Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Unsinkable Mark Trail

Mark Trail's current artist/writer James Allen has not only made this vintage strip more exciting visually, he's vastly improved the quality of the story lines. And along the way, he's also having some fun with the character and the very nature of adventure strips.

Normally, adventure strips are pretty much self-contained. What happened in previous story arcs are seldom referred to in the current adventure (with the exception of a recurring villain cropping back up). Current comic strip creative teams, such as Mike Curtis/Joe Staton (Dick Tracy), and Tony DePaul/Mike Manley (The Phantom), seem more interested in world-building. Borrowing from comic books, the past shapes the present rather than having each episode take place in isolation.

Which leads us the beginning of Mark Trail's Hawaii adventure (see Mark Trail Heats Up for more about this fall 2016 storyline).

Mark Trail has been invited to check out an invasive species of ants on a small island. He checks in with his editor while going to rent a boat.

Of course, that's exactly who Mark Trail is -- a guy in a serial comic. But his editor does have a point. Trail's two previous adventures involved exploding boats.

What could possibly go wrong? Well, this. 

Fortunately, Cal found an abandoned rowboat on the beach. There was plenty of foreshadowing -- Allen shows it being by the yacht that originally landed on the island and inadvertently left the invasive fire ants back in the prolog to the story (see: Mark Trail: Suddenly in the Past).

Allen continued the subplot about Mark Trail's luck with transportation with these two sequences.

Great art, great storytelling, and a sense of fun -- that's why I keep reading Mark Trail. Plus, I want to see what he blows up next.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Duet for Violin and Percussion - Part 2

As part of my Diabelli Project flash composition series, I wrote five sketches for violin and percussion. They seemed to have potential, and so I'm expanding them into a larger five-movement composition. And I decided to document my progress on this Duet for Violin and Percussion (primarily to keep me on task).

First movement finished!

Below is the sketch score for the completed first movement. This duet is going to be a set of miniatures so the movements will be very short. Nevertheless, I felt the opening movement needed an introduction, which I created from the motives at A (which is also the beginning of the Diabelli sketch).

The original percussion part had timbales plus cymbal. I decided to stay with just timbales for a more consistent sound.

The overall structure for the movement is A-B-A'. The return of the opening material is modified to change its direction and point towards the final cadence.

The overall playing time should be about 2:45 or so. The next step is to play through the movement and make revisions, but I won't do that until I complete the other movements. That will give me an opportunity to look at this movement fresh, and be able to better assess how it fits into the overall work (since I'll have it all on paper at that point).

So the next immediate step is to start working on another movement. And so I have -- the fifth.

And for comparison, the original Diabelli Project sketch:

Friday, February 17, 2017

Line Mar Match Box Construction 040 - Stretcher

I found a Line Mar Match Box Construction Set from the 1930s, complete and with instructions. The box claimed the set made 100 different toys. I decided to test that claim -- one toy at a time. You can read all the posts for the Line Mar construction project at 100 Toys.

040. Stretcher

The stretcher was another simple build. It helped that the dowels that made the handles only just entered the metal piece. That left the short dowels clear to extend into the box and be flush with the top of the "pillow."