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  • Listening to: The Carpenters at Christmas
  • Reading: Snow Falling on Cedar
  • Watching: A Charlie Brown Christmas
Here are some gifts to get you into the spirit of the season:

For a couple of months on Twitter I posted a screengrab from the 1970 Hammer Horror movie The Vampire Lovers as 'Madeline Smith Facial Expression of the Day'. Here they all are archived on Flickr - www.flickr.com/photos/21404090… (they're not all safe for work but they're all guaranteed sexy)

Chris Sims and Eugene Ahn bring you The War Rocket Ajax podcast Christmas Special! - warrocketajax.com/2009/12/21/w… Starring Tom Peyer, Jeff Parker, Matt Wilson, Matt Fraction, Matt Sturges, Chris Roberson, Colleen Coover, Laura Hudson, Douglas Wolk, Evie & Aaron, Benito Cereno, Jess Nevins, Rusty Shackles, Zeppelins, Time machines, Bears, and, uh, me. I play a sitar.

I've been doing a writing course that just finished last week and the short stories I wrote are up on their own blog now - alexandergezeit.blogspot.com/ So if you fancy reading some of my turgid prose you now have the opportunity.


But I don't just give the gift of me: Here's the fascinated and awesome PDF Batman: The Animated Series writers Bible - leethomson.myzen.co.uk/Batman/… pretty damn interesting and is packed with character sheets. Also I bring you news that Studio Ghibli are making a movie of The Borrowers - www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/… Sounds like a good fit.

So have a merry thing! Whatever that thing may be.
  • Listening to: Bat for Lashes
  • Watching: LoudQUIETloud
I have now replied to all the favs/watches that built up while I was away (since July apparently, really that long!). I apologise if I missed you, thanked you for something you didn't do, or accidentally sent you a link to hardcore Japanese pornography.

I have 'No Messages' now. Bliss.

I read this article just now on manga story lengths by Jason Thompson www.comixology.com/articles/32… While I don't usually like to think about comics in any larger economic terms (because it's at best boring and more often depressing/maddening) it gives a really nice view on manga in it's original context and how the stories grow out of the conditions in which it's published. Made me think about what the best way to do comics in the modern world is.

Well I found it interesting.
  • Listening to: Groove is in the Heart (on repeat)
  • Reading: Strontium Dog
Hey gang I've been neglecting my DA account for a few months but now I'm back! I pruned my watchlist and deleted all the journals in my inbox (so if you have any important news you should tell me now). Hopefully I'll be able to keep a handle on things now.

If you're on the twitter you can follow me here - twitter.com/teamsmithy

If you want to hear my dulcet tones and imagine that I'm in the room with you then I've got a treat for you - The War Rocket Ajax Podcast Brovember Special warrocketajax.com/2009/11/23/e… - Where I deliriously give my opinion on wrestling, hip hop, and New Jack Swing.
  • Listening to: Music from a Sixties German sci-fi TV show
  • Reading: Carrie
  • Watching: DJ Shadow In Tune and On Time
I've got a full report of the UK Web and Mini Comics thing with links to some of the cool stuff I bought up at my blog teamsmithy.blogspot.com/2009/0… so go check that out.

I'll be putting up the pages from mine and Sam Bridgett's 'The Royal Society for the Preservation of Sub-Literature presents' *deep breath* 'a series of Fragments from Lost Novels' soon when I've decided how I want them up.

If you're particularly keen to own a copy send me a note and we'll work something out. They smell of smoky bacon crisps. Really.
  • Watching: Myself slowly age to decrepitude
There's plenty of good reasons to go to this year's UK Web and Mini-Comics Thing www.ukwebcomixthing.co.uk/ :

Sarah McIntyre
Meredith Gran
John Allison
Kate Beaton
Roger freakin Langridge

And a whole host of others. I, however, am not that great a reason to go but if you're there anyway you might as well pop by and say hello. Me, Gould, and some other guy called Joel (I've never met him but I'm sure he's very nice) have a table and if you feel the need to stimulate my economy a little you can buy some short poorly photocopied comics.

i64.photobucket.com/albums/h19…

A sampler of some of my work with the fine people of The Action Age. It'll feature the first part of The Chronicles of Solomon Stone before any where else ever if this excites you.

i64.photobucket.com/albums/h19…

Also joining with fellow member of The Royal Society for the Preservation of Sub-Literature Prfs. Samual Bridgett I will help in reconstructing some forgotten tomes from the past.


So come to the UK Web and Mini-Comics Thing and watch a guy with receding hair feel like a bit of a worthless fraud when surrounded by his betters...

Believe it!
  • Listening to: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  • Reading: Pattern Recognition - William Gibson
  • Watching: Wall-E
I tend to draw a fair few girly pics, pin-ups and cheesecake pieces, which I'm trying to get out of the habit of. Not that there is anything wrong with 'good girl' art, I love it as producer and consumer, but while drawing pretty girls is fun I feel I'm falling into a bit of a rut.

Now my resolution on this probably wasn't strong enough to actually try and do anything about it. I'm certain I'd be back to the same pouting and posing girls as before with all efforts at personal artistic growth forgotten, but then I stumbled on this starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Image:… by accident.

And with that sobering look in the mirror I think I'm cured.
  • Listening to: This is hardcore - Pulp
  • Reading: Dune Messiah
radiomaru - there are like a million insanely talented kids on deviantart who seemingly have no ambition beyond drawing pretty pictures every day. twitter.com/radiomaru/status/1…
  • Listening to: Some internet Jazz station (nice)
  • Reading: Sky Burial - Xinran
  • Watching: Tinselworm - Bill Baily
I will now review in no particular order all the movies I saw in the cinema last year. If there's anything missing it's because either I didn't see it (for various reasons) or I've forgotten that I saw it (which isn't a good sign really). I warn you in advance that this is a long one.


Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

There’s a very good musical here shinning out of a movie that’s patchy at best.

The visuals were far too inconsistent, mostly just a slightly stylized costume drama, but with Depp and HBC were wandering around like kids going to a My Chemical Romance gig in Harajuku.

Come on Burton, do stuff I like again.


Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Another Indiana Jones movie wasn't strictly necessary, but it doesn’t hurt especially considering that the original trilogy was hardly flawless. On this principle I’m not too bothered that Crystal Skull ended up a bit lackluster.

It still looks like Indy, and it still sounds like Indy, and that’s enough for me. The inclusion of aliens and the red menace didn’t bother me much either. Pulp characters change to fit the times, and it felt right to have Dr. Jones team up with a greaser to fight a commie, with horrifying mind powers, in his old age.

The CGI gophers however, they did bother me. There are real gophers, why not film them?


Doomsday

This is a silly film. The fast editing was so disorientating that no one noticed it wasn’t being projected in focus for 20 minutes. The dialogue makes Minxy Flatbrush www.the-isb.com/?p=637 sound restrained. When Malcolm McDowell (who looks like he’s been left out in the sun for too long) turns up as king surrounded by medieval peasants you don’t bat an eyelid.

Which could be entertaining but the movie’s so derivative that it’sit's own constant reminder that you could be watching a better film. Watch Mad Max 2 instead.

It does feature TeamSmithy favorite Alaxander Siddig as Prime Minister though, so there’s that.


Hellboy II: The Golden Army

I know that Del Toro is the very pinnacle of film making and all, but this was just, weird…

It was nicely designed but large portions of it seemed to revolve around a drunken mincing fishman’s troubles with love, and I just wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t get what was going on with the fading between characters during emotional scenes either.

It could just be me failing to get into the groove, maybe.


The X-Files: I Want to Believe

I see the wisdom of making an X-Files movie like a standalone episode. The problem is that this would have been a pretty poor episode even if it didn’t cover the same subject as two of the best episodes of the whole series. On the plus side; this means that the next movie will be a self-referential comedy episode. The leads are still likable though just a shame they were in such a mediocre film.

Has anyone else noticed that Billy Connelly always seems to be talking in italics?


Iron Man

A fun superhero made awesome thanks Robert Downey JR overdosing you on charisma. So much so that I started to want the film just to be Tony Stark the robot suit was starting to get into the way.

I was bothered by the attack on Afghanistan though, not for political reasons but purely because I don’t like seeing superheroes killing people. Indy may have to off a nazi foot soldier occasionally but he’s just a man, once you get super powers everyone else is outmatched and you have to cut that shit out.


Wanted

Awful wretched hateful shit with an ugliness at it’s core which would have made it unwatchable even if the action bits had been any good.

Doomsday may have been a worse movie in some ways but I didn’t hate it. I hate this. It’s fight club for twats essentially. If you like see you are probably a bad person.


Shine a Light

This is my favorite film of the year. Why? Because they gave me a free t-shirt going in.

It’s probably not going to have much appeal to anyone who wouldn’t want to see a Rolling Stones concert movie but I liked it well enough. Balancing out the songs is some fine comedy scenes from both achieve footage and the show itself with Jagger attempting to sodomise Christina Aguilera in front of a live audience and seeing that Hilary Clinton has a an entourage of Asian girls like Gwen Stefani.

The last shot was a bit out of place though, not sure what Scorsese was thinking.


Quantum of Solace

If they decided to make a new James Pond game they could call it Quantum of Mollusks. Call me game developers.

You can’t really judge Bond movies against regular movies, you have to rank them against Bond movies. Thanks to the new series designer (replacing whoever fuckeded up the poker scene in Casino Royale, ewww) Quantum looks pretty as hell with a contemporary spin on the 60’s movie aesthetic. The look works quite nicely along side the ‘Jason Bourne with better tailoring’ thing the film makers were going for.

It’s definitely a Bond movie, it fills a certain need, and my need for a character to be named Strawberry Fields was thoroughly fulfilled. For everything else I have real movies.


WALL-E

Even Pixar’s worst are better than anything their competitors have done by a wide margin so obviously this is excellent. However Wall-E the move from Earth to Space half way through felt a bit jarring and it never seemed to properly hold the two together as a cohesive whole. Regardless it’s still a superb film. The photo realism is achieved through smarts as much as it is processing power, and as far as near silent acting from animated characters this is near Gromit level.

It’s sweet and it’s touching, and it made me smile, but it was nearly overshadowed by the short at the beginning which was transcendent.


The Forbidden Kingdom

This is not a good film. However it is a film where Jackie Chan and Jet Li team up to help out Monkey: The Great Sage equal to Heaven. These are all things I like and thus I liked it.

Even the budget Shia LaBouf wandering around with them didn’t upset me too much because he’s the kid from Sky High and I love that movie.

Though Hollywood needs to stop with the whole ‘Daddy left me and that’s why I’m a wreck of a human being’ shtick right fucking now. I like to think I’m the only one responsible for being an underperforming failure of a man.


Speed Racer

This is genius, fuck you.

Innovative visual storytelling is to be celebrated, the use of innovative visual storytelling to create a scene where a masked race car driver/secret agent jumps his car so he can punch a vicking race car driver armed with a bee hive catapult in the face is to be worshipped.

It could have been improved in a couple of ways however, if it was plotted a little tighter it would have been a far better kids movie, and the filmmakers could have chosen Zac Efron for the lead because Zac Efron improves everything.

I’d also like to point out that I’ve been in love with Christina Ricci since I was eleven years old and she’ll never know, this is my great tragedy.


Mongol

Because sometimes you just want to see a load of guys sitting around a fire drinking fermented Yaks milk and throat singing before they go and fight an epic battle. At times I imagined ridges on the characters foreheads and made believe it was a movie about Klingons.

Ghengis Khan is the man.


The Dark Knight

I thought this was overated, not because it was a bad film, it was an excellent film, I just disagree that it’s the pinnacle of Western civilization…

A Batman movie as an intelligent action thriller works well and translates the feel of the comics nicely. It’s a great improvement over Begins and while I prefer my Batman movies with speeches celebrating the self less heroism of marine life uk.youtube.com/watch?v=RGWmJPT… , this totally works too.

I did find it too long, Bale’s Bat-voice was just silly, and the ‘what’s happening’ action scenes still aren’t working for me, but I still liked it.

Actually the most interesting thing about the film was the new storytelling style that disregards all useless information without just becoming a series of plot notes. I’ve also seen similar approach applied to Final Crisis and the Rebuild of Evangelion movie this year, I think it deserves to be looked at in a little more depth by someone cleverer than I.


The Orphanage

This is an amazingly well crafted film, astoundingly so. I’m really looking forward to seeing what the director does next.

The film itself I could never quite get into due to a cascade of annoyingly clichéd horror motifs (it’s a spooky kid in a spooky mask, woooooh). Still the craft, hot damn.


How to Lose Friends & Alienate People

It’s good for what it is but essentially what it is is a dull feel good romantic comedy with Simon Pegg doing some slapstick to pad out the plot.

It’s not awful, but it’s no Con-Air.


The Day the Earth Stood Still

Most remakes just take out the old clichés and replace them with new clichés, this one adds some extra old clichés for good measure.

It’s tedious on just about every level, I’m sure Keanu Reaves is a wonderful guy but he has the screen charisma of a ceiling tile ( I hear he's playing Spike from Cowboy Bebop next, joy). All it has going for it is a giant robot who’s there just to remind you that you could be watching the original.


No Country for Old Men

A return to form for the Coens. Bleak and captivating yet quirky and endearing. There’s something mythic about the whole thing which won’t let go of your attention, from Javier Bardem’s Ringwraith with a gas canister to the perfectly photographed scenes of cities at night. That last scene really knows how to throw you into for loop too.

I should read the book some time.


Be Kind Rewind

A pleasing diversion from Michel Gondry (of whom I’m a big fan) et al rather than a life changing experience. It’s good natured, gently amusing, and rather sweet, but in the back of my mind I knew that Gondry is capable of more and I couldn’t help but dismiss it as light weight.


Son of Rambow

You wait years for a warm hearted movie about guerilla film-making from a music video director and then…

I actually preferred Rambow though, maybe the younger leads, or the setting helped but I like to think that it’s message of imagination and friendship triumphing over adversity delivered without sentimentality for the most part. Certain British comedy heroes of mine showing up in the cast was a nice extra as well.

It has a lot going for it and I hope it finds a wider audience. I was disappointed by Hitchhikers but this had lot’s of stuff that I like to see Music Video studios bring over to feature films.


Pineapple Express

For all intents and purposes an American Hot Fuzz, a comedy action film with strong a strong, and surprisingly sweet, homoerotic bond between the main characters. The plot is pretty loose and fuzzy but it’s very funny, with some big laughs in the set pieces and dialogue. The little touches (like how Seth Rogan say’s what he’s doing while he does it) stop it from just becoming an annoying stoner movie that you wouldn’t ever watch sober.

I’m looking forward to Green Hornet, the property’s better off in these guy’s hands than ending up as a bland mid-level movie release.


Tropic Thunder

Tom Cruise’s attempt to make me believe that he doesn’t take himself that seriously failed to convince.

It’s funny enough in places (RDJR’s good) and the little jokes raised a little titter, but it all just seems a tad overblown. There’s plenty of people who’ll just lap this up but I just didn’t find it that interesting.


Persepolis

I’m listening to an Iranian music station while I type this, never let it be said I don’t go the extra mile for my reviews.

It’s a fine adaptation of the excellent books if not quite reaching the same levels of excellence due to certain sequences being breezed over due to necessity. It’s a gorgeous translation into rich luscious animation from the original slightly crude drawings without loosing any of the charm. There’s some very nice visual storytelling on display as well.

It’s only real faults are the dub which I wouldn’t recommend if given the choice, and that the media took an interest in Satrapi and made their TV interviews look like comics which is annoying on a number of levels. Both of these are more than compensated for by this uk.youtube.com/watch?v=rlIAmCf… though.


Gone Baby Gone

This would have been a far better movie if it had finished half way through but instead it just turns into silly nonsense.

All said, Affleck’s pretty good behind the camera. Why do you have to be hating on Affleck people, didn’t you see his sad eyes in Hollywoodland? Didn’t you see that he was sorry? The way the community's revealed is actually very nice. He might do some good stuff in the future.


There Will Be Blood

To be honest when someone mentions this film it’s this i64.photobucket.com/albums/h19… I think of…

But still, it’s enthralling, unconventional, and well worth your time.


Burn After Reading

Seeing it with the big audience we did there was a palpable sense of bewilderment in the air. People had come for a comedy movie with Brad Pitt doing a funny dance and were a little confused at what they got, so they decided to laugh whenever anyone swore.

There’s an underlying level of amusment running through the movie but it never really builds into anything hilarious (except J K Simmonds who should be in every movie really). The plot built out of characters completely misconstruing what is happening works nicely but it didn’t really feel that essential.


Changeling

I was genuinely shocked to see J. Michael Straczynski’s name when the credits rolled. I couldn’t help it, JMS writes, Babylon 5, Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors, and bad Spider-Man comics, not Eastwood movies. The world, she has gone topsy turnsy!

The performances, direction, and original story are all so powerful that this movie is still well worth watching despite some problems I had with the script. I found that the overview approach to the story really lacked focus, maybe I’m just too conditioned by modern movies narrow subject, but it almost felt like five or more films frustratingly summed at as one. There’s also a few very clichéd moments showing up, but the cast and directors skill keeps you in the moment.

It’s (getting back to cliché here) all very powerful. So much so, that I had a really nasty dream about serial killers the next night.


Juno

This should be very annoying and yet instead it’s a delight on every level.

I loved it, in five years or so maybe I’ll catch it on TV and the magic will be gone, but this was the movie I enjoyed more than any other, nothing else captured the strange muddle of complex and simple and big and small emotions that make up coming of age story’s with such verisimilitude. And with that sentence I really should stop typing before I drift any further up my own behind.
  • Listening to: Amon Tobin
  • Reading: Comics and plenty of them
  • Watching: Love Hina (which was a mistake)
  • Drinking: vending machine lemon tea
I don't care what the BBC say Shanaze Reade is the real Sports Personality of the year.

She's awesome.
  • Listening to: Radio 1 morning shows
  • Reading: postcodes
  • Watching: Azumanga Daioh
  • Playing: No play, only work
  • Drinking: vending machine tea
I'll probably draw who ever can get a screen-grab of my 12,345th pageview something nice.

Not something good, just something nice.
  • Listening to: The Killers
  • Reading: Top Ten season 2
  • Watching: Colbert (oh Marvel, you're shameless)
  • Drinking: Hot Choclate
The Bristol Comics Con seems to have scaled down for 2008 (or so I hear) and as it's usually the con me and the gang get a table at I was wondering what comic cons you, my apathetic public were planning on going to next year? You can never plan too far ahead.

As this was a really boring Journal here's the final scene of Death Proof - uk.youtube.com/watch?v=-9WIxeh…
  • Reading: Gentlemen of the Road
  • Drinking: Tea
www.myfoxdetroit.com/myfox/pages/Home/Detail?contentId=7768833&version=1&locale=EN-US&layoutCode=VSTY& pageId=1.1.1

Is that crazy election full of crazy people which I can't vote in over yet?

I'm not sure if I can last another day.


(you'll have to copy that last bit onto the end in your browser, because, well, deviantart)
  • Listening to: Horrors!
  • Reading: Horrors!
  • Watching: Horrors!
  • Playing: Horrors!
  • Eating: Horrors!
  • Drinking: Horrors!
No one seems to have bothered with Halloween much this year, and who can blame them, America has it's own horrors www.palinaspresident.us/ to worry about and Britain is probably too focussed on the first TV showing of the concluding Avatar episodes on NickToons (so excited!) to care. But I have warm memories of watching old Universal Monster movies in late October back when I was a lad so always feel the need to celebrate.

Two specials pics of varying levels of pervyness - teamsmithy.deviantart.com/art/… teamsmithy.deviantart.com/art/…

Need something to cover your hideously disfigured face? Why not try something drawn by Mr. DFC himself :iconzak29: - www.thedfc.co.uk/funstuff/mask…

If any of you feel the need to stab a design into a vegetable I have a Vichama pumpkin stencil you're more than welcome to use - i64.photobucket.com/albums/h19…

And if you're still not in the mood have a listen to Stan Lee read The Raven -www.quickstopentertainment.com…
  • Reading: Dororo
  • Watching: Dead Set
I know some of you out there are Graphic Designers so I just want to ask if an any of you give me any advice on what kind of skills I'd need to eventually get employment in said field.

Also if anyone can recommend courses/colleges, or knows anything about special financial assistance they (whoever 'they' my be) give to people who have degrees but are unemployed, please let me know.

Thank you, I'll post something fun in a little while.
  • Reading: Mortal Engines
  • Watching: Flight of the Conchords
www.actionagecomics.com/comics…

Exterminape lives so man might die!
  • Listening to: Pixies
  • Reading: Tarzan of the Apes
  • Watching: Bill Baily
There is apparently an anime series called 'Rape! Rape! Rape!' tinyurl.com/4r2dxr

I can't quite bring myself to watch the trailer.
  • Listening to: Pixies
  • Reading: Essential X-Men 1
  • Watching: New Avatar episodes
www.thecomicsshow.co.uk/

Who's going!?

I am!

I'll be dressed as Batman (who is in disguise as a twitchy guy in poorly fitting clothes)!

We can find each other, talk about stuff, and totally bond!

Who's going!?
  • Listening to: Doomed mixtape
  • Watching: Irving Allen's Lost World
I may have been a bit on the harsh side with my prediction of four months teamsmithy.blogspot.com/2007/0… for the Anime Central channel. Turns out they were just shy of a year www.otakunews.com/article.php?… Mind you if you take away the months where they only had two shows running...

Is this another of the symptoms of Anime's current economic trouble in the west? Who knows? Maybe if they didn't sell a six episode series for £50 they'd have better luck (yes I know it's very good en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FLCL but still).


In case you were wondering I did come around to Fullmetal Alchemist eventually (it's not that great, but there's some nice touches in there), Planetes was perhaps a little overstretched at 26 episodes (I eventually lost track and missed a fair few at the end, partly the problem of having a daily showing that includes weekends), GiTS:SAC grew on me and I just went ahead and bought the second season on DVD (which in contrast to that earlier DVD pricing was very reasonable), and I fell really hard for Gundam Seed (must have been all the melodrama, or maybe I just really love the colour pink? teamsmithy.blogspot.com/2008/0… ).
  • Listening to: Blaxploitation music
  • Watching: King Kong (the 30's one)
  • Eating: I ate a bagel earlier
  • Drinking: Also some wine
Sometimes (read: when I've been talking to :iconbakasam:) I get the idea that I should try my hand at drawing some pornography. It might turn out to be a good way to drum up some new submissions after all. Now with this in mind we went looking for a porn equivalent of DA or similar as that would seem to be where the people who would be willing to pay us are most likely to hang out.

Having found one I looked through the Ratings and Advisory Policy on labels an artist should have on their work, and after getting past the expected Nudity, Sexual Content, and the like, I reached this -

"Racism refers to the depiction of racist themes, bigorty, or hatred from one race to another. This applies both to the picture itself as well as any views put forth by the artist in their description. Mild - May depict symbols or objects commonly associated with racist themes (such as a Nazi swastika or the so-called "Rebel Flag"). Moderate - May include depictions of racist acts not including actual violence. High - For depictions of actual racist violence."

The next label was for Spoilers.
  • Reading: Old Marvel Conan comics
  • Eating: Cucumber
(crossposted without the links from my blah, blah, blah- teamsmithy.blogspot.com/2008/0…)

My parents have decided to take a holiday in the "resplendent land" of Sri Lanka for a couple of weeks, and to take my mind off the fact that there will be people actively trying to kill them I'm going to think about some of the funner aspects of that troubled country. The Ramayana.

They taught us about the Ramayana story in Junior school and while not a lot of it stuck I do remember that it's about a guy who teams up with a superpowered monkey god(I love those guys) to get his girlfriend back from a ten headed demon king. Which was a damn sight more entertaining than any of the Christian parables we got taught.

Okay I'm still a little concerned, this is going to take the Ramayana story as acted out by Devendra Banhart and Natalie Portman.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_QAPj…

Ah well, if the Tamil Tigers get them at least I'll get the house.