Posts tagged Art

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Book/Game Review: Thief 4

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Dual Review: Thief [4] / The Art of Thief  by Eidos / Titan Books

Review by Prof. Jenn

It has taken me a long time, readers, to finally sit down and compose this review, and I’ll tell you why: it’s because I don’t feel like I’ve played through enough of Thief 4 (aka Thief) to give an expert’s opinion fairly. Even when I’m sent a book to review that I can’t stand, I make it a point to read it in its entirety before writing the review for Nerds in Babeland. I feel it’s only fair to the artists involved for me to do so.

It has been so long though, readers, that I want to tell you my thoughts about the game and also the art book that Titan Books were good enough to send me to look at as an accompaniment, and I want to tell you also why I’ve decided to do so with the game unplayed completely. Let’s start with the book, The Art of Thief:

 

The Book

This is not the first time I have encountered a gorgeous coffee table style art book from the folks at Titan, and they really do a good job at it (even of franchises I have no interest in–remember the visual companion to Dark Shadows?). This art book, showing the many facets of the art for Thief 4 (not for any of the earlier games in the series unfortunately), is actually what’s making me want to persevere and continue the game after I have lost interest. It includes character design and development, concept sketches of character, loot, settings and weaponry and often shows said art from beginning brainstorm through to 3D rendering. Another very cool perk included in this book is the many storyboards laid out for various scenes from the game. It’s making me want to pick the game up again, just so I can continue to play to see those cool steampunky prostitutes and Garrett’s fence, Basso. He looks so cool! Which brings me to:

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The Game

Now I am a huge fan of the Thief games. Huge. The first two, beyond being revolutionary as far as gameplay (the Thief franchise is widely touted as the originator of the sub-genre of the FPS called Stealth. Many call Deus Ex the original FPStealth, but it’s really Thief. But I digress), but offers an incredibly rich world, with an interactive story so well written it actually kind of pisses me off. So I know very well how Garrett lost his eye (a visceral cutscene I’ll never forget), what it was replaced with and what that does to make his vision special. The warring factions of Hammerites (later scarier maniacal Mechanists) and their opposites the Pagans (who can forget the creepy giggle as one navigated through Constantine’s mansion), and of course the enigmatic and ultimately political Keepers. I know the world well, and love it, especially our POV protagonist, Garrett. I’ve even written fan fiction for this world. Wow, I just admitted that online…

Having said that, I am not one to immediately go all Star-Wars-Fan-on-Episode-One when I learn the franchise I love is getting a reboot. I mean, it can work very well–witness the new Star Trek movies. Even with a different studio–I mean, Thief 3 wasn’t quite the rich stellar game its predecessors were, but it was a solid Thief game, firmly rooted in that universe, Garrett was himself and there exists in Thief 3 probably the most terrifying horror level of any game ever. Yes, I include Limbo. I mean EVER. (Read about the Cradle level here.) At the end of Thief 3 we notice our intrepid protagonist acquiring a young (we assume) apprentice. So when I saw that in Thief 4 it begins with Garrett and his now young adult aged apprentice bickering, I thought “huzzah.” 

But this reboot is a pale, watery thing compared to the scotch that was the other Thief games. Where Garrett was cynical and world-weary, here he is petulant. Where he reluctantly found his heart of gold, here he’s just uncharacteristically a softie. Where before we had knowing banter with real parental strife between him and the Keepers, now his apprentice Erin whines and bitches and isn’t actually well trained enough to be his apprentice in the first place. And speaking of Keepers:

There are no Keepers in this new rebooted world. No Hammerites, no Pagans. The City is a lovely-dingy steampunk place to live, similar to how it was, but the old fantasy world this is not. This more like post-apocalyptic Detroit than the rich world Thief comes from. Real-world swear words have replaced the “taffer” of the old dialect, and Garrett dresses less like a member of a Lieber-esque thieves’ guild than an emo early aughts Goth.

The retrofitting of his special eye and thereby powers of special sight is a weak version of the mechanical eye he used to wear, designed by megalomaniac Karras. Why was the eye story changed?

And without the warring factions, the religious zealotry, the Keepers, the burricks even (we get a nod to them in the name of a tavern), we are left with a bitter protagonist with no reason for his bitterness. We get whiny teenaged goths we don’t care about enough to quest for, let alone take on their persona through the story. My point is: the reboot of the world has diminished the world irreparably.

As far as gameplay goes, the designers have made a mistake in not taking a lesson from those games that have surpassed Thief on the console. The controls are not intuitive, Garrett doesn’t have all the skills he would have as a thief of his caliber (why didn’t Eidos take a hint from the Assassin’s Creed folks?) and the simplest quests are difficult to follow based on the way the game is set up as far as objectives go. This game needs to be either a) a very open ended sandbox like an AC IV or heck even a Skyrim, or b) much more streamlined and story-driven than it is. Right now it doesn’t know which it wants to be, and, that coupled with all the richness stripped out of the world, I’d just as soon be a pirate with Assassin’s Creed than a thief with my beloved Thief game. And that makes me sad.

Now remember: I have admitted I haven’t played Thief [4] very far. The reason is because of the above reasons, mainly: Garrett is no longer a likable POV character, the world isn’t as rich and interesting, and the controls are annoying. Maybe it gets brilliant later on. Maybe I’ll find out.

Maybe I won’t.

 

Bottom Line: if you’re a Thief fan or a steampunk enthusiast, the art book is for you. If you’re not, check out the otherworldly beauty of it anyway–you’ll probably want it on your coffee table, regardless. If only the game had more than just surface prettiness. Skip the game and play Bioshock Infinite.

 

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Comics Review X2: Edgar Allan Poe and Springheeled Jack

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Comic Review X2: Edgar Allan Poe’s Spirits of the Dead and Springheeled Jack

Reviews by: Prof. Jenn

 

Edgar Allan Poe’s Spirits of the Dead by Richard Corben

The well-thought-out introduction to this collection states that Poe’s oeuvre is one of the most frequently comic-ized bodies of literature around. The dark subject matter and often taut tension makes for a good image-to-text pairing, I would guess, and the mysterious nature of much of the subject matter lends well to the interstitial storytelling of comics. Being able to read between the frames is especially appropriate for the unhinged characters and strange plots of Poe.

If only this collection rose to the occasion.

What I liked:

  • The androgynous, Faerie-ike narrator character, Mag, who looks as though she stepped right out of Brian Froud’s Faeries, and who links all the stories together like a TV host.
  • The brief, sometimes one-frame flashes of a dream-like world within a real one. It’s an entertainingly jarring effect, like in films Natural Born Killers or Fight Club.

What I didn’t like:

  • The art is so grotesque as to be distracting to the storytelling. In a Poe collection the emphasis should be on a twisted dream world or world of madness, as graphically violent as the stories can sometimes get. The art doesn’t evoke Poe, but goes beyond the grotesque into the just, well, gross.
  • While I can appreciate that putting the Poe stories (and especially poems) into a different medium requires some adaptation, blatantly changing the endings to stories, or rewriting events is taking adaptation too far. The worst culprit of this treatment is “The Raven”–not only is it no longer in verse, but in brutal, sparse prose, with a completely different outcome to the climax of the narrative. What was a psychological thriller (with a verse rhythm well-suited to illustration) turns into a badly written gory slasher film.

Bottom Line: Unfortunately, I can’t recommend Poe’s Spirits of the Dead. It doesn’t do Poe justice.hitchcock_2_full

 

Springheeled Jack by David Hitchcock

It’s not every day you see a black and white graphic novel, and it’s rarer still when it is richer than many full color ones. Springheeled Jack is a masterful graphic novel which takes a real legend from Victorian England and spins explanations (and other literatures, characters, etc. from that era) into a compelling Twilight-Zone-like story.

This book won an Eagle Award for Favorite Black and White Comic, and it’s easy to see why. The richness of the grayscale matches the London fog of the setting (and the morose mood of our protagonist) perfectly, and the detail in each panel is astounding. Those who like to read the fine print in their comics, both in words and in images, will enjoy savoring each page of this book, even as they can’t wait to turn said pages, to see what will happen next.

The terror of Springheeled Jack was an unsolved mystery that pervaded the mid-1800s streets of London–what devil-like horror was it that killed and disappeared so many people? This story takes a plausibly creative sci-fi turn on the “true” events and also ends on an amorphous enough note that we can hope the story will continue.

Bottom Line: I highly recommend Springheeled Jack for comic lovers, steampunk aficionados, and anyone else who likes a thriller with sci fi flavors.

 

 

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Interview: Nathan Hamill (Toy Designer, Artist, Nerd)

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It’s almost time for San Diego Comic-Con 2014 and, like all of you nerds, I’m trying to figure out what I really want to spend my money on because, holy crap, there are always so many cool toys there! So, in my quest to find all the must-have releases this year, I decided to interview one of my friends and favorite toy designers, Nathan Hamill. I already own most of his figures, and since he keeps coming up with even cooler ones every year, I’m very much looking forward to seeing what he comes up with next. So, if you’re one of the many lucky nerds attending the convention this year, make sure you don’t miss out on his awesome SDCC releases. Photos and info on where to buy below!

1) Most of us know you’re a ginormous nerd with a pretty solid toy collection that I often want to steal from, but how did you end up becoming a toy designer? What was your motivation to release Boris, your first vinyl figure?

I started with Boris when Patrick Geologo, who I once worked with at Toy Planet when I was in high school, was looking for artists to work with as U1Toy Arts was just starting out. Boris was originally a design for a cartoon called Animal Bandits. He’s a surly, suspicious little guy with a Napoleon complex. Like a Joe Pesci of the forest. And thanks for not stealing my toys. I know it can be hard not to.

2) What toys did you cherish most as a child? What are some of your favorite figures that you own now?

I carried a Darth Vader 3 3/4″ Kenner figure with me wherever I went. I had a vice like grip on that one. And currently it is Lavabear: Classic Ed., which I took all around Disney World on a recent trip. Some things never change.

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3) You have some really cool releases coming up for SDCC. In particular, I’m excited about Lavabear and can’t wait to get one. What’s his story? Where did you get the inspiration to create him?

His backstory is inspired somewhat by the Gollum of Jewish lore and even a little by Tik-Tok of Oz, who was a protector of sorts too. There are obvious pop culture elements in the design but there are some that are more subtle and some that were subconsciously incorporated. I have no control of my pop culture soaked brain.

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Lavabear: Classic Ed. Vinyl. 8 inches tall. Limited to 125 pieces. $80. SDCC 3DRetro Booth #5049

4) What about Octopup? How did you decide on all the different colorways? Were you trying to make me angry because I gotta catch them all?

Making you angry is always just a happy accident. As my first sofubi, I just chose color ways that would really pop. Stay tuned for some custom pieces from others artists soon.

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Octopup: Octocrush Ed. Sofubi (Soft Japanese Vinyl). 2 inches. $10. SDCC 3DRetro Booth #5049

5) You also collaborated with Flat Bonnie and came up with a rad and squishy Octoplush version. Any future collaborations with her or other artists?

For SDCC, Flat Bonnie and I will have 3 Octoplush: Aquapup Ed. mini plushes as giveaways at the 3DRetro booth #5049. There will be 3 “Golden” tickets hidden inside the header cards of the Octopup: Octocrush Ed. sofubis. If you get a ticket, present it to 3DRetro and take home a free Octoplush.

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SDCC 3DRetro Booth #5049

6) Your toys are awesome, but you’ve also released some fantastic art. What artists do you admire? Is there anything in particular you think influences your style?

There are too many to list if we’re talking about admiration and even influence whether big or small. But I think artists like Kozik, John K., Tim Burton and others that juxtapose cartoons with darker themes or underlying messages probably influenced me the most. I like taking a cute, large character and adding something subtly sinister or off to them. A friend once called my style “cute macabre”, and I’ll happily take that description.

7) “My Father, My Lord” might be my favorite print of yours because I’m a dark, emo nerd. For those of us who can’t even draw stick figures, can you talk about the process of coming up with a piece like this? Is this how you usually work?

I don’t ever really work the same way from one piece to the next.  It really depends on what it calls for and the mood I’m in. This one in particular came together really quickly. Once I had the concept, the rough was finished surprisingly fast. It’s something very dear to my heart, so it just came naturally. Then, it was just adding bits here and there and refining the whole thing.

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8) Out of all the characters you’ve created, which one are you the most proud of?

Lavabear is my favorite hands down. It contains many elements that I’ve found myself using in other toys and resins. In addition to that, there are a few pop culture references too, one obvious and the rest were subconsciously incorporated. Bubbling up from my nerdy pop culture ladened brain.

9) What other exciting things can fans and collectors expect from Nathan Hamill in the future? Can you give us any spoilers?

2015 will be a great one. Lots to look forward to, but the one I’m most excited about will be very appropriate for the year. And, no, it’s not Star Wars!

Thanks, Nathan! And I’m totally getting one of your MimoPowerTubes while I’m at the con. So rad looking and practical!

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Mimoco’s SDCC Booths #5245 and #2913M

Visit www.nathanhamill.com for the latest news on his current and future releases.

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The Art of Bioshock Infinite Review

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Bioshock Infinite was released last week, bringing a new, exciting chapter of the hugely popular game series for fans to obsessively play for days at a time. I, myself, am a fan of the franchise and when I heard about a book release accompanying the game which would outline the artistic development involved, I was thrilled to have the chance to review it. The Bioshock games are known for their complex story lines and tormented characters, but I think the real core of these games is in the mind blowing art work. I still remember my first time watching the opening sequence for Bioshock. I felt real terror and fear living the experience of sinking on a huge ship, watching people and flames plummet in to the ocean around me as my character sank deeper and deeper. Then, the elation of discovering Rapture, the city under the sea, glowing and majestic, yet abandoned and incredibly eerie at the same time. Bioshock has never settled for less than ‘holy shit amazing’ in the visual department and by the looks of The Art of Bioshock Infinite, this latest installment is no different. songbird2

The introduction to the book is by creative director Ken Levine and he explains that the process of developing a video game on the level of Bioshock Infinite is far more complicated and time consuming than some may assume. ” the process of making anything—and certainly an Irrational game—is grueling and exhilarating, exciting and depressing, thrilling and scary as hell. For every idea that makes it into the game, a dozen are put against the wall and shot.” This book puts this process on display for you, showing the character and world development, sketch by sketch. Hundreds of pieces of art and ideas were thrown out in the editing machine, but no less impressive. It becomes obvious right away that the artists who created this new Bioshock universe toiled endlessly to achieve the perfect effects on every single detail of every puzzle piece that eventually became Bioshock Infinite.

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I found the notes explaining the process behind the art development as intriguing as the pictures themselves. To get a glimpse in to the great care and immense thought behind every detail in this game feels like peeking in to someone’s window and watching them create. Someone with more artistic chutzpah in their little finger than I could achieve in a lifetime. Watching the floating city of Columbia come to life in these paintings and sketches is so much fun, but for me the best part was being witness to the birth and growth of the enigmatic characters of Bioshock Infinite. Booker DeWitt, Elizabeth and Songbird are focused on heavily, their personality and story details being just as imperative as their styles and physical make up. Readers are invited to observe the ideas behind Sky-Hooks, airships and the menacing, powerful Heavy Hitters.

The Art of Bioshock Infinite is a beautiful, enlightening lesson in video game development. It’s not quick, easy, simple or lacking in sacrifice. At least not a game on this level of quality and brilliance. I haven’t actually played Bioshock Infinite yet, but reading this book makes me feel like I already have an intimate knowledge of the people and creatures (or machines) that make up the city of Columbia. Whether you’re a fan of the Bioshock franchise or just a lover of artwork, this book is definitely satisfying and worth having on your shelf. It’s been a real treat for me and has only increased my desire to experience Bioshock Infinite for myself.

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Review: Monocyte Collected Edition HC

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Written by: Kasra Ghanbari

Art by: Menton3

Review by Melissa Megan

My local comic shop guy messaged me online: “The Monocyte hard cover is here, bagged and ready for you. I thought I should let you know right away, since you’ve been excited for it to come” ‘Excited’ is definitely an understatement here. I admit I don’t frequent my local shop as much as I should, but they know that for the last year I’ve never been late to pick up my latest Monocyte issues. This one, in particular, had me itching to get my hands on it. Nerds in Babeland readers are well aware of my addiction to these comics, as I have reviewed and highly recommended every single one. Creators Menton3 and Kasra Ghanbari felt that the horrible grandeur of Monocyte could not be contained in tiny comic book pages, so they brought fans a collected, hardcover edition that is so, so much more than just the story of Monocyte.

Collected edition size comparison to Monocyte single issues

From the minute you turn the book to take in the entire wrap around cover it is obvious that it was created with an incredible love and dedication to the power of Menton3’s art. He’s by far one of the most unique and impressive comic artists of recent years and Monocyte was, I believe, the creation that really got him noticed by readers, art collectors and artists. Within the first few pages of the book I became painfully aware of just how limiting those single issue comic pages had been for Monocyte. All I can compare it to is maybe seeing a film in IMAX for the first time. You have no idea how much you’ve been missing until you see it in all it’s glory, splayed out in giant size images that you can’t help lingering on after you’ve already read the words.

This is not at all to downplay the quality of writing that Kasra Ghanbari brings to Monocyte, which is the backbone of the book. He writes like he’s carving mythology in to a modern world, building characters and events on each other with unflinching grace and balance. The story is complex and requires your full attention, but if you allow yourself to be present in it, you will not be disappointed with the reward. I will stop gushing about how much I absolutely love Monocyte because as I promised, this collection is so much more than just the story of Monocyte.

art by Chris Newman

The Monocyte Collected Edition is a 224 page hardcover book. It contains the entirety of the original Monocyte story, plus the previously digital only prequel. The book also offers over 60 pages of new content, including a gallery of Menton3’s conceptual and design work for Monocyte, plus a very impressive guest artist gallery. Creepy little child demons by sculptor and fine artist Scott Radke. Sexy, gothic pinups by Alberto Ruiz. Fluid, surreal digital art by Chris Newman. Even some bad ass metal sculpted Monocyte head pieces by Tim Roosen. The book is literally stuffed with so much breathtaking art. One of my personal favorite pieces is a super goulish, almost 3D painting by David Stoupakis that I haven’t been able to stop looking at.

art by Aaron Ryan

The Monocyte Collected Edition is not only a magnificent representation of one of the best comics to be released in the past year, but it’s a guaranteed brag book for your collection. Set this book down on your coffee table (be careful not to spill on it!) and there’s no way someone won’t pick it up and get sucked in. Menton3 and Kasra Ghanbari are up to huge things this year (44FLOOD, anyone?), but Monocyte is the beginning of their magical union and one that every self respecting comic book reader should experience. if you’re a Menton3 fan or just a Monocyte fan, this book is a must own. MUST OWN. Not maybe. Get it now and bask in it’s awesome power of pure, artistic unicorn blood voodoo. Get it HERE.

 

B cover- David Stoupakis

IDW’s Monocyte #4 Coming, With Big Extras

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B cover- David Stoupakis

Monocyte #4, the post apocalyptic, muti-species battle story love child of Menton3 and Kasra Ghanbari, will hit stores on May 23 and conclude the series. I’ve been covering this series since the beginning and it has raised the bar in both artistic chutzpah and writing prowess for comic books to a godly level. Yes, I am a fan. Monocyte is a story of two species locked in a never ending battle, using and throwing away what humans are left on the planet as tools of life force, weapons of mutilation and play things. Monocyte is the being sent to put an end to their nonsense and clear the clutter left behind. He does his job with pure brutality, staggering insight and intelligence, style and grace.

Incentive- Phil Hale

I promise you have not read a story like this one before. It’s everything I always wanted to find in a comic but never thought was possible. If you want something heavier, something thicker, something more cranial in your comic collection, Monocyte is just that. The poetic writing of Kasra Ghanbari and the other worldley artwork of Menton3 come together in a tender, perfect embrace that other comic teams can only dream of. Monocyte #4 will feature 3 covers plus interior art by Chris Newman and Ben Templesmith. Preview here!

 

I will follow up with a full review of Monocyte #4 after release, of course. If you haven’t already picked up Saltillo’s Monocyte album (have you not been paying attention?) then now is the time. The cd, released earlier this year, was on the top 50 electronic releases on iTunes and nabbed the #1 spot for industrial sellers on Amazon for over a week. Artoffact Records has now released Monocyte: The Lapis Coil on vinyl, which includes three tracks from the CD, two new remixes, and an exclusive new track called Necromancy. It will also contain some amazing artwork by Menton3. The vinyl is limited to 492 copies and will also be released digitally to iTunes and Amazon MP3.

Last, but certainly not least, IDW will bless us all with more treasure to add to the Monocyte collection: a 224 page, hardcover collected edition that will include the entire Monocyte series, with all covers, plus over 60 pages of brand new content. This book boasts a huge roster of incredible talent like Ashley Wood, Bill Sienkiewicz, George Pratt, Phil Hale, Barron Storey, Ben Templesmith, Riley Rossmo, Christopher Mitten, David Stoupakis, and Chris Newman. You’ll also get all the slave stories that were written for each issue and the series prequel, previously only available digitally. This book will be the one to own not only for fans of the work of Menton3, but comic collector who want the ultimate in impressive, unique hard cover brag material on their shelf.

The Monocyte collected edition is in the May Previews for pre ordering, which means do some pre ordering! It’s how you show those guys and girls at your local comic shop what you want and how you are guaranteed to get it.

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Review: Monocyte #3

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Creation/writing: Menton3 and Kasra Ghanbari

Art: Menton3

Publisher: IDW

I am so fucking in love with Monocyte. It has been so long since I’ve read a story that not only grows and morphs along the way, but only increases in intensity and substance. Monocyte never relies on shock, never forces you to accept it using cheap tricks like ineffectual violence or sensory offense. It creeps in quietly, requiring your full attention to keep up with an incredibly complex vocabulary; once you are wrapped up in the mythos and alien quality of the landscape, Monocyte lashes out with an uncompromising attack on your belief in the world around you and of time itself. I am not being melodramatic here, this shit is real and it is not taking prisoners.

B wraparound cover - Ben Templesmith

Incentive wraparound cover - George Pratt

In Monocyte #3, we join the Antedeluvians as they prepare for the wrath of Monocyte to drop down on their city. We discover betrayal from within, and are treated with some incredibly rich history of the pre-war beginnings of Monocyte. This issue leaves us with a battle that could, possibly prove the most challenging yet for the seemingly indestructible bringer of eternal death.

Part of what makes the Monocyte books so unique is the extra bonus of mini stories at the end of each. These are written and drawn by very talented names, sometimes flying under the radar, and offer the reader some engrossing perspectives of the human slaves that both the Antedeluvians and Olignostics use as immortality nourishment. Monocyte #3 includes stories by Christopher Mitten (Wasteland, Criminal Macabre, The Dark Crystal) and George Pratt ( Enemy Ace: War Idyll, Wolverine: Netsuke). Personally, my favorite this time around was Christopher Mitten’s contribution. His artwork is so luscious to look at and feels like a natural accompaniment  to the other-wordly creations of Menton3.

Monocyte #3 is available with various covers, each one full of awesome in a fresh way. For this issue, you can have the A wraparound cover by Menton3, the B wraparound cover by Ben Templesmith or the incentive cover by George Pratt. I’ve made it a goal to collect every cover of each issue that I can get my greedy hands.

This book asks so much more of it’s readers than a casual understanding and enjoyment. It asks that you bend your concepts of the future, present and past. It demands that you ponder the possibility that the human race is by no means the most powerful or malicious species in existence, and to accept that we all possess innate flaws, the largest being mortality. And let’s not fail to mention the spine of Monocyte, the black blood that flows through it’s veins which is the artwork of Menton3. I have praised the genius of this man’s creations many times here on Nerds in Babeland, so I will keep this short, but this art is so much more than art. Each issue seems to add a new layer to the graphics, a luxuriousness that is all too rare in modern art. His work drips with texture from the heart, emotion boils over the edges of the page. Menton’s art hangs on the walls in my home and I’ve never seen someone walk past it for the first time without stopping to stare for several seconds, eventually asking me to explain what they’re seeing and who made it. In my humble opinion, there is no match in the comic industry right now to the level of work that Menton3 is producing.

 

Monocyte hits shelves on March 21. I can tell you these things sell out fast, so if you can get your hands on #1-#3, snatch them up. And remember, creator owned support means pre-ordering, so if you love Monocyte, please pre-order your next copy!

 

The Love Space Gives Is as Deep as the Oceans

Tara McPherson’s Bunny In The Moon (NSFW)

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The Love Space Gives Is as Deep as the Oceans

Although not a huge follower of ‘pop art’ I’ve always felt a special draw towards the art of Tara McPherson. I own her last book, Lost Constellations, and have her prints on my wall. She has a very distinct style that manages to stand out among a sea of modern pop culture art, a delicate touch of feminine aesthetics mixed with vibrant colors and sharp lines. McPherson has worked on everything an artist can put a pen to including concert posters, circus flyers, art prints, toys, electronics and novelty items; one of my favorites is her coloring book. The bookmarks, sketch books and other fun accessories feel a bit like a grown up, slightly twisted and dark Lisa Frank, the line of super bright, sparkly sticker and coloring kits for tweens.

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Not to understate the gorgeous work that is the foundation of Tara McPherson’s art empire, Bunny in the Moon is yet another well developed collection of colorful, macabre scenes from somewhere deep in her imagination. As Morgan Spurlock says in his doting foreword, “From her first rock poster to her last solo show, Tara has been and remains an uncompromising artist, creating both a body of work and mainstream art-pop success that are unlike anything else in the art scene.”

The book opens with some of McPherson’s trademark beautiful females, surrounded by heavily detailed graphics that express each character in their own world. The artist has a skill for giving the impression of a story being told, one that you are as much the author of as she is, using just one main character, often blanketed by celestial entities, spirit animals or dripping in viscous fluids.

The Bunny in the Moon

She then invites readers to follow her through the creation process from rough sketches to polished, multi-layered oil paintings. I find this quite fun, especially in a world largely dominated by digital art; seeing the hand drawn lines as she creates them feels like a rare peek into McPherson’s personal sketch book.

I’m not a ‘hearts and flowers’ kind of girl, I don’t care for art that uses the female body strictly as a cheap tool of stimulation or shock value. One of the things I appreciate about Tara McPherson is that she manages to portray a definite feminine charm without too much fluff or overt sexualism. Her characters don’t adhere to puritanical boundaries (much of the work is NSFW) but they are entangled in scenes of power, manipulation and dark, sometimes morbid engagements. For long time fans of McPherson she revisits a few classic favorites like the ‘Wiggles’. The artist’s work maintains the same trademarks as it has from the beginning: a perfect blend of sweet girlishness, rock star edge, malicious intent and floaty, surreal fantasy environments.

Cirque Du Soleil - Zarkana

I recommend this book for any level of art lover, but especially those who feel less than satisfied with some of the ‘modern pop art’ available today. Bunny in the Moon is an art collection that will always spark conversation and interest among a variety of casual coffee table perusers.

Bunny in the Moon hits shelves March 14, and is available now for pre-order through Dark Horse Comics.

Walt Hall "Untitled; or A Recess for the Night School"

Menton3 and David Mack Accepted for Laluzapalooza Art Show (NSFW)

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The highly respected La Luz De Jesus Gallery in Los Angeles hosts an annual show to feature the freshest, most unique and anticipated artists. The gallery had over 9,000 art submissions and only accepted around 125 artists to be in the show. Jurors took submissions from artists of multiple mediums and backgrounds including commercial illustrators, graphic designers, tattooists, scenics, students, animators and working gallery artists. “This is the one show annually that most patrons look forward to seeing, as it’s a chance to discover new artists in the venue that has launched so many careers,” notes gallery director Matt Kennedy. “Every year we manage to discover a new conglomeration of fresh talent, and among them a class of breakout successes.

"Mia4" Acrylic on canvas, by David Mack

"Anima Penumbra III" Oil on wood panel, by Menton3

I’m so proud to say that at least two fantastic comic book artists earned spots in Laluzapalooza this year, Menton3 and David Mack. Menton3 is the artist/creator of Monocyte, contributing artist for Silent Hill and artist for upcoming Dark Horse Comics publication Nosferatu Wars. The piece featured from Menton is also a page from Monocyte #3!  David Mack is the creator/artist/writer of Kabuki, has done covers for Alias and Daredevil.

Laluzapalooza runs from March 2 through April 1, at the La Luz De Jesus Gallery. If you’re in the L.A. area, this show is a must see for the scoop on some of the most impressive up and coming alternative artists. See more of the art pieces featured in the show here.

 

 

 

 

Andreanna Iakovidis "Scavenger"

Walt Hall "Untitled; or A Recess for the Night School"

weekinhellcoverpress-1

Molly Crabapple’s Week in Hell Preview

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Photos: Steve Prue, with additional photography by Kate Black, Yumna, and Andras Frenyo
Front and back cover photography by Clayton Cubitt

Publisher: IDW

Molly Crabapple is a modern artist in so many ways. She delves into social networking, online fund raising opportunities (Kickstarter) and invites fans to get involved first hand in her various artistic projects. Her art is like a daydreaming doodle let loose to roam, growing so large and complex that it crawls beyond the boundaries of the page. I’ve always been a fidgety doodler myself, and have wondered, on occasion, if there are artists out there who have developed the skill of the doodle in to more disciplined creations that can be considered full blown works of art. Molly has done just that and in a most impressive, beautiful way.

Molly Crabapple is best known as the founder of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti Art School, an alternative to the stiff, school room approach of art education. Dr. Sketchy’s utilizes the titillating faces and forms of various underground performance artists and boasts guest appearances from artists like Ron English, Audrey Kawasaki and Ben Templesmith. The doors are open to all artists. I’ve never had the opportunity to visit my local Dr. Sketchy’s, here in NY, but looking at pictures, videos and blog posts, it looks like a year round birthday party for David Lynch.

So, here’s the low down: Molly’s 28th birthday was approaching and she wanted to celebrate in a special way. She chose to ‘go crazy’, documenting every step of her journey in drawings, photos and videos. The endeavor was funded by a Kickstarter campaign, raising an astonishing $25,805 in pledges; backers were rewarded with live streaming of the Week in Hell and receiving actual pieces of the art walls created during it. Molly locked herself in a fancy hotel suite in NYC, covered the walls in lots and lots of paper, brought plenty of booze and drew until her pretty little fingers could stand no more. She stayed in those rooms for 5 days and welcomed many visitors including close friends, dancers, artists, press and possibly a monkey or two. Ok, maybe that didn’t happen, but it sort of did. Some of these visitors were drawn on the walls, becoming living pieces of the swirly, lacey landscapes pouring from Molly’s imagination.

Lucky for the rest of us, Molly’s Week in Hell is being published as a photo collection, including lots of added sketching and notes from the artist. I had the honor of previewing this collection and it fucking rocks. It’s sweet and pretty, eccentric and weird, comfy and soft, raucous and heady with subdued sex appeal. It’s like peeking in the window of an aristocratic party, the attendees being swanky artists, bohemians, circus performers and musicians. You want so badly to be one of them. You know you can’t be; there is a special, intimate magic happening between these people. The white rabbit could show up at any moment and clink his champagne glass with Molly’s.

I’m a big fan of nicely made art and photo books, even if I’m the only one around my house who picks them up repeatedly to enjoy the eye candy they promote. Week in Hell is a must have and available for pre-order through Amazon right now. Get it, if you want to party with the cool kids. Or not, but don’t blame me when you realize how much seductive color is missing from your life because of your choice to pass this book by. Yes, it’s that’s good. In case you’re being ridiculous and not taking my word on this, watch the video below. Call me later so I can say ‘I told you so’.

 

 

Molly Crabapple’s Week in Hell from Brainwomb on Vimeo.

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