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Archive for August, 2010

 

Review: Wings of Desire

Wings of Desire

Directed by Wim Wenders.
Starring Bruno Ganz, Solveig Dommartin, Otto Sander, Curt Bois and Peter Falk.

Angels are a tricky thing in movies. Anything supernatural is, really. But where I can run with demons and devils as just fun monsters to toss into a story, when you start talking about an afterlife that’s pretty much the same as the one we’re living now, except with wings and all the sucky shit taken out, it’s just a bit more than I can take.

So it takes a special sort of movie to get me past that hurdle: It’s a Wonderful Life works, for intance, because of Jimmy Stewart and Frank Capra’s irresistible humanity. In a way, it’s the same kind of thing that made Wings of Desire work for me, too. On its face, it’s the story of an angel, Damiel (Bruno Ganz), who has become frustrated with the unending task of invisibly chronicling the lives of us humans on Earth — specifically 1980′s West Berlin. (Chronicling for whom and why are never really mentioned, and they’re irrelevant.) But like all great stories, it’s about a lot more than just its plot.

The film is shot beautifully in black and white, punctuated by moments of almost fluorescent color representing the humans’ perspective. (A conceit  borrowed from Powell and Pressburgers’s 1946 film, A Matter of Life and Death.) The first hour of the film moved along rather ponderously. It’s at once dizzying and appropriately dull as it depicts Damiel’s job as an angel, pausing occasionally for a conversation with his fellow angel Cassiel (Otto Sander, whose face is utterly fascinating).

Damiel falls for a trapeze artist named Marion (Solveig Dommamartin) and decides he wants to create his own “story,” one way or another. Shortly after the half-way point, Damiel and Peter Falk (playing himself, in town to film a movie), share a pivotal moment, and in that one hilariously brilliant twist, and the film catapults into motion, racing towards its inevitable, sweet conclusion.

Wings of Desire is available from the Criterion Collection on DVD and Blu-Ray — and, you can stream it through Netflix.

Enter Szajda

A few incredibly generous Kickstarter backers got a full-page comic as one of their rewards, penciled and inked by myself, based on a theme of their suggestion. A couple of them have asked that their comics not be shared publicly (or not online, at least), but here’s one I can share with you. James Szajda asked to be featured visiting the Multiplex 10 and have the female staff fawn over him. I posted the pencils on the Kickstarter Updates page on Sunday (sorry, it’s for backers only), and here is the inked page.

I’ve been playing around with a semi-digital workflow on hand-drawn pages recently, where I pencil the comic digitally in Manga Studio Debut, then print it out to ink it traditionally. I use a mix of brush, crow quill and markers, but mostly brush.

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“You always did ask too many God damn questions…”

I don’t really know what this is, but that’s the line of cliché-ass dialogue that was running through my head the whole time.

Portrait of a Webcartoonist as a Young Man

This is what at least 50% of all webcartoonists look like 15 minutes after posting a new comic.

The rest of them look like women.