Table of contents:
——————Microblog—————— 1 Small ideas and non sequitars. ———————Updates——————— 2 The routine and mundane. ————Thought stream———— 12 No theme, just as I please. ———————Artblog——————— 62 Where I discuss art. ——————Long form—————— 95 Essays and longer articles.
After a long time of trying to figure out how to make a comic webpage with just CSS and HTML, I've finally got a version that I'm happy with. Probably I'll add a few more features to it, but I'm happy with how it has turned out so far. I'm now uploading some old work and a bunch of newer stuff, looking through my archive I have almost a 100 pages of content to put up.
Added the Longform section to Writing.
Finally overhauled my photography section. Will be adding new content soon.
Inktober 2021 was added to the gallery. Still need to add a link to it though.
Cleaned up the Gallery a bit and put the miscellaneous stuff in one place.
Uploaded a new part of the Gallery. Been working on this for a while.
Reuploaded my protomech fanart to the section with a new page design.
The entire writing section has been split up into better categories and totally reorganised.
Rebuilt the gallery with a more curated exhibition style concept. It's fun to curate my art into a virtual exhibtion.
Stealth uploded the new Microblog section yesterday. Also I realised that this website wasn't displaying the fonts properly on Linux computers, so I've started implementing @font-face for "websafe fonts", it slows down loading a bit, but it's a good backup.
After reading too many books about typography I'm reworking the typefaces of the entire site. Trying to keep it to at most 2 typefaces on a page. But I'm experimenting with web safe fonts, so each page will have its own unique combinations.
I fiddled with the html and css to make the writing section more readable and better designed. It doesn't really work on a phone or a small vertical screen anymore, but that's low on my priorities of things to fix. Also switched from Courier New to Garamond. Hopefully that improves legibility a bit.
I've finally invested in a better lens for my camera. As someone that has only used kit or cheap lenses before, it does feel like a world of difference to actually use a quality lens. The pain I feel in my wallet is a world of difference as well, but I've been telling myself all sorts of justifications to rationalise the purchase. If there's one problem with the Fujifilm X-system, it's the price of the lenses. Not sure if I'll ever post any photos that I take with it here though. I reserve the photography section for my terrible attempts at street photography.
I wanted to be a bit more ambitious with the web design of the photography section, but in the end I opted for something that I could get done with instead. But anyway I'm happy that it's up in a virtual gallery exhibition style.
I don't use a scanner for my art, I just photograph the pieces in monochrome and edit the levels. I kind of like how the camera picks up inked lines, some scanners that I've tried aren't as good at rendering them. In order to get good even lighting on the piece I use a small lightbox with two strips of LED lights to illuminate the piece. But the problem that I'm having now is the lack of copy stand to keep my camera steady and at the right angle. If you're too young to know what a copy stand is, it's a stand that you can attach a camera to so you can take photos directly paralel to a flat surface. In the past people used to use these things to reproduce images and diagrams, it's a relic of a past before scanners were widespread (although I think they are making a comeback for streaming art). I first started using one from my university that seemed to have been around since the 70's, it was primitive but it had really good quality. I've lost access to it since the pandemic, so I make do with my tripod instead and that is a fix for now. Since I lent a friend my 16-50mm zoom lens (which would solve so many problems), I've been shooting with a 25mm manual lens and that also takes a bit more time since I have manually focus. I should DIY a copy stand soon.
I seem to be drawing more since I started this website. Filling up a semi-public album of art has been a good way to relax, especially since I can take my time on each piece and I'm not rushed to do something every day. I think the one way interaction of it all, not having to look at likes or concern myself with comments helps a lot in motivating me to draw whatever I want. I'm taking more risks and experimenting more too. I didn't anticipate that I would draw so much when I was first designing the gallery, maybe I will have to overhaul it when it gets too big.
Had a couple of hours free before a meeting, so I went for a short walk around the city to do some street photography. The photos weren't all that good. But it was fun to just do photography and not think too hard about the results. Just snapping and moving on, not even checking the LCD until I got back. Street photography is a very self indulgent middle class hobby. But it is a hobby because it is enjoyable to do.
It'll take a while to build the photography gallery. I want to try something new with the CSS so I have to properly gather the code instead of keeping with my current minimalist approach.
After watching too many photography youtube videos (Which are almost always about gear), I finally upgraded my camera. I wanted a used Fujifilm X-T20, but someone had beat me to it so I got a brand new X-T100 instead. In terms of taking pictures they're pretty much the same thing. I kind of know that Fujifilms are objectively outperformed by many other companies, but the main reason I'm still sticking with the system is the dials. Even on a lower-mid range camera like the X-T100, I have more dials than I need. It's so nice to turn them instead of the touchscreen interfaces of some other cameras that I've tried. The lenses cost double other brands, but dials.
I haven't had any time to do any proper photography with it though. It's been constantly raining around here and my daily schedule is packed. Not sure if I should add a photography section to this website, I'm a pretty lousy (and self indulgent) photographer.
Added the projects panel to the gallery. Time to slowly populate it with old stuff. On another note I'm surprised by the number of teenagers on Neocities, I was expecting most users to be as old as me.
Finally photographed and cleaned up a bunch of art to put in the gallery. The small lightbox I have was really helpful in getting even lighting over the whole image. Even with artwork this website is still starkly black and white.
Managed to finish the basic html and make some illustrations to fill the site. Overall I'm pretty happy with the black and white theme that I have going, which is more a testament to my woefully lacking website building skills than any design aesthetic. I'll bring the gallery online once I scan in some of my older material.
It's very much a waste of time, but I guess that's why I should do it
Writing goes here. testing the length aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa aaaaaaaaaaaaaa aaaaaaaaaa aaaa aaaaaaaa aaaa aaaaa aaaaa aaaaa aaaa aaaaaaa aaaaa aaaa aaaaaaa aaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaa aaaaaa aaaaa aaaa aaaaaaa aaaaaa aaaaAAAA AAAAA
A lesson is learned but the damage is irreversible by Dale Berran and David Hellman is one of the great early 00's webcomics. Combining out of this world panelling with surreal dream logic, it really pushes the limits of the comics medium. The first few comics take a while to get into stride, but once they get into gear they created some of the most memorable webcomics that I've ever read. There's a strange sense of humor to it too which I enjoy and very unique color palletes and a loose digital painting style. It had some influence on other webcomics of its time, such a Dresdan Codak, but I think nothing really came close to matching it. The whole thing is still available on the internet (the navigation is a bit broken though) and it only takes a sitting to read through all of it.
I once came across a book on George du Maurier while browsing the visual arts section of my university library. His expressive anatomy, controlled penmenship, excellent character design and ability to tell story with just a single picture really stood out to me. George du Maurier was a staple in "Punch", a 19th century comedy magazine which was responsible for the word "cartoon" and possibly "punchline". Coming from a tradition of inking for woodcut engravers, he had very clear form and values amid the details, often the figures were much less detailed than their surroundings and that made them stand out. His works sometimes show how visual language has changed over time, He drew a lot of single panel "cartoons" that satirised Victorian society, multiple panel comics were still in their infancy at the time. His figures also tended to have a very theatrical pose to them, the whole figure always in full view as opposed to the more cinematic close ups and tight shots that we are more used to today. I always aspired to be able to draw like him, and his influence on my artstyle are pretty obvious once I point it out. A sampling of his art can be found here.
To an English speaking audience Tetsuya Toyoda is an enigma. Not much biographical information is published, and the most that I've found out about him was from a machine translated Japanese wikipedia page. For his very long career he very rarely publishes anything, and at most they are short series (his longest story is only 11 chapters) or collections of one shots. He has received some critical acclaim for "Goggles" and "Undercurrent", but there is very little news about him and his output is incredibly sporadic and often linked to the monthly seinin manga magazine "Afternoon".
I first encountered his works as scanlations on the internet. I was mesmerised by his visual storytelling, all his characters had a kind of exhaustion and liveliness to them as they went about the story. And while most stories were short, they brought out really realistic and subtly expressive characters. They were very literary stories, but in the form of a manga. His short story collection "Coffee time" is one of my favourites. It's very little plot, mostly dialogue and nothing much happens. The characters don't learn or earn anything or grow as characters. Sometimes it's just a humourous situation. But I feel satisifed after reading it. I can't explain it, but it just works.
In terms of art style, he draws relatively realistically although he know when to drop the realism to emphasise expressions. Simple, direct and unassuming. That's how I would describe his style. You can probably find his work by googling his name, "Undercurrent", "Goggles" and "Coffee Time" have been scanlated and probably still exist somewhere on the internet. "Undercurrent" does have a French version, but otherwise most of his work lacks an official translation.
I first encountered the art of Duane Loose in the backs of Battletech novels, where there would sometimes be illustrations of the mechs that appeared in the story. Later I found more images on the internet in Battletech fansites and scanned pdfs of Technical Readout:3025 that I downloaded off Limewire (our local game shops would never stock Battletech products). Early Battletech art was a unique chimera, many of the mech designs were licensed from 80's Japanese anime like Macross, Dougram and Crusher Joe. Some mechs were completely original designs, while some others were partially original but traced over from the anime designs. The art was not particularly good in a technical sense, linework was a bit messy with not much variety, every original design had awkward proportions, the perspective of many things never lined up properly and many mechs lacked proper joints. In short it looked a lot like something you would find sketched in the back of a notebook of a bored highschooler (Battletech was a relatively small game made by a bunch of guys straight out of college, so it was not much of a stretch).
The limitations at the time were understandable, mecha design was almost non-existant in the west and the sci-fi vehicles that he drew were much better in comparison. The weird perspectives were also somewhat understandable since he was sometimes tracing Kunio Okawara lineart which already has a loose grasp on perspective and how joints work. But despite it all, the design sense of the anime mechs could still shine through and many of the original designs were really interesting. Many of my secondary school notebooks were filled with mechs in the margins.
He got better at drawing over time and you can see that in his later work, but I still love the retro charm of that early Battletech art. Technically poor art is not necessarily bad art. As much as I love looking at technical masterpieces, less impressive art is sometimes better motivation because in many ways it is more attainable. I always think back about this when I work on my own projects. There are times when you need to slow down and not go all out when drawing. I might not be perfect but it might still be fuel for other artists imagination. You may even inspire a few kids to pick up the craft.
A gallery of his Battletech art can be found here
Blade of the Immortal or Mugen no Jūnin by Hiroaki Samura has fantastic art and it's a masterwork of illustration. The linework and energy in the fights is amazing, and the spreads have really great composition. The story is a bit on the weak side, although with strong (albiet over the top) characters. There is of course lots of graphic violence and perhaps too much weird sexual violence, so be warned. When I first encountered it I read it in a local manga magazine that put shrank the pages so it could fit 4 of them onto a single magazine page. That mislead me into thinking that the linework was incredibly finely drawn as I tried to immitate it. But the detailed linework and well defined forms stuck with me and greatly influenced how I planned my illustrations, although I probably will never be as good as Samura. Of course that also led me down the wrong path of trying to add a ton of hatching to everything, even when it wasn't necessary. Which took me years to fix.
Incidentally I did recently watch the Blade of the Immortal Live action movie on netflix. It wasn't a good movie, very much trying to cover too much in a limited run time and ending up poorly handling everything. I liked the action and the acting, but the plot was a rushed compression of the first 10 or so volumes of the manga and a movie original ending. Also they changed Manji's iconic swastika icon to a different kanji, which I found to be a poor choice to appease an international audience. It wasn't even THAT swastika. If you ever want to experience Blade of the Immortal, skip both the movie and anime and just read the manga.
I really shouldn't be writing too much about nostalgia, but there's something about the html interface that makes me think about the past. But let's talk about an obscure webcomic whose artist seems to have dropped off the face of the Earth: minus. Debuting in 2006, minus was a bunch of sureal sunday page style strips about a little girl with supernatural powers named minus. There's very little continuity to it and it ran on a kind of dream logic similar to Winsor McCay's Little Nemo. It had really simple but beautiful water color artwork. At the time such a large format strip was something only possible as a webcomic, since newspaper comics at the time were shrinking even their Sunday spreads to fit smaller pages. minus was a love letter to comics art and represented a mix of the past and the future. That was the kind of freedom that webcomics were opening up at the time, there was a feeling of the great potential of the medium. It's a bit lost now that most webcomics are hosted in vertically scrolling sites or smaller squares to fit into social media. It's really a great strip that I still think about to this day and it has amassed quite a cult following. The original site is gone, but thankfully you can still find it on the Internet Archive here