Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Another Look at Rocket Raccoon

Rocket Raccoon, Drax the Destroyer,
& evil Church dude

In Guardians of the Galaxy: The Complete Collection Volume 1 by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, our heroes fight an evil church bent on conquest and destruction. As these stories coincide with Marvel's mammoth Secret Invasion crossover, the Guardians discover that the shapeshifting Skrulls have infiltrated their ranks. How can any of them know that the others aren't Skrulls infiltrators?

Groot, Star-Lord, Cosmo, Rocket Raccoon, Quasar

The group is based on Knowhere, a space-city built into the excavated skull of an extinct Celestial. The city's Head of Security is Cosmo, a talking dog and former Russian Cosmonaut. When Knowhere's residents, including the powerful scientific and diplomatic parties from other civilizations, complain that the Guardians are attracting too much trouble to their home-away-from-home, Cosmo stands by the Guardians, even if he and the members of group don't always get along.

In addition to the shapeshifting Skrulls, members of an earlier incarnation of Guardians of the Galaxy keep turning up at their base on Knowhere. As you can imagine, all this makes it difficult for members of the group to trust each other. 

I decided to make another portrait of Rocket Raccoon, this one based on penciler Paul Pelletier's interpretation of the character. Drawing his features took ten-to-fifteen minutes, but roughly two hours passed before I finished. Colorists make an incalculable contribution to comics, but never get celebrated as much as those who draw (or pencil) the initial black and white image. So I'd like to dedicate my drawing to GURU-eFX, the colorist who worked on the above three images from Issue 4 of Abnett and Lanning's book.

This second portrait of Rocket Raccoon may be more of a copy than my first study of him, that quick pen-and-ink sketch I made that day at Dave & Buster's. Still, what better way to start than by replicating the efforts of others more advanced than ourselves, before we embark on our own unique creations?

Dragon Dave  

Monday, November 24, 2014

Three Things To Love About The Big Bang Theory

In a recent episode of "The Big Bang Theory," the boys meet a doctor who's attracted to Leonard's fiancee Penny. Just like them, the doctor loves comic books and Sci-Fi movies. Unlike them, he's a urologist to filmmakers and movie stars. He invites them to his house, where he shows them actual movie props from grateful patients. Then he locks them inside, and hurries back to Penny's apartment to pitch a little woo. Leonard and his friends barely notice, so enraptured are they by his movie props, as well as his selection of video games. 

Incidentally, the urologist is wonderfully played by Billy Bob Thornton, who can currently be seen in cinemas in the thought-provoking drama "The Judge."

As a fan of Sci-Fi movies and old arcade games, I thought I would share my personal favorites from the urologist's collection.

1. Favorite Alien: To Thornton's right is a Martian from the movie "Mars Attacks." It's a comedy/action movie that stars great actors like Michael J Fox, Jack Nicholson, Pierce Brosnan, Danny Devito, Martin Short, Glenn Close, and even music legend Tom Jones. It's wacky, wonderful, and best of all, a grandmother who everyone thinks is crazy saves the day! Plus, it features these great Martians. If you haven't seen it, go out and get it! You've got to watch this movie!

2. Favorite Robot: To Sheldon's left is Robby the Robot. He's one of my favorite robots ever, and not just mine. Lots of filmmakers have included him in short, cameo roles in their own movies. His first movie was "Forbidden Planet," which also starred Leslie Nielson in a serious role. It's a standout 1950's Sci-Fi movie, and while the plot may move a little slowly by today's standards, it's still well worth watching.

Bionic fans: Richard Anderson, who later achieved world-wide fame as Oscar Goldman, played a crew member aboard Captain Nielson's spaceship.

3. Favorite Game: I used to play lots of games in arcades, but the one video game I really enjoyed, but haven't found a good way to play since I "grew up," is Donkey Kong. So it was nice to see Leonard really enjoy playing it too. You know, if a urologist locked me in his "fun room," I wouldn't mind spending a few hours in it, if I could play Donkey Kong too.

That is, as long as he didn't use the time to hit on my girl.

Well, there you have it, three things that I loved about a recent episode of "The Big Bang Theory." Did you see this episode? If so, what was your favorite movie prop, character, or game? Please let me know. I'd love to hear from you.

Dragon Dave

Friday, November 21, 2014

Daleks Clash Over Black Bean Nachos

Iron Dalek: There, I've finished chopping the yellow chili. Now we just have to wait for the black beans to finish cooking in the crockpot. You need some help with the limes?
Hulk: No! Hulk like smashing limes. Hulk like watching the lime juice wash down the sides of the juicer. Hulk like--
Iron Dalek: Okay, I get it. You're having a good time. I think I'll let you take the lead in the next phase of tonight's dinner.

Iron Dalek: So, are enjoying smashing the black beans?
Hulk: Hulk like smashing black beans. Hulk like pulverizing cooked beans into pulp. Hulk like beating little black beans into--
Iron Dalek: Okay, why don't we adopt a less violent vocabulary?
Hulk: Puny Iron Brain afraid I crush you into pulp too?
Iron Dalek: No, but I'd prefer that you drop the insults and inflammatory language.

Iron Dalek: There, I've got Master's chips laid out across the plate, melted the shredded cheese on the chips, then spread out the refried beans in an even layer, covering every chip.
Hulk: Mistress likes beans in center of plate, topped with cheese, and surrounded by chips.
Iron Dalek: I admit that's aesthetically pleasing, but personally I applaud Master's efficiency. His methodology ensures each chip gets its share of beans and cheese.
Hulk: Mistress' way is better. Her chips don't get soggy, and chips easier to handle without a fork.

Iron Dalek: There, that's Mistress' nachos done. Now, for Master's plate, we need to add more chopped lettuce, and two additional spoonfuls of salsa.
Hulk: Master's method obscures the chips, and covers too much of beautiful green lettuce in nasty red sauce!
Iron Dalek: Hey, watch what you say about the red salsa. Besides, I think we can agree to disagree here. Master and Mistress each like their Black Bean Nachos served differently. Why should we clash over their preferences?
Hulk: Because we're superheroes, and we fight for what we believe is right! Puny Iron Dalek just afraid Hulk will smash him!
Iron Dalek: I am not afraid! I will demolish you for saying that! I will pulverize you! I will exterminate, Exterminate, EXTERMINATE YOU!
Hulk: Hulk agree to your challenge, but first, we serve dinner. Hulk not want to ruin the aesthetics of Mistress' plate.
Iron Dalek: COWARD!!!

Hulk & Iron Dalek

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Rocket Raccoon & Iraq

Have you met Rocket Raccoon?

After finishing my first drawing of the Doctor snorkeling, I turned my skills, such as they are, to the back of my admission ticket, a piece of 8.5x11" copy paper. I've been thinking a lot about Rocket Raccoon lately, probably because I've seen him three times now in Marvel Comics' new movie "Guardians of the Galaxy." I enjoyed how he was portrayed in the movie, even if it was different from how authors like Bill Mantlo, Dan Abnett, and Andy Lanning have approached the character. I've seen artists draw him in various ways, and my friend Justin Ponsor, who works as the colorist for the current Guardians series written by Brian Michael Bendis, has even drawn a picture of him (and his friend Groot) that was accepted by So I wondered what I could do with him. 

Instead of outlining his head, I started by drawing his fur, then his eyes, then defining his ears. Then it was more hair, and along the way, I started in on his snout. I've never been good at faces, let alone noses, and I was working from memory, with no images or models in front of me. I only spent a few minutes on my drawing, and most of that on his fur, but I'm happy with this first attempt. It's something to build on for later.

Dave & Busters may not have live raccoons for artists to draw, but they do employ waiters to serve their human customers. Twice while I was sketching a young woman came by and asked me if she could get me anything. Both times I assured her that I was doing fine, but I wondered if it bothered her that I was taking up space without buying anything at one of the booths in her area. So afterward, while I was waiting for the youth leadership conference to finish, I got up and spoke to her as she printed out checks at the cash register.

She thanked me for my concern, and told me that she had no problem with me sitting in her area. I asked her if she enjoyed working at Dave & Busters, a place that seemed synonymous with fun. Sadly, she said no, as people brought money for their food and games, but seemed to regard tipping as unnecessary. She was working her way through college, and upon graduation, it was her dream to go to Iraq, or some less-well-off country, and teach young children to read, write, and be more tolerant of others customs and beliefs. In the meantime, she was scraping to get by, pay for her education and living, and relying on Medical if she got sick. 

She seemed a rather erudite young woman, who claimed she rarely watched TV, and never saw a movie in the cinema before she read the book. In addition to her studies, she typically reads three books at a time, two nonfiction on subjects that interested her, and one novel or book of short stories. I've no doubt she could do well for herself should she decide to stay in the United States after she graduates, and her mother has argued repeatedly with her that she should do so, that going to countries like Iraq is unnecessarily dangerous. But she's more interested in changing the world, and making it a place where people regard others with respect, and live harmoniously with others. Her example lifted my spirits, and proved a welcome contrast to the words and actions of the minister in the banquet room. 

Please adequately tip your waiter or waitress, folks. You never know the potential ministry you may be funding.

Dragon Dave

Related Internet Links
Justin's drawing of Rocket & Groot

Monday, November 17, 2014

Teen Ministry & Doctor Who Snorkeling

The Doctor snorkels at Ke'e Beach

Recently, my mother and a friend visited us. They planned to attend a conference nearby, and as they were unfamiliar with San Diego, I agreed to drive them. It was held at the local Dave & Buster's, a restaurant/games center that makes Chuck E Cheese look like a garden shed next to a mansion. In the banquet room, we enjoyed a nice buffet lunch, and meeting other Christian leaders who wanted to improve the teen ministries at their churches. Then the selected speaker took the podium, and instantly I knew I was in trouble.

Suffering as I do from Tinnitus, I not only hear persistent ringing in my ears, but find loud noises bothersome. The speaker was a man with a powerful voice, who spoke with commitment and passion, so of course he decided to pick up a microphone and place it directly before his mouth. As his words blasted out of the speakers, they felt like bullets launched from machine guns pounding away at my fragile flesh. Or, in a word: Ouch.

When someone sets you at unease, you're liable to find fault with anything they do or so. So if I hadn't found his loud speaking bothersome, perhaps it wouldn't have bothered me that he began by saying, "Now, I apologize in advance to all you anal-rententive folks who want to get onto the program, but first we're going to talk about the character of a youth leader." He went on to describe how, early on in his ministry, he constantly fought with his wife. On their honeymoon, he even had to stop the car on the freeway, get out, and kick a peacock standing in a field. Now, everyone can understand that, when you're young and full of passion, you may also have anger issues. His point was that you needed to be rooted and grounded in your ideals and life before you could ably lead others. It's a good point, one I agree with. 

My annoyance derived from his use of the adjective "anal-rententive" in addressing Christian leaders who had given up several hours, if not the entire day, to hear him speak. I find the term, if not offensive, at least highly disrespectful to others. For me, his usage abrogates the Golden Rule, a maxim embraced by most (if not all) religions, that urges people to treat others the way they themselves would like to be treated. In Christianity, Jesus tells his followers this is the essence of the Law of Moses and the Teachings of the Prophets. The fact that anyone would find this term acceptable in polite society...well, let's just say I found it a poor choice of words. It seems even more unfortunate when you consider that this man regularly places himself regularly before teens. If they find value in what he tells them, they may emulate him, and not just in the ways he intends.

At any rate, his voice was just too loud for my ears. I tried using ear plugs, but there's just no way you can block out a repeating, percussive sound like that, where you're constantly transitioning from silence to a series of explosive consonants. So after awhile I went out and sat down in the dining area of the restaurant. To pass the time, I drew this picture with a pen on the back of the the program brochure. The background music mixed with the sounds from all the machines in the gaming area, and the overall noise was probably louder than in the banquet room. But the sounds were more harmonious, and set me at ease after the constant percussive blasting of the man's voice through the speakers. 

By some lapse of my normal brilliance, I hadn't brought a book along to read, or my sketching materials. So I tried something new: sketching with a pen, just one color, and no hope of erasing if I made a mark I later regretted. With such limited resources, I doubted my ability to achieve a respectable result. But I'm rather pleased with drawing, and my wife said she liked it too. I've already used it as the starting point for another drawing, this one with color pencils on sketching paper. All of which goes to show that good can come from any situation, if you look for an opportunity to turn it in your favor. 

Oh, and one last thing: please don't kick the peacocks.

Dragon Dave