My experience with comics and manga is pretty spotty: outside of childhood staples like Calvin and Hobbes and the more famous stuff like Sandman and Watchmen, I’m pretty unread. Enough so to find myself bewildered by the two occasions I’ve visited TCAF.
When I was a university sophomore, I took a class on graphic novels that I was pretty excited for. But it turned out to be one of my first experiences of how academia can suck the joy out of any potentially fun activity, and it has taken immense effort to not loathe by proxy the books that were on the syllabus.
And the less we speak of superhero comics, the better.
But it’s a medium I’d like to be better versed in, and picking up drawing again has provided more of that impetus.
Which brings me to Usagi Yojimbo.
In those days carts were used as pillories are now; where each large town now has three thousand or more carts, in those times they had but one. Like our pillories, that cart was for all criminals alike, for all traitors and murderers, for all those who had lost trials by combat, and for all those who had stolen another’s possessions by larceny or snatched them by force on the highways. The guilty person was taken and made to mount in the cart and was led through every street; he had lost all his feudal rights and was never again heard at court, nor invited or honoured there. Since in those days carts were so dreadful, the saying first arose: ‘Whenever you see a cart and cross its path, make the sign of the cross and remember God, so that evil will not befall you.’
The dwarf immediately continued on his way, without slowing down even an instant for the knight, who hesitated but two steps before climbing in. He would regret this moment of hesitation and be accursed and shamed for it; he would come to consider himself ill-used. But Reason, who does not follow Love’s command, told him to beware of getting in, and admonished and counselled him not to do anything for which he might incur disgrace or reproach. Reason, who dared tell him this, spoke from the lips, not from the heart; but Love, who held sway within his heart, urged and commanded him to climb into the cart at once. Because Love ordered and wished it, he jumped in; since Love ruled his action, the disgrace did not matter.
- The Knight of the Cart, by Chretien de Troyes, trans. William Kibler
Having finished Le Morte D’Arthur, I’ve continued my Arthurian reading by picking up a collection of Chretien de Troyes, the man who more or less invented the medieval romance.
I’ve been drawing a lot lately. Don’t mind posting the better stuff online, but I can see this blog potentially getting overrun with samples of my sketchbook. Chauser can make cameo appearances here, but I don’t want him to run the place; I know most of you come here for the baroque sumptuousness of my prose style.
Thus, I’ve set up a little tumblr blog here. I still don’t really understand tumblr, though.
There are still details to be ironed out, but I think I’ve got this bunny locked down. This is the look that made me think, “yeah, that’s Chauser.”
After 1245 pages, I’ve arrived at the end of Alexandre Dumas’ novel, The Count of Monte Cristo. Writing a blog post almost seems superfluous, given how iconic it is in the annals of popular fiction, but let’s have a shot at it.
The premise is well known: during the French restoration, a young sailor named Edmond Dantes is falsely denounced as a Bonapartist agent by three men who stand to profit from his disappearance. He winds up getting imprisoned under horrific conditions in the Chateau D’If, where he by chance finds out about a fortune hidden away on the small island of Monte Cristo. After fourteen years he engineers his escape and takes the treasure. Becoming the titular Count of Monte Cristo, he spends the next decade preparing to take revenge on his persecutors.
I am already playing Suikoden II.
Part of this is because the original Suikoden is a rather short RPG. But another part is because somewhere, in the middle of it, my opinion switched from, “this is a solid game, but maybe this ship has already sailed,” to: “I am completely on board this boat and am riding it through the storm.”
Once I adjusted to it, I realized that the game fell into an almost miraculous JRPG goldilocks zone where almost everything was just right. Suikoden’s craftsmanship is so assured that it doesn’t feel the need to call attention to itself; you almost don’t notice it until you realize that it’s quietly accomplishing what so many games attempt to attain with grand, stylistic flourishes. It reminded me of why I fell in love with the medium in the first place.
Why, it’s (the upper half of) McDohl the Younger! I haven’t even beaten the game yet and it’s already invaded my sketchbook. Although that’s more due to the coincidence of it being what I picked up when I began drawing again.
Pretty close resemblance, I’d say. A bit stiff, though.
A minor classic in bad fantasy art
Whatever else it may have wrought, our turn towards digital ownership has made retro gaming a much more viable pastime.
Suikoden is an excellent example: the first two games in Konami’s sleeper franchise have long been hailed by RPG enthusiasts as two of the best in the genre (with the second in particular often being singled out as a contender for the empyrean throne of “best JRPG evur!”). But they also quickly became hard to find, the few copies floating around with outrageous prices attached to them. Regardless of their reputation, there was no way I was going to fork over that kind of money.
But for $6-10 on PSN, I’d be willing to give them a try, although part of me regrets the absence of that glorious American box art from my shelf. My initial thoughts are below the fold.
One of the most charming and fun games I’ve had the pleasure to play recently was The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, a sort of sequel/remake to the celebrated A Link to The Past. Taking place in the familiar land of Hyrule, the plot starts off when a villain called Yuga begins turning…
via Zelda, Icons and Beauty — Beneath the Tangles
My second post at Beneath the Tangles us up. You might call it an iconic post! (har har har)
I mentioned previously that I’ve been trying to get better at drawing. Of course, my real ulterior motive here is to finally get a character of my own. Everyone who is anyone in the sorts of fandoms I’ve lurked in will inevitably have their own OC/ponysona/fursona/altar ego, etc. My lack of artistic talent, along with an unwillingness to commission someone else to do the dirty work for me, has hitherto withheld me from attaining this.
But I’ve been finding that diligence is beginning to reward me in repairing the former problem, so I already have made a stab at the endeavor.
Below the fold is Chauser (no relation to Geoffrey Chaucer).