Sunday, July 7, 2013

Man of Steel

Man of Steel.

Just saw Man of Steel. I went to see it because there has been such a polarizing response to the film among people in my extended circles on Facebook. Regardless of my take, one of the biggest complaints has been how the creators simply didn't get the character of Superman, but I'm not sure this is a fair complaint.

In today's world of $100 million+ budgets, it is very difficult to get anyone to take chances on something totally new. When the vision of a story approaches/exceeds $200 million, I think it's tough to get even an amazing track record to get that check written and perhaps for good reason. Look at the ROI of the later Nolan Batman films(Dark Knight - $530 million and Dark Knight Rises - $448 million) versus Inception($300 million). They had similar budgets but made almost double the money.

So if a creator has an incredible idea for a story, that will cost a dump truck of $ to realize, what are they to do. They try to reduce risk by putting that story in the context of an existing/proven franchise. It not only vastly improves the chances of the project getting funded, but it also improves the chance of getting a larger audience to pay attention to the idea. Now, I'm not saying this is a ideal situation, but I think it is a financial reality of these blockbuster type projects.

Zack Snyder has pretty much made a career of taking beloved source material and putting his on stamp onto it. Fast zombies, slightly altering the end of Watchmen, the rendition of the battle of Thermopylae, etc. I think he's a visually accomplished filmmaker and he's done his best to take material beloved to him and enrich it with his own touch. In some case, like Man of Steel, it's a total reboot of the story, which has driven a wedge between those who love/hate the film.

As fans(in some case die-hard fans) of classic material, we can be extremely critical of reboots that go away from the core of the original source. I am as guilty of this as anyone. For example, I pretty much despise everything created in the Space Cruiser Yamato(Starblazers) universe that post dates the original films, ending with Final Yamato. In my most elitist otaku asshole moments, I have gone so far as to question someone's understanding of the source material.

But are we doing ourselves a disservice? Can we not look at these things with fresh eyes? Should we? It's ironic, especially coming from the incestuous world of comic books where there are really no more than a handful of characters being explored by the major publishers and non-cape books are rarely even given the time of day by traditional comics fans. Has this exact process not been going on for over 30 years in that medium?

Here's where I put on my elitist asshole hat and say, with 1 or 2 exceptions, I have always found cape books to be ridiculous, heavy handed and poorly illustrated. I started reading comic books when I was 12 and never understood cape books. It wasn't till I hit my 30's that I even read Marvel books other than The Nam and Strikeforce Morituri and both of those books didn't last in rotation past issue 12-13...The Nam was handed off to another team that never connected with me and Morituri just turned into a churn.

When you get down to it, major label cape books(Marvel/DC) have always been crappy sit comms. With few exceptions, they go on forever, have basically the same set of characters, the characters rarely go through big changes because the reader doesn't want them to and rarely, if ever, has there been a lasting consequence for any action, up to and including death. Measured against Japanese manga of the 80's and 90's(my main frame of reference), where characters are killed and die forever or characters change quite a bit, often going through multiple arcs in ongoing series or, gasp, series actually having an ending. I think it was Miller's "Dark Knight Returns" that provided a definitive end to Batman's story before I ever really engaged with his character. From there I cherry picked my way through some of the classics like Killing Joke, Year One and...well that was about all the Batman I liked.

Not to hammer the point to death, my point is that it might not be the best approach to look at reboots through the eyes of the hardcore. Maybe we should give things a fresh chance. They're not all going to be good or even mediocre. For me, I will try to see how things work as stand alone pieces and not apply my baggage to them out of the gate. I'm sure I won't always succeed but as someone trying to create an original property, I will try to give creators the benefit of the doubt when I can.

That said, I still don't understand why there hasn't been a good Die Hard script in over 20 years and I will go to the grave cursing everyone involved in the live action Yamato film and subsequent series reboot -_-;

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Finished the first draft of Black Powder Grey Sky volume 1. On to volume 2 while my heartless editor rips it apart and tells me why my characters are too distant and cold. This is proving to be a much bigger story than Black Powder Red Earth

I probably won't send it Josh Taylor's way until the entire arc is written but I am guessing this story will run between 8-10 chapters. It will be the definitive end to the TOKEN and GRINCH story arc.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Catching Up

It's been a hectic time. Sorry for not posting.

The first Black Powder \\ Red Earth Graphic Novel Series is now complete! They can be purchased on Amazon at the following URLS:

The series reads best as a complete piece so please pick them all up and read it straight through :-D 

I've learned a ton writing this series and will hopefully incorporate those improvements into the follow up series which I started work on about 4 months ago. There's been a fair amount of interest from folks talking about developing the series in other media, but nothing concrete yet.

Some good news for those of you waiting for the new BPRE game(both of you), Max and I have hacked out a crude desktop version of the Black Powder \\ Red Earth game I've been working on for the past year as a board game. 

It's a class based action game that is very influenced by the original Syndicate but a set in the world of Black Powder \\ Red Earth. It's a fast paced, mission focused game in urban centers populated with both enemies and non-combatants. We're working on a concept piece that will capture the look of the game and we're thinking a pixel art look will work best for what we want to do on this title. Josh Taylor, illustrator of the BPRE graphic novels, is working with me on a piece right now.

Our goal is to get this to a point where we can announce a kick starter and actually fund some dedicated development time on the title.

The third GridLink album is basically written. It is 14 tracks and called Longhena. It will be released on a label other than Hydrahead, as they are becoming a back catalog label. I am in the process of casting a model for the cover. Hopefully I'll lock that down by December and get the costuming made so we can shoot in February or March.

Dredd 3D was surprisingly good.

The new Converge record is blowing my hair back.

Ready, Player One by Ernest Kline is a fast but white knuckle read.

Hotline Miami is the best new game I've played to date this year. You can get it on Steam or GOG(where I just grabbed the original Syndicate for OSX).

Black Powder Red Earth Tumblr

I'll be posting image updates here.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Into Q2

"Been awhile." Snake Plissken.

Andrew Childer's work documenting the story behind "The Inalienable Dreamless" is now available on Amazon! Also out now, Black Powder \\ Red Earth V2 on Kindle and Hardcopy. The work that has gone into both of these projects has been very time consuming.

Work on V3 of BPRE is nearly finished. Inks and colored pages are supposed to be in this week, then I have to letter it and prep for the printer/Kindle store.

GDC 2012 was inspiring, as usual. Lots of great presentations, a chance to chat with other developers, see what their solutions were to common problems, etc. Also got a chance to hang out with my gaming Dali Lama - Sean Cooper! Good times :-D

As soon as we returned, the first code started coming together for the new BPRE game we are producing. I'm collaborating with Max again, you might know him as the cranky Austrian guy from the Gamespot series. We're already 3 builds in (we release new versions of the game weekly for testing) and it's exciting to have that fire again, seeing things come together quickly, while Altay works on the engine that will be powering the actual release of the game.

There's still a long way to go, but I think we're onto something pretty great, which is something I wasn't sure we'd be able to achieve after playing BF3 (which is in so many ways, the game I've wanted for over 10 years).

The new game I'm playing is Armored Core V, with Battlefield 3 coming out of a short sabbatical that was Syndicate co-op and the Mass Effect 3 campaign. The Syndicate campaign held my attention for less than 3 levels and the ME3 multiplayer simply wasn't my cup of tea.

Armored Core V has been quite the experience. It's kind of a cluttered mess. The core idea is good but OMFG the story really really sucks. Gone is the ability to choose your path through the game and here to stay is a linear campaign flanked by dozens of vaguely related side missions. I've barely gotten into the online element as no one from my "team" ever seems to be online. Ever. I've tried switching teams but to no avail. I've got about 3-4 hours in and I am just starting to understand the layers in the AC configuration screens. It's especially surprising considering I've played the past 2 AC games in Japanese with almost no ability to read and found them easier to navigate than this -_-

OK, what else.

Saw The Raid Redemption. It was cool but I'm not sure comparing it to Die Hard or the original Total Recall makes sense considering it was more of a martial arts film than an action film in that sense. At the end of the day, I still like Hard Boiled better, but I'm more into guns that punching people to death LOL Very skeptical about the new Total Recall. I like Colin Farrel but...

New GridLink presses on. More to follow.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Escape from New York

September has been a insane month. Lots of new stuff going on with Haley Strategic including a merch offering which pretty much sold out of everything in 24 hours from time of release. This is gratifying because I designed everything in the store.

As of today I have 4 new patch designs and 2 new shirts for the Non-Permissive Environment Specialist series, which is actually a Black Powder \\ Red Earth thing, that should hit shelves before x-mas 11. It's pretty insane and gratifying to see people posting images of themselves rocking the patches from CONUS to Iraq and Afghanistan. More to come there hopefully...

Speaking of BPRE, pencils on issue 2 are done and we are hoping to have the entire book inked before NY Comic Con so I can letter the whole thing and submit it for printing ASAP.

For fans of the games, initial design work has concluded and production kicked off on a new isometric BPRE action game inspired heavily by Bullfrog's Syndicate and Syndicate Wars. Over the past 4 months, I charted a rough sketch of the game out in pixels and then used the Starcraft II Galaxy Editor to make it "real" and by real I mean a fast and dirty proof of concept.

Incidentally, we launched a new BPRE website here. I decided to push the new material a little more caustic and go less with the Frontline Documentary-War Photographer vibe I had been trying to cultivate. I still have a BPRE coffee table book that I want to make one day with the images we made for BPRE and some short stories thrown in.

Back to Haley Strategic, you may or may not know that I was the lead creative and writer for the recently released Bravo Company MFG website. It's one of the largest video, photo and web projects I've directed and it is certainly one of my best commercial pieces to date. Learned a ton on it and am hoping to turn that on a BPRE short film in the near future (:

So what else...

I recently purchased the "new" Escape from New York Blu-Ray. Unfortunately, there's fuck-all that's new with it. Even better, turns out it's a foreign release Blu-Ray. None of the extras work on my Blu-Ray player(PS3) and the film was mastered with a deep green hue that doesn't match what's on the Special Edition DVD(apparently the definitive version of the film) at all. That's not to say it doesn't look OK, but they went deep and dark with the blacks and lost a ton of detail as a result. For those who know me, this is one of the first films that had a lasting impact on the way I write and create. John Carpenter and Kurt Russel went on to make The Thing and Big Trouble in Little China together, which are both master pieces in their own right, but EFNY will always be number one in my heart (:

I snuck out to Two by Four, a BMX shop in Pennsville, NJ, to catch riders from; FBM, Fit, Shadow and Subrosa as well a swarm of local kids tearing up a bunch of ramps, bars and some rounds of Feet Down and Bunny Hop. Highest jump was 3 feet 6 inches. Unreal and inspiring to see. We never had a clue any of this was even possible when I was kid. Want to go out and ride tomorrow :-D

Music wise the latest Sex Machineguns album SMG is dominating the iPod/CD player followed by the new Merry album Beautiful Freaks (actually available in the US via iTunes). SMG maybe the best record in the entire Sex Machineguns catalog, relentless shred and fun, the whole thing just gets me pumping. The Merry record is also the best the band has dropped since I first got into them in 2004. Every song is haunting, creepy and really captures distress in an incredibly catchy idiom. Both are highly recommended ^_^

New Syndicate title was announced by EA this past week. I am cautiously optimistic.

BF3 Beta began. After 3 days of play, I ordered a new video card. Long story short, I have a smoking card for a DX9 system. BF3 requires DX11. I had bumped to Windows 7 earlier this year but performance on a lot of my games and game editors, quite frankly, was terrible. With BF3 and CODMW3 right around the corner, I'm hoping the new card, GTX570, gets the job done and I don't have to grab an i7 to get the full performance bump I need for 60 frames stable.

Despite nearly a full month between locations, October and November look like more of the same. I was hoping to park myself in the NY area for a few weeks but it looks like that won't be in the cards now :\

OK. Hasta.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Black Powder \\ Red Earth Issue 1 is out!

The first issue of my graphic novel series has finally been released! I've been working on BPRE in some form or another since 2002. I've met so many people and learned so much writing this story, I hope I've been able to do them some justice in this work.

Click here to buy a copy! Thanks!