Bottom of the Deck – 16/02/02

botdcardHey everypeoples, it’s been a bit quiet around here lately, but I have very good excu- er, reasons – to explain that.

Last week I started trying out a few new things, trying to expand my comfort zone and practicing some digital techniques. I’ve since taken on a new personal project, one with enough variety to keep up the incentive that will keep me immersed for a while. I don’t want to give away too much too soon, but you can expect to see a few art pieces from it on the site in the near future.

However, this will be cutting into my time for other things; you may have noticed Elements of Eve didn’t update yesterday. If I’m being honest, I’ve been so wrapped up in this new idea (as well as the usual over-active pile of nonsense that is my brain) that I haven’t been in the right mindset to focus on Eve properly. So for now, I may have to reduce the update schedule to once per week on Thursdays, just to give me time to focus on everything that needs doing. It’s not a compromise I make lightly, but needs must when the devil vomits into your kettle.

Hopefully I’ll be hearing back soon on the possibility of getting a car, and subsequently getting out of the house a bit more. The bus services here don’t go everywhere, and there are some places I’d like to frequent more often ie comic book stores that aren’t run by… “negative people.”

That’s all I’ve really got for this week, back to the tablet and the forging of ideas.

Ciao for now.

Bottom of the Deck – 15/12/08

botdcardAfternoon everypeoples, getting one of these out before the sun goes down for a change.

Main reason for this is that college is now finally over, and hopefully for me, it will be for good. I have to say I was a lot more emotional on Friday than I thought I would be; it’s just been such a point of consistency for me ever since I moved across the country, and now that I’m done with it, it’s kind of a strange feeling. Next year is going to be very different…

But before that happens, I’ll be taking a nice holiday break when I head home for Christmas this Friday. It’s been nearly six months since I last saw my parents, and a couple of years since I saw most of my Johannesburg relatives, so it’s going to be fun. It does mean I have to get a buffer done for Elements of Eve to tide over the two weeks of updates between now and Christmas, which I should really be working on right now. The heat is making me lazy and the latest episode of Critical Role left me so emotionally hyped and drained that I’ve barely been able to sit still all day.

Speaking of D&D (segue skills, recognize!), you guys may remember last week I spoke about my attempts to finally organize a game. I am happy to say it went off without a hitch (although one of our players was rather reluctant and we had to keep it a secret until it was too late for her to back out, might not see her play again) and a good time was had. I got to express myself a little as Dungeon Master, and the players surprised me at a couple of turns, despite the fact that I had been overthinking to the point where I thought I had all my bases covered. Ah, sweet naivete… Highlight of the evening was when the party managed to surprise a goblin underboss in his chamber, unleash a flurry of attacks before he could do anything, and then finish him off by swinging another goblin at his head and breaking his neck with the impact. Bottom line, we had a good evening, and even if we never get to play again, I’m still glad for the experience. Good practice for when I hopefully DM a game for my uncle and his family over Christmas.

That’s all my geeky news for this week, I will still upload some bloggery during my stay in Durban, but since I’ll be spending my Christmas week in Joburg, there won’t be a blog post on the 29th; I’m sure you all have much better things to do during that time anyway.

Have a good one folks, ciao for now.

Bottom of the Deck – 15/11/24

botdcardEvening everypeoples, I’m still here and still alive, so no excuses not to blog anything this week.

I’ve been saying this every week for a while now, but it’s more true than ever now: College Crunch Time! This is our last week to really push on our projects and get them looking spiff and shiny, because next week we have to get them all rendered and edited into neat little showreels and we will not have time to do any more tweaking. I’m feeling pretty good about my animations for this term; most of them are a little mediocre, but the ones that count are making good progress. I left one rendering overnight today, so hopefully it’ll look good when I composite it together tomorrow.

I will say that I got hit hard by Monday again, after managing to avert a critical strike last week, and I didn’t get the Elements of Eve update coloured in time. The colour version is uploaded now so no worries there, but I just felt like my head was ready to explode last night. I don’t get it, it’s not like I spent the weekend drinking, I don’t touch the stuff… Garfield was so right about Mondays…

On the entertainment side, those of you with a finger on the pulse of Netflix will no doubt have seen that Marvel’s new series Jessica Jones dropped on Friday, and I am not ashamed to say that I binged watched all thirteen episodes twice over during the course of the weekend. The show is SO good, a worthy follow up to Marvel’s Daredevil, taking the gritty tone and making it darker, sexier, more cerebral and more twisted. Daredevil was a grey vs. gray mentality, two men each with a dream of making their city a better place, and each questioning their own actions as they walked the fine line between hero and villain. Jessica Jones, by contrast, is a straight up hero vs villain tale, albeit one with the hero being a broken shell of her former self and the villain, Kilgrave being a sociopathic puppet master whose main weapon against Jessica is the psychological scars he left during their previous encounter. Jessica faces these mind games with pig-headed stubbornness and a fierce determination to never be controlled again (plus the super-strength doesn’t hurt either). I could go on gushing about how much I loved the deadpan snarking attitude that Jessica throws around constantly, or how I marveled at the deep, twisted lack of morality that David Tennant brings to Kilgrave, or how watching people get thrown through walls is cool, but I’ll let you all go and watch it for yourselves. You will not regret it.

That’s all for this week, time to finish the latest episode of Critical Role, I cannot believe the drama going on; romance, near-death experiences, family reunions, and ghosts!

Ciao for now.

Webcomic of the Week – AGENTS OF THE REALM

wotwcardHey everypeoples, it’s Wednesday and time for another dip into the waters of undiscovered webcomics (I seem to be on a hydrated theme this week…). This week’s discovery comes on the recommendation of the guys over at Geek and Sundry, who posted a few of the webcomics they appreciate yesterday, so I gave one of them a look-see. Quick heads up, this one contains themes that one would consider “mature”, so unless you are sufficiently advanced in your pubescent nature and have an open mind, stop right here and go watch this instead.

For those of you still with us, Agents of the Realm is a mahou shoujo (Magical Girl) themed, coming-of-age comic by Mildred Louis, with a modern western angle. Our protagonist is Norah Tanner, a 20 year old college student who would like nothing more than to keep her head down, stay out of other people’s way, and figure out what she’s going to do with her life (ah, don’t we all…). This plan goes out the window when she finds a mysterious brooch that turns her into a magical warrior known as an Agent, and a lady from another dimension called Jade reveals that she has been chosen to safeguard the very stability of two realities. So, you know, no pressure. Norah is just one of five Agents in her reality, with the other four starting to turn up one by one, and just as well, because Jade’s twin sister Ruby is out hunting for the Agents’ brooches, and mysterious monsters called Bleeds are crossing through the gate between realities…

While the basic premise for AotR is nothing new for a Magical Girl series, it does enough things differently that it makes for a truly unique take on the genre that mature readers can appreciate. For starters, where a cliched MG series might feature teenagers (usually driven by hormones and nothing else), AotR‘s protagonists are college students, who have all the problems and life decisions that come with that life phase, making them more relatable to the twenty-something generation that may have grown out of their high-school angst. They aren’t immediately friendly with each other and there is a certain level of tension between them as they learn to work together, having been thrown into a situation none of them asked for. They are also ethnically diverse (with African-American, Portuguese, English, Spanish and Chinese heritages across the team) without conforming to stereotypes, and while the issue of sexuality is not at the forefront, at least one of the Agents is shown to be attracted to another girl. In short, AotR has realistic characters that are defined by their personalities rather than their race or sexual preference, which is often a trap that writers can fall into when trying to create a diverse team.

Agents of the Realm offers a deeper, more deconstructed look at a genre whose popularity has risen and fallen repeatedly for the past 30 years. The archive dates back to March 2014, so grab some snacks and dive in for a few hours of well-drawn, well-written ladies and their magical weaponry, updating every Thursday and Sunday. Mildred Louis is also on Twitter and Tumblr, and she has a Patreon going with two other projects waiting in the wings, so go show her some love and support, because she deserves it.

That’s all for this week, go check out Agents of the Realm right here, and if you have or know of a webcomic that needs more attention, let me know and I might just be reviewing it down the line.

Ciao for now.

Webcomic of the Week – THE PIGEON GAZETTE

wotwcardHey everypeoples, it is Wednesday, where I should be throwing some webcomic reviews your way, and have failed to do so for a while now. Sad facts, I just haven’t had the time to find and binge through any comics with deep archives lately. But I was able to discover something this past weekend which provides an example of a different type of webcomic that I’ve come to enjoy.

The Pigeon Gazette is a slice-of-life comic written and drawn by a mysterious figure known only as Jane (aka Pigeon Girl, aka Pigeoneer Jane, you see the theme). It’s a (mostly) autobiographical piece that follows the day-to-day life of the author, outlining the struggles and celebrations in a humorous and occasionally self-deprecating way. Readers follow Jane through such trials and tribulations as exams, roommates and… social interaction, brrr… So all in all, everything that the modern 20-something student can and will worry about.

The main reason I wanted to bring up The Pigeon Gazette is that represents a genre that is becoming increasingly popular among webcomic artists. It’s not uncommon to see professional artists juggling multiple comics, and one of those may be a satire of their own lives. Heck, I’ve even tried it myself (but let’s not go there… it was a long time ago). It doesn’t have to be a side project either; like Jane and The Pigeon Gazette, some artists use it as their primary outlet. Comics like Whomp! by Ronnie Filyaw and 4-Panel Life by Jen-Jen Rose follow this logic, using exaggerated circumstances and life experiences to entertain people and let the artists do what they love. The Pigeon Gazette is the latest example I have discovered, but I’m not going to start flinging words like “unoriginal” around; each one of these artists is a unique individual, and while the inevitable common themes of a life in the arts does crop up (and the social deprivation that is both a symptom and cause of it), we get to see these people’s unique life stories through their own eyes and minds, where they are more entertaining than anyone else could describe them.

The Pigeon Gazette is a funny, quirky, aesthetically cartoony comic that updates Wednesdays and Sundays. It’s been running for about a year, so the archives are not particularly extensive. You can blast through the whole thing in an hour or so, but you’ll be smiling the entire time. Go check it out on Jane’s Tumblr right here, she’s on Twitter @PigeonComics and on Patreon too, and has just made some shirts available on her store, so go show her some love.

That’s all for this week, hopefully I’ll stumble across some more cool stuff to share with you guys soon.

Ciao for now.

Bottom of the Deck – 15/11/03

botdcardHey everypeoples, we’re into the penultimate month of the year; where has 2015 gone…?

I can answer that: into work, primarily. We’re down to the wire at college, starting our final projects for the year, which have exactly one month to finish from today. We’re busy doing lip-syncing on our characters, and it’s less complicated than I thought it would be. Or maybe I’m just getting used to Maya; I’ll admit that the graph editor that once looked like a tangled web of terror is a lot easier to use now that I know how to unravel it. It’s become very intuitive, which for me and my hurried work style is a godsend, and I can maintain my focus a lot more before wearing myself out.

I’ve also been trying to keep up my comic work, which has been tough to do in-between everything else. Elements of Eve suffered a little again this week, but Monday’s page is now up (check it out here if you haven’t already). I don’t know what it is, but Mondays just drain me a lot quicker; I think it’s the effort from trying to start the week that’s the hard part. Nevertheless, I’ll be keeping the updates coming, especially since Issue #8 is nearly over. I’d better start writing the next one…

Speaking of which, I’ve been working on a comic script for the past month or so. It’s an older idea which I’ve relentlessly tweaked and hammered and mulled over, and I’ve nearly got a first draft done. I already know several things I’ll be changing to fit the pace and page count when I dive into the second draft, but I’m feeling good about it. I’ve been looking for a gateway into the comic universe I created for a while, and this might just be one of them. Fingers crossed, I may even have an issue or two to sell at FanCon next year.

It hasn’t all been work this past week though. Thanks to the Steam Halloween Sale (thank you foreign holidays for making games cheaper!) I picked up Overlord and it’s expansion Raising Hell over the weekend, and have been self-indulging some wickedness to de-stress. I have previously owned the original Overlord, but I never finished it so I’m keen to do a complete run this time. Thing is, I’m going to have to start over because I accidentally gave away a big item that counts towards my 100% Corruption meter, which was the whole reason I bought the game in the first place: to see what a truly evil fantasy protagonist was capable of. I know he literally becomes the ruler of an infernal dimension in the end (spoiler alert), but it’s the journey I’m interested in, seeing just how many cliched fantasy people I can piss off before roasting them to death. God bless Terry Pratchett for birthing a daughter that can write with a sense of humour just as dark as her father…

That’s all from me for this Bottom of the Deck, but tomorrow I have a new webcomic to review! It’s been a while, and I’ve missed talking about fun reads.

Ciao for now.

Bottom of the Deck – 15/10/27

botdcardEvening everypeoples, I am currently blogging to you 3/4 of a mile from the surface of the sun, and it’s nighttime! I am melting all over my chair right now…

My rapidly liquidizing state aside, it’s been an eventful week at college. After learning how to give weight to our characters’ movements, we’re heading into shifting facial expressions, which has a surprisingly satisfying feel to it. I think it’s because rather than having to manipulate the position of anything, like with the character’s limbs and joints, it’s mostly just setting sliders for the different parts of the face; the most movement involved is primarily in how the head is positioned. Obviously this will vary, but in the spirit of keeping myself sane I’m sticking to the simple stuff.

Some of you may have noticed that Elements of Eve didn’t update yesterday (if you didn’t, I may not be doing it right). I promise this is not the start of yet another hiatus; I merely had a script issue which has now been sorted, so updates will continue on Thursday. The problem with writing by the seat of your pants is that it’s very easy to work yourself into a corner and be unable to escape from it, something I had more than one experience with when I first started writing. Luckily I’ve become better at spotting such corners and was able to adjust accordingly this time; let’s hope I can keep the corners at bay.

I also splurged a little today and bought the first volume of Brian K. Vaugn’s Saga (yeah yeah, welcome me to four years ago why dontcha) on the recommendation of a fellow student, so that’s going to be my reading material for tonight. I’ve heard good things about it in the past but never got round to reading it, plus I had a falling out with my local comic shop some time back, but I swallowed my pride and finally made an appearance again. Fortunately the subject of my previous ire was nowhere to be found, so that made it easier, and I might start frequenting the place a bit more; I am so behind on everything right now…

That’s all from me for tonight, I’m going to finish up the latest Critical Role episode and then hopefully be able to sleep without converting my mattress into a water bed overnight, if you get my meaning.

Ciao for now.

Webcomic of the Week – PARANATURAL

wotwcardBlehhhhhh… That was your standard, middle-of-the-week, universal greeting, hope you are all blehing to the highest bleh of bleh. And as we bleh into the second half of the week, let’s mix it up with a new webcomic, so that we don’t bleh ourselves too hard.

This week’s webcomic is Paranatural, by Zack “MidnightTelevison” Morrison. A modern fantasy tale, it follows one Maxwell Puckett (that’s Max to anyone who values their life), a new resident of the small town of Mayview, having just moved there with his dad and little sister. Cynical and grumpy, Max rolls his eyes at just about anything that looks at him funny, but the problem is that there’s a lot more looking at him than he wants to deal with. Upon arriving at his new school, Max suddenly has the ability to see ghosts, spirits, and all other manner of supernatural beings, and it’s freaking him out. Fortunately for him, there’s a group that can help, right in his new school: The Paranatural Activity Club. With the help of the fiery Isabel, eccentric Ed and straight man Isaac, Max finds himself in a world he doesn’t fully understand, but one he is going to grasp by the throat and shake until he does.

What really grabbed me about Paranatural was the unique take it has on spirits and the mythology behind them. Max and his friends are “spectrals”, humans that can manipulate their own spiritual energy for various purposes, and are able to use “tools”. A spectral’s tool is an item that is possessed by a spirit, and can only be used by a spectral with energy of the same colour. These spirits can range from obscure deities, manipulative demons, or just pure savage ghostly beasts, which gives you a healthy appreciation for just how tough these kids are; Isabel in particular takes no nonsense from anyone. Another big factor that I enjoy is the art style; the characters are often drawn with over the top reactions in a parody of anime, and their personalities are similarly exaggerated for comedic value. Contrasting with the rather serious story, it makes for a plot that will make you laugh, but can throw you for a loop when you least expect it.

I first read Paranatural sometime last year, but lost the bookmark and thereafter the story for a while. I recently discovered it again and had a blast catching up on everything I’d missed, and I had missed a LOT. Paranatural has been running since 2011, and updates Tuesdays and Fridays.

That’s all for this week, go check out Paranatural, show the creator some appreciation, and don’t forget to leave your suggestions for future reviews in the comments.

Ciao for now.

Webcomic of the Week – CASSIOPEIA QUINN

wotwcardHey everypeoples, it’s Wednesday and time for a new webcomic! While I normally like to binge on long-runners, I’m going to mix it up a bit with a comic that hasn’t been around too long, but is too darn entertaining not to talk about.

This week’s choice is Cassiopeia Quinn, written by Gunwild and drawn by Psudonym, members of the Hiveworks network. It follows the adventures of the titular character, a flighty thief with a heart of gold as she travels the intergalactic spaceways with her robotic cowboy companion Zeke in search of the next big score. But relentlessly pursuing the daring space pirate duo is Captain Madison Vrax of the Prime Galactic Navy, a young blue-skinned officer with a head for order who often ends up the victim of a humiliating defeat. This does nothing to deter Vrax, who considers capturing Peia and bringing her to justice a point of personal pride as well as her duty.

No matter what goes on in Cassiopeia Quinn, there is something on every page that will make you react anywhere between a smile and an outright laugh, whether it’s a funny punchline, a ludicrous plan gone horribly right, or even just a tiny quirk in the art. The characters are incredibly endearing, especially Ms. Quinn herself; Peia enjoys her work for the adventures it brings, and she generally goes about enjoying it with no pants. Rather than outright sexualizing this particular trait, (although it is known to happen) Peia’s hatred of pants is often played for laughs and establishes her carefree attitude in stark contrast to Vrax’s strict, law-abiding code. Vrax sees Peia not just as an outlaw to be hunted, but also as someone she’d want to put in prison for being really, really, REALLY inappropriate and annoying. Though it’s hard to argue with that logic when someone escapes you by piloting an alien spacecraft with her butt…

Cassiopeia Quinn is a webcomic I appreciate when I need a pick-me-up; whether I read through the hilarity of the story, or just check out the gorgeous artwork, I always enjoy myself. The comic recently celebrated its one year anniversary, meaning the archives aren’t too extensive, so take the afternoon off and be entertained.

That’s all for this week, go check out Cassiopeia Quinn and show some love to the creators, and don’t forget to leave your suggestions for other webcomics in the comments.

Ciao for now.