Bash The Ashes, Crush the Dust

I am, admittedly, not conquering the music for Meridian Knights in any particular order. This is actually some late game music.
Like a few other Meridian Knights pieces, it’s actually an older piece of music I wrote as practice and updated; I did an exercise some many years ago where I took 10 elements and wrote potential stage music for them as a song writing exercise. It was fun.
This one was the “dark” piece. As there’s no dark stage in this game (as such), this seemed to fit.

Nexus Character Design

Nexus, a central character in Sartris’s comic. He is the headmaster of an adventurer’s school and recruits Sartris personally, and plans on watching Sartris’s career with great interest.

I put a good deal of thought into the texture here. I wanted Nexus’s outfit especially to convey his position, luxury, and a hint of greed. A school, but for profit?

Politics aside, that’s greedy, and greed isn’t a positive trait.

Cartoons That Have Influenced Me: The Ren & Stimpy Show

Yes, I know, you could really see this once from space, if you weren’t too distracted by a mad chihuahua screaming about his ice cream bar from the bathtub.

Ah, Ren and Stimpy. The timing on this coming out was especially convenient, I believe I was 11 or 12, and my solidification of loving cartoon art was just starting to congeal. I was already well obsessed with things like Looney Tunes – particulary older Looney Tunes – and then one Sunday morning this show hit my TV. Here was something brand new; yet looked so much like these cartoon I loved. I was immediately drawn to the throwbacks to 40s Warner Bros animation, which were immediately apparent even to me at that age.

I think what really drew me in were a few solid things, though:

1. The artwork, yes. Especially during season 2, the artwork was fantastic. The animation was superb. But the still closeups, which quickly became a trope in other cartoons, were amazingly detailed. And at my age, it certainly helped these were things like balls of lint and Magic Nose Goblins.

2. The totally bizarre imagery. Did I mention I love surreal things? I’m pretty sure I have, repeatedly. And this show had plenty of it — and I’m not just talking about the randomness of things like “Black Hole”. The abstract, ever changing backgrounds that suited the mood of the show, the intentionally ignoring models, and living farts. All of it was strangely appealing – the illustrations, the animation, it was great to watch. During season 2, the art in particular hit a zenith – Sven Hoek and Son of Stimpy had some amazing imagery in them.

3. The drama. Bear with me, here, but let’s face it: At it’s core, The Ren and Stimpy Show was a psycho drama in its first two seasons (and honestly, these are the episodes that count). While yes, not every episode fills this bill, many did – Stimpy’s Invention, sure; but Sven Hoek, The Lost Episode Man’s Best Friend, In The Army, and even A Visit To Anthony certainly all qualify. (And let’s not forget about Season One’s Space Madness – but I could sure list more). I realize this is me, but psycho dramas are particularly appealing and engaging. Maybe it’s because I toe the line with sanity so closely myself?

I won’t really get into the whole Adult Party Cartoon or even the Games Animation episodes, and it’s too bad John K. was fired at the height of his run. I think seeing more episodes he could have come up with under the original paradigm would have been a gift. And what was done has clearly and indelibly influenced my style. During middle and high school I drew dozens upon dozens of Ren and Stimpy comics – they’re all long gone by now, but, if I recall correctly, they involved things like Stimpy joining a cult, Ren fleeing to the moon, the two battling Martians (this comic did directly influence the martians in Damn It, Monkey!), and probably has stained countless other things I’ve done.

Paige Character Design

Illustration of Paige, Satris's childhood friend.Sometimes I obsess over things needlessly. Tiny, minute details that really shouldn’t matter too much and if enough of them pile up, I call the whole thing a scrap and start over, even if the overall image is up to my standards otherwise. Granted, I often post things done in a haphazard way, but Paige wasn’t one of those times.

A good deal of thought went into something that turned out so simple; but simple is key for the designs, as I’m going to be drawing these characters over, and over, and over again eventually. I started out thinking what Paige is — not just Sartris’s childhood friend, but a confident kid who’s used to being outdoors, incredibly curious and generally someone positive, free willed, and brings out the positive in Sartris one way or another. Starting with this base, I wanted a warm outfit, and lined it with fur to make it at least somewhat interesting. I toyed a little with an even more slavic design than this turned out originally, with a more Polish peasant clothing, but as a child I figured this was far more appropriate. Besides, I’ve probably overplayed the Slavic thing with Meridian Knights anyways.

That being said, getting the glasses, hair and especially braids was a huge challenge to get the way I wanted. And this is why I obsessed a lot on this, to get those looking right. Once I drew the braids, too, I knew some slavic influence would undoubtedly come in and you’ll see more of that as I draw her older versions.

As a side note to this, I split the Sartris images off into their own gallery in the menu.

Cartoons That Have Influenced Me: Animaniacs

So, basically immediately after I posted my last blog about what’s influenced me, it was announced Animaniacs was making a return to Hulu.

I watched a metric ton of this show when I was in middle and high school. Reluctant to really get into it at first, my cousin helped get me into this early in the show’s run one Thanksgiving day. It took me a few episodes to really “click” on what was going on, but I realized this was as close to a good, modern day revival of the Looney Tunes format we were going to get.

While that may not exactly sound like glowing praise, allow me to explain — I don’t like things that purely emulate or revive something. Animaniacs stood very, very well on its own and still paid homage to classic Warner Bros animation, without focusing on too much. And it did this much better than Tiny Toons; while Tiny Toons was decent, it was still derivative. Animaniacs paved a lot of new territory, its characters were all new territory. The shows concept, while thin, held together (lost, classic cartoon characters escape confinement, hijinks ensue).

I like large ensemble casts when done well. (There are several examples of this: Looney Tunes/ Merry Melodies, Bloom County, to name a couple), but it’s important that each character stand well on its own. There can be exceptions to this; Mr. Skullhead isn’t exactly a well developed character, but the gags always work. (And yes, my favorite character is by far Wakko, so much so, I spent years honing my impression of him. I’m a blast at parties.)

Razzle is one character who undoubtedly was influenced by this cartoon. Her design is very much akin to the Warner Bros – far more than I intended, to be quite frank. The original notion of the set up with Razzle was to be more akin to 20s/30s animation; but let’s face it; so were Yakko, Wakko and Dot.

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone on liking Animaniacs — if I was, it certainly wouldn’t be rebooted. I could probably talk ad nauseum about the show (I didn’t even touch the music on the show, which is amazing to say the least), but it wouldn’t be anything that wasn’t already covered anyway by so many other people. Warner Bros. (and the Warner Sister) animation is fairly influential on what I’ve done, and let’s face it – this is a golden, modern example of that, and I’m glad it’s coming back.