Sunday, March 29, 2020

some more Russell Mussell

A few months ago on this blog I posted some artwork for a new character I just designed called Russell Mussell.  I only had that one drawing of him at the time.  Well, since I've been somewhat laid off from my day job (because of this big big virus), I've had time to draw lots more of him.  It's been an intense labour of love of course and lots of fun.  Moreso than just the act of drawing being fun, it's the discoveries that an artist makes along the way that are just as fun.  Here's one such discovery I have made in drawing this character:

First I'll tell you a bit about Russell's design.  His head has no shape really.  I start by simply drawing two eyes and a crooked smile. Then I draw everything else around that.  He does tend to look somewhat flat when rendered this way, mostly in the front view.  However, I found that I can easily give him the illusion of a 3rd dimension by simply drawing his eyes in perspective.  As you can see, the eye closest to us is bigger than the farther one, thus the perspective is achieved.

I'm not the first to discover this of course and I'm not claiming to either.  Way back in the late '40's/early '50's many animation studios were experimenting with a graphically flat design in their cartoons.  They absolutely achieved that same illusion with their flat designs and many of the results were pretty cool.

I'm very proud of myself for rediscovering nitrogen in a way and applying that to what I'm drawing now.  I hope I can have much more drawings of Russell Mussell done very soon.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Tex Avery loved Katherine Hepburn

"Tex and Katherine sitting in a tree
K - I - S - S...."

Ha ha! No, I'm not copping to that childishness.  I would just like to use this day, what would've been Tex Avery's 112 birthday (if he had somehow become a vampire so he could live forever), to talk about an observation I've recently made between this man and that particular actress.
Of course, it's no wonder that Tex appreciated Kate Hepburn on any level.  She was a 3 time Oscar winning actress whose filmography spans a decades long career.  What's NOT to like?  For reference, here's a bit of the Great Kate in action in one of her more acclaimed roles:

There she is holding her own beside two other Hollywood giants, Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart.  It's easy to see how anyone, not just animation geniuses, could be inspired by her.

The main reason I'm bringing this up at all is because of much of the reaction I've seen over Tex's cartoon The Hick Chick.

This is one of the many cartoons included in the new Tex Avery Blu Ray set.  I've ordered my copy and it should be arriving hopefully sometime next week.  I might find time to do a bit of a review of it.  That should be fun.
About the Hick Chick cartoon.  I can understand how people can be so ambivalent about it.  It certainly doesn't make most people's "Tex Avery at MGM Top 10 List". Possibly it didn't do well when it originally came out in theatres and even Tex himself was gravely disappointed in it.
However, I do feel that some of those same people are using their underwhelming feeling over this cartoon to gloss over what it's really about.  The man who wrote Tex Avery's biography, Joe Adamson, even seemed to do that.  In the back of that book is Tex's entire filmography with all the credits listed as well as a brief synopsis/opinion of each film.  Here's what he says about The Hick Chick:

Granted his space to use was limited, but it still seems like a gloss over to me.  That character was not a "Katherine Hepburn caricature". She was simply talking in that Hepburn voice to the slick talking "Charles Boyer" guy so she could impress him because she was disappointed in her very rural boyfriend.  Tex seemed to favour that Kate Hepburn voice a lot in many of his cartoons, such as:

Little Red Walking Hood

Daffy Duck in Hollywood

Hamateur Night

Dangerous Dan McFoo

A Gander at Mother Goose

Holiday Highlights

Red Hot Riding Hood

and the aforementioned Hick Chick

Other animation directors throughout the golden age years certainly used Katherine Hepburn as well.  However, to me it looks like the way Tex utilized her voice his attitude was that a Kate Hepburn performance made everything better.  Remember one main key factor to what inspired Tex to make many of the cartoons he made.  Many times he'd see a cartoon in theatres that in his opinion could be done better.  Then he would try to improve upon it.  The set up for The Hick Chick looks very similar to a Friz Freleng cartoon from 1938 called A Star is Hatched.

The Hick Chick from Movie Memories on Vimeo.

There's the two cartoon embedded next to each other for comparison.  Did Tex make improvements on Friz' work.  That's up to every individual reading this to decide.  I just wanted to get that out there for Tex Avery's birthday and I did.

Happy birthday, Tex and thank you Katherine Hepburn wherever you are.

Monday, February 24, 2020


Here is a picture of a nurse I have drawn.  Just so you know, it ties in with this character I've drawn as well as this guy I've drawn.  "What is the connection between all of these characters?", you ask.  Hopefully everyone will find out soon long before this year ends.

Friday, January 24, 2020

I did some more commentary

That's right.  The good people at Ferris Wheelhouse invited me back to do some more commentary on Looney Tunes videos.  I and host Trevor Thompson had such fun last time and it looked like most of the response to those videos was positive, so we got back at it again. The two of us recorded them just last week.  We did all Pepe Le Pew cartoons.  His plan is to release them all on every Saturday in February in time for Valentine's Day.  So February looks like it could be a fun and romantic month.  Everyone can curl up with a significant other and bask in the amorous glow of Pepe's raging hormones accompanied by commentary by me and the self-appointed Looney Tunes critic.

"Cwitic eh? Wook at him swandering me! I'll bwast him to smiveweens wif my...."

Hold it! No! No, Elmer. I'm not doing that routine in this blog post this time.  For one, it's somewhat redundant.  For two, the last time I did that I............ broke somebody.

Please observe a moment of silence for the that person's two lonely brain cells who died that day.

Now on with it.  The commentary we did was...

"Why that doggone stubborn little.... I'LL GET THAT CRITIC!! WAGHWAGHWAGHWAGH!!!!"

Donald, you're at a different studio. You have nothing to worry about.

"If that Trevor Thom[stone] ever dares to critique me I'll bring down a slab of bronto-ribs on his head!"

Jeez, Fred. Are cartoons from every other studio going to vent for the sake of their delicate egos now or....?

"Oh! A critic on the internet! Is-is-is-is is that what's happening now? Why don't you just SHOOT ME IN THE HEAD??!! RIGHT NOW!! COME ON!!!"

Okay!  Back through the timeline portal you came from Rick.  Mr. Poopy Butthole says "hi".

Yeesh!  That was a mess.  Anyway, like I said, expect to see new commentary from me and Trevor in February.  In the mean time though, I'll embed all of the commentaries we did the first time.  Whether it's your first time seeing them or your 10,000,000,000,000,000,000th time, enjoy!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

I'm selling a mug

I set it up on teespring just recently.  It's got artwork of my own design on it.



You can order your own mug at this link to teespring here.

Happy drinking!

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Is Pornography a Form of Speech?

Believe it or not, that topic has actually been raised in the passed few days.  As a free speech advocate, I'm feeling the need to weigh in on this.  I'm sure most people who support free speech in any way will answer the above question with a resounding "B'DOIIIIII!! YES IT IS!!!!" However, there are quite a few voices who are very adamantly declaring "OH NO IT'S NOT!!!" even insisting that it's somehow a free speech position to ban porn.  How does that compute?
I, of course, am firmly on the side of "yes it is a form of speech" and I will gladly explain my entire position...

Uh huh huh huh huh! You said 'position'. Heh heh heh! Yeah!

[ahem].... that is, I will give my opinion on the subject here.

Pornography itself (as recorded by humans anyway) goes all the way back to ancient Greece.  The images on those pots were depicting events of the day such as battles fought or whatever the kings were doing.  However, some of those images are quite erotic depictions of sexual acts that they may have indulged in at the time.  But it would be a waste of time (and a lot of unnecessary padding) to talk about the entire history of porn, simply because the debate going on right now is only concerned with porn as we know it today.  So I will only go back as far as I need to.
The porn we're most familiar with really started up around the hedonist trend that was happening in and around the late 60's and early 70's.  The hippie counter-culture brought in what they felt was a more open and non-repressed attitude towards sex as well as other pressing issues of society.  They wanted to put be provocative and show the world as it really is rather than some idealized bubble of it.  This affected the movie industry for sure since this flew right into the face of the code that the Hays Office had imposed on them back in 1934.  Hays gave everyone in Hollywood a strict list of things they could NOT put into any of their movies.  For years, the backlash to this had been a film genre called "film noir" which had put all those forbidden elements into their movies in such a covert way that it was virtually impossible for anyone to complain about them.  But, when the "summer of love" came around, the movement was a desire for those elements to be overtly used so as to show the true gritty nature of society.  This lead to break through movies like Midnight Cowboy, The Graduate, and Fritz the Cat to name a few.  It also lead to more gory violent fare such The Wild Bunch and pretty much every other movie Sam Peckinpah ever did.  He introduced a level of bloodshed in movies that has not been topped or matched.
The code didn't disappear at this time, it was just adjusted to work with this change.  This is where the rating system of General, Parental Guidance, Parental Accompaniment, Restricted and of course X Rated were put in place.  And yes, the aforementioned hedonist crowd wanted to make movies with content they like, so the XXX movie category was created.  The basic hedonist philosophy is the indulgence of self-pleasure.  So all of these XXX movies feature people doing just that, pursuing self-pleasure through sexual means.
The hedonist trend subsided somewhat over the years, but pornographic movies still continued to be made.  At this point, the XXX movies kind of flip-flopped their focus.  They started to more-so portray a fantasy.  Everyone in these movies seems to live a crazy fantasy world where sex happens all too easy and very very often.  Sex almost seems to be literal currency in that world at times.  It's basically aimed at people's basic id-like desires.  That's why a lot of them are set in rather mundane and domestic situations such as the classic pizza delivery scenario.  Sometimes a man thinks "Hey, that lady I just delivered pizza to is quite pretty.  What if....?" or a woman sometimes thinks "Hey, that guy who just delivered pizza is quite handsome. What if....?"  Of course, it's very dangerous to be giving your body to ever attractive stranger you meet in the real world.  Very few people (barring the hedonists) would argue against that.  It's to much different than the fantasy provided by movies such as Die Hard for example.  Most people who enjoy that movie and others like it do so because they're thinking "Man! If I was trapped in a building full of terrorists, that's what I'd like to do."  Hopefully none of the people thinking that will ever get the chance to test that theory because it could end badly for them.  But, in the time frame of watching that movie, it's fun to indulge in the fantasy of it all.
If someone were to ban Die Hard from all media, I think we would all consider that censorship of the most Orwellian level and fight against it.  So too must porn be protected under those same free expression laws.  You can't support one form of expression and try to ban another, Marge Simpson.

 Ok, I think we can all see how and why porn movies exist.  However, we still need to answer the question presented in this blog's title: Is it a form of speech?

Well, as I mentioned earlier, these films present a hedonist philosophy and philosophy is certainly a form of speech.  Therefore, this should absolutely close the case of pornography being a form of speech.
The truth is, every film, every book, every painting, pretty much every work of art created conveys a message of some sort whether the creator intended to convey one or not.  I've heard people griping about comic books with political messages in them and say "I just want something fun, like people fighting zombies."  Well, that fun comic of that zombie battle still has a message, that message being "escapism is fun".  When a 3 year old girl draws a cat, the message that drawing conveys is "I like cats".  Everything ever made has a message and is therefore considered speech.  There are no two ways around that.

However, some people are still not convinced.  Or, more accurately, there seems to be a movement of people dedicated to declassifying porn as a form of speech in order to justify attempting to ban it into oblivion.  The charge seems to be lead by, of all organizations, this one:

Yes, the GAB website.  This is the same website that first advertised itself as the "free speech alternative to Twitter".

They were so dedicated to upholding free speech online or otherwise that they objectively let some of the most vile people, even literal neo-nazis, start an account and post their views uninhibited.  I guess if they weren't making any overt threats of harm to anyone it was allowable.  They turn a blind eye to that, but somehow porn is a problem and should be declassified as speech and thus be suppressed and banned?  How did they arrive at that thinking?

Well that's just stupid.  That's like saying "I dare you to feed someone an apple and see if they come back with 'that was such a delicious orange'".  Of course if one shows a movie with a Restricted rating or higher in a public square where even the smallest child can see it, people will get uneasy.  However, GAB's proposed ban on pornography also extends to private showings where grown adults have to show valid ID and pay money in order to view such a thing.  That is absolute censorship and absolutely flies against free speech and free expression.

Some of the people who support this porn ban take it a little further.

Yikes!  But I'm sure Ron Jeremy has studied the art of "Cock Fu" so he could easily deal with such opponents with one HEYAAAAAW swing of his enormous erection.

Here's someone else that supports GAB's censorious crusade:

How can any of these people claim to be on the side of free speech while spouting so much of the drivel that many of the Cenor Monkeys would say???

Porn does not support traditional values. Ban it!

God hates porn, the Bible says! Ban it!
Porn demeans women! Ban it!
Porn affects the brain of all who watch it! Ban it!
Ban und annihilate porn und pornographers because ov what zose monkeys said! SIG HEIL!!!

At this point I'd like to bring up something that the late Peggy Charren once said.  She was an activist who started an organization that ruined television with too many regulations and a boatload of censorship.  I made a video about her some time ago.  You can check that out at this link for more info about her.
You notice that I attacked her organization as censorious but not her.  That's because her intent was not censorship at all, certainly not regulation of content.  She was just concerned about any block of children's programming becoming one long commercial bombarding the kids with images of toys and cereal.  She knew trying to "clean up" content for children was wrong and antithetical to a free society.
However, through her interactions with people in the television industry and those in her own organization, she made the following observation:

Left wing people tend to want to censor violent content while right wing people tend to want to censor sexual content.

We can certainly see evidence of that throughout history and especially today.  In recent years, we've seen very left leaning people try to equate words they don't like with literal violence in order to justify the banning of those words.  They claim "Oh no no no! It's not censorship because we're stopping violence actually."  It's a huge leap of illogic that makes no cognitive sense for sure, but that is the Orwellian double speak they are trying to push.  So, the obvious flip side of that authoritarian coin is this right wing attack on pornography, trying so bloody hard to convince everyone that it's "not speech" and is therefore subject to banning.

But I think there might be more to this demand for a porn ban.  Here's what another supporter of that ban had to say:

Whoa! Wait! What?  "...controlled by one group of people..."?  "It's a weapon"? What the what huh???  What could any of this possibly mean?

Ah! There it is.  GAB and their cronies consider porn to be a conspiracy concocted by Jews to undermine society somehow.

"What are you gonna do about it, whitey??!!  Just sit there?!!"

There's that big fat straw breaking my camel-esque back.  For real, Jewish people are not some monolith where they all think the same.  No group is.  Granted there are some sleazy people working in the the porn industry, but they consist of people from various walks of life and are of various races, religions, belief systems and genders.  To try to assign one type of toxic behaviour to one group is pretty much the dictionary definition of bigotry.

I'd like to also address the sleaze within the porn industry that these far right wing pundits use to also justify the banishment of porn.  They talk bout the heavy drug use that causes many performers to die much too young.  Yes, that is tragic.  However, for your consideration, I'd like to introduce you to one Bobby Driscoll.

He was the child star of the very family friendly live action Disney movie Treasure Island.  He was also the voice of Peter Pan for the Disney company around that same time.  Later in life, he was found dead of a heroine overdose in a back alley.  Take also into consideration the lives of Judy Garland and River Phoenix.  There's also Chris Farley, Dana Plato, Mabel Normand, and Carrie Fischer. These were all people who worked within the mainstream film/televison industry and who also got themselves into doing hard drugs which caused them to die younger than they could have or should have.  The entire film industry in general is full of toxic people that one needs to avoid in order to survive.  Just ask Cory Feldman.  To only single out the porn film industry as toxic is prejudicial and silly.  Either none of it's ok or it's all ok.

That last line leads me to my final and basic thought on the matter.  Any prohibition made against the porn industry would lead to the creation (or even recreation) of obscenity laws, the same kind of laws that got Lennie Bruce in trouble so many times.  Food for thought: if your stance on free speech and the basic expression of ideas would've gotten Lennie Bruce arrested, it's not a good stance. You need to check yourself to see just how in favour of freedom and democracy you really are.

Since this blog post's subject is about porn, I will end it with............. PORN!!!!!!

Ha ha! No, I gotcha! The parameters of this blog would have to be drastically changed if I actually embedded some porn on here.  What I will show, however, is some classic hip hip from Salt n Pepa singing about a similar subject.  Just like I did in this post, these ladies are laying it all out there regardless of whatever any censor monkeys might say and speaking frankly on a subject that needs to be talked about.  Enjoy!