15 More Days

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

And there you have the name of my upcoming comic project. Syllabus will be a serial narrative that will keep going until the day that I tire of creating comics. It’s a story that has been building in my head for years and the underlying concept of the narrative will allow it to continue indefinitely. The first post will appear on New Year’s and will be followed up, at minimum, on a weekly basis. Just keep checking back to this blog for the latest installments. I’m currently redesigning Lead Battle into a more comic-focused layout. I’m hoping to make it the one stop place to go as opposed to this blog. You’ll be able to find all my past work with a simple link instead of manually searching through this blog’s archives.

As much as I enjoyed working on Hullabaloo, it was too grounded in reality. I’ll be getting back to Honey, Austin and Tress at some point. The great thing about Hullabaloo is its slice-of-life simplicity. I can continue making new strips alongside Syllabus whenever the need arises.

To the nearly a dozen individuals that I’ve enlisted as my research advisors, I hope that this does not disappoint. I’ve chosen each and every one of you because I value your opinions and trust in your knowledge. Even though I’m heavily backlogged with material to read and watch, it will all be worth it in the long run. Thanks again for the help because I certainly can’t tackle a massive project like Syllabus on my own.

Posted by Batalla at 9:32 PM 0 comments  

Bringing a Theme to a Meme

Friday, December 05, 2008

I could've sworn I've done this before, Anna. Since I'm on a creativity kick, I'm deciding on that as my theme. So here, in chronological order, are six things you may or may not know about me:

1 - I wrote a book in the first grade about a lion, a tiger, and a bear. Oh my! It seemed that Ms. Mayer (or was it Meyer?) noticed me drawing animals in class one day and thought it would be a good idea to encourage such creativity by having me develop an entire narrative out of the scribbles. Not having anything better to do (I didn't get a video game console until the second grade), I chose to take her up on that offer. After a couple days, I turned in about 12 pages worth to her. After class the next day, my teacher gave me a surprise present. She had the pages laminated and bound. I still have it somewhere with the rest of my junk. I changed schools after first grade so I never knew whatever happened to my teacher. I remember looking out the car window several years later and seeing an old woman with dark glasses and a white cane being led around by another woman. She had the same hairstyle and clothing as my teacher.

2 - I performed an improvised stage play in third grade about the X-Men. It was talent show day or something and me and several of my friends had no idea what to do. We watched one of the girls play a song she wrote on the piano. After a couple minutes of mindless noise, we looked at each other and almost telepathically knew what we were gonna do. We all got up on the auditorium stage and pronounced our intention to perform a short scene with our favorite comic book characters at the time, the X-Men. It started with us in the cockpit of the blackbird jet talking about our plan to take down Mr. Sinister. It ended with all of us jumping "out of the jet" and off the stage to attack the imaginary supervillain. Keep in mind this is just a bunch of over active third graders in regular clothes with folding chairs as their only props. Jeez, how the hell did we get away with that one? That's magnet school for ya.

3 - I co-wrote a book in fifth grade about Aliens versus Predator. My friend, Aaron, and I chose to do our creative writing assignment on that subject after reading the "Aliens vs Predator" comics. Basing on what little was known at the time on the two species, we came up with a narrative from the Predator's point of view during an Alien hunt. We theorized what the Predators' home planet was like, what their different job classes were and tried to analyze the technology they used. Although Aaron probably did the bulk of the writing, I supplied all the artwork that accompanied the text, which was about one drawing for every four pages of text.

4 - I came up with an idea for a superhero comic in middle school. Drawing (ha!) inspiration from the X-Men, Power Rangers, Ronin Warriors and Gargoyles, I had planned on creating a superhero team comic. I was able to come up with a very thought out back story to the characters powers, even writing down a classification chart attempting to explain them. It never got past the character design stage for whatever reason. I guess it was because I was becoming more interested in girls. Still, it's not too late to dust off these ideas and make something out of them.

5 - I made a film in high school called "Quentin Tarantino's Hamlet." This was one of the funnest projects I ever did. It's what would've happened if the story was set in modern times and Quentin Tarantino had written the dialogue. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern as Vincent and Jules. Hamlet cutting Polonius's ear off while dancing to "Stuck in the Middle with You." Ophelia as a cokehead. Hamlet, Laertes and Claudius in a threeway gunfight. So much subtext to go along with the outright ripping off of "Pulp Fiction" and "Reservoir Dogs." "The Lion King" was playing in the background of one scene. Horatio was in love with Hamlet. He was the mastermind behind all of the story's events. Everyone died because he wanted Hamlet to himself.

6 - I made another film in high school called "T.A.'s." This one spoofed Kevin Smith's "Clerks" but changed the characters to high school students. It was my final project and it was the perfect send up of my four years at Birmingham High School. The movie made fun of so many people, even the ones that were going to be in the audience watching. There were over two dozen cast members, half of them replaced just so the movie could be completed on time. Shooting wrapped up weeks before it was due and before any other group had even come close to finishing their film. I left the rest to my partner, Alex. How long could it take to edit? Two days? All of a sudden, it was time to turn in our finals and the only thing we had to show was the final draft of our screenplay. What. The. Hell. Then came graduation day and Alex somehow found it in him to show up with a copy of the movie on tape. We watched it with Ms. Rhew and some other loiterers in her classroom. It was ten minutes of rough footage. What happened to the other 2/3rds of the film?! Luckily, Ms. Rhew knew that the movie was complete. She was a cast member and even saw us film most of the it. I don't think I've ever forgiven Alex for dropping the ball. It's not like I ever saw him again. I think he moved to Chicago after graduating. It's hard to describe how robbed I felt, not just for me, but also for everyone else that participated in the movie. The least I could do was make a comic using the same characters that takes place where the movie ended. I worked on the stand alone story/sequel for six straight days during freshman year at UCSB. I made copies of the comic and the soundtrack used in the film and personally delivered them to as many cast members as I could. Because of that experience, I find it very hard to share my works in progress with other people. I want it to be done before anyone can see it. But I'm slowly trying to get over that way of thinking. I have to trust that people will be able to help me and thereby make my work easier to accomplish.

That went on longer than I expected, but I feel it needed to be said as well. Anyways, I choose to tag Meg, C.K. and Drew.

Posted by Batalla at 11:50 PM 5 comments  

Fantasy Star Resumes

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Decided to finally finish off Fantasy Star, my 12-part comparison between Final Fantasy XII and Star Wars over on The Bloggles Do Nothing. What was initially supposed to be a 12-day ordeal, is looking like a project that's been a year in the making. At least once it's done, I can move on to other topics on that blog in hopes of further validating its existence in conjunction with this one.

So here's what I've got so far:
Fantasy Star V
Fantasy Star IV
Fantasy Star III
Fantasy Star II
Fantasy Star I

Blast From the Past

Monday, December 01, 2008

Good lord. I nearly suffocated from the dust after digging up these ancient drawings, not to mention from my laughter after rediscovering my amateurish illustration skills. I can name off dozens of things wrong with the linework, coloring, proportions, etc. These characters were created many, many, many, many, many years ago while I was still in high school. The reason I'm digging them up is because they will be the main characters of my latest comic project. I've had ideas brewing for quite a while and I feel it's time to get started on them. In the coming weeks ahead, I'll post revised designs as it gets closer to the project's planned start date of January 1, 2009.

Posted by Batalla at 12:11 AM 0 comments  

Fortune Favors the Bold

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving break has given me the invaluable time I needed to reassess my current situation. As well as things have been going, it still feels like I’ve merely been coasting. I’m content, but I haven’t really accomplished anything of note.

I need to start over someplace else. I’ve lived in the San Fernando Valley for far too long. I remember that I promised myself in high school that I would move out of there. The Valley is literally and figuratively too sheltered. As much as I like to trash Los Angeles proper for being Hell on Earth (there’s a reason why it’s the setting of numerous noir films), it’s also the hub of activities and jobs. It’s time that I left suburbia and toughed it out in the big city.

As for work, I need to start thinking in the long term. At the moment, I’m just focusing on paying the bills. But I have to start structuring myself towards an actual goal. I’m not quite at the point where I know which career I want, but I do have an idea of the general direction that I need to proceed. I also need to free myself up to work on personal projects relating to comics.

After participating in the 24 Hour Comics challenge several weeks ago, I realized something. The ideas I’ve been sitting on are actually quite ready to be transferred into a tangible product. I had been waiting to get better at drawing and writing but at the rate I’m progressing, it would be years before I got started. I don’t need to be perfect; I just need to get better as time progresses. And the longer I wait, the more likely it is that someone else will accomplish what I’m trying to do before I get a chance to. I'm going to start posting new material up shortly.

As is usually the case with these things, the only thing holding me back is myself. There’s really no reason why things should continue on like this. This coming month and onwards should be pretty interesting as I get my act together. I’m by no means fooling myself into thinking that what I am about to do is easy. It just feels like now is the time to do something, anything. It’s about time I stopped getting by and started doing something great.

Posted by Batalla at 9:50 PM 1 comments  

When the Hills of Los Angeles Are Burning

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Heading north on the 405 freeway, there’s a really great view of the San Fernando Valley from the Sepulveda Pass. This is in the area past the Getty Center and Mulholland Drive. It looks especially beautiful at night with all the lights slowly being revealed as the dark pass opens up into the Valley. I look forward to this view each time I drive home to the Valley from work in Santa Monica.

The view was different several weeks ago. The Porter Ranch fires were still burning at the time. They were a magnificent but deadly sight to behold on the hilltops at the Valley’s northern edge. There were three distinct entities separated by several dozen miles from each other. They had to have been quite large, considering how clearly I could see the flames from the Sepulveda Pass. Those fires were contained or burned out shortly afterwards because I didn’t see them on the following night. I thought nothing else of the matter because for me, the Valley has this aura of protection around it. Even having experienced the Northridge earthquake in 1994, I feel safe from disaster when I’m there.

Just a couple hours ago, I was once again driving home from work at 2 in the morning. I wasn’t in a hurry since the road was foggy. As I started up the hill towards the Getty Center, I started to notice the smell of smoke. At first, I thought that I was somehow overheating my engine during the climb. As I continued up, little flakes began falling onto my windshield. That’s when I realized the fog on the road ahead wasn’t fog at all. It was smoke. And the flakes on my windshield were ash. I closed the vents and switched to recirculated air since the smoke was starting to become unbearable.

Since it’s still fire season, I reasonably assumed there was a fire nearby. It had to have been small or burnt out because the freeway around me was as dim as ever. Despite that optimistic assessment, I knew there was still something wrong. Every fifteen seconds, a police car would drive by at top speed with its sirens blazing on the opposite side of the freeway. I could see several helicopters buzzing overhead, with their spotlights focusing on various points of interest.

I finished rounding the curve past the Getty Center and saw the source of the smoke and ash. The fire was neither small nor anywhere near being burnt out. It was huge. The entire hillside on my left was burning. Much of the brush was already blackened but the flames continued to persist. The area all around me was lit with an orange and yellow tint. I have never been that close to a still raging fire. I rolled down the window and felt the heat radiating into my car. I quickly rolled the windows back up to keep the smoke from filling the interior. I snapped out of that distraction and noticed that I was drifting over to the next lane. Luckily, no cars were near me. I straightened myself and fought the urge to pull over to the shoulder and watch fire.

The size of the fire and emergency vehicle activity made me pause to think about how far the flames were reaching. I was nearing the view of the Valley and half expected to see fires there as well. I reached the top of the hill and saw the familiar artificial lights and breathed a sigh of relief. The only flames I could see were in my rearview mirrors.

As I continued driving, I could see that all the southbound ramps and exits on the 405 within the vicinity were being closed off with flares and traffic cones. A convoy of fire trucks was heading to the area I had just exited. The drive past the fire took a little over a minute. Unfortunately, I knew it would take the firefighters far, far longer than a minute to get it under control. They have a long night ahead of them. Hopefully, the morning will bring news of minimal casualties and damage.

Update: The morning brought news of zero casualties and structural damage from the 100 acre fire. All thanks to 500 firefighters and 10 water-dropping helicopters.

The 24 Hour Comics Challenge

Sunday, October 12, 2008

In preparation of my participation in next weekend's 24 Hour Comics Challenge, I'm reposting a feature I wrote on my first event several years ago. This story was originally published on April 28, 2004 and refers to the time period from April 24-25:

It’s Sunday morning and I can only think of one thing. It’s cold, so very cold. My hand is shaking and I don’t know how much longer I can go. Just three hours left before time is up.

Over a dozen people participated in 24 Hour Comics Day at Earth-2 Comics in the San Fernando Valley. Participants had various artistic backgrounds: Christian Gossett, the creator of The Red Star, and Tone Rodriguez, creator of Violent Messiahs, participated, as did storyboard artists Benton Jew, Anson Jew and Todd Harris. Rad Sechrist, contributor of Flight Anthology Volume One and Daily Nexus art director, along with UCSB art studio student Mike Nicolayeff and I, attended as well. The monotony of the event was broken by the sporadic flow of spectators and surprises including unexpected guest appearances – including the event founder and a drunk – as well as the singing of TV songs.

The San Fernando Valley group was sponsored by Jud Meyers and Carr D’Angelo in their store, Earth-2 Comics, which provided a comfortable workspace given the amount of people participating and watching.

The event was created by Scott McCloud, author of Understanding Comics, who completed the first 24-hour comic in 1990, and participation has snowballed since then. April 24 marked the first time the challenge had been organized en masse with 26 locations in the United States and 52 countries worldwide. About 500 people signed up at event locations and several other people participated individually.

The object of the event is to create a 24-page comic in 24 consecutive hours. It is designed to be a challenge, not a competition, and no prizes are given to the participants. Creating an entire comic within the short time span is a testament to the creativity and determination of the artist. Few people can complete a 24-hour comic, and it isn’t a race, but rather a way to see what level of quality an artist can cram into a limited space within an equally limited period of time.

Regular comics usually take about a month to complete, and that’s with a team of artists working together. The plot, pencils, inks, and all other elements of the comic must be done by the end of the 24-hour period. If the comic isn’t done, the artist can either continue to work on it that day until it’s finished – which Kevin Eastman set the precedent for in the early years of the event – or he or she can leave it as is – as Neil Gaiman was the first to do. All participants are encouraged to send their comics to Scott to possibly have it posted on his website or even be included in a future compilation of works created at the event.

And in the Beginning …

We started at noon and worked continuously for the next two hours. Everyone had a different strategy for completing their pages.

I laid out my entire story in blue pencil, then added ink, and finally I added dialogue. Sechrist penciled and inked one page at a time. The Jew brothers planned to finish theirs quickly so they could scan the pages into their laptop and modify them from there, while Gossett abandoned his customarily polished art style for stick figures and musical numbers.

We all claimed our respective comics were awful, only to get “oohs” and “aahs” from everybody else.

Surprise at 7

Around 7 p.m., we got a great surprise when Scott McCloud, the creator of the challenge, dropped by the store with a gift of Krispy Kreme doughnuts. He and his family were trying to drive to as many event locations as possible.

I got a quick autograph and some moral support from Scott McCloud, and had a quick conversation with his wife, Ivy McCloud. She said her husband was looking forward to the upcoming release of Flight Anthology, which includes work by Sechrist and former Nexus art director Kazu Kibuishi.

The McCloud kids, Sky and Winter – 11 and 9 years old, respectively – were making a film documentary about all the comic locations they visited. It was humorous to see the two small children juxtaposed with the imposing figure of Rodriguez, known for his grim and gritty work on Violent Messiahs, as they asked him about his progress on his comic. Equally humorous was Rodriguez commenting on how adorable the kids were.

Sky McCloud completed her first 24-hour comic when she was 9 years old and did another a year later. She’s already way ahead of me when it comes to comics; good thing I got her autograph.

Later in the evening, I headed to the back room to feed on the various snacks and leftover Chinese food from lunch. I opened the door slowly so as not to hit anyone in the tiny room. I was startled to find someone standing in the shadows under the staircase. This was a common experience.

“Oh, sorry to bother you, bro, but I was wondering if there were anymore doughnuts left?” I said to my mysterious new friend. “Wait, sorry I didn’t recognize you before. How’s it going, Spider-Man? You’ve been standing there all day.”

The shadowy figure turns out to be the store’s life-size Spider-Man statue the storeowners relocated to the back room to make space for the artists working next to the window. When you’re deprived of sleep and a full meal, you start to do irrational things like talk to a Spider-Man statue. It isn’t just me talking to Spider-Man either; by the end of the event everyone has an encounter with our friendly neighborhood wall-crawler.

At the Halfway Point

A little past the halfway point, Sechrist finished inking his twelfth page and, unfortunately, decided to stop at that point – a pretty impressive feat in itself. He said he had personal matters to take care of in the morning, so he chose to fade quietly into the night. What he didn’t realize was how much in awe the rest of us were of his work.

When I asked Sechrist about how he faired he was, like the rest of us, overly modest.

“They were awful, and there was no way I would have lasted [24 hours],” Sechrist said about his comic.

Rodriguez, Gossett, Meyers and D’Angelo said it was a shame Sechrist wouldn’t go the full allotted time.

It was a couple hours past midnight and everyone was diligently working on their pages. The remaining spectators read comics quietly on the other side of the store when a loud bang rattled the front window and everyone turned their heads to find out what just happened. Rodriguez removed one of the finished pages he taped to the window and found a man staring directly at him.

“Don’t be afraid! There’s nothing to fear,” a bald man with tattoos on his head yelled.

Losing interest, the drunk stumbled off to wander the rest of Ventura Boulevard.

As surprising as some of these interruptions were, they sure helped to fight off the drowsiness many of us were feeling. That’s why none of us complained when some of Gossett’s friends came by to shout up a storm in support of their comrade. In the silence, while switching music CDs, someone mentioned watching the 1980s television show “The Greatest American Hero,” and we all spontaneously began singing the lyrics: “Believe it or not, / I’m walking on air / I never thought I could feel so free. / Flying away on a wing and a prayer / Who could it be? / Believe it or not it’s just me.”

The Home Stretch

The last stretch on Sunday morning is the most brutal part of the event. By then I was on autopilot, inking over my pencils. When I regained consciousness, twenty minutes had passed and two pages were done. And I realized how much harder I made the task by saving the dialogue for the end; I’m having problems coming up with coherent quotes that match the actions and expressions already drawn on the page. I make a mental note not to do this next time.

In the end, I accomplished my goal of creating an entire 24-page comic. It’s not my sharpest looking work, but it’s a complete story. Most of the others finished as well.

Sechrist seemed to have been the real winner out of this entire experience.

“I was wondering if I could ever draw comics as a pro and that experience helped me realize I have some chance in the industry,” Sechrist said.

That could easily be a possibility, given all the excitement everyone in the store had for Sechrist’s work, plus the added anticipation for the release of Flight Anthology Volume One. Despite not staying for 24 hours, he was able to amaze two seasoned artists and receive praise from Scott McCloud.

For more information on the 24-hour comic event, go to 24hourcomics.com.

Apprehensions of a Graphic Designer

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Before I got into doing graphic design I tried asking around what it was like. After all, graphic design is a blanket term that could apply to any number of tasks involving visuals. Despite the ambiguity, a lot of the answers I got included "repetitive" and "thankless" in their descriptions. Now that I've been doing it for about a year in various forms, I can see what those people were talking about.

Repetition comes from having to modify the same project over and over again. Sometimes it's because of the disconnect between what a supervisor has in mind and what the artist ends up making. Sometimes it's simply to be able to choose from multiple versions of a design.

The thankless part comes from supervisors not fully understanding the process of creating the visuals. Some are unaware of a task's difficulty level. Others know about the difficulty and just want something despite how long it would realistically take to accomplish.

Another neccessity is to be working towards a clear objective. In graphic design it's important because of the repetive tasks of re-editing past and present projects. What's the point of reworking a composition if you don't even know what it's supposed to be accomplishing?

Now that I think about it, much of what I just mentioned could be applied to many other jobs. What's really worrying me is that I'm becoming more focused on very specific aspects such as measuring units, angles and fonts... and liking it. There's nothing wrong with taking pleasure in these things, in fact I know some people that do *cough* Dianne *cough*. I just feel this is somehow affecting my creativity. If I were to use an analogy, I'd say I'm used to being a Photoshop person and now I'm increasingly becoming an Illustrator/InDesign person. The point being is that I don't want to end up like this:

I guess what's preventing that from happening is the source material I get to play around with. If you want a mere taste, just check out these sites here, here, here, here and here. Seriously, I can just stare at some of the artwork I have in front of me and get inspired to create something new and original. The competive nature that's been driving me all my life gets a boost of motivation. Unfortunately, working two jobs limits the amount of time I have for creative endeavors. That's probably why I'm getting my creative kicks from character creation modes in video games, like I mentioned in a previous post. Going back to my Adobe analogy, there's no reason why Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign should be mutually exclusive. Just look at how the Adobe Creative Suite series has improved compatibility between those programs. Where I work, I have access to use every single Adobe program. The possibilities are endless and completely up to me. There are worse things I could be complaining about.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

That scream is hands down the funniest sound I have ever come across. When I first heard it, it didn't register much. It was just some guy screaming. Then I started to hear it more and more, each time in more ridiculous contexts. Now whenever I hear the scream, I can't help but break out in a hysterical giggle fit. It has to be the real deal though. Unless you can mimic the scream to perfection, don't think you now have the power to make me laugh on a whim.

Anyways, while the Wilhelm Scream is probably more well known, considering it has an actual name and backstory, this stock scream blows it away with its range of usage. The scream's aural qualities are what make it so special. The way that it's screamed by the original individual is so over the top, that it becomes immediately recognizable whenever it is heard. It's context also isn't limited to one of fearful pain, like the Wilhelm. This scream can be used for surprise, rage and/or anguish. It barely even sounds like a human scream. For the longest time, I described the scream by comparing it to the sound a TIE Fighter makes when it flies. The exact origin of this scream is still pretty murky and one of the reasons why it is so difficult to find information, let alone describe. Going through the comments on Youtube, I've learned that the scream is supposedly found in the Hollywood Edge sound library as "Hollywood Edge - PE 13 - Human Sounds 1 - 44 - Man Screams #3- Gut-Wrenching With Fall." Someone also wrote that it's earliest appearance was in a 1950's zombie movie, yelled by soldier as he was being eaten. I honestly don't care. The mysterious origin is part of the scream's appeal for me.

Here are some other examples:

I leave you now with a new game you can try the next time you go driving. Whenever you see a car switch two or more lanes in rapid succession or switch lanes at the very last second (as in capable of causing an accident), you scream "youraagh" to the best of your abilities. It works wonders in preventing road rage, especially down here with all the psycho drivers in Los Angeles.

Posted by Batalla at 12:22 AM 2 comments  

The Joy of Character Creation Modes in Gaming

Monday, August 18, 2008

Whenever I see a truly robust character creation mode in a game, I usually end up fiddling around with it more than the actual game itself. The best one I've used to date is in WWE's Smackdown vs. Raw series. There are plenty of ways to manipulate clothing, physical attributes and most importantly, the characters' movesets/animations. There's certain puzzle element to these modes as well because they never have the exact parts you need. You have to get a little creative with the existing ones at your disposal. As much as I like coming up with original creations when writing or drawing, I'd rather try to recreate existing characters/people in these game modes. I think it comes back to the puzzle element because I know they have to look a certain way. There's an actual objective and criteria to match against. The best part comes from watching the created characters exist in the game engine. If they transition seamlessly into it, then I know I've succeeded. Not only does a character have to look like whatever it's supposed to be, but it should also possess the same behaviors.

The latest one I've been using can be found in Soul Calibur IV. It's relatively new, so not that many instructions have been made online. There's still a sense of discovery when creating characters. The pictures below are ones I made using Soul Calibur IV's Create-a-Soul mode. I'm proud to say I made them without looking at any existing instructions online, only reference pictures from the source material:

Xena vs. Gabrielle

Mugen vs. Jin

Kim Wu vs. Zealot

Tusk vs. Maya

Jago vs. Fulgore

Orchid vs. Combo

Riptor vs. Sabrewulf

Thunder vs. Spinal

Glacius vs. Cinder

Ryo vs. Lady Kayura

Rowen vs. Anubis

Sage vs. Cale

Kento vs. Dais

Cye vs. Cale

Traffic Lights

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

There's an intersection near my house with traffic cameras that capture images of vehicles running past the yellow light. As I approached the intersection this morning, the crossing signal turned into a solid red hand. I decided to play it safe by not trying to beat the yellow light. Once I stopped behind the crosswalk line, the black SUV on the opposite side of the street began to make a left turn. My gaze continued to follow its turning radius when I noticed a turquoise SUV from the lane to my right attempt to cross the intersection to beat the yellow. It didn't even occur to me that the two vehicles would collide. There was no sound of screeching brakes or of a revving engine. The light turned red and the turquoise SUV simply slammed into the passenger side of the turning vehicle. The impact caused the black SUV to roll over onto the driver side. The turquoise SUV had smoke heavily pouring out of its windows. I looked at the other vehicles around the intersection and none of them were moving. One of them happened to be a police cruiser a mere ten feet from the crash. The two officers got out of their vehicle and walked towards the crash. Finally a vehicle began moving. It was the turquoise SUV slowly pulling over to the nearest curb. I noticed another moving vehicle. It was an ambulance that also happened to be near the scene. It parked at the same curb as the turquoise SUV. After what seemed like an eternity, the traffic light I was facing changed back to green. I blinked and hoped to myself that everyone involved would be fine before I continued driving to work.

Posted by Batalla at 7:42 PM 0 comments  

Speed Racer Alongside the Subway

Thursday, May 08, 2008

So I found one of the coolest marketing ploys I've seen in a while during one of my Metro Red Line trips back from work. I usually kill time aboard the Los Angeles subway train by looking aimlessly out the window. I was doing just that the other day when all of a sudden the image of the Emile Hirsch as the Wachowski's Speed Racer popped up on the glass. I jerked back in surprise but I didn't dare look away. I knew WHAT I was looking at but not HOW it was occurring. Then I realized the image was actually moving. Like a motion picture. Then I realized the image wasn't being holographically projected onto the window but was instead a series of images, most likely LCD screens, attached to the concrete tunnel wall. I looked at the other windows on my side and noticed the same thing. What was happening was the illusion of movement much like the way a zoetrope works. A rapid succession of images moves in a horizontal direction while the viewer looks through a viewing hole, in this case the window, and only sees one image at a time.

Now here's a math problem for you: The Speed Racer advertisement is located between the Universal City and Hollywood/Highland stops and lasts for about 10 seconds. That distance takes about three to four minutes to cover by the train while it's traveling at about 60 to 70 miles per hour. Each screen is about two feet wide and attached next to another screen. The illusion of movement occurs with viewing 24 frames per second. How many screens are attached to the wall and how long do they collectively span in the tunnel? Most importanly, how much would this marketing trick cost?

Here's another modern example of a zoetrope:

Lead is a Battlefield

Sunday, April 06, 2008

So my website, Lead Battle, has gone up today. Check it out. It isn't much at the moment but it should start to shape into something cool over the next month as I continue working on it. Due to the relatively slower rate that I will be updating Lead Battle, this blog will continue to be where I post my latest illustrations and comics.

Posted by Batalla at 10:47 PM 0 comments  

April Already?

Friday, April 04, 2008

So first thing's first. I've been defeated in the webcomic contest between myself and Megan. I called her up last Saturday and conceded because I knew I wouldn't be able to finish on time. I probably could have put another placeholder comic up, but it felt sort of cheap last week when I did it to prolong the competition. As for the final installment of the Hullabaloo story arc, it should be posted in the coming week once I get some more free time.

Now one of the reasons why I've been so busy lately is because I've been working on my personal website that I plan on launching on Sunday. Once that's over and done with, I'll be able to focus on drawing again. I only ask that you overlook the incredibly primitive nature of the site. I'm more concerned with having it up and running than aesthetics. Plus, I'm still learning CSS so hopefully it'll be upgraded to more efficient coding over the next month. I'll give the link on Sunday when it's ready.

Posted by Batalla at 11:19 PM 0 comments  

Mark Draws Line Between Drew Doodles

Sunday, March 23, 2008

In a recent post, Drew uploaded some of his doodles. He remarked that his rendition of a cat was a subconscious remembering of Alexandre from Home Movies. Coincidentally, I'm currently poring over archives of my past work for the Daily Nexus in order to find material worthy of uploading on my website that's currently under construction. That's how I noticed a little comic called "Mr. Pants" that Drew did draw many years ago and its resemblance to the recent doodle he done did days ago. Notice the similarities with the curled tail, the circular patch of belly fur, the triangular nose and the mustache-like snout. I think he was subconsciously remembering Mr. Pants rather than Alexandre.

Posted by Batalla at 4:40 PM 4 comments  

Survival of the Fittest

Saturday, March 22, 2008

I probably could have gotten this week's Hullabaloo comic finished, but I'd rather not rush it. I've had ideas for various miscellaneous comics that had to remain on the back burner. Fortunately, I needed something I could bust out for filler while I finish off the current Hullabaloo story arc.

In other news, this is my hundredth blog post. It's almost a fitting milestone, considering how I've recently been busy prepping for some big changes in all aspects of my life. I finally got some relative stability over the past couple of months, but I feel it's time to once again start exploring other possibilities. I'm content at the moment, but not exactly where I want to be for the rest of my life. It's almost a shame realizing how long I've been adjusting to life after college. At least now I've found my direction and drive.

Posted by Batalla at 2:40 PM 0 comments  

Hullabaloo: Grey's Filmography

Saturday, March 15, 2008

So researching for this current story arc has caused me to watch more episodes of "Grey's Anatomy" than I'd be satisfied with for an entire lifetime. At first, I thought I disliked the show because of its overly soapy nature or its swiping of "Scrubs." Now I'm beginning to realize it has to do with the writing, and specifically with the dialogue. At times it seems to be trying too hard to be witty by coining new phrases and in-jokes. Add to that the nonchalant delivery of the dialogue by the cast, and it starts to get really annoying. It's not something unique to "Grey's" either. I've felt the same way about portions of "Clerks 2," "Juno" and the later seasons of "Buffy" and "Angel." I feel if "Grey's" scaled it back a bit, I might actually start enjoying the show.

Updating on Saturdays feels too close to the wire in regards to the contest I'm having with Megan. Plus, someone recommended I handwrite the text and draw the bubbles around them so that it would mesh better with the art. If I can get the strip done earlier, then I should be able to try those changes. We'll see if I can get things together for this upcoming week.

Also, I just started work on a personal website. Hopefully it will be ready for launch in April.

Posted by Batalla at 3:53 PM 3 comments  

Hullabaloo: [Screens]

Saturday, March 08, 2008

So here's the second part of the current Hullabaloo story arc. If you're too lazy to scroll down to the post immediately before this one, the girls are currently fighting over what to watch on television. Tress and Austin are debating between which show is better: "Screens" or "Grey's Filmography." Those shows are simply what "Scrubs" and "Grey's Anatomy" would be like if set within a movie theater rather than a hospital. Hopefully, I captured the spirit of the two shows and the looks of their characters/actors. I didn't want to do a giant "click" onomatopoeia to show the change in channels since it would waste too much space. I think the jagged panel borders have the right amount of subtlety to them. If this strip showed what "Screens" is like, then I'm sure you can predict what next week's comic will be about.

Posted by Batalla at 4:31 PM 2 comments  

Hullabaloo: Strike is Over

Saturday, March 01, 2008

So it's been more than six months since I've drawn a Hullabaloo comic strip. Once again drawing these characters feels like meeting up with some old friends. I've done some subtle design changes to Honey, Austin and Tress a.k.a. the HAuT trio. Honey's hair is highlighted since it gives it more dimension as opposed to being completely filled with black in the past strips. I think I've come up with a nice balance for Austin's hair. It had gotten overly simplified over the years and I've been meaning to bring it back to the wildly curly nature of her earlier appearances. She has to live up to her "noodle noggin" nickname after all. I was tempted to highlight Tress's hair but the dominance of black matches her personality and implies that it isn't her natural hair color. As Ryan pointed out to me earlier, the remote control seems to function as a fetish for the lack of a phallus. There probably is some truth to that in my subconscious. Then again, there are plenty of objects that are simply shaped like dicks. The best kinds if you're to believe Seth from "Superbad."

In case you weren't aware, I'm currently participating in a little competition with Ms. Megan Horejsi. She's a friend and a former co-worker of mine. A subordinate if you'd like to be more specific. The two of us have agreed to post a minimum of one comic on our respective sites on a weekly basis, although that may change to a more rigorous schedule in the future. The winner is the individual that can keep up with the posting the longest. More info and updates can be found on There Will Be Ink.

In other Hullabaloo news, I'll be reposting all the old strips at some point since my UCSB U-Web account finally expired. Still not sure if I'll do it on this blog or just shell out some money for a new website. Hopefully it will be the latter since there's four years' worth of material to go through. I might even "remaster" the content for clarity and color.

Posted by Batalla at 1:59 PM 3 comments  

Back To Basics

Sunday, January 13, 2008

It's been months since I've done any sequential storytelling so I kept things simple, at least in regards to composition and panel layout. Everything else was a bit more complicated. I had to always be aware of perspective, reflection, body language, texture and numerous details on clothing. I started to get lazy towards the end with the water effects. I wanted to get this done today because I could've had it done earlier in the week if not for many, many unexpected delays.

Posted by Batalla at 9:26 PM 3 comments  

Brand New Year

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

So one of my New Year's resolutions is to draw more. One of my excuses from drawing used to be that I had no idea what to draw. Well, that's a pretty weak excuse considering all the interesting experiences I encounter in my life. I'll at least try for a modest goal of one drawing per week.

I chose to illustrate this moment from last night at the Hollywood Knitting Factory because it allows me a chance to draw feet. If I had to make a ranking of the hardest things to draw, feet would be high on the list along with bikes, reflecting surfaces and freehand circles. The only way to get better is to force myself to draw challenging objects. I don't want to be a hack and find ways around these difficulties.

Posted by Batalla at 10:39 PM 0 comments