Thursday, January 31, 2013

Down in Dungarvan

Towards the end of last year, I took part in an exhibition organised by my good friend Noeleen called Brief Exchange. Well, it's back! The second show is an online only affair and the results have all been added to the Brief Exchange website for all to peruse.

This time around, I was given the following brief:

On his album 'Born in the USA' Bruce Springsteen sings about 'My Hometown'. Love it or hate it we all have one. Design / illustrate or photograph a poster inspired by your hometown.

I have to admit, I was pretty stumped on this one for quite some time, but finally thought of an angle I was happy with when there was a week to go until the deadline, just like the last time around. Because I'll never learn.

Anyway. The angle was zombies, because, yes, I know, I never shut up about them. So I decided to put my knowledge of my hometown to good use and came up with a survival guide to Dungarvan in the case of a zombie attack.

Clickedy click to enlarge

Dungarvan is one of those places that has a ridiculous number of chemists for the size of town it is. There are nine, to be exact and eight of them are all within spitting distance of each other, so I worked that into the poster by simply marking out where they were on a map of the town centre, along with other places to scavenge supplies from during the zombie apocalypse.

There's a 12th century shell keep called King John's Castle down by the quay in Dungarvan, so I figured it'd be an ideal place to hole up in reasonable safety from the undead, what with the big ass stone walls enclosing an 18th century barracks and all.  

Finally, seeing as it's wise to have an escape plan in case everything goes to shit, the nearby Cunnigar seemed like a good route to the nearby and less populated countryside. Also this way I could include a zombie warning sign in Irish for the craic.

So that was my submission for the second Brief Exchange show. The other posters and the briefs that they're based on are all on the website (click here to view them) and there's some truly excellent design going on over there.

Look out for the poster that came out of the brief I submitted, where I asked the designer to create a page of a helpful guide book for time travelling tourists. It's awesome.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Hello Pretty

While watching Tangled and The Princess and the Frog over Christmas, I was reminded of how much I flipping love Disney animation, Disney films and indeed, Disney princesses. Look at them! They're so pretty! With their huge swishy dresses and their completely unachievable hair!

Princesses are big business for Disney, but their world is a slightly odd and very carefully controlled one. For example, whenever they're pictured together, they never acknowledge each other or make eye contact. Apparently Roy Disney was against the idea of marketing the characters outside of their original stories, but went ahead with it on the condition that the princesses weren't aware of each other. So when they appear in a lineup, like the one above, they're all existing in their separate princess dimensions, like a whole bunch of parallel storybook universes all squished together.

Although a new cartoon for the Disney Channel, called Sofia the First, is set to blow a giant hole through the individual princess bubbles, as Ariel, Aurora and Cinderella are set to appear in the series. We can only hope that they arrive in a glittery pink TARDIS.

Also, Giselle from Enchanted was originally supposed to become part of the official princess marketing juggernaut, but Disney decided against it as it turned out that they were going to have to pay royalties to Amy Adams for using her likeness. And Disney don't pay for no princesses.

A lot has been said about what questionable role models the princesses can be, with the exception of Mulan, or maybe Tiana seeing as she's the first princess to run her own business, but from an entirely aesthetic point of view, they're bloody gorgeous pieces of artwork. They're beautifully drawn and instantly recognisable, and when this is the case I'm always intrigued as to where the inspiration for a character's image might have come from.

In Snow White's case, the lead animator for Snow White and the Seven Dwarves was Grim Natwick, who previously designed Betty Boop for Fleischer Studios. Both characters share the short black hair and high pitched voices that would have been the fashionable feminine ideals for women in the 1930s. When you compare Snow White's hair and her relatively flat chest to the other princesses, with their long tumbling locks and nicely proportioned racks, she's actually something of a flapper girl.

When the character of Ariel was being developed for The Little Mermaid in the 1980s, the animators wanted to come up with a princess that would endure, like the ones that came before her, but also wanted her to be relatable to modern girls. An actress called Sherri Stoner was used as the live action model for Ariel, while her features were based on an array of different actresses - one of which was a young Alyssa Milano - in order to get the Eighties ideal of a pretty teenager with fashionable hair right.

At the time, Ariel was the first Disney princess in almost twenty years, so the animators paid tribute to her three predecessors by taking elements of their famous dresses and mashing them together in a pink Frankengown for her.

When it came to designing the character of Belle, Disney wanted her to be European-looking (whatever that means) and based her rounded features on Audrey Hepburn. Her famous yellow dress was directly inspired by a royal gown that Audrey wore in Roman Holiday.

I love it when Disney princesses are cleverly dropped into popular culture, and one of my favourite quotes from 30 Rock is the one where the inimitable Jenna makes a previously unnoticed point about the royal ladies.

One of the best things I've seen online in quite some time is the Pocket Princesses series by the insanely talented US artist Amy Mebberson. The series of comic strips feature the princesses all living together and the various domestic spats and shenanigans that a house filled with such big and oftentimes ridiculous personalities would bring about. She manages to nail each character's traits both perfectly and hilariously and they're the most adorable squabbles this side of a row between Hello Kitty and Boo.

Mérida from Brave will be joining the official Disney Princess group later this year, and the Pocket Princesses take on her introduction to the group is just deadly. The whole series of brilliant illustrations are on Mebberson's Tumblr, which I highly recommend trawling through. Click to enlarge the images below so you can fully appreciate just how clever and gorgeously drawn they are.

And finally, last year Lindsay Lohan hosted an episode of SNL which gave us the amazing Real Housewives of Disney sketch. Kristen Wiig's drunk-as-fuck Cinderella is a thing of beauty and the bitchy Prince Charming very nearly steals the show entirely.

Gold stars all round.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Ain't No Party Like a Womb Patrol Party, Cos a Womb Patrol Party is Forgettable

Well it's been an eventful week of Oireachtas Committee hearings on the topic of legislating for abortion. Not least because of Caroline Simons and her remarkable memory lapse.

When asked by a Fine Gael TD about her involvement in the hilarious anti-choice EWTN video, she replied:

“In relation to EWTN. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m sorry I can’t help you with that one”.

Not exactly the answer anyone was expecting, seeing as, y'know, she was IN IT.

When asked again, after it was pointed out to her that she's in the bloody thing, she said:

"I was not aware I was on EWTN."

What the hell people, can't poor Caroline was just stand around in a room, minding her own business, talking about LITERAL tsunamis of death and the like without being filmed by right wing Catholic TV stations? HOW RUDE.

Later on Twitter, she clarified things.

Ah, see? She just DIDN'T KNOW which ludicrous anti-choice video it was. I mean, she DID say earlier in front of the Oireachtas Committee that she was not aware she was on EWTN, so it's not like she was on an hour long episode of a show on that very channel in April of last year, being interviewed by a friar who thinks that some victims of clerical abuse tricked those poor priests into fucking them. 

No wait, hang on. That's EXACTLY what happened.

Not only was she on the network, she also made her feeling about the TFMR (Terminations For Medical Reasons) group pretty clear, stating how "unusual" it was that they decided to go public with their stories of having to travel to England for abortions, after discovering that their babies wouldn't survive outside the womb.

"They got huge publicity, huge publicity. Our most watched prime time television programme last Friday night is called the Late Late Show. Those four women, I think maybe three of them were on last week, there was nobody on to counter what they had to say."

Imagine the temerity of the show's producers not to have the usual anti-choice Iona Institute/Life Institute loonbag there to tell these women how wrong they were while they told their utterly heartbreaking stories?

I mean, THE CHEEK.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Quelque Chose #19

Did you know that Veronica Lake, possessor of amazing hair and incredible face was only 4'11 tall? I only discovered it myself the other day, on the excellent Sibling of Daedalus blog. Look at how teeny tiny she was compared to 5'5 actresses Paulette Goddard and Dorothy Lamour.


You could put her in your pocket!