Sunday, March 26, 2006
More on Comics
Saturday, March 25, 2006
I've been interested in making movies since I was about twelve. I used to read magazines such as Famous Monsters of Filmland, Starlog, Cinemagic just to get a glimpse into how my favorite sci-fi and horror movies were made. I've always felt that if I had grown up in Los Angeles I would be working in the film industry today.
When I was fifteen, I borrowed my parent's old Brownie 8mm camera and set out to make my masterpiece. I had decided that like Willis O'Brien and Ray Harryhausen, my epic would be made using stop-motion animation. I happened to have a collection of those Aurora prehistoric scenes snap-together model kits that worked fairly well as animation models. I also had a space craft model of the Spindrift from the "Land of the Giants" TV show. In my parent's basement, I built a set made out of plywood and 2x4's, and filled it up with sand to make the landscape. My 5 minute film took about two weeks to film, painstakingly moving the dinosaur and wooly mammoth models in a battle royal, along with having the Spindrift land on the planet. Riveting stuff...
In college, I helped a friend make his Star Trek fan film, however most of my involvement was in setting up lights, building sets, and so on. But recently I've become interested in the idea of amateur film making once again, mainly after I bought a snazzy new Mini-DV camcorder. These days you can do everything in digital and handle all the editing and post production on your PC, and turn out the finished project as a DVD for family and friends to enjoy (or suffer through as the case may be).
I've decided to start out slowly and work my through a couple of smaller projects involving various footage I've shot of my kids at school functions and at birthdays. This will help me work out the methods and how to effectively use the tools. Stay tuned for updates...
Monday, March 20, 2006
Another favorite was the Tandy M-100, which was the first truly portable and useful machine. They were quite popular with journalists and I've heard that some foreign reporters still use them. This machine featured a full size keyboard, a built-in LCD display, and four pre-loaded software applications.
The first computer I ever used was the Netronics ELF II, which was similar to the Cosmac ELF, it featured an RCA 1802 microprocessor, an under-rated and unique processor. This system pre-dated the IBM PC by about five years. My father had bought his Netronics ELF II as a kit in 1978 and built it himself. It consisted of a main board with several card slots, a 4 digit hex LED display, and a numeric/hex keypad. When first built, you had to punch in your program on the keypad as machine code opcodes. Eventually my father installed a Basic ROM, an assembler, 32K of RAM, keyboard, video controller, and a green-screen monitor. I wrote my first computer game on this computer, a vastly simplified version of space invaders.
I'm still interested in retro computing, and practice it to a degree. Currently, I have a P3 machine running Linux as a file server with dual 120GB drives, a P2 machine running Win98 for older games and for publishing activities, and currently have a Sun Ultra 5 up and running, not sure what to do with it yet. I had set up my SGI O2 box but it no longer wants to boot, it appears that the HDD has failed or something. Hopefully, in time, I'll have more older systems set up and running.
Saturday, March 18, 2006
Are Comics Dying Out?
Others have predicted that e-comics will be the deciding factor in ending the pamphlet form. But these folks seem to miss the point that the same thing was said about dead tree edition books a few years ago when the appearance of e-books was all the rage. Currently there are numerous publishers and outlets for e-books, but until the pricing is a substantial discount (current discounts hover around 10-20%) as compared to the printed edition, e-books will only find limited success. Also only a handful of portable e-book reader devices are currently available. Most of them seem to suffer from similar issues such as short battery life, poor contrast when outdoors, incompatible proprietary e-book formats, etc. A new device from Sony called the Sony Reader seems promising however since it is the first of these devices to use the E-Ink "paper" look display technology. This device promises ultra long battery life and excellent contrast and visibility in all lighting conditions. But for now, the display is only in B&W.
My personal opinion is that what is really hurting the comics industry overall is the lack of new readers coming into the hobby. The average comics reader is in their late twenties, and many long time fans have gotten quite grey around the edges. I have managed to get one of my kids into reading comics, so at least there is one new comic fan around. The comics industry has been trying the fight back with events such as the upcoming Free Comic Book Day but I've found that the publishers don't always to seem to make kid friendly issues available, though every year they do seem to get closer to the mark.
Friday, March 17, 2006
Welcome aboard, I hope you find my musings interesting, informative, or at least not a complete waste of your time...