Friday, August 17, 2018

Top 5 Animated Intros

The cartoon intro – a show’s 60-second chance to grab a kid’s attention and hold on tight.  I covered part of it a while ago with the Top 5 Cartoon Theme Songs, but there’s another part to consider – the animation.  While some cartoons cheap out and just use clips form the shows (coughDisneycough), most cartoons animate an action-packed segment that boils the show down into 1 minute of awesome.  But some of those cartoons cheat a bit, pouring all their effort into the intro while the rest of the show just kinda sucks. So today we’re looking at the Top 5 Intros Better than their Cartoon.
Superman (1988)

Ruby Spears doesn’t have a track record of great cartoon openings.  Most are a mix of clips from the show and original animation, and neither is particularly impressive.  Superman, on the other hand, has some really good animation in it, particularly when he flies by the building.  But the cartoon itself is pretty basic and shows none of the flourish of the intro.

If I were to go by the intro, this cartoon would be non-stop thrills with a ton of cuts to close-ups and some great transitions.  Instead, the cartoon has none of that excitement, and Nightshade doesn’t look nearly as good, which is a crime. Get it? Crime? Ugh, I’m sorry.

It’s apparent there’s something special about the Jem intro that the cartoon just doesn’t have – Rotoscoping.  For those not familiar with it, it’s a technique of animating over live action film. That way your animation can mimic perfectly how a character and their clothing moves.  That’s a whole other level of cheating compared to the animation in the show.

One of the biggest ways I’ve seen to create a thrilling intro to a cartoon is with special animation tricks, like flashing light or energy (I wish I knew the name of the technique used for that), and Visionaries uses this trick quite a bit, which is what you’d expect when the cartoon is about holograms.  Too bad during the cartoon itself, most of the holograms are presented as solid green or blue objects, maintaining none of the charm of the intro.
Rankin-Bass (Thundercats, Silverhawks, Tigersharks)

This trio, I think has to be the most egregious in the difference of intro and cartoon animation.  Full of fast action and light shows, the intros to each of these cartoons pulls the rug out from under you when you get the main cartoons, full of sloppy animation and mistakes galore.  It amazes me just how big the disparity is, but I still can’t help but watch them each time, because they’re by far the best intros ever made. Too bad the rest of the show can’t live up to the hype.

There's one last week to pick up Old School Evil in Kindle for $.99, don't miss out!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Bad Guy Beatdown Round 15 Results

“This is Earth?” Nemesis asked, surveying the urban landscape around their ship, including the stadium that had been leveled by their landing.  “Pathetic.”
Kanawk groaned.  “Your negativity astounds me.   You want an easily conquered population?  You won’t find one more eager to fall under your heel than my home planet.”  He pointed at the squads of police cars and firetrucks speeding towards the crash site.  “Look at this paltry welcome we’ve received. They have no response to a giant robot such as yourself.”
Nemesis flexed the red claw on his left hand open in contemplation.  He shot the claw out on a cable, smashing it into one of the police cars.  The claw squeezed the car across the middle, cutting the vehicle in half. “Yes, I believe you might be right.”
The response teams opened fire on the robot, pelting it with bullets that bounced off its metal skin.  Inside Nemesis’s chest-mounted cockpit, Kanawk couldn’t help but smile at the thought of the people that hadn’t even mounted a rescue operation for his space mission being wiped out under his robotic partner’s massive foot.
Down below, the police offer’s calls over the bullhorn went silent before being replaced by a shrill voice that Kanawk instantly recognized.  “Hey, you metal freak! What’s the big idea ruining our show?!” It was Pizzazz, and Kanawk’s thoughts of revenge against humanity was shoved aside out of fanboy glee.
Nemesis staggered as if attacked.  “You fool, Kanawk, you said they had no advanced weaponry!  They’re using some sort of sonic cannon against us!” He regained his footing and moved to squash the green-haired human as she fought against the officer who was previously using the microphone.
“No!” Kanawk shouted, slamming his fist into the controls in front of him.  “They’re the Misfits, my favorite band!” He entered a string of commands and from Nemesis’s ankle, cables were deployed which reeled his feet back to the ground.  “You can’t crush them! They’re the only things on this planet worth saving.”
Nemesis considered.  “Their sonic attacks do seem like valuable assets.”  Down below, Pizzazz punched the officer at the bullhorn, while another singer, this one with white hair, successfully commandeered a police car and was interrupting rescue attempts by singing over the loudspeakers.  
Kanawk activated his own communications system and shouted his apologies to the band, his broadcast squelching the cruiser’s loudspeakers.
“Listen to the sound system on that, Roxie!” Pizzazz said.  “We could play over every one of Jem’s shows with those speakers!”
Kanawk squealed.  “Yes, absolutely!”
“What are you doing?” Nemesis asked, as Kanawk entered commands for the giant robot to lower himself to the ground.  “Nemesis doesn’t kneel for anyone!” He resisted the movement, but Kanawk activated more cables in the robot’s hands which brought him even lower.  
“Why do you resist me, Nemesis?” Kanawk shouted, pressing more buttons.  “With Pizzazz and the Misfits’ in our fold, we’ll have even more influence and destructive power over this planet!”
Nemesis turned his claw hand into a spinning blade and sliced through the cables pulling him down. “I do not like having one fleshbag inside my console, what makes you think I’d like two others?”
“I don’t care what you want!” Kanawk cried.  “I’ve been dreaming of this day my whole life!”
“Then I shall end it for you.”  Nemesis rerouted his auxillary power system through his cockpit, frying Kanawk with a million volts of electricity.  “I don’t need your help conquering this planet, and I think I’ll start with your so-called Misfits.” With that, he hefted a lag up and brought it down on Pizzazz with a sickening thump.
Roxie, still circling the site with her stolen police car, screamed Pizzazz’s name before spinning out and driving directly toward Nemesis.  The robot folded his claw back into a sharp point, revealing a laser barrel. He blasted the car, causing a massive explosion and sending the wreckage into the air.
From back at the stadium where she helped rescue efforts for the children in the stadium, Stormer saw the carnage, but was unaware of her bandmates’ demises.  She later joined the Holograms before retiring from music to focus on an adoption agency.
Click here for Nemesis's respect post and here for the Misfits's

Is there any real doing that this fight would go this way? Maybe if Nemesis was dumb enough to allow Pizzazz access to his control center, she could have sabotaged his systems with her reckless abandon, but I figure Nemesis doesn't even like having Kanawk there, so he wouldn't let others in it. Of course, Kanawk probably want a Misfits fan, but that was the only way this story lasted longer than 1 paragraph.

The Winner

Click here to see the last round, Confess Commander vs. Genghis Rex. Click here to see the rest of the fights.

Don't miss picking up Old School Evil on Kindle, on sale for 99 cents until 8/25.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Wednesday Wrap-Up - 8/8/2018

1000 followers?! I can't believe I've finally reached this on Twitter.  To commemorate, I'm planning to drop the price of Old School Evil starting Monday the 12th through Saturday the 26th to 99 cents!   I'll be posting links to it pretty often through the two weeks, so make sure to pick it up if you haven't been able to afford its regular $4.99 price.

Besides the same, not a lot had been happening besides the OSE 2 rewrite. I finally got to pay that I've been looking forward to where I'm giving characters titles that the DDTB had assigned them. Mainly leader titles here, like Commander vs. Director vs. Mastermind. I admit, I love coming up with titles and I'm going to be assigning a lot of them in this book. Guess I'll need to go through a bunch of cartoons to figure out what they would all go by.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Bad Guy Beatdown Round 15 - The Misfits

Today we're looking at Nemesis's... nemesis, along with Jem and the Holograms's, the Misfits.  Made up of three super-bitches Pizzazz, Roxie, and Stormer, this band shredded the charts with much better songs then the Holograms ever did.  But when they weren't singing, the participated in activities such as kidnapping, destruction of private property, and attempted murder.  How the hell did they never go to jail?!

Like I said before, the band is made up of three regular members - Pizzazz, the leader with the puke green hair, Roxie, the white-haired one that didn't really have any character-defining traits, and Stormer, the reluctant blue-haired singer, who showed some real concern and would sometimes go against her band mates if their schemes involved treating children like shit.  Apparently, she's fine with treating adults like shit, though.  Their attitude is out in the open too, with songs such as "Gimme, Gimme, Gimme," "Out of my Way," and "Takin' it All."

But there's one villain in the show worst them - their manager, Eric, while not as visible in the show was easily the worst of the bunch, hiring thugs to burn down houses, blow up houses, and all around try to murder Jem and the Holograms in every episode.  Still, the Misfits are more than capable of attempted manslaughter on their own, whether it's accidental or intentional, like Pizzazz's habit of reckless driving, especially when she commandeered a bulldozer and steered it into a group of children!

Anyway, one thing I had forgotten about the cartoon is that the Misfits have a sometimes 4th member, Clash.  She shows up in episode 6 as a fan of the band and was welcomed with open arms, since she immediately offered to sabotage a movie starring their rivals.  In fact, that episode is one of the most gratuitous in their efforts to end the Hologram's careers.  After first failing to erase the tapes that had recorded all of Jem's scenes, then rigging a fake bridge to collapse under Jem while she was crossing it, Clash was the one to take the whole thing a step further.

While filming a scene using staged explosives, Kimber was supposed to ride a motorcycle through a minefield.  Clash used the cymbals on her wrists to distract the special effects guy in charge of the explosives, allowing the other Misfits to change the timing on them.  As a result, the explosives went off early, sending Kimber flying from one blast to another.  If this had happened on a real set, I'm pretty sure Kimber would have been blown to bits.  She survives, of course, but it only highlights the Misfits' wanton destruction and lack of regard for human life. 

Another episode shows the Misfits calcutated attacks on the Holograms on a ski slope, taking each of them out one by one until only Jem remained.  Then they all team up on her, pelting her with snowballs.  What do you want to bet they all had rocks in them?  Of course, after that, they up their game by setting off an avalanche to bury Jem.  This is the behavior of people that have absolutely no remorse, total psychopaths that somehow get away with their threatening antics every time.  How do they do it?  It probably has to do with Pizzazz's father being a billionaire, who allows her to spend as much money as she wants, even being movie studios and record labels, just to get her out of his hair.

The only thing you don't outright see in the shows is physical violence, which is a real surprise.  Only once did it look like Pizzazz might attack Jem, and it was shockingly Jem that started it, throwing a star hanging from a rope and hitting Pizzazz in the back.  Unfortunately, Jem's boyfriend Rio stepped in to keep them from scratching each other's eyes out.  And we all know Pizzazz would have wrecked Jem's whole world.

And yes, their music is better. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Wednesday Wrap-up - 8/1/18

Man, it's been ages since I've done one of these!

So, what am I doing these days? Firstly, I'm working in the second draft of Old School Evil 2. I'm a few chapters into the rewrite from the first draft and so far I'm way happier with the story! I'm tying more stuff into it from the first book, and fleshing out characters, and making the stakes way higher for Jayce and his team.

Besides that, I've been working on a couple other ideas. Old School Evil as it stands is one trilogy. After that, I've got a secondary trilogy planned, codenamed Generations, which will expand the cartoons I'm drawing inspiration from in both ways. I've created a handful of cartoons for the Scooby Doo era, and some of the Pokemon era. Lately, I've been planning out the last one if those monster cartoons, and I really like how it's turning out.

Lastly, I've been wasting a lot of time with Mega Bloks. See, they had a set for TMNT that included the Shredder, and since he's a cool villain, going along with the Skeletor figure they made a little while ago. Since I got a big set with Shredder, I went nuts and bought a ton of other TMNT sets. And now I'm planning to customize a ton of other figures into MASK, GI Joe, and other characters. It's a huge waste of time for me, since it would require 3D modeling and printing custom heads.

Where do I go from there? Why making up a story that crosses over a bunch of cartoons with an idea of turning it into a comic, all just so I can pay it on Twitter and Instagram, which I will be going to pretty soon.

Ugh. Why do I do this to myself?

One more thing to note: I'm coming up on 1000 followers on Twitter. I'm thinking I'll do something special when I get there.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Bad Guy Beatdown Round 15 - Nemesis

Oh man, I've been waiting for this one. One's a 50 feet robot, and the other is three mean girls.

Technically that's not true.  While Nemesis does have all the strength and abilities, not all of it is accessible to him.  Let's do a very brief history of the Robotix and you'll see what I mean.  The home planet of the Robotix was inhabited by two main races - the peaceful Protectons and the reptilian Terracores, which Nemesis lead.  When the planet was threatened by destruction, both races decided their best course for survival was to enter suspended animation and send their ship into the stars.  To preserve their bodies, the ships main program, Compucore, was able to upload the Protectons' and Terracore's essences into the Robotix, large robots they used for manual labor. 

I know it's a lot of info, but we're almost there.  The good and bad Robotix began fighting as soon as they were awakened, but they were unfamiliar to their new bodies, so they couldn't do much more than throw a punch.  But when humans landed on the planet, they went into the Robotix's control console and were able to interface, which granted the Robotix with more abilities, weapons, and configurations.

Nemesis was joined by Kanawk, the leader of the selfish humans on the space crew, who was as much a schemer as Nemesis.  While Nemesis was capable of just about nothing before besides tossing Protetons around before, Kanawk was able to activate a bunch of weird configurations in him, starting with an extending drillbit from Nemesis's mouth that opened up to expose a camera.  That's just about the weirdest thing you'll see in the cartoon - I mean, why couldn't it have come out of his hand?  Instead, it looks like he's puking up a metal worm.

Anyway, beyond that, Nemesis mostly gets upgrades to his hands - in fact, instead of reconfiguring his entire body like most of the Robotix can, turning them into vehicles or ladders, even, Nemesis doesn't change his shape at all.  Rather, most of the changes are in his left hand, which is a small three-pronged claw, which he can extend before interfacing.  He's got a cannon on his shoulder, but I'm not sure if interfacing is required to use it.  His other hand, which is also a claw, but closer to a pincher, I guess, has two extra features - an energy whip, which can cut through a tree big enough to support Nemesis's weight, and then a data link to control a computer.

While the other Robotix can convert into wheeled or even flying vehicles, Nemesis is too good for that, depending on 95% of the time.  Only on two occasions did he move by other means and one of them you can't even tell what he's doing.  I think his feet have turned into tank treads, but it's hard to tell if his feet always looked like that.  The other time, he flew with rocket boosters on his feet. 

That's it for Nemesis's abilities, but how is he at leading?  Definitely not good since half way through the movie - I should mention that this wasn't a full series, but was a movie made up of 16 shorts - Nemesis is taken out by his second-in-command, Trannix, shot in the back and knocked off a cliff.  What is it with Hasbro cartoons where the leader has a backstabber as his lieutenant?  He comes back a few minutes later and doesn't even do anything for revenge on Trannix.  That's lame!  He could have at least yelled at him, but the next time they're together, there's not even a mention of it.  He was able to capture two of the Protectons and replace their programming with other Terracores, including their leader, but that one was reversed pretty quickly.  the other one was left as a spy, but it didn't amount to anything. 

It's really telling that a villains only real defining feature is Peter Cullen's villainous voice - unlike Venger, who had the voice but kicked ass as well.  Nemesis is probably the most disappointing thing about his cartoon - the most boring robot mode, no other configurations, and loss of control over his 4 - yes 4! - subordinates.  I'd say that doesn't bode well for him, but I think he lucked out with his opponent.

Click here if you want to see my original thoughts of Nemesis from when I was a kid for some more degradation of this guy.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Bad Guy Beatdown Round 14 Results

Cobra Commander strode through the halls of the Terrordrome, ranting at the bald scientist following him.  “Humanoid dinosaurs, Dr. Mindbender!” he shouted. “You fail to produce anything with that much potential and I find out they’re already roaming the Earth?”
“But Cobra Commander, we don’t know what these creatures are!”
“What does it matter?” the commander said, holding up his hand for the doctor to stop as he approached to a squad of Cobra soldiers.  “You five, arm up your Viper Gliders. We’re going hunting.”
The troopers turned to salute and shouted “Cobra!”  They ran towards the hangar with Cobra Commander following them.  
Dr. Mindbender took to his heel, continuing his unsolicited warnings.  “Sir, we don’t know anything about these creatures. They could be aliens for all we know!”
Cobra Commander spun to face his subordinate.  “I still don’t see what that would be a concern, Doctor.  Our surveillance shows that only two of three of the creatures are together at any time.  We have superior numbers and firepower, there’s no way we could lose!”
“But if they are from space, or another dimension even, they could have weaponry we could never dream of.  We need to consider--”
“No, doctor, you need to consider what your next words are.  Your petty experiments have wrought nothing but trouble for Cobra.  Perhaps when we retrieve these creatures, I’ll allow you to synthesize them to be new Cobra troopers.  Until then, I don’t want to hear another word about your cowardly concerns. Do you understand?”
“Perhaps Dr. Mindbender has a point, Commander.”
Cobra Commander dropped his head back in frustration.  “And you have concerns as well, Destro?”
“Not concerns,” the silver-headed man said, offering the commander a pistol,” just a suggestion that you arm yourself with more than your charming personality.”
Cobra Commander snatched the weapon from Destro’s hand and hurried away to the helicopter hangar, while his two bald-headed minions looked at each other in disappointment.

The Tyrannos stomped their way across the canyon, shoulders slumped and breathing deep.  Genghis Rex lead the way, mumbling under his breath about his latest defeat to the Dinosaucers.
“Uh, Bossasaur?” Ankylo muttered from behind him.
Genghis spun around and dropped to Ankylo’s level so fast the smaller Tyranno fell backwards.  “Can’t you see I’m busy formulating our next plan to defeat the Dinosaucers and steal the Dinovolving technology from them?”
Quackpot leaned close to Plesio and covered his bill with his hand.  “I thought he was just whining?”
“What did you say, Duck-breath?” Genghis said, taking a step towards Quackpot and shaking his big red fists.
“Nothing, Chiefasaurus!” Quackpot jumped back, smacking Plesio’s lowered head with his own.
“That’s what I thought!  Now, the next one who interrupts my planning is going to get a shot of my Fossilizer!”
“But Bossasaur, look up there!” Ankylo shouted, his finger raised up into the air.
Genghis turned to look into the sky and saw six small flying vessels approach.  “Dinosaucers?” It didn’t seem likely as they’d never chased the Tyrannos away after they’d actually defeated them, preferring to stand around and laugh as Genghis and his goons slunk away.  This latest rout was particularly humiliating, as Genghis--. He shook his head. Next time will be different.
“They’re coming right for us!” Plesio said just as the five winged vehicles opened fire.  Red laser fire filled the air as each vehicle made a pass at the grouped Tyrannos. Ankylo and Quackpot both fled into a crevasse inside the canyon wall while Plesio jumped into the river below.
“Cowards!” Genghis roared, the shoots whizzing by him.  He charged across the field, dodging fire, towards his personal ship.  He jumped inside and fired off the rockets, launching into the air to pursue his attackers.  “You fools think a handful of hang-gliders can destroy a Reptilon ship?” In short work, Genghis had blasted all five gliders out of the sky, each pilot parachuting safely to the ground.  He turned his attention to the final flier, a small helicopter firing a barrage of missiles at him. Genghis’s rocket-powered ship easily evaded the primitive weaponry and he flew close enough to the helicopter for his ship’s articulated claws to grab ahold of it.   With a powerful hydraulic yank, the helicopter split in two, spilling its pilot into the air before another parachute was deployed.
On the ground, the first five pilots were firing their rifles at Genghis’s ship with the same underwhelming accuracy.  Ankylo and Quackpot, coming out of their hiding spots, drew their attention away from Genghis, allowing him to land his ship and wait for the final flier to reach the surface.  
During his descent, the helicopter pilot un holstered his gun, firing on Genghis while shooting a long drawn-out, “Cobraaaa!”
Genghis scoffed, withdrew his Fossilizer pistol and fired at the parachuter, scoring a direct hit.  The pilot turned to stone, adding hundreds of pounds to the parachute and causing it to fail. The now statue plummeted to the earth and shattered into a pile of rubble.
As the surrendered pilots were escorted back to Genghis by Ankylo, the leader of the Tyrannos hissed, “Cobras have nothing on a Tyrannosaurus Rex!”
 Click here for Cobra Commander's respect post.  Click here for Genghis Rex's.

Let's be honest here - did anyone expect Cobra Commander to win?  Even with a number of his troops tagging along with him, he was hopelessly outgunned.  Cobra Commander himself is a liability, jumping right into battle without a plan, relying only on his over-inflated ego to win, which has never worked for him.  Genghis might be stupid, but she's shown to be a decent shot and okay in a fight.  He's got way more powerful weapons and vehicles as well.  I think that even if Cobra Commander had brought on the full might of his entire terrorist organization, he'd still have lost to the technologically superior and more ruthless Tyrannos.

The Winner
To see the winner of the last round - Hordak vs. Hun-Dred, click here.  And to see the rest of the Bad Guy Beatdown matches, click here.