Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Miniatures for Star Wars: Lando

The comic Star Wars: Lando is the greatest Star Wars movie that's never been made. It's a perfect script for a tight, 90-minute adventure film: To clear an old debt, Lando assembles a crew for one last heist. It all goes according to plan until they realize they've accidentally stolen the luxury yacht of the Emperor himself.

I've always been a little cagey about the comics, cartoons and novels set in the Star Wars universe. All this peripheral literature has a way of providing too many answers.

When I was a child, the magic of Star Wars was that every re-watching left me asking new questions. My friends and I ruminated endlessly on matters great and small, from how Palpatine became Emperor to what lay under Boba Fett's mask. (Among the other sins of the prequel trilogy was that it systematically went about answering all these questions.) I think one of the reasons I love Lando so much is that it throws new light on a much-loved character, but it never stoops to be an origin story.

The small but vivid cast of characters in Lando is another reason I love the comic. And so I set out to find appropriate miniatures for each of them. The seed of the collection comes from Imperial Assault. However, Imperial Assault's coverage is patchy so I had to fill the gaps with repaints and homebrews made from the old WOTC Star Wars miniatures. 

Without futher ado, I give you...

Lando Calrissian (miniature from FFG's Imperial Assault range):

Lando Calrissian painted miniature FFG

Lobot (miniature from WOTC's Star Wars Imperial Entanglements range):

Lobot painted 28mm miniature - Star Wars

Chanath Cha, bounty hunter and erstwhile lover of Lobot. (Let that one sink in.)

(Her miniature started life as some generic WOTC miniature that I butchered with greenstuff. Fortunately, a fresh paint job hides many sins):

Chanath Cha painted 28mm miniature - Star Wars

Sava Korin Pers, the unscrupulous ugnaught scholar (another WOTC miniature modified with a dollop of greenstuff):

Sava Korin Pers painted 28mm miniature - Star Wars

And last but not least, we have the genetically identical alien clone warriors Pavol and Aleksin. As far as I can tell, they are the first openly queer characters in Star Wars. They are also fantastic creations: deadly brothers/lovers who look like panthers and only speak to each other. I had to homebrew their miniatures from WOTC Sith Warriors who died horrible deaths under my X-Acto Knife.

Pavol painted 28mm miniature - Star Wars

Aleksin painted 28mm miniature - Star Wars

Thanks for stopping by!
I hope you are all doing okay... or at least better than Pavol and Aleksin.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Animated Zen Koans

I've had a lot of time off since Christmas but my miniature painting mojo has vanished. I think it's a combination of Covid fatigue, winter blahs and insurrection-induced anxiety. I might also be tired after finishing a series of painting projects (like the 40K mercs). But I still needed an outlet for my creative urges, so I turned to a enterprise I've been flirting with for a long time: taking some of the ancient stories about Zen Buddhism and animating them into one-minute movies using cartoon bunnies and computer-generated voices.

I guess there's a time in every man's life when he says to himself, "I want to take some of the ancient stories about Zen Buddhism and animate them into one-minute movies using cartoon bunnies and computer-generated voices." And for me, that time is now.

The source material comes from The Blue Cliff Record, which is a 1000-year-old collection of dialogues spoken by Zen Masters from Tang Dynasty China. These dialogues are often called cases or koans. A "koan" is a Japanese transliteration of the Chinese word gōngàn, which meant "a decision of a judge." In each of these stories, a Zen Master pronounces a judgment about the nature of enlightenment. But in trying to describe the highest truths of Zen, these monks often relied on non-sequiturs, one-liners and radical understatement.

In order to animate this deadpan absurdity, I needed equally deadpan characters -- hence the robotic voices and big-headed puppies. Above is my rendition of the first case from The Blue Cliff Record, where the mythic founder of Zen has an awkward conversation with the Emperor. The next one I did was the 28th Case, where two Zen Masters talk about the importance of not talking about anything important:

Finally, I illustrated one of my favourite stories, the 74th Case, where a series of Zen Masters give unhelpful advice about gratitude, happiness and generosity.

I don't know if anyone will enjoy watching the movies half as much as I enjoyed making them. But I wanted to share them in case they might be some help in dispelling your own winter blahs.

Take care, everyone!