Being a comics letterer is not a real job. Or at least, that’s what most people believe. After all, letterers only have to make balloons and fill them with the words written by someone else. It sounds so simple – a job a computer should be able to do automatically. I mean, they basically do already, ‘cos these days letterers don’t even have to write the text by hand anymore! They only need to know how to draw circles and copy-paste words in Photoshop.
This notion is, of course, wrong. You never notice when a letterer has done a good job, because their goal is to remain unseen. They work hard so your eyes can fly effortlessly over the page, always knowing who said what and where to look next. Explore a lettering site like Blambot and shudder in fear at the number of rules needed to make a single balloon look good, from the distance between text and balloons borders to the shape of the balloons themselves. Lettering is a difficult job that mixes composition, typography and design, but we only notice it when it’s done badly. It’s truly a pity we don’t take it more seriously, because videogames would benefit from a deeper understanding of this invisible art.
Miseltoe and wine. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Hanging up your stockings on the wall. Children playing, having fun. Giving someone your heart. All these and more are sung about as signs Christmas is coming, yet these ancient tunes miss the greatest modern marker of Christmas: me posting about Skeal, reminding you to play this classic-to-be. Wrap up warm, strap on your skis, and hit the slope. From this height, you might just see the graying tower alone on the sea.
In the early 1980s, Susan Kare joined Apple Computer to design fonts and user interface graphics. A legend of pixel art, Kare created the look of the original Macintosh, from the Chicago typeface to the Trash Can to the Happy Mac icon. She's currently creative director at Pinterest. David Kindy profiles Kare in Smithsonian:
Pioneering designer Susan Kare was taught by her mother how to do counted-thread embroidery, which gave her the basic knowledge she needed to create the first icons for the Apple Macintosh 35 years ago.
“It just so happened that I had small black and white grids to work with,” she says. “The process reminded me of working needlepoint, knitting patterns or mosaics. I was lucky to have had a mother who enjoyed crafts..."
Designing the icons proved to be more of a challenge (than the typefaces). Reproducing artwork on those primitive CRT surfaces, which used a bit-mapped matrix system with points of light, or pixels, to display data, was a designer’s nightmare.
However, the friend who recommended Kare for the job—-Andy Hertzfeld, then lead software architect for Macintosh-—had an idea. Since the matrix was essentially a grid, he suggested Kare get the smallest graph paper she could find. She then blocked out a 32-by-32 square and began coloring in squares to create the graphics...
After leaving Apple in 1986, Kare became creative director for Apple cofounder Steve Jobs at the short-lived NeXT, Inc., an influential computer startup that was eventually acquired by Apple. She founded her own eponymous design firm in 1989, which created graphic designs for hundreds of clients, including Autodesk, Facebook, Fossil, General Magic, IBM, Microsoft and PayPal. Some of her more memorable work includes the playing cards for Microsoft’s Windows 3.0 Solitaire game in 1990 and the virtual gift icons she developed for Facebook in 2007.
British writer, director, and satirical genius Chris Morris has been body-slamming the media and establishment with biting dark, satirical comedy for decades in the UK.
With his groundbreaking The Day Today series and the polarizing but brilliant Brass Eye, Morris has established himself as a force to be reckoned with.
For those out of the loop, this is a man who managed to convince Conservative MP David Amess – who was later appointed chair of the Psychoactive Substances Bill Committee – to bring up the horrors of a new street drug in a Parliamentary debate. The drug was a giant dinner plate-sized yellow pill called ‘Cake’ and it didn’t even exist.
Adding to his notoriety, Morris also flashed a message containing one of the world’s most offensive words during the eventual TV airing of a show canceled by the UK’s Channel 4, declaring the channel’s then-chief executive to be that four-letter uttering. Morris is scared of no one, and that’s why people love him.
So, after waiting nine long years for Morris to follow up on his daring and unflinching 2010 terrorism-farce movie masterpiece Four Lions, you might understand why the build-up to his new movie The Day Shall Come has been excruciating for his fans, especially those who want to financially support him.
“Based on 100 true stories, the explosive new film from Chris Morris (Four Lions, Brass Eye) is an emotionally gripping, laugh out loud thriller that exposes the dark farce at the heart of the homeland security project: It is harder to catch a real terrorist than it is to manufacture your own,” the movie’s homepage reads.
Sadly, I – one of Morris’s most enduring and fervent fans – will have to take his word for it. I shall indeed be in the UK when the movie goes on general theatrical release on October 11 but as I write this on Tuesday, Oct 1, frustration has set in like never before. And that really shouldn’t have happened.
On my regular news-tour of torrent sites I could see that the movie had already appeared online. It’s a so-called WEBRip release, meaning that it was ripped from a legitimate streaming service. Considering that Morris has built his celluloid history and fanbase, not to mention infamy in the UK, that means it must have been ripped from a UK source and available to buy, right?
Industry anti-piracy initiatives such as the UK’s GetitRight (from a Genuine Site) are 100% targeted at people who have the ability to pirate but might be persuaded to part with their money instead, so this was a great opportunity to test the system with something I actually care about.
So, with cash in hand, seeking out a source for a legitimate purchase, I headed off to the portal. It couldn’t help me directly and I was subsequently directed to FindAnyFilm.com, where the movie is indeed listed.
With options to ‘Buy to Own’ turning up nothing for Blu-ray, DVD, or Digital, the ‘Watch Now’ option (streaming) seemed the final but perfect option. Unfortunately, both ‘buy’ and ‘rent’ turned up absolutely nothing. No options whatsoever, with no idea provided when they might become available.
It’s not FindAnyFilm’s fault, it’s not GetitRight’s fault, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating. I was already two websites into this mission and it was not going well.
A direct search on Amazon.co.uk did reveal a DVD listing for £10.00 but that was accompanied by a message stating that “This title has not yet been released. You may pre-order it now and we will deliver it to you when it arrives.” Even if I wanted a DVD, which I do not, no release date was provided. Which is absolutely useless. Three websites in.
After various inquiries it soon became clear that Amazon.com was the only straightforwardly obvious place where Morris’s new film might be streamed in the UK. So I tried to log in and surprise – Amazon.com didn’t like it one bit.
The company sent me a one-time validation code, to prove I am indeed me, which I used after receiving it via email. Once logged-in I tried to ‘rent’ the movie but of course, it was unavailable for purchase because I wasn’t in the United States and my payment method was apparently “invalid”. It wasn’t, I’d used it minutes earlier. Four websites in, and an email. No movie.
In my opinion, the steps taken above go way beyond reasonable. Exactly how many hoops do these companies, that combine to present these content distribution machines to the public, expect people to jump through to willingly part themselves from their money in order to support the industry?
For those who know Morris and appreciate his work, this is the kind of ridiculous situation he himself might dismantle with glee, particularly considering The Day Shall Come was in part funded by the UK National Lottery/BFI Film Fund. The citizens of that country, who helped to fund it, cannot see it online at the same time as their US counterparts.
There will be pirates out there laughing to themselves wondering why I didn’t click on the magnet link I saw earlier and simply download the movie, there and then, and save all the headaches. After all, that would’ve been one site visited, one movie watched. For free.
But for someone who actually wants to support Chris Morris and in industry-speak, “make sure he can make more movies in the future”, why shouldn’t I be able to pay if I want to?
The answer is simple: ‘they’ – whoever they are – won’t let me. The Day Shall Come when this nonsense gets sorted out but people’s patience may have run out by then, if they can be bothered to expend any at all. The content is available legally so for the sake of sanity, let us – the fans – buy it.