October 17, 2009

A is for Antidisestablishmentarianism!

For full-sized original pictures, see explanation section at end of rant, wait, we mean, article... no, wait, rant is pretty accurate.

uring my research for this exercise in alliteration (illiteration?), I think I have come upon a very important discovery that could potentially benefit all of mankind. Or not. But that’s how these things go since it’s pretty open field in terms of looking to help EVERYONE.

In fact, I am so convinced of my serendipitous serendipity, I feel that there is no longer a need to continue with the
potential black-hole-which-can’t-be-good-for-the-Earth forming experiments in the area of Geneva at the CERN facility, even if they do manage to get all the Al Qaida operatives cleared out in the coming months (Editorial Aside: seriously, folks, it’s essentially an 17-mile round atom bomb boom-generator, couldn’t we have run or even thought of background checks prior to ‘firing that baby up’? I mean, we run background checks on people that drive school buses but not those that could destroy the world with the push of a button?). Nor is there really any need for disagreements that ultimately result in war, religious intolerance or even most importantly of all, the on-going debate on public health care, despite the fact that the fascists are wrong (hee hee, now let’s watch the fun while everyone tries to figure out which side I mean).

No, instead I have come upon the ONE thing that all cultures, peoples, and all the other bits that make us unique as a uniquely self-destructive species can agree on. The ONE unifying force in the Universe if you will!

Of course, by now you’ve no doubt guessed what I’m talking about and you’re right: it’s zombies. Yes, indeed I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that could only be found in a poorly lit room that what the world needs now are zombies in order that the family of man can finally sit together at the Family Reunion Table of Great Celestial Oneness (trademark protection pending). For there certainly can not be any stronger nor better forum in which to find common ground than our fascination and/or fear with these brain-eating, reanimated herky-jerky lungers from the grave.

eriously, do an Internet search on zombies, you’ll find everything, and I do mean nudge nudge THAT, too. I’d wait for you to complete your surfing but in this case I know for a fact that your search engine would literally be blocked for a few hours. What you might find, however, is that there are no cultures no where no how that do not seem to have something in their CURRENT practices or even daily business dealing with zombies (not necessarily with the best intentions in mind, but still). I was amazed at all that I managed to find and learned, albeit not exactly in the more zebra inclined population as I’ve illustrated here.

And why do I think this is indeed a GOOD thing that we as the Un-un-dead can use to our advantage?. Think of it through the philosophies and teachings of what many believe are the two most prevalent aspects that define us all as humans: our religious inclinations and then, of course, what we absorb from our Hollywood Overlords (kneel before your Masters, ye downtrodden ticket buyers, until your knees become stuck in the great sacrifice that is buttered popcorn on the floor of our temples). Hm, come to think of it, let’s reverse that real quick.

Religions – despite all the hotly contested ‘my God/gods/shiny trinkets are better than your false idols/stars and/or Oprah’ discussions out there, you have to admit that there is one pretty consistent premise. If I could borrow then from the on-line available best-seller “Religion and Man: A D.I.Y. Guide”, religion can or perhaps even SHOULD be summarized as follows:

1: Paying the proper respect – also known as a healthy dose of fear in many circles – to said higher being / power is a GOOD thing, good being a descriptive to entail how your life MIGHT run in this plain of existence, but also DEFINITELY then beyond, with no creepy half worm-eaten caveats included. And if even if you are one who considers their leanings to be more in the non-belief directions, you have a admit that a quietly held tiny amount of fear and/or respect can’t hurt in terms of covering all the different options;

2: On the other hand, being or acting evil we can all agree on is bad, even if we don’t agree on what is indeed evil in any regard (for example, just Google ‘house pets and their place in the kitchen’ and you’ll get a taste – every pun intended – of what I mean). But the incentive for not being evil seems in many ways to be primarily based on the promise of a pretty lousy existence AFTER your life here is done, or what we traditionally associate with death which is obviously then in either case NOT the final, final word. Nor is that. Or that. Etc.;

3: Ergo, the basis of religion is potentially
a = if you’re bad, you’re pretty much in hell or purgatory or Pittsburgh depending on your beliefs, which means that you are de facto pretty much a zombie. After accepting this then, you can either choose to rest in hell and burn, baby, burn OR you can crawl your way up through the mulch and either proceed to eat your former loved ones – or be featured in goodness knows how many Michael Jackson tributes;

b = but, if you’re KIND of good, well, all of the above will still be going on, but you can be satisfied that there’s a good chance that you’ll make it to the proverbial 2nd half of the film we call life and be one of the last ones eaten. A small triumph, yes, but some of us will take all we can get at this point;

c = and then finally, if you’re really, REALLY good as in ‘Mother Theresa was a bit of a heck-raiser in comparison good’ – or really attractive in a kind of ‘let’s make sure and let them live for the sequel’ kind of way – then you will NOT get eaten by zombies, which I personally equate essentially with heaven – pearly gates, wine-serving cherubs and vestal virgins included.

Pretty straightforward, right?

lus, in all contexts of religion, there is then of course an embodiment of evil, even though more and more it seems that the various religions claim that this comes from the folks living on the other side of the desert pointing themselves in the wrong direction when they pray. But can we therefore not make the connection that Beelzebub, Satan, Cheap Internet Porn, Stray Marriage (what?) or whatever you personally consider to be the embodiment of evil is in fact the ultimate in terms of Zombie-town ... except maybe with better fashion sense or dancing ability?

And if we do acknowledge that, how will it help us? Ha, I bet you thought I’d forgotten that bit by now, huh? (Okay, I admit for the first 3 drafts of this, yes, I had; but thank the stars above for my new Windows 7.0 ‘Sanity Checker’ feature)

Okay, here we go to the movies for pertinent examples: take the Will Smith thriller ‘Independence Day’ or even the original, in-no-way similar ‘War of the Worlds’ sans Tom Cruisology (seriously, what a bunch of zombie heads). In this movie, we still had people disagreeing, fussing with each other, dealing with PTA meetings, pancake lodge meetings and other root semblances of evil as usual when the film opens.

Then, just as we’re starting to think ‘oh this is some film where WS plays a lame dating service dude’, the big bad alien ships appear and zap the hell out of everyone, Zimbabwean zealots or otherwise. Suddenly, Arabs and Israelis are fighting side-by-side and there’s even a scene where a British person tries his best to be nice to the Americans (yes, so already we’re in ‘it’s a miracle!!’ territory here). The key point to all this though was that suddenly every human on the Earth was willing to celebrate ‘Independence Day’ as one because they had a COMMON ENEMY in which to unite them. Plus, no more Internet either, as they had to go back to Morse code, which makes looking for sites for bomb-making or even surfing porn much more difficult (impossible, no, but much more difficult) and thus contributes as well to the overall non-zombiedom of personkind. Or blindness, I forget which.

Or if you’d prefer to be somewhat more modern, take ‘Watchmen’. Synopsis: create a public perception of ‘heroes’, add in some cool fight scenes and stuff, manipulate the powers of one in such a way that he goes from Ultimate Naked Blue Guy Hero to Ultimate Naked Blue Guy Zombie Atomic Bomb Dude that appears to have gotten angry with us puny oxygen breathers and through his vengeance wipes out zillions across the globe and viola! World unity! Even the ‘Nuclear Doom Clock’ goes into daylight savings time (falling back, hopefully) and we’re all happy, hurrah hurrah! That is except the one guy who gets his molecules rearranged all over the clean white snow (an obvious allegorical director’s cut nod to the brain-eating techniques of your more staid and traditional zombie killings).

ou’re laughing at all this, I’m sure (or at least, I hope you’ve at least giggled a couple of times by now), but if you are still feeling a twinge or three about all this, then conduct a search on zombies in terms of news story topics over the past DAYS and see what you find. Two such stories struck me recently, which were in part even sent in by alert loyal readers (translation: people who are in my ‘Oh Man We Need to Get A Life Before We Turn Into Zombies’ Crub, I mean, Club):

One was not only the admission by a major University in the United States that they had for some time had an EMERGENCY RESPONSE PLAN for an attack by zombies in place, but also the almost inexplicable decision to REMOVE said plan from their accessible on-line databases. Seems that such a plan was judged to be unseemly by those not-in-the-know. Or perhaps even by someone more sinister! Perhaps the so-called ‘criticism’ that led to the removal of the escape plan came from the silent majority of zombie supporters lurking and jerking about out there (commonly known as Joe Lieberman, which is really the only way I can explain his behavior over the past few years).

Whatever or whoever is to blame, methinks there might be some serious rue-ing before this day is done. I mean, come on, their football stadium is called ‘The Swamp’, which as we all know is like the putting out a proverbial neon ‘Hot Glazed Brains Are Ready’ sign on some kind a Kreepy [sic] Kreme store for zombies (after all, it isn’t specified what ‘original glazed’ means, for all we know that’s zombie talk for ‘bring in your dead!’).

nother story which was particularly moving was the input by a major research team who recently wrote a scientific paper quantifying various properties of zombie epidemics. The authors make a point to, uh, point out that they found that standard modelling techniques for disease outbreaks weren’t quite sufficient, going on to say: ‘The key difference between the models presented here and other models of infectious disease ... is that the dead can come back to life.’ So there it is, in black and white ... and probably some oozy green bits as well.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I thoroughly believe that the study was not only well-founded (it was obviously well-funded) but the input from this report will serve us all well moving forwards, which if you’ll allow me to digress significantly here, is given due credence simply for being one of the most annoying phrases in the English language - or the even longer version: moving forwards in a proactive way in the direction of a new empowered paradigm. That one makes me wish I were CURRENTLY a zombie – but then again, anyone who talks like that obviously doesn’t have enough brains to snack on anyway.

o in conclusion, or at least long enough to take a breath: are zombies bad? Or is this just the right-under-our-big-noses way of uniting mankind in a new era of glory and peace? You be the judge, just make sure you watch where you’re running as they’re all around us!!!

And very importantly as well: am I the only one thinking that whoever wrote the proposal for that approved zombie study should rent out his services so that we can all basically get whatever funding for whatever it is the hell we all do? Man, what a bandit!

He should start his own religion or something…


The above exercise in alliteration was in large part inspired by
this link from Neill Cameron (it really helps if you’re a total geek for this, but it is hilarious) as well as the works of Stephen Johnson (check out his great Alphabet books!), who is one of our pending victims, we mean interviewees, here at ZN HQ.

In terms of the ‘artwork’ – loosely defined of course – some comments:

Before I start, I will say that this project took every minute of a full 3 weeks’ time. I tried desperately to adhere to a kind of ‘one drawing a day’ rule, but (a) I am way out of ‘sketching shape’ and (b) that rule is anyway tough as hell. But it was fun to try and if nothing else, I felt totally hip buying a new sketch pad. Still, the overall lesson remains like a lot of things I’ve done in the past months, namely, simpler is better. I’m starting to work on some exercises to keep that in mind and in practice, including using the ‘Hello Kitty’ type blank figures from way back when.

Z: the toughest part was of course learning to draw zebras-slash-horses, which I’d never done. I have had some experience in doing caricatures back from high school and college, which almost got me suspended from both. One thing I wanted to feature about Mugabe is that he never seems to be the same color, depending on the photo. Sometimes he is really dark and other times it’s almost like he’s wearing white face powder (these are a couple of ‘normal’ ones amongst the set I had). So I had fun with that.

Click here to view full-size original:

I: I think that the funniest thing about this sketch – or better said these sketches – is that when I first showed it to my wife she got REALLY nervous. I think she thought I was going to do like a Danish cartoon insulting all different religions or something (who me?) and we were going to get death threats. Still, her point is well-taken considering some of the activities they’ve identified in our region.

I had the Chavez and Ahmadinejad sketches in my head for a while and I think they came out +/- pretty good with my vision. Ahmadwhatshisname really helped though with his recent activities. In terms of the Dear Glorious Whatever-The-Hell-He’s-Called Leader, I got a total kick out of sketching him because it came out in my eyes to look more like Michael Jackson at first. But I loved it and tried my best not to correct too much (i.e. it’s so simple it’s stupid and good at the same time).

Another thing that I at least thought was cool is that I included real photos of real slime as background. This came to me after viewing several pictures of world leaders presenting their bits at the United Nations recently. It just struck me that the awful greenish marble that makes up the podium looks like slime. So I Googled for some pictures, cut and combined them up and viola, had some gooey marble to work with!

Remember fans: use only natural, locally grown slime products for your next project! You’ll be glad you did.

Click here to view full-size original:

G1: total silliness, nothing more. What was cool is that this literally came out as a one-sitting work – including also some standing, as I used the fading sunset to help trace some bits from a better sketch of given parts – including all the refinements, which for me just means sketch, scan, go to paint and then repeat over and over.

Oh yeah, used some PowerPoint, too, which I love to use in terms of ‘crude vector’ work as well as for shading over full color areas (e.g. to achieve ‘glow’, etc.). It all came out just gross enough to meet my targets.

Click here to view full-size original:

G2: this one just wouldn’t stop. I wanted to do the Ghost Gangsters right from the start – particularly based on various characters from Looney Tunes – but I went back and forth between gorillas and green gorillas, giant garden gnomes and more.

The final version is in my eyes okay-ish, although my planning ahead for combining in different sizes wasn’t so hot. Oh, and if you’re curious, the gum is REAL. Thanks then to Julia for her help on that in terms of ‘material preparation’ and Jordan for ‘positioning’ (he isn’t allowed gum until the braces come off!). Gross, yes, but fun.

In terms of final pictures, we wound up scanning after our ‘sticking’, including pasting back on another pair of hands so it’d look more like he was really gobbling it down. Gobbling! I could have used that word instead!!

Click here to view full-size original:

Y: as you can imagine, being a well-educated and therefore obviously superstitious fellow, a lot more planning than actual time for execution went into this one. But I would NOT allow myself to put it on paper until the Yankees clinched their place in the World Series. I kid you not. But at least now here it is ... and I can also change my underwear again.

I also considered adding either a Yiddish or Yuppie element to it, but figured if I tried the former, I’d accidentally make something too insulting and in the case of the latter, I didn’t think I could be insulting enough. Hang on: let me check that again to make sure I got the order right ... okay.

I enjoyed coming up with the yak. My target was to use a very simple design again, but of course drawing yaks is yet another area that I don’t have a lot of practice in. As fate would have it, when I took my daughter for her birthday shopping trip that same day, she picked out a lot of ‘My Littlest Pet Shop’ creatures, one of which was the squirrel (I think).

I took the design for its head, cut off some bits and bobs, then flipped it upside down and managed to get out my ideal yak design. You can kind of see the remains of the scan in I used, with the horns, nose and mouth from some convenient PowerPoint shapes. In terms of the risk of copy-right infringement, well, they’ve gotten enough money from me over the past years to more than adequately make up for it I’m sure! Hell, I bet one of their VP’s is somewhere yakking, I mean, yachting now thanks to my assistance.

Click here to view full-size original:

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