Jan 28, 2015

Catfish Deluxe Releases Final 'Sidera' Short

Last month, France-based production house Catfish Deluxe released the first of four shorts they created Julien Neel's Lou! Journal infime. Titled Sidera, the shorts recounted the intergalactic voyages of a scantily-clad defender of justice launches herself from the boils of her gigantic space-whale headlong into the grips of danger and intrigue. Catfish has finally gotten around to releasing the final climactic clip from the movie, though two and three are suspiciously absent. Guess we'll have to see the actual movie to check those out!
I absolutely loved the original short and this one is no different; A brightly colored confluence of muscular visor-wielding centaurs, holographic dobermans and monolithic space women. It's like Jem and the Holograms by way of He-Man pitted in a fist-fight against Kill La Kill in a battle for the title of supreme absurdity. So long Sidera, hope to see you again someday!

Nesskain's Harry Potter Comic Tributes Are Phenomenal

We've spotlighted Nesskain’s aptitude for tackling dreamy, atmospheric subjects and otherworldly coloring before, and his fan artwork for J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series are certainly no exception.

His tribute strips, one for each of the seven books in the series, easily ascend to the heights of some of the very best Potter-related fan art out on the web to date. Every panel is infused with an aura of high adventure, brilliantly-rendered cerulean pallets and dynamic composition that makes every page feel definitive and climactic.

It should come as no surprise that the story of "the boy who lived" has inspired whole mountain-ranges of fan art since its debut in 1997. But Nesskain's are just leagues ahead of what I've seen lately, reminding me a lot of Kazu Kibuishi's work on the 2013 re-release covers.

Scholastic Books would do well to offer him a license to adapt the entire series. These panels are proof alone he would do the books justice. Check out the rest of the pages after the break (the caveat of spoilers should go without saying). Nearly each one is better than the last.

Worth Checking Out - Children of Morta

Children of Morta is a "narrative-based roguelike" being developed by Dead Mage, known for creating similar hack’n slash titles such as Shadow Blade and Garshasp: The Monster Slayer. Players assume the roles of the Bergson family, the ancestral guardians of the Mountain of Morta, who must battle their way along the mountain's peak to discover the source of the corruption transforming the wilderness into a host of blighted abominations and dispel it once and for all.
Let me tell you of the days of high adventure...
What really strikes me about this game besides its beautiful, densely pixelated art-style, is how the family members each represent a prototypical class of top-down RPG occupations (John the Father is the swordsman, Linda the Daughter is the archer, Lucy the Mage and Kevin the Rogue, etc.) and the ability to switch between them over the course of the game. The procedural-generated dungeons coupled with an emphasis on a strong narrative elements throughout add a nice twist to the mix too.

The game is currently sitting on over $46-thousand of its initial 65-thousand dollar goal, with the potential of expanding to the current-gen consoles (i.e. PS4, Xbox One, and Wii-U) post-release. Backer incentives include a download of the game's soundtrack and access to an exclusive family member. If the trailer piques your interest, throw some support their way!

Jan 27, 2015

Brainstorm Breathes New Life Into The Dark Lord of the Sith

Klaus Wittmann
Darth Vader. Savior-turned-slaughterer of the Jedi Order. The Dragon of Darth Sidious. A name synonymous with the labored exhale of a respirator and the silhouette of a hooded executioner marching through the smoking chasm of a laser-blasted airlock door. From the moment he premiered on-screen in 1977, Darth Vader had captured the collective imagination of popular culture at large with his unpacifiable ruthlessness and impenetrable aura of unwavering stoicism.

Vader has been re-imagined so many times it almost seems like a rite of passage for any fledgling Cintiq art-padawan. So when the Brainstorm page announced that they were hosting a month-long community challenge to re-interpret the fallen Jedi Knight and the Imperial Storm troopers, I knew we were in for something special.

And I wasn't wrong; Out of the hundreds of illustrations submitted, these are but a few of the most jaw-dropping entries to be submitted this month. The Force is strong with this post.

The First Teaser for the Fantastic Four Reboot Looks Intriguing

When news first broke of Marvel's attempt to wipe the slate of Tim Story's Fantastic Four series in the wake of the MCU's second wind, I was understandably reluctant to pronounce interest. The first two films, however well-meaning, strayed too far from the spirit of their source-material and ran along the spectrum of being either nauseatingly campy or frustratingly unfaithful (Galactus is a storm cloud?!). However, the release of this first teaser trailer does look interesting, so let's keep an open-mind, hmm?
Déjà vu à la Mass Effect, anyone?
Josh Trank is the director behind one of my favorite superhero style movies in recent memory (Chronicle) and Simon Kinberg's got a decent track record for screenwriting.The film looks decidedly more "edgy" than its predecessors, the casting of Michael B. Jordan and Toby Kebbell as the Human Torch and Dr. Doom respectively has me intrigued. We'll have to wait until August 7th to see if these decisions will pan out into a great film, but for now my verdict is cautious enthusiasm.

Jan 23, 2015

The Art of Yuanda Yu

Yuanda Yu is an eight-year veteran concept artist with over twelve collective years of experience in digital illustration, and boy does it shows. His meticulous attention to detail is superb, his subject matter covers the gamut of hard line post-apocalyptic and speculative sci-fi tropes.

The subtle incorporation of pronounced yet careful visual cues to a variety of different culture precedes the temperament of an artist who devotes himself to the passionate study of world culture as well as illustration. Yu is currently working as a senior artist for Barajoun Entertainment and has done work for CCP and Webzen. Check out a sampling of his work after the break!

This 30-Second 'Apocalypse Now' Student Trailer is Ridiculously Impressive

Apocalypse Now is one of Francis Ford Coppola's most storied and critically-acclaimed films and a sobering depiction of the ravages of war on the human psyche. The only thing more iconic than the film itself is it's subsequent documentary Heart of Darkness, wherein we get a glimpse at the process behind producing the film that nearly drove Coppola himself to the brink of insanity.
The best part of waking up is napalm in your cup!
A class of students from The Animation Workshop,Denmark's leading animation institution, have released this epic 30-second trailer depicting Captain Willard's journey into the dark heart of the jungles of Vietnam to kill the demented Colonel Kurtz. I think it manages to succinctly capture the psychological gravitas and iconic imagery of one of cinema's most enduring classics. Great job guys!

Vandroid's Graphic Novel Trailer is Pure 80's Pulp-Adrenaline

Vandroid is a limited-series graphic novel written by Tommy Lee Edwards and illustrated by Dan McDaid published by Dark Horse late last year. Golden Wolf, a London-based production company whose work we have featured before with their music video for Dog Blood's "Chella Ride", produced this brazenly cool promotional trailer for the novel's release. After watching this, I'm definitely planning on snatching up a copy on my next comic-store run.

Official site
The year is 1984. Washed-up mechanic Chuck Carducci is contacted by an old roommate from his MIT days to team up on a new project using cutting-edge artificial intelligence. With salvaged electronics from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, high-performance van parts, and a plutonium- ion battery dubiously procured by a mysterious financial backer, Chuck builds a robot so human, yet so powerful, it can only be called VANDROID! Chuck puts everything he ever wished he was into Vandroid, and the robot now has a chance to fulfill his creator’s lost potential.

Way Out

What happens when our over-dependency on virtual communication takes on a life of it's own? This is the central conceit behind Yukai Du's MA graduation film inspired by Sherry Turkle's novel, "Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other".  The short combines Du's distinctive chalk-pattern aesthetic with beautifully engrossing ambient sound design courtesy of Angus MacRae.

I can't help but reflect on my own over-reliant social media habits after watching "Way Out". The ease-of-access of modern information technology has made us lax in the categorization of that information between that which is edifying and that which is stunting. And what happens when human interactions are lost in the mix? Still, I think it's possible to navigate the ubiquity of the modern age while still bearing in mind what's really important.

Ghostface Killah - Ray Gun ft. DOOM

Director Rob Schroeder and Lodger Films' music video for Ghostface Killah and DOOM's collaborative track "Ray Gun" is certifiably funkadelic. Odd Future lieutenant Left Brain plays "The Mask"; A hard-nosed, trench-coated police detective on the edge with a Kamen Rider-esque helmet hailing from another dimension.
"Take Me To Your Leader"
He's on the case to rescue a young woman who's fallen in with some shady looking ne'er do wells. But can he really save a girl who might just not want to be saved, and will he ever return to his home-planet? Ray Gun is a delicious blend of Exploitation-era aesthetics and awesome visuals that perfectly complement Ghost and DOOM's killer bars. I'd love to see a follow-up short film if it matched the bar of quality set by this!

Vitaliy Shushko's 'X-Story' Already Looks Incredible

I couldn't rightly tell you what X-Story is about, which is wholly owed to the fact the only information released so far about Russian-based animator Vitaly Shushko's first independent short film is the trailer above, a broad tentative '2015' release date and...the announcement that it's his first film.
Quite the climb.
Still, this teaser offers more than enough to wet our appetites before the main course drops later this year. The teaser flashes images of a young man with a robotic arm riding through the desert on a crimson hover-bike, delving into the catacombs of some ancient underground labyrinth facing off against some lumbering anonymous monstrosity. Sounds like one hell of a ride, can't wait to see it in full!

Jan 22, 2015

It's Happening: Starr Mazer Launches Kickstarter Campaign!

Last April, I did a write-up for Jérémie Périn's epic concept-game trailer Starr Mazer before shouting from the rooftops into the vacuum of space hoping against hope that this ludicrously entertaining mash-up of bullet-hell Shoot 'em up and pulp sci-fi point-and-click mechanics manifested into something actually playable. 

Well, it looks like the long arch of the universe is smiling in my favor because Imagos Softworks has finally launched a kickstarter campaign to bring this modern-day opus of retro gaming to fruition.

I think my spaceship knows which way to go...
The team includes Périn who's back on-board doing concept-art; The pledge page promises an original chip-tunes soundtrack courtesy of the talented Alex Mauer (Serious Sam: Random Encounter), Manami Matsumae (Mega Man), The Protomen, and Virt (Shovel Knight), a colorful host of characters, and a multi-choice branching storyline that results in interesting subsequent play-throughs.

I really don't know if it gets much cooler than this. It's like if Space Ace, Commander Shepherd, Space Dandy, and Guybrush Threepwood got mashed all up into one guy who was then thrown into a black hole and then spat out into a Gradius Level. Go back this asap!

Yuki Yuki Goes Sari

What begins with a young anime girl materializing from a patchwork of pastels and brushstrokes à la Duck Amuck and Rabbit Rampage quickly becomes a hallucinatory trip through alternate realities collapsing over one another in a cascade of screen-tearing colors and ambient electronica.

Yuki Yuki Goes Sari, or as it is titled "(ゆきすすみさりゆき) Yukisusumisariyuki", is the creation of seemingly one mysterious animator who goes by the name "kwgt". We've reached out to him to learn more about the technique and influences that went into this clip, though in the meantime, let's just enjoy this psychedelic experience on repeat.


Mathijs Demaeght's graduation film "Flow" was released over four months ago, though for some reason it seems to have re-entered into the orbit of the blogosphere after detouring in the space in which all hidden treasures reside.

A beautiful and near-seamless combination of 2D and 3D animation, Flow depicts the story of a young girl who, in the depths of mourning a lost loved-one, follows a white wolf into a mysterious realm of forests and spirits.

"Go then; there are other worlds than these."
The animation here inspires favorable comparisons to the aesthetics of such works as Journey, Sword & Sworcery, and the Gobelins student film Myosis. With the exception of backgrounds, storyboards and score, everything was created and animated by Mathijs himself. If this film is any indication, I'd say he's got a quite the promising future ahead of him.

Throwback Thursday: Throne - Tharsis Sleeps

Nicos Livesey's video for UK-band Throne depicts an epic drama of interplanetary conquest and cosmic collision seemingly embroidered into the very fabric of space and time. Three astronauts are sent to the planet Mars on a mission to last open the volcanic crater dubbed "Tharsis" and seed a new foothold for human civilization. They end up getting more than what they bargained for when their bomb punctures a rift in reality, allowing for a whole mess of inter-dimensional prog-rock nonsense to spill out into the void.

What's most impressive is that this wasn't just computer-generated to resemble embroidery. Every frame was physically stitched and digitally-composted in post-production. Our hats off to the folks at Lucky Features and Dazed Digital for creating such a kick-ass music video!

Jan 21, 2015

Mondo's Limited-Edition Iron-Giant Figure Hits Us Right in The Feels

Mondo, known for creating exquisitely bad-ass novelty movie posters crafted by some of the world's greatest commercial artists, is now edging into the collectible figure business with their 16" tall Iron Giant figure.

Priced at $300, it comes complete with over 30 points of articulation, light up and sound effect feature, Hogarth mini-figure accessory, and detachable hand-cannon, red-eyed head variant and magnetic "Superman" chest plate; with an additional walking-hand attachment for the additional price of $15. Pre-orders go on sale tomorrow(!), so snatch one up while you still have the cash and time.

Brad Bird's 1999 directorial debut The Iron Giant the film not only asserted himself as the director who would go on to direct subsequent classics such as The Incredibles and Ratatouille, but it also introduced us to Vin Disiel's proto-Groot role as the movie's titular iron-plated Goliath with a heart of gold. We may not have that long-awaited Blu-ray release yet, but at least we have this gorgeous figure to tide us over with.