Sunday, April 3, 2011

Cel Wall Art (as in animation cel, not prison cell)

After hanging a few framed pieces of poster art in my apartment last year, I stood back and realized that I still had a really bare patch of wall space in a corner. I started to think about ideas to fill this space which at floor level is occupied by a set of three nesting end tables. Since space is limited and I like to plant my tree in that corner annually in December, I decided against a tall floor lamp. Yet at the same time, I didn't want more posters.

I'm of the mind-set that the right idea/solution to something will come along eventually if you just kind of marinate on it. In this case, inspiration arrived months later in the form of a visit to IKEA. I came across a huge pallet of two-pack, 8 1/2" x 6 1/2" frames and thought I can do something with these. I also thought about something a friend of mine once suggested: he said, 'you have so much of everyone else's work, why not display something of your own?'

Taking what was already in place as a basis for my decor - namely a reflection of my love of early-American animation and film as well as the contemporary stuff - I decided to create an homage to all of that using characters from my comic strip, Five & Tension. I would use a personal favorite from my existing strips as the subject, remove the dialogue from the panels to create the cel compositions and re-purpose the dialogue as silent film title cards.

What follows is the process:


I hand-inked the characters onto acetate sheets using a Rapidograph.

I next flipped the inked acetate sheets over and began to paint the cels using a black and white/greyscale acrylic paint palette.

Then I created the title cards in Photoshop using the font Hypatia Sans Pro and printed them on inkjet transparency sheets. I debated going truly period-authentic by adding the ornate curlicue frames around the text. I ultimately decided against it feeling that the 3" x 5" working space [after the addition of the mat] would feel cramped and busy or render the font too small.

Moving very carefully and deliberately, I hand-cut my own mats using a mat-cutting tool.

The cels were then attached to the mats using drafting dots. Canvas paper would act as a simple, yet textured background.

Finally, the completed cels and mats were framed.

The entire composition in close-up looks like this:

The featured gag is anachronistic to the period it's paying tribute to, which I guess also makes it a little tongue-in-cheek, too.

And this is how it looks mounted:

Now I just need to come up with an idea for the space to the left of it.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Weekday Morning in Photographs

Do I take the car or not?

With gas prices the way they are, I opt for the train. I depart from the Bronx via the 6 train.

I arrive in Long Island City about one hour later.

Breakfast consists of a buttered Blueberry Bagel and Orange Juice from Panera Bread.

After breakfast, I begin my walk to work down 35th Avenue. What's this? Looks like I can definitively tell you how to get to Sesame Street. It's one of many current television shows and films produced at the Kaufman Astoria Studios. The studio has an interesting and storied history; It was the east coast home of Paramount Pictures in the 1920's, the Marx Brothers made The Cocoanuts (1929) and Animal Crackers (1930) here and The Cosby Show was taped here, as well. 

Exiting: Traffic Safety Zone. Entering: Highway to the Danger Zone (It's what I think of every time I see this sign just before making the turn onto 31st Street).

This sad, condemned structure on 31st Street....
 
...reminds me of the house from Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends. I don't know why. Other than pitched roofs and haunted appearances, they share little else in common. 

Moments later, I make another turn onto 38th Avenue and descend the hill where I'm greeted by this view every morning.

Detail (l. to r.): Empire State BuildingTrump World Tower and a portion of the Queensboro (59th Street) Bridge.

More Detail (foreground and center): Queensboro (59th Street) Bridge and Citigroup Center.

Finally, I arrive for another day of work at Holiday Image Inc.

BONUS: I work about three blocks north of another major New York City film studio Silvercup Studios. While this studio has a much briefer history than Kaufman (it was originally the Silvercup Bakery factory), it's productions are no less notable. They include the HBO series The Sopranos and Sex in the City. Currently in production there are NBC's 30 Rock (an amazing show, by the way) and ABC's Ugly Betty.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

(Skewed) Highlights of the 2008 San Gennaro Feast

The resilient (and dwindling) little feast that defeated an attempt by Little Italy residents to end it once and for all a year-and-a-half ago, returned for its 81st anniversary last week. While each year it resembles less and less the feast I remember from my childhood (more so for earlier generations), I suppose the reason why I still enjoy going - aside from a sausage and peppers sandwich - is that it's quite simply street theater. There's something exciting about New York City streets closed to traffic. Add to this tinsel and lights suspended over the street, booths lined-up shoulder-to-shoulder and crowds of distracted people and the stage is set for some interesting, often thoughtless moments.

Take this one for example. During the procession of the San Gennaro statue up Mulberry Street, a blimp was circling overhead [listen closely to what the woman in the background says]:

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(Woman: "Hey, hey! Look at the blimp! Not me! I'm not so bad [indecipherable]!")

Or how about this one.

Ladies and gentlemen, direct from a "bowling" tournament in the Meadowlands, it's "Bobby Bowling Pins and the Alley Cats." Looks like Bobby wants to play a little game wit youse:



Hey now, take it easy. Bad editing aside, you know damn well that whether it's Neil Diamond or a homeless man on the subway singing it, you itch to get to those two moments that I broke that song down into. 

Not for nothing, but I think Bobby is really the accountant for the band's waste management business - he just had better pipes than dose udder guys.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Five & Tension: Mer-Thing

This is the first time I've posted a comic from my strip, Five & Tension, on the blog - more can be found on my website

Directions:
1. Click on the strip for a larger view if necessary. 
2. Enjoy. 

Monday, April 14, 2008

Go, Summer Blockbuster Cereal Premiums, Go!

According to the cereal aisle, the summer blockbuster season is upon us. 
For those keeping tally, so far General Mills has the Speed Racer movie tie-in - offering premiums such as the "Turbo Racers" pictured above (actually in the box!) and a Speed Racer Cereal Bowl mail-in offer - while Kellogg's has the Indiana Jones tie-in and is offering a "free" Indiana Jones and The Raiders of the Lost Ark DVD for the absurd asking price of twelve tokens (for what it will cost for twelve boxes of cereal, you're better off just buying the DVD outright). 

Anyway, my first two Turbo Racers came from Cheerios and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Each car comes bare with a tiny sheet of decals that you apply yourself. This probably has something to do with China hosting the Olympics this summer. Not only are they busy manufacturing everything sold in Wal-Mart, they're also producing the official and knock-off Olympic merchandise. It's been conveniently glossed-over on the box as "...customize them with cool stickers included in the box." At least we're getting back some of those manufacturing jobs lost overseas with the added bonus of underage labor handling it before the a.m. bus to school.

I'm just happy that they're still offering premiums of any kind. With food corporations skittish about the potential of frivolous lawsuits from gluttonous, sue-happy Americans, anything remotely resembling sugar-and-fat-fueled advertising aimed at impressionable kids is being nixed left and right.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Ringling Bros. Elephant March

Ringling Bros.' arrival in New York City was marked early Wednesday morning with its annual march of its elephants (and - to much less fanfare - its horses) across 34th street to Madison Square Garden.  

I claimed a spot around 11:30pm Tuesday night - the time the 'no parking' signs stated this was scheduled to happen - and I proceeded to wait. A small scattering of spectators lined the sidewalks mid-block, with slightly larger crowds at the intersections, making earlier years' TV coverage of the event a little deceptive. Twelve am came and went with no sign of the elephants. Helicopters began to circle and I figured we were getting closer. Twelve-thirty comes and:


Twelve-forty am: The police close Broadway and Sixth Avenue. Cheers erupt from down the block. And shortly after snapping this photo, my camera battery dies, a result of the freezing temperatures:


I quickly remove the battery from it's case and revive it with the warmth of my hand. I reinstall it just in time to take one of the worst photos I've ever taken. Those are the elephants - albeit almost completely obscured in silhouette - on the left:


Apparently, the elephants' train arrived late, because these guys didn't so much march as they ran down 34th street. The images captured after this are mostly of the end of an elephant usually followed by a shovel and not an obstinate digital camera. Earlier I alluded to the fact that this event appeared to draw a more voluminous crowd on television:
 

An elephant stampede equals spectator stampede as the thin crowds condensed at the intersection of 34th Street and Seventh Avenue. I managed to get this final shot by slipping past some barricades on 33rd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, before being asked by a cop to leave because I lacked press credentials: