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Strip 632, Volume 4, Page 104


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< Piro >

drawn with one of the pencils in this picture...

"care packages"

Saturday - November 6, 2004

[Piro] - 20:31:00 - [link here]

[shameless megagear store note: we underestimated the demand for the Pentel graph1000 in Piro's Pencil Set in the MegaGear store (they, er, sold out the day i linked 'em). It took a while to get them back in stock, but we have em now, and hopefully we have enough to take care of everyone. So, if you were interested in the set, get em while we have em :) - piro]


[Bear with me today, it's a -long- rant. Guess I had a lot of stuff bottled up that I wanted to talk about. Just so you don't have to slog thru the entire thing if you don't want to, I've broken it up so you can get to the more important stuff, like the ALA poster info, MT Volume 3 info, international versions, new stuff in the MegaGear store, Child's Play etc. If you're tryin to kill some time, please read on, otherwise scroll down to see if any of the topics interest you ^^;; - piro]

[update made to the MT translation projects, added some links - piro]

Long rant on art and music and stuff

First off, I'd like to thank everyone for the feedback on the Kimiko poster. Here's what the full image looks like after some revisions. It turned out OK, but I've been suffering from an artistic problem that many of you also share -- the desire to produce work at a certain level and the struggle to attain it.

For me, it's even more daunting because I think people have very high expectations of me. Almost every flame I get contains some comment along the lines of "now that you are doing this full time, you should..." People seem to always forget that I started out as an amateur, and in most ways I still am, I've just done a lot. My growth towards someday being an 'artist' is a wandering path that isn't really effected by the terms "professional" and "full time." Being hyper-sensitive to criticism, it's understandable that these expectations weigh on me, but my real motivation to improve in areas that I feel am artistically weak in is a personal one -- I just want to be better.

There's no question I am stronger in some areas than others. Artistic expression is all about trying to communicate stuff that is in your head in ways that are effective. The medium I am most effective in is pencil drawings combined with dialogue in a sequential art medium. Gee, that's the core of what I do -- that helps. Not that I don't have problems with it (there are plenty -- I've set a lot of goals for myself to improve upon, mostly in writing, organization, managing story flow, etc, but that's another rant. :) but working on those problems is all about refining what I am already fairly decent at. The real challenge is improving in areas that I am not quite so good at.

I love music. There's no question I am very influenced by what I listen to. Music is as much a guide for my moods as the images I scatter about my desk and on my walls. I've been a fan of electronic music and it's related equipment since I was in high school. I always dreamed about owning a synthesizer and I've always been fascinated by synth gear and audio equipment. While other boys were hanging Sports Illustrated swimsuit models on thier walls, I was taking apart Korg catalogues and hanging images of synths on mine. I wanted a Korg Polysix so bad I could taste it. The fantasy of owning a Sequential Circuits Prophet 5, or an Oberhiem OB-Xa was beyond any sort of realization. I used to create equipment lists and even drew equipment layouts. I was so sad that I wasn't appalled by Geoff Downes "wall of synthesizers," I thought it was cool (yes, I grew up in the 80s, yes I was an Asia fan, Strange Advance was my favorite group, and I wanted to be Thomas Dolby. Yes, I was watching when MTV first started. Yes, I was really lame.)

I'm digressing, but the point of all this is that I have no musical ability. I tried for years to learn to play keyboards, but I could never even master the simplest basics. As much as I liked the equipment and the things that you could do with it, no matter how hard I tried I could never learn enough to justify owning a synth. Not only that, but I knew that even if I were to get the basics down, I would have far to go before I could create things that would actually be meaningful to me.

I'm not a frustrated musician who turned to art because he couldn't play. I was drawing just as much as I was ogling music equipment. I was never able to go anywhere with music, but with art I was able to keep motoring along for some reason. Art just happens to be what I was best at expressing myself with, I guess. Just because you are so strongly influenced by something does it mean that you will be able to do it, or even enjoy doing it if you could. I could not overcome the technical barriers of playing music, but over time I overcame many of the technical barriers of drawing. I still toy with the idea of getting a little keyboard and music software for my mac, but I always stop myself because i don't have the skills to express myself with music even if I had the equipment, and I am daunted by the learning curve. Learning skills takes time and commitment, and you have to choose your battles carefully. (Shaggy, if you say "aww, just buy Reason and play with it, you'll like it!" I'll smack you :P)

I don't think music creation is really in my future, but there are learning curves that I do want to pursue, and have been trudging along with for a while now. Finding my coloring and rendering style is one of them. I think I'm fairly well with the basics of coloring. I can color things well enough to be able to call them 'colored' and even dare to sell posters of them. The challenge is to move past the basics and move into my own style, to develop my own expressive way of coloring. I look at Yoshitoshi Abe's renderings and wish I could render the way he does, but inside somewhere there is my own way of doing it, and I'm trying to find it. My pencil work is kind of my own way of doing things, and my own way of expressing things. I just need to find a style that expands upon that, with color. The Kimiko image is one of the best I've done so far, but its far from where I really want to be. It's just a step in the right direction. Steps are good.

the ALA poster

While I don't expect the Sad Kimiko in Snow image to be some kind of runaway best seller, I do hope some of you like it enough to buy it. Speaking of posters, I forgot to mention that the Megatokyo @ Your Library poster for the American Library Association (ALA) is now available for purchase in the ALA store. I got several last week, and already have one hanging on my wall. They don't look half bad. :) Not only can you get the poster, but there are Megatokyo bookmarks too (in packs of 100 so you can, like, pass them out to friends and strangers and stuff). All purchases go to support the ALA and its reading programs. Oh, also of note - the Poster is featured on the cover of the ALA catalogue too. I guess they're happy with it :)

Megatokyo Volume 3

As you should know by now, the next Megatokyo book, Volume 3, is due to be released in January, 2005 - that's just two months from now. I still have a lot of work to do, and Young over at NekoBox has once again stepped in to help me by doing all the initial file processing to make them ready for print. I need to go over each one and edit, clean up, extend images to bleed zones, etc. I also have to finish the extra material for this book, which will be a 6 to 8 page Endgames comic (yes, a comic, not a short story). The time table is pretty challenging, but I really hope to add something special to this book, not just a bunch of random crap. This book contains some of what I feel is my best work (chapters 3 and 4 - chapter 3 being the good part :P), so I'm looking forward to it's release.

International Megatokyo Stuff

Some of you may be aware of this, but Megatokyo has been translated into a number of languages on the web. The German MT crew and Italian MT crew are the most active and best organized efforts I know of, and the .de site is actually built around a system that allows for easy translation of the comic into any language. What is going on is more than I can cover in one paragraph, and I will hit upon again in the near future, but lets just say the efforts of MT fans around the world is mind boggling. :) It's amazing what these guys have been up to ^^;;;)

[i've been hearing from the other translation projects that i knew i was forgetting - please excuse my poor addled excuse for a brain, i didn't omit anyone on purpose! I will do a full rant on the whole translation thing as soon as i get a full handle on where things are at. This rantbit was just a start.

BTW, i didn't make it clear that there IS a online french version as well as an online italian version. Special thanks to the French and Italian translation crews, and forgive the braindead omission :P - piro]

What you might not know is that even the books have now been translated into at least two other languages, and more are on the way.

Eidalon recently released a German version of Megatokyo Volume 1, and will soon be releasing Volume 2. This version was coordinated to a great extent with the German MT fan team and it's translations. I understand there are a few translation errors in the final book, but what is exciting is the fact that I even know this, not speaking any german myself. It was the first effort we've made to try to coordinate fans and publishers in another country. It's an interesting endevor, to try to make sure a free web version can coexist with a print version in other countries as well as it works here in the states.

Another translated version of MT is a Polish version released by Mandragora. I have already received several emails from fans who have found the book, and they seem to be quite happy with it. :) There is a Polish fan who wants to start a translated online version and I will be getting back with him this week to give him the go ahead to get started. The fact that the publisher is more than happy to provide the translated version they have done to help create this says a lot about how open the rest of the world is to this kind of medium.

Honestly, the whole international thing is something I boggle at. There is so much potential there, and so many fans who want to do things, but I'm only one person and trying to coordinate it has been frustrating for those fans. I apologize for that, and as things continue to grow in the print arena thanks to the efforts of Dark Horse, I must get become more proactive in helping MT fans around the world do their stuff. Multilingual versions of MT are definitely something you will be seeing more of, including, I believe, a French version sometime in the near future. Whee :)

Me and My Mech: followup...

If you look at the rant image above you'll see a number of things. First, sitting on a rather interesting envelope put together by Uguuu-sensei (you have no idea how often I get packages from japan that are just shopping bags taped together with postage slapped on them :) you can see my fine new selection of Pilot G5 mechanical pencils. Yay! It's nice to be using them again. I'm a bit torn now because I've been gettng used to my Graph1000 again... gah. Also, you will notice a S10 in there (it has a metallic grip). It's a nice solid pencil, but I don't know if I like it better than the S5s. Its almost too heavy. (I'm getting finicky about my pencils. This comicking things must be addling my brain).

Also in the picture you can see a scattering of other things, including some Copic markers and one of my Graph 1000 pencils...

MegaGear Store Stuff

I got another bag of art goodies this week in the form of a small sampling of markers and pens from Copic. Why would Copic send me this stuff? Well, because as of last week Megagear is now a approved Copic Dealer, which means we will soon be carrying the stuff in our store :) We should be receiving some holiday packs for the store pretty soon. I'm also waiting on my own set, so I can experiment more with the things -- I don't like to sell stuff in the MG store that I don't use a lot or think is worthwhile. I know a lot of people who love these things, and I've been wanting to experiment with Copic markers for years. Computer stuff is great, but there's something to be said for using actual media too. What are Copic markers? Well, they are a high quality marker system used a great deal by illustrators and manga artists in Japan. The sketch markers are particularly nice (and what we'll be carrying). The sets are kind of expensive, but the markers are not disposable - you can replace the nibs, refill the inks, make your own markers by mixing your own inks, use an airbrush attachment... all kinds of neat stuff. There's even a "How to Draw Manga" book that covers methods of coloring with them.

Other stuff in the MegaGear store? Indeed. We just put up the new TPCD Zilla shirt (which I particularly like for some reason -- It is the result of some random sketching one day :P). Also you will find that the Megatokyo B33r Stein is back! I've re-done and revised the image from the original beer stein that we offered years and years ago. It's pretty cool, so, like, buy one. Works for beer and even coffee, if you are a SERIOUS coffee drinker. Yeah yeah, I know, we missed Oktoberfest. Who cares? It's always Oktoberfest in Largo's mind.

Just one of the things we'll be bringing you as we close in on the Christmas season. More as we finish 'em.

Megatokyo Website ver 4.0

Some of you may be wondering what happened to the new megatokyo website that I said should have been up and running last month. It's actually very close to being done, the delays that keep surfacing have to do with my inability to provide template material and direction in a timely manner. ^^;; It's looking real good, and we should be getting the first phase of it up and running to replace the current site real soon. More specific info next week.

Other important stuff: Child's Play

One thing I am very late in prompting you folks to become a part of is from those crazy guys over at Penny Arcade, their charity drive for games for sick kids - Childs Play. Last year everyone was amazed at what the PA community could do by purchasing and donating games for sick kids at the Seattle Children's hospital. This year, they are doing it again, and this time they have expanded it to include children's hospitals across the US.

So, for all of you who read Megatokyo because Penny Arcade has no goddamn story, head on over and lets make sure us anime/gamer fans are heard too, ok?

We here at Megatokyo have some charity drives of our own that we will be launching hopefully by the end of the month. While no where near on the scale that the PA nutjobs are doing it, it's a start for us, and we'd like to see what the MT community can do. :)

you've reached the end of the page...

Ok, now that is one long rant. Good grief. Well, I had a lot of stuff I wanted to cover, and I keep having this 'I have so much to cover I have no idea where to start so I end up writing nothing' kind of thing going. Bleah. :P If you read the whole thing, go get yourself a cookie, and for gods sake please tell me you aren't THAT bored. :) Hopefully this will help break this damn rant block I've been suffering from all year.

Ya, right :P

< Dom >

Oop ack!


Monday - November 8, 2004

[Dom] - 00:00:00 - [link here]

So over the weekend, the Golden Bears gave me a few more gray hairs with their lucky squeaker of a win over the Ducks. I think I aged a year or two during that game, honest.

But that wasn't what set my imagination racing this weekend. What really got me thinking was a CNN article about scientists growing a rat "brain" in a dish that can fly flight simulators. And after thinking about various Evil Genius-style ways of using a brain that can pilot an airplane, I thought up whole hordes of ways I could find a rat brain in a dish handy. For example!

Rat Brain Chauffeur: This one would be especially awesome, since I wouldn't have to make small talk with it and wouldn't have to pay it--I mean, what does a brain in a dish WANT, really? It's not like a brain in a jar, where it used to be a Nazi and either wants a body again or wants to take over the world. Maybe I could pour some stimulants into its container or something.

But the rat brain chauffeur would also be awesome not just for the laziness factor, but for the "wtf" factor I'd get from onlookers. I mean, what if it got a speeding ticket? Can you just imagine the following scenario?

OFFICER: (walking slowly toward passenger side window) Sir, do you know exactly how fast you were--
(sees brain in a dish turn toward him)

That'd be the cost of research right there.

Rat Brain Spam Filter: Since it seems like all I do when I open my inbox these days is delete about 200 pieces of spam and see maybe one or two real e-mails, I might as well let the rat brain do the deleting for me. I mean, the error rate wouldn't be THAT high, even if it just deleted everything. Sure, the pattern recognition on rat brain dishes is horrid so far, but I would never fear about the rat brain wanting to enlarge its non-existent penis or chest. So at least those wouldn't get through.

Rat Brain Video Game Player: The way I see this one is, I could just loose the rat brain on the FPS world in general. If it can fly a flight simulator, it can play Counterstrike -- some of the levels feel like navigating a rat maze anyway, and it would never complain about aimbots or anything like that. Its rudimentary brain would only be capable of l33t speak like "pwnz3d" or something anyway.

It'd at least be better than I am at CS (note that I'm the kind of gamer who gets motion sick from playing FPS games, thus why I don't write about them much).

Rat Brain Forum Moderator: Wait, we're employing a rat brain to moderate our forums already, never mind, on to the next one.

Rat Brain Fantasy Football Manager: Given some of the boneheaded moves I've made in Fantasy Football in the past (Why, WHY did I drop you, Ryan Longwell? For MORTEN ANDERSEN! Who's, like, 70!), replacing me with a rat brain wouldn't be all that bad. Maybe it'd be smart enough not to waste a fourth-round pick on that bum Aaron Brooks, and grabbed Javon Walker on the wheel or something. Not that I can complain that much.

Rat Brain Marching Band Member: Hey, it'd know more songs than the USC band (rimshot).

Rat Brain Pet: Related to the Chauffeur and Game Player ideas above, why not keep the rat brain in a dish as a pet? It wouldn't eat much beyond what's probably a protein-rich solution in its container, and unlike playing with more normal pets like dogs or something, it could play ESPN NFL Football with me and not slobber everywhere.

Yeah, I think I've thought way too much about what to do with my very own rat brain in a dish. But isn't it pretty to think so?

November 9, 2004
Wow, it's been a while since I did this. Sorry about that. Been a little busy lately. Aaanyway.

Catching up with old friends
So after talking with a couple of old GamePro co-workers over the last week, both of whom now work for GameStar, it turns out that they're running game blogs. Wat, the "panites" fan of the bunch, is running Bikini Gamer, which is rather obviously aimed at the male crowd (he points out the Dead or Alive alarm clock rather prominently, where I chose to ignore it, for example). Sean, perhaps my favorite person in the industry to talk to, lends his amusing little sketches and profuse wit to Normal Mode. So go read what they have to say, says I!

Gunpla strangeness
I've been up against some weird forms of fandom before. Hell, in a way I AM a weird form of fandom. But soon is coming out a book of "Gundam Photography", which is, well, Gundam photography. Teruhisa Tajima took Gundam models, put them in little dioramas, took pictures of them and ended up with a 128-page photo book. That's more than a little scary, if you ask me...


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