Friday, December 26, 2008

2012




I found it... Entertaining... Some of what's contained here are things that have been told years ago. I do believe there's something to the fact that so many religious calenders nailed this new phenomenon known as 2012 almost a century ago, yet I still personally hold to the belief of '...no man knows the day nor hour...'.
Of course, that doesn't mean that the world wouldn't get smacked around a little beforehand.

Therein lies the scary part. Tell your kids THAT bedtime story.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Reason of the Season in times of High Treason...

Hopefully everybody out there had a great Thanksgiving--- we buried all of our bones in a small, unmarked grave out back; the remainder of which was spent utilizing the post-holiday tradition: Making sure our bathrooms were stocked with the best toiletries we could find. ( C'mon now, tell me you haven't spent time in 'the Memory room'---!)

Anyway, we can now move forward towards the holiday cheer of Christmas; bad economy and all.


...The sounds of Donny Hathaway and Nat King Cole shall fill our home once again, the stockings shall hang by the chimney with care, the menu for the holiday grub has yet to be prepared. Prep for the Christmas parties among guests and favored others; stock up on Egg Nog as distilled by Christrian Brothers... All the while, trying to find new ways to get the most bang for your buck, cuz' the dollar ain't what it used to be. Remember, it's all about family first. Materialism be damned and the materialistic be shit outta luck...

Oh well, let's get started, shall we?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

HISTORY: Day one

"--- Damn it feels good to see our people up on it---"
- Biz Markie

Over the last 24 hours, the world around feels a little different. The day before felt like New Years Eve; the work place abuzz over the election night procession like Dick Clark was hosting...
I watch the cliques in the lunch room speak of it--- the Africans can't contain their excitement over the possibilities. The Brothers talk about being in full I WISH mode should the white extremists decide to take action--- a conversation making the Mexican and Puerto Rican sections nervous. I take note of the fact that the white section was nowhere to be seen in this room; opting instead to dine upstairs away from everyone else. 30 full minutes of nothing new.

Last night, I admit to having that anxious feeling as I awaited the results. At 11pm, EST, I got my answer. California fell blue, bringing the election to an end with a quick stop... Wow.

"... Barack Obama has now become our 44th President of the United States..."

I cried. Say what you want, but I cried. The media didn't have to show snippets of the civil rights movement to get the point across... For many a black man and woman, old and young alike, those images are firmly ingrained in us as old as the Crucifixion. History cannot erase a sure thing... HIStory has been with us long enough. .. Last night, history ended and began anew...

Today, OUR history is being written. And for any parent out there, to look into our child's eyes and tell them that they can anything --- ANYTHING--- they want to be without hesitation of historical past track records to say different--- it was the absolute BEST feeling in the world!

Of course, the future will not be easy.
Of course, adversity still awaits us around every corner.

But when has anything worth having ever been easy?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Insurmountable feeling of Accomplishment!




The stage is now being set...

A Cop.
A Killer.
A King.
and the Tyranny of them all.

And that's merely the first day.

Soon, the world will tremble beneath the might of
FIERCE CREATURES

Greatest impact made small

I'll be the first to admit, it feels great to have an imprint design... A stamp that signifies your work. My friend and work partner, Mack, went on sabbatical in China when he found an elderly engraver to do this. Since many people in Asia sign alot of their documents in stamp pads ( The family name is better than actually writing... Well, unless you're a master calligrapher, but I digress...), the engraver set about designing an original stamp that depicts the Blackwell name.

I think it kicks-ass ( what a great gift!), and as a result, I've committed the stamp to my absolute best work, as well as a few first conceptuals, to commemorate it.

Dedicated to Mack & Stella. I love you both.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Amazing... The End of the road is in sight!

Though I'm almost there, I can't help but look back over the years of all that has transpired during the creation of a series... Wow! Where FIERCE CREATURES is concerned, I have lost many a loved one in this: My father, my grandfather, my grandmother, my youngest sister, my 1st wife... I have gained friends and allies in the unlikeliest of places... I've gained children (who knew?)... I have watched my life unfold, collapse, unfold, collapse like an accordion...

And yet, I continue to find myself at the table night after night. And after a decade of stop and start, I'm about to complete a great achievement. To those who truly know me, maybe you'll now understand why I couldn't stop. I can't stop. If I did, all the pain and effort would've meant nothing--- and this work honors so many who left this world before me.

I am an artist and entertainer--- I will continue to BE these things--- I will continue to DO these things--- until its over. Nuff said.

It's almost time to introduce this to the world. Oddly enough, the world is fierce already, so this should come as no surprise to them--- except a different way of looking at it.

I'm still working on a scanner that'll do the job. I'm afraid with the surplus of unseen works I've amassed, I should buy two.

Soon, ladies and gentlemen, soon the wait will be completely over.
FIERCE CREATURES. And all the suffering that I've ever known and loved.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Simple, but terribly effective, advice...

" The best way to get started is to stop talking and begin doing"
- Walt Disney

" Your best teacher is your last mistake"
- Ralph Nader

" Many of us will never know the grandeur of creating a masterpiece in our
lifetime... But hey, at least we don't have to sweat the encore!"
- Rodney Blackwell aka RodBuddah

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Cult Classic Revisited



I was only 10 years old when I first glimpsed the BBC TV program... Shortly thereafter, I found the books... Read'em all. 24 years later, the author died before he could witness his grand vision realized on a massive scale...

In 2009, fans can honor him again. Stick out your thumb, why don't you?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Settling in to the table

I've been prattling on about create, create, and more create--- I've been watching the flow of new creative energies move silently through various mediums--- I was invited to a special film screening by a few friends in the local production a few days ago--- and as I sat there, I could feel my blood boil ( not in a bad way, mind you), and I knew then that I HAD TO GET TO MY TABLE AND PRODUCE RIGHT AWAY!!

"The next greatest thing to inspiration, is a workstation to realize it in!"

I've been somewhat quiet lately, plying my little art skills at the table after a short hiatus... I've divided my time between turning out page after page ( somewhere around page 147, and that's w/o the add-ons), finishing a new batch of one-sheets, and working on two new scripts.

Believe me, once I finish it all, I'm taking a vacation--- Probably last a day;)


Those who know me, know how I work--- And to watch the sun come up is NOTHING to me... If I don't have to work my first job, of course...
Next time you settle in to your worktable, stop a moment and say thank you.

Alright, yous mugs, back tah woik.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

What is the RockNRolla?



In the beginning, there was Lock, Stock, and Two smoking barrels and the underground crime/boxing film Snatch from Euro-wunderkind Guy Ritchie... Of course, after a falling out with his production partner, Matthew Vaughn ( who subsequently went on to give us the incredible L4yer Cake ), Guy's mojo didn't shine as brightly as before. He gave us Revolver, but again, without Vaughn, the film became nothing more but a string of ideas and theories as told by Andre Benjamin... ( I actually liked the visual style of Revolver, but the narrative was too chaotic--- but that's me)

Guy is indeed back. Kickass cast, incredible visuals, and the return of the smashmouth narrative that made the wunderkind shine in the first place! Hot damn! The RockNRolla!

ReInventing an Old School Medium





Once again, the ghost of Grindhouse looms large again--- sort of.
Recent attention has come back to Robert Rodriguez' Troublemaker studios as he announces his commitment to completing a full-length version of his famous faux trailer MACHETE. Danny Trejo returns to a character that's been around since DESPERADO! The Weinstein Company has spoken publicly of making Machete a TRILOGY during the pre-prod. of Sin City 2!

The visual style of faded stains and flicker actually ADDS to the appeal of this lost genre of entertainment. It's no secret that I've talked around the subject of Grindhouse era/visual arts before--- and as so far as print media goes, I think it's a goldmine RIPE for re-inventing!

(Ha, just add a coffee stain to the top of a page, and voila! Instant conversation piece)

My love for researching different visual styles is boundless, y'all! Back to work... Oh, which reminds me, start looking for new work posts soon from yours truly. I've got an abundance of backwork piled high, and I've just gotta get it outta my system!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Empire Building... Wow!



I am a certified film junkie. From the method to the process; the labor to the end result.
I came across a recent article of George Lucas attending ShoWest '08, and as I read through, I realized all over again that I respect the hell outta this guy! It's funny--- in only 20 years, this guy has completely re-engineered the moviemaking landscape. Here's what I've learned from it:

1. CREATIVE CONTROL IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN COMPENSATION.
The Bigwigs in Hollywood once thought Lucas was crazy when he asked to exchange part of his directing salary for STAR WARS' merchandising rights and sequel ownership. By doing so, Lucas guaranteed his autonomy. By owning his film projects and action figures, he used the revenue to finance future projects. With financial independence comes artistic freedom... Hey, it's his money.

2. THINK INDEPENDENT.

L.A., being full of what he considered 'counterproductive distractions', was not an option. San Rafael Ranch ( later Skywalker Ranch) was Lucas' way of working outside of the frenzied Hollywood machine. No more distractions.

3. DON'T GIVE UP YOUR BACK END.
Lucas figured when you pay superstars in a movie, you pay steep salaries and hefty slices of your projected revenues; sometimes exceeding 20%. A Natalie Portman or Ewan McGregor not only cost less up front, but they don't command Tom Cruise profit points on the back end. The less money you spend, the more money you keep. Example: By paying for all the marketing costs himself, Lucas pocketed 90% of Episode 1's earnings... Earnings that he funneled into Episode 2's effects.
4. DON'T SPEND MORE THAN YOU HAVE TO.
Consistently spend wisely. When he made Ep.1, it was only after 2 decades of extensive research and development (most of that funded by earlier works--- say, his ILM company's work with an archaeologist and a Jurassic Park ).
5. THE TOYS... IT'S GOTTA BE THE TOYS.
Hasbro sold $1 billion in STAR WARS merch within the last year of Ep. 1's release. Just for the privilege , Hasbro gave Lucas a lion's share of stock, $250 mill in licensing fees, and a 20% royalty fee. Lucas would use that cash alone to fund the last two installments. ( Remember, it was Kenner toys that kinda made Hasbro possible)

6. CONTROL THE DISTRIBUTION.
From Distributor 20th Century Fox to theatres, Lucas set rigidly defined terms for his projects.... How they were seen, heard, and presented.
7. CONTROL THE EXHIBITION.

Example: 4 theatres presented Ep.1 on digital projectors, a new format at that time. ( A norm now--- ask Robert Rodriguez) To Lucas, Digital movies won't scratch or flicker and cheaper to run as opposed to film, and eventually be transmitted via satellite, denting the piracy debate. ( Of course, nationwide conversion to this format would cost $2 bill... To be continued)
8. WHET THE FRANCHISE.

Through the timed releases of games, books, and film re-re-releasing of the first 3 STAR WARS films, Lucas consistently kept the audiences wanting more. He never rushed direct-to-video sequels into Blockbuster stores, nor did he ever make the Episodes BEFORE he had the tools he needed.

9. GIVE THE AUDIENCE SOMETHING NEW.
Lucas & ILM created whole new worlds ( i.e. entire backgrounds & almost exclusively digital characters). Pioneering the way for other concepts like MATRIX' 'bullet time' FX.

10. THINK DIGITAL. NOW, THINK DIGITAL AGAIN.
After EP. 1, Lucas shot the last two films completely digital. Recording in this format made it easier to edit and score on a personal computer; as well as distribute over the internet ( another norm today--- can anyone say YOUTUBE?) In other words, give creative control back to the creators by shifting power away from greedy financiers.

Of course, though this is what I've learned from the filmmaking process a la' Lucas, it's not hard to convert and utilize some of this info to fit into the comics realm. The enlightened creator will catch on to what I'm saying real quick. Either way, like him or hate him, you can't help but respect him.

And to think that somewhere, Lucas' inspiration for all this, Akira Kurosawa, is smiling proudly...

Nemesis Nowadays

From an artists' perspective, there is nothing new under the sun, only different areas in which to view the shine. Everybody knows ( or should know) that in order to build the next level, you must show respect to the foundation which you must inevitably build on--- try building without it, I guarantee you, it will not hold. Long ago, one of my best friends coined a phrase to which, over the years, has become my mantra : Mediocrity is my nemesis.

In today's pop culture- fueled miasma, damn if that enemy hasn't gotten stronger over the years.

But, of course, as I said, nothing new under the sun.

Everybody's whispering about it... Some are talking openly about it ( i.e., Robert Kirkman's video editorial on CBR)... And, of course, some of us are doing something about it. The Next Movement is about to begin, and HOT DAMN if it's not looking good!

I know I may sound like a broken record on this issue, but I'm gonna keep ranting about it until I get it right ( heh...) Until we all do. Notice how quiet the western front seems to be as of late?
Always that way once the summer con season dies down. We haven't had a major kick in the ass since the emergence of IMAGE in the early 90's. To those creators that feel me, you can feel it too... The slow boil. I mentioned in an earlier entry about how the International art scene is booming continuously: New creators with new styles! Old creators who never repeat themselves! No one fools themselves into thinking " I will recreate Superman", because there is no need to.... Their answer to this was easy:

Honor Siegel & Shuster by creating NEW worlds.

( Don't believe me? Think about how many people how many 'creations' were 'inspired' by 'Big Daddy' Eisner--- but this is all academic.)

So WAKE UP PEOPLE!!! Time to put our thinking caps on and gather our instruments of war for a new battle--- a battle I will fight eternal---

The Monster known as Mediocrity.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

PUNISHER: War Zone! Look a little closer...

















Now, this is the story I first heard during post production of the film.
If this version were to remain untouched, it could EASILY rank with the DARK KNIGHT---
I know how that sounds, but I'm not afraid to say it! Compared to the last 2 Punisher movies,
this is the one that could stand as the definitive!

The fact checking is GOOD here, people! Blow it up and look closer... The Death,Rebirth and subsequent Death of a franchise is at hand....

DAZE- A Tale From The Wayback Machine Pt 2





I kicked back one Saturday, watching Gone in 60 seconds ( the 70's Halicki classic, not the Nic Cage remake), drifting off into the haze of nostalgia---- As a kid, struggling thru art school, I took some crazy ass jobs to fit my hectic schedule. I wound up taking a job as a repo man (how I fell into this gig, well, you already know...). Now, there are 2 types of cars to grab: the cars that're fresh on the list, and those that're about to be written off by the insurance company... By taking option #2, not only was I honored to become skip tracer for the state, but a human target as well... Yes sir, the 90's were in full effect!

The advantage of taking such a risky gig was the opportunity to reset my credit/debt record ..(Believe me, the college loans were kicking my ass!!!). In return, I would sit in my car and watch an old lady in a walker trudge to a SuperSport that she's kept in hiding for a year past it's recall date. In return , I would follow her to the gas station and watch her fill up. Wait for her to go inside ever soooo sloooooowly... Put my partner in the driver's seat of my car and take to the wheel of a powerful SS with a triple thick black paint job.
I would pull away as she emerges from the cashier-- watch her throw her walker down and jump up and down, screaming " You sorry bastard!!!!"--- All I could focus on was the $250 on the car, minus 10 bucks for the ignition switch.

And it was my third car of the day. In between Life drawing and Typography.


Then, of course, I would think about the crazier moments: Imagine disabling a car alarm while the car is parked under an open window... The bedroom window... While the client and his wifey were screaming mid-coitus. Imagine rolling a car downhill while trying to slam the car lock before I have to jump outta the car and watch it plummet off an embankment. Imagine getting away from a shotgun toting maniac after grabbing a car I've been hunting down for 3 months--- only to have the steering column LOCK THE F*CK UP while doing a cool 80 mph after only 2 miles!
Imagine getting pulled over by the cops, only then realizing that I left the repo order in MY car--- and I lost him 2 miles back! Try explaining that one. Mr Smith used to tell me that life expectancy in this business, at some point and time, would eventually drop to zero. He wasn't kiddin'... Within a year, 5 of the agents I trained with were either killed or seriously wounded. I think that was wake-up call enough for me to seek life elsewhere.
Mr. Smith taught me alot about the business. Subsequently, my mentor disappeared 2 years later after attempting to repo a ride he traced back to the Texas border. All they found was a sky blue Torino and a .38 revolver in the glove box... He will be missed.
The DVD ends, breaking my train of thought.

Imagine my laughter when the remake of 'Gone in 60 Seconds' comes on cable.

Friday, September 5, 2008

PUNISHER: War Zone! Grindhouse style!

DAZE- A Tale From The Wayback Machine

I remember the night I decided to become a repo man... You know, a legal car thief. Of course, the circumstances that lead up to what many would call destiny cannot always be appreciated--- ESPECIALLY when you're young. That silly decision began with another one...

I landed a job as a Club Bouncer working the seedier side of town. The gun cord I wore cut into my armpit something fierce; enough to make small doubts grow bigger. Because of the hardware (which was little more than a .38), I was forced to work the parking lot--- y'know, make sure the ladies get to the front door without incident ( hey, I was young ). I also wore a headset walkie which to communicate with the front door. After the first 3 hours, I thought I was on easy street making easy money ( young... And very stupid ).

Little did I know--- during the early 90's, the beeper handgun was the new thing ( a custom made bumper containing 3-4 .22 longshells encased in a pager shell with a firing pin built-in. Press the button and bang ), and when I caught wind that the front door had confiscated four of them, I started thinking if I could get my money early. Okay, here's what I didn't know---


While I was doing my 'bodyguard' thing for a group of girls driving a cheap Toyota in the back of the building, a caravan of cars, lead by a custom painted gold BMW, were coming in through the front entranceway, blocking traffic. The BMW contained 4 very blunted out Jamaicans, determined to show a caravan, 15 cars strong, a good time. Each Jamaican carried --- you guessed it--- a beeper handgun.

At the time, my attention was focusing on an unassuming white guy who circled endlessly around the parking lot via sidestreets and backalley shortcuts... Of course, once out of sight, out of mind.
What would take place less than 20 minutes later will forever haunt me--- not for what I didn't see, but what I heard. The walkie sounded like this:


KKKSSSSSHHH!--- (Random screaming) Hey! (glass breaking) Who's on outside?!
BZZT!! Rodney? KSSSSHHH! Rodney?! Are you out there?!!!

I reluctantly answered.

( Screaming getting louder) Hey, yo!! The Rastas---!! ( More breaking sounds) --- went shell---!! WHATEVAH YOU DO, DO NOT LET'EM GET DUG IN THEIR CAR!!! KKKSSSHHHT! ( the line cuts to continuous hash)

At the time, I was rushing towards the front of the building as the crowds began to spew out. I was so focused on the front door, I hadn't even realized I was leaning against a tricked out gold primered Beamer. " 'Ey, Rasclaht--- getoff ma' cahr!!!" was the next clue that I had found the right people. With .38 drawn and tucked low behind my sleeve, I braced my nerves and ignored the urge to lose my bladder where I stood.

Suddenly, I look back to notice the unassuming white guy standing on the other side of the car, looking like a deer caught in headlights! Unfortunately, I looked back long enough for the Jamaican to stab me in the arm with a jagged piece of glass he found on the ground! Everything happened so fast--- The fear... The searing burn that lit up my arm... The jolt of the .38 as I fired two rounds... The sudden fear that I may have killed my attacker... I think maybe the biggest scare of all was the fact that I neglected to let anyone know that I had no papers for the piece under my arm in the first place! Luckily for me that no one else put up a fight after that.

As it turns out, the white guy turned out to be a repo man following up a repossession order for a 1989 BMW about to be written off by the insurance company. Apparently, this guy takes on the case files that other agents don't like to touch. After the police arrived, they opened the trunk of the car to reveal several 12 gauge pumps, an AK-47 ( well, a Chinese knockoff Type 6), a few automatic handguns of varying caliber, and a short barrelled Uzi. It was here that those words of ' Don't let them get in their car' took on a whole new meaning.

By night's end, I would be cleared of the shooting; being declared as self-defense under extreme circumstances, the men with the weapons payload would be carted off to jail, I gave up the nightlife job that night ( as the future would have it, I would know this life again), and accepted a new one: learning to skip-trace hard-to-find auto's and turn a big profit.

Oh yeah, the repo-man, known only as Mr. Smith, would later be on the highway at daybreak, driving a gold BMW, and tucking ' his .38 revolver' into the glove box of the car.

Funny how those kinda things work themselves out, right?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Pure Action Prose that lives up to the hype: Classic Inspiration!




Visiting the local Borders ( one of my favorite haunts), I browse the book shelves with my usual 5 shots of expresso in a large coffee ( sometimes the circumstances of the day warrant such extreme measures...), and I sometimes listen to other browsers commenting on various writers to varying degrees: Chuck Palaniuk ( FIGHT CLUB is still the epitome of 90's disillusionment and anger-venting) , Barry Eisler ( The John Rain series is a methodical procedural on an assassins' life in Japan), James Rollins ( decent writing, but reads like he's competing against Matthew Reilly without admitting it)... It's here that the real conversation begins...

I rarely get time to really sit down with a good book, and when I do, I really want my money to mean something when I put it down. It was an oft-chance conversation concerning the prose of Reilly that made me check out ICE STATION, the adventurous exploits of Marine legend Shane 'Scarecrow' Schofield and his Recon unit.

A casual flip led to 10 pages of reading. I was hooked in 5.

Folks, I'm a cynic when it comes to the catchphrases because they rarely mean what they say (Spectacular!! Pulse-pounding action!! Pure Adrenaline!! blah, blah, blah---), so it was a blast of renewed energy to me to discover that this guy actually lives up to the hype! WOW! When I say the action is breakneck, the idea of looking for a good chiropractor is suggested. This kid writes action prose like John Woo shoots visuals: it's that tight!!! After reading the first three chapters of ICE, I bought all the other Reilly books on the shelf!
That was two years ago.
I'm reading Reilly's last hardcover, The 6 Sacred Stones, for the 3rd time.

I highly recommend the series especially to the 2 categories Reilly's books fit: To the crowd that loves blockbuster films in print, and to those people who don't read novels... You can literally finish a given book in a days time ( 350+ pages can really read that fast!)

Yeah, this sounds like another geek moment, but as a creator, the huge amount of inspiration in the writing structure alone is overwhelming! Try it for yourself, but watch the time... It can and will slip away from you fast just on a casual flip thru the world of Matt Reilly.
Speaking of which, I've gotta get back to work! My own book awaits!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Cinematic Art Department: Classic Inspiration!







I love a great image. I've been researching movie posters and one-sheets lately, in my attempts to further stimulate my pan-fried brain for cover ideas... In my research, I simply rekindled my love for great design (Of course, though great ones like Saul Bass and Bob Peak were unavailable, thank God their influence is still around! ) Hell, how else could Hollywood keep us interested all these years?! Here are a few examples of great style--- Especially the work of Drew Struzan--- with his immortal vision of Blade Runner! Now, if only some of the celluloid out there could match the designs that suck us in...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Finding Rhythm ( Looking for the perfect beat )

Lately, my work has become my alter-ego of sorts. I've started a new job that functions 24 hours a day--- and they've got me for 12 of them! ( Don't judge me wrong, the money is superb and I'm not turning that down) Maybe I'm premature in thinking this, but finding a rhythm amid this chaos is just that--- CHAOS!! You just wanna transform into your Alter Ego costume and see that justice is served!!! Any artist with a commitment will understand this...

Imagine waking up, and the first thing you see is your art table... On that table is a small stack of unfinished pages and one-sheets... The urge to finish them BURNS a hole in the very pit of your stomach! You desperately want to sit down with a cup of java and nail your imagination to the wall, but the need to hit the highway to make cash money is even greater?! Not to mention that when the day is over, you feel like a complete drunk--- Y'know, kinda like when your brain and inner dialogue seems fine, but your body and its functions rebel against everything you say or do?

I feel wasted as I type my feelings on being wasted! Jeez... Life comes at you fast.

Hopefully, I'll have another shot at the table when I get a day off... And on that day: ZZZZZZZZ!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Renaissance or Revolution?






Takehiro Inoue, Ryoichi Ikegami, Marini , &
Roger Ibanez ....


Now, it's no secret that what you see here are drawn by some of my biggest influences.






It's amazing how much respect is placed on the artform of comics outside of the U.S. The wealth of material coming out of the European/Asian/Spanish markets are STAGGERING! The point, you say? Simple....

They're independant creations.
Over the last month, I've been hearing alot of talk about the state of the comics industry; specifically in the need for creators to produce new independant works.
(Anybody catch Robert Kirkman's video plea for creators? Anyone?)


Heh. I've talked about this before, but have you ever noticed that when new blood enters the industry with their own piece of comic dynamite, it's only a matter of time before you see them working on Daredevil or Superman? Once that happens, ever notice how the title they broke in with begins to fade into the background...? It happens more than you think... It happens more than I think... But what do I know?

We NEED another CEREBUS, another BONE, another LOVE & ROCKETS--- Hell; somewhere in America, there's a kid in his/her basement sitting on what could be the next WATCHMEN... If anyone's listening, then it should only be a matter of time... Right? Meanwhile, in the overseas market, the creators over there continue their new works with PASSION and unrestricted FREEDOM--- I mean, would you fight over the pencilling chores of the next Superman if you own EVANGELION?

That's the mindset of international creators for the largest part. Because they believe that theres always room for QUALITY CREATIONS.... Let me repeat that... QUALITY CREATIONS. That's why, in Japan for example, [their] lowest indie press title over there sells between 800,000 to 1 million copies a month.

To creators everywhere, I salute you all. The Next Big Thing is actually the simplest:
A new lineup of kick-ass titles for every genre!

I can live with that. What about you?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bridge over troubled water


A Fierce moment.
This pic can double as a PSA for drunk driving.

(twisted thought...)

The Family Reunion

One of my friends came home from Barcelona for a quick home visit, and I had an opportunity to meet up with everybody in Charlotte, NC for a day. Alot of photos were taken, alot of laughs, alot of good tidings--- and as I look around, I'm reminded of how fortunate I've been to have friends that are more like family than 'people I know'.

Because we never know what tomorrow may bring, it's good to keep in mind the great things we do have left.

Ladies & Gentlemen, I would like to introduce you to my family. This moment is dedicated to them.








Some of us were hung over from the night before... But it's not like anyone could tell. We're tough like that.























Friday, August 8, 2008

Blaxploitation & Payback flix: classic inspiration! pt. 2

6 foot Iconic:
Rockin' a Benelli pump with a fur coat! The Immortal Tamara Dobson, aka CLEOPATRA JONES!

The image says it all.

Okay. Back to work.

Blaxploitation & Payback flix: classic inspiration! pt. 1



Two great examples in genre. Revenge or Payback flicks are nothing new (Kill Bill, City of Violence, SPL, etc.), and many owe their existence to the payback flix of old. One of the best revenge flix out there is ROLLING THUNDER w/ William Devane & Tommy Lee Jones. Tarantino was dead on the money when he used the phrase ' Ass-kicking Nirvana!!'--- Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, is the Blaxploitation genre. TRUCK TURNER w/ Issac Hayes & Nichol Nicholas is a crown jewel in the genre, and after viewing it, you too will easily see where Tarantino's 'ghetto-rhythm' flow of dialogue comes from!

The point of all this---? You'd be amazed at the wealth of visual storytelling that can be found in these genres. In order to build a new anything, you have to pay respect to the old foundations that came before! I'm not saying go out and create cheap rip-offs, have your own original thought process--- but never be afraid to pay back the old masters ! ( I know, I know--- another geek rant, but hey--- these are some GREAT MOVIES!)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Ode to Sir Michael Caine: geek moment


There's something to be said for iconic actors. None come any better than Sir Michael Caine! Now, I know I should be back on the art table right now, but since today is TCM's day-long movie marathon for the actor, my attention span is a little scattered today... Hard to work on pages when great flicks like Alfie, Pulp, Zulu, and (arguably) the mother of Brit tough guy flicks, Get Carter flash on the screen!

Besides, Carter is a character archetype for one of my own characters... What better inspiration to pull from? Admittedly, I'd love to do a Get Carter comic adaptation simply for the love of the Brit Crime genre! ( hint, hint... Heh)


I know that most one today's movie generation know Michael Caine mainly from his role as 'Alfred' from 'The Dark Knight' & 'Batman Begins', but dig deeper, and then you'll understand why he's in demand more today than ever before.


" You're a big man--- But you're out of shape, and for me, it's a full time job--- Sit down..."

" You want to know a man; look into his eyes... I look into your eyes--- like cat piss in snow..."

YOU CAN'T BEAT TOUGH GUY DIALOGUE LIKE THAT!!

That's Old School Brilliance right there!! When you see flicks like LOCK, STOCK, AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS, SNATCH, and even better LAYER CAKE, you see Michael Caine's template at work!

Well, that was my geek moment. Back to the drawing board.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Fierce Behaviour

" I am the thing buried deep inside every man, woman, and child... I am the
very thing each of you yearns to embrace throughout your finite existence, yet denies at
the very worst of times... I am the fury that eventually surfaces to wreak untold chaos
upon the masses; the very cunning you swear you could never possess, but do... I am the
Fierce behaviour inside of you all--- quietly awaiting my time to emerge."

-Satyrnus Typhus Bengal

Under the influence



Though I can't really fit FIERCE CREATURES into any set genre (nor do I want to!), I can
speak of my love for movies, where FIERCE gets many of its influences... (John Woo, Ryuhei Kitamura, and Donnie Yen are huge with me) Featured here are my most personal favorites... If you LOVE stuff like this, then I KNOW you'll love FIERCE CREATURES!

When I woke up this Morning...


(Not yet) final draft---

This is one of those images that makes
you think: " Wow... When I woke up this
morning, did I really have any idea that by
the end of the day, I would wind up here?"

I love the idea of the hero being put in life-
threatening situations where there is NO
guarantee that he/she'll make it out--- maybe
they'll make it... Maybe not... Now make that
kind of life or death tension constant thru-out
the story... Ahhhh... Satisfying...

... If you paid any attention to the last entry, you
know how this one ends(?)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Unrestrained & Untamed


' Two fierce creatures.
One unrestrained, the other untamed.
A mirror image of mutual threat.'



-Rodney Blackwell




This is FACE/OFF... A John Woo moment immortalized in print... Comic Cinema by
design...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Apocalypse Now Pt.1

Putting together a comic series from the ground up can be pretty taxing, whether you enjoy piecing the elements together or not. I feel alot like Martin Sheen, traveling amid unstable conditions and psychological nightmares just to get to his objective, Marlon Brando--- The pressures along the way can almost be described as surreal; forcing yourself to avoid tunnel vision for fear of missing something important along the way... Living within a vacuum devoid of an art community to speak of can do that to you.
Imagine, you're writing , illustrating, inking, and doing market prep on a 6 issue series ( at 36 pages per book) completely on your own. If not for the color wizardry of Myron Macklin, I'd REALLY be stuck... And he's dividing that time between his own projects! That kind of business relationship is super rare to come by--- Thank God he's also my best friend!

I've burned many a late night hour crafting this thing, as well as other projects--- giving 110% each time to ensure satisfaction to those that deserve it the most--- the audience!
To those who have waited for this, hold on a little while longer while I polish this thing down.

I should know--- to do it half-assed means I simply give you the anguish and pain of Martin Sheen's' character. To do it right means I can give you Marlon Brando--- and everybody loves Brando, right?

P.S. Check out ARTNINJA.COM for more of Mr. ImMACKulate Conception himself, Myron Macklin.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Dressing Violence In Silk: Reel time versus Real Life

Every so often I have my own movie night. Whether it's grindhouse triple feature night ( such as Sugar Hill, Corvette Summer, and Detroit 9000, for example), or Samurai Saturday night ( Hanzo the Razor, Zatoichi, and Seven Samurai), or Drama All Nite Live ( Once Were Warriors, Mi Familia, and/or Apocalypse Now...heh), it's a given that whatever night or sub genre I choose will be an interesting night in front of the tube.

The night in question: Directors' night double feature: Sam Peckinpah's Wild Bunch & John Woo's Bullet in the Head.

As I revelled in the climatic ending of Bunch ( where Pike and his remaining brotherhood take on the entire Mexican army for the sake of a fallen friend), and then the heart-rending smash up of Bullet ( two remaining friends, now on extreme opposite sides, battling each other in a hail of bullets over the death of a fallen friend---AHA! See the connection---sort of?), I lost track of all time and moral compass as I thrill to slow motion bullet impacts and great lines of dialogue :

" If they move, Kill'em!"

"When you side with a man, you stick with'em, and if you can't do that, than you're no better than an animal!!"

When it was over, I flipped off the DVD player to CNN. They were covering some the more graphic images of the war in Iraq and clips of other tragedies surrounding it--- kinda like a year in review. I squad of Marines perished in a roadside bomb--- no survivors. A great leader is assassinated by one of her own people amid a Malay outside the capital. A small child is carried by two different people, going in two different directions, after a bomb detonates near a shopping center. Damn... Moral compass kicked in hard.

It's amazing what you revel in fiction that you repel in life.
Sheer violence in real life is kinda like an uncomfortable suit that you hate wearing, only to discover you wear it too well. Action entertainment in general is only pretend no matter how realistic it seems, right? And for a brief moment in time, I feel ashamed of the fact that I've been violence dressed in silk.

Fast forward.

Our next double feature: Fight Club & Sha Po Lang (aka KILLZONE).

Hitmen Don't Blog

To my best friend Adarryl... It's his fault.

The nickname RodBuddah was one of those things that kinda slipped out one night at dinner. Hanging out at an Asian restaurant in Charlotte, one of the owners came out and we made introductions. I was introduced, and some of the female staff began to giggle. Later I learned that many of the kitchen staff thought I was a hitman in town to visit friends.

A hitman... C'mon now... The year was 1994.

Of course, as time went on, some folks (who shall remain nameless ) have thrown in little tidbits to accentuate the joke...(' He's great at making things look like an accident', or 'His assassin characters' are composites of his work', or 'He's an artist all right... Death for profit')

For almost 14 years I have worn the nickname around my neck like a golden albatross, leaving many people with the assumption that I am, in fact, a contract killer for hire. ( One person seriously tried to 'hire' me back in 98' in a Vietnamese diner--- for a group that happened to be four tables over--- you can imagine how quickly I paid the bill and bailed)

I don't kill people for a living, okay? I do write the exploits of an assassin, but it's pulp fiction, not real time! So, I hope I have settled the matter. Granted, to a then struggling artist, the idea of 5,000 a head seemed tempting, but it's that kinda movie mentality that ends only in misfortune and maybe the death penalty. Besides, hitmen don't blog--- not even the narcissistic ones.

Let me know when you get the joke.;)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Running on Empty

A funny moment.

I'm at a local gas station paying for gas. The man in front of me is struggling with a decision--- Whether to put his remaining cash in his gas tank or buy a pack of somkes. As a joke, I decide to engage in the debate.

I tell him, " Imagine this: Whichever way you go is gonna be a tough call. Say that you decide on the cigarettes. Now considering how much you have, you may or may not make it to your destination. Now, say you're out of gas, sitting on the side of the road, getting laughed at by an old man who's been walking everywhere all his life.... I smoke, yes.... But I also like getting home without incident."

He ponders the thought a minute... And decides on the smokes! He looks at me and says, " I may be on the side of the road, young man, but dammit, I WILL be comfortable in my discomfort". I accept it and we part ways.

Would you believe that I would run into this guy some two hours later on the side of the road with a TOW TRUCK picking up his car! As I drive past the scene, I notice that the guy merely stands there laughing with the tow driver, taking a big pull off a cigarette that he may not have had had he decided otherwise.

Then I thought about what he said: being comfortable in his discomfort.
If he was REALLY smart, he could've sold the scenario to a cigarette company.
You can't buy those kinds of advertising moments, can you?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Long Hard Hello



Talk about a long, long, LONG time coming... To anyone making the attempt to produce their own book will find the task anything but easy. In the ardous journey towards completion, I stopped to look at the one time school project to give you an idea of how I got here.

FIERCE CREATURES ( originally entitled The GRIFFIN) started as a host of character sketches and an outline in June of 89', but I didn't get serious about it until I got hit with a writing assignment in film school... The year was 1995.

I switched from art school to film school as a future storyboard artist. My father had passed away that fall, so you can imagine what it was like to concentrate on anything. The assignment was to create a short shooting script based on an original idea. I used the comic outline as a script outline.

As luck would have it, I got an A for the assignment and even got some attention from a film studio thanks to my counsellor. Because of the interest level, I was convinced the project would be best ticket. From that moment on, I would produce my high school idea using my film school script and put it on the shelf. What the hell was I thinking?

I took a crash course in the school of hard knocks over the next several years... Divorce, cash straped for supplies, thereby working two jobs on top of school--- Hell, the first issue alone got highjacked by a young inker who was told that I would never pay him for his work--- by an inker who turned me down due to his workload of what he considered 'more important work'...

Jesus... Life does come at you fast.

Anyway, after getting my affairs in order, I returned to the project with a retooled script and switching to a full color format. I showed the work around to a couple of publishers to mixed results ( one publisher said it wouldn't pick up the title simply because they didn't know what genre it could fit in. Wow. The Matrix had the same problem, and look what happened.).

Ha. Here I am. Still in this. I've had supporters ranging from Budd Root (Cavewoman), Jason Alexander(Empty Zone), to Andy Lee, who contributed the Sumi-brush piece on this blog.
As I near completion, I look back on all of this as a testament to perseverance. To all the creators out there seeking what I seek, stay in it and never let the pratfalls of life trick you into giving your dream project the long kiss goodnight.

Fight for your introduction as you get your foot in the door... Call it the long hard hello.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Story of Bill

Now here's something that irks the hell outta me... It kills me when I come across people with incredible talent, yet they care nothing about it. Worse, when they're presented with an incredible opportunity and they blow it off like it's not worth the time or energy. AAARRRGGGHHH!

Here's an example: I went to a show a few years back along with an art college buddy of mine (for sake of arguement, we'll call him Bill). In comparison, my work PALES to his. His art style is a stylized mix of Kevin MacGuire and Adam Hughes. ( My fellow comic geeks, try to imagine THAT?!) Anyways, the comic con is in full swing, and after only two hours, my drawing hand is already struggling to keep up with the sketches and commission pieces I've got lined up. Bills' want list has TWICE the numbers--- and he's already cleared the first twenty within only 90 minutes (no headshots, people--- full composite shots all)!
While I marvel at this, many of the professional artists at the con approach the table and Bill reacts to each one like they're old friends. Worse yet, they really are! The jaw dropper comes when an editor ( a MARVELous one) bellies up and asks outright, " So when're you gonna come to New York and join the bullpen?" The response?

" That's cool an' all, but I'm thinking of creating a band--- that's more my speed."
The silence was unheard of. My heart dropped so far into the pit of my stomach, I swear, I would've lost it if I farted, because one damning factoid was known only to me at the table:

He did not sing nor did he play an instrument of any kind. OMG....

As the day ended, Bill turns to me and says, " Do you think I should've taken the Marvel offer?"
Ladies & Gentlemen of the jury, you have heard the damning testimony. It will now be left to you to decide. I damn sure can't.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Pulps, the Grindhouse era, and Society as we know it.

I was in a bookstore browsing the racks, when I came across two items that someone considered, but then thought against it. A reprint replica of Doc Savage, a classic pulp from the 30's, and a DVD copy of Foxy Brown, considered a staple during the Grindhouse era of filmmaking.

It was then that it hit me: It's funny how the Pulps of the 30's & 40's are similar to the Grindhouse films of the 70's & early80's... Cheaply made escapes that, though the quality of the material was as bad as the pulpy paper & Z-grade filmprint, held an endearing quality in light of the times they were made. Think about it: The Pulps were lurid, superviolent pot-boilers that gave in to the frustrations and fantasies of a Post Depression/Pre-war America. The Grindhouse era were full-tilt genre exploitation flicks that served the same purpose for a generation steeped in Vietnam and a near debilitating energy crisis .

Now, I'm not suggesting to creators to flood the markets with trash ( Look around, I REALLY don't have to.), nor do I have to remind anyone of the times now ( Hell, I was only browsing--- I needed my money for gas!) . Life imitating art imitating life.


Past Forward...

Anyway, as I make my way through the store, I catch sight of a DVD sales rack--- No Country for Old Men are huddled up alongside Black Snake Moan and Hustle & Flow double features. Planet Terror and Death Proof, maxim examples of the grindhouse era, sitting along the bottom row. Beside this rack, are the new paperback releases, where the main selection happened to be Paul Malmont's The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril dispalys proudly with it's pulp painted cover. In our Present-depression/ conflict/energy crisis times, it's nice to see that our frustrations can still bear interesting fruit.

How's that for irony?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Epic Thought

Picture this: Sitting in a smoke-heavy bar, talking with a group of guys about football. Random talk. The first guy says, " If it were me, I'd be Head Coach." Second guy, wiping budweiser off his shirt, says, " Bump that, I'd own the team." The third guy says, " Man, y'all thinking too small! I'd be head of the league, makin' money off all y'all!" Welcome to alpha male bonding, folks.

" What about you, Rod?---" Here it comes... "Whatcho' think?" Okay...

"Simple. I'd own the stadiums themselves. " You could almost see the question marks form over their heads. " Cuz' while the Head of the League is stressing over keeping the money hungry Team owners in line, and the team owners are stressing over their clubs questionable season; INCLUDING whether or not to replace the head coach--- ALL OF YOU WOULD STILL HAVE TO COME TO ME. WITHOUT ME, WHERE WOULD YOU PLAY?!"

Moral of the story: Think big. Never dream small.

I call my line of thinking 'Epic Thought'.

Aesop never had it so good.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Welcome to Planet Griffin!



For those of you just tuning in, allow me to be the first to welcome one and all to Planet Griffin, the opening in a series of strange tales told from the inner sanctum of Rodney Blackwell, aka the Infamous RodBuddah! I am many things--- an artist, a writer, a contradiction, and a rogue of pop culture--- and much more.

I have been fortunate to experience & witness all that I have, whether it was good or bad... Hell, I've gotta learn something sometime, right? When I talk to my friends, I tend to be outspoken and highly opinionated; yearning for feedback--- something enlightening--- to face the unnerving mediocrity that surrounds us and the mindless people that dare call it 'normal'.

Well, now I bring that conversation to you... Whatever that conversation may be.

Oh yeah, did I mention that I'm creating a series comic called FIERCE CREATURES?

Again, welcome to Planet Griffin.