Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Photography and Cupid's Pluck

The tallented photographer Tyson Vick took photos of my love and I. You can view more of Tyson Vick's photography at http://www.tysonvick.com/



Lovers on a Bridge


Deep Love


Taking a Walk


On an Outing


Miles of Smiles


Looking Towards the Future


S & T 2


Sayaka & Tristan

If you haven't already, be sure to check out Tyson Vick's photography website at: http://www.tysonvick.com/

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Lucky Boy


Lucky!

My love and my fiance came all the way from Japan on a suprise visit! We're starting on gettig wedding preparations going and planning for our future together. Can you believe I lucked out and found such a beautifu woman? I'm standing beside myself in awe every moment I'm with her. Sayaka, you're the first in my heart! Forever and always.

Monday, February 13, 2006

My Favorite Little Buddha

Japan is famous for having shrines and statues. There is an artistic sense in Japan which is entirely unique to their aesthetic sensibilities. On one of my many bike rides up main street in Kumamoto, I found this guy outside a stone sculpter's shop. He always greeted me as I passed by on my way to the book store, and soon enough, he became my favorite little Buddha. We're still good friends to this day.


My favorite little Buddha.

Naruto Fan

Here are some Naruto pictures I did. I'm such a huge fan of Naruto and One Piece, that I thought it was time to post some of my own fan art. Both drawings took about two hours to do.


Naruto

I still have some clean up and minor tweaking to do. This second drawing has many errors that I want to fix. When I get the time I'll go back and make the corrections. Until then, enjoy my sketches!


Naruto 2

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Girls and a Fish!

I was just messing around with my doodles. It's not really meant to be anything, but its got girls! And a fish.


Girls and a Fish

Pika!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Creating A Graphic Novel


Copyrighted ©2006. An Inked Pin-Up commissioned by Loston Wallace


This is my own guide, or tutorial, on getting a comic book made. It will also serve as a journal so that people may view a work in progress to its completed and published stage. All characters, stories, and art are Copyrighted and have paid copyrights owned by me.

Once you have have your brilliant idea, then things can get rolling. I came up with character ideas one day while sitting in Washington Square park sketching doodles in my sketchbook. I was finishing my sophomore year of college and had to make a tough descision. Do I quit drawing to focus on writing, or quit writing to focus on drawing? Knowing I couldn't do both, I did the only sensible thing a person could do: I moved to Japan.

Okay, maybe that was a bit drastic, but trucking back from the Big Apple to my home in Montana, I went back to the grind of University life. My background is in writing, and between school, writing for various newspapers, writing for fun, and reading every book I could get my hands on about freelance writing and writing for comics, I decided to get my stuff out there. After writing constnat pitches and sample stories to show of my writing skills to editors and publishers, I researched guidelines like a fiend and made sure everything was to par. You don't want to look like a slob when pitching to the big wigs.

Once I finalized my propasals and scripts so they were professional on every level, I sent them to Editors, friends, and anybody who'd read them. I was told the same thing... don't let everyone know what you're working on or they'll steal your idea and nobody will sponsor or publish you. Submissions editors kept telling me they couldn't look at my stuff without art attached (they obviously have no imaginations and know no artists what so ever), and artists wouldn't look at my stuff without money or the gaurantee of being published. My dreams of being a comic book writer were crushed. My greatest ideas, potentially worthless, out there to be stolen, and no matter how much genius I may have nobody cared because nobody would read anything I wrote. Even as a published magazine and newspapre journalist, there were those who doubted my worth.


Thumb 2 Copyrighted ©2006

Step one: To safe guard myself, my work, and my ideas, I quickly snatched up paid copyrights on my characters, stories, and frantically started networking online to find an artist right for the job. Conventions work best for networking, but I was broke, a full time student, barely able to make rent. Internet was my only option.

Step two: Create the art. Nothing ever created will ever be seen by anyone. Get it made, and get it out there!

Step three: Network like crazy. 20 years ago this wasn't necessary, but as the comic book industry is today, you have to know somebody who knows somebody. Breaking in isn't just about being nice, being tallented, and making the deadlines.

Step four: Mind your manners, be polite, always be excited about your art and ideas, and sell yourself like crazy! Because if you don't believe in yourself, nobody else will. Your enthusiasm will spread, and eventually people will take the time to listen to your ideas, or look at your art. If they say no thanks, don't get discouraged, just learn from the experiance and move forward.

Step five: Find the right guy for the job. Knowing that I was too busy with school, moving to Japan, and learning a foriegn language, meeting the girl of my dreams, etc., I barely had time to keep writing. But I made it a habbit, and at the same time I was surfing the forumns looking for the man pefect for the job. I knew he was out there, and I wouldn't stop until I found him. I did. There was just one catch, he lived in Germany, and I was an American living in Japan. No problem! That's why God said: Let there be Internet!


Thumb 4 Copyrighted ©2006


Step six: Never give up! The moment you quit is the moment you've let yourself down. Even though it took me two years of networking, talking, and making aquaintances, I finally found the artist right for the job. I couldn't pay him, so it came down to two things. 1) Have an excellent product and pitch which will convince the person to take that leap of faith and become your artistic partner. 2) Focus all your energy on that person and let them know they're appreciated. It's an artistic collaboration, and it's more than just an art team, it's a friendship. Let them know they're important.


Copyrighted ©2006. Pin-Up by Loston Wallace/ colored by Sean E.

After showing my writing samples, and discussing the project thoroughly with a the tallented Sedat, he liked the concept and agreed to jump on board as my artistic partner. Now we're close friends, and we dig each others work.

Step seven: Collaborating and getting in tune to each other's schedules, needs, demands, etc. is vital in a partnership. I prefer writing in full script form; page number, panel descriptions, and full dialogue and sound effects written down. Once I had finished cleaning up my scripts I sent them off to Sedat. He read them and was blown away. At this time I wasn't sure he was going to commit, but his responce was overwhelming. After a few weeks he started drawing thumbnails from my scripts. As you can see in the samples posted here, thumbnails are small rough sketches of the page layout. Since Sedat lives in Germany, we have to communicate often to make sure we're on the same page. Thumbnails also help us and act as a guideline to make sure that we understand what the other is thinking before Sedat draws the final pages.


Design sketch Copyrighted ©2006

Probably the most important thing I have learned is stay patient and never give up! Sedat is a student, I was jumping around from country to country, fell in love and met my fiance, and graduated all at the same time I was trying to woo Sedat. Now he's drawing the story I have written far better than I could have ever imagined, and I know that we'll be sucsesful. Why? Because we've worked together, worked hard, and haven't given up. As we make progress on the book, I'll keep you posted.

The title for the book is "THE SCARECROW & LADY KINGSTON" Copyrighted ©2006. It's a comedic satire that looks at life through the eyes of two L.A.P.D detectives. Julie Kingston is cynical and has a bad habbit of shooting bullets and spouting social commentary, while her partner is a care free supernatural oddity: he's a live walking talking breathing scarecrow! (Copyrighted ©2006)

Pika!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

TOP 10 MUST SEE JAPANESE FILMS!

Knowing my history, my education, and my crazed fanaticism of manga and anime, not to mention films, my friends are often curious what I think the best of the best is, when it comes to Japanese cinema.

Of course, I would love to ramble on and on about this or that Anime, or the cultural significance of manga, and even about Japan itself, but the truth is there is more to Japanese culture than just cartoons. When asked what I would recommend as must see cinema, I had to narrow it down quite substantially a vast and eclectic list of films and decide on the top ten. This is my list of the top ten must see Japanese films. Share this with whomever you feel would be interested!

1) Spirited Away

-I pick this, because Miyazaki is THE filmmaker that will be talked about, even long after Akira Kurosawa is but a fleeting memory. Also, in terms of story tellers in cinema, East or West, he is flat out the best. He captures such a rich pallet of imagination and wonder, that his films are magical, even to the point of being almost spiritual. Spirited Away is at the top of his uplifting imaginative stories. It also has the most references to Japanese customs, culture, and historicity, making it single handedly the MUST see film from Japan.

2) Rashomon

-Those who study film have to watch Akira Kur0sawa films. Granted, anyone of his films would be a great adventure for newcomers, film buffs, or Samurai fans... this is one of my favorites. Where there is Japan and cinema, there is Akira Kurosawa.

One of the very first films to do a 4-way story. A tale told by four different people, about a murder. Such a brilliant script, I was blown away by the originality of this film. I can't recommend it enough.

3) The Afterlife

-The original Japanese title is "Wonderful Life," but since there was already that name being used it was changed to afterlife. What I like best about it is its originality, experimental and bold, but also it has a wonderful message about life. The premise is, when you die, what ONE memory would you take with you from life... if you could only have just one? Directed by Hirokazu Koreda.

4) Kamikaze Girls

-Originally entitled "Shimotsuma Monogatari" this film came up through the ranks of Japan's eclectic theatrical releases and made a name for itself. It went on to sweep the Tokyo Film Awards, in which Kyoko Fukada won best actress for a Japanese film. Kamikaze girls represents an adventure story about the most unlikely of friendships, all the while depicting contemporary Japan along with all of its quirks and fetishes. It's a smart film, often times borderline satirical, yet one hundred percent intelligent and entertaining. Directed by Tetsuya Nakashima. Based off of the best selling book by Novala Takemoto.

An entire study on Japanese popular culture, fashion trends, school structures, gang & yakuza crime, animation, self worth, longing for identity in a homogenous culture which seeks to be similar, language, customs and traditions can all be discussed in relation to this film. Unlike most Japanese cinema, this film captures a broader "feel" of Japan today than any other film I've ever seen. And believe me; I've seen a lot of films.

5) Ringu (Japanese); The Ring (American)

-Yes, it is a scary movie. Yet this is the first film in a series of endless remakes of Japanese films flooding the West. It is interesting to view how Japanese cinema has reinvigorated Hollywood's imagination, not to mention our own. Specifically, it is nice to see such a wonderful remake as seen in the American version -something that respects the original source. The American version of the film was so well done, and if you ask me, a heck of a lot scarier, but when it comes to entertainment, one of the questions should be, why does this particular story above all others suck us in and frighten us more than anything we have in our western culture? With a deeper study of both films, I think the answers will be evident that it is the cultural portrayal of supernatural which is real that scares us. The fantasy is just added entertainment value.

An entire study on East vs. West cinema can be made among the two films techniques, acting, and execution. Both films are important in studying the "psychological" barrier we have to break down in order to allow ourselves to feel scared and let the fantasy sway us. Why don't slasher films like Freddy Kruger and Jason scare us any more? Why do movies like Final Destination only make us laugh? Why do we flock to Japanese horror films? Why? Because they're damn scary... but it's the escapism that's the rush. The real study comes in figuring out why Japanese cinema has figured out how to frighten the entire world. They're not just ghost stories, they are INTELLIGENT ghost stories. And the Ring film is the best of them.
Alfred Hitchcock may have been the master of suspense, but the creators of the ring have become the masters of psychological suspense and terror.

6) Shall We Dance?

-Much like the Ring films, Shall We Dance is another Japanese film that was remade into an American version. The only thing is, even though the American film is an excellently crafted work of cinema, it loses it profound cultural significance. This is another one which could be viewed along with its American counter part, but more importantly, the Japanese edition is a must see film. It has historical relevance, cultural relevance, and social relevance when it comes to social interaction in Japan. Why was the concept of ballroom dancing so controversial for the Japanese? Another question is, why would it be for a salary man? Lots of social commentary can be found in this movie, and throughout, you learn to laugh along with the eccentric cast of characters as we learn what along with them things that are really important in life.

7) Gion no Shimai

-Available on VHS in America. If you want a real great film, find a copy of "Sister's of Gion." This is a 1936 film depicting the most accurate portrayal of post Meiji Geisha’s.

IMDB.COM's plot summery is as such: Umekichi, a geisha in the Gion district of Kyoto, feels obliged to help her lover Furusawa when he asks to stay with her after becoming bankrupt and leaving his wife. However her younger sister Omocha tells her she is wasting her time and money on a loser. She thinks that they should both find wealthy patrons to support them. Omocha therefore tries various schemes to get rid of Furusawa, and set themselves up with better patrons.

Considered to be one of the best pre-war films by the acclaimed Japanese director Kenji Mizoguchi.

8) The Place Promised In Our Early Days

-Coming back to Anime momentarily, The Place Promised In Our Early Days captures something innately Japanese. In what Rodger Ebert calls a "pillow shot," or that pristine moment of contemplation lacking in western cinema where we glimpse a landscape, pause, and the only focus is the train crossing off in the distance, this Anime captures these in almost every scene -as the original title of Kumo no Mukô, Yakusoku no Basho eludes to. The film is a science fiction made by Makoto Shinkai, the same guy who single handedly created, animated, and directed Voices of a Distant Star.

The film runs like a poem, and captures the feeling of growing up, falling in love, losing a loved one, and wondering if there is more in life than just walking through the motions. When an alternate reality forces our character's to awaken from a corrupted worldly logic, we have a neat story which shows that the human connection and genuine love can overcome any adversity. The film is melancholy in its tone, but entirely bitter sweet in its execution. Above all of this, it is one of the most beautifully animated and wonderfully orchestrated pieces ever made.

There are a slew of other Kurosawa films one could choose, such as RAN, hailed as his masterpiece. There are many more notable samurai flicks also, such as Oni-Baba directed by Kaneto Shindo. I really am disgusted when somebody chooses a bad 'Yakuza' film or gangster film just because it has dark and gritty noir like appeal. Although there are some good gangster films.


Of course, there are many significant anime films. Other amazing and culturally significant pieces like Shoji Kawamori’s Spring and Chaos (No. 9). It’s an animated biography of Kenji Miyazawa, one of Japan’s most beloved modernist poets.

Ghost in the Shell and Akira (Both at number 10) are among the most talked about; mostly because they’ve been in the spotlight the longest. "Hello Kitty" and “Pokemon” could be a case study in cross marketing techniques alone. “Mobile Suit Gundam” and the entire “Gundam” universe could be compared with our own “Star Wars” fetish. I didn't put Isao Takahata's sorrow felt war film Grave of the Fireflies on the list, although in retrospect, I probably should have.

There are lots of directions to go in discussion of animation from Japan. Also because of their quality and originality, film fanatics like me can talk about their technical innovations as well. Currently there is such a massive onslaught of the medium that it’s easy to lose track of what quality Anime is.