Monday, January 19, 2015

Content

Today there will be plenty of love (and in some cases, hate) cast at the celebration of the life and actions that Martin Luther King Jr did. It is a curious and, yet, familiar occurrence that someone who becomes the go-to representative for a movement, is placed in both the light of fondness and the darkness of controversy. For some reason, we just love to do that to people, questioning while praising, sneering while also conceding to mildly applaud the facts we can't easily tear down. (This is ESPECIALLY true now that we have all embraced the uses of social media and the Internet kingdoms we all set ourselves up with.)

For me, thinking of a day given to honor Dr. King is both joyous and sad. I am laden with melancholy while grateful and celebratory while deeply troubled. Ya see, what King wanted to happen, didn't fully materialize. And there's a part of me that doubts we all still have the urgency to continue the movement toward its full realization.

As I said at the beginning, there will be a lot of stuff said about MLK jr today. Quotes slung about to both inspire and to use as a clarion call to the injustices we still see happening in there days. Its your right to express the lines you find some meaning in from ALL that he said. His "I have a dream speech", the letters he wrote from jail, about the Vietnam war, and all the way through the 15 chapters of his great book, "The Strength to Love." (as a personal side note: If you are capable of reading a book, considering it in the moment, THEN applying your belief or opinions on the subject AFTER you've finished the read, I encourage you to take in this book. He was as intelligent as he was religious and I don't think that, for those who prescribe to either side of things, you can walk away from it without some consideration, however brief, for the other.)

For me, though, my quote will be about why I feel like what he wanted didn't come to pass YET and it happens to be a small piece of the "I have a dream" speech:

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

Yes. This quote.

I have a few friends that, if they should happen to read this, perhaps may bristle at the above quote. Truthfully I think a lot of quotes I could post up (by King or others) would have that reaction. And that, sadly, is a subject for another time, looking into why we get up bothered by certain statements that, on some level, we may question whether or not we agree with or find fair.

King's above statement has always stood as a polarized line that seered into my brain at a very young age. It mostly did so because I had no real, pure, experience with that issue until I was in my mid-20's. My childhood was, for reasons I still can't figure out, incredibly diverse. Rarely would I find myself in a place where I was capable of being singled out based on the color of my skin and, even if I were the only one who looked like me in the room, no ill or negative words or actions came my way. The first real time I realized I was being judged from my appearance didn't even happen in America, it happened in Canada!

But, when I was young, that statement became ingrained in me from the moment I heard it. Perhaps it was, for a young mind, the preposterousness of it all. Having the experiences I had, from my diverse section of social interactions to Mister Rogers always saying on his show that everyone was unique and special, I couldn't wrap my young mind around how anyone would judge a person based on their skin color. It was just an absurd concept to me.
(kudos, should be shared with my mom and other family members for this. Despite having uncles and a grandmother that loved them some "drank" and all the problems that come from that, neither them nor my home life with mom and her friends, ever presented the idea of statements about different races. I never heard "the white man this" or "black people that" things said in my childhood. In fact, I'm pretty sure the first time I heard some stuff on that level was in a cable film or when I got to the 6th grade and discovered bullies.)

So, for me, a person was always judged based on whom they were, not what their skin looked like. The "content of their character" was what became the point of how I determined who my fellow man would be.

But ever since my first step into high school, I've discovered that no one else seems to think like that. And, what's even worse, in my adulthood I have been privy to more uncomfortable exchanges about this subject than I ever thought could be imaginable.

For all the changes that Dr. King's actions and speeches have brought to America, for me it is disheartening that a greater desire to judge LESS on appearance and MORE on content of character, isn't one of them. In fact, that may very well be the thing we are the MOST selective about using to define the humanity around us with. I could regale you with stories of conversations I have heard from groups of men AND women, talks about the worth or lack of worth in those who's appearance fits one or many ideals of what makes someone "right" and "OK." The fact it is so commonplace in the way that we assess is something that constantly troubles me...and even more so when mentioning it causes people to get EXTREMELY defensive.

I don't think it should be this way though. It is likely one of the greatest things I have had guide me through life, making sure that I question whether or not I am keeping to King's hope for a humanity that looks to character as a place for deeming worth. I am no paragon of virtue and have faltered in times. I too have been tainted by distance from the first hearing of those words and what they were truly trying to get across. In a time where it seems that mankind has less and less humanity every day, where it seems as if no MAN is KIND, this one part of his speech is a priceless tool. It is a priceless tool that we all need to dust off, brandish in our hand, and keep building. We should all realize that the movement is still necessary, and that to achieve the sort of future that we'd like those younger than us to be a part of, its time to challenge ourselves, our societies prejudices, and redefine what we use to define people's worth with.

King felt that he should use a large part of his life to help change and uplift those in his lifetime...and beyond. Can we do no less? I think we could all do MORE. Let's get to work.


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A look at 2014 (unpaid edition)

Busy, busy, busy! I am working feverishly to finish a few things (as usual) so, that's why there have been few updates on here. Still, I thought some would get a kick out of seeing a picture of all the unpaid illustrations I have done this year. What you will see below is almost all the stuff I drew in-between paid work, most of which is finished. (There are a few items not in this pic. A few weren't completely inked and difficult to see in the group shots. I'll scan them when I can find some time, though.)

Enjoy and, hopefully, I'll have plenty more to share next year with you (especially since some stuff i did work on is slated to take some bows in 2015.)







- Conduct Lionhardt

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Something Wicked...

Here, I have a picture of something I did for October that I just got too busy to post up. It happens like that, sometimes.







Yeah...she's wicked.

I am attempting something this month that I haven't done all year. If it all goes well, then what we'll have is a neat annual thing I'll do in December every year. No promises (because I surely don't know if circumstances will be the same next year) but I hope I can make that happen.

Kinda vague? Yeah, I know. My next post will fill you in. Stay tuned, peoples...

- Conduct Lionhardt

Saturday, November 15, 2014

They're Here





The Wyatt Family. 9 x 12 inks on Bristol Board.

I had fun drawing this around Halloween. I'll be drawing Bray again sometime soon. His lantern entrances have ample potential for more pieces.

I do commissions. THIS wasn't one but it could be. Peep the tab on this blog for how to get yourself some cool art. in 2015, I'll be working in splashes of color. You'll see some of that soon enough...

- Conduct Lionhardt

Sunday, November 2, 2014

No Comic Films for Young Kids.

The other evening I was watching my niece and nephew and ended up having a conversation that left me feeling pretty sad. It had to do with super heroes and, in particular, films based on comic characters.

My nephew was telling me about his school friends and the stuff they liked to talk about. The usual stuff came up, Halloween, wrestling (John Cena), candy, Power rangers (thanks to Netflix, its popular again), Food, music, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles...ya know, the usual kid stuff. Superheroes also came up. My nephew knows quite a few characters, though, and not just the ones who've been in live-action films already. I mean, he is MY nephew so, he's got plenty of information about them, due to my influence and his reading.
 The troubling piece of conversation began when he spoke about his one friend telling him about the recent Captain America sequel "The Winter Soldier." His friend was telling him about how cool Captain America's partner, the Falcon, was.

"Uncle?" he said to me, "Does the Falcon use guns in the comic books? My friend said he shoots guns in the new Captain America movie."
I can imagine how crestfallen my face must have become when he asked this.

My sister has made a real attempt to teach my niece and nephew that guns are something that should only be in the hands of the only people who've been properly trained and taught to use and respect them (Policemen, military, hunters, etc.) Anyone else who uses guns, especially in movies, is a bad guy.

My nephew doesn't like guns or swords/knives/cutting. He, like his mother, cares a bit too much about people and gets really upset when someone is actually hurt...or dies.

But, this blog post isn't to harp on guns in movies. It could be but, it isn't.

I was saddened because my nephew was expressing one of his first frustrations in life, about the incorrect balance of the world. In this case it was simply: comic book movies (and the current books themselves, a topic for another time) are woefully not geared toward kids.

I'm not gonna go through ALL the charts and facts that explain this. I certainly COULD devote entire pages to it, though. Several writers have, as this debate rages quite heavily now, in comic book journalism. Many comic publishers (especially ones with super hero properties known worldwide) have struggled with what I call "serving both sides of the pew." The main consumer base for comics are adults, many having grown up on them and still reading the same characters they have for years.SOME (but certainly not ALL) of those readers then in-turn share this love of comics with their children and it is here that the struggle begins with publishers. The parents want to share in the rich heritage of their comic book reading with their offspring but the rates of inflation have risen the comic book from something a child can do chores for change to buy, into a larger purchase, with even some comics clocking in at almost $4 for 20-32 pages! While some publishers have attempted to make the push to digital and offer books via sites like Comixology for $.99 an issue geared toward younger readers, this doesn't in fact always work well enough when the next trailer to a live-action show or film displays a more matured and visceral version of the characters that a kid is reading about. And with a scant amount of cartoon versions to appease their kids with, adult fans have to navigate the water of just how much they will allow their kid to see in a film and how much they want to have conversations about the actions in those films kids will most assuredly ask about (I'm looking at you, Man of Steel, third act.)

My nephew is 8.

He lives in a world where marketing makes kids excited about colorful characters with special abilities, sells him costumes and toys of their weapons and gear, provides him with G-rated versions of stories in chapter books and kid centric cartoons (Teen Titans Go! Super Hero Squad, etc), YET, when a live-action show or film happens, heroes bleed out, get cut, kill, cuss, make-out, and use guns in vivid ways.

"Uncle, I don't like guns. Good guys shouldn't use them. They should use these" holds up his fist in proper fighting posture.

"That's true, buddy." I said.

"And being a super hero is sometimes scary. I don't know if I would want to be one, if I have to use guns or if the only way to beat the bad guy is to kill them. On Spectacular Spider-Man (the animated series) he always webs them up and takes them to the jail. If I become a superhero with bionic powers, I want to catch bad guys like that and make them go to jail, okay?" He asks looking at me for approval.

"That's a good way to do it."

"And if the real bad guys are using real guns, and not laser guns, I'll let the cops fight them...because those guys are crazy."

I was saddened by all that. The fact that he loves super heroes as a concept and believes in justice and standing up for what's right, even when its hard. Those are great things and he should be allowed to enjoy those things, even on the big screen.

But this week's hype over more of these superhero films was bit bittersweet. As I look at the expansive list of films that are coming out based on various super hero properties, I feel such uncertainty about them. How many of these will have marketing that attracts my niece and nephew's attention? Will they remain true to the source material or diverge in a manner that isn't good for the type of kids they are? Why were so many of THESE characters chosen and not other ones? Is the 'kid dollar' not a large consumer? Why no push for more kid-friendly super hero fair?

I could harp on that last part a bit. Tons of stuff comes to mind which could be good super hero onscreen stuff you can take kids to and still be interesting to adults. Power Pack. Teen Titans. Runaways. Robin. Static (yes, I know they'll be a web series but it deserve film treatment). Generation X. Leave it to Chance. Takio. Gladstones school for world conquerors. Metal Men. Kamandi. Ms Marvel (the Kamala Khan version).

There's tons of stuff out there but, I guess, I just have to realize that maybe not everyone thinks about it that way.

So I await more difficult conversations, explaining to my nephew why there are certain sections of the movies that have to be skipped over or that its a film he can't see, because even a traditional super hero he knows has great qualities on the page, may not exhibit those traits in a live-action rendition of his story.

Sigh.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Inktober

So there is this thing that is going on (and I always seem to learn about these far too late) called "Inktober" where illustrators post up daily inked illustrations for the entire month of October. I was not able to participate in it (due to not having scheduled work and other responsibilities to make time for it). Still, the concept is really great and while I haven't been able to do ink drawings daily, I have done some last month and a few this month. So in a very slim, "semi-connected-to-Inktober" act, I will be selling many of the past ink illustrations I've posted up here (and a few Halloween themed ones) on eBay this week.

So far I have posted up my Thor, The Arrow, John Luther and Alice Morgan, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Trinity (from the Matrix), and Benedict Cumberbatch.

Oh, and this one will be for sale when it is done (this is 90%):


I really like this piece of "Psych" fan art, ha, ha. If I don't sell it, I'll frame it and put it on the wall near my desk.

I'll have 2-3 more Halloween up, just in time for the 'holiday.' I'll make sure to post them here as well, folks.

Here's the link to my seller page, for those interested:
http://www.ebay.com/usr/christianconduct?_trksid=p2047675.l2559

Talk to y'all soon!

- Conduct Lionhardt

Monday, September 29, 2014

Out with the Old...

Here are the "finished" Luther + Alice and Chiwetel Ejiofor pieces, along with a desk shot of the piles of art I've done this year. I've finally had some gap time between paid projects to get back to these. Lots of delay and start-stops on them but, ya know, I dig. Hopefully you will too.

Now that I'm done with these, I'll be moving on to some new stuff! I made mention of these being for sale, here (as well as my other sites) but, didn't get any expressed interest in purchases. So, I'll be boxing these up, so I have space for what's coming next.

I don't have any current news worth sharing this week so, for now, I'll leave you to these. Later folks!