the tall wings of the dark side

kylo ren lego ship

And back to the Lego. This is my son’s Kylo Ren spaceship, from a movie called The Force Awakens. Did you see that? It’s pretty good. It’s about this girl, and there’s this guy, and there’s this other guy who’s really grumpy, and they meet these guys and then all this stuff happens and the force wakes up, and the end. I saw it four times at the movie theater, or rather I saw it twice at the cinema (that is, in England), and twice at the movie theater (ie, in America), and one of those times was at the IMAX. I’ve seen it a couple of times at least on DVD now. So the shiny stormtrooper, if you live in London and go on the Northern Line, her other job is saying “This station is Chalk Farm. This train terminates at Morden, via Bank. Please stand clear of the closing doors.” I recognized the tall hairy bloke as well, I’ve seen him in something. So, I loved the film. I must point out that I am a massive Star Wars fan, I like all the Star Wars, all the wars, they’re great, and then there’s the stars, I love them, love all the different stars. Sirius, the Sun, Rigel, Nigel, Rigella, all the stars.

So there is a fair bit of Star Wars Lego in the house, and this is the tallest. Those wings are collapsible, much to Kylo’s annoyance. He needs those big wings, none of the other dark lords had wings that tall. Vader’s wings were tiny, and Darth Maul’s. You just know General Hux made him get collapsible wings so they would fit in the Star Destroyer. “Do you know how expensive those big bay doors are Ren?” he says. “You should be careful I don’t make your bay doors bigger Hux!” Ren retorts, before they both give each other very embarrassed looks, and Ren says “sorry that came out wrong, I need to go and speak to grandfather’s melted helmet,” before Hux suppresses a giggle and Ren shuffles away. On the back of this ship is a sticker that says “Chewie is my co-pilot” which obviously he put there years ago and forgot was there. That’s the thing, when you turn to the Dark Side do you go back and delete all those Facebook photos of selfies from high school, do all your friends unfriends you because your posts start getting all political, posting all “How to Talk to a Rebel” nonsense and changing your profile picture to a big Imperial flag with all “Proud To Be Imperial” and sharing “First Order First” posts that definitely aren’t racist against wookiees or gungans, but all seem to be stuff like “Who remembers when Coruscant was all Imperial shops, oh them were the days, now when you fly down a Coruscant street it’s all gungan blue energy ball shops, it’s a health hazard.” I bet Kylo gets into all sorts of arguments online, and all his comments are about three pages long full of links to Wikipedia or right-wing pro-first-order news editorials. He seems the type. I imagine being online was very much like that for Kylo, except I bet Facebook made him change his name back to Ben Solo because they have that bloody must-use-your-real-name policy, honestly you would think he would just not use Facebook, he doesn’t even like showing his face. I like how he smashes up his computer when he gets annoyed, that’s one way of getting a new computer. See I think that if Han and Leia didn’t keep getting him new computers every time he smashed one to pieces maybe he would have developed the emotional intelligence not to turn to the Dark Side. Then again I bet they were all like, “You’re not parking that ship in here, not unless you get collapsible wings” and he went out and got the wings made even bigger, just to rebel. Teenagers eh.

I can’t remember where I was going with this. As I said, I like Star Wars a lot. I really enjoyed The Force Awakens, but not in a fashionable smirky-cool “Hate The Prequels” way. No, I actually love the prequels, I love all the prequels. Prequels prequels prequels that’s me, I love them. Right, Lego. So I drew this in the Book of My Son’s Things. It’s a Stillman and Birn Alpha book. This was a fun sketch to do, and a fun ship to build, and play with. Note the little show running along the edge of the scan. I call that the Dark Side. Get it? Do you get it? Dark Side? No?

nanodrawmo 2012 – part 4

Ploughing on with the NaNoDrawMo series… I am actually almost done, but still a few more quick writing exercises to do, and of course the scanning. In this one, a spray bottle, a scrubbing brush, my sunglasses, my son’s AT-ST (aka “Star Wars Lego Garbage Truck”), a souvenir Eiffel Tower, a toy Magneto, a tin of pumpkin pie mix, aaaand… a Hoegaarden Grand Cru glass, which followed me all the way from Belgium over a decade ago. More NaNos to come…
NaNoDrawMo 32-34
NaNoDrawMo 35-36
NaNoDrawMo 37-39

super troopers

clone trooper shoe
My son has the coolest shoes. I always knew this of course, because I have drawn a picture of every single one of them in a single book, chronologically, in black pen. These new ones however are my favourite yet. Based on the Clone Troopers from Star Wars (the forefathers of the Stormtroopers), they even flash blue. And I totally want some myself!! Except I don’t think adults can realistically wear such footwear in public. Perhaps Boba Fett ones? I liked them so much I drew this shoe twice. The one from the ‘official’ series is below, copic pen in a moleskine cahier. The second one I drew was on the first page of my brand new Stillman & Birn ‘Alpha’ series sketchbook (thanks Stillman & Birn for sending me that!), and it took me a couple of hours, mostly in copic multiliner (size 0.1) but with a little bit of uniball vision micro, and watercolours to colour it in. I’m pleased with the result, and the paper is nice to draw on, not as smooth as the Moleskine Cahier or Volant, smoother than the Moleskine watercolour though and it takes a watercolour wash pretty well.
21: clone trooper shoe

They are cool shoes. But, alas, if I wore them I would be constantly worried that one day, they would turn on me, Order 66 style.

whiskey in the jar-jar

little prague, davis (envelope from peking university)

Last night, I partied like it was 1999. That is to say, I went to see the Phantom Menace. In 3D. I know I always say that 3D is shite, and that Phantom Menace is, largely, also shite, but I couldn’t wait – this would be awesome man! Well, the chance to see Star Wars, any Star Wars, on the big screen again couldn’t be passed up. Phantom Menace has its faults (I am looking squarely at you, Jar-Jar Binks – time has not made it easier to forgive the Gungan for his hapless existence) but in many places it is quite great – Liam Neeson’s Qui-Gon is someone everyone would want to know, a favourite uncle, Obi-Wan’s lightsabre skills are still world class, and I think Jake Lloyd was superb as young Anakin. They made some improvements, fixing Yoda from that terrible puppet to a digital one that more closely resembles the original puppet, and switching all of Amidala’s lines with ones that made sense (actually they didn’t do that, sadly).  I was reminded of how excited everyone was when the trailer first aired,  when double-bladed lightsabre wielding face-painting experiment Darth Maul told us he would be revealed to the Jedi. But was it 3D? Nope.

It’s hard to just switch a regular movie into a 3D movie, I guess. I remember seeing Jaws 3D at the pictures when I was a kid and jumping out of my seat when a harpoon flew out of the screen – now that was 3D (actually, Edgware cinema it may have been a real harpoon, looking back). There were trailers for new 3D movies last night which did look quite spectacular, but they were made with 3D in mind. Phantom Menace just wasn’t. Not even the podraces, exciting though they were, particularly flew out of screen. The most 3D bit, seriously, was when Watto was speaking Huttese and the subtitles came up. I was like, “oooh floating letters!” After a while, the 3D glasses (“3D – Real D” it says, whatever the heck that is supposed to be) were bugging me. I expected those light cardboard ones you used to get, red on one side, blue on the other, but these were proper plastic sunglasses. They’re great, if you don’t already have glasses on. They fit over your glasses, but wearing two sets of specs is a real pain on the nose.

Still, after Darth Maul went to pieces, after Qui-Gon Jinn was set on fire and after the Gungans paraded their vuvuzelas in the streets of Naboo  (with Palpatine looking on saying to himself, seriously what part of “wipe them out” did they not understand??), it was fun to come out of the movie theatre feeling like I had relived the olden days. I then fancied a beer and a sketch. One other thing I did in 1999 was spend a couple of weeks in Prague, so I went to local pub Little Prague for some Czech beer. I’ve drawn this place several times before, and this time I drew on a brown envelope (from Peking University), using a uniball vision micro, a superb Y&G Calligraphy pen, and a white gel pen. Oh and a bit of warm grey Pitt brush pen. Took me about an hour and a half, while people milled about dancing and drinking. I like Little Prague, but the music on Friday nights can be a bit loud and, well, not my thing. Lots of others seemed to enjoy it though, but I concentrated on drawing all those bottles. I considered extending the envelope to draw the rest of the bar (I would love to do a curving panoramic of this bar sometime, perhaps on a less busy evening). I would like some time to organize a Drink and Draw type group here in Davis, something that seems to be popular in other cities. In the meantime, here’s wondering how the other Star Wars films will look in 3D. I think I can guess!

lego garbage truck

lego garbage truck

This name makes much more sense than what it’s really called. My son got this for Christmas (let’s face it, it was for me too). He calls the bigger AT-AT a ‘garbage truck’, which really is a better name, so this smaller two-legged version is the ‘Lego Garbage Truck’. Drawn tonight in my Star Wars moleskine while watching Reservoir Dogs.

imperial garbage truck

"garbage truck"

This is my son’s new AT-AT. When he first saw one (its brief appearance in Return of the Jedi) he called it a ‘garbage truck’. It makes perfect sense – it sounds and moves just like one, and to a toddler the connection is obvious. The name has stuck and I’m glad, I always disliked the name AT-AT when I was a kid (but we still said that rather than ‘Imperial Walker’, which is what they’re called in the film, because ‘AT-AT’ is what it said on the box, and Hasbro boxes tell no lies). I remember getting mine for Christmas when I was a kid, it was like the best thing ever, but the little plastic guns kept snapping off. This is the ‘Galactic Heroes’ version, which I must say is really cool (and a lot sturdier). Sketched in blue Micron pen in my WH Smith sketchbook (first sketch in that book in a year and a half).

best in snow

luke in the snow

A few weeks ago we drove up to the snow, which is found in the Sierra Nevadas about an hour and a half east of Davis. when I say th snow, I’m not talking about a sprinkling of white, I’m talking about SNOW. It must have been nine feet deep! Much of it was only a day old, fresh and powdery. We stopped at a rest stop just outside Truckee. It was my two-year-old son’s first experience of snow, so that was a lot of fun. Trying to build a snowman wasn’t easy, so I built a snow sith lord instead.

snow vader

These were drawn in a journal that I’m keeping for my son.