Sunday, June 30, 2013

Superman and Batman Observe Gay Pride

I sincerely doubt that either of my children will be taking this one to camp tomorrow, but I felt compelled to acknowledge the culmination of Gay Pride and today's parade here in NYC.

Despite attending a school so politically correct that we don't use the term "Thanksgiving Break" to avoid offending any members of the indigenous peoples of the American continents, my sons are still lower school boys and are not completely above using the term "gay" as an insult.

In other words, tolerance is a message that is worth repeating frequently.

Both kids just said "eh" when I showed them this today.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Skylanders Stink Bomb

Despite his general dislike of his older brother's monomaniacal obsession with Skylanders, Ansel asked for a Skylander today also.  At least it was just one.

Skylanders Wash Buckler Makes Rabbit Ears Behind Blast Zone & Night Shift

Archer told me it was absolutely essential to have these three characters on one napkin.  I foolishly tried to rise to the challenge, thinking I would just draw part of them.  I think the result might be called "Skylanders Clutter." 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Skylanders Stealth Elf

 Archer's latest Skylanders fixation is a female character with blue hair and a bikini top.

Canine Pirate

Ansel was not much impressed with my attempt at a dog pirate.  No weapons and no abdominal muscles.  What was I thinking?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Pacific Rim Jaeger Giant Robot

As promised, I had to take a crack at rendering a giant robot today.  I went for a more impressionistic rather than an analytical drawing.

According to the copious material online available to whip up enthusiasm before the film opens, there are many different kinds of "Jaegers" (or enormous "mobile exosuit weapons")  Often I have difficulty gratifying my kids' napkin requests because there just isn't enough source material available.  In this case, there is probably too much...I don't really want to have to draw one of these things accurately on a napkin after 11pm.

This one is from an image of "Gipsy Danger coming out of the water."

Millie the Dog

Our kids' aunt and uncle brought over their newly adopted effusively cute puppy last night to visit our dog deprived sons.

Ansel absolutely adores dogs, and the pressure to have a winsome canine of our own continues to rise.  But our sons can barely dress themselves on demand, let alone participate in the care of a living creature... As much as I like pets, my caregiving abilities are already maxed out keeping the kids alive.  And last, but certainly not least, my husband is allergic to most things with fur. 

So, the best we are going to do for today is Millie on a napkin.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

"After Earth" Biosuit

Ansel had a burning desire to see "After Earth" which was definitely not shared by any other members of the family. As he had been subjected to a recent string of childhood illnesses, we decided to all indulge him by going to see the movie in a theater over the weekend. 

Both kids found the movie to be frightening (things are much scarier with large screens and Dolby sound)  although they felt fine about it afterwards.

The heavy handed messages of the film about negotiating a father/son relationship and learning to conquer one's fear, however, were thoroughly irrelevant for our kids.  Afterwards, their dad helpfully pointed out that the Jaden Smith character was respectful and treated his father like a commanding officer. Our older child shrugged and responded, "That was a movie, Dad!"

But Jaden Smith's costume was cool.  They didn't miss that.

Classic Godzilla Versus "Pacific Rim"s Kaiju

If giant alien monsters attack the earth, no doubt humans will build enormous robots to punch them...or perhaps more plausibly, we will just ask Godzilla to come back and kick them to the curb?

My older son is pretty excited about the prospect of the giant robots in the upcoming film "Pacific Rim."  The monsters are pretty much just an excuse to suit up and pound as far as he is concerned.

I, however, think fondly of the time spent in my youth watching men in latex suits wrestle amid tiny cityscapes and smoke bombs. I gather from my five minutes of research last night that the monsters in the movie are called "Kaiju" just like the original giant movie monster Godzilla.

Having gratified myself, now I am going to have to draw the more challenging giant robot for tomorrow.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Lone Ranger and Batman

Que es mas macho?  Lone Ranger ou Batman?

For some reason, while raising small boys over the last ten years, the lyrics from a Laurie Anderson song from "Home of the Brave" frequently spring to my  sleep deprived and addled mind.  She asks repeatedly  "Que es mas macho?" about a series of pairs of items like pineapples and lightbulbs.  Everything and everyone has to be located on the macho scale of course, and super heroes are certainly not the exception.

Archer rarely wants to see movies in a theater, but the advertising campaign for "The Lone Ranger" remake has somehow caught his attention.  I had previously tried to interest him and his brother in watching a few minutes of the original series mostly for historical and sociological interest, and perhaps to explain my affection for the phrase "What do you mean "we" white man?"  But they wouldn't sit still for even a few seconds of it.  (Black and white television?  Nooooo!) 

I added Batman here because of the morally superior than thou vigilante in a mask parallel... and because I was feeling snarky.  Archer was not impressed, and I don't think his problem was my poor drawing of Batman...or that I really should have drawn the Nolan/Bale remake Batman here rather than the comic book blue and grey version.


SaicoTech from Teen Titans Trouble In Tokyo

Ansel probably requested this rather obscure character from the Teen Titans finale movie because he was planning to appear as him- or at least imaginatively in his costume- during recess today.  Both kids sometimes use the napkins as visual aids to explain to their friends what costume they are "wearing" for imaginative play.

Of course I let Ansel down as usual.  He asked for SaicoTech (pronounced "PychoTech")- a bad guy made entirely of ink- because his outfit was cool, but he didn't like the color scheme in the movie.  SaicoTech is originally clad in hot pink and aqua blue (definitely unacceptable) and then later in a yellow/black combination.  Ansel told me he wanted the later color scheme, and I congratulated myself for actually finding an actual image last night through the magic of Google (scrolling back through the DVD was definitely out of the question timewise)

Alas, Ansel didn't want the literal appearance of the character, he wanted me to draw his memory of it.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Macho Tooth Fairy

After much anxious waiting, Ansel finally lost his first tooth last weekend.  To be more  precise, it was yanked from his mouth by a highly paid professional.

Ansel is about 93% sure that the Tooth Fairy does not exist and that any under the pillow money is coming from his parents.  But both he and his even more jaded older brother don't want to completely undermine the Tooth Fairy concept and risk putting an end to future coin. 

We had some conversation about the gender of the supposed Fairy of Teeth.  The girliness of the concept seemed to trouble both boys.  And they want absolutely nothing to do with the  Dwayne Johnson movie- a tough guy in a tutu with feathery wings?  You must be kidding, Mom.

So what would an appropriately masculine version of this character look like?  Ansel suggested dragon wings rather than fluffy bird wings, sunglasses, black clothes and a six pack of course.  I immediately ran into satanic leather daddy references when put these attributes together.  Perhaps one does not really want to imagine a black clad muscular guy with leathery wings rummaging around under your kid's pillows while they are asleep?

I sweetened Mr. Tooth Fairy up a bit, lightening his clothing and making the teeth in his bandolier collection large- you know- because he is tiny and non-threatening.  But he is wearing "macho" sunglasses- or more specifically, sunglasses like those sported by the now deceased pro wrestler Macho Man.  (Google "Macho Man Sunglasses" if you haven't already wasted enough time here.)  Ansel did not get the reference (happily) but liked the glasses.

His final response to this napkin: "You want me to take THIS to camp?....Well... I kind of want to take it." 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Skylanders Sidekick Barkley

Things did not go well last night, and I started this one well after any sensible person would have already been asleep for a couple hours.  As a result, I spent less time on this napkin than any other in the last few months.

Archer pronounced it "Perfect" this morning- perhaps the first time I have heard that word applied to a napkin.

Two possibilities come to mind:   I should spend less than 10 minutes on each image, and/or maybe Archer was actually trying to be nice. 

Teen Titans Raven with Teen Titans Go! Raven

Teen Titans Raven with Teen Titans Go! Raven:

Given the climate of Kindergarten chauvanism, Ansel rarely takes napkins that only feature female superheroes.
The sarcastic juvenile Raven on the right is much more age appropriate, but I am afraid that it was the chest on the adult version on the left that sold this napkin today

Raven appears in various levels of bodily exposure and facial obfuscation in the many iterations of the Teen Titans.  We have been reading the "New 52" Teen Titans, sort of.  I find it hard to follow, and my sons are mostly interested in what everyone is wearing and whether there are any new weapons for Red Robin. 

I considered adding a word bubble for the Raven on the right... something like "Nice outfit." or "Say Hi to Dad for me." but decided it was better to leave it alone. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Skylanders Swap Force Blast Zone and Mini Jini

I see my future, and I am afraid that it has more Skylanders drawn on napkins in it.

Sulley From Monsters Inc.

Ansel has been lobbying for a noisemaking Sulley toy advertized recently on TV.  Generous mom that I am, I compromised by drawing Sulley's face on a napkin.  

While they certainly would not pass up an opportunity to watch a Pixar movie, our sons have not really been big Monsters Inc fans in the past.  Too much talking, not enough weapons perhaps. 

Ansel did not seem particularly moved by the ad campaign for the sequel until he saw the commercial for the toy which promises to help its owner scare his or her parents.

I am afraid of acquiring more stuffed toys.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Napkins on News 12 Brooklyn

Thanks to Nicole Ryan for her nice piece on News 12 Brooklyn yesterday.

After their unusually mature behavior on live TV last week, my sons' performance was perhaps closer to their daily average. There's some jumping on the couch and mugging in the background.

See the video here: if you haven't already seen enough of us on TV.

Skylanders Swap Force Stink Bomb and Quiet Elf

Archer is gearing up for the next iteration of Skylanders arriving this fall.  I will admit that I am a bit apprehensive about a new cast of characters that will need to be described in copious detail to any adult willing to listen.  And then there is the issue of saving up the allowance to buy the game and the characters... a dark topic indeed.

In other news, today is the first day of summer camp for my kids, and the first day of my return to two napkins a day.  I realized last night that I am definitely out of practice at cranking out two napkins in an evening. 

Standards are going to have to be lowered, and things are going to be, well, more loosely rendered for the duration of summer camp,  And dear god, no more napkins with 8 characters.  

Both kids griped this morning that there were only two characters on each napkin.  Archer said, "couldn't you at least have put (name of Skylander character that I cannot remember) in the background?"  Ha.  No, I could not.

Gizmo From Gremlins and Red Panda

Trying to avoid "Scooby Doo" reruns, we watched "Gremlins" over the weekend.

I think I must have seen the movie as a a seventeen year old back in 1984, and wasn't sure how appropriate it was going to be for my much younger than 17 year old  kids.  Like many other special effect driven movies from the eighties, it was much less scary than I remembered.  Although I suspect that viewing such a movie at home on a TV on Saturday morning with your mother there to prep you on what is coming up and reassure you that the main character is going to make it out intact makes almost any scary movie much less frightening.

(Note to my older son:  This does not mean that we will be watching anything from the "Alien" franchise any time soon)

My sons loved the graphic puppet violence.  Remember how the mother dispatches the gremlins in the kitchen in a motorized mixing bowl and the microwave?  I didn't.  Ansel was mostly concerned about Gizmo's welfare, he was not much moved by the plight of the human characters.  And Phoebe Cate's story about Santa Dad dead in the chimney?  Barely registered with my kids.

I'm not really sure what's going on with the red panda on today's napkin.  I may have to reinstate the one character per napkin rule during summer camp while I am doing two napkins a night.  Ansel wanted me to include a motorized Guinea Pig also, but I think I got into enough trouble with just the two and the strawberry.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Should Have Just Drawn the Dog

We are still in between school and summer camp this week, so I had some time to get myself into other napkin related trouble.

Trying vainly to come up with an appropriate thank you gift for Ansel's soon to be former speech therapist (the very excellent Bethe Halligan of the Speech Playroom).

After years of care that has been far above and far far beyond the call of duty, an appropriate token seemed to exceed my mental and physical I drew on a napkin.

We've had napkins featuring Bethe's infinitely tolerant dog Harry before: (see one here, or here, or here). This time I felt the unhealthy urge to add my kids to the image.

As the art critic Dave Hickey once said in a catalog essay in which he specifically, ahem, did not appreciate my work (my sculpture, not napkins, god only knows what he would have to say about those): portraiture is always problematic, and nothing is worse than a parent's sentimental portrait of his or her own child.

He was of course probably talking about quality of concept rather than just plain old bad, awkward drawing.

But here we have bad concept and bad drawing.

Maybe I'll take another swing at just the dog...

Friday, June 14, 2013

Good Day NY with Superman, Wonder Woman and Bobby from Teen Titans

The napkins- along with the napkin recipients and napkin draw-er appeared on Good Day New York on Fox this morning.  Watch the video here:

I was a little apprehensive about the idea of live TV after the kids' less than enthusiastic response to the CBS camera crew last week, but they definitely rose to the occasion. We were slotted in between two spit polish members of the honor guard demonstrating how to fold the American flag, and several metrosexual men demonstrating how to wear shorts.

The producers has requested that I draw the hosts dressed as Superman and Wonder Woman. My kids wanted a large menacing teddy bear named Bobby from an old Teen Titans episode. Since the kids are in between school and camp today I was able to spend two napkins worth of time trying to get a reasonable likeness of Greg and Rosanna.  Results were poor, but they seemed happy with their super physiques.

I had much more success with Bobby.

CBS This Morning

The very kind people from the CBS morning show ran a very flattering bit on the napkins earlier this  week, which you can watch here.

Through the magic of generous and careful editing, the kids look almost cooperative and articulate, and I do not look as foolish as I usually do on video.  And they did a lovely (and no doubt time consuming) job of graphically presenting the napkins.

You would never know that my sons spent most of their interview time laying down, declaring "This is Boring!" and "I need a nap!'

Monday, June 10, 2013

Archer The Gorgonite From Small Soldiers

We stumbled across "Small Soldiers" on television over the weekend.  I vaguely recall seeing it when it was released in 1998. 

Despite not having a small boy in my life at the time, I imagine that I went to see it because I had been sculpting doll and action figure parts for the toy industry and was also using them in my own work.  At the time, I found the movie, to be, shall we say, lacking in gender sensitivity and political correctness.  (It does have a rather remarkable voice cast for the toys, including many of the actors from "The Dirty Dozen" and "This is Spinal Tap.")

Of course, the stereotyped bad behavior of macho action figures is exactly what appealed to my sons.  At least they did immediately side with the oppressed Gorgonites over the sadistic human commandos. 

And the Gorgonite leader is named Archer, so that is really all one needs to know to explain Ansel's interest in the character.

Ansel was very unhappy with my first picture of him with Archer the Gorgonite.  I humored him and came up with one of Archer alone holding lunch items.

Friday, June 7, 2013

General Ogun From "World of Quest"

Ansel and I started reading "The World of Quest" by Jason Kruse again last night.

The kids really like the main character, Quest's sarcastic and hostile attitude.  I like the thigh-high boots and skull face suit on one of the bad guys.

Ansel did not share my enthusiasm this morning.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Giant Frog Kappa from New Brighton Archeological Society

We just finished reading The New Brighton Archeological Society by Mark Andrew Smith, art by Matthew Weldon, last night.  

Ansel really liked the giant frog monster that is undone by his own excessive politeness.  
I've been mostly undone by sleep deprivation over the last few days, so this was perhaps not one of my better efforts. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Mai From Avatar: the Last Airbender Throws Food

I wondered why Ansel requested Mai, Prince Zuko's love interest from the series, as he rarely asks for solo female characters. 

I've seen very little of the show myself as Ansel has watched most of the Avatar episodes on the iPod while riding to therapy in the cargo bike.

When I did a little research on her last night, I discovered she is known for throwing knives, and I suddenly understood his interest.

Today she is throwing more peaceful lunch items.

Connor The Assassin Gives Mabel and Dipper From Gravity Falls A Ride

We had watched a lot of "Gravity Falls" over the weekend while Ansel was quarantined with his viral and bacterial infections, so he asked for Mabel and Dipper to pose with his favorite homicidal video game character on Monday's napkin.

Since we had already done Batman holding the Gravity Falls siblings on his shoulders, (see image here) I felt the irrational urge to come up with some other arrangement for the three of them.  Having Connor give the two kids and the pet pig a horsey ride seemed about as implausible as having the three of them in the same image in the first place.  Mabel is game for anything, while Dipper's expression indicates that he knows this drawing is a bad idea. Perhaps Connor is just placidly waiting for his opportunity to slaughter another dozen Redcoats.  

Unsurprisingly, Ansel was not too impressed with this image, although he did remark, "You really looked carefully at Waddles the pig! You got the pink circle around his eye." This sounded very much like something his Kindergarten teachers might say to one of their students, and was about as close as we get to a compliment about my drawing.