I’ve had a handful of new followers recently. Welcome to all of you! For those of you who are new, and thus probably not aware, from time to time I’ll blog simply for the sake of blogging. In doing so, I can force myself to organize the thoughts buzzing around in my skull, and for those interested it gives readers some insights as to what’s going on over here when seemingly nothing of relevance is getting posted.
That interview I promised may be some time coming. Things are super busy with a couple of stage shows, so Meredith’s time is likewise focused. No problem there on my end, but I felt you should know if you’re looking forward to that.
Not a full review (yet, because I want to dig deeper into the behind the scenes processes before I do), but I’ve seen Disney’s Moana. It’s incredible. In terms of form, it plays like a greatest hits of ideas we’ve seen before that exemplify Disney at its best. The South Pacific island culture is not only respectfully portrayed, the creative teams went out of their way to include the people and their culture at every step of the process. The animation took some new leaps and bounds, especially for hair, water, and lava effects. Technical achievements, all based on the techniques pioneered and perfected in the hand-drawn counterparts of yesteryear. If they can do what they did here, I can’t wait to see what future teams will be able to do with those tools. The little coconut creatures are, in my humble opinion, far better than Minions. Nasty little pieces of work, but fun. The music, of course, sets the mood and takes center stage. It’s every bit as catchy as what they did for Frozen, meaning it gets stuck in your head, and nowhere near as annoying. Color me surprised, but Dwayne Johnson can actually sing. His is the best song. The collaboration between Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Mancina, and Opetaia Foa’i really is one of those cases of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.
I think the thing that stands out for me the most is that it’s a Chosen One story done properly. I know, I know… the modern audience is so tired of the Chosen One story. If you’re in that camp, get over yourself. It’s one of the oldest and most popular stories in the whole of human culture for a reason. The problem isn’t the story or the theme, it’s presentation, which is something at which Disney excels. What most people never seem to get is that just because you’re chosen, it doesn’t mean the path is made easy for you. Quite the reverse, it means you have to learn to see what the path is where others can’t or won’t, and you still have to walk it against impossible odds. Overcoming fear, beating those odds, and cheating death in the process defines that line between being a hero and being a memory cast on the rocks of misfortune. This is the core of Moana‘s story. This is the kind of thing that inspires kids to rise above mediocrity.
Bonus points for the return of hand-drawn animation! Maui’s tattoos, and especially “Mini-Maui,” are animated by Eric Goldberg, the character designer and supervising animator for the Genie in Aladdin. That they were able to perfectly marry the hand-drawn to the computer animated so perfectly is nothing short of technical genius made to look effortless.
After marveling at the technical and storytelling achievements of that, I revisited Lilo & Stitch. Seemed appropriate at the time to compare the island cultures represented, but such is the way of Disney, you really can’t make any comparisons beyond that. Even so, it’s been a while since I watched that one, so I had fun. Somewhere along the way, I think I missed out on just how many sequels this movie really had. They’re now on the list to watch, but no idea when I’ll get to them.
On the audiobook front, I’m almost finished with the first book in Will Durant’s The Story of Civilization. I hope to have a review posted perhaps today, but likely tomorrow. I’m deeply impressed with this series. If this first volume is anything to judge by, this will be one of the best investments of time, effort, and money I’ve ever made.
I’ve recently acquired all four trade paperback volumes of Marvel’s Star Wars: Darth Vader series. I don’t even try to keep up with everything from Expanded Universe 3.0 anymore, regardless or not of what they claim is canon for now. But where the Dark Lord is concerned, and especially where he’s reported to have been given his proper due, I can’t help but be curious. I’ll probably bust through those this weekend as a palette cleanser from everything else. Between The Story of Civilization, all of the reading I’ve been doing on Medieval and Renaissance music lately, and little side trips into Shakespeare’s Henry V (hopefully that project blog will be coming soon), it’ll be nice to fully engage in some lighter reading for a few hours.
And through it all, I’ve somehow found some time to draw. I’m still trying to get closer to operating “on model,” so I’m working with a handful of Disney characters given my respect for Disney Animation, and since model sheets and a variety of poses are readily available all over the internet. When I get to the point where I’m proud enough of the work to post it, I’ll do so as I’ve done a time or two in the past. Jasmine looks far more evil than Jafar at this point for some reason, though I did make the rather surprising realization that she’s only 5 heads high. Quite the departure from either the realistic, fashion model, or superhero norms. Typically it’s your bulkier characters like The Thing or The Kingpin that are 5 heads high. Turns out, though, this is why Jasmine looks considerably more dainty than many of her princess counterparts, which has caused all manner of backlash from her critics. She’s still realistically proportioned, just on a different scale set. That’s a useful discovery.
My first effort last night on Jafar just looks absolutely craptastic. Not real proud of my Dumbo or Shere Khan either, but at least I can tell who they are. Sort of. Thinking on it, I don’t think I’ve ever drawn an elephant before now. The ones that are currently getting closest to model are Cinderella and Ariel. Cinderella’s ball dress is a bitch and her puppies, let me tell you. It looks deceptively simple (like most things Disney has cranked out over the years), but I’ve fought with that more than anything else lately. The lesson learned there, yet again, is to draw what’s really there instead of what I think I see. It really helps on proportion, which is typically my downfall. For variety’s sake, I attempted and failed spectacularly on Chewbacca. Crashed and burned. It wasn’t pretty. It helps to laugh about it though.
That’s pretty much it on my end, aside from work and the occasional concert. What’s going on in your world?