Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Panel Discussion: Scans from Beasts of Burden, Thunderbolts, Spider-Woman, and More

Cute Overload - Beasts of Burden #2
This book is actually dark and sad and terrifying, but come on, CUTE DOGGIES! The really remarkable aspect of this sequence, in which neighborhood dogs bug our animal heroes with a bunch of frivolous cases, is how Jill Thompson's dog drawings perfectly evoke the personalities Evan Dorkin has written for them in just one panel. We've got the thuggish bull terrier, the dopey briard, the gossipy Pomeranians, and the paranoid Chihuahuas. Anthropomorphizing animals never seemed so true to life.

Pretty girls, crazy supervillians, and cop abuse, after the jump...

Excessive Force - Azrael #1

Gotham is just a mess since Batman died. Robin is slicing faces off with a hacksaw, and Azrael is beating the living crap out of a room full of cops! This isn't even the old crazy Azrael, it's some new perfectly sane guy who just happens to be down with kicking cops in the nuts and punching their noses into their brains.
This scene makes it all better.

Fun with Montage - Power Girl #6
Why are trips to Ikea always fun? Actually sometimes they're horrible and boring, but I've definitely had trips much like the ones experienced here by Power Girl and her galpal whatshername. Amanda Connor continues to turn out the most lighthearted yet densely communicative art on the stands today. I love all the Swedized words - it took me a while to get "tasty rolls" from "tejsti rohls". What is the name of the store, "Aidja", supposed to be?

Best Visual Metaphor - Thunderbolts 137
This panel completely sums up Norman Osbourne's role in Dark Reign. Sitting on his Green Goblin glider (why not?), setting up dominoes, boozing it up. He's completely given up any pretense of pretending to be sane around his underlings. It's kind of classy, somehow.

Photo Reference Done Right - Spider-Woman #2
I don't understand why some comic fans get upset about photo referencing. The model in this case, Jolynn Carpenter, is actually credited at the head of the book along with the writer and artist. I've never seen this done before, but it's a good idea. If you're going to have someone "playing" a comic character, they should get a credit. These panels are beautiful, thanks both to Carpenter being really gorgeous and to artist Alex Maleev's beautiful colors and shadow effects. There's also some very subtle compositional touches that link the panels together - check out how the outline of her shoulder in the top panels becomes the edge of a shadow in the second panel.

Monday, October 26, 2009

More Geekanerdy Pumpkins: BONUS L4D Stencils Included!

This year saw an amazing batch (or should is say patch? no I shouldn't) of Jack-o-Lanterns-some geekanerdy, some halloweeny, and some...thing else too. I may have been up all night working on stencils, but it was worth it! Everyone really pulled out all the stops and carved some crazy pumpkins. Also, the pumpkin squares and mulled cider were pretty tasty.

Here are the two Left 4 Dead pumpkins we did-I worked on the Hunter pair and Christine did the Smoker (in loving tribute of fellow G'Nerd Bishop-who was stuck in stinky old California... like some other G'Nerd editors I know...) Generally, I don't support anything that could be construed as zombie-hugging-lest we forget that they are unholy abominations-but the lure of violating these perfect orange gourds with the foul silhouettes of the special infected could not be denied! Plus, added bonus of seeing them deteriorate into shriveled messes! Take that filthy zombie kind! Hit the jump to see details, more pumpkins, PLUS BONUS Left 4 Dead stencils so you can make your own!

Some Detail shots of the two L4D pumpkins. I also designed a Tank stencil, but no one chose to carve it. Alas.

Mad props to Dave T, who masterfully carved this challenging Larry David Pumpkin I designed for him. I think he did a Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good job.

Now, I'm sure none of you would care, but my lovely wife wanted to do a pumpkin of our dog, Leo McGarry. How can you say no to such an adorable proposition? I think it turned out nearly as cute as the real thing:

Lastly, you'll find two of the four L4D stencils (we haven't finished stencil-fying the 2 Hunters). Since we didn't get a chance to do the Tank ourselves, I'd love for one of you to take a stab at it-send us a pic when you're done! I'm dying to know how it looks on a pumpkin!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Geekanerd Spotter: The Storm Troopers Rock Poster

Saw this in my new home base of San Francisco. August 19th? What a tease. And this band doesn't appear to exist on the internet. WHAT THE HELL. I know Star Wars took place in the past, but this is ridiculous. Clones need to get their shit together and post some MP3s.

If you didn't read the small print at the top, you're missing some brilliant stupid puns.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ponyo, Ponyo, Pumpkin in the Sea

Last year's Best Geek Jack-o-Lantern post is getting a lot of attention this season (why are Stumblers always so late to the party?), and it inspired me to try my hand at pumpkin carving. My muse? My favorite movie of the year...
PONYO! Yes she's a weird superdeformed fish/bug/fairy thing, but she's so freakin cute!

I'm really pleased with how this came out, especially since it's my first attempt at pumpkin carving since grade school. I was nervous about cutting away the background, but it turns out that pumpkin hide is thick enough to anchor the entire design on Ponyo's thin little fish fins.

Here's what it looked like without the negative space backdrop...
Eh, maybe it looked better this way? Shaddup.

Are you carving a pumpkin inspired by a nerd icon this year? Send us a pic! We'll include it in this year's Geek Jack-o-Lantern post, and you too can have your work seen by thousands of people...one year later, on stumbleupon.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Zombies in the Mushroom Kingdom?

In celebration of my brand new Xbox, I submit to you some amazing custom maps for Left 4 Dead. Prepare to have all of your childhood memories drenched in vile, bloated-corpse vomit-because some sick geek has "lovingly" recreated the princess' castle from Mario 64 and added disgusting, god forsaken, zombie abominations. The crazies over at at l4dmaps.com have a whole of slew custom left4dead maps and campaigns. This isn't anything new of course-creating custom maps and mods for beloved games is a time honored tradition. But there's something blissfully disturbing about throwing screaming, defiled undead into your adorable childhood favorites. The mushroom kingdom map really earns its keep when you can get pipe bombs from question mark boxes.

But they don't stop there, they've also recreated the battle of Helm's Deep (see video below), recreated a Zelda dungeon-complete with puzzles and keys, a Night of the Living Dead homage... and there's a Wolfenstein, Starship Troopers, and even Michael Jackson's Thriller mod in the works! Because what cherished memory wouldn't be better when infested with zombies?

via kotaku

Monday, October 12, 2009

DJ Hero? More Like Passable DJ

Last Sunday, I stopped by my local GameStop to check out DJ Hero; the latest entry in the field of Pretend Musician Gaming. With this turntable sim, Activision is hoping to capture the attention of guitar heros and rock bandateers as well as a previously untapped market of music fans who like beats to their sweet guitar solos. They're throwing a lot of weight behind the game; talking up it's pre-sale numbers, hiring Jay-Z and Eminem as spokesmen, and buying up companies with competing DJ games and then firing half the staff. DAMN, guys! This game must be totally amazing!

After spending about fifteen minutes with the game, my gamer-sense detected a potential chink in the armor of this supposed juggernaut.

A semi-informed review after the jump...

After the initial thrill of discovering the new set of reflexes it takes to fade between tracks and scratch the little plastic turntable, I found myself thinking "this would be a lot more fun if this mix was any good." I don't want to pretend to be a DJ who mixes passable mashups of trashy pop hits and oldies; I want to pretend to be a DJ HERO! I played three demo tracks; "Hollaback Girl" vs Rick James' "Give It To Me", "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" vs "Feel Good Inc", and a third track I can't remember because, hey! it wasn't very memorable.

The DJ hero setlist includes tons of awesome artists mixed two at a time into "93 exclusive mixes". So who is actually mixing these mixes? They have a lot of professional DJs contributing tracks (DJ Shadow was the only one I knew or cared about), though I can't quite see pros bringing their A material to a children's video game. Go check out the DJ Hero website, and you'll notice something conspicuously absent; a music player that allows you to preview a few of these 93 exclusive mixes. The closest I could find is this video clip of a guest mix by Daft Punk, and even that is unimpressive.

A big part of what was great about previous Music Sim games is that they have all of music history to pull their setlists from, so the game isn't just about perfecting your twitch reflects, but also about enjoying cool tunes (Breaking the Wheel not withstanding). Knowing and loving a song also makes gameplay more intuitive, and sells the illusion that mashing plastic buttons is actually producing the musical artistry coming through your speakers.

It's definitely fun to pretend to scratch, but just because you can mix two songs doesn't necessarily mean you should. It's fun to listen to a DJ mix songs live because it's cool and technically impressive, even if you wouldn't want to listen to it over and over again. The kind of mixology that I DO like listening to over and over again falls into a more repetitive groove, and wouldn't make great gameplay. DJ hero feels more like a standard rhythm game where you're simply sitting on the couch with a stationary controller, and the gratification is getting your reflexes up to par. It doesn't capture the thrill of feeling like you are producing a work of musical art.

So from my limited demo playing experience, I don't see DJ Hero reinventing the Guitar Hero wheel. The wow factor that you got the first time you played Guitar Hero, or the first time you started pounding away on the Rock Band drums is simply not present. All the type and guest stars Activision can buy ultimately can't account for a music sim without great music. Of course it's possible they just picked three mediocre tracks for the demo, and there's some other really mind blowing stuff deeper in.

Probably not as mind blowing as this, though.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Geekanerd Spotter: Charlie Brown Car

This is definitely awesome, but if you paint your car to look like Charlie Brown aren't you just asking for a depressing, soul-crushing driving experience?

Spotted near the west side of Prospect Park, Brooklyn.