Friday, September 24, 2010

Crowdsourcing Judge Parker

Yesterday I made an observation about the Judge Parker comic strip that turned out not be true. I had thought that current artist Mike Manley was the first to depict the exterior of the Spenser farm house, but an anonymous poster provided some panels from previous artist Eduardo Barreto showing the same structure (like the one below - click on image to enlarge).

Still, I appreciate Manley's attention to detail. It's definitely the same house, with the same number of windows on each side of the door.

If you consider how much time the average person spends reading a daily strip (measured in seconds), this level of craftsmanship is far above what the artist need to do to "get by."

So well done. Mr. Manley. And also many thanks to our anonymous commentator for setting the record straight!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A milestone for Judge Parker?

I've been reading Judge Parker since I was in high school, and I think today something significant happened in the strip. In the panel below, you'll see something that I don't recall seeing rendered by any other Judge Parker artist -- the exterior of Abby Spenser's house.

Harold LeDoux, long-time artist for the strip was the master of the interior. He had a very clear idea of what the breakfast nook in the kitchen looked like, for example, and consistently depicted it throughout the years. The curtains were always the same pattern, the furniture always in the same place (in relation to the angle shown in the panel), and so on. He showed the same attention to detail with Sam Driver's office, and other recurring locations.

LeDoux didn't depict exteriors much, though. He occasionally would show all of Spenser Farms laid out in the distance when characters were on a hill overlooking the estate, but when they got close to the house, it was basically head shots and door frames.

Eduardo Barreto, who replaced him, also stuck mostly to interiors. So hats off to Mike Manley, the newest artist to take over the strip, for venturing into new ground. Frankly, I always thought the house would be an upscale version of a 50's ranch home, but Southern antebellum works, too.

The WTJU copyright issue, day 43.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Welcome to Off Topic'd

It's been quite a while since our last post, and many things have changed.

When Ken and I started "CE Conversations" back in 2006, the idea was to do a blog about consumer electronics (the "C.E." of the title), and for Ken and I to alternate posts in an open conversation (the "Conversations" of the title).

It very soon turned into a blog about other things we were interested in, such as movies, books, personal observations on life and culture (both high and popular). And as Ken got more involved with other projects, his participation lessened, making CE Conversations more like RG Monologues.

So we've worked on a redesign and a new title, and here we are.

CE Conversations becomes Off Topic'd
"Off Topic'd" is a play on the words "Off Topic." The cardinal rule of blogging is to stick to a single topic -- be it fly fishing or genealogy -- and write exclusively about that. Audience builds because readers know what to expect -- another fascinating post about knitting (or whatever).

The problem is that I'm deeply interested in a bunch of different things -- some related, some not. Plus, I write and edit blogs professionally, so I already write tightly focussed posts as part of my job.

CE Conversations/Off Topic'd I write for fun, so I'm writing about whatever I feel like. Sure, the numbers may not get very high, but that's OK. Some people get it.

So the title refers to my preference to go off topic as often as I care to. It's more fun that way.

Where's Ken?
Ken's still around, and we still work closely together -- our conversations are offline now, I'm afraid. Ken remains a writer of this blog, and he'll contribute whenever he feels like it (he, too, writes professionally on deadline, so writing without a deadline is fun).

An Invitation for Writers
And that's where you come in. I'd love to share this blog with a few other like-minded (read: eclectic) writers. Drop me a line if you're interested. No money -- just glory.

So is there a theme to Off Topic'd?
Yes, there is. My motto is "finding beauty in ephemera." I like to hold up for examination things that usually don't get much attention even the first time around -- like comic strip art. I also like to look for patterns of behavior and try to move from the specific to the general -- like trying to find general characteristics in collecting. And sometimes there are things I just think people should know about if they don't already -- like knowing what "cutting the Gordian knot" means.

Bottom line: this blog has a new look and new title, but basically it's just a readjustment to what the blog has actually become rather than a change of direction.

Hope you enjoy!

And of course, if you have any ideas, suggestions, or questions. contact me. There's still a conversation or two to be had here.


The WTJU copyright issue, day 23.