Sunday, December 19, 2010

Secret Santa strip (4 of 4)

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The conclusion. Thanks to Darwin for allowing me to post these pages, and for sending people in the direction of my comics. And thanks to Drunk Duck and all those who organized the Secret Santa webcomic exchange for 2010.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Secret Santa strip (3 of 4)

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The secret Santa project was a lot of fun ... I'm looking forward to seeing what I get out of this process.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Secret Santa strip (2 of 4)

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The brooding (half) vampire.

It's difficult to get Playmobil to brood ... they have smiles fixed as firmly as any campaign politician or beauty pageant contestant ... so I had to play with angles a bit.

All up it took 85 photos to make the 4 pages. There's always a few out of focus, but I experiment with odd angles and ranges just to see what I get. Sometimes, if the lighting is right, you can get a little bit of brooding from a plastic figure.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Secret Santa strip (1 of 4)

Click on the image to make it bigger.

The webcomics community Drunk Duck has an annual secret Santa project, and I took part in this years one. I was assigned an webcomic creator's work to do something xmasassy with, and got an interesting vampire story, Only Half (the other story option by the same author/artist would have been too difficult with Playmobil). I think I was just meant to draw a single panel, but I went a little overboard and set a story within the timeline and universe of the comic.

Anyway, I thought I'd share the four page results over the next few days.

BTW: Over at the Character Development blog you'll find the end of episode 18 today, and the start of episode 19 tomorrow ...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Too much Pork for just one Fork

A number of the Wikileaks embassy cables have shown that the U.S. is deeply worried about the high levels of corruption in other countries. Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tunisia, Kenya, Russia, and many, many more.

The main theme is that corruption at the top destabilizes a country, undermines democracy (or what passes for it) and makes it difficult to justify funding such regimes.

Imagine a country where a senior government minister could channel funds directly to the company his daughter worked at? Or skim enough money so a major roadway in his home town could be upgraded and named after him? Or use 17 million U.S. dollars of government money on an airport that has no planes or employees?

Unfortunately this isn't corruption ... it's Pork. The person in question is U.S. Senator, Hal Rodgers, a Republican from Kentucky, who is just the latest senator to have the tag of the "King of Pork"; 'pork' being the completely legal method of attaching earkmarks to bills to benefit your home state, and in Rodger's case particularly his home town, which some have dubbed 'Mr Rogers Neighborhood' due to his funneling of $246 million of pork in recent years.

Rodgers has just been named the new head of the uber-power House Appropriations Committee. That's the one that controls the purse strings of the U.S. Government. The King of Pork is in change of government spending. Unbelievable. But don't worry, folks ... he's promised to stamp out pork. We can believe him, right?

Why isn't this corruption? Because it's spelt differently (to use an old joke).

This is the same kind of practice that is complained about in a number of the leaked cables. Giving money to relatives. Using money for personal aggrandizement. Buildings projects that are unwanted and unnecessary. After all, these are the kinds of things that undermine a democracy and a government. Well, only if someone cares.

Maybe that's the problem. The citizens of the U.S. don't consider pork to be corruption. They just shrug their shoulders and move on. In other countries people might actually get angry enough to topple a government over such 'pork'. Maybe Americans have just eaten too much actual pork to worry about the political kind ... and sit by listlessly as their politicians line their own nests with taxpayer's money. What's on the other channel?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dark Bay news

Status Update: I'm taking photos for episode 23 of Character Development at the moment, and writing episode 34.

At the same time I'm writing some Dark Bay episodes. The rural NZ police drama illustrated with Playmobil toys has been on hiatus for a while now, but is never far from my thoughts.

So in the New Year, after the silly season, I'll start posting daily pages of Dark Bay as well as daily pages of Character Development, although I'll cheat a bit and start Dark Bay from the beginning again, and miss out one day a week as the episodes are 6 pages each, unlike CD's 7 pages.

The aim is to have written 20 episodes of it and have the page layouts for them done before I start posting, so there's over 100 pages of cushion ... then I'll feel no pressure to keep up the pace. Currently I'm writing episodes 12 and 13, and have strong ideas for the next few after that, as well as an overall story arc to work towards.

So look for a Dark Bay daily page blog sometime in the New Year ... say February sometime.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A few good men?

The outcry against the current Wikileaks document dump seems to me to be a similar line of reasoning as Jack Nicholson's character in A Few Good Men. Apparently we can't handle the truth. We need people acting on our behalf outside the rules we are expected to follow ourselves. These people should have no public oversight or scrutiny of their actions. Secretly we want it that way ... because we can't handle the truth.

The diplomats and politicians want to give us easy to digest black and white versions of the world. There are good guys (France, for example) and bad guys (France, for example if we go back a couple of years). The leaders of the Free World are all nice guys and girls. They are competent, honest, hard-working. We can rest easy at night, and sleep soundly in out beds. Because if we knew the truth ...

The world is full of grey. The leaders of the so-called free world are often corrupt, vain, stupid, inappropriate, paranoid, etc. Toppling Saddam didn't create a wonderful secular democracy overnight ... and has allowed Iran to gain more regional influence than some of its neighbours would like. Pakistan has some serious problems, which include the possibility of nuclear terrorism. China and North Korea sometimes don't get along. The U.S. bullies and bribes other countries into doing stuff they don't want to do. The U.S. sometimes does negotiate with terrorists.

The thing is ... none of these are revelations. Unless you are the kind of person who takes press releases from the White House at face value. And that is the crux of the matter. Too many journalists and commentators have been asleep at their desks doing just that .. letting the obvious lies, half-truths, and diplomatic double-speak get reported uncritically. Or worse, actually helping to formulate and disseminate those lies.

It is not the job of politicians and their PR-people to tell us the truth. It is supposed to be the job of journalists to ferret out that truth and expose the grayness of the world. Not only are most journalists not doing that, many are actually attacking Wikileaks for making that job possible. Even now the mainstream media (particularly television) spends more time reporting the spin coming from the White House about the leaks than the contents of the leaks themselves. It's as if the majority of them have no idea how to analyze and write about evidence, so they resort to regurgitating the press releases from officials ... once again reporting on auto-pilot.

The lesson here is that not only can we handle the truth, but that many of us already knew the truth. It turns out that the cynics among us were pretty much on the money. Who would have guessed? It's the majority of the media who seem to have no idea what to do with the truth.

Let's hope a few more people have now had the wool pulled away from their eyes, and that maybe a few more journalists start to question the official line on a regular basis.