Monday, March 26, 2012

Alphabeasts: X is for Xenomorph

This week's "Alphabeasts" entry is another one of those about which I don't have a whole lot to say. I like the first couple of Aliens movies a lot, but I don't think I've seen any of the other ones. I know about as much about the titular aliens' life cycle as can be gleaned from the first movie: egg-facehugger-chestburster-xenomorph. That's about it.

Still, it's not as if there are a million fictional creatures that start with X, and I thought it would probably be fun to draw one of these beasties. I'm guessing that I won't be alone in that assessment.

Apparently I still have a little bit of wild rumpus left in my system from last week.

Here's a doodle I made (with Sendak open in front of me) when I was trying to figure out how to draw a xenomorph without lapsing into cliches of awesomeness and radicality.

I'm guessing that I got some of that Sendak goodness from last week mixed up with this diner scene from Spaceballs.

It's also possible that this xenomorph is buds with Elijah Wood and is dancing "The Puppet Master."

Well, better an earworm than a chestburster, I guess.

Next week: the oldest entry in my alphabet. That is, it's the creature in my list that was invented the longest ago.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Alphabeasts: W is for Wild Thing

Quick post this week, because I still have a ton of Jane Eyre to prep (and The Death Ray, to boot). But here's this week's Alphabeasts critter, which I hope will be universally recognizable:

W is for Wild Thing.

These guys are so fun. I've loved them since I was just a little kid.

Yes, they make everything groovy.

Next week: hard sci-fi not suitable for the wee ones.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Alphabeasts: V is for Vulture (of Amzot)

This week I have an extra entry for "Alphabeasts." When I originally planned my alphabet, months ago, I wanted to make sure I included a creature from The Herculoids if possible, because the show has recently become available on DVD, and I wanted an excuse to re-watch it, after all these years, and see whether it got me as stoked as it did when I was a little kid.

Okay, here you go: V is for vulture. You know, like the giant vulture of Amzot. Not those scavenger birds.

(Some poor soul has even written up AD&D stats for this creature and for everything else on the show, should you wish to inflict The Herculoids on your party.)

I remember when I was a kid really wishing I had little toy versions of Igoo and Tundro and Zok, and trying to make Play-Doh versions of Gloop and Gleep to play with. Something about the weirdness of the show's creature designs must really have appealed to the little monster-maker in me, circa age six or seven, or whenever I was seeing the reruns of the show. (I'm too young to have seen it on first release.)

Anyway, it turns out that most of the weird background creatures either don't get names, or else are too sentient to go in a zoo. Or else they're beings like Tundro (an awesomely ridiculous creature design if there ever was one) who have names but no species. I toyed with the idea of drawing Igoo under "R is for Rock Ape," but then the idea of a Rust Monster insisted on being drawn. So I planned on drawing this "vulture"—that's what they call the creature in Episode 18 ("The Lost Dorgyte")—which appears very briefly about 26 seconds into the show's opening credits, which are behind this link.

(Does he look familiar?)

I have to say that inking this guy was one of the happiest artistic experiences I've had recently. I think I really did a nice job with the face.

Part of the reason for that good feeling probably comes from having locates Alex Toth's original model sheet for the "vulture" online (right here, in the "Collecting Fool" Toth gallery).

...And part of it is probably that I have been doing enough drawing this week that I am not entirely rusty for a change.

Anyway, next week, we take a trip even deeper into childhood nostalgia. Whee!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Alphabeasts: V is for Vermicious Knids

This week's "Alphabeasts" come from Roald Dahl's lesser-known sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the book that answers the question of where that magic elevator winds up after it leaves Willy Wonka's Factory. In Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, as you may already know, Charlie Bucket and Willie Wonka make it into space, to a vast orbiting American hotel, where the are menaced by alien invaders.

Yes, my friends, V is for vermicious knids.

The vermicious knids are amorphous hostile entities from the planet Vermes, entirely comfortable in deep space but prone to burning up on atmospheric re-entry. They can assume any shape they care to. Here's an illustration from the original book, to give you a sense of the shapes they try on, and to explain why I eschewed my usual brushpen-plus-Photoshop methods for the week.

They're fun to draw. There's no wrong shape for a vermicious knid, and you can keep putting crosshatching on them until they take on the dimensionality that you want. Give them a try the next time someone puts you on hold!

Here's a little process doodle that I used to figure out whether the cross-hatching method was going to work:

Next week, I am planning a trip to a children's book that's quite a bit better known.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Alphabeasts: U is for Unagi

This week's Alphabeast comes from the animated Avatar: the Last Airbender. Specifically, it comes from the fourth episode, "The Warriors of Kyoshi."

You see, U is for unagi.

I've only watched the first season of Avatar. It's pretty fun, and there's a lot of "worldbuilding" inventiveness in the background creatures. No one in the show ever really comments on them, but most of that world's animals seem to be hybridizations of our real-world creatures, so there are goldfish-whales called "elephant koi;" there are "otter-penguins" and "badgerfrogs" and "armadillo wolves. And so forth.

Like I said, it's a fun show. I'll probably watch the whole thing with my little son when he gets old enough to enjoy it.

Really, there are so many interesting creatures on the show that I shouldn't have had to semi-cheat the way I'm doing with this week's entry. What I mean is that "unagi" is probably the name for the species of sea serpent / eel that we see in Episode 4, but it might also be the name of the specific eel—"Unagi," rather than an "unagi." I know Andrew Neal isn't going to boot this submission because it might be a name instead of a species. (I mean, look.) But I still feel like I'm bending my own rules, especially since I could have drawn a canyon crawler or whatever from Avatar instead, if I'd juggled the alphabet a little differently.

On the other hand, I love unagi (the real-world eel, sliced up on a blob of rice—I could eat it every day). And I love lake monsters. Why not bring them together?

Just for fun, and to put another image into this post, here's a scan of my original ink-work for the drawing above, including a spot where I messed up the lines on the unagi's body and drew an alternative set of lines.

Next week: this is my spring break, so I'm thinking about doing a double for the letter V: a creature probably designed by Alex Toth, on the one hand, and a Roald Dahl monster on the other.