February 29, 2008

New Project -- "The Plague Doctor"

Well, I've waited a bit to post a link to this website, but here it goes . . .

A project I'm working on that I'm very excited about is The Plague Doctor. Tim has just about finished inking the first page.

Written by me and drawn by Tim Baron, The Plague Doctor is the story of the last healthy man on earth.

Set after World War I, a destructive disease has quickly devastated humanity. Called the Lotus Plague, its victims have only one desire: to consume. To eat. But they also become lethargic, not wanting to actually do anything. And so, they slowly and painfully die.

The Plague Doctor has taken it upon himself to help them. While he searches for a cure, he also helps ease their pain.

And that's where our story picks up.

We're doing this story for Parable, an anthology book coming from Viper Comics this fall. Although if you want to see the Plague Doctor, you're going to have to wait a bit. Plague Doctor appears in Parable II -- Tim's and my contribution to this current Parable volume is a silent story called "The Little Debtor" -- best described as "what if Charlie Chaplin decided to do a silent movie version of 'The Unforgiving Servant' and set it in a bizarre fairy tale kingdom?"

But, Tim and I have created a blog that showcases the Plague Doctor and has a TON of conceptual sketches, to which I have added some text that expands on the world of the Plague Doctor . . .

The Plague Doctor's Sanctuary.

I'll keep you posted on this. If people like it, we plan to take the 20 page story we're doing for Parable and expand on it into a graphic novel.

~ Ben

February 19, 2008

Nano Film Review #7 -- New Frontier

New Frontier is the movie that superhero fans are going to be talking about for years to come.

I predict that it will be on the top of many fan's lists of favorite superhero movies of all time.

It may even unseat the original Superman on some people's lists. (Not mine, but some people's.)

New Frontier is the adaptation of Darwin Cooke's comic book New Frontier vol. 1 and New Frontier vol. 2. (There's also the amazing New Frontier Absolute Edition which I can only dream about.) The comic book itself is already illustrated to look like animation storyboards.

I got a look at an advance copy of the movie. And I just have to say, this movie was amazing. There is some graphic violence that caught me off guard at first, although it fit the world it was portraying.

If it weren't for Christopher Reeve, this New Frontier Superman would probably become THE Superman in my mind. This New Frontier Wonder Woman may become THE Wonder Woman in my mind.

New Frontier makes every comic book direct to DVD animated product to this date look bad. Ultimate Avengers I and II and Iron Man have nothing on this. Turok, while a well made movie on its own, is nowhere near as strong as this.


On shelves February 26 in a Single Disk DVD, Two Disk Special Edition, and, winner of the new format war, Blu-Ray.

~ Ben

Nano Film Review #6 -- Turok: Son of Stone

Have you read my review of Dragonlance and don't want to waste your time reading my review of Turok? Just think of all the things I said about Dragonlance and make them the opposite and you get my review of Turok.

To start with, this movie is brutal. It would have received an R rating for sure had it been released in theaters.

This direct to video fantasy animated movie is everything Dragonlance is not. It is exciting, has characters you care about, smooth animation, and a strong story line.

This movie is 2D, but the animation style suits the story.

I do not recommend this movie for younger viewers. I don't recommend this movie for many older viewers, to be honest. It is a violent film about a violent world. It is, however, well made and an interesting counterpoint to Dragonlance.

Now if we could just have something that is in between the two. Something this well made, but with a redeeming storyline . . .

~ Ben

Nano Film Review #5 -- Dragonlance: Dragons of the Autumn Twilight


Just. Wow.

I bought this because it is a direct to video fantasy animated product. From a professional standpoint, it makes sense for me to watch.

I couldn't.

It took three false starts for me to watch this.

The movie starts with a five minute history lesson about the world of the story. And it's not exciting history, it's boring history with slow paced, uninteresting visuals.

We then get into the story, which is animated to look like '80's Saturday morning cartoons. Benefit of the doubt time: they may have done this on purpose. Practically speaking time: is there one good reason to do this on purpose?

Then there are the dragons, which are rendered to look like '90's Saturday morning 3D animation cartoons.

Seriously. It looks like they did a mash up with some old 80's fantasy cartoon and some old 90's fantasy cartoon.

When the 80's-style 2D and the 90's-style 3D interact, it is truly difficult to watch.

I cannot imagine what was going on behind the scenes for this to be the product they came out with.

Voice acting was good. Nothing outstanding, but decent. They had a strong pool of voice actors here. The story was a little hard to follow, but that may have been because it was so difficult to watch.

Do not waste your money on this.

~ Ben

PS -- I went a bit long on this because, well, I wanted everyone to know the serious nature of my warning. Do not watch this movie. Not because it's related to Dungeons and Dragons and your Sunday school teacher told you not to. Because it's TERRIBLE. Do not judge a direct to DVD movie by its cover. The animation looks NOTHING like the box art.

PPS -- They misspelled Michael Rosenbaum's name in the end credits!!! Yes, folks, they spellend it with an "N".

February 5, 2008

The Cure for Writer's Block

I've discovered the cure for writer's block.

It's origami.

You heard it here first.

Monday, I was working on my most recent draft of a possible ArmorQuest feature story. And I hit a snag. A huge snag, right at toward the beginning. It was bad.

Now, one of the activities we're doing in church this month with the kids is an origami project. And I bought some extra paper for myself and I thought I'd give it a try.

I found the folding allowed me to focus my mental energy in a creative way, but in a way that allowed me to continue thinking about the story. This happened three or four times during the day. And each time, I was able to work out and work through the story problems I was facing.

It will be interesting to see if this works again. But I enjoyed it and I may have found a new hobby.

Oh, and I had an idea . . . I found a traditional origami fly! So, I'm running a new little promotion for TimeFlyz. Anyone who orders a copy of TimeFlyz from the Community Comics website will not only get the autographed copy of the book, they will get a free origami fly, folded by me!

You can order TimeFlyz here from Community Comics.

~ Ben