Posts tagged Art

A Calvin & Hobbes Christmas

Sometimes we here at NiB get to be some of the first people to see something very awesome. Naturally, we like to take that something awesome and share it with the world. In this particular case, one of our friends over at Down in Front, Teague Chrystie, teamed up with Jim Frommeyer to create a fantastic homage to Calvin & Hobbes…. Christmas-style.  They were also nice enough to sit down and tell us more about the project.

Video and interview:

Did you guys read Calvin and Hobbes growing up? Tell us about your relationship with the comic.

Jim: Yes, I was a regular reader. Waiting on my parents to sort the Sunday paper and hand me the comics page was a source of constant frustration. They took forever. I never identified with Calvin as a kid, but as I’ve grown older, I certainly see some similarities. Or maybe the comic just informed me. It’s so ingrained in me that it’s hard to separate.
Teague: I’m a huge fan of Calvin and Hobbes, are you nuts? I have the Essential book in my bathroom, it’s my go-to. I’ve been reading them childhood. I think everyone feels a little like Calvin at some point, but dude, I swear to god, I was Calvin. I even looked like him. My dad even looked like his dad. Total fan.

How did you do this? What were the challenges?

Jim: The biggest challenge was staying true to the source material. We had discussions early on as to whether we should sprinkle in our own snowman interpretations, but ruled it out. Speaking for myself, I couldn’t hold a candle to Watterson’s creativity anyway. So trying to both recreate the scenes while also justifying their existence in motion was the challenge.
So the trick was to find snowmen that had implied movement. Like the sharks. That was an easy visual punchline. And then the obvious task of physically creating them by hand. I haven’t played with clay in 15 years. So figuring out how to do that, while staying visually true… required patience.
Teague: There was a lot of wasted sugar. The work done in post was pretty straightforward, from a visual effects standpoint. There’s three layers of snow going off into the distance, the color correction brings in some contrast and chilly mid-level coldness. The color scheme of the sky was inspired by those polar bear Coke commercials from the ’90s. The tricky stuff was things like changing the colors of the snowmen’s arms, because if they were black against a black background, I wouldn’t be able to bring them back in over the newly blue background. Stuff like that. Jim worked with me throughout shooting to make sure I had what I needed, so there really wasn’t a struggle anywhere in the pipeline.

Where did the idea come from?

Jim: The idea is obviously Watterson’s. But I was listening to a Howard the Duck commentary Teague was hosting on DiF, and at some point those guys sidetracked to talk about C&H. That got me thinking. So when I suggested maybe trying something, Teague was all in. It was great, since he was on the same wavelength. I think the only real disagreement we had was over the music choice.
Teague: On the show, I had said “you know what would be a great way to piss off the internet? Make an extremely plausible trailer for a fake Calvin and Hobbes movie, but get Calvin and Hobbes totally wrong. Oooooooh, they’d be pissed.” And at some point later, after Jim had directed a really awesome video for the home page of, he said something about Calvin’s snowmen and I was like “I like those!” I was kidding about the troll-the-world idea, but a Calvin and Hobbes video ended up happening anyway. The secret, kids, is never show Calvin or Hobbes. That’s when you’ve officially gotten it wrong. You can’t do them right. Period.

What was the disagreement about music?

Teague: Oh man.
Jim: I wanted a really haunting version of Carol of the Bells. He wanted anything else. He was right. Even if he wasn’t, he was going to win. He wanted it more.
Teague: No, seriously, we went through like fifty songs. We were hoping to find some magical sweet spot between Christmassy, and sweet, and sentimental, and mischevious, and kind of goofy. A particularly Carol of the Bellsy Carol of the Bells was the one Jim liked, because he loves ostinatos in minor keys that make his black heart giggle with suffering. I said we could just as well use the Requiem for a Dream thing. What you need to know about Jim is he’s an awful person.
We seriously tried everything. Pat Boone was the thing we both liked the most equally, as opposed to one or the other of us loving a song while the other hated it. (For instance, my Carol of the Bells was a version of O Holy Night that was camptacular.) Compromise, kids!



What is your favorite Calvin & Hobbes moment? Have you have created any snowman deaths yourself?

Image Courtesy of Alex Ross, Mythology: Superman, 2005. Collection of the Artist. SUPERMAN, ®, ™, and © DC Comics.

Alex Ross Art at the Warhol

Image Courtesy of Alex Ross, Mythology: Superman, 2005. Collection of the Artist. SUPERMAN, ®, ™, and © DC Comics.

Guest Post by T. Johnson

Heroes and Villains, an exhibit featuring the art of comic book great Alex Ross, is currently at Pittsburgh’s Warhol Museum.  It includes over 130 works, including paintings, drawings, small sculptures, and even childhood material.  I recently visited the Warhol to check it out and was awed by the skill and incredible range of Ross’s work.

I’ve been impressed by his painted comics since reading the graphic novel series The World’s Greatest Super-Heroes some years before, especially enjoying the JLA: Secret Origins story. This show has a lot more Justice League stuff, plus a generous helping of Marvel characters and miscellaneous drawings.

Fans of Ross know that he depicts his hero subjects in a hyper-realistic yet idealized fashion.  You can tell right away that this is the work of someone who has always loved comics.  Like many artists (and fans), he became interested at a young age, and one of his first drawings of Spider-Man (done at age 4) can be seen at the exhibit.

By age eight, he was drawing his own books, and he eventually studied formally at the American Academy of Art in Chicago. Ross was initially noted for Marvels (1994), a re-telling (by Kurt Busiek) of the origins of Marvel Comics characters  as witnessed by news photographer/Everyman Phil Sheldon.  A group of sketches  and actual covers for Marvels is in the show, including  a poignant painting of the X-Man Angel protectively holding a child in his arms while anti-mutant protestors rage below him.

It was the artist`s life-long love of the Justice League which inspired  DC series Kingdom Come (1996) and Greatest Super-Heroes (1998-2003). The show is heavy on DC characters: detailed portraits of nearly every JLA member are the first works one notices. There`s even a section on 1970`s Hanna-Barbera  TV show Super-Friends, an early influence on the young Ross.  Super-Friends episodes play on a small screen near sketches for Kingdom Come.

Ross emphasizes the positive qualities of comic book heroes. His universe is one of moral absolutes, with little room for ambiguity. Yet the triumph of good over evil he portrays feels fresh and optimistic rather than cliched. In fact, I got a sense of this optimism just by observing the delighted reactions of viewers. Whether devoted older fans or very young children, everyone was excited and chatting about the art.

The exhibit also has a small selection of works by Ross’s other influences, 1940`s illustrators Norman Rockwell and J.C. Leyendecker.  And there is art by his mother, former fashion artist Lynnette Ross. Appropriately enough, this includes a charming pencil drawing of a model dressed in a “Bat-lady” outfit with wings and a cowl!

It`s hard to not be enthused about this detailed and well-curated retrospective, and the added bonus is that Heroes and Villains is done with such respect for comic book art. This is truly an unusual show which is well worth the trip for any fan.

T. Johnson is a blogger, au pair, and part-time tutor who has been obsessed with science fiction and comics since roughly first grade. One of her life`s big revelations was discovering Wonder Woman comics-another milestone was  starting to read the works of Heinlein and Aldous Huxley. She has always been convinced  that girls can be as truly nerdy as any fanboy.

Book Review: Two by Arturo Perez-Reverte

Need some excellent summer reading, Nerd-Babes?

The New York Daily News called Arturo Perez-Reverte’s book The Club Dumas “beach reading for intellectuals,” and I wholeheartedly agree. I also recommend several of his books for those of you who like fun mystery-almost-sci-fi-smart-cliffhangers, but have read all the Sherlock Holmes stories way too many times and are far too discerning a reader to tolerate The Da Vinci Code. Allow me to recommend two of his books in particular to you: The Flanders Panel and The Club Dumas.

The Flanders Panel

Julia is a young art restorer that drinks lots of black coffee and vodka and whose best friend/surrogate father is an elegant gay man who owns an antique shop, named Cesar. See how cool our company is already? Julia is assigned a painting called The Chess Game, and all kinds of strange murder-mystery-meets-chess-game-puzzles ensue. First, she needs to figure out the puzzle within the painting, which hinges on the phrase, “Who Killed the Knight?” that she finds under a layer of paint. Then, she needs to have help to continue the chess game in the painting to head off the current murders taking place in her world.

There’s all kinds of in-depth art-appreciation scenes as well as paragraphs of fascinating chess-as-philosophy discussions amongst the artsy characters. Back in the day when I spent much of my time being all artsy in coffee shops (this was pre-hipster, people), the characters in this book made me so happy, as they discussed life and art and chess in long wonderful diatribes. Some delightful moments here, when Julia finds herself caught up in the story and images of the painting, and the painting’s story blends with hers. Also, a surprising ending. I didn’t actually foresee “whodunit” before I got there—let me know if you did.

The only drawback some people may have with this book (actually with Perez-Reverte in general) is its sometimes-longwindedness. What you need to remember is: a) this is just nutritious play for your brain. Get into it; and b) since Perez-Reverte is Spanish, anyone who doesn’t speak Spanish and/or doesn’t have the original Spanish edition, is perforce reading a translation. Which is way different than the original, as any bilingual person can tell you.

The Club Dumas

Two book-centered plots gallop along side-by-side in this book, its connective node being mainly Lucas Corso, an antique book hound. See how cool Perez-Reverte’s characters are? The elitist artsy type in me just revels in this stuff. Anyway, so one plot is about a handwritten chapter from Dumas’ The Three Musketeers. The other is about an ancient book called the Necronomicon, and trying to piece together the actual powerful woodcuts that appeared in the original as compared to the copies that made (perhaps conscious) mistakes. Book forgers, old aristocrats, Corso himself, and a mysterious woman who calls herself Irene Adler make up the complex characters. And a pretentiously arrogant, unreliable narrator. Also people who take on the personae of Three Musketeers characters.

You may know this book because of the Johnny Depp movie barely based on one of its plots, The Ninth Gate. This movie, though a fun thriller, and admittedly does bring some of the suspense of the book-hunting to life, doesn’t really touch on the mystery, the unexplained, the depth of the two plotlines of the novel working together. The movie goes with the Necronomicon plot and has nothing of the Dumas plot, nor does it play with the identity of Irene Adler as much—it treats her as a cardboard cutout, not an enigma. Without spoiling the plot, here’s what we should think about her: “Whoa, is that a symbol for what I think it is? No, no, it couldn’t be…” The movie shows too much of her mysterious identity too soon, and makes her into too much of a Resident Evil Alice sort of character.

The great thing about this book is similar to what’s great about The Flanders Panel: artsy characters, philosophical discussions, hair-raising chase scenes and fight scenes, and twisty endings. The drawbacks are also basically the same: it’s going to be a translation, unless you have the language and the special editions. An extra drawback to this one is if you’ve seen the movie first.


In conclusion, pick these two up by Arturo Perez-Reverte if you’re a nerd who loves art, puzzles, and a good, nail-biting, hair-raising adventure. After these two, feel free to move on to The Fencing Master, The Seville Communion, or any of his series about duelists or pirates. But I’d recommend starting here.

~Prof. Jenn

Calling All Geek Art!

Let’s preface this by saying:  You don’t have to be an artist to participate in this.  Amateurs, dabblers, and hobbyists welcome. In any style you’d like, we’d like to include you in a fun event!


First of all, we’ve been asked to join the Late Nite JengaJam next Tuesday, the 29th at 10:30pm Eastern/7:30pm Pacific to talk about all things nerdy. Swoots and myself will be there reppin’ all the Babes in Nerdland (wait, what?) in an appropriately geeky fashion.  We are very excited about this, and welcome any and everyone to join in by listening, calling in, or talking to us via chat during the show. If you have questions, we have answers. If you just want to discuss whether Matt Smith’s forehead is too big to navigate the dimensions of time and space without spacial interference or not….. Hey. We’re down. If you just have a crush on Jack Edathil, and wish to hear his pretty voice, we can dig that, too. But in addition to just joining in the conversation, you can be a part of this event by submitting geeky fan art to be displayed during the show.


This is where you can have fun and see your work displayed for all of the internet to praise and celebrate your creativity (it happens).  Whether it’s a picture of our NiB chick high-fiving Optimus Prime, Doctor Doom playing Jenga, or even a stick figure sketch of you and your friends playing a table-top RPG, we’d like to see your fan art.  As long as it’s not copyrighted, and we’re given permission (by you, the artist) to display the work, we want it!   It can be general geeky/nerdy, specifically geeky/nerdy, or Nerds in Babeland or JengaJam related.


Submission info:

What:  geeky fan art made by YOU

When:  submissions must be received by Monday, March 28th by 11:59pm

How:  send all artwork to

Why:  for fun! your work will be displayed during the show, and a post will be made on our site here to show off the entries, giving you proper credit.

Where (to get additional info):  if you need information about us, the Nerds from Babeland, check out our About Page.  Click any individual contributor’s link for more info about them, usually including pics and related interest.  More information about LNJJ is available on Their Site.  If you’d like to use our NiB logo, you can view/ download/ copy a full-sized version here.  If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email us and ask!

Prof. Jenn’s TED talk

Have you nerdy babes heard about the local versions of the TED talks that take place in universities everywhere? Well I recently had the opportunity to apply to speak at TEDxDU (University of Denver), one of the schools where I teach. I didn’t make the roster this year, but I thought you might get an intellectual kick out of seeing my proposal–this is what I would have talked about had I been chosen. Let me know what you think of these ideas. 🙂   ~Prof. Jenn

Clipped from: (share this clip)


Salt Dough Magnets and Key Rings

Salt Dough Magnets and Key Rings

Our first DIY project is something easy and fun to do. You can make Salt Dough magnets and key ring for friends or as an activity with children as young as ten, as long as an adult  handles the oven duties.

Decorative magnets and key rings are handy and multipurpose.  In the past for dinner parties for friends, I have made salt dough key rings to double as napkin holders which turned into great party favors. The key is to sculpt something you know your friend enjoys. You have fun making it and hopefully they get a kick out of taking something home that was made just for them.

Materials needed:

½  cup / 400ml water
1 tablespoon  vegetable oil
1 ¼ cup / 300g all purpose flour
1 ¼ cup / 300g  salt
Large mixing bowl
Mixing spoon
Flat surface to sculpt on
Rolling pin
Cookie cutters
Baking  Sheet
Cooling rack
Glass of  water
Small Paintbrushes
Poster Paints
Clear Vanish
Key rings
Small circle magnets

First Set the oven to 350 degrees F/ Gas Mark 4.

Mix the water, oil, flour, and salt into a soft dough in the bowl with your mixing spoon.  If you prefer to mix it with your hands go ahead it won’t ruin it.

Sprinkle some flour on the flat surface. Turn the dough out onto the table.  Knead it until it’s smooth and pliable. Then roll out your dough with your rolling pin until it is at least ½ inch thick.

You can use a knife to cut and shape out any figure you like or use a cookie cutter . As an example, with the knife I shaped a  dinosaur , a foot and a  Tar-  (copyright laws being what they are, we will just call it police call box) and with the cookie cutter  I cut out a star.  For the pieces you wish to turn into key rings  remember to make a small hole.

After you have sculpted  your pieces place them on the baking sheet and bake them  for 20 minutes at 350 degrees / Gas Mark 4.

Once baked, let  your sculptures cool on the cooling rack for about another  20 minutes.

Once they have cooled,  paint them with your poster paints.  For easy cleanup layer some newspaper on your work surface.  Use good single strokes to apply the paint   Once the paint dries, brush on a single coat of varnish.

Once the varnish is dry,  run the ribbons through the hole in the sculptures and then tie the ribbon to your key ring. For magnet models, glue the magnets on the back and allow them to bond.   Once dry you can use them or give them to a friend.  Voila! In just a few hours you have made something unique and hopefully had a fun time doing it.

Girl Posters of Power

Reminds me of the pics of me in a tiara and roller skates… also me as Smee, looking sweet, many years later. The one, I’m probably 5 or 6? (Mom, help?) the other, I’m a sophomore in high school. So 14-ish.


Ninja Nightmares

By stellar webcomic Savage Chickens.   ~Prof. Jenn

2 of Swords - Action

Geek Calendar

Have you ladies seen this? Looks fun!

Also the Science Tarot makes me psyched:


A Nerdy Girl and an Animation Festival

This past weekend I was down in San Diego and had the chance to attend something pretty spectacular. My friends and I went down to La Jolla to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and saw the first screening of ‘Spike and Mike’s Animation Festival’. Now, I’m a huge fan of ‘Spike and Mike’s Sick and Twisted’ program. I had no idea what to expect from a regular animation festival.

The evening began with free cupcakes. Since it was “Dessert Day”, the first 100 people who showed up received a free cupcake courtesy of The Burger Lounge. Sugar rush before awesome animation? Sounds like a winner to me. We went to find our seats and grabbed extras (our friends had decided a cupcake was not enough food for dinner). As we were waiting, the theater began to slowly fill up. All ages were at this show. Children 5-6 years old to adults in the 70 year range. It was quite a different crowd from what I had been anticipating.

Fifteen minutes before the show began, one of the ‘Spike & Mike’ interns’ threw out a bunch of mylar balloons. Now, I don’t know about you, but when someone throws a balloon out in the audience, I became a 5 year old again. There were people behind us that were shouting to send the balloons back our way (we had decided to sit in the third row from the back). Endless entertainment of trying to have a balloon come our way and to finally be able to bop it back towards the front was pure enjoyment. Everyone was participating. It was a great way to kill the time before the show was to begin.

As the lights dimmed, Spike made his way out on the stage. I learned some new things about the man that I had not known. Did you know that he screened John Lassetter, Pete Docter, and Andrew Stanton’s senior animation films? He rented out that exact auditorium we were in for those CalArts boys. Spike is based out of the San Diego area, which again – I did not know. This was the second year that he had put together this animation festival. He then told us about his favorite piece of the night (more on that in a bit), and then a few honorable mentions. Spike seemed like a very down to earth kind of guy. Someone I would love to just sit down and have a beer with.

On to the animation. The festival began with a bit called ‘KJFG:Snake’. Now, this animation was hilarious. I knew the evening was starting out right when they showed this short first. There were quite a few different types of animation shown. Stop-motion, digital, hand-drawn. All different mediums. One of my favorite pieces of the night was a short called ‘Peguin on the Left’. The first half of the show closed with the piece that Spike had raved about called ‘Love & Theft’. This piece is NSFW. It is beyond amazing. And to see it in HD in the theater, with HD sound, was phenomenal.

The festival runs through the end of November. If you are in the La Jolla or San Diego area, I highly suggest checking it out. Again, I mentioned that all ages were at the show. There are some animations that do have “adult” material in them, so keep that in mind if you want to take kids. Overall, this festival is fantastic. I can’t wait to see it next year.

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