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Archives: 2021

Animorphs as Anti-war War Story


Tags: Animorphs, morals and ethics

Back in the late 90s and early 2000s, I was a big fan of the Animorphs books written by K.A. Applegate and her uncredited co-author and husband Michael Grant (and several ghostwriters). The premise of the series is that five human teenagers, and their alien friend, have the ability to transform (“morph”) for two hours at a time into any animal whose DNA they can acquire by touching it. They use this ability to wage a secret guerrilla war against an invading army of alien brain-control slugs bent on enslaving humanity as they've already enslaved other alien species.

These days, the series is fondly remembered in Internet circles because of its brutally honest (and, honestly, brutal) depiction of violence. It's hailed as a critique of war and a cautionary tale about the horrors thereof.

For me, though, it fails at that purpose.

The issues are most apparent in the series finale and the several books leading up to it, so obviously I can't discuss this without spoilers. If you want to read the series yourself first, stop here. I wish you luck, since the books can be hard to find.

Before I continue, let me say up front that I haven't read the books in over fifteen years. My plan is to get my opinions out, and then see if they change after a re-read.

Read the rest of this post in the blog.

WIP Report: Necessity: Page 2 Progress with the Wrong Layout

Posted Posted

Tags: art, comics, Necessity comic, WIP report

I've been making pretty slow progress on the next page of the comic, and I've been fairly quiet about it because I don't want to spam everyone with incremental updates. But I just encountered a not-insignificant setback, so I think now's a good time for a progress report.

Back when I finished the thumbnails, you may recall, I said:

Once I stitched all my "final" thumbnails together and read through them as a single comic, it dawned on me that the reader doesn't get a good look at the sorceress—the ostensible main character—until halfway through the comic.

In a very early draft, I had intentionally not shown her face until even later, but I feel like that signals to readers that she's not the main character, except in the same sense as the title "characters" of movies like Twister, Volcano, and Jaws. I don't want anyone to feel cheated when it shifts to her POV. So I redrew the beginning of page 2 to give her a nice medium shot establishing what she looks like.

So here's the problem: When I started working on the layout for page 2, I used the old thumbnail instead of the re-drawn one, and didn't notice until long after I'd started work on the pencils. In fact, the only reason I caught the error at all is that I was going back through my blog working on layout updates. I saw the part quoted above and realized that the page I was drawing did not begin with a medium shot of Viola. In the first row of panels, all you can see is her hand:

A panel of the squire charging at Viola, sword raised, and a panel of her catching the sword. Only her hand is seen in both panels, surrounded by a fire-like magic effect.

So I now have to replace those two panels with these three from the revised thumbnail:

Thumbnail panels: A medium shot of Viola with the nobleman behind her on the ground, the squire charging without Viola's hand visible, and Viola catching the sword at a different angle.

Losing panel 2 is no big deal, since I never really was quite happy with the magic effect and I'm pretty sure the blade is way out of proportion to her hand.

I'm a little sadder about panel 1, since it was the most complete panel so far. I was pretty proud of that hand, too. I'm hoping I can salvage part of the angry sword man, though obviously he needs some work too. I guess I'll find out, but the change has to be made either way. No point crying over spilled milk.

As a bonus, here's my first attempt at drawing his face in a later panel. It's not too bad, but the expression is completely wrong. Drawing expressions is hard.

A sketch of an anthropomorphic lion face with a cartoonishly exasperated expression

So how's the rest of the page going? Well, I'm spinning my wheels trying to get a grass-dirt transition looking passable and I'm about halfway done with a figure in panel four (soon to be five) but there's not a single background that's done yet. Overall, I'd say I had penciled about 32% of what the page would have looked like based on the earlier thumbnail. With re-drawing the top row, I'm maybe 11 or 12% done with the final page, not counting the extra work of combining the two sheets of paper into a single page somehow.

Impeachment Follow-Up

Posted February 16, 2021

Tags: current events, politics

So the impeachment trial is over. That the result is completely expected doesn't make it any less disappointing. A 57-43 majority voted Guilty, but that wasn't enough to meet the two-thirds threshold needed to convict.

Before I get into that, I need to issue a correction. In my previous post, written before the trial ended, I wrote:

[Trump] made a phone call to Senator Tommy Tuberville to try to convince him to delay the certification. The call ended when the senators were evacuated. I can't find anything saying whether or not Tuberville expressly mentioned the storming or the evacuation, but Tuberville remembers saying, “they just took the vice president out.” According to Wikipedia's timeline of the assault, it was after this phone call, some eleven minutes after Pence was moved, that Trump tweeted that “Mike Pence didn't have the courage to” refuse to certify the results.

In fact, the then-current revision of Wikipedia's timeline didn't mention the phone call or Senator Tuberville (or senator Mike Lee, whose phone Trump actually called) at all. I got the eleven minutes figure from the time of Pence's evacuation, which I had assumed Tuberville told Trump about as it happened.

When I checked the timeline again, it had been updated to include the call, which in fact took place two minutes after the tweet: Pence was evacuated at 2:13, the tweet was eleven minutes later at 2:24, and the phone call was at 2:26.

This doesn't affect my conclusion about Trump, though:

Read the rest of this post in the blog.

Trump's Second Impeachment Matters

Posted February 12, 2021

Tags: current events, politics

Ex-president Donald Trump is the first president in United States history to be impeached twice, and the first to have his impeachment tried in the Senate after he's already left office. So why bother, if he's already out? There are several reasons people object to the second impeachment being tried at all, but I don't think any of them holds water.

Objection: He's already out of office, so it doesn't matter anymore.

Presidents are allowed two terms, and Trump has only served one. The terms aren't required to be consecutive, and running for a second term doesn't count as serving one. That means he still has one term left. There is precedent for this: Grover Cleveland lost re-election to Benjamin Harrison in 1888, but served a second term after defeating Harrison's own re-election campaign in 1892. Trump could do the same thing unless the Senate votes to bar him from running again.

More importantly, whether Trump tries to run again or not, it's only a matter of time before someone else picks up where he left off. We need to send a clear, decisive message that attempts to undermine our democracy in order to stay in power will not be tolerated. Not from Trump, not from anyone.

Read the rest of this post in the blog.