Friday, December 31, 2010

Ideas I never see.

So everybody has something unique about their characters that makes them special, right? Well, how many times have you heard the same thing? bored spoiled princess, tough girl, lone hero, suddenly-orphaned hero of the day, superhero who's family/friends/planet are dead/destroyed, whatever. We've heard it all before, haven't we? So why are there still ideas that are somewhat unique that we never see?

Color-blindness. It's a common enough occurrence (and not just a genetic trait to men, only certain kinds are strictly-male.)and a genuine problem for some. One can still work around it, while it still hampers some.

Light-sensitivity. It's a good reason for the good guy to wear sunglasses at night without being that "dark and tormented soul" we keep hearing about. It's a serious problem that takes serious working around, so why do people opt instead for having a dark and tormented past or being entirely blind?

Inability to feel pain.
Do people not realize just how big an issue that is? It may be difficult to work around, but not being able to feel pain can be a serious problem for a character to try to work with.

Broken Bones. It seems obvious, but I rarely see any character who keeps a cast for anywhere near the amount of time a person with a broken bone should keep a cast on. It happens occasionally in cartoons that someone gets a bone broken and spends all of one episode in a cast, but I don't think I have ever seen it last for any length of time. A pity, since it is something one would need to work around. I see how it could only work for about an episode in a cartoon, but it's not often someone simply breaks a bone in a book. It's either a severe injury, or it's shrugged off after a bit. Kind of a pity, really.

A real disease. I'm just mentioning this because usually if some character has a disease, it's typically one that was made up. After a while I start to wonder who has more diseases: Reality, or the land of fiction.

War wounds that are still open. War wounds almost always seem to be old scars. What if the fight wasn't that long ago? It'd be more interesting to see the pain an infected war wound causes than seeing the battle scars. Scars tell a story, open wounds show one.

Just a few of many ideas that'd be nice to see more of once in a while.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Why we Need to fix Cartoons.

I know it may seem odd to ramble on it now, but I really miss Batman the Animated Series. The one that started in 1992. I also miss Superman the Animated Series, the Justice League, The Justice League Unlimited, Batman Beyond, the Zeta Project,Static Shock, the Animaniacs, Freakazoid, and Pinky and the Brain.

Know why?

I'll give you three guesses.

That's right.


Nowadays I can't find any cartoons I would actually care about, and if I ever had kids I don't really think I'd let them watch Spongebob or Flapjack or Adventure Time or any of these newer cartoons because they're really not that great. They aren't that funny, the plots are either predictable or just pathetic, the animation is meh, and sometimes you can even hear bad voice acting!

Let me give you just a taste of how the Batman series took people seriously, for those jaded few of you who have never watched it.

After an orchestral intro in which we hear both the dark and moody tones of Gotham and the victorious trumpet theme of our superhero, we start on a black screen.

The lights come up on a painted backdrop of a dim room where only one table is visible, with a group of iconic evils sitting around it.

The Joker, with his naturally stark-white skin and bright red lips smiling over yellowed teeth is dealing. He's got a custom-made purple suit with an acid-squirting pink carnation in the lapel, not to mention an extra ace up his sleeve.

Two-Face is split down the middle; one half of his face is the innocent and handsome face of Harvey Dent, the other half the malicious and scarred face of his more jaded half, one massive yellowed eye staring out at the poker faces of his compatriots. His suit is black and white, as contrasting as the halves of his personalities.

Penguin sits and drinks some tea, hoping not to lose more of the Cobblepot family fortune in the poker game tonight. He is completely unaware of how bad his poker-face is, and that plays to the advantage of his conniving friends. Luckily, the Joker isn't the only one with a few extra cards.

Killer Croc stares at the cards in his hands, far too small for his natural size and strength, while picking a bit of what was probably the mailman out of his teeth, before being kicked out of his chair.

"Mind if I play, boys?" Poison Ivy walks in and steals Killer Croc's chair, leaving the crocodile to growl and find a new chair. Nobody messes with Poison Ivy, Harvey knows that.

"Pam. It's been a while."
"how are you feeling, Harvey?"
"Half of me wants to strangle you."
"And the other half?"
"The other half wants to run you over with a truck."

There was an awkward pause before Poison Ivy picks up her hand of cards.
"We used to date." There was a sound of the entire group suddenly getting the joke.

Without even bringing Batman into the story, this rough example from the episode "Almost Got 'im!" shows off the menace of each of the villains even while they do something relatively mundane. Add that to the phenomenal voice acting (Mark Hamil as the Joker, Kevin Conroy as Batman, Arleen Sorkin as Harley Quinn, and other fantastic actors all work in the Batman series), quality painted backgrounds and characters (compare a painted scene like Batman to a computer-animated show like The Batman from 2004-2008, personally I find that there is a definite subtle difference in quality.), great voice direction from Andrea Romano, fantastic music, and genuinely interesting characters, and you've got a GREAT show. This is all personal opinion, of course, but it makes me wonder how we've fallen so far.

From Batman the Animated Series to Johnny Test. Why have our standards for cartoons fallen? Eighteen years is not as long a time as you might think. I think we should ask for some quality in our cartoons. Batman took children and teens seriously, while still being watchable for the little ones and still being entertaining for adults. Nowadays I can't even stand to be in the same room as most of the stuff playing on TV, not just cartoons.

Would someone kindly make a Superhero tv-series that gets back to the old formula? Something that both children and adults can watch without feeling like their I.Q. is dropping? I miss Freakazoid and the Animaniacs. At least they had jokes for both kids and adults without being offensive or just boring.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Painted Horse in London


Here's a little something I drew up last night, to make use of the wonderful markers my sister Jessie got me. I didn't use any black marker outlines! (I cheated a little and used some grey, though).

I think it's a sort of subtle form of Steampunk; like something made this carousel horse come alive and it's rather unhappy about it. Tell me what you think! Personally I like the contrast of the bright colors on the dull gray background.

(For my own critique, I think the man's legs are a little short and awkwardly placed, the horse is too small -though I guess that makes sense for the 'plot', and It might've looked better if I had done a bit more detail on the buildings, iunno.)

Steampunk writing

Some may wonder why I add Steampunk to the stuff I write about on my blog. The rest of it is reviewing and rants, and Steampunk doesn't really fit in.

Well, it's just another obsession. I have quite a few, but I think we have enough blogs on Batman, and I can only say so much about Alice in Wonderland, really. I like Steampunk because it's unique for every person who is into it, and there is nothing that needs to be uniform about it (Unless you're a Doctor Steel fan, in which case, more power to you. Call me when he has funding for those robots)!

So let's talk Steampunk!

Steampunk is almost always set in the Victorian era of time (around the world, not just England. What makes it unique is that it isn't historical, it's the past re-thought. What would happen if Steam power functioned better than they thought, and became the main source of power for everyone?

Better than that, What would happen if they had the inventions we have today, only steam-powered or powered by clockwork?

Now throw in some airships like Zeppelins and blimps; only they can go faster, maybe they had sails, and add a steam-powered auto-pilot or a pirate flag!

What about zombies? I mean, we're talking fiction and all, right? Why not?

Time travel! That's always fun, maybe someone brought some machines back from the future and showed everyone how to build them with their own technology in the 1800's!
Gears are nice, let's add some of those in, whether you're in the party of people who thinks they can be decorative, or the party of people who thinks they need to do something.

Well now we're getting to the heart and soul of Steampunk. It's what you make it. Whether it's a poison gas turning people into Zombies or it's a set of rockin' airship pirates, your story is what you want it to be. The only real requirement is that you're having fun! Steampunks are really nice and really open-minded about their fun. If you want to know more, all you have to do is ask "Hey, What's Steampunk about, anyways?" and they'll gladly tell you all about the clothes, the awesome bands, and the great literature.

For the record, my favorite bands that involve Steampunk are:

Abney Park
Doctor Steel
The Clockwork Quartet
The Cog Is Dead

Some other bands to look at are the Gypsy Nomads, Midnight Sunday Driver, Vernian Process, or the Unextraordinary Gentlemen. There are many others, so google it!

Some interesting books to check out are Boneshaker, Boilerplate, and old classics like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. (You may be starting to notice that this sort of thing is what made BioShock look so unique.)

There's a Steampunk episode of Castle I highly recommend, and a Steampunk episode of NCIS LA that I really don't recommend. Seriously, don't pay attention to that episode. Castle is WAY better. (Also it has Nathan Fillion in it and he is always awesome.)

There's plenty of fun and interest to be had in Steampunk, so just take a look around, and support a local Steampunk artisan! (you can find them on Deviant Art, Etsy, and at any local steampunk event.)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

First post of the blog

Ah a first post of a first (actually used) blog! (Also started a twitter, in case you're interested). Inspired by The Spoony Experiment ( ), Zero Punctuation ( ), and many others. I've finally set things up so I can spill my needless ramblings and ceaseless sarcasm without dumping it all on friends, family, and friends of family.

Let's start with the title of the blog: Why did I pick "DarkSteam's Cogs of the Earth" as a title?

Well, DarkSteam is a nickname I picked up from a young friend of mine from the teen's section of the library (Ok, I know I'm a little old to be hanging out with the anime kids when I really don't like anime, but I have a lot of spare time on my hands, and they're so fun to talk to sometimes!). He told me that because of my unique style of dress (What, doesn't everyone wear goggles on their hats? If I didn't, the brim would ride on my nose! It's justified!) I should have a superhero nickname. I love superheros, both imaginary and real (go Google Phoenix Jones!) so I thought that was pretty neat. My friend came up with "DarkSteam" and it's grown on me ever since.

Why "cogs of the earth"? Well, it was originally going to be "world fixers", but I'm not a charity organization, so I didn't want to sound like one. I love Steampunk (if you haven't guessed yet, in which case I suggest getting your eyes examined), so I thought I'd bring that out. Cogs of the Earth implies it's the function of how the world works. Superheros like to fix the world and all its ills, right? Well, may as well start in writing. I want to "fix" the world. In that McGivered, 'I have some duct tape and string' method, since it's really just opinions.

I want to tell people my opinions, maybe get some support, and just make people smile and laugh like any other internet fame-gatherer. I probably won't get far, but it's worth the effort to try, right?

What will I post about?

Steampunk, The few movies I have seen, things in media I'd like to see change, bad writing, silly ideas, good ideas with bad execution, the good things about movies/comics/music that I'd like to see continue, and simple how-to advice, articles, fun-facts, or research I find in my never-ending quest to steampunk the world.

Let's get started and hope I get somewhere in this crazy internet sea of viewers! (Wish me luck, everybody!)