Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Day The Universe Changed

There was a time when you could say, “Jon, you haven’t done a picture of Jessica Simpson in a long time,” and it would have been true.
Now, however, there has been a fundamental shift in the nature of reality, and if you were to make that same claim you would be uttering a falsehood, as, behold:

I nearly finished this last night, having only her leg to draw and some minor touch-up work to do, but it was getting very late, so I decided to hold off until today.
When today rolled around, despite how little there was left to do, I couldn’t bring myself to sit down and finish it, opting to go out into the world and do other things instead.
It had been my intention to take advantage of my irreligious nature and go grocery shopping while other people were in church, but on my way to the grocery store I ended up making a detour.
When my mom was out visiting we’d gone to the Leesburg Premium Outlets Mall – it was the first time I’d gone there since I moved to Leesburg in early 2005 – and I’d bought a couple of pairs of jeans from the Levi’s outlet.
However, a while back one of the belt loops ripped off of one of the pairs, so I’ve been meaning to replace it. For some reason – that I hate myself is the only possibly explanation I could come up with – I decided to stop at the Outlets today to do so. The place was crawling with people, and was just generally nightmarish, and as a capper, the lines were down for the credit card machine at the Levi’s outlet, so the cashier had to make the sale manually. Not being well-versed in this, it took him a while to figure out how to do it.
I stopped and got lunch at the food court before heading off to the grocery store, but, dreading the notion of going home and finishing the picture (I seriously don’t know what was up with my reluctance to finish it), I decided to stop at Ross and Staples first, before finally hitting the grocery store and heading home.
Even when I got home it took me a while before I finally did sit down to finish the picture.
And now it’s done. Whoopee.
When drawing, I’ve finally decided to start doing something that I’ve been thinking about for a long, long time: drawing the hair first.
I hate drawing hair, so I usually leave it for last. This approach has led to me having a folder full of pictures that are all but finished except for the hair, probably never to be completed and seen by eyes other than my own.
(I have a difficult time bringing myself to go back to finish pictures I’ve abandoned.)
As I said, it wasn’t as though this approach was a new idea, it just took me a while to finally implement it.
(I really hate drawing hair.)
Speaking of hair (Bear with me; I’ll make the connection eventually), I don’t think it really counts as a spoiler to mention that in The Incredible Hulk, after Bruce hulks out for the first time, he hits the road to evade capture by the government, and while he’s away his girlfriend, Betty Ross, moves on with her life and finds love with a new man.
This is a perfectly reasonable response on her part, and she can hardly be faulted for it.
However, as soon as Bruce re-enters her life, she drops her new man like a gamma-irradiated potato and practically jumps back into the arms of the man (and monster) who thoughtlessly abandoned her years earlier.
This is, of course, hardly unexpected, and is pretty much a standard trope in the world of comics and movies (and often in the real world), but watching this (necessary?) cliché unfold in the movie did prompt a few thoughts.
(As an aside, there was a comics blogger who, in anticipation of the new movie, got himself the Hulk DVD archive, which contains every Hulk comic published, in PDF form, up to 2006, and he read all of the comics in a series of marathon sessions and blogged about it. He makes frequent references to the nature of Betty’s character, concluding that she is a whore.)
The first thought I had was for a comedy sketch in which we see a happy young couple enjoying an evening stroll in a city park. The man nervously toys with the engagement ring he’s carrying in his pocket, waiting for the perfect moment to drop down on bended knee. The moment arrives, he pops the question, she says yes, and he takes her in his arms. Then, as the woman squeezes her new fiancé tight, over his shoulder she notices a figure standing behind one of the trees, watching them with a look of inconsolable sadness on his face. Why, it’s her ex, the man who disappeared from her life with no explanation five years earlier! Realizing that he’s been spotted, her ex makes a break for it, and she slips out of her fiancé’s arms without a word to chase after her ex, leaving her her new beau standing there bewildered.
The ex explains why he’s been away for so long, tells her that he never stopped loving her, and she instantly forgives him because she never stopped loving him, and as for the new guy, well, he’s SOL.
Cut to several months later and the couple is leaving a restaurant after having a nice dinner, and the woman spots a familiar face watching her from the alley. Why, it’s yet another ex, the man who disappeared from her life with no explanation six years earlier! She chases after him, he explains why he left without word, confesses her love for him, and she confesses her love for him, and as for her once and current beau, well, he’s SOL.
The point of the sketch would be to have still more exes reappearing, with ever-increasing frequency, to the point that immediately after reconciling with one ex, another one appears, and so on…
I thought it was funny.
The other thought that occurred to me was that it would have made for an interesting twist in the movie if Betty had not abandoned her new beau. After all, there were a lot of good reasons for her to stay with him: he’s a brilliant, successful psychiatrist, he’s not a wanted fugitive, and, oh yeah, he doesn’t turn into a hulking, rampaging monster whenever he gets a little stressed out, and he never put her into a coma after lashing out at her during that first transformation.
But no, that couldn’t happen, as Bruce was the love of Betty’s life, and we had to see just how strongly she loved him in scenes in which she fearlessly throws herself in harm’s way to protect the monster she loves. The tragic nature of the love between Betty and Bruce is, after all, an essential part of the Hulk mythos, and therefore must be a part of any adaptation of the material.
(The Betty-Bruce element was very sorely lacking on the TV show.)
Anyway – and this is where the hair connection comes into play – the man who was serving as a poor substitute for Bruce was one Dr. Leonard Samson.
In the comics, Samson does, in fact, undergo a gamma-related transformation that turns him into a hulking, non-rampaging, occasional super hero, with long, green hair, calling himself Doc Samson.
Anyway, the whole point of this little tangent is that watching The Incredible Hulk just brought to mind how often the new guy gets the short end of the stick in movies, comics, and real life when it comes to love, and that’s it’s actually kind of strange that this is not only viewed as acceptable behavior, it’s actually expected, to the point that the new guy will often step out of the way without complaint, as no person of quality would ever stand in the way of “true love.”
I’m not really complaining about that, just observing, and suggesting that every once in a while it might be a good idea to defy expectations and have the new guy be the heroine’s one true love.
Just a thought, from someone who has actually lost out to the new guy.

1 comment:

Merlin T Wizard said...

Damn that Jessica Simpson, always giving me alluring looks from the bed. I can't give you sweet lovin' today, woman! I've got things to do!

Well done, Jon. As usual, you did a great job on the hair. I know you hate drawing it, but you generally do a good job with it.

The whole true love sketch would be pretty funny. Probably better than most of the crap they do on the show now.