Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Some of my favorite things in animation in the 2000’s.

Well the 2000's are ending, and I've been waiting a long time to do my evaluation of this decade as far as animation goes. The following is just my opinion, it does not represent some universally applicable list that everyone should also agree with.

Favorite Action-Adventure shows.

1.Avatar the Last Airbender (2005-2008): Who knew Nick had it in them to produce a show this dramatic and mature? I mean the characters developed significantly, alliances changed; it even had a conclusive ending...which is incredibly rare for American cartoons. Animation studios would do well to study this show in the future. This is what a good…no great…action cartoon looks like. It’s a testament to the show that most of the people I know who are fans of it, are far beyond the target demographic of the show.

2. Justice League and Justice League Unlimited (2001-2006): If you were a DC comics fanboy than this was all you could ever ask for.

3. Teen Titans (2003-2006): As a fan of both the 80’s Titans comic (from Wolfman and Perez), and Japanese anime I was ready to hate this show. I mean I was really ready to hate this show. Then it came along like a big-eyed, stump-tailed puppy, rubbed up against my leg, and made me love it.

4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2002-2009): This was technically three shows but I group them together into one. Wasn’t keen on the Fast Forward season from what I saw of it, but the rest of the show was pretty consistent. The recent Turtles Forever special was great too.

5. Samurai Jack (2001-2004): The art direction and feel of this show was very unique. It stood apart from pretty much everything else on T.V at the time or since.

Honorable mentions.
Wolverine and the X-men (2008-present): Still going.
Star Wars the Clone Wars (2008-present): Also still going.
The Spectacular Spider-Man (2007-2009): Honestly, this show deserved more than the two seasons it got. It was a wonderful viewing experience for people who have read a lot of Spidey comics over the years. Gargoyles show runner Greg Weisman was the show runner of this one, and it made me an even bigger fan.
Danny Phantom (2004-2007): This was technically a mix of action/comedy. It was a bit uneven, but when it was at it’s best it was a really good Nicktoon (The two specials The Ultimate Enemy and Reign Storm were among the best Nick specials ever.)
Kim Possible (2002-2007): Again, action comedy but this show is unique because it represents a case of fans actually pressuring Disney to reverse its strict 65 episode policy.
Batman Beyond (1999-2001): It could have been horrible but the WB TV animation studio made it work. The direct to video movie was good too.
W.I.T.C.H (2005-2006): This was a very underrated show based on a European comic.

Favorite Comedy.

1. Foster’s Home for Imaginary friends (2004-2009): An amazingly innovative use of flash animation, Foster’s was rarely off of it’s game in my opinion. There were times in the first season where I genuinely thought this show could do no wrong. It was proof positive that Craig McCracken’s success with the Powerpuff Girls wasn’t just a fluke.

2. The Grim adventures of Billy and Mandy (2002-2008): A wonderfully morbid Cartoon Network show. Easily some of Grey Delisle and Richard Horvitz’s best work.

3. Spongebob Squarepants(1999-present): Though it technically started in the last year of the 90’s I think we can all agree that for a while in this decade we were living in a Spongebob world. Love it or hate it, Spongebob may very well be on his way to icon status joining the likes of Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse.

4. Phineas and Ferb (2008-present): Wonderful musical numbers, and a funny premise. I don’t mind saying that I enjoy the music of this show tremendously.

5. Fillmore! (2002): Another short lived and extremely underrated ABC/Disney cartoon about middle school safety patrollers that had an interesting crime drama edge to it. I was fortunate enough to get to know one of the show runners of this fine program. It deserved a much longer life.

Honorable mentions.

The Weekenders (2000-2001): A short lived ABC/Disney cartoon that was unique because, it focused on what kids did on their weekends rather than during the school week.

The Buzz on Maggie (2005): Disney seemed to have a knack for killing off some of their funnier cartoons this decade. Honestly, I never felt like this show had a down episode. To bad it was dead before anyone even noticed it existed.

Futurama (1999-2001) (2008-present): Less well known than the Simpsons but arguably funnier. Futurama was another show that was resurrected do to fan interest.

Animated Movies.

Pixar pretty much dominated this decade as far as I’m concerned. Though apparently Kung Fu Panda was also really good (I still haven’t seen it.)

1. The Incredibles (2004): Action, adventure, and comedy this movie had it all. I still think it’s probably Pixar’s best movie ever. This was an animated “kids” movie that was just as good for adults as it was for children. It was also great to see Brad Bird get his props after his previous movie 1999’s much underrated Iron Giant.

2. Ratatouille (2007): Another Brad Bird movie, this film about a talking rat that should pretty much resonate with anyone pursuing a job in the art…or anyone with a dream for that matter. Ego’s review at the end of the movie was one of the best “critiques of critics” I’ve ever heard. This movie also holds a special place in my heart because I saw it with a good friend who I had a bad falling out with, and I remember the spirited discussion we had after.

3. Finding Nemo (2003): A wonderful father and son story that cemented my view of Pixar as the 3D studio to beat.

4.Lilo and Stitch (2002): One of the most unique movies Disney has ever produced. This is the kind of movie that’s made when studios leave artists to themselves and let them be creative. I wasn’t to big of a fan of the animated series though.

5. Wall-E (2008): They did it, Pixar pulled off a movie where the two main characters had vocabularies less expansive than a toddler's and they made it great! Who would have thought that was possible?

Honorable mentions.

The Emperor’s New Groove (2000): From every source I’ve read Kingdom of the Sun, the original movie title, was going to be a disaster and was pulled out of the fire by a small dedicated creative team. In the end we got a fun movie that can be enjoyed by everyone. Again, not a big fan of the tv show that came later, but that doesn’t diminish the movie itself.

Treasure Planet (2002): Honestly, I really felt like this movie was better than people give it credit for. Sure it bombed at the box office, but I thought it had some really mature themes.

The Shrek movies (2001, 2004, and 2007): I liked the first two movies, but I’m a little bit concerned about how they will age. I worry that their humor is too grounded in the 2000’s to really endure as classics.

Titan A.E (2000): Another attempt at a more serious animated movie that bombed at the box office. It had flaws but you have to love the guts of a sci-fi movie where the aliens threaten to blow up the Earth, and then actually do it.

The Princess and the Frog (2009): Just saw this one. It was wonderful to see Disney get back to musicals and fairy tales, I missed that.


The 2000’s saw an explosion in popularity for anime and manga in the United States. I apologize if many of my choices seem limited to Toonami/Adult Swim. Most of the anime in my collection is from the 80’s and 90’s. That being said I’m going to go by the original broadcast dates in Japan.

1. Full Metal Alchemist (2003-2004): One of the few anime that was apparently able to depart from the manga’s storyline and stay incredibly compelling (though I’ve never read the manga.) Great show, easily one of the best English dubs I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to, and an ending that I felt was incredibly poetic.

2. Naruto (2002-present): Sure is formulaic at points, but I’ve rarely found it boring. Shippuden specifically. If the Akatsuki were real I might join them just to get one of those robes.

3. The Big O Season 2 (2003): One of the rare cases where American interest in an anime has brought it back from the grave. It came back very strong, in my opinion. My brother and I still disagree on the ending. I personally think it was disappointing, he thinks it was appropriate.

4. Zoids Chaotic Century/Guardian Force (late 1999-2000): I’ll group this with the 2000’s even though it started in late 1999. This was a toy commercial…let’s not kid ourselves, but it was also a very fun, exciting story that actually took its concept and made something of it. The last half of Guardian Force had me at the edge of my seat. Unfortunately, the 2nd Zoids series (which wasn’t as good in my opinion) Zoids 0 aired before the original. I think that might have turned some people off, and caused them to miss this interesting show.

5. Deathnote (2006-2007): Very unique concept.

Honorable mentions.

Blood + (2005-2006): Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets shojo meets sci-fi adventure. I’m in!

One Piece late (1999-present): I’m not as big into this as my brother is, but I like how different it looks from other anime/manga.

Kare Kano (2002): The one anime in my DVD collection from the 2000’s and that didn’t air on Cartoon Network. I loved the introspection and humor of this series. Gainax never seems to fail when it comes to showing off well developed psychologically complex characters. For me the show lost some its steam later on, but the first half of the show was great.

I would have a video game category, but during the middle and end of the 2000’s I wasn’t as involved with gaming as I should have been. That’s a shame really because I can see that videogames have come a long way in the last 10 years.

Anyway those are my favorite animated things from this decade. It was the best of times and the worst of times. Generally, I think that the 2000’s were a time where the sophistication of writing in T.V animation advanced greatly. The trend of creators having greater control (which started in the 90’s) continued which I can only cheer on. I can’t say the same thing about features though.
I plan to enter and be an active participant in the animation industry in the coming decade. I’m curious to see how my attitude towards animation in 2019 will differ from my attitude now. I’m very interested in seeing if the kids of today will look back at the 2000’s with nostalgia while lampooning the stuff that we’re going to be creating. Hopefully, their criticisms will strictly be the result of biased nostalgia and not a truthful evaluation of the animation industry in the coming years.

Anyway, onward into the new decade.

Stephen James.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Update soon.

I will be listing my top animated things of the 2000's.

Monday, November 30, 2009

An eggalitarian movement.

This is for an illustration project I've been doing over the last 9 weeks. Basically we took nursery rhymes and tweaked them into new stories. I did Humpty Dumpty. My theory is that Humpty was either shot off of or pushed off of the wall for protesting unfair treatment of eggs....

Those in power would like you to believe that he "had a great fall."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

One day pose.

Last quarter I took an academic figure drawing class as my elective. I rather enjoyed the one day poses that we were doing. This was one of the drawings I enjoyed the most.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Folds and still life.

The first picture is a cloth that I hung up on a wall and drew for a couple of weeks. It was for a drapery and folds class. The intent of the class was for the students to practice painting folds, but I decided that I wanted to work on my drawing instead. Recently I've started to believe that values, drawing and edges are pretty much 4/5ths of the painting process with color being the icing on the cake. Color is just the thing that people tend to notice first.

One of my teachers put it in a way that I really liked.

"Color gets all of the attention, but value does all the work."

In other words color is the pretty sister that can get by on looks, and value is the smarter, less popular one that she has to cheat off of to get a passing grade.

The second picture is from my color and composition class. The idea was to balance two elements that by themselves tend to garner attention in picture making. In this one I decided on contrasting a relatively detailed, but vauge object with a simplified representation of a human face. Strangely enough some people thought that the vaugely defined object was a hunk of meat and that I was making some kind of anti-meat statement. Truth be told it was a lump of sculpting clay. I can see why some people would think it was meat though.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


I've been reading this interesting book lately. It's fascinating to see the transformation of the world of concept art over the last few decades. Truth be told, I was really amazed by how much cool stuff gets tossed in the final games. Though there was some fond nostalgia in these pages, remembering things like Rebel Assault and the Sam and Max franchise (I remember watching the show on Fox Kids when it was still around in the late 90's.)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Still life.

A still life of a busted clay pot from earlier this year.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Still having problems with my computer.

When I don't have to resort to using public ones anymore I will post some more recent art.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

R.I.P Richard Lack.

A great advocate for traditional draftsmanship when it had become less popular in the 20th century.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Will update shortly.

Having a few problems with my computer. I'll try to update soon.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Chess Board.

A chess board study from class.

Thought I'd post something, while pondering the little bit of egg that made it's way into what I was hoping would be a totally animal free meal. Upset my stomcach a bit.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Still life drawing.

The idea was to make two attention grabing elements balance eachother out.
Plus I needed to post something, my last post stunk.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Some stuff from the last few weeks.

These are some thumbnail studies I've done recently. I figured I should post something, even though I'm not 100% happy with anything I've done recently.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Naruto Shippuden going to Disney XD (Formerly Toon Disney)
Ummm...well....this should be interesting. Can't wait to see how they handle the Akautski member Hidan. I mean these are the people who edited the Gargoyles episode "Deadly Force" right( a very positive, responsible gun violence story)? How are they going to handle the violence in some of the major battles?

First Marvel now this. This has been a very interesting month for Disney. Grabbing things that you never thought they would. Let's just hope that things work out for the best. I just hope that I can continue to watch the show uncut on Viz's website.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

So Disney owns Marvel now.

As I told my brother I can't wait for the Winnie the pooh MAX title...or the punisher crossover.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Spheres under various lighting conditions.

Homework from Nathan Fowkes color and composition class.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Portrait from earlier this quarter.

I feel like it's to "illustratory" which I'm trying to fight in my painting (to a certain extent.)

Friday, August 7, 2009

How do we keep this fun?

So recently I've been going through a bit of a funk about my drawing and painting. Not the drawing itself per say, the classes at Laafa have been very educational, and I'm blessed to be learning from such talented teachers.
What has been getting me down is the fact that I feel like I'm not having fun anymore. I do my drawing, my painting etc, and it's all very systematic. My craftsmanship has become stronger but I find that I'm not having as much fun anymore. It even got to the point recently where I had to consciously tell myself to have fun doodling in my sketchbook. I never used to have that problem before, but now I do. When I get home from school, and I'm done with homework I'm finding it harder and harder to just enjoy drawing. I'm pooped, I'm exhausted, I feel like I've fallen into a very robotic routine that's sucked much of the life out of my creative drive.

A few friends have given me some good advice on how to enjoy drawing, and I'm taking it to heart. If anyone has any more fun suggestions on what to do to beat the sketching blues I'd love to read them.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Projects from last quarter.

Malosak again and the final of the three head image I posted a while back. Our class had a really good critique on some of these paintings from some of the LAAFA teachers.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Busy with school.

Sorry about not updating in two weeks. I'll make sure to post something later this week.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Using graphite and charcoal together.

One of my teachers (Richard Morris who's listed in my blog list) recently told some of us that he did a drawing in charcoal and graphite. I thought this wasn't possible but then I realized what he was doing. He was rendering with charcoal in the shadows and graphite in the lights. That way none of his values in his light patterns could ever get as dark as anything in his shadow patterns. When he was done you couldn't tell where one medium started and the other one stopped. It was a brilliant drawing!

So I tried it out as an experiment. Using a form modeling exercise that one of our other teachers showed us how to do. Basically modeling value patterns on round shapes.
Very interesting.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Alien general.

This is a study for the last project I did in my painting for illustration class.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Dwarf with axe.

Finally got this sketch scanned in. What a hassel!!!

Oh well enough griping.

Truth be told I think his left foot needed to be darker.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Engaging in deviant behavior.

I have a Deviant Art page now. I don't think I'll be updating it as much as I do here, but at least I can network with more people (fingers crossed.)

(My scanner is being dumb today, sorry about the image quality)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Naruto Shippuden.

narutoshippuden-anime-keyvisual-sm by mochi01.

So I've taken to watching Naruto Shippuden on Viz's website (which uses Hulu.) They have episodes of the series ready for viewing, and they update it frequently.

Wow...that's all I can say. I'd read some of the manga but I didn't realize it was this good. I did like the original Naruto series but I think I'm starting to like this even more.

Check it out.

P.S As soon as I can get the kinks out of my scanner I will update soon.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Self portraits from class.

Unfortunately one of the drawings got a paint stain on it before I could scan it.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Manfredi and the Allegory of the 4 seasons.

A very cool painting created by an early Baroque artist named Manfredi. One of the projects we had to do last year was take an old painting and modernize it. I used this one as my basis.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Drawing and monochromatic or grisaille painting.

Not sure I liked these to much, but at least I was happier with them than with the last grisaille I attempted.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Copy of an old National Geographic cover.

Found this drawing I did some time ago and decided to touch it up a bit. It's based on the cover of the October 1998 cover of National Geographic magazine, which always has good stuff. The story was about the growing human population of the planet and issues related to migration.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Brick study.

My friend James says it looks kind of like meat. Ironic considering my dietary habits over the last year or so.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Today Battlestar Galactica ends.

One of the best Sci-fi dramas I think I've ever seen. Very topical and very relevant.

"So say we all!!!"

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Hand studies in pen.

I'm trying to draw more hands and feet. Also trying to get better at drawing in pen.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Not directly related to my artwork but...

As anyone who knows me well can tell you one of the issues I'm really passionate about it raising awareness of the ongoing genocide in Darfur.

Well the international criminal court has just issued an arrest warrant for the president of Sudan. This is potentially a huge step towards ending this crime against humanity. Read more about it here.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Zoo sketches.

Animal sketches from my trip to the zoo on Saturday.

P.S Also trying a new watermark.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Zoo trip.

I had a productive sketching trip to the zoo this weekend.

Truth be told, as I delve deeper into Vegetarian/vegan thinking I'm having more and more mixed feelings about zoos. Animal shows like the circus I totally disagree with, but I really feel like zoo's do some good. Yet you can argue that they exploit their residents. Anyway, got some thinking to do.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

From the last day of color theory.

I actually kind of liked this study, to much warmth in the shadows though.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Good news.

Donated my Darfur drawing to the Museum of tolerance. Hopefully, they'll put it up.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sarah drawing and grisaille painting.

From last quarters academic figure drawing/painting class with Bill Rodgers.

I was really disapointed with the painting, and actually felt that the drawing was much stronger.

The problem with making your own shadow box.

This might be a problem for cast drawing! It seems like I have a choice to make. Uninteresting shadow shapes or half a cast. Hah.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Some work from last quarter.

One of our models and a copy of a master drawing.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Study of a lego block.

Finally updated. This is from my still life/color theory classes a while back ago.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Friday, January 9, 2009

Head Drawing.

Frank, a model we had at school.