Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Secrets of the Almanac (ONE) Revealed Part 3

My notes and my patience I have left back in Los Angeles, so I am going to wing this last installment of “Secrets”. Jim was nice enough to fill in for me last installment while I ran around doing errands to prepare for Botcon and the Almanac 2’s release this Wednesday. So here goes...

At the point of which Jim and I decided to convert this book from the ARK style to the Almanac style we thought to include an episode guide. We have found that episode guides are usually boring. So we spiced these up with fun formats and what we referred to as “special pages”. The first thing I did was make up a standard Autobot Incident Report and a standard Decepticon log. Certain elements would be moved around the page in order to make it less static when compared to the page before. Also, due to having different images to present, it allowed for us to shuffle things around. One element was the Cybertronian text. At first I just typed in nonsense as nothing more than a fun design element. Then it quickly occurred to me that we could hide “secret messages” in the foreign font. From there Jim and I just went nuts referencing every stupid thing we ever liked.

Page 108:
Jim started making all the time codes actual Star Trek stardates. He wanted to make sure they all were in order and referenced certain specific events in Trek. Whereas, I am a bit fascinated by the world, so I started adding in coordinates assuming no one would ever look them up. ...I was wrong. This one was for the USS Intrepid WWII aircraft carrier that is now a museum in New York. I was the Art Director there for many years and the ship and my shipmates hold a special place in my heart. If you are in NYC go there. It’s cool. The ship/museum also appears in the movies National Treasure and I Am Legend.

Following the idea behind the Elite Guard symbol, the Maintenance Guild symbol we made up to kind of emphasis different classifications.

Page 109:

I wrote Sumdac’s signature over 200 times until I settled on that one. The photo read “Yearbook Photo” but is cut off. I was rather proud of the ripped spiral bound paper look I drew at the top of the page, most of which is cropped off.

Page 110:

I always thought the Staten Island dump was cool. So Freshkill landfill was the next coordinate. I heard, though I suspect it is a lie, there are two man made structures you can see from the moon. The Great Wall of China and the Staten Island dump.

Page 111:
Fun game. When you see that mode of the jet through out the Almanac, DRINK!

Page 112:

I soaked a sheet of watercolor paper in coffee and then baked it in my oven. Afterward I set it on fire in my kitchen sink and scanned it in. Third attempt was the charm. And yes, I set off the fire alarm. Twice.

Page 114:
The coordinates where for the Bent Pyramid in Egypt. I am a bit of an Egyptphile and figured a Pyramid was perfect for this type of thing. I didn’t want to use the Great Pyramids (even though we found out there is some Transformers reference to it) because I thought that was too...easy. So I chose the Bent Pyramid. If you are unfamiliar with it, look it up. It’s a fun story.

Page 115:
The Megatron’s head that is buzzing with static in the upper right is in fact a model from the show. It was used when Nanosec was contacted by Megatron.

So one night I left Jim alone at his computer and went to sleep. I woke up the next morning and he is still sitting there. Having never left, he mocked up this women’s magazine called Venus. It was funny as hell. Originally he just used Blackarch’s early character model, so I drew up a new picture of her with references to my favorite character’s cap and gown and I designed a logo and worked on the fonts a bit and before long we had VENUS. Jim wanted to reference every female bot, but quickly realized there wasn’t enough room. I liked that Freezon is now a fembot.

Page two is untouched from Jim’s original layout. The models at the top where character color studies created early in the process of making the show. I liked how he made the “call outs” from the article have a double entendra.

Oh! And the bar code actually works. I mean, you can scan it in and that number will pop up. That’s how nutso we get with these things. Wait, it gets better! All the numbers of articles can also refer to pages in the Almanac, and there's some (perhaps tenuous) connection. For instance, tune ups goes to Ratchet.

Page 119:
Jim had me make a ledger background. He had tried to explain the plan to make this page but I couldn’t understand what he was talking about. I drew up the ledger and the next day he shows me this. This has to be the craziest way to explain an episode ever.

The bottom half is obviously a nod to the old card and box backs from the 80’s. I hate the way the word, Skill” came out. Drives me nuts! Look at it. Weird!

Page 120:
Coordinates! I love planet Earth and my biggest, wildest, craziest dream is to climb Everest. But again, that seemed too easy, so I referenced K2, Everest’s neighbor and I believe the second tallest mountain in the world. I hear it’s actually much more difficult to climb. I once had dated a girl that shaved her head and spent several months with a Buddhist colony at the first base camp of Everest. That’s the closest I have gotten to it though!

Page 122:
I am proud of this page! The stickers I drew actually look like stickers! I got an Iron Maiden reference in. I drew Starscream in crayon and I coined the phrase “Deceptipoop!” Jim used this image to promote the book. I was SO afraid people would miss the silliness in it and assume we drew the whole book in crayon!

Page 123:
Coordinates: I long for Alaska!

Detroit Powell Press:
We went nuts with this one. Lets start with the date. We had a date here originally but Marty didn’t like it. So we lost it. But it looked weird a newspaper with no date so I wrote one in and then smudged my finger print across it so it could not be read. (Don’t bother trying” I didn’t write a real date, but rather something like 2ASE.) Then I thought, that’s lame. We have SO many references, why not make it someone else’s finger print? Someone cooler? But who is cooler than me? Well thanks to the Internet and Photoshop the previous person to read that copy of the Detroit Powell Press was John Dillinger.

TODAY IN THE ARTS originally referenced Marty. He asked that it be replaced with a reference to his daughters.

Jessica Benton was just a dumb spelling error. We read that after we got the books from IDW and nearly smack each other in the head. Josie is referenced because I have a HUGE tattoo of her on my leg. She was one of my first crushes along with Princess Leia and Mary Tyler Moore.

Our spell checkers at IDW pointed out that Circiut Guys is spelled wrong. We had to explain, “That’s the way it’s spelled!”

ADA Harrison Schweiloch is a friend of ours who proof reads stuff for us. He is in fact an ADA in New York City. Once he broke his hip and we went to visit him in the hospital. He came out in pain on crutches and was so touched that we came to see him that he gave me and Jim a big hug. At which point we stuck a “kick me” sign on his back! We are a very dysfunctional family.

The electronics and toy store also let us get in a bunch of models that we otherwise had no place for.  Jim's a nut about getting EVERYTHING in, even if it has to be small.

Jim NEEDED Skullgrin in the book and cooked up the idea for the movie poster. I love my reptiles and drew him to be fused with a snake, alligator and turtle. The snake was specifically an eyelash viper, the turtle shell was influenced by Mario Brothers. The alligator is just an alligator but here is fun story that has nothing to do with anything. When I lived in New York I had this one bedroom apartment that I filled with Burmese Pythons, Anacondas and all manor of snakes and other critters. I even had canisters filled with Death’s Head cockroaches I was breeding. Not satisfied with the zoo I already had, I convinced a friend to drive in a snow storm to Pennsylvania to buy a 6 foot American alligator. His name was Spot and he lived in walk-in closet in my bedroom and would lumber out, walk across my house and climb into my tub at his leisure. My friends were terrified to visit let alone use the bathroom. He pretty much had the run of the house. Around that time, the police caught a guy in the Bronx with a lion in his apartment and he was arrested. My friends all thought I would end up in jail. Eventually I gave him to guy who kept crocs and had a proper and legal place to raise him.

Page 127:
We asked Derrick if there was a model for Stiletto. He didn't have one, but Jim got in touch with Dario Brizuela and he sent us one.

Jim drew up the Autobot Medical Symbol. The big symbol in the background was originally from Beast Machines, and was used like a biohazard symbol in that show.

Page 128 or Form 12B:
Look at the page number! I just realized Jim did that Last week. The coffee stain is from the same coffee I brewed for Vector Prime’s page. (see above) Useless idiot trivia: I used my Beverly Crusher mug to make the ring.

Page 129:
51.2 degrees S, 30.9 degrees W is the location of the crater Galle on Mars. Which makes a happy appearance in Watchmen!!!

Page 130:
We refer to this as Javier’s page. Javier, our go-to guy, colored all these versions to Bulkhead’s model. Javier does even more in the AllSpark Almanac 2.

Page 132:
The Cybertronian reads a line from Megadeth’s (hint) song “Peace Sells”. Originally I wanted the line “What do mean I don’t believe in God? I talk to him everyday” from the same song. But...decided against that.

The hidden song lyric from “All Along the Watchtower” was influenced greatly by our passion for Battlestar Galiactica!

Page 134:
The hidden coordinates are for the resting place of the Japanese battleship, Musashi. Destroyed by an air group launched from the USS Intrepid. (among other carriers)

I am...The Tick!
Sentinel's Journal is littered with Tick references in Cybertronian. But no one go the obvious reference on the bottom left of the page which translates into “SPOON”. The Tick’s battle cry.

Also the number RX104a appears. I may never reveal what secret code this is...mainly because I don’t remember. Sorry folks. My memory is shot!

Page 136:
As I was drawing the tape that holds down the poloriod picture of the bots, I had the bright idea of “accidentally” sticking a strand of Sari’s red hair under the tape. Did anyone get that?

By the way, the Hello Nekomimi Pop-Star stationary can be found blank with no words or images for your stationary needs on my deviantart page. http://billforster@deviantart.com

We had no idea what to do with Wreck Gar. We couldn’t really have him do another bot’s bio and we knew we had to do something special for Garbage In, Garbage Out. So Jim and I brainstorm while swimming. There we came up with cereal! Some of the garbage in the image are models from the show, such as the dumpster from Burger Bot. And other rubbish I drew in, such as the cover to Derek and the Dominos: Layla in the left most part of the bowl. I’ll post a full pick of that on my deviant art at some point. The accordion had to make it on the page in honor or Weird Al and of course the bowl has even the kitchen sink, an actual S3 model.

Did you notice Lugnut's destroyed tail sticking up from the back?

The next page you might recognize the “GO!” start position on the maze from G1 Prime’s trailer made further famous from it’s use on the Wiki. We needed a reason to get pregnant Carly’s model on the page. Hence the maze. The bar code, like the other one, works and is the call sign for Zapp Brannigan's ship, the Nimbus. Jim is a big Zapp nut and even dressed up as him for Halloween one year. He died his hair blond and everything.

Garbageos.com is a real website, by the way!

Jim asked me to get in either a ‘Why my shoulders’ reference or a ‘Died to An hero’. I thought my solution worked well. My favorite part of this page is the line, “If you said the number “C”...”

Page 142:
Drink! The Starscream head with static effect was NOT an actual model from the show but rather one I made up to look like the Megatron head of a similar look. (See above)

Page 143: #X-LN247, the reference that eluded McFeely for so long, is from Max Headroom. It is the project code for Blipverts, as seen on the Rebus Tape. I don't think it's on the internet anywhere. (At least in text form. The whole pilot episode is up on YouTube.) Sadly, no one gets the prize.

The note attached is the actual note I made to remember the number and what to label it. The police use Post-its too! It reads, “Found on top of roof” under the scribble. It wasn’t an Easter egg, just what I happened to have written. I liked the idea of having part of it scribbled out.

Page 146:
Concerning coordinates, McFeely reports: "34 degrees 39' 54.65” N, 133 degrees 56' 9.79” E”, the location of Okayama Castle (the second reference to Okayama in the book)."

Here’s why! Jim moved to Okayama, Japan years ago with his then girlfriend, now wife, Ming-Li. Ming-Li had to move back to the States for family issues and Jim needed a roomate. At the time I worked as a graphic designer for a crazy dude and was looking for some adventure. Jim asked if I wanted to quit my job and move in with him in Japan. I sold my car and flew out the next day. After Jim left Japan, I had nowhere to live so I decided to be homeless and I lived on the streets for a few weeks. I hooked up with other homeless people and we would cook over burning garbage cans and sleep under train trestles. At times I would buy the prostitutes curry at the 24 hour Denny’s.

Well that concludes the Secrets of the AllSpark Almanac (ONE). I am away from home, so I may post some other images pertaining to this blog in the future when I am in front of my own computer. I hope you’ve enjoyed my silliness and remember the Almanac 2 is out this Wednesday. If you are around Burbank California stop my Emerald Knights Saturday July 3rd to meet Derrick, Marty, Jim and myself. Thanks for indulging me!


lonegamer7 said...

GEEZE! Talk about stumping us with that "X-LN247" teaser. :D And no wonder none of us could find it! It's because no one had put it up on the Net in the first place! XD

Chris McFeely said...

Blaargh! I've long held this sneaking suspicion that it was something from Max Headroom, because those were some of the refs I had the most trouble tracking down! I can now finally sleep again...!