Saturday, August 05, 2006

Weta and Wellington... part 1

I just got back from a 24 hour excursion to the NZ capital city of Wellington, which is on the southern tip of the North Island. It's roughly the same distance from Auckland as Vegas is from LA. (or maybe from Baltimore to New York City for all you wacky funsters from the East Coast.)

I don't have a lot of time to get too into it right now, but Wellington is, without a doubt, the most beautiful city I've ever seen. Seriously. Nothing else even comes close. My love for NZ and Auckland has been well documented in these very pages- but I'm telling you, boys and girls- Wellington makes Auckland look like a slum. It's just amazing.

I arrived in Wellington at about 9am Friday and immediately made my way to the WETA Workshop, which is only an 8 to 10 minute cab ride from the airport. Gino Acevedo, (fellow yank, incredibly cool cat and one of the most accomplished and respected make up/ prosthetic artists IN THE WORLD!), greeted me and gave me an exhaustive tour of the Workshop and the archives...

There are no words for how unbelieveably amazing it was. It was like dying and going to movie geek heaven.

WETA is home to some of the absolute best production, visual and digital effects artists on the planet: King Kong, The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia... these guys made all that happen. All of those remarkable moments and images were created by this group of mad geniuses out here on the other side of the world. Every single one of them was incredibly welcoming, friendly and gracious.

It was just unreal.

After the tour, I was fortunate enough to be able to stay and hang out with Gino and Gus Hunter, (Gus was the main production artist for King Kong- he's an absolute master. He's so talented, it's not even fair. I've attached a piece of his awe inspiring work from Kong), at their studio in the workshop for the rest of the day. After work, Gino and his beautiful, (and very pregnant), wife Liz graciously offered to put me up in their guest room for the night... then we all went to dinner...

NZ Thai food kicks ass- that's all I'm gonna say.

Liz went back home and called it an early night, but Gino and I met up with Barry and Max for some drinkin'. Barry and Max are both talented sculptors from London who just started at WETA.

There was much drunken tomfoolery...

And Barry got flashed by a 6'4 transvestite.

Part II when I have some more time...

Thursday, August 03, 2006

My Last Thursday...

I'm going down to Wellington early tomorrow to go to WETA... and I'm super excited!

I know I've mentioned it in previous posts- but today reminded me again of just how amazing the clouds really are Down Under.

I snapped some pics to show you guys why I keep bringing it up.


Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Hey there chilluns... so it's Wednesday evening here in beautiful Auckland and I'm getting ready to leave the office and grab some din din.

I got my ticket today to go to Wellington Friday, so I can tour the illustrious WETA Workshop! Woo Hoo!

(In my best bad Yoda voice... "very excited am I. Kicks much ass this does.")

WETA Workshop is the amazing special effects house responsible for The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, King Kong and- sometime very soon- The Red Star. One of the guys from the Workshop is staying at my same hotel and he's setting up a bitchin' tour for me Friday!

I'll have to be careful to avoid some sort of catastrophic geek overload.

Here's some random pics of more cool stuff from the studio.

Now get outta here you knuckleheads.


Monday, July 31, 2006

Shane Cameron and more NZ sports stuff from the weekend:

(aka: Shane Cameron is one bad mofo)

I wanted to post this earlier, but I had a huge amount of boards to finish before I could find the time.

As most of you know, I'm a huge boxing fan. Friday night, I was fortunate enough to catch the heavyweight chamionship of the Southern Hemisphere; between NZ native Shane Cameron and Nigerian Roger Izonritei, to unify the 3 big belts down here.

It was, without a doubt, one of the very best fights I've ever seen. Ever. You hear me! EVER!

(Insert bad Arnold Schwarzenegger impression here...


There's no 3 knockdown rule here, so Cameron put Izonritei SIX times before it was over- (kind of like me playing Gossett in Xbox boxing... oh snap!)- and that was after Izonritei hit Cameron so hard in the first few rounds that both his eyebrows were hanging off! Cut and paste this link to read about it- I'm telling you guys, it was an all time classic:,2106,3747849a1823,00.html

The All Blacks won against Australia for the Bledisloe Cup on Saturday- 13 to 9! Damn right. Much to my chagrin, the AB's dropped the controversial 'throat cut' move from the Haka- but they won, so it's OK.

Did a real quick concept sketch of Heath Ledger as my all time favorite comic book villain- looks pretty cool, but I'm going to really dial some stuff in over the week. Figured you guys would get a kick out of it...

Also, here's some misc pics from the last few weeks, that I didn't have room to post before.

All you Yanks have a great Monday.

Cheers, mates.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Sightseeing and whatnot...

The other day- the same day as the aforementioned trip to the music store- I took the long way back through a part of downtown I hadn't been before. Got some pics of some really cool stuff I thought you guys might get a kick out of...

At least, I hope you do, 'cause I just about froze my ass off taking them.

Wah! I miss my Strat!

So close, and yet so far away...

So, I made the trek to this music store downtown a few days ago... since I was unable to bring a guitar down here with me, (which has been driving me INSANE), I've been debating buying one down here- but it'll be a real bitch getting one back to the states. So far, I've been good and haven't picked up another stray pup, but I'm really jonesing to play... really bad.

I love poking around in music stores, so I stepped out of the guitar section for a while to check out effects and recording stuff- and lo and behold, I find a great piece of back home staring me right in the face.

Smack in the middle of the instructional video case is a very special DVD- a big time instructional video hosted by and featuring my brother- from- another- mother/ ex-bandmate and unbelieveably talented drummer and percussionist, Jack E. Roth! Woo Hoo! It's a video lesson collection on how to play all the drum parts to many of Metallica's greatest hits. Now, for those of you who aren't familiar with the particulars of Metallica's body of work- the drumming involved involved is incredibly complex, technically demanding and very difficult to play. You have to be a real bad-ass drummer to even try to pull a lot of that stuff off... much less break it down and be able to effectively and concisely explain it to other, usually much less accomplished, drummers.

It's funny, when he was actually working on the video, Jack told me that the process was kind of frustrating and he was pretty much convinced that it was going to suck. Months later, (and after repeatedly busting his chops about getting a finished copy), he came down to LA and I had a chance to sit with him and watch it. He was less than enthusiastic- but I was really psyched. He's one of my oldest friends and he's an outrageous drummer- and I was excited to see how it came out...

and it kicked ass!

Sure, compared to his personality, it's a little dry, (Jack's also one of the most naturally funny people I've ever met)- but it's SUPPOSED to be- it's an instructional video... and a really good one, at that. Even Biscuit was rocking out.

Anyway, I pulled out my camera to take a picture of the box in the case and the slaesman got a bit defensive- like I was sent by a rival music chain to do recon work- until I told him about Jack and the band and all... then he was all gung ho. He was bummed that Jack wasn't here in Auckland with me 'cause he wanted him to do an in store signing.

It was a really pleasant surprise to see it all the way down here... kind of like seeing the new issue of The Red Star at the comic shop last week.


A post or two ago I mentioned how bad- ass the All Blacks' ceremonial Haka was. In honor of the game tonight, (I'm going with Brendan and the rest of the art department to watch it at a pub down the road from the hotel), I found some pictures to try to show you guys what it looks like...

The 'throat slashing' move in the Haka has become hugely controversial- the Aussies are threatening to turn their backs on the Haka tonight in a show of disdain for the move. They feel the gesture is totally disrespectfully and inappropriate...

not surprisingly, the All Blacks don't give a shit.

Tonight's the 2nd out of 3 against the Australia Wallabees for the Tri-Nations Cup.

Oh, Hell yeah.

Cheers, mates!

Update from Last Weekend

Hey there, boys and girls...

It's Saturday, the 29th of July- I was actually supposed to go back home today, but there's still much to do, so I've extended my trip a bit to get as much of it done as I can before shooting begins. I figured today would be a good opportunity to catch you all up on the goings on down here and post some new stuff.

(Real quick- as I'm writing, I've got a Cricket match on... does anyone really have any idea what the Hell Cricket's all about? It's been on for hours and NOTHING'S HAPPENED!!! Jumpin' Jesus on a pogo stick... this makes Curling look like the Super Bowl.)

So, last Saturday, I went with David and Erika to our friend Robyn's farm, (about 65km/40 miles outside of Auckland), for lunch. Robyn's the 2nd assistant director on the movie and she's a really cool lady... she has 4 boys that she takes care of all by her lonesome. On a farm, no less...


On the way, a real- honest- to- God clown pulled up next to us in a weird little clown buggy. He introduced himself by throwing candy at us through Erika's window and then had the nerve to get weirded out when we started filming HIM. What the weird clown didn't realize was that David has a deep seated fear and hatred of clowns, so he took a great deal of gleeful satisfaction in terrorizing said clown by chasing him all over the highway while we filmed him nervously trying to elude us...

good stuff.

You know you've done your job as the director of a horror movie when you manage to scare the shit out of a clown.

The drive into the country was absolutely beautiful. Seriously, it was surreal. Seeing that kind of scenery in a movie is one thing, but when you see it for real it's just mind blowing. I kept expecting Frodo and the other hobbits to pop up out of the side of the road.

Anyway, we stopped on the way to take pics at a particularly pretty spot. It was on the edge of a pasture where a bunch of moo cows were grazing. As we took pictures, the cows all stared at us intently. It was weird, they were really checking us out. Then- as if they all agreed to move at the same time through some sort of psychic connection- they all gathered up in a group, from all over the pasture, and met in the middle of the field. Then, with murder in their eyes, they stormed the fence and came right at David and I. It was wild- but really kind of cute and funny. There were dozens of them. Then, out of nowhere, right when they got to the gate, it started raining like mad and the cows, (I swear to god), started head butting and trying to hump each other. It was just bizarre- funny as hell, but bizarre...

(Here's the transcript:

"Moo, moo, moo... moo, moo...



Robyn's was just amazing. Her kids were all great. David and I ended up hanging out with them all day and it was a blast! It was like going to camp. David jumped on the trampoline with them, (I was too tall), and then they showed us where all the cool critters were all over the farm... we found a real, live, 3 inch Weta bug in a tree, then I found a giant centipede in an old log... oh man, that sucker was HUGE!

We had a really great time. We spent hours just roaming all over the land, taking pictures and laughing like-well-a bunch of kids.

For lunch, we had fresh lamb, (raised right there on the farm), and home grown NZ white sweet potatoes, (called Kamura), and it was unbelievably tasty.

(little NZ tidbit: most places in NZ, for an extra dollar, you can get Kamura fries insetad of 'normal' fries... truthfully, Kamura fries are going to be one of the things I'll miss the most when I leave.)

Before we left, I drew a superhero each for the 4 kids and Dylan, (Robyn's oldest boy), gave everyone a drum lesson on a little drum set they had in the garage. He's pretty damn good for only playing a year and a half.

Evil clowns, rampaging moo cows, giant bugs, drums and tasty home cooked vittles- all in the same afternoon...

What a great day.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Best. Story. Ever.

I figured, after the ranting and such earlier, I'd end this evening's posts on an appropriately silly note.

Oh- and I just got an email confirming that Heath Ledger's going to play The Joker.

Damn... now I'm going to have to do a whole 'nother concept piece.

Later, kids

Crazy Saturday, Part Deux- Electric Boogaloo: The Ballad of Martin F*ckin' Emond

(Woo Hoo! All Blacks just won! 35-17!)

So, after the Paslestinian protest parade lost interest in your humble narrator, I took a different route through downtown back up to 'K' street, (I call it 'K' street because I can't pronounce the real name- as a matter of fact, no one in Auckland can, hence, it's known simply as 'K' street), to pick up some stuff for my peeps back home.

One place I've been dying to go is Illicit Tattoos on K street... Illicit is much more than a simple tattoo parlor, it was ground zero for an explosion of creativity by an amazing NZ artist named Martin Emond. I first became aware of his work years ago- as a matter of fact, (if memory serves), Skymarshall Gossett turned me on to his stuff after HIS first trip down here to NZ.

I immediately flipped for his art.

Emonds' work is totally and completely original: dark, scary, funny and uncompromising. He was one of those cats whose style you could recognize immediately because it's so singularly unique... and you ask any illustrator, that is a rare thing indeed. He did a ton of brilliant tattoo, t-shirt and character designs, some comics work for DC, posters, prints, mannequins- it just goes on and on. His is, arguably, most well known, (in the states, at least), for his own comic book-magnum opus called "White Trash", an amazing, Hunter S, Thompson-like story of Axl Rose and Elvis hooking up for a violent tour of America.

You may have noticed that I said "he 'was' one of those cats..." unfortunately, it wasn't a typo. Tragically, Martin killed himself in 2004. I found out from his website, where I would go regularly to check for new posts to his gallery. It really got to me- not just because I was a big fan, but because everything I'd ever read about him painted him as a truly sweet, humble, giving and vital guy. It made me sad to think of someone that blessed being so tormented that he felt he had to take his own life.

It also reminded me of a very dear friend I had years ago who did very much the same thing...

It's hard to find Martin's work in The States, but fortunately for me, Illicit- the shop that housed his studio and still sells a lot of his work and desgins- was only blocks from my hotel and I was determined to make the trip. Finding the shop was one of the big geeky highlights of my stay here in the Land of Auck.

The shop was cooler than hell. I did some shopping and checked out the prints and posters on the walls, etc and so on. As I was leaving a salesgirl came up and told me that if I was into Martin's work, I could go downstairs and look around... they had opened a 'shrine' of his stuff just a day or two before .

The walls leading downstairs are covered with his work and then there's a big glass case with all sorts of odds and ends from his studio in it. It was really something to see... 12,000 miles and I got to see all that cool stuff I had been only ever been able to see online. I attached some pics if you're interested.

Martin F*ckin' Emond


Crazy Saturday Part 1: "Burn Down the USA"!

I just got back to the hotel- just in time to catch the All Blacks/ South African Springbocks game...

I wanted to sit and relay the crazy events of the day, but I had to watch the All Blacks do the Haka first. For those of you who've never had the pleasure- the Haka is arguably the single coolest sports ritual I've ever seen. Ever. Just before the start of the game, the entire team performs a dramatic and intimidating Maori ritual dance in an almost military cadence while staring down the opposing team- who look pretty much like they're shitting their pants. One player leads the group, shouting ritual phrases as the rest of the team responds with shouts and grimaces as they all stomp out the wardance as one.

It's incredibly bad-ass. Imagine if, at the beginning of the Super Bowl, the whole Ravens squad, (for example), come out before kickoff and performed a crazy, tribal wardance in unison- shouting, calling and responding with such fearsome authority that it intimidated the Cowboys, (for example), to the point where they were reluctant to even come on to the field.

Huh, huh... rugby's cool... huh, huh

So anyway... I get up early this chilly and beautiful morning to go out and take a walk, get some fresh air and buy some presents for friends and family- and, out of nowhere, I find myself in the midst of a vocal and volatile Palestinian protest march. In Auckland, no less.

Never a dull moment, huh?

I could fill volumes about all of the different and conflicting things I felt seeing a teeming mass of angry protesters, armed with banners, flags and bullhorns, screaming "Burn down the USA" as they made their way through the streets of this lovely city that I've grown to love so much. To be honest, I don't really know how to describe it just yet... I will say this, however:

It really kind of sucks. A lot.

I really wanted to avoid any sort of political stuff here on my little window to Auckland. Y'know- keep it light and fun... nice sunsets, pictures of birds and whatnot, but...

Since my arrival, I've had literally dozens of coversations, with people from all over the world, about the current state of America and it's place in the world. First thing anyone wants to talk about the second they find out I'm from The States. To say that the current administration is unpopular would be a profound understatement... akin to saying that Charles Manson was just 'a little upset', or that Jabba the Hut was 'just a little overweight'...

A great many people I've met here believe, (unfortunately and inaccurately), that all of us yanks are down with the 'Bush program'- that we're all aggressive, bloodthirsty rednecks with a bible in one hand and a 6 shooter in the other, eating cheeseburgers and watching Cops while we wait impatiently for the opportunity to just smack the shit out of the next non- white/christian or hetero person who pisses us off...

A sad commentary indeed... but I digress.

Rather than go on and on about my disdain, contempt and disappointment in regards to the current (lack of) leadership in my beloved US of A, let me just say this: I have friends and family who are very liberal and friends and family that are way conservative. I have friends and family who are very religious and I have friends and family who are the most godless heathens this side of Sodom and Gomorrah. I love them all. I don't begrudge anyone their beliefs either way- as long as it's not hurting or beating down anyone else- God bless.

Hell, if Yoda makes you a better person than Jesus, than may the force be with you. It really comes down to character.

My contempt for the current administration is not necessarily based on party affiliation; historically in America, there have been many great Democrats, as well as many great Republicans... (Hell, George Patton and Clint Eastwood- hardcore Republicans both- are 2 out of my top 10 favorite people in the history of man), and I regretfully admit that I believe that most all politicians anymore are full of shit by design. I suppose they pretty much have to be, system being what it is... guess it goes with the territory. It's not about red or blue... it's about green.

My problem is that I simply do not believe that Dubya or any of those other world class asshats he shares office space with are good men, in any meaningful sense of the word. Period. I truly don't believe there's a single ounce of real, honest-to-God character in any one of 'em. Not one. They're a bunch of rich, petty, paranoid, repressed and hypocritical old bastards driven by self serving and short sighted agendas.


It really pisses me off that people like me- and a great many other Americans who I know, regardless of their party affiliation, feel as I do- get lumped in with those miserable sons of bitches. They have as much business running America as my cat...

I take that back- comparitively speaking, Biscuit would absolutely kick ass as El Presidente.

Oh well, this too shall pass... at least, I really hope so. I'd hate to finally have to accept that Orwell really was right.

Stay tuned for part 2...

Friday, July 21, 2006

A few odds and ends...

Since my confidentiality agreement precludes me from sharing any production art from 30 Days with you fine folks, here's a few pieces I've done in my little bit of spare time down here in NZ. Back home, I'm campaigning for a spot on the the new Batman flick- these are a few concept pieces. Some of you have already seen them, but can one ever really get enough images of psychotic Batman villains?

I think not.

Also, here's a few pics that make me kinda sad. In the window of a vinatge clothing store right next to my hotel, there's a poor wildcat immortalized in a really low-rent taxidermy mishap. As most of you know, I like animals more than people for the most part, and the thought of something that was once so proud, free and beautiful ending up like this- especially when I have to walk past the poor bastard twice a day- really kind of sucks.

To be honest, though- I also giggle to myself because I can't help thinking about the 'sex panther' scene from Anchorman.

Oh yeah... I have no idea why the color's all screwed up on the Assassin cover- I'd fix it, but I'm too damn tired right now.