Tag Archives: art

Detective Chimp and the Importance of Random Creativity

So last night my friend Sudge and I were talking about the DC Comics reboot/relaunch that has caused a lot of excitement and consternation amongst geekdom. We got on to books that would never get published, one of which was our idea for the greatest story ever to feature Detective Chimp.

(If you can’t be bothered to follow that link, Detective Chimp is one of DC’s more obscure characters, basically a talking chimp who is also, well, a detective. He has a drink problem. He also wears a deerstalker. Detective Chimp is awesome.)

Anyway, I won’t go into detail about the plot we came up with, as it may yet materialise as a fanfic project or something, suffice to say it’s film noir meets Indiana Jones with added monkeys. And heck, as this is a comic character we’re talking about, I’ve even done some art:

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And yes, I know you’re thinking we must be completely mad, but we had fun and it was a nice moment of creativity. I guess it was also an object lesson – we’re gifted with imagination, creativity, all sorts of talents that I’ve mentioned before, and it’s a shame not to use them. Someone even used used those talents to invent Detective Chimp.

So if you’ve got an idea, voice it. Write it, draw it, discuss it. Just get it out there. There’s no point keeping ut locked up inside when it has the potential to bless an audience, even if that’s just one person.

And all that’s true, even if it does involve too many monkeys.

Bezalel’s Legacy: The link between my Granddad and an obscure figure from the Bible

That’s a model of my church made by my Granddad. I can’t state this with any great certainty, but I believe he used scrap wood; I have childhood memories of him working on it, and upon its completion he was justifiably proud. Life takes its inevitable course, and now the model has passed into my possession; a memory of my grandparents, of course, but it’s also coming to mean something more.

Both my father and grandfather were carpenters by trade; in contrast I’m an office dweller. I don’t carry on the family tradition of being able to turn pieces of wood into miniture churches, and there’s a part of me that almost regrets breaking that continuity. It’s not a huge regret – I’m the person I am, and that means I work with words and numbers and computers instead – but all the same, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wish I’d inherited those skills.

There’s a guy in the Bible, Bezalel. From what I can tell (and please correct me if I’m wrong), he’s the first person directly said to have been blessed and annointed by the Spirit of God, and here’s the thing: he’s not a prophet or a priest, he’s a craftsman, an artisan. He’s the guy responsible for building and furnishing the Tabernacle, a hugely important job as this was to be the house of God on Earth. It’s a slightly obscure but significant bit of the Bible: God the Creator gives Bezalel the gift of creativity. Like my Dad and Granddad this was a practical, tactile creativity, expressed through wood and stone and metal and fabrics. In a sense Bezalel’s legacy extends to all those craftsmen who came after him, and even to those whose creativity is expressed in less tangible forms – poetry, song, music, story, dance.

I’d like to be able to claim this legacy of creativity, but it can be frustrating sometimes; I’ve been blogging for a long time now and it’s depressing to read my stats page at times, and let’s face it, creativity is one of the first qualities to get buried under the stresses and busyness of day-to-day life.

But looking at that model church reminds me that creativity is important, even if it’s a different creativity to that practiced by your forefathers. Heck, I’ve just remembered that, during his childhood, my Dad was a decent artist, sitting down to draw intricate pictures of birds. I don’t remember him doing that as an adult, and that’s a shame; I guess I don’t want to get to a point in my life where I look back and realise I didn’t write as much as I could. I’m not saying I’m particularly good at it, but it’s something I love.

I guess the last word on this could go to Florence Foster Jenkins, who had a good attitude towards this sort of thing:

“People may say I can’t sing, but no-one can ever say I didn’t sing…”

Wade in the Water – Follow-up #2

After this post last week, about coded messages in slave songs, I received a comment pointing out that quilts were also used to deliver secret messages; this led me to a nice article on the subject. I love this sort of thing (and thanks to the anonymous commenter!).

On a sort-of related note, last week saw an important chunk of code-breaking history saved for the nation, with Bletchley Park’s purchase of Alan Turing’s papers. Turing’s something of an under-appreciated national hero, being a key figure in decrypting Nazi cyphers, worked out a test to judge artificial intelligence, and (allegedly) may have been the inspiration behind the Apple logo. His story ends tragically, in state persecution over his sexuality and his eventual suicide; let’s hope his contributions to science and the country as a whole continue to gain further recognition.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.

Font Rage

It’s only recently that I’ve become aware that people get very agitated about fonts. This surprises me. It’s not that I can’t imagine people getting worked up about seemingly trivial aspects of day-to-day life; heck, I’ve experienced Nerd Rage in the past (mainly to do with what DC Comics did to the JLI). That said, I never thought people would become furious over something as simple as typeface. I get why people might be passionate about the subject – it’s got a long history dating back to the birth of printing, and creatives have a right to get excited about graphic design. But font rage?

The most visible example of this is the fury aimed at Comic Sans, which seems to be a bit over the top. I can see why people wouldn’t want it on their gravestones, but it’s fairly inoffensive, surely? Or maybe I’m artistically illiterate, which is entirely possible. After all, when Ikea changed its official typeface from Futura to Verdana, it caused outrage among people who can tell the difference. Verdanagate, they called it.

And then there are anachronistoc fonts in films, a whole sub-section of movie mistakes that can spoil the filmgoing experience for people with an eye for that sort of thing.

But here’s the thing – getting excited and passionate and angry and enthused by something that is (to me, at least) commonplace and invisible is a very human thing to do. I suspect all the font enthusiasts out there think me being able to quote in-jokes from Doctor Who Magazine is sad, but it’s all part of the same thing. It’s good to be a fan of something; to my mind at least that’s way better than postmodern irony or carefully cultivated ‘cool’. Geeking out is far more fun…

Stained Glass vs Floppy Disc

There’s a nice article here about the stained glass windows of Sainte Marie Cathedral in Auch, France. While it obviously talks about the beauty and the craftsmanship of the windows (you can see better pictures of them here), the writer makes an interesting connection between the longevity of stained glass as a repository for information (the windows depict various biblical scenes, for instance) and modern data storage media – how easy is it to pull information from a floppy disc nowadays? How long before all that data we have lying around on memory sticks becomes inaccessible? And at some point do we end up in a Digital Dark Age because no-one kept on top of their back-ups?