Marvel Sketch Cover Madness: Gwenpool!

I just made Gwenpool really useful in Marvel Puzzle Quest, so…

There’s not a whole lot to this post besides that point. “Unbelievable Gwenpool”, written by Chris Hastings is a fantastic book, very clever…so if you aren’t reading that, I highly recommend it. It lacks the angsty depression of “Secret Empire”, and half of the internet isn’t mad at it, so it has a whole lot going for it with just that. Add in clever writing, and really, it’s pretty refreshing.

This is pretty much an “art driven” post. The cover, although deceptively simple, was actually pretty hard to draw. The postures of the characters were the hard part, and expressiveness of face and posture. I have serious respect for professional artists who have that as a skill…I’m still working hard at it.

Hey…let’s look at the art cropped from the cover. That’s always fun.

Scanned as a “work in progress”…for those of you that like the process.

Excelsior!

Renewed Alliances…

The meeting to determine my schedule next year was almost this fast.

The Scheduling Matrix Ritual was done on Wednesday, and it was pretty painless. I rank pretty high on the seniority pecking order in the district, so the rules let me go first. The Edu-Lords and the High Evolutionary make their offer of a line of classes, and I can either take it, not take it, or try and hash out an equitable deal.

Last year, they tried to be kind of fancy, and said one thing about the line of classes they would offer before the meeting, only to make a very different offer IN the meeting. We all remembered that, and how poorly it went last year…most notably playing a sort of game of “chicken” with me on what I would or would not deal with. I’m a pretty solid team player…really willing to do what it takes to make things work. Where I draw the line is taking classes that I don’t want, and would have to teach for 180 days. Not going to happen.

I prevailed in that game of chicken, getting the schedule I wanted, and had this year. Interestingly enough, it was IDENTICAL to the schedule I had before that, and was pretty much what I was hired to do at the Edu-Mountain in the first place. Go figure.

This year, there was no “chicken,” no “bait and switch.” I walked into the office, and very formally in a single sentence, they offered me the same schedule that I had this year. It makes it very simple when the offer is exactly what you want, and made a clever remark about that. Signature, fake smiles, handshakes, and we were done.

Did anyone offer me a Soul Gem or an Infinity Stone? Not quite…but there was an offer of additional money for tutoring as an intervention, for the next two weeks. I’ve been doing after school tutoring without being paid for it all semester, and inquired if there would be retroactive hours applied if I took THAT deal…since that would be a @#$% ton of money. When that didn’t seem like it was going to happen, I declined to take on any structured, official tutoring hours, and the whole thing was over.

It took a handful of minutes.

I wish that I could say that it was as drama free for everyone, but the next day, there was some serious unrest regarding the Schedule of Classes for next year. A few teachers that I rarely, if every speak to, sought me out for counsel on what they “should do.” I wasn’t sure how I had been outed as someone who might know about these things…I’ve been staying very, very quiet, focusing on the business of teaching, and bigger educational politics than school site management. I pretty much told everyone that I “didn’t re3ally know what they could do,” since arguably that’s a labor issue, and they already pay a Union to advise them on that.

I’m pretty glad it’s done…but that’s very much a signal that the end of the school year is upon us.

As for the art…obviously, the High Evolutionary in panel one is master of the Edu-Mountain, making the deal. Kind of long winded, which is very much in character for our fearless leader..as well as slightly off topic. Our principal can tend to meander a bit, through buzzwords and policy points. Panel two…I found myself looking for a very early seventies kind of pencil crosshatch shading, as well as the light effect for the lopsided gem. The gem is intentionally rough and asymmetrical, as if it was just cut in some way. Very pre-Starlin Adam Warlock…that character has been on my mind rather a bit lately.

I don’t think that we should take that gem as an Infinity Stone, by the way. Maybe some kind of Finite Stone, or Sort of Glowing Head Jewel. Perhaps an Annual Stone, since it has to do with her assignment for next year? It DOES make me want to have a shiny jewel to somehow wear on my head, though. I don’t think Cap is all about that sort of thing, though, I’ve been trying to decide. She rarely wears headgear of any kind, despite her “Alien American Pride” perspective on things.

Still…a head gem like Adam Warlock’s is undeniably cool.

True Colors (Come Shining Through…!)

Color was almost called for by this image. Also, color was popular the last time.

Today was a pretty straightforward, easy day. That’s great, because as the school year ends, things can get a bit crazy. The Scheduling Matrix went very, very well, and my close friend is not leaving. A bit of that has to do with various statements made to administration, and a few “deals.”

She’s a good teacher, and they really didn’t want to have to lose her.

Today though…I really wanted to work on yesterday’s art. At first, I really just wanted to “smooth out” the black areas, so that it would look more like my actual pencil copy, and also more like my initial, very “graphic approach” vision. Once that was done…I had my friend in a nearby classroom make a copy of the inked version, so that I could begin the arduous color process…which resulted in the above piece.

I can’t decide whether I feel like the red jacket is a new piece of clothing for Cap, or a retro look. Certainly, her usual jacket of that type is a blue/black…but I felt that it would get lost in the cosmic space background that Alanna’s face makes for the image. Hence, the red jacket…which I’m leaning toward saying is a new jacket, not something form Cap’s closet. Again…I haven’t decided.

Here was the originally intended black and white marker treatment:

As I originally envisioned.

Twice, while working on this, my iPod decided to play, “True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper. Hence the title of the post (which seems appropriate), and this…the lyrics, which also seem on point for right now:

“You with the sad eyes
Don’t be discouraged, oh I realize
It’s hard to take courage
In a world full of people
You can lose sight of it all
The darkness inside you
Can make you feel so small”

Obviously, not the whole lyrics…but very much defining Cap’s posture in flight, and expression. That, and kind of how I felt while drawing it.

Tomorrow…the Matrix!

I Rann (So Far Away)…

Drawn thinking of someone who will never see this.

The title is on point, if you are a fan of Adam Strange, and Flock of Seagulls. If not, it looks a lot like I spelled “ran” poorly.

Today is the day where after school, the Scheduling Matrix Selections are made. I thought of drawing something related to that, but ultimately… could not find that in myself. With bad Matrix Deals abounding, and the few teachers I consider friends leaving, I found myself in a maudlin mood, and getting sort of “back to basics.”

I was thinking of someone I was involved with about a decade ago, who wasn’t a teacher…just the friend of a bunch of teachers. We started a relationship, and it was…special. Probably unhealthy, to be honest, but special in its own way. We were from different worlds though, and in less than a year, we parted ways, never to see each other again.

I’m sure I’m thinking about that because I’m once again in a cycle of my life where people are leaving, and quite suddenly, without much preamble or lead in. I’m really very happy with the art above…with Alanna’s portrait in the cosmic starscape, and Cap flying…a little awkwardly, but not terribly. The two worlds make for some pretty excellent heavy handed metaphor, what with Alanna herself being the sky and starscape.

I’ve intentionally lost track of that person over the years. When a person leaves…they have moved on. I think I’m supposed to as well, but it doesn’t always work out quite that elegantly. A quiet day, and the right song on the radio, and suddenly, a wave of nostalgia takes one back, much like the time machines that Cap and Horsey frequently steal.

With that said, I’m really find of today’s art. The use of negative space as a defining characteristic (which I’m not good at), Cap’s posture in flight, and her somewhat somber tone. It’s really rather pretty, at least to me.

This is my emotional state going into Matrix Selection. Not necessarily the best.

“If This Be My Last Scheduling Matrix…!”

Don’t @#$% with Cap, lady…she’s been having a bad day.

I’m actually going to start off talking about comics, and the art, and then meander my way back to what I’m speaking about in the caption. DC Comics has been doing a whole lot of Big Things to get back not just my readership, but a whole lot of the marketshare. They haven’t really gotten back very much of my readership at all, despite the “Rebirth” event, which returns the setting to its original continuity.

In current continuity and story line, Lex Luthor is a Good Guy. A distrusted Good Guy, because he used to be a Bad Guy, but a Good Guy nonetheless. His Lexorian Warsuit (I will STILL call it that) even has a big ol’ S riveted on the front of it, even though he still does have a major (non baldness related) hatred toward Superman. The storytelling on that is a bit sketchy to me, but to be fair, I have only skimmed the Superman books. The ploy gyrations to make New 52 Superman a separate guy, and then resolve the plot problems of the end of New 52 are byzantine, to say the least.

I’m not on that firm an intellectual ground with a Good Guy Lex Luthor. As a result, we have cap punching out Lena Thorul, who is wearing an even bigger, badder Lexorian Warsuit. I fell like that’s more solid footing, even though any discussion of Lena Thorul is a bit bewildering. She is very much a high Silver Age character. Lex’s sister, in fact…her name being an anagram of Luthor, changed so that the family could hide from Lex and deny their relationship to him after he became evil.

She was introduced in “Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane” No. 23, and was pretty much a friendly part of the ensemble cast, hanging out with Lois, Lana, Jimmy and Perry. She also had ESP powers (loosely defined) as the result of a pre-evil Lex’s doing Science in the house. After “Crisis,” DC, didn’t really use the character for some time…but now, she is back in “Rebirth” as a card carrying Bad Guy herself.

A Bad Guy that Cap is seriously smacking around. That’s some A-list frustration we are seeing there.

So….what’s going on here? What’s the metaphor? Glad you asked.

It’s pretty heavy handed, like most things here at Adequacy. First off, you might have noticed the lack of a Monday post. That happens occasionally, as a result of:

  • Time restrictions, given the increasing quality of the average sketch.
  • Lack of decision on content (that can be hard to do)
  • …and time restrictions, based on when I can actually get time to draw.
  • Oh, and migraines, too. They can kill a day of drawing.

We are in my “Busy Season,” where grades are due, major assignments are going back and forth, and the maximum number of failing students must be turned into passing students. All of that is a pretty big deal, but is the normal activity of the time period. In an academic sense, as a school teacher, these are very much Silver Age Problems. The kind of thing that is time consuming, but you have to get done. Kind of like fighting someone named Luthor.

In addition, we have the whole “Scheduling Matrix” thing coming this week. That’s where teachers, in order of seniority, ritualistically meet with Administration to select the classes that they will be teaching next year. Given my Mega-Seniority, you’d think this process would be simple…I just come in (first) and choose the classes that I have taught for the past two years.

Wrong. The whole system is laden with “behind the scenes” deals, which in turn have more double crosses than the average Luthor-Brainiac Team Up. It’s specifically that which had Lex Luthor in my mind set as I sat down to draw…Lex may be a Good Guy now, but I EXPECT double crosses from him. Or to simply stand around in a montage background, doing nothing, like above. That’s pretty much the modus operandi of both teachers and administration in this process…kind of stand around looking out for yourself, and not really to have any concern about the greater schedule, or having things work out for team mates and colleagues.

Precisely that kind of Matrix Scheduling Deal has really alienated one of my closest friends at school, motivating her to attempt a transfer. She has simply been set up to teach classes that she doesn’t want to…and will transfer to avoid the situation. That sucks completely, because she is VERY good at her job, but it’s that kind of Lex Luthor dealing that we have here.

That makes another one of my few teacher friends at the Edu-Mountain that the Edu-Lords have basically alienated into transferring. The first one is a Done Deal, this is just starting off….but it is what it is.

That’s kind of why Lena Thorul in the insano-Lexorian battlesuit is there. Lena is supposed to be a friend of the ensemble cast (and used to not be bald, either). Since the early eighties…DC Comics hasn’t really known what to do with her as a character. They leaned away from likeable ensemble casts, and wackiness. Instead, she has been a baby, a villain, and a villain again, of a different sort. Currently, she’s actually a very traditional Silver Age Villain, but more importantly, is not around the characters that were her friends. At all.

See the metaphor, people? Editorial decisions separating a character from her ensemble cast, changing roles arbitrarily? Kind of like administrative decisions triggering transfer papers, in turn diminishing the staff of the school? I was pretty sure you’d see it.

So…yeah…all of that stuff was going on when I sat down to draw this. I was also thinking that Cap’s uniform is irking me. I like the jacket, sure…but I haven’t been comfortable with her super hero gear all year. Just saying.

Friday Night Magic: Amonkhet Smackdown.

Friday Night.

I went to Friday Night Magic Booster Draft with a couple of friends. The new Amonkhet set is in play, and there was a very large turnout…three tables of eight players. I did very well, coming in third place and walking away with even more bonus cards in hand, which was nice. I can’t really claim that the wins were all about skill in play, however.

I’ve explained the idea of “Booster Draft” before. This is my first draft since the beginning of the Kaladesh block, which kind of soured me on things. This crowd was much nicer, although there were still a few serious “pro” players who were jerks. To that, I say this: “If you are really all that great, maybe I shouldn’t have beat you.”

Still…I DID mention I can’t claim it as skill, really. Why? Because in the first pack that I opened, my FIRST drafted card was this:

I’ll tell you why this is great.

It might be hard to read the micro print. Gideon costs a mere three mana to bring out. That’s already great for a planeswalker. Yeah, yeah. It’s the micro print on his final, ZERO cost ability that is key. Let me give it to you right here:

You get an emblem with “As long as you control a Gideon planeswalker, you can’t lose the game and your opponents can’t win the game.”

It is literally a “win game card.” First card that I drafted. Obviously, I built around it. In a forty card deck, you draw almost a quarter of the deck to start…so engineering a deck to draw him, and then put him into play, isn’t that hard. It helped that I had good drafting beside that, and a smooth mana curve, since I drafted to a mana histogram.

Drafting a “god card” might have helped too. That’s not an exaggeration or hyperbole…this set has five “god cards.” Drafted one of those, too. So the forty card deck was pretty @#$%ing rough.

Artistically, I considered drawing some sort of Gideon Team Up, since that card and the “god card” did all of the Heavy Lifting on Friday night. I just…don’t like Gideon all that much. Instead, given the set’s Ancient Egyptian theme in art design, I decided to go with that….since I certainly did spend the night smacking around legions of generic, ancient Egypt themed mojeshtams and henchmen. Initially, I was thinking of having that guy being smacked clear out of the art frame on a Magic Card, but decided that was going to be a bit too much of an undertaking…I would rather hand letter the smacking noise.

The Talents We Test For…

She seems really pretty smug about that.

Today, I gave the final, culminating “multiple choice” test on “Catcher in the Rye.” In fact, on Wednesday and Thursday, the students needed to submit (digitally) an analytic essay in MLA format, on one of three topics. It is the final grade push, and this week has been worth a statistically significant amount of points toward the average.

Over half of my students did not submit the final draft of the essay. In fact, my final class of the day had less than ten submitted, with a class roster of about forty students. Given that I now run an auto-computing, digital gradebook that receives assignments directly…I can instruct is to simply zero out missing work. That had an effect on grades that could only be called “profound.”

During the day today, however, the Chrome Books have been open, and students have been taking the multiple choice exam. It is open book, and open notes, which sounds really easy. Except…few of the students maintained their notes, and as a result have to navigate 216 pages of possible text, in order to find the answers. It’s actually more frustrating that way, it seems. They KNOW the answers are literally in front of them…but the absence of notes, or studying (I even recommended web sites) makes the process time consuming and frustrating.

Obviously, this is what today’s art is about.

This week similar things happened with my students taking AP World History. Most of them didn’t study for the final, and “winged it.” That meant that most scores were abyssmal…with the exception of one student who missed a mere six items, completely wrecking the curve. A hard lesson was learned there….but not in time to affect preparation for the actual AP exam, which was also this week. Many of my students were very upset about it, but seemed honestly puzzled about my commentary related to preparedness. They seem of the mind that having simply attended class, and done much of the work, they will somehow automatically know the answers, as a result of having been exposed to them at some point.

It is a very different mind set than when I was a student.

I have been reading the manga “Naruto” this week. It is about a student ninja, who is not terribly responsible about his studies, and relies on moxie to sort of get through the various tests and challenges as he attempts to become a full fledged ninja. In the world of Naruto, there are apparently written “ninja exams,” which he is not very good at, primarily because he does not study. I’m enjoying it, and it seemed on point, which is how Panel One happened today.