One of my favorite hobbies is reading—I need to have my reading time at night and on weekends. Reading has provided me with hours of pleasure and inspiration. I always have a few books in the works, usually a couple of novels and graphic novels/comics. Here's the current reading pile I'm enjoying.
Valerian is classic sci-fi BD. I started picking up the series a couple of years ago with the English edition currently being published by Cinebook, Ltd. My enjoyment was such that I didn't want to wait for the English editions to come out, so I splurged and ordered the entire series in Omnibus format from Amazon.fr, in the original French language. I'm half way through L'integrale Volume 4 which contains number 9 to 12 of the original BD. The art keeps getting better, the relationship between the two leads is building, my interest is fully vested. I'm stoked to hear that Fifth Element's director, Luc Besson, will be bringing the BD to the big screen as revealed in his tweet last May:
Century 21: Escape From Aquatraz is the third volume of a series of archival books that reprints some of the best comics from the world of Gerry Anderson. I discussed these comics in a previous post. Really enjoying this series which tickles my notalgic bone.
Just picked up Micro by Michael Crichton at the used bookstore. It's the book Chrichton was writing when he passed and Richard Preston was hired to finish the manuscript. I've been meaning to read this for a while but the dual authorship and the fact that Chrichton didn't complete the book himself made me a bit wary. Well, so far the first few chapters read like vintage Chrichton so I think this might be a good one. We'll see.
Bernard Werber is famous in france for his novel, Les Fourmis. I picked a few of Werber's novels the last time I visited Quebec (really enjoyed Les Thanatonautes) and I'm finally getting to read this one. It's a fascinating thriller about ants with very little anthropomorphism. The book is keeping my interest as I make my way to the second half of the story.
I love to pick up old "vintage sci-fi" novels at the used bookstore and the Ace paperbacks are a particulate favorite. My lastest acquisition is Armageddon 2419 AD by Philip Francis Nowlan. This is the orginal story that spawn the "Buck Rogers" mythos, although the name featured in the book is Anthony not Buck. The name change happened when the character made his transition to syndicated comics. The book contains two novelettes: Armageddon 2419 AD, originally published in the August 1928 edition of Amazing Stories, and the sequel, The Airlords Of Han published a year later in the same magazine. I finished the first story last night and enjoyed it, althought I wish the author was spending a bit more time on characters rather then military maneuvers. Still, I definitely have a thing for antiquated sci-fi. To me, being dated is definitely not a bad thing, in fact, it very much adds to my enjoyment.
It's been nearly two years since I started working on Battleborn. I remember being flown to Gearbox Studios in July 2013 to do a workshop and while I was there, I pitched the idea of hand drawing the effects for a new 3D game they had just started. The big hurdle was to figure out how to achieve that in real time, in an immersive 3D environment, and make sure that the hand drawn effects blended with the graphics in a seamless fashion.
Right off the bat, I saw an amazing challenge and an opportunity to stretch the limits of what I'd done in effects animation so far.
The first challenge was to figure out a pipeline that made sense. Our initial tests were promising and everyone got excited. A few months later, I found myself promoted to Effects Director and became obsessed with making sure that the game would feature the best effects work I could possibly do. From the new trailer, you can catch some quick glimpses of some of that work and it might give you and idea of what is yet to come.
At this point in time, I have done more effects animation work on Battleborn than any other single project in my career. Working in tandem with my assistant Seung Kim, and the rest of the FX crew in Texas, Jim, Nick, Gabe, Ash, and Mark, I can say that my first triple A title experience has been an exciting ride and continues to be so.
On a side note, it's pretty ironic that the project I've done the most hand drawn animation for happens to be a 3D game!
Battleborn will be playable at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) from June 16-18, 2015 in 2K’s booth – #1001 – in the South Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center. More details about the game can be found here.
I became a fan of Gerry Anderson's work with television series, UFO and Space 1999, which I discovered in my youth. I also recall the "Supermarionation" shows I'd seen on re-runs around the same period of time.
Those puppet shows featured cool sci-fi concepts, killer ship designs and beautiful miniature practical effects. However, the wooden acting, a direct result of the use of puppets, always made it hard for me to relate to the characters.
Lately, I've been really fascinated by British science fiction comics. My web perusing led me to the comic world of Gerry Anderson, which had spawned from those very same puppet shows I saw as a kid.
Intrigued by what I found on line, I decided to take a chance and order Gerry Anderson: The Comic Collection, featuring 288 pages of comic reprints from Gerry's Anderson's TV Century 21, a weekly comics anthology published in the UK in the 1960s-70s.
Wow, was I in for a surprise! I love these comics! I love the concepts, the atmosphere, the set designs, environments, the sci-fi plots, it's all so cool. Liberated from the restrictions of the original puppets, the drawn characters emerge full of life, in my opinion, making them a lot more relatable than their TV counterparts.
One of the main reasons these stories work so well is the painted artwork which is nothing short of spectacular. Artists such as Frank Bellamy, Ron Embleton and Eric Eden are true masters of their craft. My favorite artist of the lot, though, is Mike Noble. His characters have a great flow and his visual imagination coupled with great composition and fluid storytelling, are a joy to behold
I'm sure a lot of my impressions are tinted by nostalgia, as these were definitely from a more naive time. Interesting to note that there is no sign of internet in any of the stories, yet we are supposed to be in the late 21st century and having the ability to travel in space from planet to planet!
I finally got a new shipment of The Saga of Rex from Image Comics, so once again, I'm going to be able to provide people with signed copies. To get yours, order from our site. For those who like Rex, you might also give ZED: A Cosmic Tale a chance. Personally, I think it's just as good as Rex (although much edgier and maybe not entirely suitable for young kids).
Speaking of The Saga of Rex, I had a Skype call with the production team this week concerning the movie, and everyone seems to agree that we finally have a dynamite screenplay. Our producer, Peter Lories, had some good suggestions, so we're having our screenplay writer, Jesper Møller, integrate these right now. Everyone is really excited to start production next year!