Ultraist Studios Blog Journal thoughts, musings and other rambling…

September 30, 2006

SPY GUY – Webcomic pt.1

Filed under: Announcements,Spy Guy — M Kitchen @ 8:45 am

This is something that I had been thinking about doing for a while now.

Disclaimer: This comic is going to be done stream-of-consciousness style. One panel at a time, without any plan or roadmap. I do have an idea where I’d like to end up, but no definitive plan on how to get there. The story and the art is being done on the GO Train during my commute to my “Clark Kent” day job.

Partly inspired by John Sanford and his Chippy & Loopus strip, and partly inspired by a few Dave Sim quotes:

First you get good, then you get fast, then you get good and fast

If you can be that good going that fast, why go slow?read more here

In my opinion, creators should be sharply aware of the specifics of their own productivity from the very earliest point in their career and tailor the business choices of their creativity around the “givens” of their own productivity. As I said before, if you can do 20 pages a month comfortably you can take a lot more chances than someone who can only do 5 pages a month.read more here

The idea being that I’ve got to up my speed, and up my confidence in just getting these comics done. So that is the plan with this SPY GUY Webcomic. I don’t have a title yet for the story, and I’m not going to worry about it. I also am not sure how I will integrate it into ultraist.net but for now this journal is as good a place as any.

Here is the first panel:

Hope you enjoy.
Feel free to comment. Maybe it can even redirect the course of the story.

September 26, 2006

Gender Interchangeability 101

Filed under: Ramblings — M Kitchen @ 2:56 pm

Stories like this make my blood boil: CBC News – Hockey Decision

Remote E-mail Blog Post – TEST

Filed under: Remote Post — M Kitchen @ 12:06 am

This posting is a test of the automated e-mail blog posting system.

Please Stand By….

September 25, 2006

Times They Are A-Changin’

Filed under: Ramblings — M Kitchen @ 2:07 pm

Came across this Tilting At Windmills article by Brian Hibbs (#149 – September 2006) over on Newsarama:

The Direct Market is changing. Well, really, the whole comics market is changing, but I’m most concerned about the Direct Market portion of it.

One of the problems is that a lot of the things that are changing are doing so relatively invisibly, and under the surface, so you’re probably not too aware of them, or how they’re affecting things.

Hell, I’m not sure most of the time either, really!

One of the things we take as an unwritten assumption in this market is that Diamond is basically the sole source for comics product.

Click here to read more.

I had been thinking a lot about his lately. Not only because Diamond flat out rejected my first two Spy Guy comics, but also because of some other news that had been percolating last year regarding minimum orders. Such as these ones:

The Comics Journal
Lying In The Gutters
Comicon
Sequart
Ninthart

Another Tilting At Windmills piece here

But even more then that, it’s because the books I find I am most interested in, are ones that just aren’t available through the Direct Market Channels.

It seems that the Direct Market can’t see past it’s Super-hero glut. Don’t get me wrong, I like my Astonishing X-Men, and Ultimates 2, and Punisher MAX, and Batman and Savage Dragon, and Next Wave: Agents of H.A.T.E. I like it all just fine.

But what I’d really like to complement it is Paper Biscuit, or a Bob G.O.M.P.
Stuff that is all but being ignored (for lack of sales or lack of support) by the mainstream market. It’s possible that this stuff is supposed to exist on the fringe. That it’s not supposed to exist in the mainstream. I don’t know. But this is where the good stuff, the deep stuff, the new stuff exists.

Created by an artist with a singular vision, and a burning urge to express that vision with the rest of the world. Compare that to the corporate mainstream, where creative decisions are made by non-creative executives. We’ve all seen the havoc that mentality has caused in comics during the Direct Market crash in the 90’s. And the mess that mentality made in animation, with Disney’s fall from grace, and the current CG glut we’ve gotten ourselves into.

The best hope for entertainment is in the creation of creator owned and controlled properties. By artists that have a burning desire to create them. The arts are a part of our culture. If corporate culture dominates the mainstream with their empty candy coated fluff, who’s only purpose is to maximize the stock of rich corporate investors, then I think it’s time to start nurturing the counter-culture.

I’m wondering if stores like The Labrynth, and Stuart Ng Books , and print on demand services like Lulu.com are going to be the next big thing in comic book culture. And awards like the Isotope Award For Excellence In Mini-Comics. This is where the next big things are brewing.

“This is counter-culture from the underground
Eternal revolution, this is our sound.”

KMFDM – Megalomaniac

September 24, 2006

Hellboy

Filed under: Sketches — M Kitchen @ 10:08 pm

Here is a stylized sketch I did 2 years ago while working at Tippett Studio on Hellboy: The Movie. I still like it.

September 21, 2006

Do You Hate Your Job?

Filed under: Ramblings — M Kitchen @ 12:04 pm

That was the title of a Yahoo! News article I saw the other day.

I’ve gotta laugh when I read news articles like that. 
And I’ve been seeing them A LOT lately.

Here are a couple of good quotes from some books I have been reading:

“if you look at the many interviews with workers on assembly lines, for example, that have been done by industrial psychologists, you find that one of the things they complain about over and over again is the fact that their work simply can’t be done well; the fact that the assembly line goes through so fast that they can’t do their work properly. I just happened to look recently at a study of longevity in some journal on gerontology which tried to trace the factors that you could use to predict longevity — you know, cigarette smoking and drinking, genetic factors — everything was looked at. It turned out, in fact, that the highest predictor, the most successful predictor, was job satisfaction.”

The Relevance of Anarcho-syndicalism
Noam Chomsky interviewed by Peter Jay

“You are what you do.  If you do boring, stupid monotonous work, chances are you’ll end up boring, stupid and monotonous.  Work is a much better explanation for the creeping cretinization all around us than even such significant moronizing mechanisms as television and education.  People who are regimented all their lives, handed off to work from school and bracketed by the family in the beginning and the nursing home at the end, are habituated to hierarchy and psychologically enslaved.”

The Abolition of Work
by Bob Black

Before leaving for Laika, Glen Sylvester (a co-worker here at STARZ Animation) sent this out in his farewell e-mail:

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.
One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Two Wolves
A Cherokee Legend

I’d like to think of it all as some sort of a sign.  Or a SIGN.
But when I start to see patterns emerging I always think back to an article in the back of Cerebus #219.

“When the Universe seems to confirm our fictions as opposed to our supposed theories, then this suggests a strange relationship between fiction, mind, perception, and cosmos that is far more gripping than simply solving a whodunit.I once heard an anecdote about a contemporary magician who decided to put this principle to the test by adopting a belief so strange that nobody could possibly mistake it for reality and then seeing what happened. The belief he decided to go with was that Noddy, the little toy-car driving and belied-hat wearing protagonist of Enid Blyton’s
children’s books, was in fact the absolute creator of the Universe and the God of all Gods. Within a couple of weeks he abandoned the experiment in alarm, finding himself upon the brink of conclusively proving that Middy was the Supreme Being. He’d come across magazine articles showing freshly discovered cave-drawings of an obviously sacred figure wearing what appeared to be a tall pointed hat with a little bell on the top. He’d read an interview with Enid Blyton herself in which she described a strange vision that had come to her while under the influence of gas at the dentist; in which she had been whisked across the Universe at the speed of light to meet God himself, although he couldn’t describe the details of their conversation. This, along with a whole mess of other stuff and previously hidden meanings in Bible passages (Cain is banished to the Land of Nod in Genesis, for example), seemed to indicate that Nod was God and Enid Blyton His prophetess.”

Dave Sim/Alan Moore Correspondence – Cerebus #219
Alan Moore 

Off on a semi-tangent:  Mark Mayerson wrote a good article on his blog about the state of animation in Canada titled Woe Canada.

September 18, 2006

Drawing Is Hard

Filed under: Doodles,Ramblings,Spy Guy — M Kitchen @ 7:23 am

Drawing is really hard.
There’s no other way to put it.

One of my biggest regrets is not pushing my drawing skills over my post-Sheridan years. Now I’m getting old(er). Time is moving faster.

I found while doing sketching at the Toronto Comic Book Expo, that Spy Guy is a hard character to draw. I didn’t realise that before. It’s because of the simplicity. If you get the lines wrong, it shows. There isn’t a lot of detail to hide behind. Also it’s because of that trench coat. It makes it easy to turn the character into a blob. I really have to think about the forms and mass under the trench coat. Especially around the legs. That is what I was experimenting with in these doodles:

This is a sketch I did a while back while I was looking at some Shane Glines Bob G.O.M.P. drawings. I was looking at the way Shane draws his forms, and was trying to mimic it on Spy Guy. I always thought these doodles were successful. They have an appeal:

Whenever I look at stuff by artist at the top of their game (like in the links below) I get a reality check on just how far I am from the watermark I artistically aspire to, and I get a surge of energy to just try to get better. It’s hard work, but it’s work worth doing.

Temple of the Seven Golden Camels – The art of storyboarding (and more).

Walt Stanchfield – Drawing class notes from Walt Disney Studios.

Chen Yi Chang – Animation Presentation (video).

All I can really do is keep drawing. Keep pushing. Keep learning. This is something I should have done years ago. But life has a way of doing that, setting up distractions, veering things off course.

I’ve got a lot to learn.

September 16, 2006

Space Agent A.C.E.

Filed under: Doodles,Nostalgia,Ramblings — M Kitchen @ 10:28 am

My brother Blair has started a new feature over at Possum Press called Captain Smith and Broccoli Boy. You should check it out. Anyway, reading those strips got me thinking about a character I created back in high school. It was sort of like the futuristic counterpoint to Spy Guy. In my sketchbook I would alternate pages, so that it would be one page Spy Guy, next page Space A.C.E. Oh, and as for the name… I found out years later that an Animator named Don Bluth had created a video game in 1983 called Space Ace. That was like 5 years before I created my character. So in my own mind, to try and avoid any sort of trademark infringement, I would keep messing around with new names I could call the character. The closest thing I could come up with was Space Agents – with the lead character being called A.C.E. If I ever decide to do something with the character, we’ll see if I get sued.

The point of all this type… after reading the latest installment of Captain Smith and Broccoli Boy I pulled out a sketch pad at work, and doodled this drawing.

There you have him; Space Agent A.C.E. Sort of my answer to Mega Man, Astro Boy, Han Solo and Captain Kirk. His sidekick is the equivalent to a robot swiss army knife. Maybe they will appear if future doodles, perhaps even as future back up features in the Spy Guy comics. That is, assuming I don’t get sued.

September 12, 2006

Convention Aftermath – Articles and Interviews

Filed under: Announcements,Conventions,Weblinks — M Kitchen @ 7:22 am

Following the aftermath of the Toronto Comic Book Expo 2006, some interesting articles and interviews have appeared. The following is a podcast interview conducted by Paul French in which he interviews a variety of people involved with independent comics and film, including my bro. Blair Kitchen as well as myself. Click the banner below to visit Poptopia.


The Playlist goes like this:

The Possum
by Blair Kitchen
Love and Capes by Tom Zahler
Sidekick starring Perri Mucci
Toronto After Dark Film Festival
Spy Guy by Mike Kitchen

Click Here To Listen

Another article, written by Steve Layton has appeared over at Heroic Arts Comics and features both Possum Press and Ultraist Studios. We appear in part 2 (of a 5 part series). Also included in the article are the sketches we drew for them at the convention. Mine is pictured below.

Click Here To Read The Article

Also, for more in depth coverage of the excitement that was the Toronto Comic Book Expo 2006, you can check out my brothers Possum Press blog for his exclusive coverage.

Click Here For Possum Press

Here is a pic my bro. took of me selling the Spud & Harry preview comic to the Dark Lord Of The Sith himself.

… oh, and if you have’t seen it already, click here for the comics I aquired from the show.

September 10, 2006

Toronto Comic Book Expo 2006

Filed under: Announcements,Conventions,Photos,Sketches — M Kitchen @ 12:41 pm

Stay tuned for a full report… but in the meatime: Pictures

Toronto Comic Book Expo 2006 Pics

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