Friday, December 23, 2011

Vol 4, Page # 22

Slowly entering the final lap of inks. This week has been a slow one considering all the holiday preparing, but I've still managed a few pages, including below:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Coon Skin

Of all of Ralph Bakshi's work (Lord Of The Rings, American Pop, Fritz the Cat), Coon Skin was probably his most ambitious and risky. Being an inner New York City kid, Ralph saw a lot of the realities that he felt weren't being portrayed in regular film. Coon Skin was a blatant (not to mention the title itself) challenge to the status quo, and a very real take on racism.

Upon release, the film was pretty much shelved, and was released years later on limited VHS run under the name 'Street Fight'. The story delves in a cops and robbers storyline including purposely exaggerated sterotypes of african and italian-Americans and gays, etc. It pulled no punches. It can be found online, and a new Bakshi book thats been released discusses the movie in depth.

And here's Ralph himself at Comic-Con commenting on the current state of the animation industry.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pagan Babies

I remember seeing this record in the stores in 1989. It was in the punk rock section, and I figured it was some hardcore band that knew a graffiti writer. It turned out to be by the drummer Bruce Boyd (who would later form the band Grotus).



It was first time I'd seen graffiti associated at all with punk, and figured it was a sign of things to come, as much of the NYC Hardcore scene would be made up of graff writes, skateboarders etc. Pagan Babies  were around till about 1992, when all members split of into other directions.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Vol #4 Page 12

Needling away at these inks. Just about at the halfway point, but, far enough to make it seem like it's going to take forever:

Monday, December 12, 2011

Spat Character 2

We went through a few versions of this guy before animation started. On the left is the original version the artist had given us. This was probably a bit too complicated to animate smoothly, so, we came back with the middle sketch there. After some back and forth revisions, we finally settled on the version to the right.

As all of this was taking place, an animatic was created, timing out action for the piece.

The mouths were going to be synched with the scratching noises from the song. And being it was an instrumental, that meant the whole song. Below is the mouth chart I'd started to put together for it:

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

The STAF Project Part 2

By now a couple of months and numerous meetings have passed. All sorts of ideas are being thrown around, and there's a general excitement. I've put together a small package of rough/concept artwork, to present visuals at the meetings.



Big names are being thrown around for voice-work, including Mos Def, KRS-1,Melvin Van Peebles among others. The main issue is still funding, which I've reminded everyone would need to be sizable and consistent due to the duration of production. It now turns out a major Hollywood actor has shown interest and could possibly supply the funding. When I find out who it is (think Middle-earth) it seems like things could get rolling.



Also, Chris had now brought in Syd Garon, the man behind the legendary film 'Wave Twisters'. I was intimidated at first, but, Syd turned out to be a really genuine guy, and offered up some ideas on production, and I also could talk animation nerd stuff with him.



The story was really big by now, involving cannibals, CIA, doberman like, vinyl hunting skinheads among other things. I got about 6 CD's worth of 'beats' from Madlib. These consist of small 2 minute instrumentals, made up of rough samples. It was great stuff to write to.

All the while, we all had our day jobs, so, things were slow going. Chris had been playing tracks for me off of the new Quasimoto album. I'd loved the first record and had always wished I could have contributed a video. Then, Egon calls me and offers me the Quasimoto "Bullyshit" video from this upcoming album.



Along with that, and a dozen other projects that popped up soon after, the animated film idea took a back seat. I see Chris now from time to time, and we still talk about picking up where we left off, but, for now, the idea remains a dozen or so rough drawings.

James

Friday, December 2, 2011

The STAF Project Part 1

In late 2004, I was asked to put together an idea for an animated feature. Chris Manak, who runs the label Stones Throw (see below post), and who's given us a fair share of work over the years, was interested in creating a film, in which then, Hip Hop producer Madlib, would create the soundtrack for.

For any animator, the prospect of an animated feature, much less being asked to direct, is a dream come true. It's also a huge, 2-3 year commitiment. We started weekly meetings along with Madlib and music supervisor Barry Cole. Off the bat, I wanted to establish a premise, and develop the germ for a story.

I showed the films Triplets of Belleville and Heavy Metal to the guys, to give them an idea of musical animated films which I thought had succeeded. We talked a lot about the movie La Plan├Ęte sauvage as it was one of Madlibs favorites.

After about 2 months of getting together, and lots of Japanese food, I had a basic story outline, and artwork. I had imagined the story to be a medaphor for Hip Hop, as, almost a folk tale. The story involved a fictional carribean island, which, in a post apocalyptic world, would serve as a huge dumping ground for the first worlds trash. Basically a giant landfill surrounded by a ring of towns. These people would salvage the trash and create an economy out of it. One shop in particular made gigantic jukeboxes, and served as a record archive.

After a misunderstanding regarding the junk, a valuable piece of hardware gets sent back into the trash, into the center of the landfill which is inhospitable and dangerous for humans. A young shop clerk is forced to go on an hasty journey through hostile shanty towns into the middle of the island to literally find a needle in a haystack. He then stumbles on a dark secret of the island that no one seems to be aware of.

The guys seemed to be into the idea, though, Chris had concerns with the Jamaican-ness of the premise. I thought it would been a perfect fit alongside with Madlibs production style. I knew the story needed a lot of work and development, but, I also knew, this would be an idea we'd have to commit to, for at least the next couple of years. After a story was outlined, we had to look into funding. This seemed to invoke a lot of blank stares and was a bit tougher.

Continued...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Crowds!

The cover for 1985 Vol 4 is coming along. Working with some weird angles here, and also working with some more crowd scenes. This is making the process SLOW. Crowd scenes can be a bit of a bane for illustrators, but, it must be a bit of sado-masochism for me. Who knows. Anyways, color schemes and rough attached as well.