Nina's Tee Vee Teleprompter SpecialThe Stork will be airing Thursday, July 6th, at 10 pm on New York's Channel Thirteen show Reel NY. They had us filmmakers introduce our films on video by making us read teleprompters. That's right, teleprompters. They also insisted on putting makeup on us. So, even though The Stork can be downloaded any time online, you can tune in to Reel NY for a rare, 20-second glimpse of yours truly impersonating a generic news-reader.
Hafta MagazineHafta is a brand new online magazine out of Mumbai, and its current issue includes an article about Sita Sings the Blues by Saswati Bora. Read!
A sabedoria e a inteligência do câncer / Mary Varn
An older short of mine, The Wit & Wisdom of Cancer, has been translated into Portugese and sub-titled by Nelson in Brazil. Thanks, Nelson!
In other news, I just visited Mary Varn's blog because she left a comment here. She's documenting the creation of her animated short film, posting storyboards, sketches, color explorations, background designs, animation tests, and more, and describing her process as she goes along. To anyone wanting to make animation, or wondering how a short gets made, or just plain ol' interested in the miracle of artistic creation, this is a must-see.
Ow, my eyes
Before I became an animator, I was a cartoonist and illustrator. Illustration is, in general, easier than animation, because it usually involves making only one drawing that will be looked at for several seconds, as opposed to making 24 drawings that will be looked at for only one second. My illustrations were usually black-and-white line art. If color was needed, I added it digitally. I was considered fast.
This fake Indian miniature painting project, however, has brought me to my knees. I am humbled. Drawing takes time. Painting takes even more time. Who knew? All those years I was cranking out daily comic strips, I thought I was Ms. Speed Queen. HA! When I planned this painting phase of the project, I thought it would only take me a month to paint eighteen scenes. EIGHTEEN SCENES! And I thought each scene would include new renderings of characters and architecture and trees and skies and clouds. HA HA HA! No, I'll be re-using every character, tree, and background I paint as many times as I can, to avoid re-painting anything. But even with repeats, this project is progressing humiliatingly slowly. And it's not like the quality is anywhere near real Mughal miniatures. I recently saw a real one belonging to an art-collector friend. The detail is mind-boggling even to my nearsighted self. I'm pretty sure Mughal miniature painting is what they did to make little children go blind before they had Nike factories.
That said, I'm happy with my latest and best background painting: Lanka on the ocean. I hope to have a benefit for Sita Sings the Blues this Winter, during which I can auction these puppies off to fund more filmmaking time. Bidding starts at a bazillion dollars. (OK, I'll probably lower the start price when my neck stops hurting and my vision returns. After all, If I had a bazillion dollars, I'd buy a real Mughal miniature instead of crude facsimiles made by an amateur.)
Here's my Hanuman Photoshopped over a detail of the same background.
Ye Olde AyodhyaThis painting thing continues to take too much (all) of my time. Here's my attempt at a mythical Ayodhya, based on a Mughal painting. As an experiment, I tried detailing with India ink. I probably won't do that again. In this composite I re-used trees and the background. Gotta paint more backgrounds. Ugh. Patience is not one of my virtues.
Age and Beauty
I've received some emails complaining about my character design for Sita. Specifically, her babe-aliciousness offends some sensibilities, like Sendhil's:
....please do not portray Mother Sita in a skinny robe like an arabian belly dancer. It is insulting to us Hindus. I also went through all the letters of appreciation you have received from everyone Indians and others. I can only assure you that they are idiots who have not understood the meaning of Ramayana.
Sita's bodacious bod is in fact based on a grand tradition of devotional Hindu art. This tradition is pre-Mughal, but then so is the Ramayana itself. As for Sita being a mother, well, here's a pre-Mughal mother goddess. No shame in the female form; fearing and hiding it is an idea imported to India relatively recently.
Speaking of ancient history, another correspondent, Suresh Kumar, would like you to know that the Ramayana is many millenia older than the 3,000 years I gave it. He's referring to whatever actual events the story is based on, not when it was written. I myself peg it closer to Valmiki's estimated era, since I'm working from Valmiki's version. Your mileage may vary.
If you'd like to gawk at more pre-Mughal ideal feminine figures, here are some pictures I took at the Metropolitan Museum of Art yesterday. They're all blurry, because the galleries had extremely low lighting and flash was verboten.
I'm honored to have this sun from Sita (it's from a chapter I haven't posted online yet, sorry) incorporated into the redesigned DesiPundit.com site.
There's an interview with yours truly in the latest issue of Yale's Subcontinent newspaper; you can download the .pdf here. I never expected my work would show up in the Ivy League, but life is full of surprises.
Indian communications magazine USP has an article about the project here.
But the really big news is, I'm attempting to train my cat to use the toilet. I'll spare you the grosser details, but I will say that handling poo is the sort of thing I thought I'd get to avoid by not having kids. Now even my ass has been kicked into humilty by maternal love, even if it is for a furry black feline.