Friday, August 3, 2012

Graphic Novel Creation

 This spring I took my first 3-week May term course, which was a class in graphic novel/comic-making that was taught by the two talented and awesome Pope Brothers, Rowan and Bly. It was set to start just after I wrapped up finals and set up my art gallery, and even though I knew it would be very intense and would mean I'd have to wait to begin unwinding from the many stresses of my spring semester, I just had to take it. The University of Minnesota doesn't offer any comic-making courses normally and therefore this was a rare opportunity, and also it would be taught by the two fabulous Pope bros and one of my fellow classmates would be my good friend Brooke.

The class was exactly what I expected in that it was both very fun and very difficult. Coming into the class as a comic-making newbie and having to come up with an idea for a comic, and write, draw, scan and color even a few pages of it within 3 weeks is incredibly challenging. However, it was a really good experience to not only rise to the occasion and try to make the best comic I could in that time frame, but also to work alongside other students as they made their own comics and see how differently everyone worked and how their comics turned out. Overall, I'm glad I did it because I was able to learn, have fun and prove to myself that I am capable of making a half-decent comic.

I'll be sharing the comic I created below, but if you'd like to check it out on the class website or see some of the work that the other students made (like Brooke's awesome mini story about a shape-changing lawyer), go check out the class website!

Okay, so because I'm a big fan of the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and I didn't really have an idea for a comic otherwise, I decided to make mine about it. Because there are no adaptations that I've seen that focus purely on the story of Edward Hyde and his perspective on the events that occur, I chose to do that. My comic covers the backstory of Hyde and his creation, initial birth and the events that shortly follow. It pretty much follows the original story exactly. It gets a bit--okay, a LOT--wordy, because I got into the spirit of the writing style of the original novella, but the whole point of this was to give Hyde's account of things and I thought the narration would be fitting. I apologize if the writing isn't fantastic, as I wrote everything all in one night, and I didn't have a lot of time or energy to put into editing it.

Although most of my classmates were drawing their comics on paper and the scanning them later to color them and touch them up, I felt like trying to set my comic apart by making it entirely on the computer. It was easier in some ways and much harder in others, but it was a very good challenge and forced me to learn how to use masks very well, which I hadn't had experience with before.

Everything was done using vector masks, because I'm insane that way. My colored pages especially involved so many layers of masks it wasn't even funny. Page one definitely had over 150 layers. I used photographic reference as much as possible, and a couple panels were actually modeled for by my brother, since I needed to capture certain poses at odd angles that couldn't be found in reference images online.

Okay, done with my prattling now. On to the comic itself! I hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Harry Potter Party Documentation

Once again, I have returned to my oft-neglected blog to share tales of my summer exploits! I'm doing them rather out of order, since this happened much more recently than the events that will be detailed in posts (hopefully soon) to come, but I thought I'd do both of my food-related posts first and then move on to the posts about art. So here's my account of the marvelous Harry Potter party that I assisted my friend Brooke (an amazing cook, artists and party planner) in preparing a short while ago.

As you can see from the photo above, we went all-out on the Harry Potter theme and prepared quite the extravagant spread of sweets. Brooke and I got together and worked on cooking, planning and decoration for it for between 6-10 hours each of the two days before the party. I'd definitely never done so much cooking within so little time before, but despite how much time and effort it took it was lots of fun, since it was also time spent with a friend.

I think I made a pretty good cooking assistant, and Brooke was definitely an excellent head chef. She was calm and level-headed the entire time, gave clear directions and was somehow able to cook 5 different things at once and shop and think of games and decorations and still stay sane. Now that's what I call a competent party planner! If you want someone to help you throw a great themed party you really should contact her. (Yes, I will be this shameless in promoting her - I have tasted her food, I can't not tell you to give yourself the chance to try it too.)

Anyways, let's start talking about the food! Below are more photos showing almost the whole selection of sweets we made. Brooke also cooked normal non-dessert food to eat - roast chicken, vegan mashed potatoes and cheesy non-vegan mashed potatoes, gravy and peas (selected because Brooke noticd that there are always platters with great mounds of peas on the tables whenever feasts happen in the Great Hall in the Harry Potter films). Those, however, were finished and added to the table just as the party began, and I didn't get any photos of them before they were gobbled up.

Now I'll be describing the snacks individually. First, the chocolate frogs! A must have at any Harry-Potter-themed event.

These were made using a chocolate mold that I'd gotten for Brooke as a Christmas gift a few years back. The mold sadly only had one frog in it so we had to make them one at a time, and combined with the amount of time it took to complete each frog - which involved filling the mold with an initial layer of chocolate shell, cooling it in the freezer, removing it to add the filling and second layer of chocolate shell, and then freezing it to solidity one final time - it meant that it took two and a half days of work to complete this tray of frogs. We'd pretty much do a step in making our latest frog and then wait and work on something else until we could perform the next step in the process, and repeated this ad nauseam.

For all the time it took to make them, they turned out really great and we were able to make a good amount of them. We had a few frogs filled with raspberries, and the rest either had some sliced almonds with of the green caramel inside them left over from the cauldron cakes, or some of the leftover peanut butter mixture that the mandrakes were made from.

Also featured on this tray were our lovely golden snitch truffles.

They were made of a truffle mixture using milk chocolate with hazelnut liqueur mixed in, and each also had a hazelnut in the center and were rolled around in edible gold dust to give them their snitch-like appearance.

We also made on large display snitch to clue the guests into what the truffles were supposed to be, if they couldn't already tell. Brooke made white chocolate wings painted with gold dust for this snitch, which looked fantastic.... until her dog (who's named Godric Gryffindor, so her was perfect for this event) ate one of them just before the party was going to the start. It was rather disheartening - a one-winged snitch simply doesn't look the same - but thankfully not dangerous to Godric.

Over the course of the party preparations, Godric (pictured above) also ate a bird and several books, and vomited on the carpet quite a lot. He's a troublemaker, but he was so dopey and cute everyone forgave him.

At least Godric didn't eat the entire snitch, for we would have been in quite a pickle if he did. You see, one of the big events of the party was a Horcrux Hunt, and just as it was in the original story, the ring horcrux was hidden in the center of the snitch!

You'll have to secure your earmuffs tightly before we talk about this next snack, because these mandrake roots are an earful as well as a mouthful!

These paralyzingly good snacks were made of a peanut-butter based mixture (I'm not quite sure what went into it, but it was tasty), which was shaped into the mandrake's  fat little bodies, arms and their screaming faces.

The dirt in the cups we planted them in was made of a mixture of pulverized Oreos and the chocolate cake scooped out of the center of our cauldron cakes. There was an extra layer of the peanut-butter mixture at the bottom of each cup because otherwise there would't have been enough dirt to cover as many mandrakes as we did. The leaves stuck into the top of each mandrake to complete the effect are basil leaves.

 I made sure to take pictures of as many as their cute little squalling faces as I could because they were so cute.

Next up, cauldron cakes!

These are comprised of chocolate cupcakes hollowed out in the center, so that they're like cauldrons, and filled with a potion consisting of caramel dyed green with food coloring, with a few bone-shaped sprinkles to complete the effect.