Friday, May 30, 2008

3/8/08 CMT II Soundtrack: "Comic Mission"

This is the fourth of the four soundtracks for the second Comic Making Tournament: "Comic Mission." The name is inspired by the "spycraft" songs that comprise much of the first half of the disc.

Track listing (artist/source - song name):

1. Superman Returns - Main Titles
2. Jurassic Park - Main Theme
3. Back to the Future - Main Theme
4. Mission Impossible - Movie Theme
5. Read or Die OVA - Read or Die no Teema (Long Version)
6. R.O.D. TV - R.O.D. (Opening Version)
7. Revolutionary Girl Utena - Campus Dandy
8. Revolutionary Girl Utena - The Akio Car Theme
9. Cowboy Bebop - Tank!
10. Cowboy Bebop - What Planet is This
11. R.O.D. TV - R.O.D. no Theme (I Love Hong Kong Version)
12. Scott Peeples - Gerudo Valley (OC Remix)
13. Ghost in the Shell - Rise
14. KOTOKO - Snow Angel
15. Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya - God Knows...
16. School Rumble - Scramble
17. School Rumble 2 - Sentimental Generation
18. Yu-Gi-Oh! GX - Kaisei Josho Hallelujah
19. Genshiken - My-pace Daiou
20. Neon Genesis Evangelion - Good, or Don't Be
21. Neon Genesis Evangelion - Heady Feeling of Freedom
22. Beatles - Golden Slumber
23. Beatles - Carry That Weight
24. Beatles - The End
25. Star Wars: A New Hope - Throne Room & Credits

I picked John Williams for the first two tracks to stand strong: both themes convey majesty and grandeur. Track 3 follows in a similar vein, even though the source is certainly different. I probably should've used the main titles from Star Wars as a way to bookend the disc and make the opening a Williams trilogy; this is something I'll change next time.

Tracks 4 through 11 weave the spy themes of Mission Impossible and Read or Die with several pieces of jazz. This is meant to get kids' toes tapping a little as they work. Track 12 slows things down before the disc transitions into up tempo celebration pieces.

Track 13 ties back into the espionage theme thanks to its source, with track 14 flowing from it thanks to the similar sound. Tracks 15 through 19 were intended to represent a "party like" atmosphere through exuberance. Tracks 16 and 17 didn't really work, so they'll probably be replaced.

Tracks 20 - 25 are the grand finale of the four soundtrack set. 20 and 21 are simple guitar and piano pieces, relaxing the students as they near completion of the tournament. 22 - 24 are familiar to any fan of the Beatles: they're the last three tracks of Abbey Road. Track 25 uses John Williams once again to tie everything together with a sweeping coronation and procession.

In the next version of this CD, I'll try to use more Cowboy Bebop and theme songs, such as Indiana Jones. Instrumental themes are very good for CDs like this, so I'll probably increase their use on the other discs, as well.

3/8/08 CMT II Soundtrack: "Drawing Mad"

This is the third of four soundtracks from the second Comic Making Tournament: "Drawing Mad." This CD takes its name from the final boss battle theme of Final Fantasy VI, "Dancing Mad." This CD is comprised of numerous highly dramatic songs from various series, so the whole disc is like one epic battle.

Track list (artist/source - song name):

1. Hotei - Kill Bill Theme
2. John Williams - Imperial March
3. Jigoku Shoujo - Jigoku Rock
4. Fate/Stay Night - Tenchi Hou Take
5. Final Fantasy 8 - Liberi Fatali (Orchestral)
6. Death Note - Low of Solipsism
7. Vision of Escaflowne - Black Escaflowne
8. Final Fantasy 7 - One-Winged Angel (Orchestral)
9. Vision of Escaflowne - Dance of Curse
10. Matrix Revolutions - Navras
11. Final Fantasy VI - Dancing Mad (Black Mages Version)
12. End of Evangelion - Komm, Susser Tod
13. Jigoku Shoujo - Jigoku Metal
14. Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children - One-Winged Angel
15. Adolescence of Utena - Decisive Battle, Beelzebub's Royal Castle
16. Adolescence of Utena - Rinbu Revolution (Adolescence Rush Mix)

Track 1 seemed like a natural opener, since it has the feel of approaching armies and building tension. Track 2 is familiar to everyone and helps set the tone further. Tracks 3 and 4 are short pieces that build on the menace in 2. Track 5 is the first of several classical-style pieces that were originally used during battle sequences. It's slow relative to the others used, so this made it more compatible with the beginning, as pace was being established. It ends on a single held note, so track 6 starts from there with a quiet build to suggest something looming on the horizon.

Track 7 starts the first set of action songs. It's quicker and more intense than track 5, like a stampeding army charging in. Track 8 is the first of two "One-Winged Angel" versions, here meant to represent the primary conflict of sorts. Track 9 speeds the pace up again, leading neatly into 10, the first of several "extended length" tracks. I liked "Navras" because of its unique sound.

Track 11 is the longest track on the album. At 12 minutes, it's a rock-influenced mix of multiple themes that are original stated with classical instruments. The advantage of the track's heterogeneity is that it never becomes boring to listen to by becoming repetitious. It starts with a strong battle statement, slows down into something more reflective, before concluding with ominous bell ringing.

Track 12 is a 7 minute break, a "fake" resolution. Used as the movie's "end of the world" song, it was a fitting false ending. Track 13 is meant to jar the listener. Like track 3 it's a short but punchy transition to action. Track 14 is the true climax of the album. It takes the theme of track 8 and adds to it a new dimension with forceful guitars. A kind of "you thought it was over, but now here's THIS" kind of song.

Tracks 15 and 16 are the resolution. 15 is a 7 minute instrumental "chase sequence." Track 16 is the true resolution, an uplifting song that signifies the moment when the good guy pulls the sword from the stone and smites evil once and for all. The song is split roughly into two halves and contains its own wrap-up, so another final track wasn't necessary. Looking back, I probably should have put 14 between 15 and 16, so the sequence would go "being chased by an unknown, revelation of the main villain, and final heroics."

Just as the second CD sought to pump the kids up with "hot blooded" rock, this CD also sought to keep them enthused by using grand sweeping themes. I didn't really get a chance to test this album, as I forgot to pop it in after the lunch break until late and wanted to get to the fourth disc. Track 14 was pretty popular, so it'll definitely be used again.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

3/8/08 CMT II Soundtrack: "Hot Blooded Tooning"

This is the second of four soundtracks from the second Comic Making Tournament: "Hot Blooded Tooning." In this case, the term "hot blooded" doesn't mean angry, but is a reference to the character archetype that's a staple in many boy's shows. The reason for invoking here is because I loaded this soundtrack with rock songs that "ooze passion."

Track list (artist/source - song name):

1. Nightwish - Elvenpath
2. Bleach - Asterisk
3. Death Note - The World
4. Ergo Proxy - Kiri
5. Naruto - GO!!!
6. xxxHolic - 19sai
7. Yu-Gi-Oh! GX - Wake Up Your Heart
8. Bleach - D-tecnoLife
9. Nightwish - The Phantom of the Opera
10. Digimon Savers - Going! Going! My Soul!!
11. Naruto - Seishun Kyousoukyoku
12. Fullmetal Alchemist - Ready Steady Go
13. Yu-Gi-Oh! GX - Genkai Battle
14. Hellsing - Logos Naki World
15. Witch Hunter Robin - Shell
16. Nightwish - Wishmaster
17. Dragonforce - Revolution Deathsquad
18. FLCL - Little Busters

Track 1 was a natural opener for the album, setting the heavy guitar riff tones for the other tracks. Track 2 was more semi-rap than rock, but blended well. 3 and 5 would've worked better right next to each other, as track 4 was seriously out of place. Track 6 slowed down the pace for a breather, before the album entered its weakest portion.

I had chosen track 7 because of its strong guitar opening, but had forgotten that it basically slows down about a minute in and doesn't build on that momentum. Track 10 had a similar problem of not keeping momentum from a good start. So putting track 8 right after 6 would've worked better. And while I really like track 9, it just didn't mesh well with the surrounding songs, being stylistically very different from the others.

From track 11 on the CD improved. The transition from tracks 15 to 16 and 16 to 17 were quite nice. 14 and 15 were slower rock pieces, effective at setting a mood of expectation. 16, in contrast, starts off loudly and sudden and continues that kind of pounding work.

Track 17 was the climax of the album: a nearly 8 minute power metal epic that never lets up. It features some of the finest guitar solos around and is great at getting people pumped. Despite what the song name would suggest it's 100% family friendly, since the whole thing is about good guys battling the forces of evil.

Track 18 is the resolution track (the thing I left off the first album). It's a short but very upbeat tune and one of my favorites from FLCL.

Overall, I wasn't as happy with this album as the previous one. One reason I think is that I didn't put as much hard hitting as deserved to be here. Tracks 2, 5, 8, and 11 were recognizable to the students, which was good.

Track 4, 7, 9, and 10 did not work as well as I'd expected and will likely be replaced in the next incarnation of this disc. Likely candidates for inclusion on this soundtrack next time: "Makka ni Chikai" from Busou Renkin, "Gong" by JAM Project, "Pride" from Gundam Seed Destiny, "Live from Baghdad" from Cowboy Bebop, and "Ichirin no Hana" from Bleach. I'll try to add some Judas Priest (which I didn't have available at the time) for some classic metal. I'll also keep an eye out on any new series themes to add.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

3/8/08 CMT II Soundtrack: "Crazy Sketch"

This is the first of four soundtracks from the second Comic Making Tournament: "Crazy Sketch." The soundtrack gets it name because I put a lot of strange and upbeat songs onto it, including examples of non-adult Japanese denpa.

Track list (artist/source - song name):

1. Katamari Damacy - Sasasan Katamari
2. Portal - Still Alive
3. Thomas Dolby - She Blinded Me with Science
4. Oingo Boingo - Weird Science
5. Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei - Hito Toshite Jiku ga Bureteiru
6. Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei - Kuusou Rumba
7. JAM Project - JAM ga Moettetta! Sailor Fuku
8. Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya - Yuki, Muon, Madobe Nite
9. Higurashi - Higurashi no Naku Koro ni
10. Weird Al Yankovic - Dare to be Stupid
11. Lucky Star - Motteke! Sailor Fuku (Electro Otome Chikku Mix)
12. Utada Hikaru - Beautiful World
13. Moon Phase - Neko Mimi Mode
14. Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya - Hare Hare Yukai
15. Lucky Star - Motteke! Sailor Fuku
16. Caramell - Caramelldansen (Speedy Cake Remix)
17. O-zone - Dragostea din tei
18. Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya - Yuki, Muon, Madobe Nite (Program Hack Remix)
19. Lucky Star - Motteke! Sailor Fuku (Metabolic Syndrome Taisaku Mix)

I tried to order the songs in order of increasing speed and energy, like an artist growing more and more frantic.

Track 1 struck me as a natural opener, as it starts quietly and picks up tempo while being insanely catchy. Track 2 was a hit with the kids, as a couple of them recognized it from the game. Tracks 3 thru 6 were an "intro" of sorts for me. I tend to portray myself as a mad scientist, so 3 and 4 fit into this. 5 and 6 come from a show where the main character is a crazy teacher, making them appropriate.

There are four versions of the Lucky Star OP "Motteke! Sailor Fuku" on this CD, each in order of bombastic energy. 7 is a wacky group song by JAM Project (who I hope to see at Otakon in 2008), which transitions into a pair of slower electronic pieces (8 and 9). 9's out of place in terms of theme, but the sound works well. 10 goes back to the wacky theme, while 11 restates 7 at a relatively stable and steady pace.

Track 12 flows directly from 11, with Utada Hikaru's theme for "Evangelion 1.0" being a great example of more mainstream Japanese dance music. 13 is reminiscent of some of the 60's movie light pop themes, with minimal vocals. I included it as a "lull before the storm," when the CD launches into its most frenetic portion.

Track 14 and 15 are two of the most infamous songs in recent anime circles, with full dance routines dedicated to both. The position of the two on the CD meant they would play in the middle of a given activity. Highly peppy and infectious, they were meant to help wake up any students who may have hit a mid-way stump. 16 and 17 were some non-Japanese dance pieces, both of which have become popular on the Internet.

One thing I like doing with mix CD's is restating earlier themes with remixes. Tracks 18 and 19 accomplish this, with 18 being a more forceful presentation of track 8. Track 19 takes the "main thread" and ups it to its most frantic point, a remix that makes the song even more boisterous than it already was.

One change I'd make to this CD if I use it again (and I probably will) is to include a "resolution" track, something slow and easy at the end. This makes transitioning to later CD's easier, since it gives the ear time to relax.

3/8/08 CMT II Soundtracks

In the first comic tournament, I used a CD of random music I'd burned for my car. I found that music was an effective way to block distracting background noise while also helping get the kids into a mood to create. In videos of the first tournament you can hear music like Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" and "Ievan Polka" by Loituma.

For the the second Comic Making Tournament, instead of just a random mix CD, I wanted a set of specific "soundtracks." Each CD would have a general theme, contain music appropriate for all ages, and be an eclectic mix to expose kids to more than just the usual "bubblegum pop" that floods most Top 40 stations.

In some of the videos posted so far from the second CMT, you've already heard a few of the songs in there. I've decided to post the track lists for each of the four CD's as well as notes on why I included the individual songs. Most of the songs I used are widely available online (, iTunes, etc.). The four soundtracks ("Crazy Sketch," "Hot Blooded Tooning," "Drawing Mad," and "Comic Mission") will be posted separately.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

3/8/08 CMT II Videos 2

Three more Comic Making Tournament II videos have been uploaded. These document the second event, Hybrid, where kids made comics with templates that had one panel blank.

Hybrid 1

Hybrid 2

Hybrid 3

Friday, May 23, 2008

3/8/08 CMT II Videos

Three more videos from the second Comic Making Tournament are up:

Short form Pre-drawn 1

Short form Pre-drawn 2

Short form Pre-drawn 3

These three document the first event. As with the first extended length clip, I've cut out dead time, causing the skips and jumps. There'll be more tournament videos later on.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"You'll Have That" Joins!

"You'll Have That" by Wes Molebash has joined the Create a Comic Project! I asked him to join after reading about his adventure teaching elementary kids about making comics. It's good to see other comic creators going out there to help others using their craft.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Links Page Updated

I've finally gotten around to updating the Links page with banners of all the most recent comics to join, plus some others like Skin Horse and Sketchies, which are new comics by people who have released their work for use in the CCP. I moved Dreamland Chronicles and Tsunami Channel to the list of comics that's linked to the CCP. I've also updated the big long copyright statement so it's up to date.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Misc. Updates

Sorry for the lack of activity. Studying for my Ph.D. qualifiers has eaten my brain to a large extent. I'll be more active in late June, but don't expect many blog posts in May.

The grant application for Comic Making Tournament III is being processed. They've sent me some additional questions to answer, which is apparently the next stage in the selection process. With luck I may get funds to return to New Haven again.

My partnership with Pitt's CSSA is progressing. My contact there has sent me a presentation the group has used in the past about Beijing. Also, CSSA students in China are taking pictures of their daily lives and monuments that I can use as references for comics based on modern China. The pictures will also form the basis for a lecture component.

In addition to the China-themed modules, I've also been at work putting together modules based on: climate change, public health, statistics, and even economics. One goal is that by the end of the summer I'll have sufficient material to bring the CCP to schools across Pittsburgh in many capacities. And thanks to the endorsements I've received from several Pittsburgh institutions (University of Pittsburgh, the Children's Museum, and the Human Service Center), schools should be very receptive to this program.

Tasks to be done:

1. Write-up about the Tournament (sadly, I think I may have waited too long as is, since the details are already fuzzy).
2. CMT II videos.
3. 4/10 and 4/15 Module numbers.
4. 4/15 Module videos.

I also need to write up a press release to announce another project element that recently came to fruition. It relates to some of the templates you saw the kids using in the tournament and module that aren't related to any comic.