Bobby James enters the “Freak Show”

I’ve spent the morning working on an illustration for my children’s book The Story of Piph. During my creative process, I reviewed tutorials on how to create and fade layers. I thought, “Why not have a little fun?”

When Ryan Murphy announced that American Horror Story: Freak Show would feature the most sinister clown ever recorded, I figured it was time to face my fear. I decided to tackle evil clowns head-on. As a result, I created a collection of art pieces featuring (seemy posts Clownin’ Around and Enter the Circus) those who were vilified by “Pennywise” from Stephen King’s It.

I took a screen cap from the most recent trailer for Freak Show and overlaid my piece titled “Circus Freak.” Enjoy.

Circus Freak meets Freak Show. 2014.

Circus Freak meets Freak Show. 2014.

“Genie. You’re free.” RIP Robin Williams.

Robin WilliamsRobin Williams was one of our time’s greatest comedians and character actors.  Now, he’s dead at 63.

My heart broke when the headlines started flowing in.  The victim of depression and an apparent suicide, a great actor was lost today.  How does this happen?  How can a man who brings joy be darkly tormented and leave this world so sadly?  It doesn’t make sense and it’s heartbreaking.

As a young kid in the 90s, I grew up loving works Robin Williams was associated with, most notably Aladdin, one of my all-time favorite movies.  I’ve always loved the joy and charisma of Genie – all of which is owed to Robin Williams.  I remember how I loved him as Mrs. Doubtfire – and how I fondly remember other movies like Jumanji or Flubber.  But one of his most important cinematic moments for me was his cliff-top conversation with God about compassion in Patch Adams.  I remember his emotional reach from that moment – it was the first time he ever made me cry.

…but within minutes, his infectious smile had returned along with joy to warm my heart.

As Maya Angelou once said,

“People will never forget how you made them feel.”

Robin Williams brought a great deal of joy to a lot of people, myself included – his legacy will forever be seen in their smiles and heard in their laughter.  Thank you for the memories Mr. Williams.  My thoughts and prayers are with your family – may they find laughter once again.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences tweeted (and broke my heart again):

"Genie, you're free."

“Genie, you’re free.”

Genie Youre Free

“Genie, you’re free.” – The Academy

Reading: The Night Circus

The Night CircusI’ve just finished reading Erin Morgenstern’s fantasy novel The Night Circus.

I found Morgenstern’s novel to be a read that captivated me with gorgeous sensory writing and vivid imagination.  The idea of a circus (Le Cirque des Rêves) that’s only operational at night and of magicians, or illusionists rather, bound to one another – for the duration of a magical exhibition in a strikingly monochromatic world – tends to be quite breathtaking – and tragically beautiful.  Every tent in this circus provides you (the reader) with an opportunity to imagine a place entirely – through physical and sensory descriptions.  There are constantly sights, sounds, tastes, touches and emotions referenced that allow you to draw from your own past, and most importantly imagination, to envision this enchanted world.

While I came to care for the characters in this world – notably Celia, Marco and Bailey, I was drawn to the grand imagination on display more.  One image that lingers with me, well beyond the final pages, is that of the ice garden and it’s wishing tree.  The idea – and romanticism – of an ice garden with hidden fragrances intrigues me enough, but factor in a wishing tree adorn with candles and I’m hooked.  There’s something about it that inspires me – and it’s the idea that people ignite their wishes (candles) from the wishes (flames) of others.  It’s a beautiful and very cinematic image.

Which brings me to my desire to see this novel adapted into a feature film.  After completing a quick online search, I found that the film/TV rights to The Night Circus were optioned by Summit Entertainment (part of Lionsgate) in 2012.  From what I’ve found, the film is in development and the script being written by Moira Buffini (writer of Jane Eyre).  While reading the novel I came to the conclusion that The Night Circus (tentatively titled) can go one of two ways:

1.  It could easily be transformed into a Twilight-esque fantasy film with juvenile romanticism and easily-dated special effects, or…

2.  It could be transformed into something beautiful – a contemporary masterpiece that pushes the boundaries of special effects and that could (should) inspire beautiful art, cinematography and costumes.

The world created by The Night Circus lends itself entirely to special effects.  As such, in extremely capable hands, Morgenstern’s world can be visualized – and could be a hybrid of The Prestige and The Hunger Games.  For this to happen, I thought I’d do a little fantasy “casting.” My vision for this world would see it directed by Andy and Lana Wachowski (The Matrix, Cloud Atlas), Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Trilogy, The Prestige, Inception), or Francis Lawrence (Water for Elephants, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire).  Each of those directors have strengths (and a filmography) that suggest they’d make it as beautiful as Morgenstern’s writing suggests it should be.

I think the Wachowskis would add the fantastical element this story needs – as such they’d be my first choice.  Watch The Matrix or Cloud Atlas and you’ll see they have a knack for creating bizarre, yet breathtaking works that appeal to the imaginations of viewers.  Under their direction, I believe the characters and the circus – through the nuanced timeline – would benefit most from their familiarity with pacing (based on time-jumping) and gorgeous special effects.  Fantasy is their specialty.

Then, if the Wachowskis were unavailable, I’d choose either Christopher Nolan or Francis Lawrence.  Both directors have previous experience with circus or illusion-based films.  Nolan has a knack for creating gritty worlds in which his characters (and actors) thrive.  Celia and Marco would likely be markedly darker in Nolan’s hands, but the actors portraying them would likely turn in authentic, award-worthy performances – and the movie itself would probably garner praise from critics and moviegoers alike.  Nolan would be the director to give The Night Circus the dark undertone it presents – and the conflicted characters it needs.

And if the script doesn’t recognize/call for such unnerving darkness or conflict – and instead chooses to rest of the pure imagination and love story, I’d have Francis Lawrence as the director.  While he’s currently directing The Hunger Games franchise, he’d be the perfect director to balance the dark undertone with any scripted Twilight-ization – meaning, if the writing calls for a love story akin to Bella-Edward, Lawrence would be sure to deliver something better, like Katniss-Peta from The Hunger Games or Marlena-Jacob from Water for Elephants.  Lawrence takes what could easily trend into juvenile/young adult territory and directs in a way that adds maturity and finesse, while remaining able to connect to that target (young adult) audience.

Finally, while I was reading The Night Circus, a list of actors crept into my mind for a few of the parts:

Greenpeace USA’s anti-Shell effort (in pictures)

On July 8, conservation group Greenpeace USA released a video titled Everything is NOT Awesome.

Partnered with a creative agency Don’t Panic, Greenpeace used a slowed, melodic version of “Everything is Awesome” to score a host of artistically beautiful, yet harrowing images.  Together, they created a world overrun by corporate greed while promoting a strong conservation effort.  The video shows oil company Shell drilling in the arctic, which results in an oil spill that consumes everything in its path – from indigenous wildlife to the imaginations of children – and even our beloved Santa Claus and two LEGO Movie heroes Emmett and Wyldstyle.

Upon first seeing the video I was moved beyond words – such power in under two minutes.  That is amazing.  Then, I read that a previous version of the video had been flagged and removed by YouTube.  In an effort to make sure the powerful images survive, I’ve compiled a collection of twenty one screen caps.  They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words are there before you now?

Add your name to the petition to have LEGO end their partnership with Shell: Lend Your Voice – Add Your Name to the Petition

Everything is NOT Awesome 

(screen caps)

New Art | The Faces of Elephants

It’s been just about a month since I’ve shared any new art with you – that’s because I’ve been busy working on various other projects (ex. Boug & S’More: A Swamp Tale [novel] and a poetic sexual odyssey), which you could note by following me on twitter or Instagram (@TheBobbyJames).

Yesterday I managed to create two pieces – the first remains untitled, so I’m leaving that up to you:

Title TBD

Title TBD

Title TBD. Watercolor, (c) 2014. Bobby James.

This is my first foray into freehand painting with watercolor.  I used various brushes to create the image, then used my fingers to add strokes of yellow.  To finish the piece, I mixed in some additional water to splatter paint for the final effect.  Pretty simple, really.  I woke up, had a vision and knew I wanted to experiment with a medium I’ve never really used before.

I love this piece – but I cannot seem to find the right title.  I’d been toying with calling it “Elephants in the Wind,” but I figured, why not let someone else decide?  So leave your suggestion in the comments section below – or on social media using the hashtag #NameTheElephants and I’ll use the title I love best! :)

Next, I present:

The Faces of Elephants

The Faces of ElephantsThis piece began as a doodle while I was having coffee with my friend Pete.  Earlier this year, Pete and I decided to have what we call “art dates.” These “dates” are used to not only be social, but to share creative ideas while an organic, creative process occurs in public – the people at Starbucks love us (I think), well, I know they like the art at least.

Pete sketches forms and figures mostly and I let my mind wander into an abstract place (Breath of Life and The Spring of Life were created this same way [see below]).  During our outing, I drew the top left swirl in the image.  From there, the rest of The Faces of Elephants was born.  You’ll notice there is a great deal of symbolism.  Are the trunks phallic in nature?  Are the tusks suggestive of bondage?  Are people consuming the elephants or are elephants existing harmoniously?  These are some of the thoughts I hope this piece inspires.

What else do The Faces of Elephants say to you?  What do you see? I’m curious to know your response.  I can tell this abstraction is influenced by the sexual odyssey I’m composing.  Can you?

To view more of my art, CLICK HERE

Here are the two pieces referenced above:  Breath of Life and The Spring of Life.

The Bobby James Awards: A Comment and Update

As you may or may not be aware, The Bobby James Awards date back to 2002, when I decided to create a year-end list for the “Best of WWE.”

Since that time, I’ve expanded my year-end rankings to include movies, television, music and TNA Impact Wrestling.  This post, however, is about the film categories and history – which are listed as having began in 2007.  For several years though, I’ve been haunted (for lack of a better term) by the fact that some of the movies and performances I most admire and treasure haven’t had the opportunity to be honored or recognized – by me.  Yet, in conversations related to all things movies, I find myself constantly referencing some of these titles, actors, characters, scores, etc. and find one (Brokeback Mountain) among my all-time favorite movies.

This post serves to provide notice that I’m dating the “Film” categories back to 2005.  All “award” recipients will have an asterisk placed by their name (for 2005, 2006), and below the category, this note shall be referenced.

View the Updated Film Awards History Here