Category Archives: Geek

The Drake Strikes Back

…Or does he!?

If I’m honest!…Craig Drake‘s: Solo Show 2 doesn’t live up to the sequel standards I was expecting, maybe I was hoping it would be his Empire Strikes Back to Star Wars, …why!? you may ask for such a talented guy who uses his minimal ‘Nagel’ style of detail to bring this geek culture-inspired art to life, and one I’ve championed for many years. Maybe we’ve been spoilt with his recent work for the Star Wars Celebration.

For my taste though, there seemed to be a bit of repetition with the Kill Bill, Akira and Tron elevational treatments, which don’t offer anything more to his already classic dynamism of his early versions of those subjects.

But don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it was all negative, as he showed some true flashes of his brilliance with the huge Empire Strikes Back prints he did of Darth Vader from the “No, I am your father.” scene and the ‘almost’ full size Han Solo in Carbonite, which looks amazing on the foil print.

And then there’s the true pièce de résistance of the show, the Back to the Future DeLorean which is a ‘Hidden’ print that he’s only revealed on his Facebook page at the moment, but he does describe it as Part 1 of 2 set, which could mean the DeLorean for Back to the Future Part 2 with the Mr Fusion on the back…I do hope so, as the one above looks to have some sumptuous detailing on the engine and the those ’88 miles per hour’ sparks at the front look

What was also good to see, and something we should have seen more of was the venture in other Geekologie genres, with the new additions of Sherlock and the impressive ‘Live Long and Prosper’ Spock.

Even his first ‘live’ showing of Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens was a welcome addition…lets have more of these.

Also the sexy ‘Nagel’ style was rekindled with his Mononoke and Mia prints.

A recent addition after the show his Batman: The Dark Knight.

“…Jessicaaaaaaa” – Killgrave | Jessica Jones Mondo Art

His Solo II show is on at the Hero Complex Gallery, the art will be on display at the gallery through the month of July, and it’s located at 2020 South Robertson Blvd. Studio D, Los Angeles, CA. If you want to purchase any of these prints, click here. You also a great impression of the scale of his work from this photo below from the gallery.

One final thing, he did a great promo giveaway for the VIP opening event with these branded boxes of chocolates

All work is Copyright Craig Drake 2015

UPDATE: 
On reflection, now I’ve seen the newly released DeLorean print, his Solo Show II is on equal par to his first show and I take back what I’ve said in the opening two paragraphs.

Collect ‘Em, Trade ‘Em

The Force Awakens Trading Cards

Do you remember Topps trading cards? The ones that came with a stick of really hard dry chewing gum? I certainly do, and still have my treasured “1st” series of collectible cards featuring scenes and characters from around the galaxy for the original 1977 Star Wars movie. The top of my deck is No:1 Luke Skywalker, although it’s little tatty, but I prefer to consider it ‘well-loved’ after over 30 years ago of “Collect ‘Em, Trade ‘Em” which was the catchphrase of the Topps trading card company in those early days. There was five rounds of the Topps cards for that movie, each one designated by a different colour.

Now 34 years later, they return “surprisingly” via J.J. Abrams who is well-known for his “mystery box” approach to movies; he lets as little information out as possible before the film’s release, but he has benevolently buckled to Disney’s open approach to marketing and cracked open this Star Wars mystery box and put some names to the faces we saw in the first teaser for The Force Awakens. And in the charming retro style nod to the original “first fans” with a digital set of trading cards, cementing their long-running tradition of Star Wars Merchandising tie-in with Topps Trading Card Company.

As you can see for yourself below, the cards finally put some names with the faces, the card captions also give a hint about the state of mind of the characters. Abrams was also asked if there was significance to the numbering, Abrams replied: “YES.” …Time to get some of those Bothan spies to figure that one out. 🙂

His final retro homage on the subject was “I’m only sorry we couldn’t give everyone a stick of gum,”

At last we no longer have to call that adorable, rolling robot “football ball droid.” that character now has its own R2 D2 style alphanumeric moniker: BB-8.

Next were introduced to Finn, but we don’t know the last name of John Boyega’s character, so that could also be an important omission. But the extra three words of description—”on the run”—explains a little bit why he is seen jumping into frame and gasping in the opening moments of that trailer. Although he’s in a Stormtrooper uniform, we don’t know for sure if he is an actual trooper or if, like Han and Luke in A New Hope, he’s just using it as a disguise.

The most interesting reveal is Daisy Ridley’s character, who we now know is called Rey. For some time, it was rumoured that she was going to be called Kira, the so-called daughter of Han & Leia from the Expanded Universe…Well, this just goes to prove we can’t believe everything we read on the web.

That short guy in the middle, is that Finn before he goes “On the Run”… I think Princess Leia said it best, once upon a time in a galaxy far far away: “Aren’t you a little short for a Stormtrooper?”

Poe Dameron! now there’s a name weighted with significance. Some fans have already gleaned an intense, not necessarily welcoming vibe off of Oscar Isaac’s X-Wing pilot, and a first name taken from a writer who chronicled the sinister side of human nature would suggest that this is a character who is on the edge of the light/dark divide. His name is almost identical to Cameron Poe, the character Nicolas Cage played in Con Air. Coincidence?…Oh yeah, but in reverse…light to dark?

The original Ralph McQuarrie designed X-Wings skidding along the surface of a lake rather than screaming through the void of space is joy to see.

And that shadowy figure who’s clearly the Sith villain, mentioned in the trailer as the dark side of the awakening that has taken place. As he stumbles through the snow with his modified cross guard or claymore lightsaber is now called Kylo Ren which I’m guessing is Adam Driver.

There’s certainly much more to reveal. We haven’t yet seen Lupita Nyong’o, Gwendoline Christie, Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson, or Max von Sydow—let alone any of the veteran stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, or Carrie Fisher. And we’ve heard, but not seen, Andy Serkis. Will we get more someday or see similar reveals with the yellow, green, and orange borders? Fingers crossed…

Name in Space

NASA has been doing something so collaborative and unique in inviting people to have their names etched into microchips aboard various spacecraft heading to Space, the first one to launch is onboard a gigantic United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket. This is the Orion Mission’s first flight test for The Journey to Mars programme, and the first mission since Apollo to carry a spacecraft “built for humans” to go the furthest in space in over 40 years, and the first time NASA’s next-generation spacecraft is tested against the challenges of space, and the first operational test of a heat shield strong enough to protect against 4,000-degree temperatures.

But what makes this mission so special for a NASA Geek like me, is I’m on it, I registered, got accepted, got the certificate, got etched into that microchip above, and got the…sadly no T-Shirt just yet 😉

Messages to Bennu

The next one my ‘Name in Space’ is heading to is an asteroid…and then back to Earth. The Asteroid Bennu mission launches in 2016 onboard the agency’s robotic mission Origins-Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft.

Part of the ‘Messages to Bennu!’ microchip will travel for more than two years at the 1,760 ft (500 metre) wide asteroid. The spacecraft will collect a sample of Bennu’s surface and return it to Earth in a sample return capsule. One microchip will be brought back to Earth. Another copy will remain in outer space long after the sample has landed.

Jason Dworkin, mission project scientist at Nasa, said
‘It is exciting to consider the possibility that some of the people who register to send their names to Bennu could one day be a part of the team that analyses the samples from the asteroid 10 years from now,’

The Journey to Mars

Of the two missions that I’ve got my Name in Space on, this one excites me the most, for its not since the Apollo missions have the NASA engineers and designers had to build the unknown, and some solutions they don’t even know how to figure out just yet.

This first flight test of Orion will have the expected splashdown under billowing parachutes into the Pacific Ocean, but this mission will also test many of the riskiest events Orion will see when it sends astronauts to an asteroid and onward toward Mars in the future.

NASA’s Comments on the Mission

“Orion is the exploration spacecraft for NASA, and paired with the Space Launch System, or SLS, rocket it will allow us to explore the solar system,” said Mark Geyer, program manager of Orion, which is based at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

While the Delta IV Heavy will send Orion on its flight test, SLS will launch the spacecraft on future missions.

The flight test also is a marker for NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida transformation into a multi-user spaceport. The transformation kicked off in 2010 and has made steady progress. This flight represents the center’s ability to produce a spacecraft and launch configuration that works well using aspects of the new model for processing and launch.

“The team is enthused, it’s good to go flying,” said Bob Cabana, director of Kennedy. “It’s not just Orion and SLS, you have to tie it all together. It’s Orion, it’s SLS and its commercial crew. It’s all of that.”

NASA’s Orion program has arrived at a fulcrum point that will tell its designers and builders how it stacks up technically. It also will show that NASA is ready to take the next step on its journey into deep space – and ultimately to Mars.

So even though Orion is poised for a mere 4 1/2-hour, two-orbit mission without anyone on board, the cone-shaped craft needs to perform its roster of tasks well, including an all-important descent through Earth’s atmosphere and splashdown. 

“Really, we’re going to test the riskiest parts of the mission,” Geyer said. “Ascent, entry and things like fairing separations, Launch Abort System jettison, the parachutes plus the navigation and guidance – all those things are going to be tested. Plus we’ll fly into deep space and test the radiation effects on those systems.”

The flight test begins at Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. A 2-hour, 39-minute launch window opens at 7:05 a.m. EST so the launch and recovery of the spacecraft after splashdown can both take place in daylight. Orion will lift off on the strength of a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy, currently the largest rocket in America’s inventory. The three RS-68 engines will produce about two million pounds of thrust at liftoff, enough to push the 1.63 million pounds of spacecraft, rocket and cryogenic fuel straight up off the launch pad and into orbit.

The boosters on either side of the rocket will fall away about four minutes into the ascent. The center booster with the second stage and Orion on top continues on for about 90 seconds more before its fuel is burned up and it separates to fall back to Earth. From there the second stage will lift Orion while the structural support fairings around the simulated service module fall away, followed closely by the launch abort system. 

At 17 minutes, 39 seconds following liftoff, the Orion and second stage will be in an initial orbit of 115 miles by 552 miles. The second stage will ignite again two hours into the flight to send Orion through the Van Allen radiation belts and to a peak altitude of 3,609 miles, some 15 times higher than the space station. This is going to be a key point in the test flight as instruments inside Orion record the radiation doses inside the cabin – critical data for mission planners considering the best way to safely send astronauts into deep space in the future. Orion’s cameras will be turned off during its passes through the belts to protect them.

Three hours, 23 minutes into flight, the Orion crew module will fly on its own following separation from its service module and the Delta IV Heavy second stage. The spacecraft will be aimed at Earth’s atmosphere and it will be up to Orion’s onboard computers to set the spacecraft in the right position so its base heat shield can bear the brunt of the intense reentry heat. 

Hitting the atmosphere at 20,000 mph four hours and 13 minutes after launch, Orion will encounter about 80 percent of the heat it would endure during a return from lunar orbit with astronauts aboard. Ground controllers will lose contact with Orion for 2 1/2 minutes during re-entry when the spacecraft is surrounded by plasma. They should regain communications with the craft just before the forward bay cover is jettisoned in a process that will begin the parachute deployment. After about four hours, 23 minutes, Orion will be bobbing in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California as recovery forces move in.

Teams from NASA’s Ground Systems Development and Operations Program based at Kennedy will work with U.S. Navy and Lockheed Martin personnel to bring the spacecraft into the well deck of the USS Anchorage, an amphibious ship with a protective enclosure that will allow Orion to basically float onboard without having to be lifted by a crane. A second ship, the USNS Salvor, also will be on hand as a backup.

Many aspects of the mission point to a future as ambitious as any time in NASA’s 50-plus-year history.

With lessons learned from Orion’s flight test, NASA can improve the spacecraft’s design while building the first Space Launch System rocket, a heavy booster with enough power to send the next Orion around the moon for Exploration Mission-1. Following that, astronauts are gearing up to fly Orion on the second SLS rocket on a mission that will return humans to deep space for the first time in more than 40 years. These adventures will set NASA up for a future human missions to an asteroid and even on the journey to Mars.

“To be able to even think about going to an asteroid and to be able to think about this kind of exploration, that’s very exciting,” Cabana said. “I think there’s a genuine, positive atmosphere, and I don’t think it’s confined to just Kennedy. You go across all the NASA centers and I think the team is really excited about the future.”

And while all that work is happening on the ground, astronauts on the International Space Station will continue the groundbreaking research that is already adding to humanity’s understanding of everything from long-duration spaceflight to the continued experimentation on products and processes that improve life on Earth.

The Force Awakens

It’s finally here…”YEAHHH!” he screams, my first look at the new Star Wars. The teaser trailer runs 88-seconds long and here’s all you need to know: it looks frackin awesomesause. The trailer gives us a first glimpse at a lot of the new and returning stars, but it also shows just how great a job director J.J. Abrams’ appears to have done in putting back together the Star Wars universe. A great score from John Williams elevates that even further. This isn’t much for now, but it ought to get fans like me’ hopes way up…and it does.

“There’s been an awakening. Have you felt it?”

…Trailer Analysis

What a dark sinister opening voiceover for the new Teaser Trailer for Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens, as we see our first real scene lingering on the desert, which I’m presuming is Tatooine. But who was it doing the voice over…Benedict Cumberbatch or Max von Sydow? for me it sounded like Benedict…which is so bodacious on a geeky level.

Then we see John Boyega, clad in a Stormtrooper outfit, looking very panicked, especially with the ominous sound of some imperial probe in the background. But who is Boyega’s unnamed character, springing from out of shot at the beginning of this 88-second teaser, and why is he wearing stormtrooper armor? Is he an Imperial deserter? Or has he pulled a Han Solo and borrowed a set of the iconic white coverings to pass as a member of the military? Script leaks have suggested the former, but that raises the question of his birth. Republic troops in Star Wars Episodes II and III were clones. But in Episode IV it suggested that had changed, and new troopers are recruited from the populace, and is Boyega’s character is one of these recruits, how did he end up on this desert planet that’s probably Tatooine? Are the new stormtroopers in the shuttle shown in the other shot chasing him? …so many questions

And checkout the cute new little rolling astromech Ball Droid, or Football Droid as it’s been named on the NET. All I can say is…that’s something every kid will want next Christmas, and definitely something LucasFilm Merchandising will be glad of its addition…A Star Wars Football maybe?…keerching…££$€¥

Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens MilnersBlog New Star Wars Football Droid
New Star Wars Football Droid

Then we see that chunky speederbike, driven by The Force Awakens new star Daisy Ridley, which looks closer in appearance to a flipped landspeeder, but it has quite an industrial Tug/Loader look to it. And what about Ridley, who looks to be playing a Skywalker-esque figure called Kira, trapped on a desert planet and yearning for excitement and adventure, which it looks like she’s just found with the way she looks and her hastened departure towards the Ralph McQuarrie designed desert town.

Stormtroopers!!?

How do stormtroopers still exist? The end of Return of the Jedi a montage of the ‘New’ celebratory shots signaling the apparent end of the Empire. After the emperor’s death at the hands of angry daddy Darth Vader, are stormtroopers still Imperial stormtroopers? Have they been co-opted into a new government’s military structure? If so, why did they not change their super-evil hats? You’d think those would be the first things to go with a regime change. Perhaps some remnant of the Empire clings on, and that the Rebel Alliance’s victory in the Endor system was not as absolute as they would have had us believe… Yet again, so many questions.

Lets hope these troopers are better shot than the previous ones 😉

X-Wings

Oscar Isaac at the helm of an X-Wing, callsign unknown, but I bet its a Red Squadron.

Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens MilnersBlog X Wings Attack
X Wings Attack
Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens MilnersBlog X Wings Attack
X Wings Attack

My next question is compounded by the Rebel logo still plastered on the X-Wing pilots’ helmets. This shows that the Rebel Alliance is still a going concern some 30 years after the destruction of the second Death Star, with battles to fight that require the deployment of starfighters — starfighters, it should be noted, that are three decades old. Why is the organization that unseated the Empire flying around in aging tin cans? And why can’t its pilots afford new helmets?

Here we get our first glimpse at what appears to be the Sith Lord villain of the piece. Considering the height of the man carrying it — the long limbs and notable stoop could show that this is actor Adam Driver, that’s what the Smart money is suggesting, as he angrily stumbles through that snowy forest. But who is he looking for? Or what? And now let’s talk about the new ‘Star Wars’ lightsaber

“An elegant weapon for a more civilized age”

That’s presumably a Sith wielding a distinctive (and already much-mocked) lightsaber. The black robes and red saber color give the game away, but note also the length of the hilt. It’s long enough for the wielder to grip with two hands, giving them the powerful swinging style used by Darth Vader. As that new lightsaber ignites it’s big, sort of flickers in a flame sort of way, and it has a crossbar.

Some on Twitter have taken to calling it a laser claymore.

Immediately, speculation began on twitter and the net about the possible wisdom or stupidity of this design. On one side, there are saying this is terrible design, and will cut your hand off, To which the other side responded: It solves a big lightsaber design problem, which is blades sliding down and cutting your hand off, like Anakin did to Count Dooku in Revenge of the Sith… You can’t win

The best explanation I’ve heard points out that the crossbar beams look unfocused and that maybe this guy is an old Sith “reawakened,” and that he has an early model lightsaber, which points to whether is could be Max von Sydow….More flaming questions!!

TIE fighters & The Falcon

Remember the dish that was knocked off the Millennium Falcon in Return of the Jedi? It’s still missing here, replaced by a rectangular box, which some leaked ‘GIF’ footage showed, although it wasn’t the scene we thought it would be in the trailer, which makes me think it was fake.

Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens MilnersBlog Tie Fighters attacks the Falcon
Tie Fighters attacks the Falcon

I’ve got to say, the Millennium Falcon really does bust some stomach-churning moves to escape from TIE fighters over the surface of a desert planet that’s probably Tatooine.

I especially like it when the Falcon goes vertical… you can almost hear Han Solo shouting ‘Well, we can still outmaneuver them’

While this is only a short glimpse at The Force Awakens, this is the first look that we’ve all gotten, Disney has been incredibly secretive about the production of Episode VII, but it’s also for a much simpler reason: the movie still isn’t done. Filming wrapped on Thursday the, 6th of November 2014, but the movie is still a long way from completion. That’ll be especially true for its special-effects shots, which are likely far from complete at this point, and hopefully been done at the new Industrial Light & Magic Studio in London .

I think this teaser is more about getting us fans excited and putting Star Wars back on everyone’s geek radar, which it certainly does. There’s a lot more to see, the Main Trailer, International Trailer — and we certainly will in time — but there’s still a long long ways to go before the film comes out next year on December 18th… Anyone got a DeLorean? 🙂

The Apprentice Awakens

Craig Drake is a name synonymous with MilnersBlog, as I’m such a massive fan of his Patrick Nagel ‘Pop Culture’ style of visualisation, although now its about time we lay down any reference to his work being any homage to the late Nagel, and instead embrace him for the talented awakening artist he has now become in forging his own palette of Geekologie inspired art, which firmly embraces visual film culture, instead of the pop culture style which Patrick Nagel presented.

He recently presented a well deserved Solo Art Show at the Hero Complex Gallery in Los Angeles, and I’ll admit the show looked like it was on another level…as you can see in the pictures below, Drake showcased a huge body of work of iconic film culture heroes! He even saved four special works of art until the end of the show, the best space ship in film culture in my opinion, the “Millennium Falcon” plus a few new additions to his film culture palette with Lucas/Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and also The Hobbit with a the beautiful dragon Smaug and the graceful Gandalf the White which was screen printed on a brushed aluminium.

carrie fisher princess leia by craig drake
carrie fisher princess leia by craig drake

In an interview with the Hero Complex Gallery he gave a rare insight into his creative process.

Craig Drake’s Creative Process

Craig Drake has hit the ground running with Hero Complex Gallery! For our first show, Weapon of Choice, he created 3 stunning pieces: MacReady from The Thing, and two versions of Hanzo’d, featuring a sexy close-up of art inspired by the character O-Ren Ishii from Kill Bill. His work has a style that is reminiscent of the celebrated 80’s artist, Patrick Nagel.

Craig hails from the chilly suburbs north of 8 Mile Road in the Detroit, Michigan area. Determined to be an artist, he studied at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, and graduated with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. In 1998, Craig moved to San Francisco and worked for several years doing freelance design and animation for companies such as Adobe and EA (Electronic Arts). In 2006, he transitioned to Lucasfilm where he created his first Nagel homage of Princess Leia. This piece was then printed as a signed, limited edition poster.

In Craig’s own words, “Like a lot of Star Wars fans, having grown up in the ’80s, I was exposed to some amazing signature pop culture visuals. Truthfully, [Nagel’s] style really annoyed me as a kid, but as time went on I began rediscovering his work — his brilliantly minimalist yet bold vision of beautiful, strong women is what inspired me to illustrate Princess Leia.” From the original Leia poster, a line of five other Nagel-inspired Star Wars character pieces were spawned.

Since then, Craig’s popularity as a world-class artist has exploded! Last year alone, Craig produced numerous pieces showcasing his brilliant style featuring beloved characters from movies such as Blade Runner, The Bride of FrankensteinMetropolis, Black Swan and Escape From New York, just to name a few. With his clean lines and stylized take on portraits of pop culture icons, it’s no wonder why fans are clamouring to get a Drake on their walls!

When I asked Craig to breakdown his creative process, he had this to say, “First I start with rough pencil sketches to block in shapes. At this stage, not much reference is used to keep the original composition vision pure.

From there I might make a tightened pencil. Then hi-res images are gathered to soak in the subject’s details. Second stage is the drawing the final vector itself. Using Adobe Illustrator [and] using my trusty Wacom set up, this process takes anywhere from 1 to 2 days. Best part is this Illustrator master is print ready after a few technical mods to make separations for silkscreen posters. Third stage is painting. Which can take up to 5 days for larger pieces like R.J. MacReady.

Since the master drawing is complete digitally, I then use it as an exact guide and draw the image to scale on illustration board. After that I use gouache paint to bring it to life. I love engineering in small variances between the digital composition and the one of a kind painting. Even collectors have picked up and geeked out on these details, which makes me very happy.”

Since the show he’s forged ahead producing countless more stunning pieces of Mondo Art, his latest was for the organisers of Star Wars Celebration VII, the travelling confab that celebrates all things connected to George Lucas’ galaxy far, far away, which returns to Craig’s home state of California at the Anaheim Convention Centre from the 16th-19th of April 2015. 

I wonder if he’ll be producing a calendar like he did for Star Wars Celebration VI with some new artwork for J.J. Abrams’ “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” before the 2015 release date… Fingers crossed

A brief selection of his work he’s done since the Solo Art Show… he’s a busy man 🙂

Finally a rare find, some Mondo Art he did for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus which was sadly never used.