Welcome 2013

No straight New Year’s resolutions from me this year, not that I’ve really done them in the last few years, but they are a good marker to set some sort of goal for the year. I like the idea of the 3 year look-ahead goal instead, so I think I’ll do something like that instead of the traditional New Year’s resolution.

Here’s a list of things I’d like to happen within the next three years:

  • Do an eight minute mile. (doesn’t sound fast, but I’m doing about 11 -12 minutes a mile right now, and my knees kill me after every run.
  • Draw more. Ink something
  • Write out ideas for stories. Sketch and layout one or more of these stories, does not have to be “finished”, just need to get something down on paper.
  • Paint! (could be water color, gouache, acrylic and/or oil and/or tempera paint.)
  • Publish more drawings, sketches
  • Write more, there have some great comics at our library, and I should write the ones I read, up, as some of them have bee really great , and some have been real disappointments. It would be nice to have a record of them for  other casual readers who don’t visit a comic book store, but would like to know what’s worth picking up.
  • “Finish” the walls in the basement. (And the combination of me and Sophia will “finish” the basement to be used the way we originally intended at the end of three years)
  • Have the bathroom plumbing in the basement completed.

I’ll post this now and update it when I have more time…

Needs more content!

So it occurs to me that this blog is getting very lonely and sad, I’m just not that prolific at generating content. The idea of writing, and writing stories in particular, has been bouncing around in my head for a while, and if I don’t start practice writing, that idea will absolutely go nowhere. So I’m giving myself the freedom to write and post crappy first drafts in this blog, I’m just not going to edit myself that much. I think blogs were always meant to be off the cuff, of-the-moment kind  of journals and opinions anyway, so I think I’ll be fine. And quite frankly, who’s really reading this anyway?

I’ve been reading a lot of comic books borrowed from the library recently, and by recently I mean this past year. Some have been mainstream superhero books, usually trade paperbacks of collected stories that have an arc that has a beginning and an end, like Batman: Year One Deluxe (New Edition)
. (As of this writing, it’s available directly from DC). I have the original series form the 80s, but my comic collection is a bit disjointed since I started working on my basement (almost 2 years ago!), and I’m just not sure if I still have them. So it was nice to be able to re-read the story, it still stands up as one of the best Batman origin stories that have surfaced over the years. What it really did more than anything else, was create an amazing back-story for Jim Gordon, who was always  just a foil to the lead character and never really amounted to more than a generic “good guy” to me. (That being said, I never really followed Batman, being a Marvel Fan Boy at the time, so a lot of my ideas about Jim Gordon came from some of my dad’s Silver Age comics, the old TV series and Tim Burton’s Batman movie). This telling gave him flaws and vulnerabilities, and made him “human” at least.

The late 80s and early 90s were a great time for comics, specialty “Comic Book Shops” were popping up all over the place, and super hero writers were doing their best “Stan Lee” melodrama treatment to our favorite characters. I think with the popularization and “mainstreaming” of alternative comics at that time, it really forced the Big 2, to up the ante and compete with more mature content. And if you’re interested, there’s a great group fan page called Comic Recollections on Facebook that my friend Delfin started.

The library also has a collection of alternative press trade paperbacks that I can talk about in this blog, that’ll come later…



Had to change the blog theme again

I kept getting a notice from GoDaddy that I had to upgrade my WordPress blog, but after trying a few times and failing, their tech help said I had to remove all extensions and themes first, there was something incompatible with the newer version of WordPress.

I tried removing and testing them one at a time, but it was way too time consuming, so I just removed the bulk of them and upgraded the system. I then came back in and tried to get back my previous “theme” but couldn’t find a compatible version. So I ended up with this theme, which the developer says is based on “Esquire”.

I tried a few responsive design themes, but none of them were very good. And it appears I’m not actually updated to the very latest version of WordPress (3.4.1), anyway. Apparently my hosting account is not configured to the proper version of PHP to allow me to fully upgrade the blog software, so I have to try tech support again to see if they can update that. I think it would be great to have a responsive blog, with a mobile device it would be easier to show people on the run…

I’m not a prolific poster anyway, I have a bunch of drawings I could post, but I really hate not having a “real” scanner, they all look horrible scanned from my “all-in-one” device… Poor blog, very sad and lonely. Any posting I’ve done recently has been just “shares” and “likes” on Facebook, the occasional tweet or Google Plus post, or something I “pinned” on Pinterest (which I do like, it’s just so perfect for images…)

Caricature of Barack Obama mid 2011

Barack Obama - the thinker

Barak Obama - the thinker

Image of Barack Obama that I started in my sketchbook with color pencil and finished off in Photoshop. I think I’m going to have to draw another one, this one got so overworked. Photoshop helped with some seriously bad color choices I had in places, but couldn’t make the piece more loose. The Photoshop file has about a dozen layers, and I built out the volumes of his head in monotone overlaid on top of the original color.

Below is a combination of some of the the tonal and color correction layers from the  Photoshop file for comparison. It felt like building up layers of paint in an oil painting, but unfortunately, a digital image doesn’t have that great tactile physicality that a painting does. I don’t have a pressure sensitive tablet to apply the “paint” either, so building up tone did seem to take quite a while.

 tonal architecture for "Barak Obama - thinking" image

The original pencil sketch is below for comparison. It was kinda hard to know when to stop, and the layers and layers of color pencil made it harder and harder to make corrections. Most of the pencils were also kind of “waxy,” so in addition for it to be hard to add additional color overlays after a while, it was also hard to physically erase the marks. So after a while I decided it would be easier to pull it all together with Photoshop. It didn’t end up being 100% successful, but unfortunately it ended up not as “loose” as the pencil sketch.

Pencil sketch for "Barack Obama - thinking"

Proud to be a Mac Addict

A couple f days ago, I saw a post about a video submitted by some of the staff of Apple to the “it gets better” site, it was posted on twitter by @AppleInvestor: What a great video, and I don’t know how many other companies would be this supportive of their LBGT employees, but this is another instance of why I love Apple, they just “get it”. If you’ve never heard of the “It gets better” project, it was created by Dan Savage of the Savage Love advice column, in response to a rash of gay teen suicides. It was his contribution to letting LBGT teens know that they were not alone in this world, and it really DOES get better as they grow older.
Check it out, it’ll bring a tear your eye. And even though this is an LBGT focussed project, it really applies to any kid being bullied for any reason.

Drawing Gig in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Feeling like a dinosaur, did a drawing gig last Friday at a club with Jacky Tran and friends (great to see her again – after what, years?). Interesting experience, drawing standing up holding on to my sketchbook and trying not  to worry too much about what color I was using… my main light source was a red light bulb a couple of inches above my head, so I couldn’t tell one color from another (anything red, yellow or orange was invisible on the paper). The gig was to draw the DJs performing because photography wasn’t allowed there, so it was a great chance to do some life sketching. Boy, am I rusty.
First time I’ve been back to Williamsburg since I lived there when I was still in college. It looks just as run-down as I remember, but boy, are there a lot of pubs and clubs…and young white people there now(!)
Overall, I had a great time, and it was good to get back in the saddle again

I got hacked…

This happened over the winter break, and I haven’t had time to fully recover from this, yet.

In short, this group of hackers aligned with Pakistan hijacked my other blog at seanleong.com/blog (DON’T FOLLOW THAT URL).

WHY I was singled out, I will never know, I’m pretty sure I never said anything disparaging against Muslims, Pakistan or Islam, but their web site said they were hacking to defend against “enemies” of Islam and Pakistan.

My feeling is that they are just assholes using that as an excuse. That being said, I’m trying to recover all of my old content and will be trying to port it over to this blog.

I’ve recovered the text content from the old database, but I have to find all the old picture files as well. This is going to take a while…

In the meantime, as much as I’ve been able to, I’ve taken down all access to the former blog at that old URL. Please take it off any RSS feeds/readers you may have pointed to it.

Cheers, and hope this never happens to any of you, it’s really disruptive…

P.s. (a little rant) I am a supporter of Islam, I hate that it’s become OK to discriminate against Muslims in this country. One is my biggest heroes is Malik El Shabbazz (Malcolm X), and one of my best friends from high school is a Muslim, (hi Yusuf!) It’s these dogmatic fundamentalists that I despise, be they Muslim, Christian or Jew. I think it’s abhorrent that this group used the “defender of the faith” excuse for their insidious activities, and all they are doing is alienating Islam further, in the eyes of many if their victims, by perpetuating the stereotype of religious freaks trying to suppress free expression of ideas.

The end of Sarah Palin’s free campaign advertising on TV

I heard on Howard Stern the other day about the end of Sarah Palin’s reality show on TLC, I just got around to checking out the great news.

Here’s a little snippet from Tiny Green Bubble, an “green” news site.

You know, when her show was mentioned months ago, but before it was actually marketed on TV, I thought it was a joke. I think it was a twitter post that was asking for people to campaign against it airing at all on the Discovery Channel, a historically pro-nature show, for a historically anti-nature politician. It turns out that it was Discovery Communications’ TLC brand that carried the show. (They had such hits as Jon & Kate plus Eight).

Huffington Post had a good post about it.

OK – so to be honest I took to heart something Jon Stewart always talks about, how we shouldn’t demonized our opponents, that we should essentially agree to disagree but not to go overboard with the rhetoric. So I didn’t immediately flip the channel when I landed on her show the first couple of episodes. This was entertainment, like “hoarders” and “real housewives of Beverly Hills” — you don’t HAVE to like the people you watch, it just has to be entertaining.

But frankly, the show was a thinly veiled free TV ad campaign for whatever office she’s going to gun for in the next few years. And while I’m not completely turned off by her as a “human being” and as a parent; but her politics completely turned me off to the show, it was too difficult for me to separate the two.

And then, there was Palin’s Facebook rant about liberal hypocracy on hunting and eating meat/wearing leather and Aaron Sorkin’s response on Huffington Post. That, and a few other choice knee-jerk conservative comments she made about Obama and the lies she tells about the Health Bill’s “death panels”.

Sarah, your precious “government-is-out-to-get-them-HealthCare-Companies” are the penny pinchers that have the death panels trying to deny treatment to the terminally ill. You stupid, ignorant fuck, there are documented incidents of these and NO documented evidence of death panels in the Health Care Bill, just an attempt by the administration to include DISCUSSION about end-of-life CHOICES for the elderly with their family AND THEIR OWN PHYSICIANS, so that they get the care they WANT if they are ever incapable of making the decisions themselves. (Hmmm, that’s almost literally only the EXACT OPPOSITE of what you want people to believe, not because it’s true, but because it doesn’t fit your “government is evil” dogma) So, I couldn’t continue to watch the show, that would be a tacit approval of her. It physically makes me sick to switch to the channel and see her smug smiling trap. She made a comment in a commercial for her last show, to paraphrase: “I could die right now and be happy.”

So could we Sarah, so could we.

As of this writing, Palin is trying to distance herself from the right-wing “government is evil” nut job who shot Democratic House Member, Gabrielle Giffords. Oh, you’re not PERSONALLY responsible for it, I’ll agree, but COME ON, you know every government-hating-gun-toting-conservative who doesn’t like to be disagreed with is going to be validated by your rhetoric, and rhetoric from your ilk.