Sunday, November 23, 2008

Our ultimate purpose.

To understand our ultimate purpose we must first understand what we are.

Life arose out of organic compounds. That early life multiplied and changed and through many permutations evolved into the forms that we see today.
The 'finished product' is a complex expression of the fundamental needs. Eat and reproduce.

This is THE ultimate purpose.

We are a behavioural system so complex that we are able to recognize the workings of the system itself. That is self-awareness. Our self-awareness is the foundation for building new systems to explain that which is not self-evident to us.
But the complexity of our systems is outstripping the ability of the brain to calculate. Information is expanding exponentially and our ability to process it is only slowly expanding.

Computers will someday bridge that gap. The computing system will one day become so complex that it is able to recognize the workings of it's own system and that will be a new awakening to self-awareness.
In this way computers will eventually have as much in common with humanity as do the living creatures.
The other living creatures may also reach self-awareness. The tipping point as I see it is the day when one of them becomes so self-aware that he is able to ask himself 'Why?'.
"Why am I here? What is my purpose?"
But we already know that.

Eat. Reproduce.

Being capable of exceeding the needs of our ultimate purpose does not change the fact that we are organisms designed for and defined by our ability to fulfill our core function.
At the same time it would also be a mistake to limit ourselves to these core functions. Indeed we have been so successful at fulfilling our mission that we are in danger of collapsing under the strain of our own might. It is clear that we must develop new systems in order to 'refine' our ultimate purpose and to ensure the greatest possible fulfillment of our core mission.

Here is where a fool might create an argument that runs contrary to the ultimate purpose. "We need to change our core mission to one that the planet can sustain indefinitely!" One might say.

But we are an organism designed from the beginning to consume and reproduce. Through many ages we've designed ourselves (through evolution) to reward those who are best at consuming and reproducing. Even if it were possible to suppress the instinctual needs of the entire human race to the point of final balance, wouldn't we then risk eliminating the fundamental drive that created us in the first place?

And who among us would stand for it?

If ever mankind were satisfied with only the elements of basic sustenance we'd never have found a need to leave Africa.
It's not what we are.
We strive to consume more and create more because that's our design. It is our nature, our purpose. To go against our nature is not only foolish, it's impossible.

So we rightly return to our original design, that of consumption and reproduction. Since our success is clearly straining the limits of the planet we must accept as a refinement of our ultimate purpose the discovery of new resources.

And this is why we must return to the moon.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Late notice

Well I'm sure it would've been useful to say this earlier but I'm not convinced that there's much use in 're-reviewing' the current month of Zuda entries. So I'll start fresh with December and go from there.

I've also been mulling ideas to expand the literary content of the blog. Suggestions will be taken seriously but in the meantime I've got nothing.
Almost nothing.

I'm still in the process of moving myself into a new house, a process that will likely take many months before I find the power cord to my scanner. Once that happens it'll be time to start drawing again. I suppose I could start drawing again now but then I have to weigh those needs against the needs of installing my dishwasher.

That's a slow-burn anyways.
I'm ridiculously slow on output. In case you haven't noticed.

Still on track for a 2011 Zuda submission.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Rumors of War

Rumors of War

I gave this my vote for November and a four star rating.

Page one opens with a bit of silent exposition which surprisingly continues into silent story telling lasting all the way through to page 6.

I've seen the 'silent' thing before. Usually it's a gimmick and not particularly effective.
I think it's seen as something of a 'vanity project' in the pro world. Prove your storytelling skills by eliminating the dialog!
I hate it when they do that. When you're driving do you feel compelled to honk the horn just to prove that you have one?
No. The horn is a tool to be used at the appropriate moment.

I believe Rumors of War demonstrates a proper grab from the toolbox and...
it really proves some storytelling skills.

Linework is lively and varied. Good texturing. Figures have weight. Initially limited color palette that expands meaningfully as new ideas are introduced. Good sense of scale. Crazy creature designs.

Love it.

So why didn't I give it a 5 star?

Well firstly I'm just difficult to score 5 on. Maxy, Ulysses (but only after the second entry) Night Owls, Bayou (though I'm thinking about rescinding down to four) Imaginary Boys, Street Code, Melody and High Moon are my only 5 star comics thus far. Crooked Man and Supertron come close and I'm sure I could think of a few others that just missed out, but the point I want to make is that the 5 star brotherhood is rare company.

But what could have been done to get that extra star?
The coloring was more subdued than I like. Lots of dull colors which aren't necessarily a bad choice, but since I'm such a bright cheery person I like to see some bright cheery colors. I also felt that an opportunity was missed to use cast shadows to obscure forms. Again not a criticism of the shadow work that is present but with so many repeated images I think it would've been nice to have a panel or two to linger on and maybe create a different sort of depth.

And finally it's just hard to give 5 stars to a story that I know so little about. It's dead fascinating but it's still getting up to speed. Most of my 5 star comics had established more story by the end of page 8.

Of course there's no way around THAT problem short of rewriting it from scratch and what good would that be? It works! It's good! Vote for it.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Baby Monsters

This is an entry that has some big problems holding it down and never more than a glimpse of it's full potential.
Biggest issue we have here is the lettering, which looks like a half-baked afterthought. It's not that I can't appreciate a creator's desire to experiment but I want to see better execution. The plotting is hard to follow and once interpreted I found that it's almost entirely exposition with just a hint of contextless foreshadowing.
One final technical note - the borders and gutters are inconsistent and it makes the art look sloppy.

That's a shame because I did enjoy the line-work and the storytelling is passable.

But if there's one element that nearly carries the day it has to be the coloring.
Even here there are problems. Reference page three panel one. Note the very clear light source as indicated by character shadows. Now note the light sourcing on the big eggs. Red egg at the bottom is lit from a different direction.
In spite of this the coloring succeeds.
It's a mish-mash of gradients, photoshop brush effects and stylized renderings of background elements. It features some of the brightest colors to hit the Zuda scene. It pops and it's vibrant and works.

All the same I defaulted to the typical three star rating I usually give on Zuda. There's no creative element powerful enough to elevate this entry and no failing serious enough to lower it.