Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I want this car.

I will have you, my sweet.

My only problem is I work at home, I only drive around 30 miles a week. I don't know if I can justify the expense yet. Maybe my career will take off and I'll be able to get one.

You hear that Career? Your turn!

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Eight Immortals! Page Sexteen! No wait, Sixteen!

Click on the above Image to get a better view of the mayhem and bedlam.

While I'm waiting for another page of Final Crisis: Legion of Three worlds to dry, I'll upload page 16 of the Eight Immortals! Very exciting here, as we come down to the last few pages of the General's story. Quan Zhong creates a tremendous amount of damage, all to the tune of some choice cuts from "The Art of War." Someone should soundtrack that book, much as Margo Guryan did with Bush's 16 words about Yello'cake from his State o' the Union in 2003.

Just as a side note, there will be a few pages that I pencilled and inked in Marvel Adventures: Super-Heroes #10, starring Ant-Man as he faces off against the Sandman!

Matt writes!
"Here - the actual text that was to have run on this page-
Panel One
CAPTION: 6) Cut off your enemy’s support system…

Panel Two
CAPTION: …but be mindful of your rear flank.

Panel Three
CAPTION: Once support is severed, chaos will ensue.

Panel Four
CAPTION: 7) When the enemy is in a state of disarray…"

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Eight Immortals! Page Fifteen!

I did not know this, but there was a novel, in 1967, and a comic adaptation in 1992 of "James Bond Junior, 003 and 1/2."
I was thinking about James Bond the other day, as Steve Bunche had put up a list of awful James Bond films, and I thought, does JB ever meet any of the other agents? 006, 999? Also, doesn't it imply that there are less than a thousand agents lurking about in the Queen's service? Doesn't that sort of tip her hand? If he's just the 7th agent in a series and there is no 8th, wouldn't the numbering tip off an expectation of at least hundreds of losses?When Marvel would send out checks, I would count the serial number to see how many employees were paid in between my last check and the new one, it was a pretty reliable gage of the amount of freelancers Marvel employed in a single two week period.

Click on the image above to get a better view of the page.

When I was a boy, around 003 and a half's age, Joe Kubert took me aside and told me I should always try and draw a silhouetted panel on, if not every page, every few pages or so. It didn't seem like time saving advice, as he really wanted me to pay attention to the placement of the elements. I've since let that one sink in, I don't consciously try to do a silhouette a page, but shading in silhouette seems to have popped up here in the Immortals quite a bit. I used it on page 14 to hide a little bit of the violence in panel one and again here in panel two as the General takes out the archers. I also used a strobe image to denote action, and threw in a long tall first panel to vary the panel layout. I've been trying to change up my panel layout in Wolverine: First Class, George does a fantastic job of changing things up and making the narrative flow very dense, but readable in FC: Legion of Three Worlds (Issue 4 is due out soon, probably in April sometime).

This page works silently, but there are captions that would have been palced over the art - Matt has those captions to share with you in:

Matt's Comments-
"Here is the text for page 15-
Panel One
CAPTION: 3) Always seek the high ground.

Panel Two
CAPTION: Once attained, it must be secured of enemies.

Panel Three
CAPTION: 4) Never let the enemy know your true strength. Always keep a secret weapon.

Panel Four
CAPTION: 5) Explosives are an excellent distraction."

Friday, March 27, 2009

Violet - Trike-a-thon-

Apparently, in California, Tricycles are called "trikes."

I had never heard the term, and now it's the third anniversary of my "trike" understanding, as Violet's preschool held their annual "Trike-a-thon." Poor little thing's front tire went flat, but she jammed out 4 and 1/2 laps.

The Eight Immortals! Page Fourteen!

The General takes names. You can click on the image to make it larger.

I can't remember why this is the point at which the dialogue was not finished. Certainly Matt had dialogued it and he even wrote the dialogue, which I'll print here-

From Matt:
"Here, gentle reader, is the actual text that was to have run on these four pages.

Panel One
CAPTION: The Rules of Combat.
CAPTION: 1) Deal first with the most imminent threat.

Panel Two
CAPTION: 2) Beware of archers. Their might is far greater than their numbers.

Panel Three
CAPTION: Take cover behind indigenous objects. . .

Panel Four
CAPTION: . . .to shield yourself from their arrows.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Eight Immortals! Page Thirteen!

A good book is out there - Dead Aid by Dambisa Moyo. Africa went from 10 percent poverty in 1970 to 70 percent in 2008, while nearly a Trillion dollars in direct aid to african governments flowed, while over the same period that China managed nearly the reverse. Her concerns seem to manifest themselves around the paternalistic and damaging government to government aid that eliminates the incentives for african governments to go about the real business of governing it's people. She had a great interview with Charlie Rose the other day too.

Click on the image above for a larger view.

Matt had a nice set of captions here that add a lot of positive information about The General. I miss captions in comic books - imagine that page without the captions and you would get very little information or subtext, just what you see. Comic books share a lot of things with various media and, personally I didn't like seeing the popular elimination of prose from the bag of tools that comics has to draw from. I felt it was a nice addition from the novel that comics could pick up on. There's been a lot of focus on playwriting in our media in the past few years, and while I enjoy how it has opened up the medium to different interpretations, it still feels a little empty to me. But, hey, I really like Shakespeare and Dickens and John Irving novels; I feel more comfortable with denser works.

Matt's comments for the day!
"I confess my inspiration was early Doctor Strange. Back in the day when Stan was writing and editing eight (dude, eight?) books a month. Doctor Strange was clearly the favorite. The Man’s love of the Master of the Mystic Arts dripped from every page like man-goo on Miss September."

A retraction!

It was stupid of me to dig at Heidi, I was feeling a bit down, and wondering why contacting a person whom I knew long ago had not contacted me back. Apparently it went into one of those email hells and I gladly retract whatever stupid thing I said. Better than coffee in the morning is an email that to wakes me up to my being petulant and foolish.

I've no real excuse! Sorry about that Heidi.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Eight Immortals! Page Twelve!

Remember to click on the above image to get a proper glimpse of the page. We are working on a better presentation.

To James, Isaac, Michael "Legion Omnicom Guy" and Mike L., you are all welcome here, we will make our own goshdarn community. Besides, my ego wouldn't be satiated if I had 10 more fans, or 10 million. Like Bill Clinton, it will never be enough to replace the emptiness in my soul.

"Too much of everything is not enough"

So - we're deep into the General's story; the great thing about the Eight Immortals is that there are so many period pieces that can be explored. This from the time of the various Kahns of the Mongolian/Chinese border. Lots of rich fertile story to go along with this. The first three pages of the General's story have text, then we veer into the parts of the story that we never completely finished.

My horses could use a little work, but I was happy with the montage. Not a lot of comic artists try montage today, it's a bit of a holdover from the 70's.

On page 17, careful eyes will see that I stole directly from John Buscema in the first panel. Nobody drew a man hacking his way through a crowd like John Buscema. I often think of big John riding the subway, dreaming of ways he could hack through the crowd in order to slay some giant spider-god at the apex of the stairwell for the 34th street exit of the "F" train. His lovely granddaughter was my editor on a project at DC briefly, she was very sweet, and probably dreamt of hacking her way through the crowd too. All this to put Matt's comments into stark relief.

Matt's comments for the day-
"Buscema would be proud!

I had this big, coffee table book on world mythology. Inside was a wood carving of the “Eight Drunken Immortals.” And that was it, I was hooked. Frantic googling and multiple trips to the used book store revealed that the Eight Immortals were the superheroes of the ancient world. I was blown away. I felt like Indiana Jones of the 25th century unearthing the X-Men. More amazing was that fact that they didn’t exist in any movie, TV show or book. It was the holy grail of homage fiction. Any one of these characters would have made a great book. We simply had to do it."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Eight Immortals! Page Eleven!

"It goes up to 11, you see, it's one more than 10."

We move onto the General's story.
Madness with the scedule will ease in a day or two, so more comments then-
Matt, back from the doghouse has calmed down a bit-
"Dig the prose—“fortress of blood,” “pillaging pirates,” “beleaguered denizens,” come on, I deserve some credit for the cajones. Dude, the chick on the bottom is too skinny, Mongols like ‘em meaty.

Immortals was written in a mindless blur of unabashed creativity. I just kept writing until I ran out of space. Reading it back now I regret nothing. Yes, it’s self-indulgent, verbose, and dated, but it works, dammit, it WORKS. It’s sincere, unapologetic, and contains not the slightest hint of irony. I will defend it to the death and beyond, just look at my tombstone.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Eight Immortals! Page Ten!

Without much comment today, I've got to pencil and ink a whole passel of pages in the next few days.

Matt's comments for today are so over the top that he will return next time, after having a bit of cool-down time.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Eight Immortals! Page Nine!

I just love how Matt writes Iron Crutch. The time of non-being is upon us, indeed.
Matt did all the cool sounds effects.

Matt's comments for today are redacted.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Eight Immortals! Page Eight!

Matt is the second "greeter." Just sort of an inside joke.

Isaac, you'll note that Iron Crutch's crutch has changed from the original design, streamlined, it is damaged from long use and it has the teeth of some monstrous animal embedded into the top. I wanted to give every part of an Immortal's design a chance to have a story about it later. Surely the dragon's eye at the base of the Sage's sword has a good story behind it, just as the teeth of some great animal in Iron Crutch's crutch has. The Immortals are especially gifted with various accoutrements, some from Matt's research, some from our own creation.

I rearranged all the panels on this page - originally Iron Crutch's reveal was on the following page, but the page seemed too open and empty with just the first three panels in it, so we adjusted and added the last panel of Iron Crutch. He was so much fun to draw. Matt did a really great job with his dialogue and his characterization. I love all the text, he just outdid himself with all the great stuff he wrote - clearly no adjective or adverb has ever escaped Matt Morra's steel-trap mind.

Matt's written application exam asking for an exemption from his anger management class follows-

"Comics is a knock-off medium. Copied, rewritten, and swiped a hundred times over by a hundred people from a hundred sources, there are so many layers of unoriginality that they have formed a deep, shiny lacquer of respectability. Don’t be fooled by this pretty veneer. Comics are, always have been, and always will be pulp fiction. Hell, poop Fiction -- regurgitated excrement, served up, eaten, digested, and regurgitated again for someone else to eat. I don’t know why I’m saying this here on page 8 of Immortals but I want to get it out before I die."

Bonus section-
At one point I had thrown my hat into the running to draw the Micronauts at Devil's Due, and had to whip up quick samples of the characters, so I used some of the Immortals art, cut and pasted in some Micronauts characters and presented those. The result was as you'd guess, since I have never drawn the Micronauts professionally. However, in the interest of showing all the madness I have gone through, I'll include a few of the pages I did with the Micronauts characters as I come across them. Here's the first of those pages. It's kinda funny to see it in this context, but might be too distracting to do all of them, it might ruin the pacing of the story, so perhaps I'll scan in one more altered page, when we get to the General's story. It was kinda neat to draw Baron Karza though- good villain, I wonder, since he was based on the Japanese toy, was he designed before or after Darth Vader?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Eight Immortals! Page Seven!

More of Iron Crutch's story. One point perspective, just like misdirection, can also go a long way. I threw in some dirigibles. I threw in a design I'd been playing around with in the Jet Pack Pets - large football shaped buildings that could become possible only in the future or in the twisted world of the Jet Pack Pets. It's possible that I should have given this page another two perspective points, but they would have been so far away from my desk as to make it impractical, although you can see the problem in the design in one of the fighter planes in the upper right hand corner. It looks a little warped.

Still, I was always very happy with this page. I did a page very similar to it at Stan Lee Media when I was doing Mongorr's coming-of-age story (I only got 3 pages in, I'll post them at some point, maybe in April or May), so I swiped myself.

The date referenced is a bit of a shout out to the 2099 franchise over at Marvel, Matt was an assistant and then an associate editor of the franchise. Only 90 years to go, although when we were working on it, it was over 105. If my daughter lives as long as my grandmother has, then she will see the year 2099 without any problem. I imagined that the city limits had come much closer to the Great Wall than they currently are.

Matt is currently lashing himself to sleep as he crumbles into despair thinking about the Eight Immortals. Here are a few of his slurred ramblings-

"'Where do you get your ideas?' Every Comic Con writer Q&A sooner or later ends with that query and every writer answers it with a bald ass lie. 'In a burst of inspiration!' 'From the hand of God!' 'My muse!' Bullshit. Writers get their ideas from other writers; books, movies, and TV. Period. Eight Immortals is based upon the ancient characters of Chinese legend. I freely admit I stand on the shoulders of Asian giants. Iron Crutch is a fucking brilliant tragic figure—an immortal body that just happens to be that of a leper! What a way to spend eternity. The future plotline was (I thought) a clever twist, a break from all the ancient/mystic stuff. The basic notion was—his immortal, why can’t he be in the future?"

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Eight Immortals! Page Six!

A little misdirection goes a long way.

I have rather fond memories of drawing this page - I was living with Katie in the guest house in Santa Monica and was dividing my time between the Immortals and The Incredible Hulk. That Hulk run was notable for it's near complete lack of the Incredible Hulk, who appeared in 4 pages out of 132. The book at the time would have probably been better titled "The Rather Credible Adventures of Dr. Banner," and although I really was very excited about the book when I was working on it, (it was a great direction for the Hulk, with a series of genuine mysteries and I really clicked with how Stuart Immonen was drawing), I became less excited when it became clear to me that the mysteries that were being explored in the book weren't things that were ever meant to be solved. I still thought it was cool, there was a lot of great stuff, the vampire chick mystery was awesome and wrapped up cleverly, I just felt disappointed about the book after I left it.

Anyway, here's Iron Crutch's story, I've moved it up to second, and will tell the General's story third in order to tell that all in one shot.

This page is notable for the first argument I lost with Matt - the translation of the character is either Iron Crutch or Iron Stick, and I was worried that Iron Stick sounded too close to Daredevil's mentor "Stick", so I really pushed for Iron Crutch, it was original, it sounded crazy, and it tied in with his physical ailments and the theme of health and medicine that Iron Crutch caries with him. I lost. Iron Stick. I will still call him Iron Crutch to my grave, but Matt won this one.

Matt's comments-
"How fucking narcissistic am I? (That’s a rhetorical question, wise-ass) I just read and re-read this page four times and it gets better every time."

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Eight Immortals! Page Five!

Long day. Feel a little sick, crashing.
Click on the image above to blah blah blah.

Matt's words-
"This was an extra page. Scott was so jazzed by the dragon that he drew more than the script called for. I was of course thrilled. Not only did it look fucking great but I got to add a whole origin story! Now that’s serendipity. Dude, I dare you to try that with Peter David."

Why torture doesn't work-

"I gave a lot of false information in order to satisfy what I believed the interrogators wished to hear in order to make the ill-treatment stop.... I'm sure that the false information I was forced to invent...wasted a lot of their time and led to several false red-alerts being placed in the US," - Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, one of the high-value terrorists tortured by president George W. Bush, to the ICRC.

Did you enjoy the added security in Ohio malls? Did you enjoy the amber alerts that never led to anything?

The reason torture works on TV is purely systematic of the way the writer doles out information to move his characters forward in a story. The same reason wormholes don't exist - guys like Isaac Asimov would have had to write. "...and then the ship spent the next 23 million years slowly crossing the distance between stars...."

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Eight Immortals! Page Four!

Page 4. again, a better view of teh page must be taken by clicking on the image.

I tried to make the dragon with wings and a face and a serpent's body, but without arms; I wanted something kind of different. A lot of Chinese dragons look a little silly to western eyes, primarily because they are good river/water spirits. The Occidental tradition is of murderous dragons that must be slain, I've found that to be not necessarily in opposition to the Oriental tradition, but noticeably different.

I hewed closer to the Chinese depictions of a character in the final section of the Immortal's story with mixed results - you'll see when we get there.

Matt's indispensable words-
"This first panel is gorgeous. Don’t let the seeming simplicity fool you. The wood cut rendering requires a level of skill greater than most comic artists possess. Scott’s use of traditional Chinese style makes the whole damn thing FEEL right. Authentic. Note also, visual storytellers, the way Scott segues into the “dream sequence” by juxtaposing the solid black and white of the Sage against the “dreamy” gray lines of the Hermit. Bravo.

FYI—the donkey’s name is Hirohito—a slam against the hated Japanese emperor. According to legend, the donkey can fly around the Earth in a day and sleeps inside the Hermit’s purse as a piece of folded up Origami. Scott and I actually wrote a story about this. Dude. . .?

I've got the story in my files. I reread it last week and it's a great, great story. Just the exact way I want to move the Immortals forward. I'll try and get to it one of these days. I think it's would definitely be a candidate for the ink-wash style I did those trading cards in. I'd probably have to take a month off from work, or the equivalent over a year period. There are just only so many hours in the day.

Watchmen 2

There seems to be a lot of gnashing about the Watchmen movie dropping off in sales, but what I've noticed is that the sales of the trade paperback this last week have just exploded. There is such a huge divide between the amount of people willing to see a movie and willing to buy a comic book (I'd say 50 to 1), but it seems to me like a lot of the people who watched the movie have gone and bought the comic book, which is what I, as a maker of comic product, really wants.

Seems like a win to me.

And if the studio decides it's not worth it to make a sequel? - another win.

So my best guess - 7 million viewers turned into 1 million readers, which is more readers of comic book than have been around for a long, long time. I hope some of them stay and buy something else worthwhile.

The Eight Immortals! Double-page spread! Pages Two and Three!

Click on the image for a larger version. I will check to see that you can read the text, but it's a pretty big file as it is.

This is the double-page spread for the issue. Always good to have these, forces you to think horizontally, which is a nice break from thinking in vertical layouts all the time.

Matt's thoughts made visible in the following paragraphs-
"I did the lettering! Me. All of it. Every single word balloon, caption box, and sound effect was handmade in Illustrator. That’s why the text is too small. I felt guilty about covering up the art so I ran down the point size to minimalism the damage.

Blame the verbiage on Scott. The reclusive hunchback is the only penciller in the history of the medium to encourage the writer to do MORE. I kept telling him, “Dude, I’m covering up your art.” “It’s okay, man, go, I love it.” I’m jealous of every writer who’s lucky enough to work with this hermetic, madman. The Immortals story is mine and the words are mine, but the inspiration is all him (which sounds like a compliment but really means I get the credit and he gets the blame).

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Eight Immortals! Page One!

In retrospect, this book has a tiny, tiny font size. Please click on the image and you will get a larger version that you will hopefully be able to read. I urge you to complain if you are unable to read them, and I will attempt to rectify the situation.

I have decided to start with The Sage's story. When I showed this book to Marvel, I was told that Marvel doesn't do things like this anymore, which is fine with me. I love working at Marvel, but I don't need the competition.

I can't remember how I came up with the background, but I do remember wanting to have something cool and easy to draw, so these concentric circles and the sweeping lines that cross in and out of the circles seemed a pretty cool idea. i wanted to steer away from Stve Ditkos design sense, although, again, as it was pointed out to me, even Marvel doesn't do that anymore. I'm reminded of that criticism every time I watch the Brave and the Bold cartoon, a really well put together and fun show, but DC doesn't do Batman like that anymore.

I watched a youtube process interview with Alison Bechtel, who draws the excellent "Dyke's To Watch Out For" and frankly, it is a miracle that cartoonists are able to get anything done with all the steps that have to be taken. If you want my honest answer about what I have learned about cartooning in the last 30 years is that there is neither enough time nor money to get everything done once you decide to be a cartoonist. You are all forewarned.

Matt's calm and reasoned thoughts about our lovely 8 immortals follow-

"I love Eight Immortals, I love Eight Immortals, I FUCKING LOVE EIGHT IMMORTALS! Every single frenetic, overwrought, Stan-on-steroids page is forever branded into my heart. I want carved onto my tombstone for all eternity to know — here lies a delusional gob who thought Eight Immortals was the Citizen Kane of published pulp."

I hope the mortuary doesn't charge by the word, if that's what Matt wants on it. Personally, i like the gravestones that have those little tv's on them, showing scrolling pictures of the deceased. I can't imagine that holograms can be far behind.

Friday, March 13, 2009

How it'll be done -

alright - I'll air each of the stories in full - Isaac has impeccable wisdom. I'll do the Sage's stuff first, then Iron Crutch, The General, and then the story spotlighting Emperor Chin Shi Huang, the man who united China. The last story has some pages that were never finished, so maybe i'll finish them. It depends on what my schedule is, which doesn't look good on that score.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Eight Immortals! HEADS!

Yep, I drew head shots for each of the Immortals, with the intent of creating a corner box that would have each member who had a story in the book, deleting or adding a head as each story played out. I always liked that on Marvel's 70's Avengers and X-Men books.

Tomorrow the book proper begins. I'm debating changing up the order of the stories and leading with Iron Crutch's story first, telling each story in full and then jumping to the Sage, then the General ending with the story that focuses on Emperor Chin, but I'm not sure. The original book had 4 main stories that overlapped and broke to focus on a different character, but I don't think it was for any real purpose other than pacing out a fast story. I wonder if it might read better if I do the stories without the overlap? Any thoughts out there?

The Eight Immortals! Inside Cover!

Here's the inside cover to The Legends of the Eight Immortals. Matt inverted the color and placed the title and credits over this page.

I urge you all to click on the artwork to get a larger view, it will make your enjoyment of the book possible, especially when it gets to reading the text in the main body of the comic.

I was showing this stuff around in 2002, and while in the waiting room at DC comics an old college friend of mine, Phil Jimenez, was passing through. We talked and he took a look at this piece, originally intended as the cover to the book, and said "I thought you were better than this." Glancing through the interior pages, he looked visibly relieved and said "well this stuff is much better than that cover."

So there's the big reason this is not the cover to the book. This is a warts and all presentation of this work, so bombs away.

This art has the final, better version of what the Holy Fool would look like. He's the top center character. The color would have been coded to each Immortal's totemic color, green for the General, red for Iron Crutch, white for the Sage, etc.

At the time, the waiting room at DC still had the giant Superman statue leaping out of the phone booth. I think I looked at that thing cumulatively for a whole 24 hour period, since it never seemed possible to get an editor at DC to pick up the phone and find out that I was in the waiting room - waiting.

I know on more than one occasion I have waited over an hour, making small talk with Margaret, the secretary (who used to be the secretary at Marvel, so we knew one another reasonably well). It's a great system - you can sit there and greet a vast cavalcade of former employers, lovers and friends as they walk past - too busy, too angry (in the former lover's case) or too embarrassed to acknowledge your presence. The only person who was ever nice to me while I was stuck out there waiting was Steve Bunche. He was let go a few weeks later.

So, if asked, I really prefer the current method of sending my work through the ftp system. Much easier, much more calming. Although, if I hadn't been stuck there waiting, this would have been the cover to the book, so maybe there's advantages. You decide.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Eight Immortals! Cover!

The Cover to the Eight Immortals, spotlighting the General, the Sage and Iron Crutch. Leading with what I felt was the Big Three, and whose stories were fleshed out in the interior of the book. The next cover was to be Horse, Yin Yang, Peach and The Holy Fool, although Yin Yang wouldn't have worked in profile, so I suppose at some point I'd've had to figure something different out.

I can't find the logo, Matt must have it somewheres - it said "Legends of the Eight Immortals". This was my first work that I colored myself and it printed waaaay more yellow than I intended.

Monday, March 09, 2009

The eight Immortals! Bios- Last but not least - the Holy Fool

This sketch was a little farther away from what I wanted than what I eventually settled on. Lan Cai became shorter and more childlike in the actual book, and was dressed differently, leaving the swishy stuff to Peach.

As soon as I get Matt's notes we'll begin the story proper - I've got a few pin-ups and such to upload to pass the next few days, so I'll do that for now.

Matt's Bio for the Holy Fool-

"The youngest of the Eight Immortals, Lan Cai is the sprightly court jester of the group. A street entertainer, he is often depicted in outlandish costumes and women's make-up. The money he earns is donated to the poor.

Always dancing and singing, he walks about with one bare foot and is frequently followed by adoring crowds. He is often found in taverns buying wine for everyone.

His color is gold. His animal is the elephant. His symbol is a basket of fruit and flowers. He is the patron of performers and the poor. He is happy and laughing all the time.

The Holy Fool is slim and short. He is baby-faced with unkempt hair."

Finally, a little clarity on the top 5 Banks exposure to Credit Default Swaps

Finally, a little clarity on the top 5 Banks exposure to Credit Default Swaps, written about here. It's a pretty well written article covering most of the bases, although, these things are still off the books transactions, and it's all still vaguely unverifiable, but it gives you a sense of why these banks will go under, or be taken over by the FDIC this year. Citibank is becoming revealed as a more difficult situation, since it turns out that Citigroup itself is insolvent and the FDIC might not have jurisdiction over the parts of Citigroup that aren't Citibank.

Wait and see, I guess.

Sunday, March 08, 2009


Didn't see it.
Now that the hype's died down, I don't know that I will, unless they go forward and come out with a theatrical release of the director's cut during the summer.

all that hype, all that expectation, all gone. Released. And I didn't even have to participate. I find that having fallen off the pop culture bandwagon has been a nice feeling. I did it once before, back in my 20's I didn't have a TV for 4 years. This time I had a child and worked multiple jobs all at once, so it accomplished getting me off the pop-teat just the same. I miss it a little.

The Eight Immortals! Bios- Han Xiang!

Matt's bio-
"Having mastered the duality of the yin and yang, Han Xiang1s personality is also divided into two sharply different halves - one calm, thoughtful and healing, the other restless, wild and killing.

He carries a powerful magic flute, which is capable of playing the Six Healing Sounds and the Six Killing Sounds.

His color is purple. His symbol is the flute. His animal is the buffalo. He is the patron of the cultured classes. His personality is volatile. Sometimes boisterous and friendly,
other times cold and harsh.

He is a strong man. Half his head is shaved, the other half has long hair."

a Nation of Time Travelers-

Apparently we all traveled backwards through time last night - hope you enjoyed whatever you were doing twice. Maybe there's a reason it jumps back at 2am.

The Eight Immortals! Bios- Peach!

The luckiest of the Eight Immortals, she is forever a 16 year old girl who dances across mountaintops. Kind of the thing a 16 year old immortal WOULD do, if you think about it. To know her is to love her, which would be the saddest part -

Matt's Bio-
"Peach is the only woman among the Immortals. She is a 1,400 year-old-teenager who became eternal when she ate the precious peach of immortality.

He Xian can fly like a graceful eagle. She is often seen floating from mountaintop to mountaintop. She appears to the virtuous, the innocent, and those oppressed people in great need of divine intervention. She represents power, purity and innocence.

Her color is yellow. Her animal is the deer. She is the patron of the young and innocent.

Peach is a beautiful, young girl. She has long, dark hair adorned with an orange blossom."

Saturday, March 07, 2009

The eight Immortals! Bios- Iron Crutch!

Matt always wanted to translate it to Iron Stick, but I always thought it was better translated as Iron Crutch. It's cooler, and doesn't step on Daredevil.

Matt's Bio-
"After his spirit form had been away from his body for one week, Li Tie returned to find that his body had been destroyed, and so was forced to inhabit the nearest body‹ a hideous, diseased beggar.

Iron Crutch carries a magical staff, which he uses as a crutch and as a weapon. The staff can also perform magic acts and transmute matter. He has a gourd attached to the staff in which he concocts potions and medicines. The gourd also serves as his home, much like a genie bottle. Though handicapped he is a formidable fighter.

His color is red. His animal is a red pheasant. He is the patron of medicine and of the sick. He has a fiery temper and is easily roused to anger.

His appearance is that of a hideous leper. One leg is lame. His body is thin and shriveled."

Friday, March 06, 2009

The Eight Immortals! Bios- The Hermit!

Chang Kuo - the oldest of the eight immortals; the Hermit.

My favorite part about this sketch - he has no pants. Well, I think he doesn't.

Matt's bio of the old man-

"The oldest of the Eight Immortals, Chang Kuo-Lao was once a high official to the emperor. He sits backwards atop a magic, white mule that can fly thousands of miles in a few moments. The mule is magical. When not in use, the Hermit folds it up like a paper doll and puts it in his pocket.

His color is blue. His symbol is the phoenix feather. His animal is the mule. He is gentle and patient. He is the patron of the elderly and couples seeking fertility.

The Hermit is very old, bald and has a long white moustache and narrow beard."

I stand by the no pants, which as a policy might also serve to illuminate his domain over curing infertility, and give you a little insight as to how a guy like that might jump-start couples therapy. I'm sure in the book, I would have had to put pants on him, but not after a fight.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Dow 36,000 BABY!

Dow 36,000 Baby! We're gonna ride this one all the way to the top - what? Dow 6,500?


the Eight Immortals! Bios! Quan, The General!

The real powerhouse protagonist in the group, the General has a disadvantage in that his story is one of the saddest lessons in the Tao to be taught. Matt had a pretty good story laid out. Still would love to get to tell it.

from Matt's bio on the character-

"A former army general, Quan Zhong is the only member of the Eight who has formal military training. He carries numerous weapons and is well schooled in the martial arts.

His color is green. His symbol is a feather fan he uses to revive fallen soldiers. His animal is the chimera. He is the patron of soldiers. He is calm, confidant warrior, but also proud and aggressive.

The General is tall and muscular, a leader of men. His upper torso is exposed, revealing a tattoo of the Chimera. His long hair is gathered in two coils, one on either side of his head."

A gentle reminder that my copyright will be bigger than yours.

The Eight Immortals - Bios! Horse!

All of the Eight Immortals are just the most fun for me to draw, and to this day I am unable to choose which one i like best. Almost all of them came out perfectly in the first sketching pass except for Horse - i initially drew him closer to what the General looked like, but with a more fatter body shape. He was heavy, but not terribly so, mostly around the mid-drift - Matt suggested he be much bigger and the result was a big improvement. The newer sketch spoke to very out of control appetites, which worked very well to establish his character.

Matt's bio on the character:

"Horse a.k.a. the Nobleman - Cao Kuo

Born of royal blood, Cao Kuo rejected his materialist ways out of shame and left for the life of a simple monk.

The Nobleman is spiritual and meditative. His symbol is the castanets, which he plays in a soothing and relaxing rhythm to facilitate meditation. They also allow him to travel throughout the universe. He also enjoys wrestling and hand to hand combat.

His color is brown. His symbol is castanets. His animal is the spirit horse. He is the patron of nobility.

The Nobleman is fat and hairy. He is friendly and outgoing. He enjoys eating and drinking."

I love the color and animal coding, it felt right, and helps to establish a lot of exciting possibilities... Posting these things makes me want to get back to doing more with these characters. Maybe i will - I found a really nice 22 page script that Matt had done for the Hermit, and I think it would work very well to do in the inkwash style I did the little charity sketch cards in.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Eight Immortals - while we're waiting for Matt

While we're waiting for Matt, I think I'll post the bios Matt wrote, and I drew, of the Eight Immortals. If and when I see your comic book version of my Eight Immortals, I will shove my copyright (SK8/ Legends of the Eight Immortals, published and distributed by Scott Koblish and Matt Morra, 2003) where the trademark don't shine.

So we'll start with The Sage, Ancestor Lu Dongbin-

From Matt's original Bio of Ancestor Lu-

"The most powerful and respected of the Eight Immortals, Lu Dongbin is a hero of marvelous wisdom and awesome might.

Ancestor Lu carries a double-edged sword strapped to his back called "Demon Slayer." His sword of supernatural powers was given to him by a dragon and has a dragon's eye at the base of it. The sword renders him invisible and can transport him hundreds of miles in the blink of an eye.

His color is white. His animal is the white tiger. He is cool and emotionless. He is the patron of scholars and wisdom.

The sage has a long, three-part beard that symbolizes the three channels of internal alchemy."

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Awesome Blog-

I wish I had thought of it-
Tiny Art Director

Dead @ 90-



Dead at