Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Nonsense and the curse of the lazy blogger!

In the interest of posting a post in September, I present with no introduction the cover of a nonexistent graphic novel: "Curse of the Dagger!" This was an idea I had and messed around with for a while. Finally I inked it and scanned it into Photoshop for the colors. Fun!

A young pharaoh finds a mysterious dagger stuck in a strange looking skull in the desert. As he pulls the dagger from the bizarre, deformed skull, a brilliant red light flashes across the landscape.

Little does the young king know, he has released an ancient curse that will ravage the kingdom and threaten to destroy the very fabric of reality!

OK, I thought of a translational subject:

The Chinese phrase: 胡说八道 (hú shuō bā dào) means "nonsense." It is what Rep. Joe Wilson would have yelled at Pres. Obama during his health care speech if he spoke Chinese. Literally it means: "Outrageous speech in eight ways." What is the origin of this strange saying? Let me regale you with the tale...
A young pharaoh finds a mysterious dagger stuck in a strange looking skull - No, no that's not it. Here is the story that makes most sense to me (from Baidu).

In ancient times, Chinese people referred to the minority populations to the north and west as the "Hu." The who? Yes. The Hu. So the unintelligible language of these groups was lumped under the phrase, "hu shuo" 胡说 (Hu speak).

The 八道 (bā dào) part of this expression comes from the "Noble Eightfold Path" 八正道 (ba1 zheng4 dao4) of Buddhism. So in other words, the phrase means "an ignorant barbarian trying to talk about the Noble Eightfold Path to enlightenment."

See, now isn't that much more interesting than a moronic outburst of "you lie!" ?


Tom Gordon said...

Hah! You want lazy blogging? Try 2+ years!

Suh-weet. I love the X-Treem foreshortening on the Pharaoh's outstretched hand -- very cinematic, like one of those gratuitous shots they'd utilize in an old-school 3D movie such as "Spacehunter" or "Jaws III" to show off their stuff.

One thing I've noticed is if you selectively apply color to the lines too (either directly, or with masks), you can fudge anything from an atmospheric perspective -- the phenomenon where objects get progressively lighter as they recede in the distance -- to all manner of weird glow effects. Animators now seem to use this technique a lot too; the classic schtick is a snow-white beard or hair, sporting grey lines instead of black.

Anyway, here's one way how you might go about it on this piece (although a recent op-ed cartoon by my bud Eric Allie is an infinitely better example).

That's also interesting that even the simplest Chinese expression is loaded with a bunch of historical baggage. Somehow I doubt the modern Hu appreciate it, though!

Ben Moger Williams said...

Yeah I would love to see some more art blogging from you Tom!
Good tip on the colored lines. I think in this case that works better than the thin/thick variation to show distance.
The modern Hu are the Uighurs and Mongolians (I think), and we all know how happy those guys are. I just heard about a Mongolian rap group on NPR - a sure sign of contentedness.

Susan Moger said...

I like the Pharaoh art and the intriguing hint of the story--just read The Zero and recommend it (not graphic but great!).

Keep blogging, the translation tidbits are favorites of mine. Always.
Love, Mom