December 29, 2007

I Hate Tim Burton, and So Can You!

/begin rant

Thats right, in just a few simple minutes, you too can hate Tim Burton! "But no, " you might say. "Tim Burton is an eccentric, grimly humorous genius who's taken black and white stripes to the heights of cinematic excellence!". Well, as "Nightmare Before Christmas" and "Beetlejuice" are high on my list of favorite films, I used to think that as well. And then I saw "Sweeney Todd" and after fifteen minutes I hated Tim Burton. Granted, Burton's been making some klunkers, but they never really offended me too deeply. "Sleepy Hollow" was vaguely amusing but nothing special, "Corpse Bride" was a visual delight but defeated itself in its own storytelling, and the completely unwarranted remakes of "Planet of the Apes" and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" just confused me. But Sweeney...oh..... *SWEENEY*. This is personal.

Musicals are like playing Russian Roulette with entertainment. They can be the joyful and wonderful and top-tappingly brilliant, but if you're unlucky in the spin, they will make you want to blow your brains out. Most modern-day musicals make me want to blow my brains out. But "Sweeney Todd" was an shining exception. I was mildly obsessed with it in the few weeks after I discovered it- listening to the CD over and over. I fantasized that someday I would make an animated version of it. It is, at its core, a comedy. But it is a dark, twisted, grotesque comedy. The conceit of a barber murdering his customers and then baking them into pies is ludicrous and horrible..and funny! ...And horrible. But still funny! Slap some hauntingly lovely and devilishly funny songs on top and ya got "Sweeney Todd".

Now imagine all the humor sucked out of it. Then stick in some Tim Burton pets like, oh...say... Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter who apparently have never *seen* a musical let alone perform one. Make sure they don't show any emotions other than consternation or boredom. Don't time any action or edits to the rhythm of the music. Make sure Carter's inflate-a-boob cleavage is in every shot. Add some absurdly gorey blood spatter. Oh, and black and white stripes. Gotta have the stripes. After you mish-mash all this together, you're left with a boring, dreary, predictable, dischordant, heartless waste of two hours and ten dollars. The story of Sweeney Todd is wickedly entertaining, but if this movie is your introduction to it, it'll leave a worse taste in your mouth than Mrs. Lovett's meat pies.

I urge you and everyone on your street to rent the filmed stage production of "Sweeney Todd" with Angela Lansbury. Without the use of elaborate sets or scenery or digital fudgery, that filmed stage play has ten times the believability and skin-crawling fun than this insulting film. The performances are powerful, and Lansbury is so delightful you almost forgive her cannibalism. Rent it if only to compare the "Have A Little Priest" number. In the musical, this song is exuberant and riotously funny. In the movie, Depp and Carter successfully dodge every emotional cue and garble their enunciation so that only the audience members who happen to have memorized the libretto could understand the lyrics. RAWR! I'm mad.

/end rant...until I see another Gawful movie.

December 23, 2007

Happy Holidays!

My traditional last-minute holiday card! Enjoy!
Also, I'm working on a really fun project for a friend right now, so thats why I haven't been updating every twenty seconds like I normally do. The project is looking pretty good, and I can't wait to share it! It will be done in early January, so stay tuned.

December 14, 2007

Daily Doodle

December 12, 2007


Just adding a couple doodles. I think its an admirable exercise to daily post one's best drawing from the day- even if said drawings are stinky. Keeps one motivated, you know. ...Scone?

December 08, 2007

"The Golden Compass"

I lust after dark, adult fairy tales. I've devoured all the original Grimms' fairy tales. I reveled in every second of "Pan's Labyrinth"... And "His Dark Materials" is one of those works that seems to have been written just for me. The first time I read them, I was shocked that this stuff was marketed as children's books. How did these stories of abstraction, violence, and thinly-veiled sexuality get published as children's books? No doubt "His Dark Materials" is a thrilling and challenging story, but calling it a "children's series" seems inappropriate. Not that I mean that children should be kept from reading it- thats nonsense. But these books are no more "kid lit" than "Ender's Game" is "kid lit". They're not "for children"; they for anybody with a love of fantasy and an inquiring mind. Or... they were written just for me. Yeah...thats probably it.

With that said, I went into the movie with the highest of hopes. And I'm very pleased to report that I was not disappointed. The casting is flawless. The girl playing Lyra isn't just some absurdly-pretty little girl like in "Bridge to Tarabithia". The movie Lyra exudes defiance, independence, and curiosity- just the way she should. Mrs. Coulter isn't missing an ounce if deadly glamour. And Daniel Craig adds a touch of much-needed warmth to the character of Lord Asriel. All of the daemons are simply thrilling to watch. Pan's morphs are seamless (his feild mouse is my favorite form) and the golden monkey holds the balance of beauty and hideousness- just how he's described in the books. And the power of Ian MacKellan's voice as Iurik is astounding- is he really in his eighties??

The screenplay is adapted quite well, although some of the most emotionally impactful parts of the books were muffled or left out. I don't think the movie makes clear how painful and deadly it is to be separated from your daemon, and how repulsive and horrifying it is to see someone without a daemon. The book says its like seeing someone without a head. In the movie, Ma Costa should have been appalled when she saw her poor, mutilated son. She certainly should have held him as she did in the film, but only after mastering her shock. But maybe scenes like that would have a PG-13 consequence. As for all the religious themes, its sadly toned down for the movie, but there are a few choice lines that made me grin. Apart from a few jump cuts worthy of "Order of The Phoenix" and a lot of redundant exposition (not one mention of the word "alethiometer" went by without a qualifying "aka: the golden compass")- this movie left such an impact on me I had to ramble on about it a bit. I didn't even hate "Beowulf" enough to write about it, and boy, I HATED Beowulf.

All in all, go see "The Golden Compass"!

December 04, 2007

Karen Taylor Designs

Not exactly portfolio quality execution, but I wanted to organize the Karen Taylor stuff as best as I could for now.

December 01, 2007

New Website!

As you can probably see from the look of my blog, something's different'!  I've been unhappy with my website for a few years now, revamping the look and the structure every six months or so, seething with envy at sites I admired, struggling with IE to show transparent PNGs, ...but thats all over now.  Something clicked- and 48 hours glued to the computer got me a pretty new website!  Its very pink, and very girlie, but I'm at peace with that.  I'm very happy with the new look for once, so if you don't like it, please keep it to yourself for at least a few days.  Good night everybody!

Website Overhaul

I am in the process of changing my host, and its a real pain in the butt. So if my site is down for a few hours/days/eons, I apologize!

November 28, 2007

Cleaning House

Man, I really had a pile of old drawings from old commissions I never got around to posting. And thats saying something, because I tend to post every damn thing I do. Here at last are samples from my days designing avatars at Halcyon Worlds:

Here's an old band logo commission, and they actually paid me!

And here are ideas for commission to design a cute cat tattoo, for which I will probably never get paid:

I'm still working on consolidating all my Karen Taylor stuff. Back atcha soon!

November 27, 2007


One of the last things I worked on while still employed full-time at Primal Screen was a pitch for a General Mills job. Actually, it was a pitch for two executives who pitched to Saatchi & Saatchi who then pitched to General Mills, but there was a job at the end of that corporate rainbow. The idea was "Trix In Space!" and I was just itching to animate the Trix Rabbit again. To make a long and boring story short, we didn't get the job, and thats a wound that still smarts. I keep wondering..."if only my designs were snappier!" ...but What Ifs, Perhapses, and Quizases can only take you so far. And besidees, I kinda like of the drawings I submitted. The execs eventually asked for a "Kim Possible" look, which is cool, but I wished I could have explored the other ideas too. I've compiled my favorites here:

November 19, 2007

At Long Last...

I've been dallying long enough. I'm through with excuses. Yesterday I said "I want a new demo reel and by George I shall have it!" But George was busy, so I ended up making it myself.

It is embarrassing that my college demo reel had been left on my website to mold all this time, so I hope this demo reel is at least slightly less embarrassing.

November 16, 2007

Some More Doodles

I'm trying to focus on making new pages for my portfolio, but it hurts my thinking muscles. Sometimes doodling helps to relax...

November 12, 2007

Zoran's Low Carb Comedy

A few months ago, my friend Zoran Gvojic asked me to create a simple puppy animation for one of his short films. I was just now posting the puppy when I got to impulse to watch his films again, and. they. rock. If you want humor that is really wrong (but oh so right!) you need to stop by . (FYI: For the best place to start, I recommend one of his student films called "A Trip To The Movies.")

November 06, 2007

Outside My Comfort Zone

In truth, I'm not really "comfortable" drawing anything, but I'm even less comfortable when I take the things I drew in discomfort and uncomfortably add colors using markers and comfort penci- er, COLORED pencils. A lot of my hesitation stems from my fear of ruining a perfectly good, blank sketchbook with terrible drawings. But I arrived at a solution! You know those cardboard inserts that come in stacks of animation bond? I collected them for about a year, and when I had enough, I bound them together and made it into a sketchbook. Its a very crappy sketchbook, but thats the whole point. I don't have to be afraid of ruining it, because its already crappy! And any crappy uncomfortable drawing I put in it can only make the sketchbook more interesting. I feel free to experiment now, and I'm getting really comfortable with this uncomfortable book.

I highly recommend the mental band-aid for anyone who has a neurosis similar to mine.

November 04, 2007

Bloggin' Fever

So I just signed up with an awesome social network called Frederator Raw...and it finally happened. The network is so friggendy awesome that I decided to get a a real blog. Well, this still isn't the kind of blog you write home about (although that would be kinda weird) but at least now I have real archiving, real comment-leaving capabilities, and a real RSS feed (I think I do at least..I'm still not quite hep to the technojive.) No more manually copying and pasting old news entries, no more fretting about the length of my entries not fitting in the constraints of my page! I am free! FREEEEEE!

I am really pumped to get my act together now. Stay tuned for massive sketchpad update!


Now I've noticed that I had forgotten to include my most stunning, brilliant, sublimely poetic animation on my Animation page! Where is my mind these days??

I'm A Winner!... I Guess?

Yep, I am a winner! As part of my Get-My-Art-Awesome-So-I-Can-Get-A-Job Unemployment Rehab Program, I entered the monthly animation contest at I did this because I need some meatier animation peices for my demo reel if I ever hope to get noticed by people who will pay me to draw. You can view the finished peice here- its not the best, but its a start. So I posted the peice on the Strut forums, and lo! Come November 1st, I am a winner! But...I was also the only entry. Could it be that my entry was so freakin' rad that all the other entries just slunk away in head-hanging shame? Actually, this experience reminded me of when I was a kid competing in rhythmic gymnastics, way back in the day. At that time, rhythmic gymnasts were divided into eight skills levels, and of those skill levels, they had three age groups Child, Junior, and Senior. But since rhythmic isn't really the most beloved sport in America, there never have been many girls to compete against at any given time. So for the better part of my competitive career, I was the only Child in my level, and I always won the blue ribbons by default. It wasn't exactly a bad feeling, but it wasn't exactly a good feeling either. Kind of like getting the perfect attendance award at school. Its an award for just showing up. It doesn't take talent or skill to Just Show Up, so being honored for it always made me feel empty and self-conscious. But now I see it differently. I am now celebrating my latest "Hey! You Showed Up!" Award. I have a groovy icon on the main page of Strut, I'm energized to keep drawing and animating, and I think I might bake some cookies. Because even if "showing up" isn't exactly an honorable talent or marketable career, its the first step in trying to get somewhere. Cheers!