Monday, January 9, 2012

It is time again for another adventure!


Sheesh, it's been a little bit since I've posted in here. Well like I always do... I have returned. The break pretty much came and went. When it started I was all like

"YEAH! BREAK TIME! TIME TO GET MY OWN WORK DONE!" 


Psshhh..... where I did do some work, a majority of it was spent shopping for x-mas, and then promptly diving headfirst into the most relaxing XBOX 360 game-fest. When you get one of those, you pretty lose the ability to do anything but play games for a bit.

While it all was relaxing, it kind of pulled me out of the swing of what I was going to do. So during this semester of school I'm going to double time it. I have three pretty art intensive classes this go around. They should keep me pretty busy...

Anyway... enough of all that.

Time to do the old run of what we were doing before the break.

Artist of the Week! This week it goes to: Kan Muftic ! 
This guy has been on the art circuit for quite a while. His art is amazing and very well done. I can't quite decide which he does better... environments or characters. Both of them are pretty well done. Take a look at his blog and you'll be amazed!

Alright here's some of the actual work that I need to post.

Final for writing II:



The Sookie Stackhouse Novels versus the show True Blood

A Research Paper on the Sexism of Vampires
             Vampire, a single word that evokes a multitude of ways that one could interpret. The first one that comes to mind is the Hollywood theatrical vampire, in which the vampire is almost romanticized. Then, there are such forms as psychic vampirism, in which an apparition supposedly steals the  ‘essence’ of their intended victim. There are even forms of vampirism that are recognized by the medical industry. This syndrome is called “Renfeld’s Syndrome” and is characterized by periodic compulsive blood drinking and an affinity with death.[1] Many people actually think of vampirism as a mental and physical manifestation. The elongating of fangs from the incisor teeth, the supernatural abilities of flight, speed, and even the ‘glamouring’ of humans, as well as a certain ‘detached from humanity’ mentality. Each of these features seems to point to an overbearing ‘masculinity’ of what it means to be a vampire. Stop and think about it, what does each of these seem to represent? While they are to help the vampire ‘feed’, does it not seem like they are highly sexual and point towards what humans commonly portray as an emotional if not sexual rape? What follows is an exploration into what it means to be a vampire, including the fact that pop culture itself presents the vampire lore with a face of man. The fascination that humanity as a whole seems to have upon these supernatural creatures, especially when typical vampire stories are squelching the female voice, and also we are going to explore the more current fad that’s in and how it relates to sexism: The Sookie Stackhouse Novels[2] versus the show True Blood[3].
            Vampire legend dates all the way back to “[…] ancient Persia, where a vase was discovered depicting a man struggling with a huge creature which is trying to suck his blood.”[4] This goes to show that the vampire legend has existed since the dawn of man and then some, at least in an artistic sense. In the Bible itself it seems to even hint at vampirism in a certain form.
“10. What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother's blood crith unto me from the ground.
11. And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand;
12. When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.
15. And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him seven fold. And the LORD set a mark on Cain, lest any finding him shall kill him.”[5]
The Bible seems to hint that Cain might have actually been the first vampire, which is why further lore suggests that the vampire is actually the “Mark of Cain”.
            The Bible itself seems to omit a bit of lore that would empower womankind as well. There is a character identified as Lilith, whom is omitted from the Holy Bible as we know it, yet is abundantly clear in Jewish apocrypha texts. This character was supposedly the first wife of Adam. Oddly enough Lilith herself is often seen as vile, as she is often portrayed as the serpent more commonly read about in the first book of the Bible, Genesis.[6] This would hint that the Bible has omitted this to very openly deduct woman’s power and actually try to vilify woman as a whole.
            Some time later, you have another Biblical character, Judas, who is also supposedly in part another contributor to the vampire legend. Supposedly by way of his evil betrayal of Jesus, he later committed suicide out of guilt. Typically vampire folklore claims “those who commit suicide are doomed to come back as vampires.”[7] Since Judas killed himself it would be only natural that based on this fact that he would return from the dead.
“3. Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,
4. Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? See thou to that.
5. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.”[8]
Supposedly this is also another reason as to why vampires themselves are damaged by silver. It is in stark reflection of the curse that Judas started when he betrayed Jesus, as he accepted thirty pieces of silver to ‘sell Jesus out’.
            Even before Bram Stoker popularized the legend itself, there was a countess that was nicknamed the Infamous Lady. Countess Erzsebet (Elizabeth) Bathory was considered to be one of the vilest Female Serial Killers. It is said that she is a vampire woman who slaughtered and killed well over six hundred and fifty servant girls and proceeded to bath in their blood in an attempt to gain a supernatural immortality. She went even further by “biting pieces of flesh out from the girls, but also using knives and torturing them in other ways.”[9] The story of Elizabeth Bathory actually inspired such stories as the Grimm Fairytales, and even Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It just goes to show that this legend might actually be common-knowledge for, yet again, the exclusion of women historically, albeit a poor example of woman-hood in general.
During the witch-hunts of the Inquisition there was even superstition regarding the vampire. There was a book released at that time entitled Malleus Maleficarum[10] or The Witches Hammer. The following passage was a direct response to the vampire hunting that was occurring at the time:
“It is true that both in the Greek and in the earlier Roman cults, worships often directly derived from secret and sombre sources, ancient gods, or rather demons, had their awful superstitions and their horrid rites, powers whom men dreaded but out of very terror placated; fanes men loathed but within whose shadowed portals they bent and bowed the knee perforce in trembling fear. Such deities were the Thracian Bendis, whose manifestation was heralded by the howling of her fierce black hounds, and Hecate the terrible “Queen of the realm of ghosts,” as Euripides calls her, and the vampire MORMO and the dark SUMMANUS who at midnight hurled loud thunderbolts and launched the deadly levin through the starless sky.”[11]
This goes to show that vampire superstition has existed all throughout mankind’s ages. It doesn’t stop there either; this is merely a dusting on the cake of what vampire legend goes into. Every generation in just about every country has a different take on the vampire legend.
The popularity of vampires in supernatural lore has rose and fell all throughout the generations since all the way back then. As a matter of fact, vampires have existed in every culture on the planet, ranging from Albania to Vietnam. Each country has a different name for the vampire legend and each one has a different way that the vampire itself exists and thrives. There are extremely different forms of vampires throughout the world, and some that are so bizarre that they seem more akin to creatures of nightmare and fantasy than something that would actually exist. Superstitions though, have bred these creatures and the myriad of appearances that they hold as well as their many differing ways to be killed or prevented from being created in the first place.
            In more modern times we have almost been assaulted with an overflow of the vampire. Just about everywhere in the current culture there seems to be a vampire. The series True Blood and also The Sookie Stackhouse Novels are just the tip in an iceberg of the vampires that are brought up in current times. There is a vampire in just about every type of media that we currently have, be it television shows, movies, games, art pieces, etc. Although modern vampire seems to have taken less of a mythological standpoint, and more of a romanticized, overbearing sexual presence. Even young adults seem to be exposed lately to the ideology of vampire.
Each type of media that we have at our disposal seems to take a different take on the vampire. The vampires portrayed in shows and movies have a tendency to be more sexual deviant, and violent. The vampires in books, though, tend to be viler, more like outcasts from society. Although there is a great deal of vampires throughout all of our media, there is one thing that they all share: vampires seem to be predatory creatures bent on nothing more than feeding upon and eventually snuffing out the life of humanity.
A great deal of people seems to have this overindulgent fascination with the vampire myth. The fantasy for the past few years has had a huge focus on the occult, specifically the vampire myth, so it seems only fair that the general populace would gravitate towards them. The conflict between man and supernatural seems as old as the lore itself, but the generation that we are in now seems more ‘okay’ with the gore and social dissonance represented within these stories. One could only reason then, that, especially in more current times, the vampire fascination seems rooted in three general categories: their apparent immortality, their immunity to human disease, and finally their supernatural gifts.
            Immortality is a gift that humanity has wanted since as far back as the human world could walk. It seems that we are always searching for a way to beat the clock, so-to-speak. In our search for immortality, the vampire has us beat. Each of the lore seems to point directly towards the innate immortal being that is the vampire. Since they are undead creatures, they are timeless. Time seems to have no effect on their overall appearance, and they don’t seem to gain a certain degree of sluggishness that humanity gains over time.
            In both the book and the show this gift comes at a very huge cost: the typical vampire allergy to sunlight. This unfortunate side effect to vampirism is a large price to pay for immortality. I mean imagine it, not being able to go outside or even be awake for that matter during any time that the sun is up. That would mean that in this world your time would be limited to sundown to sun-up. A small amount of people would enjoy this time frame, but think about the things that you would miss out on. The feel of the warmth of the sun comes to mind immediately. Things that typical mankind takes for granted, that can only be done in the sun, wouldn’t be even remotely accessible to vampires.
            Another serious perk that vampires seem to have over humanity is their immunity to every typical ailment that affects humans. What would a vampire need to fear from any illness that affects humans? Influenza, Streptococcus, and even AIDS seem to have no apparent effect on the vampire, at least none that have been documented in any literature. If for nothing else, humanity must have a desire for a high degree of immunity that the vampire is prone to. This could hint at the overall theme of sexually transmitted diseases in the form that the fact of vampirism seemingly being a disease itself. It’s something that is spread through the blood transfusion.
            True Blood seems to show the only evidence of any disease that affects vampire-kind. They have a form of Hepatitis called Hepatitis-D, or Hep-D, as it’s commonly called in the show. In the show it pretty much immediately turns a vampire into a human again. It strips them of all their supernatural powers and thrusts them back into humankind. It is very much like a regular human getting the flu in that it turns them bedridden and ill. The vampire is confined to sleep and is too weak to really do anything, even feed.
            Let’s not forget all the supernatural gifts that are bestowed upon the vampire kind that typical humanity does not possess. There is a great deal of lore that tells of each of the different vampire special abilities given throughout the ages upon each continent. A few such examples of these abilities are uncanny speed, animal domination, and even flight.[12] The overall consensus seems to point on the fact that vampires can manipulate humanity to their means. It is much in the way that certain animals can hypnotize their prey before attacking.
            Glamouring is the gift possessed by the vampires in True Blood and the Sookie Stackhouse Novels. This gift actually allows them to basically make anyone do anything that they want them to. It grants them the ability to basically coerce the populace into doing whatever much like a cult leader causing their followers to ‘drink the kool-aid’. Each person affected basically repeats whatever the vampire wants him or her to and then genuinely believes what he or she has been told. The interesting thing about glamouring is that it is a learned ability and not inherently given to the vampire. They must learn to do it much like a human learns to walk. It’s just something that a vampire does in this series.
            The more awkward thing about the Sookie Stackhouse Novels as well as True Blood is that the vampires contained within are completely open to the world. While humanity maintains a certain distance from them, they actually are open to the world. The line ‘coming out of the coffin’ appears a great deal of times in the series. It is actually a play on the homosexual adage ‘coming out of the closet’ in that the truth is finally known. Interestingly enough though, there is still a great deal of humans in these two that are against the vampires.
            Throughout the two series you are confronted with a group of humans called the “Fellowship of the Sun”. This group actually is very openly against the vampires and their gaining of equal rights in the American eye. The hilarious fact of this group though, is that they are no different than typical humanity as it is still falling apart because of sexism and racism. The main character that is portrayed in this group ‘Steve Newlin’ actually expresses a form of sexism towards his wife throughout the series. She is placed in a subservient role in which she plays the ‘housewife’ to the entire cult. Unfortunately in the show, she is even further exploited by the fact that she is disappointed with her husband and must now play the role of the adulterous wife by attempting to sleep with one of the newer members. While I am not here to comment on the sexual nature of womankind, I am merely stating the fact that she is placed in this role as a means to show sexual deviance from relationships and to, yet again, vilify women.
            Even vampires themselves in the show are shown in a form of sexism. One of the main female vampires throughout the show, Queen Sophie Anne, is portrayed as a powerful woman, but with complete abandon for finances. She is shown as a money hungry vampire woman hell-bent on doing everything she can to maintain her extreme fashion and lavishness that is stereotypical of a woman. At least the personality they have bestowed upon this character is atypical of feminine qualities; she is shown as extremely sexual, even going so far as to make her bisexual.
            On the vampire front, the show itself shows an extreme tendency towards sex by showing that the vampires, both male and female, are extremely sexually active. As said above, the Queen is extremely sexual, but it doesn’t stop there. Just about every vampire shown in the show has an extreme sexual appetite. The male vampires basically take advantage of every sexual situation that they can. One character even goes so far as to forcibly rape one of his clients for a great deal of hours. The terrible fact of this is that the character being raped only showed up because they were hired as a stripper in his club. It was basically an initiation of sorts.
            Luckily for vampires, at least the ‘vegetarian variety’, the Japanese invented a drink called True-Blood. This is to help stave off vampire hunger and basically give rise to the popularity of vampire-kind and inevitably led to the “Great Revelation”, or when the vampires became known to humanity. This drink is considered to be a “blood substitution” so that vampires need not go around drinking their fill on the general populace.
            Vampires throughout the many generations of mankind have been called many different things and have been given many different special abilities, but one fact still remains: vampires are generally predatory and a form of sexual misconduct. We’ve explored how historically the vampire legend has been overly dominated by the male sex, the fascination that humanity has towards this overly romanticized legend, and finally, the current fiction that many people are interested in: The Sookie Stackhouse Novels versus the show True Blood and how all of this relates to sexism. Honestly, it’s sad to say that sexism exists as a concept, but even sadder still is the fact that it is so overly prevalent in a majority of fiction and television.
Goddu, Teresa A. "Vampire Gothic." Vampire Gothic 1st ser. 11 (1999): 125-41. Print.
Harris, Charlaine. Club Dead. New York: Ace, 2003.
Institoris, Heinrich, and Heinrich Kramer, Malleus Maleficarum, Lvgdvni: Sumptibus Clavdii Bovrgeat, 1486, Translated and edited by Montague Summers, London: 1928.
Nosferatu. Dir. Friedrich W. Murnau. Perf. Max Schreck. Jofa-Atelier Berlin-Johannisthal, 1921. Film.
"True Blood: Season 3." True Blood. HBO. Television.
"Vampire - Mythical Creatures Guide." Vampire - Mythical Creatures Guide. Mythical Creatures Wiki. Web. <http://www.mythicalcreaturesguide.com/page/Vampire>.

[1] Medical Guidebook that shows this disorder. Renfeld’s Syndrome.
[2] Harris, Charlaine, Club Dead, (New York: Ace), 2003.
[3] True Blood, DVD, (2011;  .[4] http://www.vampiresamongus.com/history.html
[5] Genesis. 4:10 – 15 (The New English Bible; New Testament).
[6] http://witcombe.sbc.edu/eve-women/7evelilith.html
[7] hellhorror.
[8] Matthew. 27:3 – 5 (The New English Bible; New Testament).
[9] http://infamouslady.com/about_the_countess.html
[10] Institoris, Heinrich, and Heinrich Kramer, Malleus Maleficarum, Lvgdvni: Sumptibus Clavdii Bovrgeat, 1486, Translated and edited by Montague Summers (London: 1928).
[11] Ibid.
[12] V. is for Vampire.


And noowwww... for the ART!

Xena: Warrior Princess


Title: Xena: Warrior Princess
Date: January 3, 2012
Medium: Photoshop

Notes: I really wanted to enter this Character of the Week... damn this break was soo lazy.

The Demon Warlord



Title: The Demon Warlord
Date: January 5, 2012
Medium: Photoshop

Notes: A redesign of an old sketch that I did using Photoshop... I'm going to finish this one too!!

Sketchbook: Gestural Studies



Title: Sketchbook: Gestural Studies
Date: November - December 2011
Medium: Graphite

Notes: 6 Pages from my sketchbook final for Drawing I

Zombie Hunter Stripper



Title: Zombie Hunter Stripper
Date: January 4, 2012
Medium: Photoshop

Notes: Zombies... Strippers... Shotguns?! What have I done!

Character of the Week # 274: Prophet of the End of Times (v2)



Title: Character of the Week # 274: Prophet of the End of Times (v2)
Date: January 8, 2012
Medium: Graphite

Notes: No reference, just trying to get an idea down fast.

Sketchbook: Inks



Title: Sketchbook: Inks
Date: November - December 2011
Medium: Ink

Notes: Only 4 pages here... but this was a serious breakthrough. I've never used ink like this. Stick and ink was amazing. I want to do MANY more of these.

The Jester



Title: The Jester
Date: December 30, 2011
Medium: Photoshop

Notes: An old piece in a series of characters that I was working on... I really want to get back to this guy and the others.

Notes on History



Title: Notes on History
Date: September - December 2011
Medium: Graphite

Notes: This is every note from my art history I class in college. While this might be a bit awkward to look at, I just thought it might be interesting for some people to find the artists that I wrote in here and maybe do some Master Copies or at least have a good laugh at some of the silly facts that art history has in it. (if you want to see the original, just email me and I'll send you the original -- matkaminski@yahoo.com)

Sketchbook: Odds-n-Ends



Title: Sketchbook: Odds-n-Ends
Date: November - December 2011
Medium: Graphite / Photoshop

Notes: About 14 pages smashed together... most of this was the hand studies that I did for my animation... I need to post that!

Character of the Week # 274: Prophet of the End of Times (v1)



Title: Character of the Week # 274: Prophet of the End of Times (v1)
Date: January 6, 2012
Medium: Photoshop

Notes: First version of this contest entry. Might go with the second one though...

Sketchbook: Realism



Title: Sketchbook: Realism
Date: November - December 2011
Medium: Graphite

Notes: About 16 or so pages from my sketchbook smashed together.


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