Tribute to Christopher Reeve, the Man of Steel, Last Post for #Inktober2018

Did this while at the local petrol station stop. I have always been amazed by Christopher Reeve who portrayed Superman on the big screen – successfully for four movies! That is a feat of its own. Compare that with Henry Cavill’s foray and you can see four FULL movies is an achievement of its own. What is more important is his example that paralysis and tragedy does not necessary end in misery and suicide. No, Christopher lived on, and found strength to press on till he died in 2004.

Here is to the ‘Man of Steel’ who showed us that strength is not when you are able to do everything, but true strength is the ability to do something when everything goes wrong. We need that more, especially in a time when circumstances change is constant.

This was done entirely with Pentel Brush Pen. Not a single drop of Pigma Micron ink here. No regrets, except that horrifying error under his lips… the brush was not as dry as I thought it was. But you know what? I left it there… somehow it brings out Christopher’s iconic smile out. I like it. Providential mistakes that adds to the structure and form of the whole. This is how our lives are, if we take the time to look at it properly.

The Man of Steel, SUPERMAN, for #INKTOBER 2018

Let us end this October with my first superhero: Superman! I was a big fan after watching him on screen, portrayed by the late Christopher Reeves. He was what we would want of a superhero – massive, powerful, gentle, emphatic, ethically sound and a man of his word. In recent years, he has undergone quite a lot of changes, but for me, the best ‘version’ of him is the one told by Grant Morrison and drawn by Frank Quitely, those two British men (I think Frank is a Brit, although I may be wrong here) in their monumental 12 issues “All-Star Superman”.

Although I am a fan of Jim Lee (who isn’t!), I would have to say that Stuart Immonen gave a very realistic, and powerful rendering in the mini-series, “Superman: Secret Identity”. Which brings me to my own sketch of Clark Kent’s alter-ego, or should I say Kal-el. I used my small posable figurine for this – which is why the anatomy is better this time around (I think). 95% of it is all dry Pentel Brush Pen – I did not bother pressing the remaining ink downwards. I think I can understand why some people really like this brush… it does give off nice textures, especially shadows.

Hope you enjoy this! If there is enough time, I will try to draw ONE more, to end this month of INKS! Viva Inktober!

NaNoWriMo 2018 – Overview (Planning Stage)

The planning stage for any writing endeavour is tedious but rewarding

There are so many angles in which I can take to ‘attack’ this challenge: do I go for a science fiction approach? Or should I go for a more ‘fictional’ approach – that is more grounded to reality? This is certainly some of the problems I seem to encounter so early in the planning stage for the month long writing marathon.

Perhaps I should do a series of short series from this ‘world’ and then try to incorporate them into a greater ‘epic’ storyline? Perhaps, but that demands a lot more planning. What interest me at the moment is cyber-technology in the 21st century – what has been proposed and envisioned in high works like Masamune Shirow’s Ghost in the Shell series (manga, anime, movies, TV series, etc.). It is an interesting backdrop of espionage, government intervention, covert operations, ethical dillemmas and all that is common to the ‘cyberpunk’ genre.

But then again, there is an angle that I have not encountered yet – perhaps it is because of my lack of indulgence in the local scene – cyberpunk in my own country; Malaysia. How would that scene look like in the 22nd century? Will we still be a sovereign nation, that is still established on a British governmental system? Would the political scene change? Would the ethnic breakdown in the country be the same? How different would the international scene be? I suspect, for some time now, that there will be a big clash between the two major superpower blocks – which one can argue is led by America and China, or the West against the East. Would that be the time when global issues escalate and ‘correct’ itself in cyberspace? How damaging will it be? With every nook of our economy tied to cyberspace, it is not wrong to make extreme speculation – of mass genocide and displacement of people, especially the identity of people. Imagine, in a time when paper records are nearly extinct, what happens when whole information servers are wiped out? Along with the backups? What about digital money and the function of banks, exchanges in countries? How will this affect individuals and societies? Will anarchy reign? There is another angle as well – religion. In a world that is so fragmented by the issue of religion, how will religion comfort, correct or confront the problems posed in a global cyberwarfare? Is the developed nations prepared for such radical changes? What if the Chinese people that are globally dispersed are coerced somehow to unite against the rest? What if religion unite and seek to overthow the ‘godless’ pagans? Where can we find refuge? Where can we find sanctuary in a world that is physically hostile to a people who had never bothered to care for her?

This is interesting. This requires a lot of research to bring out the issues, and more importantly, the horrible truth of how close we are to such a situation. In the midst of a modern, global warfare (physical and digital), how would a small country that is filled with political, societal and economical problems cope? Will there be liberalisation of the people or a conservative progression? Who will take advantage of the chaos? Who will be the heroes? And if history ever teach humans anything, it is this: heroes are often those who sacrifice what others are unwilling to give up. These are the ones who are forgotten or made into scapegoats after the resolution of the issues. Heroes, true heroes, are never remembered fully for what they have done – but their weaknesses and failings are exploited by the wicked and wolves.

When I posit the context in this way – it is certainly an interesting backdrop for a novel to tackle. I believe pushing the story to the 22nd century makes more sense as the current leaps and development enjoyed by all, can never be sustained, but are confined to certain periods of human history. We have crossed that, after the last half millenium. Things will slow down, and stagnant. What will change is the moral and heart dilemmas – as we have seen in the Renaisance and then the Reformation, so also we will see huge global heart issues that will challenge our very existence, the question of ‘why are we here?’ and ‘what are we here for?’.

Would a ‘budak kampung’, a village boy, survive in a world that is so entrenched in the digital world of the 22nd century? Will this young man in his late teens who has lived his life off-the-grid be able to reclaim his identity that has been stolen by a covert cabal of powerful political individuals to orchestrate the elaborate downfall of the nation’s financial system – and commit political assassination of the top governmental officers. How can this young man fight in a world that is so foreign and alien to him, and not only survive, but thrive against external forces that seek to destroy the last resistance of the newly established empire in the East? Here is an unlikely hero, along with his motley companions, who will learn the pain, trials and failures of fighting against odds in an unknown world; for the sake of a people who will never acknowledge, accept and allign with them.

My tentative title for NaNoWriMo 2018:

“Identity_Unknown: Kamal_Asrin”

Or

“Doxing Cyforce57”

Spider-Man TRAPPED! Injured Web-Crawler in the Next #INKTOBER Post!

I should be happy that I have managed to churn out ANOTHER new Inktober sketch! Inktober is coming to a CLOSE and I have to admit that I am glad for my participation even though the art has been less than stellar. But I vow to improve, and improvement COMES from constant practice, so ART will not stop even though Inktober is coming to an end.

As I was ideating for today’s art, I was surprised that I have not covered my favourite Super-hero, GOOD OLE-Spidey! Peter Parker is someone that is easily relatable. Even though he was conceived in the 60’s, his circumstances is different from the ‘classy’ heroes in publication then. He was no millionaire, nor an alien, or one who is a role model to the disadvantaged. In fact, HE WAS CONSTANTLY disadvantaged. Even his powers is a disadvantage to him, as it gave him an awareneess of responsibility – the burden of caring for others, instead of himself. Whereas his friends were able to do as they like, Peter was constantly late for classes, struggling with finances and worrying for his elderly aunt. His powers failed to give him the comfort and advantage he hoped for – it cost him the life of his uncle. No, Peter Parker’s life is very close to reality. Real power comes with real responsibilities.

His strength is in his determination and his perseverance to overcome his disadvantages and troubles that comes his way. And this is what we will always remember of him. Spider-man fighting ridiculous odds and yet surviving through them, doing what is right even though it will cost him. He has lost many things. His love, his wife, his family, his fortunes, and yet, we have Spider-man month after month plodding through his life.

Cyclops (of the X-Men) Versus Sentinels, #Inktober 2018

After so many failures with Cyclops this month, I finally made one that I am quite happy with. This is a rare piece where everything (except my signature and Inktober hashtag) was done with Pentel Pen Brush! It just felt… Right. I think I should continue with the brush until I have mastered it somewhat before trying a different tool. Actually, it is more like… “until I have more confidence…”.

My first encounter with the former leader of the X-Men we back in the classic X-Men in Murderworld computer game, which featured Marc Silvestri’s amazing art! The fearless leader with concussive force blasts (not laser) shooting from his eyes became my favourite. And the first enemy that he encounters in the game is the Sentinels! These fearsome mutant-hunting robots were menacing. More so as they continue to be improved. This is where I drew the inspiration for the above piece.

More to come, as I get a hang of the brush.

NaNoWriMo – I Am Going to Join this Massive Challenge!

Are you ready? 

The first time I tried NaNoWriMo (years ago, nearly a decade ago), I dropped out after a few days. Writing 50,000 words in a month is DAUNTING! Especially when you have not done it before. This is ALL about disciplining oneself. Well, truth be told, this requires a LOT of planning before hand. 

I know it is tempting to start writing, but the textbook answer is to make LOADS of preparation. Especially if you are writing fiction – the kind of research and material needs to be done before hand. World building IS necessary, unless you are expecting small kids to read your words. (I honestly doubt they would want to read cover-to-cover, 50k words, a work that has no consistency within itself). 

So… what will I be writing? Science Fiction would be my preferred genre. Fiction by itself requires a lot more planning to ensure that the level of realism holds for the reader. Hope for the best! If you are joining, let me know… we all could use the support and motivation 🙂

Batman, the Dark Knight – Sketch for #Inktober 2018

Two Panel Test

I love comic books. Ever since my dad bought me my first American comic book – it was Superman fighting with Brainiac, and my second was a Spider-Man annual featuring Black Cat – I have been hooked. The fun part about comic books is the re-reading of it. I was telling my wife the other day how I kept re-reading old Tintin books every few years, because the story becomes clearer and different for me as my vocabulary and understanding grew. I have to add also that I re-read also because of my growing art appreciation. 

I am those quitters from young. I have never finished a comic book story before. The fun part was to plan and dream up the story and all, but the execution was bad. I hope to finish one before the end of the year – at least to have the satisfaction of checking one off the ‘bucket list’. 

Daredevil Black & White / Red – Inktober 2018

Black & White sketch with Pentel Pen Brush

Just rolling with the vibe after finishing the Season 3 binge! This was without any reference – Yes, I think I know why people opt for references especially when they are still amateurs (like me). But I just wanted to just sketch something that I will not throw away. Thought of putting more textures on this piece, and to see how it works. Yes, the backdrop is manga inspired. Manga artists are different from their Western counterpart (even the Europeans have their style). 

This is a horrible piece (I know), but somehow I did not feel like crumpling the page, so here it is. Experimental. And then, after lunch, I just thought of colouring red over Daredevil (making him look like the Flash)… Hahahaha… the end result seems worse than the previous one. 

Red Daredevil… Not Flash, although I can see the resemblance.

Anatomy is not correct… I know. Sigh… 

Must Watch – Daredevil Season 3

Daredevil Volume 2 Issue 4, Page 10

This was a pleasant surprise. My review is that Daredevil’s latest season 3 is the best Marvel TV series (Netflix) of them all. The focus is on the characters. For me, Matthew Murdock’s struggle with his faith and friends is believable and comes at a time when these same issues are not just academic, but personal. It is not hard to stand in the shoes of Matt this time around. 

For the first part of the season (the first arc), we have a hero that has fallen and is barely surviving. He lost his strength, health and his abilities. Stripped of his remarkable powers (enhanced senses) he is relegated back to being a scared, paranoid blind man, who seem to have lost everything. We get to delve into the mind of a person who wants to forsake everyone around him, for fear of pain and mounting guilt. History has taught Matt that those closest to him are those whom God takes away or whom he hurts the most. His only reaction is anger and rage. We see a broken man, struggling to come to terms with his loneliness and insecurity. 

As the season progresses, the main players come to the forefront. The Kingpin, Wilson Fisk, shows his masterful planning and manipulation. A sleight of hand that is so deftly done that it is believable. His manipulative, powerful mind is beautifully shown in his analysis of Dex, who becomes of one Daredevil’s most dangerous foe, Bullseye (though in this series, this nickname is not given). 

The ending arc shows the acting prowess of the cast members, particularly Sister Maggie and Agent Nadeem, played by Joanne Whalley and Jay Ali respectively. The twist and character focus pays off, as main issues are addressed and ‘revelations’ made. I like the ending – it is a springboard for the future seasons that WILL be made, despite Netflix’s cancellation of ‘Luke Cage’ and ‘Iron Fist’. There is just so much comic-connection and human emotions invested into this season. 

My favourite moments:

  • The single long-take in the 4th episode entitled “Blindsided”. It was a nearly 11 minutes long prison-fight sequence. Wonderfully shot – better than any sequence in the previous season or in the Punisher’s first season. Somehow I was reminded of Half Life (the game)… especially when the “lockdown is now in effect…” keeps repeating in the background.
  • Agent Nadeem’s heated exchange with Matt Murdock in Episode 12 entitled “One Last Shot”. Nadeem’s realisation is a needful moment for the audience to reflect and see how often we fall into the same trap that leaves us self-righteous and hypocritical – always maintaining a ‘victimhood’ mentality. Strong stuff. 
  • The fight at the church… in episode 10, clearly following Kevin Smith’s arc in the Marvel Knights reboot, which I reference below. There is the twist of course – do not worry, the TV version is different from the comic version. But still, the imagery was so similar, and strong. 

I truly give my HIGHEST recommendation for everyone to watch this. There is no sexual references, but violence is truly extreme – lots of blood every where. This is a human soul season. It focuses on the heart. It forces us to think whether we are complicit in the very things that we accuse others. It forces us to examine whether we truly have friends, or mere acquaintances. Finally, Daredevil develops to be the ‘man without fear’, a title that the comics constantly subtitle this hero.  

When I first read the trade paperback version, I felt the emotions conveyed in this last page of the issue. Heart-wrenching indeed. Beautifully illustrated by Joe Quesada (future EIC for Marvel when he drew this).