Aug 28, 2012

Dragoncon 2012

Dragoncon 2012  has come and gone!

I wait all year for this event and it's over so quickly! I met some awesome people, tried out a new costume, and took a large number of pictures, which will be up very soon. There will also be another Dragoncon podcast, so watch for that as well.

Below is an awesome video by Beat Down Boogie that captures the fun and magic of Dragoncon! Below that are some Dragoncon-related links to check out while you're waiting for this year's pics!

  • A Tribute To Ernest Borgnine - I met Ernest Borgnine in costume at last year's Dragoncon. Sadly, he has passed away, and this post is a tribute to his incredible movie and television career

  • The Magnum Arts Dragoncon Podcast - Enjoy this entertaining podcast I created during Dragoncon2011, complete with music and interviews! Look for a Dragoncon podcast for this year!

  • Dragoncon Artists - A review of some of the incredible artists, with links to their websites, that I encountered last year. Dragoncon is an ideal place to meet, and learn from, artists

  • Dragoncon 2011 Pictures - Some of the best photos I took from last year's Dragoncon, along with links to other Dragoncon posts

Aug 21, 2012

You Just Don't Get It, Do You?

There are certain Hollywood cliches that you see a lot. Dialogue or scenes that have been done so often they are stale, tired and evidence of lazy writing. Here are a couple of examples I can think of right off the bat:
  • The homicide detective who arrives at a crime scene and asks, "What have we got?"
  • A character noticing he/she's being followed by someone, and saying, "We've got company."
  • The irresponsible, reckless, weird or lazy main character whom nobody thinks highly of being the one that somehow saves the day (a tired action movie plot device if there ever was one)
And of course, the line, "You just don't get it, do you?"

It's more commonly used than you might think. 

Aug 20, 2012

Cartooning & Drawing Demonstrations

This past weekend I conducted two cartooning and drawing demonstrations, one for the town of Safety Harbor during its Artist on Main Street festival, the other at the Countryside Mall for the Dunedin Fine Arts Center, where I was offering free five minute drawing lessons.

Demos are a good way to swing by, check out samples of my work,and find out more about the Cartooning & Drawing classes I teach.

Aug 19, 2012

MTV's Liquid Television

When I was in college there was one program I tried never to miss: Liquid Television on MTV, which showcased cutting edge animated shorts. I had a VCR and recorded each show on VHS tape so my buds and I could kick back and watch them whenever we wanted.

Yeah, VHS tapes. I had a trunk filled with them, full of movies and TV shows. I know, I'm showing my age. So sue me.

It was one of the best things on TV. Now, Viacom, which owns MTV, has put all of these awesome animated shorts on-line, and even better, allowed them to be embedded! Click on the picture at left, or HERE, to take you to the site.

So! Kick back and dig these awesome vids!

The Big City 
This is one of my favorites: cool, retro animation, a funky, flawless rap and a vibe that will have you movin' your head!

Get More: MTV Shows

Don't Go In The Basement (performed by the Mystic Knights)

Get More: MTV Shows

The Bill and Willis Show
This is a great one, with innovative puppetry, starring two losers who head to a swap meet and have a Jack-In-The-Beanstalk experience

Get More: MTV Shows

This one is very trippy, and involves an industrial accident that spawns huge super bugs. The animation is very retro and fun to watch

Get More: MTV Shows

Aeon Flux
This is a longer animation, without dialogue, about the super spy Aeon Flux, who infiltrates a hostile city with a great deal of gunfire and spectacular stunts. This was the basis for the film of the same name that came out.

The Maxx
While this one was actually on another MTV program called Oddities, I'm putting it here. The Maxx is a purple creature that bounces back and forth between the modern world and an ancient world. Maxx is taken care of by Julie. It's a non-linear, trippy televison series with truly innovative animation.

Star Wars Weekends 2011 Group Photo

This is a group photo of members of the 501st and Rebel Legions back stage at Disney's Hollywood Studios during Star Wars Weekends 2011. I am in the front row, the sixth from the right, in my Imperial Officer costume. This photo was taken by a Disney photographer before that day's parade began.

Aug 15, 2012

Teaming Up With Sakura

Micron pens are the only kind of fine art pens I use. I have a bag full of them with which I draw my sketches, the graphic novel I'm working on, and everything else.

When I teach inking in my drawing classes I introduce my students to Microns, who love them as well. (full disclosure: I am not being paid by Sakura of America, which makes the pens, but they have provided me with promotional materials).

Microns can be hard to find. The channel to get them into the hands of users leaves a lot to be desired, which is too bad. They deserve to get a lot more exposure than they're receiving.

So I contacted Sakura of America, which makes them, and offered to help them promote these pens. They sent me a box of samples and giveaways, which I will be distributing during drawing demonstrations, including the upcoming Safety Harbor arts fest on the 17th. 

I am also going to try something new: I'm in the process of getting the proper licenses to sell Microns directly to my students and people who visit my tables at art shows. There will be more details on this to come, but for now I can tell you that opening up the channels of distribution for companies like Sakura will help artists and students more easily discover and acquire the tools they need to create. 

One of the things Sakura sent me was a nifty Manga drawing guide; I will be handing out these as well during my drawing demos, so be sure to come out to get one!

Aug 14, 2012

The War On Photography Continued

Assault on Photography Continues

Photography continues to be a source of conflict across the country, especially as more people are carrying phones that take pictures and video, and legally using them to document not only their interactions with the police, but of things they see every day.

You have a camera. This could affect you as well.

Mickey H. Osterreicher is the general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association and edits the organization’s Advocacy Committee blog.  The New York Times has an excellent interview with Osterreicher in which he describes the increasing amount of harassment people are facing from the police and security personnel, erroneously citing terrorism as a reason to suppress people's rights to take pictures in public. There is also a shocking amount of ignorance by police about what is legal and what is not. It is well worth reading, so that if you are confronted about taking pictures, you know what your rights are.

Many police (not all) contend that people taking pictures of them endanger them, citing terrorism as an excuse. However, there is no evidence that terrorists took photographs of any of their targets. None. Yet the rationale continues.
  • Timothy McVeigh, who used explosives to attack a courthouse, took no pictures
  • The raid on Osama Bin Ladin's compound revealed no photographs of intended targets
  • The terrorists who attacked the Word Trade Center took no photographs of the Twin Towers complex
Many police departments view advocates of photography as being anti-police, but this is simply not the case. Police have a great deal of power. They can detain you, deprive you of your freedoms, issue citations that can cost you a great deal of money, time and stress, all of which give them the power to intimidate. Such power demands oversight. If the police can record us, there is no justification for preventing us from recording our encounters with them. There is nothing anti-police in this at all.

Stay Calm and Respectful

In this video that takes place in Tampa, at the federal courthouse building, both the officer and the photographer are calm and respectful; indeed they have a reasonable debate about the rights of photographers in public places. There is no reason for such encounters to become confrontational; watch how the photographer stays calm as he debates the officer and stands up for his rights. This is how to conduct yourself during such an encounter.

A Terry Stop, by the way, is a legal term, meaning a brief detention by the police based on a reasonable suspicion that the person is involved in a crime, but without enough probable cause to make an arrest. If you are detained by the police you have to provide identification when asked. If you are not being detained by the police, than in many cases you are not legally required to provide identification. Read more about Terry Stops HERE. 

Jump to :34 to where the officer approaches the photographer

In the video below, activist Jimmy Justice explains how to safely and respectfully stand up for your rights when faced with demands that you stop legally taking pictures or video. Justice expresses a respect for police, and the difficult jobs they perform, while advocating a respectful, reasoned response.

Remember, the rights you have as Americans you have only because they were defended. If you do not exercise these rights, you will find you no longer have them

LINK to Photography Is Not A Crime, Carlos Miller's excellent pro-photography blog

LINK to The National Press Photographers Association, a tireless advocate of the rights of all photographers

Aug 1, 2012

Keeping A Promise: Rescuing A Sailor's Home

This is a feel-good post about people who came together to help someone who was in need of help, and it has a happy ending.

John Burki, known to his friends as Captain Jay, lives aboard the sailboat Promise, in Gulfport with his dog Dreamer. When Tropical Storm Debby blew through the state, Burki's boat was driven onto the beach, its keel buried in sand. A former Navy SEAL, he is retired and has been living on the Promise for the past two years.

[Click on all pictures for a larger view]
all photos copyright Magnum Arts
To see the huge gallery of pictures, click HERE
LINK to the Tampa Bay Times news story

Burki was in a bind: the town of Gulfport wanted the boat off the beach, and began fining him, but Burki could not afford to hire a company to move the boat off the beach. Gulfport told Burki that it would chop up the boat and haul it away as scrap unless a way was found to move it. 

So Steve Smith organized volunteers to push the boat off of the sand and anchor it in deeper water. 

Captain Jay was in the hospital with a broken jaw, having been attacked two nights before by a felon with a long rap sheet. He saw the activity on the news from his hospital bed.

At 8 AM, the Promise lays grounded just feet from the shore. 

The keel, anywhere from seven to twelve feet long, was buried in the sand and this meant Promise would have to be rolled onto her side. Two large straps are wrapped around the hull fore and aft.

Several lines are attached to the Promise, tied to boats anchored further off shore. It is critical that all lines are taken up equally, so that the weight is evenly distributed as the vessel is pulled.

A flooded aluminum rowboat will provide an additional counter weight to help pull out the keel

Rain falls across the bay as volunteers coordinate their efforts

The beachfront park was crowded with spectators, news trucks and the curious

Keeping the rowboat filled with water...reverse bailing in action

An old dingy holds a pump that will be used to suck sand away from the keel, using a long hose

Steve Smith supervises the volunteers' efforts aboard the Promise, which looks like it's smiling

Volunteers assemble to begin pushing the Promise from the underside. As they push, the slack from the lines attached to boats anchored offshore will be continually tightened, so that Promise does not slip back into the sand. 

Two teams push on the bow and stern in an attempt to rock the keel out of the sand. Shouts of "HEAVE!!" and "HO!!!" fill the air, mingled with the grunts of exertion, as volunteers push with all their might

A motorboat races back and forth to generate waves that will help free the Promise.

Below: two larger boats raced around in circles to generate larger, rolling waves to help the volunteers

The efforts are paying off; the angle of list is much steeper

The barnacle encrusted propeller shaft becomes visible behind the rudder. Below, much more of the underside of the vessel is now visible.


The Promise floats away from the sand bar, but gets hung up on a second sand bar. Undeterred, the volunteers continue their efforts

A tired but happy group of volunteers celebrate their success in saving a man's home. There is nothing like the feeling of helping someone. It just brightens your whole day.

Below, the Promise in its new mooring.