First off, TOME Episode 05 is on its way out! The new installment will be released at the beginning of next month. The animation is complete, so all that remains is the sound design and compositing. In the meantime, to celebrate Halloween coming up soon, I'm harkening back to an ol' tradition of drawing the main cast of TOME in costumes for an illustration that will be released this month! This week, each of the five main characters will have a bunch of options for you to vote on, at the official TOME Facebook page. Cast your votes on what you wanna see Alpha and the gang dress up as!
Also, speaking of Episode 05, I'll be premiering it at this year's Youmacon 2012 in Detroit, Michigan! I've grown to love this con for the last few years and this next one's gonna be HUGE. No set schedule yet, but I can confirm I'll be doing my "Kirb's Flashstravaganza!" and "Balancing Act: Making an Animated Short" panels again! As soon as I know the times and days for them, I'll release an update with the schedule. During the Flashstravaganza this year, we'll not only be premiering the new TOME Episode, but we'll be joined by many of the cast and crew including Martin Billany, Bryon Beaubien, Dave Smith, Liz Losey and more! Not to mention, we'll be concluding the panel with a live performance of "Waltz of the Forest" by myself, Blake "Shadyvox" Swift and Musical Mike Patterson! Again, more details and an update video will follow once the con schedule's been released.
Additionally, I'll be at New York Comic Con this weekend with a TON of people; too many to count. Not gonna be doing anything in particular this year, but if you see me, feel free to say hi!
Aright so I've been up to quite a bit this summer. After my last update, I got very busy with a freelance gig for the Suffolk County library. I've been quiet on the blog front for a few months due to the grand majority of what I've been working on has had to be kept secret. Some of it is still under wraps, but there's a couple things Ican talk about now.
First off, the good folks from Studio Nasu and Otakon, the first anime convention I ever went to and STILL attend almost every year, are teaming up to do a side-scrolling beat 'em up game called "Crisis Heart Brawlers: Clash at Otakon". I'm working on the game as an animation clean-up artist and we've opened up a kickstarter about a week ago, which has already gotten almost half the goal's budget! There's some really great prizes for those who donate and every little bit helps! If you wanna help make the game great and get something extra special out of it, please help us out and donate! The people behind the game are trying to cram in as much awesome stuff into it as possible, so I can say for certain it'll be worth it in the end.
Several projects I've voiced in have come out now too! Dust: An Elysian Tail, an incredibly fun game created by Dean Dodrill is out for XBLA, featuring a HUGE number of talented actors from Newgrounds, including several I've worked with personally. Deven Mack Jr., the game's casting director, was kind enough to slip me a cameo that I won't spoil...go buy the game on Xbox, it's amazing!
I also was fortunate enough to work with Mike Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh on the Berserk CG-animated movie that screened at SDCC and will be releasing to DVD soon. I'm scattered throughout the film as various soldiers...mostly dying ones. I got my arm chopped off and my balls shanked out. It was great.
Lastly, and this one I've been waiting to talk about for a while: I'm voicing the lead character "Pablo" in the very adorable children's learning program Curiosityville. It harkens back to stuff like Leapfrog and Jumpstart, but it's all online and easily accessible. If you've got any little ones that might like it, show 'em!
Those're only just a few things I've got cooking right now. I'm working on a music video as a commission for a certain well-known performer on YouTube, which is currently in its animatic stage and will be kicking into full animation as soon as the final song is mixed. I've also been developing lots of new stuff, some on my own and some with the help of others. Amongst all this though, I haven't forgotten about TOME. As with the other secretive stuff, I can't say anything just yet about TOME, but please be patient and keep an eye out for future announcements! Also, thank you everyone who subscribed to the official TOME Facebook page, as we hit over 5000 likes this Summer, which is incredible. I can only hope as things progress, the following with continue to grow with it.
Stay with me, folks!
TOME Episode 04: "Fraggedquest" is released to Newgrounds, as well as the Traveler's Guide just for archival purposes. Thank you EVERYONE who helped put this episode together. I got wa too ambitious with it and it ended up being way longer than I expected, but I genuinely think it's our best one yet. Also, I apologize for any glitches in the animation and sound. I'm going to try and get the YouTube version completed next week and some of those issues will hopefully not be a problem anymore. Thanks for understanding and I hope you enjoyed the episode for what it is.
So people are probably immediately thinking, "when does Episode 05 come out?!" Well, the next step isn't that simple. Believe me, I'd LOVE to keep just making the episodes as I had originally planned and continue through the series like normal, however, that's probably not what's going to happen. While I appreciate everyone who's enjoyed the series so far, and even the people who weren't fans of it that offered critique to help it grow...the fact is, the show hasn't done well enough to immediately warrant continuation, nor is it helping me progress as an artist, as much as I was expecting it to. I love the story and characters; the prospect of going further with what I have planned and the appearance of new plot elements and characters is still an exciting thing for me, just as it must be to its fans. However, I need to make the next step in my career. I'm now over a full year out of college. The biggest things to my credit of noteworthiness are my contribution to Skullgirls, a bit of odd voiceover work here and there, and the ONE festival screening I had with Balancing Act that resulting in the freelance gig I'm currently working on. TOME, unfortunately, is not something that has done well enough for me to survive off of monetarily, nor has it caught on big enough in its popularity for IT to survive...at least, not yet.
Rest assured, I don't want to simply abandon TOME at this stage. I knew Episode 04 was going to be a checkpoint and I knew early on into production that there was a possibility of it being the last, hence why I went with a different story concept instead of my original script for Episode 04 (which has now been bumped up to 05). The next step I want to take with the series is something on a much bigger scale. I can't go into much detail, because what I have planned is still in very early stages and absolutely NOTHING in confirmed yet, but it's more than simply upping the quality of the animation. Down the line, I might even need your help. As soon as I have ANYTHING that I can share publicly, I'll let you know. In the meantime, I have a lot of work to do. My freelance gig needs tending so I can get it done within June and I may have another music video gig coming up soon. I'm not goin' anywhere yet, so keep it tuned.
First and most importantly, I wanna seriously thank everyone for their very kind responses to that last journal. I've gained a few answers on my current situation; still figuring a bunch of things out but overall I really, truly appreciate the time everyone took to lend some words to my massive text wall of "what am I doing with my life" whining.
ANYWAY. So a whole lot has happened in the last two months or so. One of the "answers" I came to at many people's recommendation is to make better use of my YouTube channel. That said, I've put Episode 03 of TOME up on there...
...as well as a "Traveler's Guide" that I made as a new short!
I'll be updating the TOME YouTube playlist on my page too.
I went to PAXeast a while back, which was a blast. Big thanks to Corey Holland and his friends who I roomed with during the weekend. I was yet again in good company such as D-Mac, Francine Louise, Noah Scammon, Jerma, Nalem 'n Spanio, Sane Intolerant, Sean Warrener and so, so many more. Holy crap. This was a lot of fun in particular because it made me REALLY appreciate the production side of games more. All of the independant developers who set up shop and were getting people psyched about their games was really inspiring. This is one I'd absolutely love to come back to again next year, maybe even save up for the one in Seattle one day. Separate note, big thanks to Mack and Francine for a wonderful Easter dinner and a fun time hangin' out that entire Sunday. :]
Speaking of appreciating video game production, here's a big one: Skullgirls has been released!
Skullgirls is a traditional 2D fighting game for XBLA and PSN, with beautiful character designs by Alex Ahad and intense gameplay overseen by Mike Zaimont. I, along with many colleagues and fellow artists from the NiN10Doh! collab crew, did character animation and clean-up on the game. In particular, I worked on several moves for Parasoul, Ms. Fortune and Painwheel, as well as a little bit for Valentine and some of the background characters. The game is very hardcore and getting some great buzz so far. It's only about 15 bucks, so definitely pick it up and give it a shot!
Lastly and most recently, I came out to Philly for Pico Day. Like PAX, this was a real treat and a good time to be surrounded by such talented folks. There are far too many names to go down, but everyone who was there that I got the chance to talk to, you were all amazing and made this past weekend an amazing time. I WILL mention Mick Lauer, who after years of delaying I FINALLY had the pleasure to hang with.
So here I am, back in the saddle workin' to try and play some catch-up on animation stuff. I'm making some good progress on my freelance gig, which has been for the Suffolk County Library's Summer Reading program here in New York. I'm JUST getting to the halfway point on TOME Episode 04 today in terms of production. I think this is definitely our best episode yet, but I'll say upfront that it's WAY too long and I got a bit over-ambitious...BUT, I -am- gonna finish it and I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I'm hoping. As I said at the beginning, there's still a lot of uncertainty on what will be happening after Episode 04's release. I'm looking into details on a few other things, but nothing's been set in stone at all yet, so stay tuned.
I don't usually make posts like this, but I felt the need to put some of what's on my mind out in the open. In between waiting to hear back about jobs and hoping and praying that something will work out, I've just been continuing to work on TOME and one freelance gig that will "last me" until the summer. Additionally, I've gone through a lot of questioning on exactly what I should be doing from here on out, which really is a stupid question considering the real answer is "whatever I want", but I only wish it were that simple. I'm nearly one year out of school and I need to make money, continue to make a name for myself and progress as an artist, as well as get to the next level in my career. I'm not in a position anymore where I can simply make whatever I want with no real thought put into what it's going to do for me.
Now I mean NO offense by this, so I hope anyone that was more emotionally affected by these tragedies than I was won't take this the wrong way...but strangely enough, the passing of two fellows artists, Randy Solem and Edd Gould, have been more thought-provoking to me than I expected, because of what they represented to me. Randy and his work on Video Game Director's Cut represents what I did for several years when I started on Newgrounds: using "sprites" and pre-existing video game characters in cartoons to make people laugh by way of things an audience is already familiar with. Edd and his series Eddsworld, represents what I'm trying to do now, and it was proof to me that you CAN be a success in making your own original animated material. When I talk about what they "represent" to me, take note I DO NOT intend this as a trivialization of their passing. What these two folks did were incredible in their own ways and impacted me a lot for the last decade of my life.
So now I ask myself yet again...what do I next? A lot of the answers people give me are "create what makes YOU happy!" Here's my confliction: TOME -is- that. Regardless of peoples' opinions on it and the stress I go through making each episode, creating TOME makes me really happy. I love just thinking, writing and drawing what's going to happen with these characters and I get excited about introducing new ones as well as delving further into this grandiose story I've been cooking up. This is the type of thing I've ALWAYS wanted to do since before I even touched Flash: making original cartoons. All the years of me doing Parody Rangers, NiN10Doh! and everything else that was also satire on pre-existing material, was long-story short? A distraction. It was a distraction from what my real goals and aspirations were in the first place. At the end of the day, the only sure thing I can depend on is that I'm GOING to finish TOME Episode 04 even if I have to do it by myself with no funding, so I can fulfill my obligation to everyone who donated for background characters.
Otherwise? My mind is at a complete blank. It's like every other question I ask myself gets an immediate answer from my mind, shooting it down. [What if I go back to making stupid video game parodies that I was ridiculed for YEARS for doing? Everyone else is doing them, including many artists that I look up to, maybe it's more acceptable now! Maybe I was imagining all of that flack for doing video game parodies and it was just from haters that never mattered. -> No, wait! I just spent a whole year working on this original thesis film I always wanted to do, I've finally gotten to a point where I wanna be with my work! I can't just go back to doing stupid parodies that take a week to make and then get a million views in 24 hours, that'd be dumb! Who cares? As long as you're getting popular or making money, right!? -> No, wait! It's wrong to make money off of characters and concepts you didn't make, so don't do that! Keep doing TOME, people DO like it! -> But wait! I'm not making any money and have no idea if I'm furthering myself as an artist doing it, not to mention gaining little to no respect from my peers! Do I quit and try doing something ELSE original, or will that just piss off the people who DO like TOME and the people who -didn't- like it and just wanted it to improve will think I'm a quitter? If I DO another original series, will it even be any good or just a waste of time? -> Or maybe I should just say screw it and make a ton of 60 second "Sonic & Mario go to the store" and "Solid Snake eats a hamburger" movies with the most beautiful animation I can possibly muster and have them be about real serious modern gamer issues. -> No that's stupid. -> BUT THAT'S STUPID TOO. -> Maybe it's all stupid. What do I know? I can barely draw a human body with any accuracy anyway.]
^ That entire last paragraph? That's the type of stuff going through my mind on a weekly (sometimes, DAILY) basis. All the while, hoping that something will finally work out with an actual JOB in the animation field and I can make the -real- next step in my career, instead of doing what I fear: going BACK a step in my career. I've long-since realized I'm not just a kid on the internet making cartoons for the sake of making cartoons. The simple question I still can't find the answer to is...what next?
February was absolutely NUTS for me, but totally worth it. I kept saying I was gonna write a blog post every week but I kept getting so busy I couldn't take the time to sit down and do one. Lotta things to catch up on!
First and foremost, TOME Episode 03 is finally out! I apologize for it taking so long, as I originally wanted it to be released by Valentine's Day and it ended up taking WAY longer than I expected it, but I think the final product was worth it. I wanna thank everyone who left feedback and spoke to me personally about the last two episodes, which pushed me into redesigning a lot of the graphics starting from Episode 03 and on. It took up the majority of January, but hopefully it'll make a big difference from here on out. I was very shaky on the script, since this was written way back in August of last year and it's not my strongest in terms of story, but it was definitely fun to see it all come together. I got a whole slew of great voice performances from the big assortment of guests I pulled together for this episode, as well some beautifully-designed backgrounds by my art team of ;Mechcity, so major props to them all for pulling through.
Additionally, we're selling the ending credits song, "Battle On!" on bandcamp! So if you wanna own a copy of all the cheesy 90's Anime sound you can eat, do us a solid and pick it up from the site. :]
Sort of tangentially-related, HUGE congratulations to the Newgrounds crew for their amazing new redesign! So many of the new features have made my life so easy. I tested them out a bit when I submitted that Valentine's Day commission last month and it really is a gigantic step up. I hope everyone else is enjoying and making good use of it!
March is gonna be super busy for me as well. Last month I was in talks for two big freelance gigs, one of which is set to go and I'm starting on the illustrations for it this weekend. I'll have a little something special planned for April Fools Day, but otherwise I won't have anything big to show on the animation front for a little while. I DO plan on doing Episode 04 of TOME before the Summer starts at the very latest. I've got lots of new assets to make and I still need to finalize the script, but I think Episode 04 will be the best (and definitely the funniest) yet. Look forward to it!
A very busy but enjoyable month for me. In terms of work, I've recently spent some time working on a feature film script I've been picking at for the last year or so; coming back to that was refreshing. I just had a great voice gig that I think I'll finally be able to talk about soon, as I think the clients plan on launching the project soon. I've also just finished a quick and unexpected Valentine's Day commission that was really fun! I'm not sure if I'll be able to put it on Newgrounds, but it'll be online for people to see one way or another.
Lastly is TOME, which I'll admit has been lagging as far as Episode 03's production goes. Current status is I'm generally fixing up a lot in terms of the visuals based on feedback I've received from the first two episodes. The actors are recorded and the scenes' audio is cut together, the new character sprite animation is complete and I'm currently working on the updated talking avatars, which already look a LOT better than the ones I've been using. I definitely don't think I'll be able to get this one done by Valentine's Day, but maybe if I hustle I can try and get it out before February's up.
Part of the reason I'll be a bit late on Episode 03 is because I have two conventions in a ROW next month! The first will be at Kami-con in Tuscaloosa, Alabama from Feb 3-5, which Martin Billany (voice of NNNNYLOCKE!) has graciously invited me out to in which to celebrate his birthday. I've got a Flash Animation panel on Friday night at 10 in the Ballroom, so if you're coming, be sure to stop by! I also did a quick little animated promo for it, featuring the Nostalgia Critic! (Apologies for the sloppiness, we had a REALLY short time to make it.)
Following that, I've got Almacon in Alma, Michigan from Feb 10-12! I've got my "Kirbopher's Flashstavaganza" on Friday night at 8, followed by "Balancing Act: Creating an Animated Short" on Saturday night at 7, then finally a Q&A on Sunday afternoon at 1:30. I'll hopefully have some new stuff to show and talk about by then, too.
That's about all for now. Keep it tuned!
The "Year of the Doubleleven" was not completely what I expected, nor hoping it to be. I'm not usually the type to be a negative nancy about "Bluhhh this year sucked, hope the next one doesn't suck." if I had to wire down 2011 to one descriptive phrase, it'd be "I tried my best, but it wasn't good enough to so I have to try to do even better". That said, I don't think I'd wanna go back and do it all over again; I'm satisfied with what I have and I'm looking to this new year with a fresh outlook. I want to continue doing what I love and shoot for the god damn stars like a hopeless idiot drawing cartoon characters.
So! That shit outta the way, first order of business:
After a lot of self-debating and the acceptance of film festivals not happening any time this century, I've finally decided to put up "Balancing Act" online. For those of you who missed me posting endless vague info about it throughout the year and the one before it, this was my thesis film for the School of Visual Arts' graduating class of 2011. It's based on the very first series concept I ever made, dating as far back as when I was five years old, which I've developed for all of those year since then. This is the first complete product built from that concept and I spent the better part of an entire year making it. Any and all animation people that take a look at this, I'd greatly appreciate your feedback.
Second order of business: TOME Episode 02 "Mansion Midnight" is released.
I'm slowly but surely working my way through updating and refining the format of the show based on suggestions both from the Official Facebook Page as well as reviews on the Newgrounds submission. For this episode I focused primarily on fixing the "in-game fight scenes" using the sprite-style animations and the battle grid. Starting from Episode 03, I plan on updating all of the "talking avatars" as I call them, for all the conversational scenes. I'm hoping this series will continue to grow as it progresses, as I consider it an exercise in EVERYTHING I've ever done in the field of animation. Thanks everyone for the support and thoughts thus far. I'm aiming to try and get Episode 03 released by Valentine's Day.
Last but not least, I'm returning to one of my favorite conventions ever: MAGfest! This is their 10th year and they're continuing to get bigger and bigger, so I'm majorly excited to be coming back. I know for certain I'll be on the Blue Core Studios panel with Eddie Lebron and company on Friday from 2-3 PM in Panel Room 3 and then making the grand return to Wes Johnson's (of Skyrim fame) "Voice-A-Palooza" on Saturday from 5-7 PM in Panel Room 1. In between doing that, playing old arcade games, partying with TGWTG peeps and not dying of starvation, I'll also be filming Marc Swint's "Super Kirb Stomp II Turbo HD"...why? Because Marc enjoys making movies about me getting almost killed a million times and throwing me on the ground like a ragdoll. Can't wait to probably break every bone in my body!
So yeah, there's a bunch of stuff for ya. Gonna get back to work now. To everyone, I hope you all had a Happy New Year and here's to a great 2012. Ready? Go.
December was a bit of a rough month for me, but I got over the couple hurdles that popped up and got back into the holiday spirit just in time. Went to see TinTin with Mike Luckas a couple days ago, had a lovely Christmas Eve with one side of the family playing Apples to Apples (my Dad is a dirty cheater and won) and then had Christmas morning with another side of the family followed by a great dinner. Got one week left AND my birthday's comin' up!
Couple updates on things. First and most importantly, Martin "LittleKuriboh" Billany and Marianne Miller are doing a charity drive for the wonderful Dan Green. Here's a video explaining what the deal is behind "Card Games for Charity":
Martin and Marianne are holding a large assortment of great auctions for people to bid on with all donations going directly to Dan Green and his beautiful newborn twins. As someone who's met Dan Green before and can say he's one of the nicest people you'll ever meet, I'm personally paying contribution to this by offering an art commission as one of the auctions. If you're interested in bidding for mine, you can find it right here. The rest of the auctions (including the chance to get a Littlekuriboh-style personal song parody of your choice) can be found in the video description. Any and all donations to Dan would be appreciated, so anything you could offer even if it's only a couple dollars, you can send here.
In other news, I'm nearly finished with TOME Episode 02 and it will hopefully be finished in the next week before we say farewell to 2011. I've been making announcements on the Facebook page, but we have three very cool special guests joining us: Jon Jafari (creator of "JonTronShow" on normalboots.com), Lawrence Simpson (MasakoX, host of "AniFile") and Alison Fanelli (Ellen Hickle on "The Adventures of Pete & Pete) will be voicing new characters in the upcoming episode. Thank you all for the viewership and feedback on Episode 01. Starting from after Episode 02 I plan on making some changes to the presentation style of the show, but I also think that 02 has a much stronger and funner story than the pilot. Look forward to that very soon!
Also, I've continually forgot to mention, I've been doing some more voiceover stuff and just recently got into another anime series! "Bakuman", created by the writer/artist duo that made "Death Note" and "Hikaru no Go" is coming out from Media Blasters. Volume 1 has been released (with the first seven episodes) and Volume 2 is coming out early next year. I play Yujiro Hatori, one of the Editors as Shonen Jack. It's a big personal honor for me to be part of this show, since I was a fan of the original comic in college and never thought I'd have the opportunity to be part of it! All artists, especially those that have dabbled in comics, need to check this series out, as the hardship of the two main characters is definitely something you can relate to. Also fans of Berserk will recognize a LOT of the English dub cast.
Lastly, I plan on releasing "Balancing Act" to the public soon, more than likely it'll be up before the end of the year too...maybe even on my birthday. ;]
Hope everyone had a marvelous holiday, now I'm gonna go back to playing Frozen Can-...I mean work.
Well if this doesn't prove it, I dunno WHAT will. My 111th submission to Newgrounds, on November 11th, 2011 at 11:11 AM, I've revived my first long-term animation project. Rebuilt from the ground up as an original series, TOME: Terrain of Magical Expertise, has its first episode out! As of this journal, we've got about 70000 views on the Newgrounds submission, over 1600 likes on the Facebook page and fans new and old supporting TOME: Terrain of Magical Expertise. Thank you guys, you're incredible!
I've been really excited about doing this project and I'm glad you guys are enthusiastic about it. I have a LOT planned for the series already and am already working on the second episode, which I can hopefully (if all goes to plan) have out by the next month. I seriously wanna show my gratitude to the people who enjoy the new story I've been cooking up and who are either growing to love these characters all over again, or even for the first time. I've been using the Facebook page for getting feedback on what to adjust in future episodes of show and you've all been really helpful! To give something back to you guys, I've also prepared this:
This is in fact based on an idea from way back during the days of the original TvTome Adventures. On a message board I often frequented, people could paste sprites of their characters to be included as background characters in episodes of the show. I've decided to revive that concept as a way of including participation of the fans into the project to let them feel part of the experience! I'd love to expand out the population of TOME as far as possible, with all of you guys, the viewers and supporters. :]
TOME isn't the only egg in my basket though! 8-Bit Mickey and I are finishing up work on my other secret project that's been in the works the last couple months, "Frame-by-Frame" the animation review show! The first episode of that is looking really good so far, those of you who are big fans of animated series on Television will really get a kick out of it. Bigger than that, I'm goin' out west to visit Los Angeles for the first time! I'll be hangin' with a whole slew of talented people I've had the pleasure of working with the past several years, including the likes of Eddie Bosco, D-Mac, Kimlinh Tran and even Kira (who's just made her big move back to LA, congrats to her!), amongst MANY others. I'm really excited to be visiting and I'll be keeping busy for the week and a half I'll be there. Can't let you guys down. ;]
Seriously thank all of you guys again for all of the support and for continuing to stick with me. Keep watching!