:13 pm

These book art things have been pretty heavy so far. Let’s do something light. I give you: selections from a book I’ve had forever: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night – the very first collection of entries in the Bulwer-Lytton Contest.


Under an edible sky, cheesy as a deep-dish pizza, X examined his sister’s blork.
           â€“ Beloved Remington
           Tulsa, Oklahoma

Thank you, thank you! Oh, I do believe I have one more:

oh the huge manatee

What can you say about a twenty-five-year-old manatee that died?
           â€“ William MacKendree
           Paris, France

Thank you for reading, and stay tuned for the next installment of “Weekly Book Art” with Brandon Bolt, featuring: god knows what seriously I have no freaking idea.

weekly book art: a scanner darkly

by brandon as book art — brandon Sun 7 May 2006 11:18 pm

Almost forgot! I had this drawn by Wednesday and it sat under other things I had on my clipboard until now. Anyway I was casting around for ideas when I realized I had better do this one before the movie comes out. So here it is:

scramble suits!

I bought the book a little over a year ago as prep for tryouts to do rotoscoping work on this movie. Not joking. They casted about for artists across Texas (and beyond – word got out on the internet, which is how I found out about it) and I went down to Austin to try out for the job. Didn’t make it, obviously – I heard about it a little too late, and wound up on the crest of a wave of 500 or so applicants, so I’m told by a special source. I know a little bit of other dirt about the project… and I also know about the software since the tryout involved three hours of work on drawing a short clip. Interesting stuff. They didn’t have me sign anything, so I can talk about it, though there isn’t much to say except you use tablets, the direction in which you make your strokes and your ability to organize them is very important, and the program crashes dead cold if you press a certain key.

So my take on A Scanner Darkly is very different from theirs. Here’s my thinking. It’s very common in straight fantasy and sci-fi drawing to pursue a great deal of realism. The idea being, you want to immerse the audience in the reality of the world you dreamed up more than you want to comment on that world. A cartoon-like rendering provides more room to express how you feel about that world:


But, when people are making cartoon representations of real events, the tendency is not so much to bother with realism. Consider Maus or Joe Sacco’s Palestine novels or any number of editorial cartoons. This is because the writing sells the events to the reader. They’re real to begin with. I’ll call this approach “cartoon verité.”

Now, A Scanner Darkly is a near-future, “if this goes on” type of science fiction story. It’s my contention that this kind of story might be better served by a “cartoon verité” approach than by a deeply realistic approach. The idea is, the idea of fantasy depicted realistically is becoming a default assumption, so reversing that may in a way be more convincing. It’s as though you’re looking at somebody’s cartoons they drew of the future events.

I’ve only really seen this done once. The graphic novel of Ghost In The Shell has some interludes drawn in a sketchy, kiddie manga style that are used to illustrate the principles behind some of the technology depicted in the book: for example, why whole-body cyborgs are stronger than partial cyborgs. They’re funny and very convincing.

One note: in the cartoon I’ve done all the shapes generated by media effects (such as the scrambler suits) in blue line. By making this convention the idea is to clearly delineate what happens in a world even more saturated with media than what we’re in now. If I ever get to any of the William Gibson books in my shelf I’ll explore this further.

weekly book art: the trial

by brandon as book art — brandon Sat 29 Apr 2006 9:53 pm

…and this is a continuation of my other exercise, where I pick a book I have and do an illustration for it. Previous shots at this are Chibi-Rorschach and the horned beasts at The End of The World. This time it came down to Kafka: probably my favorite author.

There’s this prevailing stereotype that Kafka was this gloomy, half-crazy – well, basically, goth, without the clothes or anything, preoccupied in a deeply humanistic way with the trap of existence and the senselessness of the modern world and just wracked with angst. So when people read him it’s like they turn on a dirge for the soundtrack. I have a book called Introducing Kafka that reinforces this point of view, beautifully illustrated by Robert Crumb… but kind of missing the point. See, with the Trial specifically, there’s some specifically countervailing evidence – the oft-repeated story that when Kafka first read The Trial to his friends, it was so funny to all concerned that Kafka would have to pause between fits of laughing.

So one way to really get a lot out of Kafka is to force yourself to read him as if you were reading a Monty Python script. Straight comedy. And with material like this, it’s very, very easy:

– At first, feeling he might need a witness, he was about to call one of the assistants, but then he was seized by such uncontrollable curiosity that he practically tore the door open. It was, as he suspected, a junk room. Old obsolete printed forms and overturned empty ceramic ink bottles lay beyone the threshold. In the little room itself, however, stood three men, stooping beneath the low ceiling. A candle stuck on a shelf provided light. “What’s going on here?” K. blurted out in his excitement, but not loudly. One man, who was apparently in charge of the others and drew K.’s attention first, was got up in some sort of dark leather garment that left his neck and upper chest, as well as his entire arms, bare. He didn’t reply. But the other two cried out” “Sir! We’re to be flogged because you complained about us to the examining magistrate.” And only then did K. recognize that it was indeed the guards Franz and Willem, and that the third man held a rod in his hand to flog them with.

we're to be flogged!

I mean, come on!

monday friday art: watchmen

by brandon as book art — brandon Fri 21 Apr 2006 10:54 am

chibi rorschach!

It’s chibi-Rorschach!

Aww! Who’s a wittle Rorschach? You are! Who has a cushy job waiting for him in a couple of decades at the Department of Homeland Security or the Vice President’s Office if only he can avoid pissing off blue guys with actual superpowers? You do! Yes, you! Yes, you! Yes. You. Awwww.

You’re going to Cute Overload, that’s where you’re going! Yes you are!

…oh. Hmmm. Guess I’m not the very first person to think of this. But miiine is better! thpppt.

monday art: hard-boiled wonderland and the end of the world

by brandon as book art — brandon Mon 10 Apr 2006 1:31 pm

New routine. I’m gonna start putting up two new pieces of art every Monday. The first will be an illustration from or inspired by a book I have, or a book I’ve read – I have a good-sized stack of books so it’s going to take a while to get through them this way. At least a couple of years. I don’t know that I’ll keep this up that long – I have no idea what I’ll be doing or where I’ll be two years from now – but, let’s see how it goes.

Art Monday #1 is from Haruki Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and The End of the World:

the golden beasts

Spring passed, summer ended, and just now as the light takes on a diaphanous glow and the first gusts of autumn ripple the waters of the streams, changes become visible in the beasts. Golden hairs emerge, in scant patches at first, chance germinations of some unseasonal herb. Gradually whole fields of feelers knit out through the shorter fur, until at length the whole coat is gleaming gold. It takes not more than a week from start to finish for this ritual to transpire. They commence their metamorphosis almost at the same time; almost at once they are done. Within a week every animal has been completely transformed into a beast of gold. When the morning sun rises and casts newly golden over the world, autumn has descended upon the earth.

The goal here is more to capture the hallucinatory, magical-realist quality of The End of The World as it appears in the book than to focus on a faithful depiction of the beasts, which, as I re-read the passage, may be somewhat less shaggy and more unicorn-like (the unicorn aspect comes up elsewhere in the novel) than I’ve drawn them; but the way they act always evoked giant sloths to my mind.

I should stress that this picture in no way will prepare you for what I have in mind next week. I’ve already decided. Muhuhahaha ha ha.

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