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yep, I'm still here

a weblog by clay

Why I Hate Star Wars
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From the title, you might be thinking that this is a post from someone who has never liked Star Wars, and is just looking to grumble about something. But no, as a child who grew up with Star Wars as a major interest in his life, I can tell you that I’m writing this with a grand sense of disappointment and recently came to understand why this is so.


To understand this, I had to go back to 1977, when I was first exposed to it. My older brother took me to a store that sold comics and showed me the Giant-Size Star Wars comic book adaptation by Marvel. He said to me, “We are going to see this film” and he bought the book to read it to me. Unfortunately it was only the first half of the adaptation, and I would have to wait until I walked into the movie itself to find out how Luke, Leia, and Han got out of the Death Star.


I walked out of that theatre a fan. I had never seen anything like it. New worlds, new life forms, spaceships and an environment that looked real, and regardless of how fantastic everything was, it felt like something that could exist. The fire of my imagination was ignited and I could never be the same anymore. My life was now Star Wars.


I had to have everything Star Wars. My first toy was a Kenner R2D2. Soon I had toys, coloring books, the novelization, the board game, a set of blankets and sheets for my bed. My Christmas wish list was all Star Wars. There was simply nothing else that quite captured my interest like that.


I couldn’t wait for The Empire Strikes Back to come out. When I heard it was going to be Chapter V of a larger series, I nearly wet my pants. I found the novel adaptation and read it in a night. I was ready.


The Empire did not disappoint. It was full of images of fantastic things I had not seen before: four legged ATAT walkers advancing like the mechancial animals they were, a violent whirlwind of rock that was the asteroid belt, home of huge worm-like creatures, and a floating city in the sky. Then there was the Force, which did amazing things if one just believed. It was all too much and the imagination was fired up again.


The Star Wars series, although it was a simple story at its base about a boy who saves a princess from evil, used that plotline to advance us from one incredible situation to the next, to blow our minds away with the previously unseen spectacle before us. It was not just a movie, it was an Experience.


Six years later from that fateful day I entered the movie theatre in 1977, Return of the Jedi came. I eagerly sought out the novelization, read it in a night, and then a couple of days later waited in line to see the movie just as it came out. The anticipation was intense.


Return was good. But there was something different about this one. It just seemed to lack something essential, something that brought me into the series and made me a fan in the first place. My imagination wasn’t fired, it was more like closure. Star Wars was over, and it was time to move on.


What happened? The first episode had closure, but it inspired me. Return didn’t. It just made me want to move on.


Now that I look back, I can see why that was. Return was already old when it came out. There wasn’t anything terribly new or imaginative in it. For the first part, they went to Tatooine, the desert planet in the first Star Wars. It was based in Jabba’s palace, which was a more expenisve version of Mos Eisley. From there, Dagobah, where we had been in Empire. Then, another Death Star, in orbit around a moon that was just a big forest populated by real-looking teddy bears. The only really novel thing was the speeder-bike chase, which was in the middle of the movie. The Death Star was destroyed in a way that was pretty similar to the old one, except in a hole rather than a trench. It was simply a retread of old ideas. The imagination was gone.


When the prequels were announced, I wasn’t really that excited. Back to Tatooine, a planet that was initially described as a place farthest from anything that happens. More fighting in spaceships. More lightsabre duels, except they are getting longer and more aerobatic. Simply more of the same, without the imagination for the fantastic that made the series come alive in the first place.


The original movie told us we were going to a galaxy far far away, but now we were in a place we knew too well. Without the amazing backdrop and the jaw-dropping visuals we were left with the plot, which was always a little lackluster. THe universe of Star Wars was no longer something to be discovered, but well-worn territory.


And as Star Wars becomes more and more commercialized, the more familiar it’s become. And the awe that I felt as a little boy disappears with it.


I think that’s why I can say I dislike Star Wars now. But even though the imagination has died in it, TV and movies that inspire are still being made, like in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, and more. We still get to see strange new things and visit places that are unlike our own. I hope in the new series planned for Star Wars it remembers the promise of a galaxy far, far, away held, and bring us to someplace that makes us believe in the unbelievable.


See original post: http://wp.me/p3OXM5-1s (ClayComix Blog)


depression comix #175
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depcom.175.col.400pxThis is a sequel to depression comix #10 except in that strip it’s internal dialogue and in this it is external dialogue. I still suffer from this quite a bit and it makes it difficult to do this comic sometimes, especially after a popular strip. It also makes it difficult to promote myself or try to earn an income from doing comics.


See original post: http://wp.me/p3KYMB-fv (ClayComix.Com)


depression comix #174
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This strip easily came out of the previous strip, #173. There is not really much I can comment on this one, except this one stems from personal experience, and as you can imagine, not a very good experience. I don’t expect this one to be one of the more popular strips, it’s very dark, and for some people, I expect it cuts right down to the bone. It should make the sentimentality seen in #170 and #171 seem like a thing of the past.


See original post: http://wp.me/p3KYMB-fr (ClayComix.Com)


depression comix #173
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Up until now depression comix has really focused on the depressed charcaters and not so much on what I call the “satellite” characters, the characters that are part of the lives of those who are depressed. This comic begins a series that focuses on the life of a satellite character and her experiences with a depressed person. I think I’ve already decided to never draw the person whom she refers to so that this series can focus entirely on her.


I’ve been on both sides of this fence, but I have to admit to being more on the other side. I’m sure I’ve put a number of loved ones through hell, and that is why most of them are no longer in my life.


See original post: http://wp.me/p3KYMB-fl (ClayComix.Com)


depression comix #172
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This is basically a redo of depression comix 100 except in that strip I left it extremely vague. I think I was kind of afraid to write what the character was actually thinking, hoping that people who were also in that position would pick it up (and there were). Now I’m not afraid to say these things and hence it was time to update the strip especially considering the sweetness of the last two strips. A strip about death should return the comic to what it’s really about — an illness that makes you think it’s okay to destroy yourself.


 


See original post: http://wp.me/p3KYMB-fg (ClayComix.Com)


depression comix #170 & 171
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This is kind of the end of a three part trilogy of strips that began with #158 and continued in #159. #159 quickly became the most popular depression comix strip ever on Tumblr so I decided to put the third installment aside for a while, because three comics with the same kind of theme would get tiring, I think.


This was originally supposed to be one strip, not two. The strip would have been the first three panels of 170 and the last panel of 171. However, I wanted to make a bigger deal of her taking off her shirt, and I couldn’t figure out how to do that with just four panels. Then last week, I decided to draw it out into two strips as I had done with #111 and #112 to get better timing.


The reason why her taking off her shirt is so important goes back to the first strip where they met in #81, and during the entire time they have had their relationship she has always had a long sleeve shirt on, even in bedroom scenes. Someone asked what would happen if the freckled character asked about the scars, and I thought that would make a necessary strip, so I started putting this strip together.


I’m going to pat myself on the back here for a couple of reasons. I really like the second panel of 170 where she’s making a monster face. When I got back into webcomicking on Tumblr, one jackass said, “and he still can’t draw hands”. There has been a conscious effort to include hands in nearly every depression comix strip, especially to add to the expressions of characters. This one is no exception, and when I draw panels like this one I remind myself, “That asshat said I couldn’t draw hands”.


Another thing I’m proud of is the second strip, where the depressed character takes off her shirt and joins her friend in bed. I wanted to do this scene so it wasn’t sexual at all, because it easily could be, and that would have ruined it. In the end, I think it worked well.


I usually post this at the same time as the depressioncomix.com upload but it was a bit complicated so I ran out of time. I’m doing this a day after, and I can write that the response has been fantastic, most notably on Tumblr. One particular comment on the depressioncomix.com website was especially touching:


My boyfriend kissed my scars and I cried


That comment alone tells an entire story.


See original post: http://wp.me/p3KYMB-f9 (ClayComix.Com)


depression comix #169
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depcom.169.col.400pxI guess there’s really nothing more to say than this is how I’ve been feeling the past week. I’m usually an early riser, but recently getting out of bed in the morning has been incredibly difficult and it’s painful to find the will to make my body move to get it out of bed and start the day. I didn’t really have a good punchline for this but I hope people like the strip anyways.


I like the shading in the first panel. It took me a couple of shots to get it right.


See original post: http://wp.me/p3KYMB-f6 (ClayComix.Com)


depression comix #168
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I’m not sure how to feel about this strip now that I’ve done it. What the reporter says in the last panel is something that I’ve had in my head for a while, but I was looking for a strip to get it out in. But the last panel does seem awkward and forced, and I’m just going to have to accept that.


This strip is quite different because I’m not actually focusing on the experience of depression but rather looking at the larger world around us and trying to determine if the world has a self-vested interest in keeping people unhappy. I understand I’m making a big jump here, especially in the first two panels, but there’s no doubt that unhappy people make better consumers and keep the capitalist gears moving.


This is the first appearance of Media (the reporter). He was initially conceived along with Society, but never appeared until now.


See original post: http://wp.me/p3KYMB-eZ (ClayComix.Com)


Sorry to keep you waiting ...
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It’s been a while since I posted and I apologize. I’m a terrible blogger because I always think twice about what I say, and hence, usually delete what I write.


Some good news though.  The income from the site now pays for itself so it’s no longer something that costs me money to maintain. However, I have to admit that this is temporary because as the site attracts new readers, costs will go up accordingly. I’ve had to upgrade the hosting plan in January, and now in February it looks like soon I will have to upgrade once again. But this is manageable, and it looks like with Google AdSense and people’s generous donations, keeping the site alive will no longer be out of pocket.


Now the bad news: the display on my laptop died. I can get it to work by plugging in an HDMI cable to the TV, but this is really annoying. I will have to buy a new computer soon, hopefully by March 31. Japanese sales tax goes up 3% in April, so I will have to consider what kind of computer I need soon.


Other things I have to think about is a redesign of the depression comix site.  There aren’t a lot of good designs for a vertical comic and WordPress isn’t exactly suited for this kind of thing. Which is too bad, I think WordPress is awesome and has a lot of potential but as I said, it’s still not great for comics. There are a couple of comic themes and plug ins but they aren’t that great; there’s a tendency to make comics as custom posts when I think it’s better to have comics as regular posts with additional functionality through custom taxonomies and custom fields. Currently, if you look at the sidebar with the character listings, that’s all done with custom taxonomies tacked on to regular posts.


Another thing I have to think about is what I’m going to do with the claycomix.com site. At first I thought it would be a blog thing where I post everything I do but all I do is related to depcom anyways so lately it’s just been a verbose mirror of that site. I’m thinking of making it just a portfolio site with links to SL and depression comix and get rid of the blog functionality.


Anyways, I’m still alive. I’ve also been blogging at the depression comix blog at http://www.depressioncomix.com/blog/ , and that’s a strictly depcom blog with no mention of anything else I do artistically (ie Sexy Losers).


See original post: http://wp.me/p3OXM5-1q (ClayComix Blog)


depression comix #167
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I really like Society as a character and I have been trying to figure out how to make her return to the comic, and after several attempts I came up with this one., which is pretty much the same as the last one, except that she interacts with someone.


A couple of things: the picture that society uses is based on is from the viral video Body Evolution. The arrow is actually supposed to be a cursor and you can see a bit of the Photoshop menu in the right hand corner. It’s a small detail but I wanted to imply that what Society believes is beautiful is really quite impossible anyways.


The thing I obsessed over in this strip? The “Not My Problem” dialogue in panel 3. The thing I struggled with: getting depressed character #15 to look like I want. It worked in panel 1, so so in panel 3, and completely unbalanced in panel 4. Thankfully she’s supposed to look uglier in panel 4 so serendipity to the rescue.


See original post: http://wp.me/p3KYMB-eV (ClayComix.Com)


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