1983: Freshman

1983: Freshman
1983: Freshman

Ah, the transformation begins. During my second year of high school, I made huge efforts to get in with the "popular" group. Something about wanting to belong, fear of loneliness and isolation, that sort of thing. I remember hanging out with several friends who had seemed to have "connections" with some of the popular kids in my grade. I also remember this being the year I learned a very important lesson: the more people you meet, the more artistic favors you do. Drawing for acceptance seemed like such a whimpy thing, but I didn't care. I was easy going and eager to please. A pushover, if you will. I didn't seem to mind the attention that my artisic talents seemed to garner -- it was actally kinda fun to watch the faces of my friends change the moment they realized I was drawing Smurfs, Boy George, or Prince on a sheet of what was previously a blank college-ruled notebook paper. My talent was an anomally to them; to me, it was as natural as going to the bathroom. My only fear was that my new-found friends were using me, or had befriended me just BECAUSE I could draw. In later years, I would cut back on drawing favors -- I wanted my friends to like me for who I was, not what I could do. Which didn't always work. I was constantly introduced as "The Artist" Ward Jenkins.

Check out my feeble attempt at wings. I was trying. Unfortunately, my super straight hair was not wing-worthy.

It was during my freshman year that I discovered Prince. My first glimpse of the Purple Wonder was from a crudely shot video for his song "Sexuality," where, by the end of the song, he is slowly taking off his clothes, ending up in only his underwear. It wasn't the graphic nature of this video that got to me, it was the electricity I heard in the song -- something so gritty and funky and crude and bizarre -- all at once. It was intoxicating. And here was this dude singing in such a way that I had never heard before. It wasn't until "Little Red Corvette" came out that I realized it was the same dude in the "Sexuality" video-- I had to buy his music RIGHT THEN AND THERE. **1999** came out in late '82, but I wouldn't own the album until a year later. My mother absolutely positively did not want "that garbage" in our house. But my persistence paid off and I was able to drop the needle on that double vinyl album for the first time later on that Christmas. The tunes from that album sounded so much sweeter to me than hearing it on the radio. Thus began the constant answering of questions and explanation of lyrics to my folks and fellow classmates time and time again. Is he gay? What is that song about? Did he just say what I think he said? Etc, etc, etc....

My freshman year was also the year my parents split. I never thought that it affected me that deeply until the day my English teacher took me aside and asked if anything was wrong. I said, no, I don't think so...why? Well, she explained to me, she'd noticed a big change in my grades for that quarter. I'd made A's and B's all throughout my sub-freshman year and for the first two quarters of this year, but this quarter, I was making a D. She asked again, is there anything going on maybe at home that might be affecting your grades this quarter? Well...my parents did split up. Ahh...the light in her eyes sparked with sudden realization. And I'm sure my face reflected that same realization. I was immediately aware of my personal situation (and the potential ramifications) and for the rest of the year, tried to deal with it as best I could. In retrospect, I believe that my art became my solace.

1983 also marked the year that I created my very first animation. See previous post (scroll halfway down), as well as this one to read more about it.

Typical quotes from classmates who signed my yearbook:

"Your [sic] a really nice guy, and a fantastic artist." (from a guy)

"Hope you have a super summer and stay out of trouble. See you next year! Have a good one! PS: Stay sweet + cute as ever!" (from a girl)

"I had a great time in Impact class with you in there. You made it all the more interesting. Especially with all of your drawings. You have a terrific talent. It will take you far I'm sure. Stay sweet OK." (from a girl)

In the back of my 1983 Yearbook: Events That Filled The Year...:

The Screen:
Chariots of Fire
E.T. The Extra Terrestrial
An Officer and a Gentleman
Richard Prior [sic] Live on the Sunset Strip
Sophie's Choice
The Verdict
Rocky III
48 Hours
Fast Times at Ridgemont High

The Charts:
Boy George -- Culture Club
Rick Springfield
Joan Jett
Go Go's
The Producers (remember them? they were a local band with a hit)
Marvin Gaye
Stray Cats
Adam Ant
Men at Work
Olivia Newton-John
Lionel Richie
The Clash
The Gap Band
Pat Benatar

Various current events that were mentioned: John DeLorean charged with conspiring to sell cocaine; Faulkland Islands seized by Argentine troops; Seven people died from cyanide-laced Tylenol capsules; John Hinkley's trial -- innocent by reason of insanity. Notable deaths: John Belushi, Henry Fonda, Grace Kelly, Vic Morrow, Ayn Rand, Karen Carpenter.

Jeez, hate to end on a downer note. Well, stay tuned for 1984: Sophmore, which was perhaps my most favorite year.


1982: Sub-Freshman

You're in for a treat this week (depending on how you look at it). In honor of my 20th high school reunion coming up this Saturday, the 3rd, I'll be posting my yearbook photo for each year of my high school run -- from 1982 to 1986. And as an added bonus, I'll list some of the trendy things that were happenin' for each of these years as well as current events that were worth the mention in my high school yearbook. You know it'll be a howl. I'll also post any other photos of yours truly that happened to make it in any of the school annuals. Fun!

1982: Sub-Freshman
1982: Sub-Freshman

First year was rough since I was the dorkiest thing to grace the grand hallways of my high school. Notice that I am wearing a running shirt. I was not aware that it was Photo Day that day, so the theme for me that year was "come as you are." Oops! Musically, I was not really into anything, except your typical Top 40 pop of the time. I would often get a ride to school from my cousin Rocky, who was a senior at the time. Being a full-on tech guy, he convinced me to join the Computer Club. Oh yes, I did. It didn't last, though. Too many numbers -- what's up with that? Rubik's Cube was big that year. I was able to solve it at least 4 times. During class, no less. In true dork fashion, I wore Wrangler jeans and got chided for it.

Here are typical quotes from classmates who signed my yearbook that year:

"It's been good knowing you and I hope to see you next year." (from a guy)
"You are a really sweet guy and a good friend." (from a girl)

The following were listed as "Entertainment" for the year in the back of my 1982 Yearbook:

General Hospital
Hill Street Blues
Greatest American Hero
Magnum PI
Richard Simmons
The Smurfs
Mandrell sisters
Endless Love
Diana Ross
Stevie Nicks
Go Go's
REO Speedwagon
Rolling Stones
Juice Newton
Christopher Cross
Morning Train
Raiders of the Lost Ark
On Golden Pond
Meryl Streep
Lena Horne
Rodney Dangerfield
Gorky Park
Dungeons and Dragons
Pac Man
Rubik's Cube
Chariots of Fire

The big current event of the year was the President Reagan assassination attempt. Other biggies: Pope John Paul II's assassination attempt and the murder of Anwar Sadat. Also mentioned: the wedding of Charles & Diana as well as the very first shuttle flight: Columbia. The big news locally was the trial for the Atlanta missing and murdered children suspect, Wayne B. Williams. I remember when they started the TV campaign to enforce the curfew during the midst of the ordeal: "It's 9 'o clock, do you know where your child is?" It was creepy.

The Animation Show 3 in Atlanta

It's been over a week since I've last posted, but hey -- gotta plug Mike Judge and Don Hertzfeldt's The Animation Show, coming to Atlanta this Friday and Saturday, February 2 & 3. This'll be the third installment of the always entertaining traveling animation festival, with the last two years being chock full of original content from filmmakers across the globe. This year is no exception -- here take a look:

Run Wrake's RABBIT
Shane Acker's Oscar nominated NINE
Oury Atlan's OVERTIME
Bill Plympton's GUIDE DOG
and Don Hertzfeldt's EVERYTHING WILL BE OK (which happened to receive top honors at this year's Sundance Film Festival)

To view more of the program, click HERE.

Where: The Carter Center, in the Cecil B. Day Chapel (for more info check HERE).

Dates: February 2nd & 3rd
Times: Nightly 6:30/9pm
Saturday Matinee at 4pm

Mike Judge will be in attendence!

Tickets: $10 (Available at Ticketweb.com or call 866-468-7630.)

Important: If you're an ASIFA-Atlanta member, you can get a $2 discount off your ticket. If you haven't already received the notice from Vella about this discount, then try and contact her.

Hope to see you there! I'll be there for the Friday screenings, but not for Saturday. That's the night of my 20th Reunion (more on that later). Rats!


Primal does Sundance

Click image to view a mega-large version in order to take in all the little details. Click HERE to read all the notes on what's going on.

If you're headed to The Sundance Film Festival this year, you'll be able to catch a glimpse of what I've been working on recently. Before each film screening, there's what they call a "screenwash" playing up on screen as the audience files in. Something to look at while you're settling in your seat, silencing your cell phone, chatting with your fellow cinema-goer, etc. We did a screenwash last year, which had a tremendous response. This year we created two: the more serious "Fireplay" (to play off the theme of fire this year), featuring "a rolling wall of flame with a dancing ribbon of blaze," to quote our PR write-up -- I didn't work on that one; I worked on the more fun "Spark City" (see above), an alternate version of what goes on behind the scenes in Park City during the festival. Little workers go about their business scooting back and forth between various buildings, rooms, tubes, machinery, you name it -- holding onto flames that signify a creative spark, as well as flaming film reels (the product of that creative spark). All of it done in the name of creativity and independent filmmaking. It was a load of fun to work on! I had so much fun coming up with actions and "stories" of what these little guys would be doing throughout the entire town. Lots of work, but it was worth it.

I created everything you see here: the layout, buildings, sidewalks, characters. Rick Newcomb did the colors, effects, compositing, etc. He was in charge of the entire project, while I did character and element design and directing of the animation. Animation was done in Flash by Joe Kubesheski, Joanna Davidovich, and Jeremy Seymour. I did some animation, but it wasn't much. I was working on something else by the time the animation was getting ramped up. Once I have some more time, I'll post some sketches of this project. It went through a long, tedious process to get to a point where we were happy with it. Tons of sketches and ideas were scraped, as is usually the case with us. It's invigorating to be able to create an entire town, complete with inhabitants and lots of moving items, and have all of it work perfectly together. When you see this thing moving, it's pretty wild. It's where Bosch meets Biskup.

The piece runs as a 6 minute loop, so there's something new to look at each time you sit down to a new screening. We're hoping that all the audiences attending the Festival this year will get a big kick out of it. If you happen to be there for the Festival, let me know what you think of our Spark City. And be sure to let the Sundance people know as well. We'd love to work with them again for next year.

In addition, Primal created title packages (seen both online at Sundance.org and on iTunes) for Live@Sundance, Meet The Artist, and the Short Film Series. Art director Ben Prisk worked on those elements.

Have a great Sundance-y weekend.


Knick knacks

Primal Screen business card
We got new Primal cards several months ago. They're made of strong paper surrounded by some kind of plastic-like stuff that could probably withstand the worst of elements. That's always good to know in case I ever need to hand some cards out to hikers on top of Mt. Everest or something. My pal Vegas here at work (he's a 3D animator) decided to test the durability of our new cards by placing one in a glass of water to see how long it would last before it started to warp. The verdict? Over 24 hours.

I found this cool item in an antique market about a year or two ago: The Pancaker. Not the best of names for a kitchen utensil, but man, what a nice dose of mid-century modern design the box packaging provides:


The item was still inside the box, which is always a plus. Not as cool looking as the packaging suggests, but still pretty neat:
The Pancaker itself

Look, I tried to pose like the design-y hand on the cover:
Pancaker in action

It's not as easy as it seems.

I came to work one day and found my one and only Dunny designed by my very talented pal Ingri posed like so:
all King Kong-like

On top of the world

At first glance I thought, "who's been messing with my stuff on my desk?" Then it dawned on me: Ava. She had been hanging out in my office the previous day.

I've kept him hanging on like that ever since.


Ava Thursday: The Map

Ava Thursday: The Map
Ava drew up a cute little story about pirates a couple of months ago in this small notebook that came with her Happy Meal. McDonald's was promoting the Pirates of the Caribbean movie and one of the "toys" was a notebook with a pencil, I guess to make your own treasure map. (It came with a plastic compass.)

Instead of drawing a map, Ava drew a story called "The Map," complete with pirates and a treasure chest and x marking the spot on a deserted island -- you name it. Even mermaids. It's a beautiful little story drawn in a simple pencil style that only my daughter can muster. I scanned some of the story for you to enjoy here. (Click each image to view larger.)

Ava Thursday: The Map (reaching the island)
Here's our little pirate girl, on her way to search for the treasure. I love the pose here, as well as the "x" on the island.

Ava Thursday: The Map (mermaid)
Close up of a mermaid deep in the sea. Ava crossed out whatever it was above this character, so I don't really know what was going on. Love the details here.

Ava Thursday: The Map (looking)
I love how Ava drew the eye in the telescope larger. Obviously she watches a nice healthy share of cartoons.

Ava Thursday: The Map (sailing off)
Looks like she found the treasure! A key, a sparkly coin and a jewel: sounds like the perfect treasure to me. And there she goes, sailing away....

Ava Thursday: The Map (little pirate girl)
Little Pirate Girl with her shiny sword.

Ava Thursday: The Map (pirates!)
Great pirates here, courtesy of your friendly neighborhood Ava. Arrrr!


Things have been pretty busy for me lately. That's why I've fallen in my Ava Thursday duties. Very sorry for that. Yeah, isn't this nice? Ava Thursday on a Saturday. Go figure. Oh well. Hope you all don't mind so much. I mean, it's not like this is a binding contract or anything.


Adventure in Carols

ADVENTure In Carols 2006
Click to view larger.

Here ya go! This is the cover to this year's ADVENTure in Carols, drawn and illustrated by me. I had a lot of fun working on it. ADVENTure in Carols is a music compliation offered by "King of Jingaling" on his fun and whimsical website, Falalalala.com, a site devoted to the art of collecting forgotten vinyl of Christmas past. The compliation is free and can be downloaded HERE, including artwork and song details.

Do I even have to tell you that that's my daughter, Ava, on the cover, gazing through a magnificent red ornament? There's something about Christmas that brings out the kid in me and I wanted to convey that magical time somehow. I went through several ideas and concepts -- my first one had a hipster Santa hanging out in front of the fireplace after his Big Night, with Rudolph curled up by his feet like a dog. I couldn't get the staging down right so I trashed that idea. I then thought up of a Christmas tree family, but that didn't pan out either. But then, I scribbled down a little doodle at the bottom of a page in my sketchbook and that was all it took:

Sketches: Adventure in Carols 1
I liked the simplicity of the idea and that this sort of thing everyone would surely "get" -- as I'm sure we've all experienced the magic of looking at all the sparkly and glittery lights and garlands and tinsel and knick knacks found on the family Christmas tree. I was hoping that my viewers will identify with the girl on the cover here and share with her sense of wonder through a simple, yet RED! glass ornament.

Here are more sketches (again, click on each to view larger):

Sketches: Adventure in Carols 2
As you can see, I had the initial concept already down by the time I drew it out in the upper left-hand corner there (click on above image to view larger). I might've strayed a bit here and there, working out different poses of the girl's hand and shoulders, as well as different positions of the ornament in front of her face, but the basic look and composition remained intact for the most part.

Below, you can see that I was trying out different poses for the ornament, even making the ornament the same size as Ava's head, eclipsing it perfectly. I quickly abandoned that idea:
Sketches: Adventure in Carols 3

One last set of sketches, this time considering possibly making the kid a boy on the cover. Nope. I liked that it was a girl. You can have more fun with the hair and shirt:

Sketches: Adventure in Carols 4

Speaking of shirt, the colorful striped pattern you see for the final design was based off a cool striped pair of pants that Ava had in her drawers. I loved the use of pinks, oranges, magentas and yellows found on that pair of pants -- I just had to use it somehow in this piece. I think it worked out pretty well. I'm happy. Ava loves it. And that's the most important thing.


On the flipside

Whew! We made it to 2007 in one piece. How 'bout you? We had a great Christmas with lots of videoing and picture-taking and wrapping paper and early mornings and expanding waistlines and awkward extended family moments. Nothing like trying to remember if that cousin of yours is still in college or not, or if your second cousin twice removed is still married to that one lunkhead who's in jail. Or something.

Anyway, we had a great time. And our New Years was more of a subdued affair, which was just fine with us. Yup, we're getting older.

Speaking of getting older, my 20th high school reunion will take place next month. It was supposed to happen last November (class of '86, natch), but the plans fell through. I'm mixed about going. I went to my 10th and that was a pretty interesting event -- for the first 45 minutes everyone was going around hugging and laughing and gabbing about gosh, it's been a long time, hasn't it? and yes, it certainly has and here's photos of my kids and what do you do now? That sort of thing. Everyone was interested in everyone else for those first 45 minutes. But then, wouldn't you know it? Everyone started to migrate back to their respective cliques -- it was high school all over again, albeit 10 years later. Since I never really stuck with one particular group, Andrea and I found ourselves sitting at a table, politely checking everyone out. There were some conversations and connections that were worth the price of the evening, but all in all, it was sorta strange to pay money for something that I had already experienced for 5 years -- back when I was a teenager.

Me in 8th grade
Click to view larger.

Yes, you read that right. My high school consisted of five years. We didn't have a middle school -- I went to the same elementary school from 1st through 7th grade and then went immediately into high school for 8th grade. We were labeled "sub-freshman" or "subbies" for short. It was supposed to be a derogatory term, but we wore that title like a badge of honor, thereby pissing the previous class off. (They hated being called "subbies.") It was a harsh move from being the kings of our elementary school to being on the lowest rung of the ladder in high school. And it didn't help that I was a full-blown nerd at the time. I was skinny, dorky, gawky, with bad hair to boot. At least I had my elementary friend Andy to help me out. He was on the football team (read: muscles) and would deflect any insults my way. I've been meaning to thank you for that, Andy. Thanks for keeping me alive throughout our entire 8th grade year.

Honestly, now that I think of it, I'm kinda excited about going to the reunion. I'm more interested in seeing what everyone is doing now and to see how they've aged. Oh, come on. You'd be doing the same thing if you were going, so don't front. Everyone will be checking each other out. I just hate to think that others might be sizing each other up on a negative level, whereas I'd be checking everyone out on a fascination/artistic level. I know -- how very artsy of me, but it's true. I should bring my sketchbook -- but dang wouldn't that be so typical of me, the one and (pretty much) only artist in our class arrives at the 20th year reunion with sketchbook and pencil in hand. Hmmm...maybe not.

But I digress. 2007 looks to be a pretty good year. Like I've hinted at in previous posts, I've got something lined up that I'm very excited about but can't share with you all just yet. It's not ready. Need more time.

In the meantime, hope you all had a great New Years -- here's to a fantastic 2007!