Point of Exquisite Suspension

Ramblings, musings and postings about thoughts & life experiences of a graphic artist living in the Chicago area.

18 July 2014

Superman Movies Comparison


I recently watched the DVD of Superman Returns (2006). I haven't seen it since it was in theaters years ago. It actually holds up pretty well. And I was surprised how high it scored on the Rotten Tomatoes site. When I compare it to the more recent Man of Steel (2013) on the movie rating site, I was struck by the fact that the critics loved Superman Returns more than the general audience while they rated Man of Steel poorly as the movie-going public gave it high marks. Each movie is nearly an inverse of the other as far as critics vs general audience is concerned.

But aside from that, I must say that for all the derision that Superman Returns has received over the years since it was released, it actually has some admirable qualities. It's well-written and paced. The special effects were decent and it payed proper homage to the earlier Superman movies starring Christopher Reeves as it used the same Fortress of Solitude design and even grafted in footage of Marlon Brando as Jor-El from the earlier films. Superman Returns' nod to the earlier "classic" Superman movies was something that many people complained that the Man of Steel was missing. Although I, personally, was glad to see that Man of Steel made a clean break with the past depictions of Superman.

Superman Returns is an introspective movie that raises the question of why Superman matters. In fact, one of the best quotes from the movie is given as Superman takes Lois Lane on a flight above the Earth and tells her, "I hear everything. You wrote that the world doesn't need a savior, but every day I hear people crying for one."

Speaking of the Savior, the way that Superman takes a beating by Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey in a respectable performance) and his henchmen made me think of Mel Gibson's Passion of The Christ movie (2004). I felt that, during certain scenes in Superman Returns, I was watching "The Passion of the Superman". But in The Man of Steel the allusion to Superman as a Christ figure is surprisingly much more overt.

I liked both movies. The each have complimentary strengths and weaknesses. It's too bad there can't be a movie that combines the strengths of both. But I think Warner Bros. would rather have the high regard (and higher ticket sales) of the movie-going public they garnered with Man of Steel that the high critical praise they achieved with Superman Returns.

My MAN OF STEEL review from an earlier post.

18 June 2014

Movie Comments: Inside Llewyn Davis

Illustration (c) 2014 by O. Douglas Jennings. 
All rights Reserved.
I finally caught a viewing of Inside Llewyn Davis on DVD the other night. It was a movie I had eagerly anticipated watching from the first glimpse I had of it’s trailer last year. It being a kind of historical fiction --a period piece, if you will-- with a complicated, nuanced artistic protagonist, I could immediately tell from trailer and clips that I would enjoy this film.  I missed watching it in the local cineplex but viewing it on DVD at home on my widescreen TV with it’s decent sound system worked well for me. Besides that, the DVD provided the opportunity for me to see the “Making Of…” featurette in the extras which is a treat that trumps the theater experience as far as I’m concerned.

I could identify with the main character, Llewyn. An artist who loves to perform and create, he struggles with maintaining his integrity in the marketplace. He can be his own worst enemy. But the movie has a sweetness to it and although his personality can be obnoxious, Oscar Isaac’s performance lends the character a good measure of sympathy. As the movie ends, I thought of it as also being about second chances. And then there is the unforgettable cat.

I first noticed Isaac in movie The Nativity Story. I liked his sensitive, credible and nuanced portrayal of Joseph. Although he has been in several films since then, it wasn’t until the movie Drive that the Guatemala-born actor caught my attention again as the ill-fated husband of Carey Mulligan’s character. Both Isaac and Mulligan are superb in “Llewyn Davis” as they share screen time again, giving substantial life to very different characters than the ones they portrayed in Drive.

The music of Inside Llewyn Davis touched me. For one thing, I enjoy Isaac’s masterful performances with his strong, winsome, tenor voice accompanied by very competent guitar playing. I bought some of the songs from the sound track and enjoy them a lot. To me, the most moving song is The Death of Queen Jane about Henry VIII’s only wife to bear him a son and then who died in childbirth. In the movie, Llewyn sings the song in an audition before a Chicago concert hall director who is unmoved. He says he can’t see any money to be made in that song. The scene illustrates the core frustration of all artists who are committed to their craft yet labor without commercial acclaim. It’s a dilemma that the movie resolves well by showing the exquisite value of art at all levels.

25 April 2014

Doug's Art Fair Demo Gets Super Feedback


Last night I took part in an Art Fair held at Country Side Grade School in Barrington, IL. My job was to make a demonstration of how to create a super-hero comic page. There were lots of activities and student art there. I wish I would have toured the student art in other rooms. I was in their multi-purpose area (notice the stage on my right). My demo took all my concentration so I stayed mainly in my corner.


The PTO organizers were very accommodating and high-school volunteers helped me set up in the well-lit area near the table (not shown) where kids were making Super Hero Buttons. Organizers had a sign for me (far left) but you'll notice I created my own.



I began the demo sketching a comic page layout. I did not have a story in mind but just started out with a super hero flying toward the reader. One of the attendees, a student named Daniel, who was sporting a  classic super hero mask he had colored with markers at one of the activity tables, ask me "Who is that super hero?" 

"Who do you want it to be?", I asked him.
"I think he should be Light Man", he said, "He looks like light would come out of his eyes".
"That's cool!" I said, "So, you think I should put an "L" on his chest and call him "Light Man"?
"Yeah!" confirmed Daniel, who then happily went off to play with the balloon sword he had gotten from yet another activity table (the balloon swords were a HUGE hit with the grade school boys while the girls were bigger fans of the masks).

That was enough to get me started on the story. I could only do one page so I decided to make it a cliff-hanger as you can tell from the panels. I made the initial sketch drawing using a blue high-lighter marker  instead of a pencil so it could be seen at a distance. I had a lot of people watching me from chairs that had been set up around my station. It was definitely a kind of performance art. One dad asked me if his son could color the finished product. I told him he should take a photo with his phone and print it out later for his son to color. He liked that idea. It was a great size for capturing on an iPhone. Normally comic page original art is drawn on an 10"x15" (11"x17" with border) illustration board, whereas I was drawing my demo on a 26"x30" sheet.



After I sketched enough with the blue marker, I placed that page behind a clean sheet that was thin enough for me to see through and finished the inking with a Sharpie. It took me 30 minutes to do the sketch but an hour to do the inks. Daniel came back and liked what I had done. He really liked the name of Light Man's arch ememy, Shadow Shark. He looked for another page for the rest of the story and was disappointed when I told him I had time for only one page. 
"On the next page you should have Light Man blast Shadow Shark with his eyes." Daniel offered, "Then Shadow Shark would fall out the window saying, 'Curse you, Light Man!'. You, know, like the villains always say."
"That would be a great story!" I encouraged as Daniel rejoined the other kids in the inevitable chasing and balloon sword play. I wondered how this experience of seeing his stories drawn out will influence him. Maybe he'll become a writer or artist. Or at least he'll have a great memory of that time when he was a kid and an artist took him seriously and made a story out of his idea. That could lead to a lot of good things. 


Thanks to the PTO volunteer who took these photos and to the high school volunteers who helped me set up and put things away. And special thanks to Nicole Koviak, the head organizer who contacted  and scheduled me for the event through Kaleidoscope School of Fine Art by way our Curriculum Director Alyane McNulty.


02 April 2014

Hands-free




"Using my hands-free remote I am having Siri to help me post something on my blog."

Sent from my iPhone

The above line is my first hands-free remote blog post that I made this morning on my way to the office. It took several attempts for me to speak something that Siri would transcribe correctly. But it's a start. It definitely seemed to shorten my awareness of time on my half-hour commute.

I also made some tweets using Siri:


You can tell by the awkward wording that Siri didn't quite get what I was trying to say… at least on the tweet about the Canadian Goose.

I wonder if Google Glass will be able to recognize speech any better.

Even so, I think sending tweets using Siri is more effective than blog posts. That one first line was just to prime the blog posting pump. But it got me to build upon it and add some photos and explanatory text.



19 March 2014

Sci Fi Dude



Sci Fi Dude, originally uploaded by Tigrikorn.
I took a old sketch and built on it to create this scene.

17 March 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

The original creation of this art was for my 365 Day Creative Challenge. That day's prompt was to work only with the color green. I glued the Post-It note with that art into my journal and added the little cartoon of me painting Tigrikorn. I changed the dialogue of that original entry especially for today's St. Patty's Day greeting.