Introducing ‘Replay Value’

October 2, 2012

As proof I’m still alive and working I thought I’d post a taster of what I’m up to:

As mentioned on the last Branch page I’m taking some time out from my regular comic, this being the reason; Replay Value is a four-page short I’m in the process of pencilling and inking right now with the intention of making something simple and self-contained that I can promote myself with more succinctly. Essentially it’s a bit of sci-fi number with a darkly humorous take on video game logic which I’ve been mulling over for a while now and wanted to get on the page.

On a general note I felt it would be good to take time out after the all consuming focus of my Masters and create something short and sweet for fun, breaking up my current collosal endevour and preventing my creative process from becoming a linear drudge.

Ideally it shouldn’t take all that long finish so expect some finished pages to appear here soon!

Bad Karma: The Running Man

October 14, 2011

Just to clarify, this is not the Schwarzenegger vehicle of the same name nor is it Carol Reed’s 1969 film but an 80’s anime short of rather different character to both.

I’m actually familiar with the director Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s later work and honestly much of it’s the kind of  ‘violence and sex’ fare which has characterized the west’s typical view of the medium. However, while this short certainly has its fair share of shocks in common with such video nasties, it’s an altogether more sophisticated affair than might be expected.

Still, I will caution you that the video contains several moments of strong horror. Consider yourself forewarned:

There is a cut down, english dubbed version on youtube which was apparently shown on MTV, but beside suffering lower image quality I chose the untranslated video as it illustrates how much of the story is told in the visuals.  It would be a stretch to call it subtle, but it is atmospheric and – most importantly – memorable.

The telekinesis the champion racer – Zach Hugh – uses to destroy his rivals and the eerie conclusion arguably pushes things into supernatural territory, but the aesthetics and theme of karma being repaid definitely have a cyberpunk feel to them. There’s clearly high technology on display (especially if his powers were created artificially)  and the low humanity is starkly portrayed in his ruthless elimination of competitors.

It makes for a nice narrative crescendo in the way the race begins as a fairly gritty, realistic affair but progressively becomes stranger and more disturbing, cumulating in the otherworldly victory lap; something which again echoes the cyberpunk tendency of revealing chaotic darkness beneath seemingly ordered surfaces.

It’s simple and perhaps not palatable to everyone, but as an uncompromising piece of sci-fi horror it’s got plenty of impact.

A Dark Mirror: P3rsp3ctiv3

October 4, 2011

I discovered this short through Cyberpunk Review a while ago and had been meaning to share it for sometime given its obvious genre relevance.

The writer, director and lead actor – Mehmet Can Koçak – describes P3rsp3ctiv3 (or Perspective if  L33t isn’t your thing)  as ‘a tribute to the cyberpunk genre’ and in this respect it may not be massively original, but thanks to the slick execution and strong social message it turns out to be rather more impressive than might be expected.

POV camera work is an idea that’s in danger of being worn out in mainstream cinema, but here its connection to the subject matter makes it perfect for the scenario, feeling integral rather than tacked on. It reminds me most prominently of Strange Days (1995) and the ‘squid’ technology it featured in the way the viewer is literally thrown into the world, but also in how a cynically realistic outlook is adopted on its application. Just as the internet is used by many in the pursuit of pornography, here the near limitless potential of a seamless VR experience is used/abused for virtual sex – no matter how advanced society becomes our base instincts still apply.

The visuals have a few nice nods too. There’s the usual industrial dystopia stylings on show but it’s offset by a few interesting touches; the simulation is run on a massively upgraded Commodore 64 – possibly in acknowledgement of cyberpunk’s birth decade or simply to give a scavenger aesthetic to the scenario – while the ending also shows that no matter how high tech a rig may be it will always be susceptible to the most common or unlikely of failings; be it a crash or cockroach.

As I’ve mentioned/raved on about, the focus of my graphic is considerations of how we humanise technology through our use of it. In this case Perspective supports the idea but not in positive way. In creating an idealised version of himself for the simulation the protagonist unwittingly creates a mirror which shows him up as something altogether more unpleasant than intended. If the technology here is humanised, it’s done so in the sense that it replicates our more troublesome sexual and violent urges.