Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Four out of Five Dentists Recommend the Helm Trade Paperback!

A pair of reviews just beat the Helm TPB to press! The Helm Volume 1 comes out tomorrow, but two reviews went up today.

The first was on Girls Entertainment Network by Stephanie Carmichael and gave the Helm a rating of 4 out of 5. I'm not sure 4 out of 5 what, but 4 out of 5 anything sounds pretty good to me! It could be 4 out of 5 dentists, which was good enough for Trident and is consequently good enough for the Helm. You can read the full review at http://www.girlsentertainmentnetwork.com/graphic-novel-review-the-helm/

The second review was on Around Comics and reviewer Brion Salazar said, "I really enjoyed this mini series in singles. The story was funny and should speak to the inner fanboy in all of us. Bart Sears art was some of his best." That seemed pretty positive to me, and I absolutely agree about the Bart Sears comment too. You can read the review at http://www.aroundcomics.com/index.php/Blog/ although I have quoted the entire review above. Yes, short, sweet and to the point. You have to love that Brion Salazar!

Now, all I have to do is hope that the book actually comes out tomorrow! Comics are unreliable!

Monday, March 30, 2009

More Hair and Merkin Muffley too!

I was reading again today about how online content about hair draws more traffic than any other topic. That just seems weird to me. Or really vain or something. Who are all of these people looking for content about hair? So anyway, I started thinking about how it might be fun to blog about hair, but in a way that would potentially be offensive to the kind of people who are normally online searching for content about hair. You know, just for fun. Because it's late.

For instance, I might write about hair from the perspective of nose hair styling. Nose hair styling is topic near and dear to the heart of my nose-hair-stylist, Lon. Lon's been coiffing the nasal hair of America's hottest celebrities for over a decade. His work goes well beyond the standard trim and tweeze. Lon's a nose hair genius. Looking for a nose hair dye job? Want your nose hair braided? Need nose hair extensions? Call Lon.

Of course, I could always write about the hair incorporated in merkins. Pubic toupees. Then the people searching for legitimate hair information can accidentally find out that many pubic wigs are made from Yak hair. Or that Peter Sellers played a president named Merkin Muffley. Or that it's rumored that Sienna Miller had to have her pubic hair digitally enhanced for a film role because the merkin they tried didn't look realistic enough. Which makes me think of Bruce Willis in Hudson Hawk. Because of how the hair on his head had to be digitally retouched--not because he wore a merkin. Although, I suppose he may have worn a merkin for the filming. There's just no way to tell based on the existing cut of the film.

Anyway, take that you hair content seeking Internet users! Give it a rest!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Beat Stops Here

I got a drum kit the other day. It's a used, 5 piece with a hi-hat and crash. It sounds very nice and looks pretty cool. As I brought it home I had fantasies about starting up another band--this time with me on drums. Maybe it could be called "The Meatles" and we could release and album called "Beat the Meatles!"

I've always wanted a drum kit, stretching all the way back to third grade when we had musical aptitude tests at school and they said I might make a good drummer. I took the evaluation sheet home and showed my parents that I would make a good drummer and that I only needed to get a drum kit in order to begin my musical career--a career which would undoubtedly bring me enormous wealth, fame and power. It was the first time I can recall my parents ever laughing at me. Apparently they thought drums would not be a good idea in a house with seven children and only three bedrooms.

Now, 36 years later, I finally got a drum kit.

It only took about ten minutes for me to begin to doubt the findings of my third grade musical aptitude test. It was shortly after I poked myself in the eye with a drumstick and just before everyone in the house came running downstairs to see if I had knocked over the entire contents of the basement or somehow catastrophically damaged the foundation of the house. Apparently, I have no natural rhythm and a shocking lack of hand/eye coordination. Or, more accurately, hand/eye/foot/brain coordination. Perhaps I did have an aptitude back when I was a wee lad, but it withered without appropriate attention? Maybe skill at the drums is like facility with languages? Maybe you have to learn to speak drum before the age of 15 if you are ever to be fluent in drumming?

Whatever the case, I think I should stick to writing. Fortunately, I had the fore site to tell my wife that the drum kit was for my daughters. They are still young enough to learn.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tittle and Jot

The newspaper this morning had a little blurb about how the dot above a small case j or i is called a tittle. Now, that made me think that the definition of tittle was the dot above a small case j or i. This is not the case. Turns out, a tittle is a very small part or quantity--the very least part. This means that the dot above a j qualifies as a tittle but that a tittle means more than that dot.

This came up because, when I mentioned the tittle thing, one of my coworkers said, "For verily I say unto you, til heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law til all things be accomplished." Apart from being a relatively unprovoked bible quotation, this comment also brought the word jot into the discussion.

I'll spare you all of the details about the Hebrew alphabet and ancient Greek writing and get right down to the useful information. A jot is small, but it's bigger than a tittle.

And now the inevitable link to the Helm.

Guess who originally said the bible quote about the jot and the tittle! Matthew! Yup! That's right, Matthew 5:18. And although he spells it differently than our boy, last time I checked, Matt was also the name of the main character from the Helm! How's that for synchronicity!

So now that I've connected the topics, I can tell you that I've also updated the Helm website! A new splash page and an online store where you can buy the graphic novel version! Check it out at http://www.thehelmcomic.com/ I'm sure you will be at least as thrilled by the new design as you have been by the discussion of tittle and jot.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Slovak, Google Translation and A Number

Google turned up a review of The Helm in Slovak on a site called Komiks Mania by someone named Demented! Which makes me glad. Just in general. But also specifically glad that Google has a translation function. But then slightly sad that it's not a better translation function. I've used this translation function on many different occasions and on many different languages and I always get interestingly garbled results.

Of course, who am I to look a gift translation in the mouth? Not too long ago, if I wanted to translate a review from Slovak, I'd either have had to pay a translation service or ask one of my many Slovakian friends to decipher it for me. As is, I'm able to get the gist even if the nuances and poetry of the original review are lost on me.

On the up side, I get to read lines like,
"Matt constantly moan, somewhat spoiled is coward. But if the helmet allowing him to eat more, his new profession of "defender of the world", he would have certainly liked more...It has the minisériu, but it is about the continuation of a regular series. Už sa teším!!! Already I look forward to! 8 out of 10. Beauty!"

I'm not exactly sure, but in context, it all seems quite positive. If you want to check it out yourself, in the original Slovak, here's the link: http://www.kocogel.info/index.php?topic=4614.0

So, here's a shout out to you, Demented at Komiks Mania! Thanks for reviewing the Helm in Slovak!

And also, check out this cool site for news and info about comics: http://comicsblips.dailyradar.com/

Apart from that, and for those interested parties, here is a number: 6966933945

Friday, March 20, 2009

Christopher Walken, Twitter, April Fools and the Helm TPB


So, Christopher Walken rules. If you are not one of the nearly 50,000 people following him on Twitter, you are missing something special. Even the Helm itself would appreciate Christopher Walken.

Now here's a clumsy segue (not to be confused with the very agile Segway--see previous post). Speaking of the Helm, I just found out that the updated release date is... wrong. The previous date, March 25th, 2009 actually turns out to be the shipping date as opposed to the in store date. The in store date is now slated for April 1st. That's right, the Helm TPB is supposed to be available on April Fools Day which just coincidentally happens to fall on a Wednesday.

Is that some kind of omen? Seems like maybe.

Anyhow, check out Walken's twitters as you ride your Segway to your local comic shop on April Fools day to purchase a copy of the Helm TPB. That's my recommendation.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Forteana and Jim From the Future


The Helm trade paper back is actually coming out on the 25th of this month, as opposed to the 8th of next month as was previously reported.

Anyway, I was putting a preview copy of The Helm TPB in the mail today to send off to the Fortean Times and I decided to ride the office Segway instead of walking.

For any of you who don't already subscribe, the Fortean Times is an awesome, monthly magazine about strange phenomena and experiences that continues the work of Charles Fort--the premier investigator of oddities and the man who coined the term teleportation. You can check them out at http://www.forteantimes.com/

I thought that the Fortean Times might be the most appropriate place to run a review of The Helm.

And now the Segway. First, you can't ride a Segway without feeling like some imperiously arrogant visitor from the future--perhapse a being named Orlon 5 or Commander GreeGnxx--just visiting this planet to mock the backward apes that still get around using their own legs.

As you hover along the streets, a foot or so taller than everyone else, drawing stares and shocked looks, you can't help but feel the odd mix of smug superiority and awkward stupidity that is the signature of the Segway experience. If you haven't ridden one, I'd suggest you try it.

We own a Segway because my business partner, David, won it as a door prize at the TED convention one year. Mostly it sits in the corner, quietly gathering dust, but about once each spring I get tempted to take it out for a spin. Since the post office is nearly a fifteen minute walk from the office, today provided a great opportunity to blow the dust off our chariot from the future.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Peni-mator, Halle Berry, the Watchmen and Twitter

Back when I used to be a technical director for animated TV commercials, I worked on a project in which a CG brand character had to interact with Halle Berry while she swam around in a pool wearing a skimpy bikini. This meant that I had to be present on the set while they filmed the live action footage so that I could measure everything in exhaustive detail in order to ensure the seamless integration of the animated character with the live action elements--including the bikini-clad Halle Berry. I repeat, I had to measure everything.

People who heard about this aspect of my job were envious, but the sad reality is that examining sexy things in minute technical detail is kind of awkward and robs them of much of their appeal.

I mention this because a friend of a friend of mine was reading the previous blog entry about Dr. Manhattan's CG Johnson in the Watchmen and recounted a story about how a friend of his (that's right, a friend of a friend of a friend) knew the guy who had to full body digitize Angelina Jolie (and her playboy bunny body double) for her role in Beowulf. The friend of my friend thought that job of the friend of his friend would be less bad than the job of being the peni-mator for Dr. Manhattan.

In case you are wondering, peni-mator is the official technical term for a person who animates a CG person's business. As opposed to the peni-modeler, who is the person who has to build the CG business, or the peni-master, who is the person who has to get the CG business ready to be animated by the peni-mator.

Anyway, the point is that I don't know which is worse. Based on my own experiences, I suspect the friend of my friend is only partly right. I think it might, indeed, have sucked more to have built Doc Manhattan's CG business (or scanned it, or whatever) than to digitize a naked Angelina Jolie. But I think it probably wouldn't have been that big a deal to animate the CG business. Sure, it was probably weird--especially if it involved extensive viewing (or even the creation) of unfortunately detailed reference footage, but it was probably less weird than the building and rigging of the Johnson itself.

At the end of the day, however, I'll admit that I just don't know for sure. So consider this an open invitation. If you are the person (or persons) who did any of these things, from building Doc Manhattan's CG junk to scanning Angelina Jolie's nakedness, or if you are a person who has done something similar, write in and let me know about your experiences. Or comment here for the world to see. After all, that is the true purpose of the Internet, isn't it? To facilitate the growth of human knowledge and thereby improve the human condition?

Oh, and apparently, also to watch porn. And to socialize with people on Facebook. Oh, and to tweet on Twitter.

P.S. Thanks to Tony, the friend of my friend, for the inspired coining of the term Peni-mator.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Putting the Graphic in the Graphic Novel: The Watchmen and Dr. Johnson

So, I went to see the Watchmen Friday morning. That's right, I took off work and went to see it at 11:30 AM. A gazillion other bloggers are thoroughly covering whether it was good or not, whether it was faithful or not, whether it is worth watching or not.

Me, I want to know what was up with Dr. Manhattan's CG Johnson.

It's not that I begrudge him having one, nor that I'm such a prude that I object to seeing it in the movie. It's just that, well, it was kind of more prominent than I expected. See, in the graphic novel, it's depicted, but it's just about what you might expect and consequently, you don't spend all that much time dwelling on it. In the movie version, however, it's considerably more...present. It's not just that it's bigger--although it is way bigger (check the graphic novel)--it's also that it bobbles and swings about and generally makes a spectacle of itself. The thing is kind of a scene stealer--and not in a good way.

Anyway, I don't want to dwell on this too long, but I am curious why they felt compelled to mess with Manhattan's endowment. Did they feel it was necessary in order to convey the full extent of his God-like power? Was it an art director's choice? Did the director demand it? Was it just an accident of motion capture and a credit to the motion capture actor?

However you look at it, it just didn't seem faithful to the original. And it also made me wonder which of the animators actually animated it. I didn't see any specific reference in the end credits, but the thing was so animated that I had to wonder. It might have been fun to be a fly on the wall during the conversations in which the penis animator was getting his direction and having his work reviewed.

"Oh, and Tim?"

"Yes, Mr. Snyder?"

"Can you swing the dingus a little more? And add a bit of a twist?"

"Certainly, sir."

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Hair, the Helm and Helmet Hair

So, I was just reading a report that said that online content related to hair draws more traffic than any other topic.

Really? Hair? Now that's saying something...although I'm not sure exactly what.

I suppose, for starters, it suggests that I ought to be including a lot more references to hair in my various posts about the Helm trade paper back and that maybe I ought to have a page on the Helm Website dedicated to hair. Hmmm. Maybe something about helmet hair.

Helmet hair is closely related to the dreaded hat hair, but much worse. In movies, heroic folks are always taking off their helmets to reveal perfectly coiffed, sexy looking hair. In real life, however, the inside of a helmet gets pretty sweaty and makes your hair do some fairly strange and unattractive things. Take it from me, a guy who has probably worn far too many helmets with far too little provocation--you're way more likely to end up with pointy hair or Gumby hair or skanky hair than sexy hair after your head has seen the inside of a helmet. Oh, and a lot of the time, your hair smells too--like sweaty leather or sweaty foam padding or even just sweaty head.

So, I'll get to work on a feature about Helmet Hair and see if I can't attrack more of the vast swarms of internet users who are apparently so interested in the hair topic.