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    JUNE 2004


    Quick update today: Mocca is coming up this weekend in New York!! The Adventures of Mia issue 2 is premiering there! Be sure to stop at the Monkeysuit Press table for Mia and plenty of other great comics! I unfortunately can't make it to NewYork for it X(. Darn I miss that city! Anyway, I sent some signed copies of the new book to the MS guys! So be sure to stop by and pick one! I also sent a limited amount of Mia t-shirts!

    Can't make it to the NY? No problem, monkeysuit.com will start selling Mia2 on line from next monday right after the CON! Can't make to the con and your mama doesn't let you buy comics on the internet? No problem either, come to COMICON in SanDiego, where Ronnie del Carmen and I will have a booth this year with a ton of stuff to show you.






    Hello. Happy father's day!

    So ... you know what? I still have to tell you about the rest of my visit to Ghibli !! I haven’t forgot … (if you don't know what I am talking about, scroll down a few entries and you'll find the first episode of my Ghibli visit retelling)

    I really should’ve wrote it earlier but the last couple of months have been a little crazy.
    So I am gonna try and reconnect to that day … April first 2004 … It's not hard, the memory is still quite vivid.

    To recap …after the heart in my throat speech in front of the whole studio and my idol the whole studio went back to work and so did Miyazaki San. So after that our translator Rieko took us to meet thee head of CG at Ghibli (the name escapes me), who showed us, on a TV right by his desk, a ton of footage from the movie. A good 10 minutes later our jaws were still open … SO much amazing stuff … the walking castle certainly stood out. It felt more of a beast than a building, a big beast with small legs, it reminded me slightly of the TatariGami (demon god) in the beginning of Mononoke Hime. Well used CG,all around and our guest went to great length to show us how they hide the CG as much as possible. Rendering it as 2d looking as possible, even movement wise. Everything CG ha to be “unsmoothed”: frames taken out, so that it’ll belong with the rest of the animation, done mostly in 2s 3s and sometimes 4 frames a second. At Ghibli they are very aware of something rather simple (but overlooked so often), that CG that stands out, even a little, will grab unwanted attention from the viewer, taking him/her out of the moment. Anyway ... I sooo can’t wait to see this movie! (For updates on Howl’s moving Castle and its upcoming release, visit the resource of choice: www.nausicaa.net/)

    After that we proceeded to go to a different building, Studio Ghibli 2.

    ::Ghibli Studio 2

    :: Studio Ghibli 2 interior

    This Building, as always designed by Miyazaki him self and full of windows and light, is right next to the main Studio and it's where Miyazaki works daily on a desk in the middle of half a dozen animators, piles of folders filled with drawings all around him. Sequences and sequences to be checked and more often than not redrawn.
    It’s hard not to notice the intense and quiet mood at Ghibli, everyone is drawing bent low over their desk with headphones on. Especially coming from a studio where we have booze and live music on Friday nights, lunch time volleyball matches and a swimming pool open 24/7 I can assure you the difference is quite striking … but I can assure you I would still love to trade places with anyone there, well at least for a while … X)
    So, anyway, with our translator ahead we approached Miyazaki’s desk. She told us this was the time to ask questions, if we had any …
    After a moment of blankness and panic a ton of questions came to us and we asked ... and we kept on asking … to the point that after 45 minutes, though ecstatic, I started feeling mighty guilty … after all Howls was late in schedule and everyone told us MiyaSan was still looking for the right ending for it … I couldn’t help but thinking we were delaying the release of this film of a good hour …. X)

    But I am getting ahead of myself … so we gathered around him.
    I was just by his side, totally geeking out at the whole picture in my head.
    My girlfriend Amy (animator at Pixar) broke the ice and asked regarding the amount of freedom and input he usually leaves to his animators. Miyazaki answered that though he’s sometimes pleasantly surprised with where an animator has taken a certain sequence, more often than not, he has to redo animation that didn’t turn out right. Saying that, he showed us a pile of paper in one of his desk’s drawers.
    He took out one of the shots and flipped it for us … it was animation of a small demon-like flame … a mix between character and effects animation. He mentioned that it's quality was more in the TV show animation range. What is the flame feeling ? The lines of the drawings have to express that and without the animator truly having experienced and felt those emotions the animation is going to be lifeless.
    Miyazaki told us all this though with frankness and even some humility… he articulated this point quite thoroughly. He explained that these things are in his head and he can’t blame his animators for not getting them sometime.
    It’s his movie and his responsability, and he would rather take that burden on his back than leaving it on someone else’s.

    He made a few examples: if a given sequence is giving a hard time to an artist … he can ask his employee to re do it once after some direction …but if the sequence still isn’t quite working, he probably should just animate it himself, so not to put the artist under too much pressure and also to finally show him exactly what he wanted.
    It’s often easier to do something himself, instead of spending the time and energy to explain what he wants to someone else …
    He also mentioned sometime giving the wrong kind of direction to a animator and then in hindsight, seen the first stab at a sequence, understanding exactly what he wanted out of a given moment. In that case he doesn’t feel he can give the animator the sequence to do again, as it’s his own fault and he should fix it himself.

    By the way, the whole time Miyazaki was twiddling a cigarette in his fingers … He finally lit it roughly half way through our talk.
    An other question we asked was regarding the fate of his beard: Miyazaki was clean shaven. He laughed at the question, looked at me and touched my beard (I am a very lazy shaver). He said he’ was very familiar with that and that he missed not having to shave in the morning, but people started stopping him in the street (probably since the oscar) and this was his way of going back to his regular life … Like most animators he likes to walk around and observe and look at people, not be looked at …

    We then started discussing story and the different ways in which Pixar and Ghibli find their stories to tell. Some frustration must have inadvertently come out of me (regarding storyboarding process in the US and the long and tough process of doing it and redoing it and redoing it again till you find it) since at that point he put his hand on my shoulder and told me to hang in there and to ultimately trust John (Lasseter) as "he has a good heart and cared about the right things".

    At that point, given his extremely familiar and nice gesture I totally spaced out thinking: “I am standing here, right by my idol. A revolutionary genius of storytelling, a magician and a poet of the pencil and the guy is slapping my back, laughing and treating me like he’s my dad !!”
    What a guy … even through the aura of authority you still can see straight through this man: a passionate, intense, child at heart man, with the most honest and likeable laugh I’ve ever heard. I mean, the guy is really cracking up!

    But anyway … the visit was going pretty long and I kept on thinking we were taking very precious time here !

    But I realize now we talked about too many things to possibly write them all in one post.
    So stay tuned for episode 3 of Meeting MiyaSan, coming soon ….
    X)Later !


    :: Sutajiojiburi!


    :: MiyaSan's e-konte


    Listening to: - I spy - Mansfield :: from : It's a man's man's field.


    :: 06.12.2004


    Saturday afternoon ... updating the site and also relaxing a bit after a pretty crazy week. Between a push at work and finishing Fragments-intermezzo (it's off to the printers) it has been pretty hectic. Looks like I might be able to have a bit of a life for a little while and also get to the late new page of Haiku.

    Anyway, the first review for Mia issue 2 is out at divergingcomics.com. Very complimentary one, check it out here. Hopefully we can create a bit of buzz around Mia2. The book will debut officially at Mocca, a nice small press convention in NewYork city late this month. The monkeysuit guys will be there with some signed copies, and other goodies, as unfortunately I can't make it. X( But be sure to stop by there if you're in NY.

    One last thing I forgot to mention in my last post, was that my good friend Kazu Kibuishi is also coming out with his own comic. Daisy Kutter from Viper Comics. An awesome new take on spaghetti western in an upcoming 4 issues special filled with great characters and even better storytelling. Be sure to ask for issue 1 at your comic shop, it's coming out in shops at the same time as Mia-issue2 (August2004) and available now for preorder on Previews.

    Ok then ... talk to you later !



    PS: A photo I took in Kyoto a couple of months ago.


    :: Gion (Kyoto)

    Listening to: - Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk - Rufus Wainwright :: Poses.


    :: 06.08.2004

    I am 99.9% done on "Fragments intermezzo" the little artbook I've been slaving away on. Though that last 0.01% always seems to take forever, doens't it ? Anyway, I am pretty excited about it, also pretty darn tired, as work at Pixar has also been rather heavy. Nevertheless I should be able to send the book to print late this week. I will start showing you some of the drawings from it very soon. Apologies for the delay on Haiku5-7-5, I should be able to get back to that in the next few days ... just too many things going at once ...

    So, I realized I haven't been plugging "FLIGHT" enough. If you don't already know, Flight is an amazing full color comicbook anthology spearheaded by Kazu Kibuishi and filled with a ton of new young (and not so young) talent. Each piece in it has blown my mind, both art and storytelling wise. The message board forum for flight has also been a great place to share ideas, show work in progress or just chat. Flight is coming to stores in July from Image and will debut at Comicon. Don't miss it!

    I certainly owe you a photo, it's a been a while ... so here's a neat one from Portofino, Italy.

    Ok then to the next one!



    :: Barchetta

    Listening to: - Agua De Beber - Aquarius Y Luiz Antonio :: Glücklich V (excellent Brazilian contemporary music compilations, with cool old Volkwagens on the covers X) )



    :: 06.01.2004

    Had a great weekend. Play in the sun, swim in the ocean, no work kind of weekend and man did it feel good. X) Guess I needed a bit of a break. My good friend Dice Tsutsumi spent the long weekend here and we had a great time. We worked together at Blue Sky, where he's still working. Check his great new paintings of NY west village here, you won't be disappointed. Dice is a truly talented painter.

    Back to work now. Gotta finish the new Fragments within 2 weeks.



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