Wednesday, April 28, 2010

An Experiment in Contrasting Jesuses

Easter weekend my wife and I watched two films. On Good Friday, after the kiddos went to bed, we watched Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ." On Saturday evening, we watched "Jesus Christ Superstar." After watching both films, I was struck by the extreme difference between two works of art that deal with the similar subject matter.

First let me talk about "Jesus Christ Superstar."

I was first introduced to the music of this film 13 or so years ago by my friend Brad, and I love the music. The first song in the opening sequence with Judas is awesome.

Despite the controversy of the play, I am continually struck by the creativity of it. I mentioned to my wife that modern evangelicalism could probably never put something so creative as this together (even if it were theologically accurate). At least with this spin. It's too unsafe.

There's some scenes where dirty hippies are dancing around to the music, and though alot of the women are dressed like "hoochie-mamas" I am still impressed that elements of the story of Jesus were powerful enough to inspire a couple of probable unbelievers to put a good bunch of it to music.

The controversial elements don't bother me as much for this reason: This Jesus is straw. The movie puts an interesting twist on the whole narrative. The story begins with a disgruntled Judas-probably the best voice in the movie and bounces back and forth between Jesus and his fan base and Judas's growing disapproval of what Jesus has started in contrast to what Judas thinks he should be doing with the movement.

Concerning Jesus, there's a subtle insinuation that Jesus and Mary Magdalene may be more than teacher and student.But more than that, this Jesus isn't sure why he's here, or who he is. This Jesus has a bit of an identity crisis. He seems to be stoked that he's a super star, and that so many people dig him, and he certainly like Mary, but at the end of the day, he's worried that people might not remember him, and seems to not know why he's about to die...the movement seems to get off track, or is misunderstood, religious leaders are jealous of his stardom and so must conspire to put Jesus out of commission. Not only that, but Jesus can't take the psychological pressure of all these people, lepers, dirty hippies, who want his time and attention.

The cleansing of the temple scene was pretty rad though, and I found the film's rotund, hedonistic depiction of Herod quite interesting.

Sure this Jesus gets a couple things right, tells his followers not to worry about tomorrow, etc. But there was no "good news" attached to this Jesus. He was pretty much a skinny guy in a white robe and bad beard. He was pretty marketable humanistic Jesus.

he was a superstar Jesus.

Interesting, Judas is presented at the end in white in a song and dance number, this being after he commits suicide. I assume they are making the point that Judas wasn't all that bad of guy after all that somehow he made it to a decent afterlife.

The ending leaves it ambiguous to the viewer as to whether or not Christ rose from the dead. You see a faint silhouette of a figure walking past a sunrise, likely leaving it up to the reader to decide...did Jesus really bodily rise from the dead, or can we say that his teachings live on in some way, something like that?

Contrast this with "The Passion of the Christ."

This Jesus would be much less marketable in real life. The Jesus in this movie you can best sum up with one word...


Jesus came to die for sinners...the whole movie from the opening in the garden to his death on the cross and the darkening skies were the story of his death.

The film not only speaks of Christ's death per se, but other elements of death, his promise to the thief on the cross that he would be with him that day in paradise for instance and even the component of dying to self to follow him.

I was struck by one scene in this movie, during the flashback to the last supper, where Jesus warned his disciples of the forthcoming persecutions: "If they persecuted me, they will persecute you. If the head of the house has been called 'Beelzebub' how much more the members of his household?"

In another scene there is a flashback to Christ's youth, where a young Jeshua bar Joseph takes a tumble and his mother runs to his aid immediately. Oh how his mother wishes to come to her son's aid now. When Mary finally catches up with Jesus on his death march, Jesus falls beneath the weight of the cross, his mother comes to him, Jesus in agony says, "Behold Mother, I make all things new," (a quotation from Christ in the book of Revelation I believe-interesting that Gibson placed in in this passion narrative) he then embraces his cross and moves forward to finish his goal...dying.

Dying for sinners.

The differences between the two films are night and day. Both have artistic merit. They were both set out for a different artistic purpose and differing methods of bringing that to the audience. Gibson's film definitely shows a much clearer portrait of the Jesus found in the pages of the New Testament. Superstar is a troubled fellow.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Behold...the Colossus

Yesterday I sat down with my kids and watched an interview with stop-motion special effects master, Ray Harryhausen. What an amazing guy. Yes CGI has its place, but man I am so much more astonished with the meticulous human handled earthiness of stop motion photography.

The interview was on a copy of Jason and the Argonauts I grabbed from the library and it has some awesome creatures in it, including a live action fight with stop motion skeleton warriors which is amazing, as well as a large statuesque bronze being called "Talos" which this sketch was inspired by.

Also, I only have about five or six pages left to ink on the graphic novel. Over 112 pages in all. Couple redraws, then I gotta start working on all the pre-press stuff.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Trek rant

I will have a booth this Summer at the Summit City Comic con, so after my over achieving rock star friend Jeremy told me all the goodies he will have for sale at his booth, and I saw his gnarly RocketBoy comic, it lit a fire under my butt, so II started on these sketch cards last night.

Topical shift.

No secret, I'm transferring my allegiance from Star Wars to Star Trek. Until last summer, I never had much interest in, nor had I paid much attention to Star Trek. Then I saw the Star Trek reboot last summer and was dazzled. There is no question how universally bad the Star Wars prequels were, and the furthering of the train wreck with the Clone Wars movie ($12 I will forever regret spending-I felt my IQ getting lower as I watched the movie.) and last I heard the next thing planned is a "Star Wars comedy."

What the heck?

That is a stupid idea.

Every one of Lucas's new ideas becomes (in my opinion) incrementally more mind boggling and dumb.

Beneath the surface, there is not much there to Star Wars...the prequels at least. Don't get me wrong, I will still hold steadffastly to the originals, Episodes 4, 5, and 6. But in my humble opinion, and apparently in many others, the prequels (even with all the insane CGI wizardry were pretty bad.) The archetypal characters were not there, the dialogue was abysmally horrible, and really, when you were a kid and you imagined the Clone Wars mentioned by Obi Wan in Episode 4, did you picture anything like what the prequels gave us?

It is painful to watch Attack of the Clones without fast forwarding through every scene that Haydn Christensen and Natalie Portman speak.

Anyhoo, my beloved and I have been watching the first season of the original 60s Star Trek show and I am blown away by the amount of philosophy, questions, and stuff that is under the surface of Star Trek. Much more to talk about after watching the trek.

Ok I'm done.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Distasteful 6th Grade Memory

My wife says I have a really good memory.

There's one memory that keeps coming to mind as of late.

It's when I was in sixth grade and it was in the Autumn. For some reason or another, we were off of school. I was skateboarding with my friends Ryan and Todd up at Northwood Plaza. (A favorite place to session back in the day)

We had gone into a small retail store that sold candy and I had bought a handful of "Laffy Taffys." I remember distinctly the texture and taste of the oversized sour green apple taffy in my mouth. Upon completion of eating the thing we commensed skateboarding to our next destination in the plaza. We were a three pack, with Ryan in front, next Todd, and I in the rear (I was the youngest of them).

Now one thing about Ryan, like many other middle school boys, he was a master of the art of "Hawking loogies." ie the art of emptying deep phlegm into the mouth and projectile spitting it. Ryan would do this constantly; he was a master. This is gross, but Ryan did tricks with his hawkers. Sometimes spitting them several feet into the air and then catching them again in his mouth. Other times letting them dangle several inches beneath his mouth only to slurp them back up. An other times would fire one off simply to see how far he could get it to travel.

He was a master.

I wanted to be like Ryan.

As we skated past the front windows of several stores, Ryan fired a loogie off while in motion.

It was time. I had eaten the Laffy Taffy, my saliva was weighty, ready to fire. I did so haphazardly, and the last thing I remember was making eye contact with a woman inside a pet store as my weighty, green apple Laffy Taffy laden Hawker divided into a triad of golobules and smattered against the large store window.

I was shocked. I didn't mean to do it. I just kept skating and tried to forget about it. We stopped a few minutes later to rest. No sooner had we stopped to rest alongside the local Target store, than a fiery, angry pet store owner tromped around the corner and approached us.

With a threatening scowl on her face, she told me to come with her.

Would she call my parents? Would she call the police? What would happen?

"Pick up your skateboard and walk", she said.

I followed her back to the pet store where she handed me a bottle of windex and a handful of paper towels to clean my own hawker off the window.

What a lowly estate.

Upon cleaning the window, I was cordially released back to Ryan and Todd who were waiting outside the pet store with a smirk on their faces.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Still Inking

Knocked out about 8 more pages on the graphic novel over the weekend. I actually only have a handful of pages left to ink. Then I'll start on edits, and some redraws.

It's coming.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Graphic Novel update

I've been a lazy blogger in recent days.

I have been very consistent in working on the graphic novel however. I believe I have between 20-25 pages left to ink. I love this stage more than anything else in the creative process. Finished another 10 pages in the last few days.

Here's a snapshot of a recent panel for your viewing pleasure.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Good Friday

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from the words of my groaning?

2 O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, and am not silent.

3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the praise of Israel. [a]

4 In you our fathers put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.

5 They cried to you and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not disappointed.

6 But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by men and despised by the people.

7 All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads:

8 "He trusts in the LORD;
let the LORD rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him."

9 Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you
even at my mother's breast.

10 From birth I was cast upon you;
from my mother's womb you have been my God.

11 Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.

12 Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.

13 Roaring lions tearing their prey
open their mouths wide against me.

14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted away within me.

15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.

16 Dogs have surrounded me;
a band of evil men has encircled me,
they have pierced my hands and my feet.

17 I can count all my bones;
people stare and gloat over me.

18 They divide my garments among them
and cast lots for my clothing.

19 But you, O LORD, be not far off;
O my Strength, come quickly to help me.

20 Deliver my life from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.

21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

22 I will declare your name to my brothers;
in the congregation I will praise you.

23 You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!

24 For he has not despised or disdained
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.

Psalm 22:1-24