A miscellany of weekly ramblings on comics, art and film by Ted Mathot, storyboard artist and writer/artist/self-publisher of graphic novels and comics

Friday, December 30, 2005

Good Night and Good Luck

Or in my case, "Good Luck Seeing This Movie Uninterrupted and in its Entirety with a Fairly Decent Print". If any of you out there happened to be at a showing of this film on Wednesday night at a small San Francisco theatre, you would have seen the projector shut down and house lights come up not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES during the first hour of this film. After each of the first two interruptions, there was a 5-10 minute wait before the film unceremoniously started back up, with the audience having no idea how much they missed. After the projector quit for a third time I was out the door, coat in hand, getting my refund. I don't know if the film ever resumed after that.

I've never demanded a refund before at a movie theatre, but the reason I did this time was because the movie had me completely hooked. I was miffed, and determined to see it before it ends its theatrical run.

The next night in Albany I would get to see the complete film; although the print was filthy and covered with dust and dirt, Good Night and Good Luck sucked me into the world of Ed Murrow, Joe McCarthy and CBS. I'm not going to write a long thought out review because there are tons of them out there.

I do want to express my excitement over a few of the film's key attributes:

Casting - Great across the board; Strathairn being the obvious standout; while this guy is on screen he IS Murrow. Amazing. I like Clooney too. Patricia Clarkson is one of my favorites and being a fan of Homicide: Life on the Street, it's nice to see Reed Diamond on the big screen. Ray Wise (you may remember him as Leland Palmer on Twin Peaks) is very good in the few minutes of screen time given to him. I cared more about his character in those few minutes than I do for most characters who get whole features devoted to them. Other supporting roles played by Robert Downey Jr., Frank Langella, Jeff Daniels...all great.

Music - Excellent use of music, as interlude as well as commentary. The lyric 'I've got my eye on you" from the second musical interlude...perfect.

Cinematography- Beautiful. I love black and white film; the simplicity of it. Curls of grey smoke over black backgrounds, subtle rim lighting, the contrast of pure black on pure white, creamy greys.

Production Design - The film looks like it was made in the 50's. For the budget they had, the sets are fantastic; I was totally immersed in that world.

Subject Matter - I love how this is just a part of Murrow's life and career. I have been avoiding full biopics lately because for some of them, the scope is just too big, too bombastic, too many special effects, and too many stars trying to outdo each other on the screen. There is none of that here. The cast works as a team, they all support each other; the balance is perfect. And on a side note, it's great to see so much smoking in a film. I've had it with digital removal of cigatettes and cigars from movies, tv and album covers (and I'm not a smoker). Show it like it is -- these guys smoked. A LOT.

I could go on and on, but see it for yourself; this is a great film.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Happy Holidays

Rose and Isabel will be going on a short hiatus and will return in the New Year. Happy Holidays to all!

And on this day in the Civil War:

Monday Dec. 19 1864

It was a strange time for the men of the army William T. Sherman had led from Atlanta to the Sea. It had been a long march, and not the first, and although pitched battles had been relatively uncommon, the sniping and stray shots from behind rocks and trees had never completely stopped. Now they had reached the ocean, which many of them had never seen, and a few days rest allowed exploration of this new wonder and its creatures. Every camp was experimenting with the uses of oysters--oyster soup, oyster stew, oysters fried, roasted, and raw on the half-shell. Although hardly unknown, to inlanders they were the legendary repast of the rich. When no one could stand more oysters, they were used as stuffing for roast goose.

(Quoted from Civil War Interactive)

Storyboard Study: Action

Here's another of those storyboard breakdowns I did a while back. This is part of one of my favorite action scenes, the attack on a caravan in Clear and Present Danger (directed by Philip Noyce).

I wanted to break it down to try and get into the director's head because this scene is very entertaining and very clear, two things you don't find together very often in action scenes today. These boards read across the page, not up and down like in The Gift board study.

Of special note is the 180 degree camera rotation in the third row. It's a great move, and introduces the bad guy. The 180 spin really tells us someting is going to happen that is not the norm; a perfect usage of WHY to go over the 180 line (see the "Over the Line" post).

Also note the low angle on page 2, row 2; this is another big moment where the imposter shoots the real motorcycle cop.
The close up in row 4 shows us the determination on the bad guy's face; he has succeded in infiltrating the caravan. These three moments are the key bits of storytelling in this short section and the shots tell us this.

When I get around to it, I'd really like to draw up and break down the second half of the scene...

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

A page in the making

Here's a page that's undergoing some re-working. I wasn't happy with a particular story point and it was taking up two pages. At this stage in the production of the book, I need to begin streamlining; cutting out the fat and getting the story moving, something I did quite a bit of in the first book. The two page bit was changed and cut down to one page. Here it is in its early stages; you can still see the original page on the layers beneath.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Afterworks 2 - The Sag Dig

crossposted from the E-Ville Press blog...

Some more exploratory doodles for my story in the upcoming Afterworks 2 anthology. Still not set on the design of the dog...

Thursday, December 01, 2005


Rose and Isabel part 1 is SOLD OUT...

Thanks to everyone who has supported me in my first comics endeavor. It has been a truly rewarding experience. Part 1 will go into its second printing next year, most likely in time for the APE convention in San Francisco.

(If you would still like a copy, please check out the stores listed in the sidebar to the right; most if not all of them still have some copies available.)