Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sonic Unleashed - Endless Possibility

When I got the game several weeks ago I cursed the Sonic Team's inability to remember the basic formula for a good Sonic game:
1. Run through pretty stages
2. Collect rings
3. Smash robots
4. Collect the seven Chaos Emeralds
5. turn Super Sonic
6. Stop Eggman
7. Mix well and enjoying the ride
Today I beat Sonic Unleashed and I'm much more content. Maybe it's all the holiday cheer but I don't think the game is THAT BAD. To be honest, once I discovered how to earn more than two lives, I actually started enjoying myself. The graphics are pretty, the music fits, and the characters are dead on. I struggled with the gameplay at first, but I got used to it. I have to give the Sonic Team credit for trying to find ways to incorporate the Wii motion controls into their games. The Sonic Unleashed controls are a major improvement over Sonic and the Secret Rings.

The story is cheesy. I mean come on, a "werehog"? Really? That's the best they could do?! Sonic changes into a monster at night and no one is even afraid of him. His personality shines through, as it should, I guess, but where's the drama? He could have at least struggled with the evil forces taking over his mind like most lycanthropes. Oh well.

Chip, the new character, fits in a lot better than Silver the Hedgehog (Sonic the Hedgehog PS3) or Blaze the Cat (Sonic Rush). I have no problem accepting him into the fold. I like to think of him as a less annoying Omochao (Sonic Adventure 2), except you can't pick him up and throw him over a cliff.

Eggman has evolved with a slightly more sinister sounding dialogue. He's no SatAM Robotnik, but you can really hear the hate in his voice when he's battling Sonic. I didn't mind the idea of Dark Gaia as the main boss, but I would rather fight Chaos (Sonic Adventure) again. The final battle with Dark Gaia was fun but odd.

I don't want to post too many spoiliers. I think any Sonic fan should get the game and play it. The running stages are fun and the credit music ("Endless Possibility" - Jaret Reddick) just makes you feel good. Just keep in mind the target audience and run with it.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

China Bans, my favorite website for social artwork networking, was banned by the Chinese government.

According to the article on deviantArt, Chinese Deviants ( "deviant" is the term used on deviantArt to refer to it's members) are finding it extremely difficult to access because it is now on the black list of the Chinese authority. There has been no official announcement or explanation for the ban, however some speculate that it's related to Tibetan politics.

I think it's sad. I'm a subscribing member to and even though I haven't been very active in submitting art as of late, I can't imagine how upset I'd be if found one day I couldn't connect.

There are so many kinds (for lack of a better term) of art submitted to deviantArt on a daily basis. A search of popular submissions will find something for everyone and if you have the mature block checked off you'll find somethings that will offend anyone. Still is it right for a goverment to block a website that promotes freedom of expression? Would deviantArt ammend it's submission policies to make nice with Chinese authority? or will the rest of deviantArt just have to carry on without our Chinese friends?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  What am I thankful for?  In short I am thankful for my family, my friends, my relativly good health, my job and of course my house!  So much to be thankful for this year, that's just the tip of the iceburg.  

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

My favorite holiday is here at last! Happy Halloween everyone!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Hell Girl: My Halloween Treat

After three good years of nothing but Fullmetal Alchemist I finally welcomed a new anime series into my life.  Thank you, On Demand! 

Hell Girl (Jigoku Shōjo) is the story of vengeance, plan and simple... well it's not really that simple. As the story goes, if you have been wronged in some way and you wish to take revenge on another person (or persons), all you have to do is wait until midnight, go online and log on to the "Hell Correspondence" website.  There you can type in your tormentor's name and summon The Hell Girl, Ai Enma.  She will present you with a straw doll that has a red string tied around it's neck.  If you truly want revenge you are to untie the string.  Your grievance shall be avenged and your tormentor will be taken to hell, however there is a price.  By untying the string you will enter a covenant with Ai and when you pass on your soul will also belong to Hell.

Most of season one is comprised of single story episodes where you are exposed to a new character's drama and suffering.  They summon Hell Girl and must make the difficult decision to pull the string or not.  Some episodes have you cheering for the character to pull it.  Others you'll find yourself begging them to get a grip, get over it and lose the doll.  

Season one of Hell Girl has amazing plot twists and is really pretty eye candy for the Anime art lover.  I'm really looking forward to season two.   Still I can't help but wonder... would anyone really pull the string?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

200 Issues

When I was a kid I had one major obsession turned muse... Sonic the Hedgehog.

I was a big Mario fan and I loved my NES, but when my neighbors bought a SEGA Genesis in 1992 I was mesmerised by Sonic the Hedgehog's glorious 16-bit animated sprites, looping backgrounds and scrolling landscapes. That was it for me, there was no turning back.

A few years into the fandom, a friend introduced me to the Archie Comics Sonic the Hedgehog series. I began collecting on a monthly basis when I was 12 years old (issue 25 in 1994 to be exact). At that time the series had just broken away from simple gag story lines to become more dramatic with multi part action arcs and cover illustrations by Patrick "Spaz" Spaziante.

Finding that new issue in my mailbox each month was a big deal. I'd stare in awe at Spaz's dynamic character poses on the cover. I imagined the story inside and how it would relate. Then of course I'd actually read the comic. I loved the stories, but there was so much more to appreciate. I'd study the panels and different art styles. Without reading the credits I could tell if Art Mawhinney, Ken Penders, Scott Shaw or Spaz did the inside art. I studied how each artist drew character expressions and gestures. I analyzed the panel layout and made physical notes of how they'd spell out sound effects like KA-DACK, KER-THUNK and so on.

The Archie Comics Sonic the Hedgehog series is currently up to issue #194. I've been collecting them almost constantly since issue #25 (I missed a few around the Sonic Adventure adaptation in the #80's). I ordered back issues of everything previous to issue #25 that I could get my hands on. I have all of the old 48 page special issues (that I know of), all of the character mini series including both of the NiGHTS into Dreams ones, a few issues of Knuckles' series, more than a few of Sonic X and most of the graphic novels. I've found my name in the print page, had my art and photo published, met Ken Penders, Tracey Yardley and Rich Koslowski and had Spaz help me with my eighth grade homework.

My admiration for the Sonic Comic Team's work led me to drawing for fun, but more importantly, it inspired me to study and learn to someday become a "real" artist. The whole course of my artistic existence I credit to them.

Which is why this is so difficult.

Over the years I have become less attached to the comic. Since issue #51 I haven't really felt the same. The artists have changed and I don't even flip through the new issues. I can't remember the last full story arc I read. My shelf is overflowing and I don't properly bag and board every comic like I once did. I remember issue #75 being bad, but I don't remember why. What happened in #100? Did they celebrate #125, #150 or #175? It makes me sad to say I don't remember. I got the comics... but at the time I didn't care. What I credit my artistic existence to is no longer my inspiration and hasn't been for quite some time, which is why I've decided to stop collecting at issue #200. Can I do it? Can I give up the comic that has given me so much joy, so many memories, so many lessons? I guess we'll find out soon enough

Monday, July 28, 2008

Ode to The ExpoMart

It was a somber day for me when my friends and I attended Steel City Con last Saturday at The Pittsburgh ExpoMart in Monroville. The ExpoMart, where many local conventions that I regularly attend have been held for years, will be converted into office space this fall.

Both Tekkoshocon, Pittsburgh's local Anime convention, and Steel City Con, aka the Pittsbugh Toy Show, have found new venues for 2009. However, The Pittsburgh Comic Con website still says that it will be held at the ExpoMart next year. Considering that the co-owner of the convention, Michael George, was convicted of murder in March, the future of that convention is unknown. I imagine that new arrangements will be made once they get that settled.

So with new venues ahead, why am I in mourning over the loss of a dusty old convention center?My friends and I have shared so many memories at The ExpoMart over the years that it's hard for me to accept this loss.

I'll never forget my first time there. I was a little kid, maybe ten years old, when I saw a commercial advertising SEGA Genesis games for $10 at this big weekend sale in Monroville. Being a slightly spoiled only child, I easily convinced my parents to go. It wasn't everything I thought it would be, but I did leave with a copy of Eternal Champions and a big grin on my face.

A few years later I attended my first Pittsburgh Comic Con at The ExpoMart. At the time I was a huge fan of Archie Comics Sonic the Hedgehog series and I was really excited to meet Ken Penders, now former writer and penciler for the series. I stood there in awe as he signed my comics and a print for me. He gave me and my friend Sonic the Hedgehog 3 pins and pointed us in the direction of series inker, Rich Koslowski, who I purchased an original inking draft from. I saw Ken at later Pittsburgh Comic Cons, even met his wife and kids. After a few years Ken stopped coming. I think Tracey Yardley came instead then after a few years of seeing her I lost track of my Sonic comic artists. I still have very fond memories of the good old comic con, before the entry price went up, before I started losing interest in Sonic comics, before the murder...

When Tekkoshocon came to the ExpoMart in 2005 my best friend and I took our first stab at cosplaying together. Our costumes weren't perfect, in fact mine kept falling apart and on top of that, the characters we were portraying (Axl and Sol from Guilty Gear XX) were not that popular. Still, thanks to our friends we had a great time. We watched the Guilty Gear tournament, in costume, and made a new friend, Caeser. We dodged traffic, in costume, to get to the Monroville Mall Food Court and find lunch. We had a blast and I haven't missed a Tekko since.

At Tekkoshocon 2006 my fiancee found the prefect character for him to cosplay as, Sig Curtis from Fullmetal Alchemist (FMA), so we went as husband and wife, Sig and Izumi. Sig is an obscure character that no one ever saw cosplayed before, so my fiancee was a big hit with hardcore FMA fans including the American dub voice actors who attended the con. I made stickers for Caitlin Glass, Greg Ayers, Tiffany Grant and Kyle Hubert and they all signed my FMA Art Book. We made new friends, Dani (Ed) and Bill (Alphonse), who are now our permanent con companions.

I didn't realize how big Tekkoshocon was going to be for me in 2007. I was still a huge FMA fan and Vic Mignogna, the voice actor behind the much loved main character Edward Elric, was going to be there. I had an amazing new costume that I worked really hard on. It was a huge hit! Everyone loved it, especially Vic! The lights were low and I could hardly see through the mesh of my costume when my friends guided me into a curtained off area where we knew Vic was participating in anime trivia. Instantly my friends began to whisper "He's looking right at you!" "Oh my god, you should see him smiling!" "He's waving, wave back!" I could see the flash from his camera phone when he took my photo from the stage. I didn't mean to cause such commotion but I really did make him smile, which meant a lot to me since his role in FMA really made me smile. I got so many hugs from him, but that one on the right was the best. Later I caught up with Dani. Probably the most profound moment of the con, my deepest memory of the ExpoMart, was when she and I were waiting in Artist's Alley (next to those windows in the first image) around 11PM on Saturday, before the rave. We were drinking Bawls and talking about sharing an artist table and how great it would be. We had no idea what was in store for the ExpoMart when we made the decision to sign up for an artists table in 2008. Still we knew we could do it. We attended the rave. I danced like a fool amongst all the glow sticks and my favorite Envy and Greed cosplayers until the heat became unbearable... yeah I lasted like five minutes with the head on so Kyle Hubert put it on for a bit and then we called it a night.

Tekkoshocon 2008 was not at the ExpoMart, but we debuted our art table anyway and made it work. The con did not live up to our expectations this year and I still regret that we will never have our art table in the big open hallway of the ExpoMart.

Steel City Con occurs several times a year and is kinda like our convention filler or fix when Tekkoshocon is over. It doesn't matter if I buy anything or not, it's never a let down. I'm sure the new venue will work just fine for it. I'll never forget the time I found that UK Sonic the Hedgehog Burger King toy that I added to my collection for a dollar or the time the Gene Simmons look alike was there messing with people.

These were all good times. I know the good times won't end, even if the venue changes. It's just hard to say goodbye. Still, I must. Goodbye ExpoMart and thank you.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Geek Hierarchy

A few years ago I stumbled across The Brunching Shuttlecocks website and their ever amusing Geek Hierarchy Chart. As any good geek would do, I quickly analyzed the chart to see where I stood. I then printed a copy out to share with my friends and we all had a good laugh.

Any good geek should be able to take a joke, even at their own expense. It's true that the nature of being a geek comes along with the joy of being picked on. Being picked on is not a laughing matter these days, what with bullying leading to major acts of violence, still I like to think that most geeks evolve with a sense of humor and ability to get over being teased.

That aside, the social hierarchies are nothing new, nor are they strictly related to geek culture. "Considering yourself less geeky than..." simply translates to "Considering yourself better than..." in other social groups. It's an unavoidable ugly side of human nature. Even the nicest people in the world will catch themselves thinking they are better than someone else in some way, shape or form.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Artist's Block

For five issues Dr. James S. Payne has been writing about Writer's Block on Writing is an art, so Artist's Block and Writer's Block go hand in hand. Artists of every medium get stuck from time to time and often for the same reason.

Most people who draw "get rusty" from not drawing often enough. We get "stuck" or "uninspired" when we can't think of what to draw. We often say we're "in a rut" when we can't seem to produce anything for an extended period of time. These are all excuses we use when we can't get around the block.

So what is the Block, anyway? I think Dr. Payne explains it best in his second article on Writer's Block:
"When an author experiences writers block, he or she is imagining failure. The more one imagines failure, the greater the anxiety..."
As artists we put pressure on ourselves to perform. Every piece that we produce is a reflection of us, so we want them all to be something great and the fear that the next piece won't be great can be devastating. I can't tell you how many pages of my sketchbook I've torn out and thrown away over the years because I didn't like what I was producing and I didn't want anyone else to see it. Embarrassment, or the anxiety and fear of being criticized for or embarrassed over one's artwork, is the basis of Artist's Block.

So how do you get over it? I think one of my professor's said it best, or maybe it was passed on from one of his professors:
"You have a lot of bad drawings in you, it's best to get them out now..."
Not every piece you produce is going to be a winner and that's true for every artist no matter what their skill level. Artists suffering from the Block need to accept this. It's okay to "fail" but artists should not look at bad drawings or bad criticism as failures. Learn from a bad gesture and start over. It's okay to throw away that sketchbook page as long as you try again. If you get bad criticism, even if it's nasty, try to take something positive from it. If you feel "burnt out" take a break and it's okay to pick up a crayon, magic marker or pen and doodle something silly. This can be a great way to relax and have fun! FUN! Remember? Drawing is suppose to be fun! So put down that professional piece and scribble out some fan art with your little sibling's jumbo crayons!

You can read Dr. Payne's articles here. He is one of my favorite columnists on and the author of the PeopleWise series which was published by SterlingHouse.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Pro's of Fan Work

Recently a colleague of mine spoke of her friend, a "brilliant writer," who used her talent to write fan fiction based on her favorite TV series. "What a shame." my colleague said.

For the most part, artists and writers see fan work as flattering tributes to the original. Inspired by the original work, they often share their inspired creations with friends and online fandoms. Some critics may look at this and say, "What a shame. They should be doing their own work!" Others see it as a flattering tribute. I see it as a potential promotional tool for the young artist or writer.

This week I wrote an article for about the Pro's of Fan Work (primarily fan fiction) and how the growing artist or writer can benefit. You can read the full article by clicking here.

Here are a few examples of successful fans who's fan work gained them the attention of some big industry names:

N. Matsumoto (aka spacecoyote)'s Simpsons and Futurama fan art that she shared on earned her a job with Bongo Comics, a company created and owned by Simpsons creator Matt Groening. She will be working on a short Simpsons manga and has been contacted by 20th Century Fox to potentially work on the relaunch of Futurama. You can read the full article about Space Coyote's success by clicking here.

Harry Potter fan, Francisca Solar, wasn't happy with Rowling's fifth book in the popular series so she wrote her own sequel "Harry Potter and the Decline of the High Elves." Published on, her story received positive reviews from all over the world and was viewed more than 80,000 times. Harry Potter publisher, Random House, took notice. The company liked her work so much they offered her a contract to write her own original trilogy. You can read more about Francisca and her series by clicking here.

Writing fan fiction or drawing fan art can be a simple labor of love, fun hobby and a way for a fan to give back to their fandom or express their inspired fantasies. In many cases, fan work serves a more professional service, acting as a form of practice for the growing artist or writer. Fan work can prove to be a fun exercise in emulating existing styles in drawing or writing. This can lead artists and writers to branch off and create their own original pieces. Fan work also makes great online portfolio bait. Think about how many people Google search their favorite books, shows and characters. Lure viewers to your portfolio website with fan work of a popular subject, and you have a better chance of getting your original work noticed.

Celebrating 10 Issues is celebrating 10 issues this week. I like celebrating with parodies... This one goes out to duqwingman.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

The Internet sure has changed since 2003, when I managed my own online comic, Dragon's Pride. Yesterday I was in the process of updating and promoting when my mind started to wonder. If I were going to design and operate a new online comic website today, how would I do it? How would I use the latest Internet practices, widgets and websites? How would my new site differ from my old site?

Well to start I would register a domain name. DP never had it's own domain. When I took the site from a free server to a paid one I didn't pay the extra fee to register. At the time it wasn't a big deal. I wasn't up on the best SEO or linking practices. Paying to host my portfolio was one thing, but I couldn't justify spending the extra money on something that was, at the time, just a hobby.

Of course I'd design a website based on my comic art using Photoshop, which is what I've done in the past. However, this time around there would be no massive image map with links to all of my pages. These days I'm experimenting with CSS and I recognize the importance of physical keywords.
Would I keep my site map the same? Back in the day I had an index page that linked to a table of contents page that would link to all of my individual html documents. One hand coded link for each individual comic page. Today I would probably look into using a content management system with tags for updates and have my newest comic display on the front page, like many other online comics do these days. It's convenient for readers and good SEO.

In 2003 I spread the word about my comic by looking up other comics, link exchanging with them, posting links on their forums, doing gift art, joining sites like, and the like. Today I would certainly seek out link exchanges, but there are new promotional tools available in social networking sites like facebook and myspace. I'd use to share content updates and to spread the word. There are so many new ways to generate feedback and site traffic, I won't even try to list them all.

As the Internet grows and changes shape, I look forward to finding new ways to use it. I may not be up on all of the latest practices but I sure have learned a lot since 2003.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack

As an all around cartoon enthusiast, I'm really excited about the upcoming Cartoon Network premiere of The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack.

Flapjack was created by known story board artist Mark "Thurop" Van Orman who has worked on other Cartoon Network originals such as Camp Lazlo and The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy. The cartoon features Flapjack, a naive young boy who wants to be an adventurer, Bubbie, a whale with a mommy complex, and Captain K'nuckles, a washed-up pirate who's crazy schemes always seem to get the group into trouble.

On first viewing every cartoon fan should recognize that the voice behind K'nuckles is Brian Doyle-Murray who, aside from his film career, is well known as the voice of The Flying Dutchman on Spongebob SquarePants and Coach Gills on Cartoon Network's My Gym Partner is a Monkey. If character voices don't amuse you, maybe the gritty art style will. Check out the website for art, video clips and more!

You can also catch previews in and around Chowder's time slot. The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack premieres June 5th at 8:30 PM.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

MySims: Who Wouldn't Want To Play God?

I recently picked up a copy of MySims for the Wii and haven't been able to put it back down. The game is not as detailed as it's bigger siblings in the Sims series, but it's just as much fun. The game features customizable chibi-like characters which makes it an instant eye catcher for any otaku.

After picking a name for your town, you get to choose your skin color, hairstyle, outfit, pair of eyes, mouth and even a voice for your character. You character is then introduced to your town, which since "the builder" left, has fallen into ruin causing most of it's residents to move away. Awwwwwwww! But don't worry! There's still hope! It turns out that you are a builder who is able to harvest essence, the material used to create and decorate buildings and furniture, and save the town!

The residents who haven't moved away give you tasks to create items for them using essence that reflects their character. There are many types of essence and many ways to obtain it. As you complete tasks you are rewarded with new outfits and character features, items, blueprints and tools to obtain new essence. Also as your town grows more people visit the hotel and you get to pick which ones to invite to live in your town. You'll choose where their home will be and design their house based on their character (Please don't give Goth Boy a cutie pie house or he'll cry...).

Unlike the Sims, your characters don't have to eat, sleep, work, clean or use the restroom. Yes, you can still build a usable toilet and you can stop working on tasks at any time to roam the town, eat, sleep and play. There are no timed tasks to perform and no money system.

The only complaints I have about MySims is that it sometimes takes a long time to load and it can be a little glitchy when you build items. I do wish there was a way to create your own characters to live in your town aside from yourself. You can change the look of the other characters but not their names. Also when you run out of spots to build houses on you have to kick people out in order to move new people in and it would be nice if you could take relationships a step beyond "best friends." Still it's a really fun game. Super cute! Super addicting! I recommend it to anyone who likes cute and wants to spend more than a few hours unlocking stuff.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Monkey in the Middle #6 updated today and I am really excited to post my latest Monkey in the Middle comic which parodies the classic Donkey Kong video game.

Check out the other great comics at if you haven't yet. There's something there for everyone!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Nickelodeon: Teen Nick

Everyone who knows me, knows that cartoons are a big part of my life, and Nick Toons are some of the most successful cartoons on the planet. So it should be no surprise to anyone that I watch Nickelodeon, A LOT.

Often while waiting for my daily Spongebob fix, I catch a corner of one of Nickelodeon's preteen/teen targeted live action shows. Usually I change the channel. Let's face it, once you're over a certain age, stories written around high/middle school drama don't really peek your interests. Besides, the good old days of Hey Dude, Salute Your Shorts and The Adventures of Pete and Pete are long gone. Remember SNICK, Alex Mac, All That, and the spin off, Kenan and Kel? They're gone too and FYI - just like the years we spent watching the original Rugrats, Ren & Stimpy and Doug cartoons, they're not coming back. It's hard for us "old timers" to look at today's teen shows with any sense of respect. (These Kids today and their Zoey 101...)

Still, not all of Nickelodeon's teen programming is as annoying. I have to give credit to the creative teams behind Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, Drake and Josh, and iCarly. In my opinion, all three shows have featured decent writing, acting and/or interesting new concepts. (It's really saying something when I don't automatically change the channel) Ned's Declassified and Drake and Josh have recently ended. iCarly on the other hand has just started and it's a no brainer that the biggest reason I find this show appealing is their use of the internet (After all, the internet is what I do).

Check out It's not just a site about the show. It's the site that's talked about on the show. It has blogs and info as if the characters from the show are actually maintaining the site. Now, I'm sure that the actors are not behind the site maintenance, but isn't it a nice concept? What's also interesting is that the site, like the show, asks people to send in videos and photos. So, you (or your kids) could wind up on the site or the show. How interactive! Nickelodeon has always been a champ and getting kids involved. Remember the old Halloween "Nick or Treat" contest or how about "Slime Time"?

Although some of us may feel that the glory days of Nick TV are over, likely because we've outgrown it, I'm happy to see the network is keeping with tradition and evolving with the times. iCarly looks like a winner for the network. Hopefully it's exactly what they need to counter act the Spears effect. I am really surprised that the network is still running Zoey 101, but that's a whole different blog post...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Tekkoshocon 2008

as a convention was a bust... However my friends made the con special! This year we participated in Artist's Alley for the first time. Artistically it was a great experience. I met a lot of great artists and shared my work with a lot of Otaku! Here are some pictures of the crew and our table.

My end of the table (The Al head belongs to our friend Bill and was for display only)

Dani made some awesome clocks and her buttons were so clever!

Ari's crocheted items were a big hit!

Me, my Envy wig and my girls! I met these two maybe three years ago. They stole my heart with their Greed and Envy cosplay and I look for them every year! <3>

I hope the Tekko staff gets their stuff together next year. The Greentree Radisson is no place for a con that big. It was cramped and miserable. Lines were terrible and there were a lot of rude con-ops. There were a lot of nice, helpful volunteers... but the incident in Artist's Alley was so unbelievable that a lot of people are talking about not going back next year. I hope that Tekko takes all of the negative feedback that it has received to heart and makes some necessary changes.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A New Day, A New Web Comic

No, really! I've been keeping this under wraps for a while now but today, an online newspaper geared to new writers and those involved in the literary industry, was officially launched along with my comic "Monkey In The Middle: a primate example of the writer's plight"

Monkey In The Middle is a simple story about a writer trying to get published. Imma Monkey has a story to tell and won't let anything get in her way! Join her as she takes on troublesome technology, intense industry professionals, and personal procastination.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Netscape is dead, It has ceased to be.

Old but important news, AOL has officially announced that they will end the development and support of Netscape browsers.

I remember Netscape. It was the first browser that I ever laid eyes on. I was in the seventh grade when we were first introduced to the internet. We were to research a class project dealing with our future career choice. It was then that I did my first web search. My topic? SEGA!

Anyway, I was fascinated by this Netscape thing. I didn't understand it at the time, begged my parents for it, they understood it even less than I did. Little did I know that three years later I would be playing with html and making stupid fan web "shrines"... Little did I know that thirteen or so years later I would be making a living working with the internet.

Thanks Netscape...

Read AOL's Official Release Here

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Super Smash Brothers Brawl: Mario vs. Sonic

I never thought I'd live to see the day where Mario and Sonic would be in the same video game, let alone two. Mario & Sonic go to the Olympic Games was a nice, honorable way to bridge the gap for SEGA's superstar and Nintendo's number one. Still, it wasn't until the official news started curculating that Sonic would finally make an appearance in Super Smash Brothers Brawl that things got exciting.

Roughly twelve years ago my bestfriend empee3 and I were just starting to become close friends. She was an avid Mario fan, a collector of Nintendo Power, a girl who liked her Goomba's flattened... I was an obsessed Sonic fan, a collector of Archie's Sonic comics, a girl who liked emeralds and rings... We should have been rivals, arguing over the superiority of our games, but instead we became friends. We respected each other's love of the characters and the games that made them.

To make a long story short, I shared with her my comic collection and my love for drawing, together we started a fan comic. Colored pencils and Sharpies in hand our fan comic "Mario vs. Sonic" was born. We never finished it. We laughed about how great it would be to see them together in a game and we sighed at how it would never be so. We grew up and moved on but our hearts remain true to the characters that inspired us and our childhood.

With Super Smash Brothers Brawl, Nintendo has brought unimaginable gaming possibilities to us. I look forward to sharing the game with her this weekend. I hope it brings back as many wonderful memories for her as it did for me. We now have rekindled hope for a Sonic & Mario adventure game.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Grim Grimoire

Monster Summoning meets Risk style playing field - In between working full-time and preparing for Tekkoshocon, I've stared playing a game that's been sitting on my shelf since August of 2007.

Grim Grimoire is the story of a magic school run by a wizard named Grimmel Dore... yeah... that name sounds familiar... In the story you play as a goody-two-shoes magic student named Lillet Blan. She's the new girl who wants to do everything by the rules and impress all of her teachers. She somehow gets stuck reliving her first five days of school over and over in a Groundhog's Day like fog where she makes friends, learns magic, gains Grimoires (which are magic books used for summoning), gets betrayed and has to save the school, her classmates and teachers from some evil characters who are after the Philosophers’ Stone.

I'm honestly not very big on stories that take place in or around school. Magic and ninja schools are no exception; however Grim Grimoire brings some interesting elements to the playing field. Instead of wizards learning how to use magic, magicians are taught four different types of magics: Glamour (the fairy magic), Alchemy (the science/magic combo pack), Sorcery (the devil's magic) and Necromancy (the magic of the dead). The characters "summon" (or "create", if they're using alchemy) familiars to gather mana, defend runes or attack enemies. A big unexpected plus is that all four magic types can be used together! How refreshing!

Grim Grimoire is the second game recently released by Vanillaware. It's big sister, Odin Sphere, was a major hit because of it's beautiful 2D character and setting designs. Grim Grimoire is shaping up just as beautifully. The characters are creative and easy to fall in love with. The 2D images of the characters are not completely still. They actually breathe while they wait for you to advance the dialogue! The in-battle scenery doesn't change much, but the dialogue backgrounds are very nice.

All-in-all I am pleased with the game. Though if you're one of those people who don't like spending an hour in a single battle just to lose, start the game on easy. The battles can be time consuming, but are a lot of fun.

(Images came from wallpaper available at:

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Tekkoshocon 2008

Tekkoshocon, the Anime & Asian Culture Convention based in Pittsburgh, PA is right around the corner. What does this mean for NMALLENART?

NMALLENART has teamed up with Dani Cat Designs and several other talented artists and craftsman to put together an art table in this year's Tekkoshocon Artists Alley. It's official, our first venture into the world of art sales will be April 11th - 13th at the Radisson Hotel in Green Tree. We're hard at work creating various kinds of swag featuring some of your favorite cartoon characters, symbols and sayings to offer to this years con goers. We are even working on an awesome raffle basket that some lucky otaku will get to take home at the end of the con!

Check out the Tekkoshocon website for more information. We hope to see you there.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Artists Express Concern Over PhotoBucket

PhotoBucket, the Web’s largest image sharing service, has been drawing criticism from a growing number of artists over its practices regarding copyrighted material. Strangers can access users accounts, including those not logged in to the site, and request prints. PhotoBucket does not mention in any clear location that the way to prevent this.

read more | digg story

Thursday, January 24, 2008

With the Light: a Manga With Heart

Last week I was casually looking through Border's selection of manga, when I came across something unique...

"With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child" by Keiko Tobe.
The title was enough to make me stop in my tracks. "A manga about raising an autistic child?!" Amongst all of the sci-fi/fantasy and magical school girl/boy manga this book stood out to me as something special and unique.

I pick it up off of the shelf and immediately looked at the art... BEAUTIFUL! I skimmed the back cover copy... Interesting! I looked at the price... $14! That's awesome considering how thick it is! I wanted to buy it right there and then but... I was low on funds. The book is certainly on my wish list, though!

I've done a little reading up on it and have come across many positive reviews about they story's entertainment and educational value. I must say that I personally have no experience with Autism, but that doesn't matter. This book has really peeked my interests and I will certainly follow-up later with a real review once I get my hands on a copy.

You can read more about the book on and

Monday, January 14, 2008

Searching for Something

Since the time I was a little girl one of my all time favorite activities has been fishing with my dad. We spent a lot of my childhood out and about back and forth between various bodies of water. It didn't matter if we were taking his row boat out to Donagel Lake or braving the rocky current and crossing the Youghogheny River by foot, I've always set out to have some amazing adventure. Every trip is an opportunity to find something new or see something that I have never seen before. Every trip is special.

It is a thrilling experience to catch a fish. Depending on the type you have to set the hook and if you do that then comes the fight and hopefully the thrill of victory. Surprisingly the actual fishing part of our trips never turned out to be the highlight of the adventure. We've fished in the sun, rain, sleet, snow, and ice. We've fell in, swam out, and got pulled over by the police on the way home. We've brought home our limit of trout, caught nothing bluegill and have come home empty handed. It doesn't matter, we always have a good time and the story of the adventure always outlives the catch.

Looking back on two decades of this, I've come to realize that as I grew up I became more and more obsessed with turning over rocks and looking for critters than I ever was for fishing. Over the years I have caught thousands of crayfish, hundreds of minnows, dozens of frogs, toads, tadpoles, salamanders, helgramites and three baby snapping turtles. I can't go to a body of water today without analyzing the nearest rock and trying to guess what I might find when I turn it over. Probably a crayfish, maybe a snake, I think I see a tadpole, ack! a spider!

It's funny, but I'm starting to see this level of curiosity in my daily web searching. As an artist and a designer I'm always looking for new art and ideas that will inspire me. When it comes to web marketing I'm always searching for content about my company that I didn't know was Google indexed. I search and I search wondering what I'll find on the next page. What if I try this keyword? What if I put this in quotes? What if I try a blogger search? I'm searching for crayfish and tadpoles. I hope I find another baby snapping turtle.

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Pen Doesn't Want to be My Friend Anymore

It's just not the same going back to a traditional ink pen once you've made the leap to digital inking (something tells me that a Sharpie doesn't really count as traditional). Maybe if they'd invent an undo button for life I'd feel more at ease going back to a marker or ball-point pen and tracing paper.

This weekend I tried to get a headstart on my sticker art for my art table at Tekkoshocon. I looked at my previous two sketchbooks and I inked some little chibi sticker designs no problem knowing full well that all of the little ink spots, you know the ones you get from holding the pen a millisecond too long in one spot, could easily be erased in Photoshop. But then I decided to work on my latest original character gesture practice piece and could not get the face down. Those little sensitive details I just couldn't get the way I wanted! It looks fine in pencil, but not once I tried to use a marker. Argh!

Tonight I'll be in Photoshop spending some quality time with Evan, my original character, and my Wacom. How do you feel about the Wacom vs traditional ink?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a safe and happy holiday season. A lot of good change happened for me last year, the holiday season itself was one of the best I've ever had. Still, I was happy to see 2007 go. I'm looking forward to 2008 for many reasons. A new year means new inspiration for me, both personal and professional.

I can't say that I've ever really taken the New Years Resolution thing that seriously. Aside from the yearly resolution to get more active and lose weight, the last few years my main resolution has been to reclaim my creative inspiration that I felt had dwindled since the glory days of my online comic "Dragon's Pride."

Although my daily out put of personal drawings may never be as high as it was in 2004 - 2005, I feel that I've accomplished a new level of quality in my drawing and digital color work. That doesn't mean that I don't still have a long way to go, but shouldn't it be more about quality than quantity when it comes to this kind of thing?
This year I'm taking a big step in my personal art career, I've reserved a table for the artists alley at Tekkoshocon 2008. I look forward to what the experience has to offer.

I am really enjoying being back in web design. I'm actually pleased for once with my own personal website. It's exactly what I wanted it to be, a pleasant mix of my personal art that still features my professional work, sure it's a little busy but so is my life and my overactive imagination. This year I am looking forward to learning more web languages, discovering new networking websites and designing new sites to add to my portfolio. I look forward to returning to work tomorrow and setting a schedule to update the featured content on the imprint websites as well as looking for online tutorials and web classes that I can work on in the event of downtime.

I haven't been this excited or confident about my future in a long time and I'm not afraid, I'm not even that worried, I'm going to make this year what I want it to be.