Welcome to the Devil’s Playground…

I’m back, and I’ve had a LOT of free time. And you know what that means … FANART! WITH JACKALS!

Wait, what?

Well, you know that phase all aspiring artists go through where they draw people as animals? All the people, all the animals? Partly because cartoons and partly on account of how humans are way better at noticing problems with a drawing of a human face versus an anthropomorphic animal face?

Well, as you may or may not have noticed by now, I never really got over that phase.

I also never got over the “must associate all thoughts, actions, occurrences, etc. with a song” phase, though to be fair it’s much easier to finish a time-intensive drawing project when you have a song or two to tie it to. Keeps things consistent.

So, of the TV series I’m currently keeping up with, Lucifer was the first to go on hiatus, and the show that’s not currently running is somehow the one you always end up thinking about the most. I actually wanted to do some kind of artwork tied to the song “Eden” by Guster, which immediately reminded me of the show (but listen to the live version, the harmonies are much nicer). But then I heard Devil’s Playground by Rigs, and … well c’mon, that’s a no-brainer. Even YouTube’s comment crew are on board with this one, and they don’t even think that Run Baby Run is a werewolf song.

Anyhow.

Piano, a male and female duet, and lyrics that might as well be the slogan for Maze and Lucy’s establishment. C’est parfait. Unfortunately, I don’t draw people. And not for … well, not entirely for want of trying. Besides, it’s much more fun to try to match a human character to an appropriate animal equivalent, and since canids tend to be the easiest to draw, I started there. Lucifer and co. aren’t exactly human, so I decided dogs (my usual go-to) were out. Jackals are associated with the afterlife, making them an obvious choice for Amenadiel and Lucifer. One has black wings and one has white scars, so Lucy got to be the taller Side-Striped Jackal while Amenadiel (who’s not actually in this picture, but what would I be if I didn’t always have at least one work-in-progress going?) will get the smaller Black-Backed Jackal. Mazikeen is a different beast entirely, and between her personality and the colors she wore in the finale, a Red Fox  seemed appropriate.

I can’t draw pianos either, for what it’s worth, but in this case it felt kind of indispensable, so I threw together the most piano-shaped blob I could manage and added a thingy that might look like a piano bench (by the time I got to that bench I wasn’t even up to doing a Google image search, honestly. OKAY FINE I PUT VERY LITTLE EFFORT INTO THE PROPS). I even almost made a background! And added shadows that sorrrrt of take into account the direction of the light! Kind of! Basically, it took long enough that I’m breaking my “no digitally-drawn pictures” rule on this blog again.

So without further ado, here’s the work of my idle hands:

Playground

 

Have an average day….

I do in fact hope you have a happy Easter or Sunday or whatever, but this was one of those “first thing that comes to mind” titles; a Russian instructor (the instructor was Russian, the course was Linguistics) of mine would send us out of class like this after observing the doggedly upbeat insincerity of American greetings and farewells (particularly in classrooms and checkout counters). He once actually did wish us all good day, and it was deeply unsettling.

Anyhow, here’s an Easter bunny, very nearly too late for the actual holiday, decorated in a style vaguely reminiscent of those beloved fancy pysanka/pisanka/Easter eggs from Eastern Europe (most famously Russia … see, that wasn’t an *entirely* random anecdote up there).

ColorBunny

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some pop-singer covers of Disney songs to listen to (including the only version of It’s a Small World that I really like). This is what comes of having free time to organize the CDs in the Youth department….

A leaf on the wind…

Easter bunnies are so next-holiday. For the first day of spring, I present you with: The Equinox Raccoon! I think she’s like the Easter Bunny except instead of giving you candy she steals it and watches it dissolve in the river….

Lotor

Okay okay, clearly my previous Zootopia post taught me nothing about perpetuating negative animal stereotypes. What can I say, bad childhood experience involving a campground and a May basket. They took the Sundaes, man. I LOVED Sundaes.

However, I also love the raccoon’s species name, lotor, which means “washer.” It’s the unofficial name of this piece (I’ll come up with something different when I put the design up for sale, because who the heck searches for “lotor” unless they’re looking for one of those somewhat dreadful lesser-read Jean Craighead George books where she apparently went “let’s just name all the animal characters after their actual exact Latin names and be done with it, even the ones that sound super weird”), and is what inspired me to go with a watery motif for the decoration.

It’s also what inspired my admittedly-lazy title quote, in a roundabout way … think about it for a sec … yep, there you go. Having forced you to dredge up the memory of that scene, however, I’ll also give you a moment to shake your fist at the heavens and curse Joss Whedon’s name or whatever.

….

Okay, that’s enough of that now. Also, I feel myself on the verge of a lengthy and unnecessary ramble about how raccoons don’t really “wash” their food but it’s interesting how their behavior of appearing to do so has been so influential in the names used for the species over the years… so to cut that short entirely, we’ll veer sharply into an unrelated tangent: Kickstarter! I actually got to write some stuff this time! But not too much, because if you let me write more than a sentence at a time you tend to wind up with things like that last blog post of mine. Oof. Yep, snarky one-liners making fun of other people’s writing are where it’s at.

Check out Out Of the Box, where I “work” as the “editor” at a “company” … well, you get the gist, the whole thing’s fictional. I will actually be editing the books though, should the project take off, which basically means I get to sit around correcting other people’s grammar. Who doesn’t love that?

 

A real articulate fella…

So, yesterday I got around to seeing Zootopia. I’d tried to avoid too many spoilers, although of course the fact that my workplace got a copy of the movie storybook before the movie actually aired (yay!) and it looked so pretty that I was unable to avoid paging through it before reshelving it (oops!) made that slightly more difficult than anticipated. Luckily I managed to stop myself before I got to any major plot points.
As is the case far more often with animated than live-action movies (I’m looking at YOU, the-last-five-reboots-I-watched), I feel like my expectations for this one were just in the right place. I wasn’t especially wowed or anything, but I was already expecting to enjoy it, and overall I did.

There were definitely some points to note, though. Buckle up, major amount of words (and one pretty picture!) coming your way after the jump…

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I beg your pardon….

Coloring is hard. The coloring-book craze has kind of baffled me, due mainly to the ridiculously intricate designs that seem to be popular. They’re beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but … I would not have the patience to sharpen that many pencils, let alone keep track of which color went next to what to avoid overlap.

…It’s possible I’m approaching this the wrong way.

Nevertheless, I prefer working with simple color drawings and complex grayscale ones. But in the spirit of the adult coloring book craze, I decided to draw a rather decorative cheetah. I somewhat arbitrarily chose vines for the appendages (morning glory for the limbs, roses for the tail), a fern for the chest/belly, and completely random stylized leaves and ray flowers for the rest of the body.

pard

There’s no way I would color all that in even to see what it looks like, but it was a lot of fun to draw! I’m working on cleaning it up and vectorizing it, and I’ll have it up in my shops soon.

As for today’s title, in hindsight it’s sort of only funny to me. The WIP name for this was “jungle cat,” just because there were plants and it’s a feline. Then I saved the file as “pard” because the jaguar/leopard association had already been made in my head (and “acinonyx” takes too long to type anyhow). Also, the roses were the last part I drew. So when I was trying to think of a better name for the finished product, “roses” and “pard” were in my head, and I reflected that the design was more like a garden.

Aaaand thus the Lynn Anderson song. Incidentally, for all of that I am no closer to finding a good name….

Catch me if you can….

It wasn’t until this past episode that I finally realized it: The Flash is a Pokemon. I don’t know how I didn’t see it until now. His trainers periodically teach him new attacks like Thunderbolt and Hurricane in order to overpower and capture other super-powered creatures in the vicinity, who will be stored in impossibly small cells where basic requirements like eating, drinking and exercise are apparently suspended indefinitely. You’ll get around to letting them out and leveling them up … eventually. Or maybe you’ll just trade them to the Green version for a higher-level character from Iron Heights (just be sure you have enough experience to control him). Speaking of gaining experience, battle injuries should be attended to, of course — but after a good five-second rest your Flash will be fighting fit!

If you’re not sure how something works, never fear; the disembodied voice of the Professor will probably kick in if you try to do something stupid.

I realize this isn’t really an unusual superhero formula, but last Tuesday … last Tuesday was Flash vs. King Shark. Man. I had SO many potential scenes to illustrate my point here, so I’m going to list some of the options I didn’t go with:

TRAINER threw some BAIT at KINGSHARK!

KINGSHARK is eating!

KINGSHARK ran!

Or maybe…

LYLA: PIKAFLASH has already beaten KINGSHARK once before — this gym should be a snap!

[characters pass a CENTRAL CITY STADIUM sign]

[they find themselves on a dock facing an expanse of water with a single stone outcropping, the familiar stadium lines marked with a string of buoys]

DIGGLE: [with a classic buzzkill BROCK-frown] Water is KINGSHARK’s natural habitat. It’s gonna be a lot stronger here.

The list goes on, really. But for simplicity’s sake, I wound up with this:

SuperEffective

Didn’t even need to change the main dialogue for this one, it was THAT “mid-battle physics break for the kiddies” already. Would’ve been better to have Wells’ face on a little screen, phoning in Oak-style from the lab, instead of moving the dialogue to a character in the actual scene, but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to draw a little silhouette in “enthusiastic trainer pose.”

King Shark is, of course, a Sharpedo/Mega Sharpedo (is there really a difference?). Raichu would have more Flash-like ears and better contrast with the suit, but the idea of little Pikachu winning with its speed moves (in the spirit of that fateful battle with Surge) won out.

Also, convenient coincidence, today is Pokemon’s 20th anniversary! Festivity! Events! Limited-edition things! An opportunity for 20-somethings to feel old! I wore my Marowak dogtag (“Copyright Nintendo 1998”) to work, tucked under my shirt so I could look all respectable and library-y while totally keeping an eye out for wild Pokemon. I may have to break out my old Pokemon battle coins that neither I nor anyone I knew EVER learned how to play with….

(BONUS nostalgia round: a drawing, circa I-have-no-idea-how-long-ago, of my gen. 2 Pokemon team, which apparently consisted of Dragonair @ King’s Rock, Furret @ Pink Bow, Sandslash @ Soft Sand, Umbreon @ Blackglasses, Typhlosion — because you always choose the Fire starter —  @ Charcoal, and Houndoom being a grumpus because it’s Umbreon’s turn to wear the glasses and she doesn’t even have a proper nose to keep them on straight)

PokeGang

Looking up at the stars…

OwlB

Okay, I have a confession. In the words of today’s title song, “Don’t be offended, this might seem a little wrong”… but I never really got into the Harry Potter books or films. They just came out at the wrong time for me, I guess. Now obviously I recognize and know something about Alan Rickman’s character, due to my being a human being who has used the internet, but honestly? The first movie I think of when I see his face is Love Actually, since I watch it every year. I acknowledge that he was an integral part of a series that had a huge impact on multiple generations of readers and viewers. I just wasn’t one of those viewers or readers. So, while I empathize with the obvious grief that is being felt by the people around me by his loss, I can’t really share in it to such a personal degree. To me he was just a respected actor among many.

But then there’s David Bowie. He’s why I can confidently use “empathize” rather than “sympathize” with the aforementioned group – I’ve had to explain to people that David Bowie died and even who David Bowie was, and I have difficulty imagining how someone could not know these things. But of course it’s perfectly plausible and acceptable, and furthermore it’s an (awfully) perfect mirror to my reaction to Rickman’s death. “Who? Let me look it up … ohhhh, I know him now.” Perhaps I wouldn’t go so far as to say Labyrinth played as big a part in my childhood as Harry Potter did for others, and I’m far from being a connoisseur of Bowie’s music, but the combined weight of all his work certainly left a big impression. Then of course there are the secondary forms — the wonderful UK series Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes, for example, or the many space-related movies and TV shows that have found a rich trove of soundtrack material in Bowie’s music (I always smile when I hear “Starman” in the background of that Christmas episode of Doctor Who).

And then we come full circle with songs themselves. Mika’s “Good Guys,” which I chose for today, works well enough for anyone saddened by the rash of high-profile deaths that started the new year, but I dare you not to choke up a little at “Thank you Emerson, and Bowie for my dreams.” Those iconic musicians like Davie Bowie and Freddie Mercury (whom he references in another song) clearly influenced Mika’s music and style, and I’m a sucker for favorite artists of mine paying tribute to each other (though Bowie was alive when the song was written — AND I completely missed that little line back when this song came out last spring, presumably too preoccupied with the Oscar Wilde reference).

Okay, that’s as sappy as I can stand to be for a while. I guess I forgot to explain the picture, didn’t I? Not much to explain; the barn owl for Labyrinth, black stars for the album, far above the moon for Space Oddity, etc. etc. I threw it together for a profile picture on Monday, and while I try to avoid digital art on here it seemed appropriate (and already made).

I had a good nostalgia trip this week, but now I’m going to make a point of finding some brand-new music and movies to enjoy. Even the brightest stars start somewhere….