Thursday, February 16, 2012

Fanga™


        The world of fandom is multifaceted, and one of the most interesting facets of that world is the creativity of a large number of fans, who express their love for a particular tv show, movie, book or comic book in a variety of ways -- in stories, poems, sculptures, paintings, illustrations, comics, or short films, for example. These can range from pretty crude to extremely sophisticated… but the common thread is the love for the source material, and the characters and concepts therein.

I've seen a number of these things over the years, and it's interesting that with the emergence of relatively inexpensive video and video editing hardware and software, the film and animation end of this fan-generated expression has gotten increasingly more… well, professional.

I was reminded of this yesterday when someone asked me a question on my "Ask PL" blog post about two recent fanmade short films, "Fight the Foot" and "Casey Jones". They are both intriguing pieces, but of the two, "Casey Jones", a film by Polaris Banks, is far superior and much more satisfying. It has excellent cinematography, the costumes are great, and much of the acting is very good.




        But the thing I liked most about it was the attention to details drawn from the original comics (like the mention of Northampton, Casey's cousin Sid, Casey's mother calling him "Arnold", the fact that Casey throws two bats at the punk running away from him -- just like in the "Raphael One Issue Micro Series" -- and so on). 

       The inclusion of a yellow jumpsuit-clad April O'Neil, reporter from Channel 6 News, and a brief shot of "Krang" I could have done without -- both elements which I think could be edited out of the film without changing it greatly -- but I must confess that seeing them in there made me smile a couple of times.  Seeing those icons from the goofy first TMNT TV series took me out of the gritty, realistic feel established from almost the very first shot (the hockey player colliding with the plexiglass wall and leaving a streak of blood).




The only other real criticism I have of "Casey Jones" is that the lighting during the extended fight scene in the alleyway is often too dark to really be able to see adequately what's happening. But all in all, it is a VERY impressive piece of work, and I think the people behind it could go far.

You can watch the "Casey Jones" film here:


       ... and "Fight the Foot" can be found on YouTube here:


Another fan work -- this time in the comics realm -- to which I was recently introduced (well, "recently" in this case meaning late last year) is "Donatello; Dark Energy" by Matthew Montelione (writer) and Pedro Lajud (artist), a five-page story featuring my favorite Turtle. It's not quite professional-level work, but the potential is definitely there. 



       It's a quiet story (or, more accurately, part of a story) with a lot of heart, and a somber mood which I found quite appealing. The two creators plan a second installment of "Donatello: Dark Energy", and I look forward to reading that one as well. You can find the first part here:


It's an amazing thing to see how something you had a hand in creating more than a quarter of a century ago could have had enough of an impact on people that they would do stuff like this. -- PL

       P.S. The title of this post -- "FANGA™" -- is just a word I made up to use as "shorthand" identify these types of fan-created works. I was trying to think of something short and punchy, and this word (a variant of "manga", obviously) popped into my head.

19 comments:

  1. Glad to see your reviews of these great short films. While I geek out any '87 cartoon reference is made everything else we are like-mind on. Also,thanks for the heads up on the Fight The Foot sequel. I was not aware of it!

    Your right about "Fanga". I did alot of it myself creating scripts for a continuation of the first cartoon with an attempt to adapt a few Mirage stories for it and such. Its just another example of the inspiration that you and a few others have brought. My only regret is it consumed yours and a few others lives not allowing for other projects outside different versions of the same characters.

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  2. Ok that Casey Jones fan film was pretty cool. I like the shot of him in the basement sitting in his armchair lifting weights while watching multiple TV sets. I swear that was in the comics. Raphael micro series I think. It has been a while since I've read it. So I'm not entirely sure if that is the right comic.
    Are we allowed two share any Fanga we have done on this thread? I ask because I did a 3D model of a TMNT a couple years ago I would like to show you. Although to be honest, I'm not sure how I would post a picture in a reply.

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  3. "Mark HFeb 16, 2012 02:31 PM
    Ok that Casey Jones fan film was pretty cool. I like the shot of him in the basement sitting in his armchair lifting weights while watching multiple TV sets. I swear that was in the comics. Raphael micro series I think. It has been a while since I've read it. So I'm not entirely sure if that is the right comic. "

    You're exactly right! That is, in fact, one of the comics-related details I was praising.

    "Are we allowed two share any Fanga we have done on this thread? I ask because I did a 3D model of a TMNT a couple years ago I would like to show you. Although to be honest, I'm not sure how I would post a picture in a reply."

    I'm not sure about that, either, though I have posted images in Livejournal comment sections. I suppose it might be possible to do it in these comments sections, as well, but you'll have to research it like I did with the Livejournal thing. Or maybe someone with the knowledge will pipe up here! That would be nice. -- PL

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  4. I could not get my reply to accept html img tags so, I did the next best thing and made links to the images. I tested it out on my blog and it seemed to work ok. Here are a few quick renders I did of a TMNT i modeled in Lightwave and ZBrush a couple of years ago. The figure is fully rigged and can be animated in a piece of software called Poser. I think he came out alright but, looking at him now I'm not crazy about his huge deformed feet. One of these days when I have the chance I think I will go back and remodel the feet. My favorite out of the four renders is my "Leonardo in Japan" render. It is the second one down in the links. I like the mood of that render. Thanks for letting me share these with you.


    TMNT ZBrush!
    TMNT Poser!
    TMNT Poser!
    TMNT Poser!

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    1. Mark, thanks for sharing those images. Nice work! I agree that the feet may need some work, but not much. I think my favorite is the first one -- the lighting, color and texture you picked remind me of one of the very first TMNT toy prototypes we saw while visiting Playmates in the early days. -- PL

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    2. Thanks Pete. I appreciate that. I do like the texture of the first render. It makes it look as though it is sculpted from wax.

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  5. http://vimeo.com/23635469 I guess it's a good thing my attempt didn't get mentioned :). It's far from professional. Although, considering I'm the only one doing the job of 200 animators and learning as I go ;o)...

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  6. Mark, the fact that fans can make the turtles look cooler in CG than Nick ,makes me kind of sad. Wished the new turtles looked more like yours!

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    1. Thanks Neil! I appreciate the complement. I have to give the modelers for the Nick show credit for doing some great modeling and texture work. I look forward to seeing the Nick turtles fully animated. I don't want to judge them too harshly. I think they are trying to put their stamp on the Ninja Turtles to make their TMNT stand out from the other incarnations of the TMNT. With that said, I prefer the style of the TMNT that I have modeled because it is a better representation of how I see the TMNT. When I was a kid my parents would often go to the Holyoke mall here in Massachusetts and let me pick out a comic from the comic shop. I would always grab a Mirage Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic, bring it home and read it several times while admiring the artwork that Kevin and Pete would put into it. I also had this really cool TMNT poster on my wall that was done by Michael Dooney. (Dooney is awesome, not only at drawing turtles but drawing in general. I still have framed work from Mike hanging on my walls. The man can do amazing things with a pencil and some markers!) I thought that poster was the most fantastic thing to look at. The Turtles looked so perfect. So when I envision the perfect Ninja Turtle in my head it would have a bit of Peter, Kevin, and Mike in it. That was the Turtles I had in mind when I was making my TMNT figure. I think I did not accomplish it the way I wanted to but, it's not bad. Those feet need help. I'm a bit embarrassed by them. I think the Nick Turtles have some things about them that are cool. I have to admit some of the changes they made don't fit with what my view of a Ninja Turtle would be. I guess it really comes down to personal taste.
      I thought your animation was well done. I have tried my hand at 3D animation a couple times. The results are never good. I should just stick with the 3D figure modeling. If you don’t mind me asking, what 3D package did you use to do your modeling an animation? I apologize if I side tracked this tread at all. I just get very excited about 3D modeling, animation, and Ninja Turtles. Those are topics that will get me going on one of my rants.

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  7. hello peter!

    I have to say I was delighted when I read your high regards for such fanga(I must admit the name IS quite fitting)...I enjoyed the casey jones film a few months ago as well;)
    last year I have done a fanga on usagi yojimbo, it is an 8 page short story...since you are a friend of stan and to my knowledge not only enjoy handworked fanga but the adventures of myamoto usagi, I thought I'd ask you to send you an e mail with the story for you to read and perhaps tell me what you think of it as a comic pro(that is IF you think anything about it at all...)
    thanks anyway
    marcel

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  8. "cool rayFeb 17, 2012 08:14 AM
    hello peter!

    I have to say I was delighted when I read your high regards for such fanga(I must admit the name IS quite fitting)...I enjoyed the casey jones film a few months ago as well;)
    last year I have done a fanga on usagi yojimbo, it is an 8 page short story...since you are a friend of stan and to my knowledge not only enjoy handworked fanga but the adventures of myamoto usagi, I thought I'd ask you to send you an e mail with the story for you to read and perhaps tell me what you think of it as a comic pro(that is IF you think anything about it at all...)
    thanks anyway
    marcel"

    Marcel, I don't give out my email address on my blog, but if you want to send your story to Dan Berger at the Mirage website, he will pass it on to me. -- PL

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    1. okay, I will do, thank you very much for the reply!
      you know one thing I have forgotten to add to the ask pl section is:I really LOVE the volume four run, up til now I only have a few of these(5 issues in total) as they harder to get for me back when they were released(was too young, no money, of course no credit card)..but just yesterday I received two issues from volume four and they are so rich in art and story, incredible!a real team effort it seems...they really motivate me going back to the drawing board for some more hours in orders to ink my own work.congrats on that great series!marcel

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    2. okay, I just sent it to dan..had to compromise the size of it but it worked out in the end...
      thanks for showing an interest, I am excited to learn what you think about it.
      greetings
      marcel

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  9. Hey Pete, I'm not sure if you are still following this thread. I just wanted to share this 3D Figure I did this morning with you. I guess you could say it’s Fanga. I thought you might get a kick out of it. Have a good one! -M
    3D FUGITOID

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    1. Mark, that's a nice model! Good job! -- PL

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    2. I don't know if you dabble in 3D at all but, if you would like, I could send you a copy of the model. Just let me know what format you would want it in. (OBJ being the standard that most 3D applications use. In OBJ format you would loose the textures.) I could send it to you through the Mirage website. I usually don't share my models but, I think it would be appropriate to offer the person who designed this particular figure a copy of it.
      -M

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    3. Mark, that's a very generous offer, and I accept. I don't do much 3D stuff these days, but it could be fun to play with this model. The programs I've used are things like Bryce, Poser, and Artmatic Voyager. So please do send it to Dan at the Mirage site and he will forward it to me. Thanks! -- PL

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    4. Hey Pete, I just sent the models to Dan. There is a basic object file that you will be able to import into most 3D applications and, a Fugitoid Poser figure. It is funny that you mention Poser because I make Poser figures for a living. Since you are familiar with Poser I decided it would be more fun for both of us if I turned the model into a Poser figure. I gave Fugitoid some bones so; he can move around and, be put in different poses. It did not take long; adding bones to robots in Poser is pretty easy after you've done it a few times. I sent the installation instructions along with the models. Feel free to send me an email if you have any issues. I hope you have fun playing around with him. Have a good night.
      -M

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