Thursday, June 30, 2011

Vector Potter 9: Severus Snape

And now, the teacher you hope you don't get for Potions class (before remembering that there's only one: Severus Snape.)

During the run of the books, Snape remained a figure of contention for many: is he a good guy or a bad guy? (Spoiler alert for you non-readers still waiting for the last movie to answer this for you) How was this a question? I thought it was pretty clear ever since the first book when we learn Snape was whispering some spell during a Quidditch match not to curse Harry, but protect him. After that, it was obvious: he was a good guy. A good guy who was a jerk, to be sure, but there are plenty of those in the world.

Snape had a natural ability with potions and created several new magical brews. Outside of Hogwarts, he also mixed juices with chemicals and invented the popular Muggle drink Snapple (which he pronounced "Snape-ell", though the marketing department messed that up).

Snape's mother's maiden name was Eileen Prince, and he is the second-cousin of rockstar (and secret wizard) Prince. It's widely believed the Prince song "If Eye Was The Man in Ur Life" was written about Snape's unrequited love for Lily Potter (nee Evans). Its chorus: "If Eye was the man in your life/ Eye'd make U happy/ Eye'd treat U right/ Eye'd buy U flowers every single day/Eye'd Give U power/ Eye'd do whatever U say."

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Vector Potter 8: Luna Lovegood (and bunny patronus)

Here's Luna "Looney" Lovegood and her bunny patronus:

I think we probably all went to school with someone like Luna Lovegood at some point. You know, the kid who would be sitting in the desk right next to you, but was also on a completely different planet.

Luna Lovegood's father published The Quibbler, the Wizarding World's equivalent of The National Enquirer. This was one of the reasons Luna was often ostracized by other kids, given that that Quibbler would write about outlandish, unbelievable creatures with silly names like The Crumple-Horned Snorkack. I never understood this. What made any of the creatures mentioned in the Quibbler seem any stranger than the outlandish, unbelievable creatures with silly names that the students of Hogwarts ENCOUNTERED ON A DAILY BASIS? These are kids that have dealt with Blast-Ended Skrewts without snickering about their names.

How does any story seem outlandish when you live in the wizarding world where dark wizards hide on the back of people's heads and government workers head into the office via magical toilets? How do you see the line between reality and bonkers tabloid story? WHERE IS THE LINE?

Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh yeah - Luna. Luna is a pretty great kid. She's a Ravenclaw, the house known for smart kids, despite showing constant bravery against both evil wizards and societal pressures. She's way braver than, say, Gryffindor's Seamus Finnegan. Sometimes I think that sorting hat is just picking houses for kids at random. It's a terrible system.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Vector Potter 7: Fred and George Weasley

How are we this far into the series wihtout a single character named "Weasley?" Let's fix that with two at once:

Give it up for Fred and George, the Weasley Twins. That's Fred on the left and George on the right. You know how I can tell? Because I made this picture and arbitrarily decided, that's how.

The Weasley twins love causing touble. If you're friends with the Weasley twins, look out. If you're an enemy of the Weasley twins, LOOK. OUT. One of my favorite moments of the entire series comes when Hogwarts new headmistress/facist dictator Delores Umbridge makes one new rule to many for the brothers to bear. They decide to rebel like never before.

"You two," she went on, gazing down at Fred and George , "are about to learn what happens to wrong-doers in my school."

"You know what?" said Fred. "I don't think we are."
He turned to his twin.

"George," said Fred, "I think we've outgrown full-time education."

"Yeah, I've been feeling that way myself," said George lightly.

"Time to test our talents in the real world, d' you reckon?" asked Fred.

"Definitely," said George.

And before Umbridge could say a word, they raised their wands and said together: "Accio brooms!"

So remember, kids. Next time some adult tries to tell you to stay in school, just tell them the Weasley twins dropped out and went on to be successful small business owners. That's the moral of the Harry Potter series: Drop out of school and you'll be fine.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Vector Potter 6: Hermione Granger

No stranger to danger, it's Hermione Granger:

Here's Hermione Granger and her pet half-cat, hald-kneezle Crookshanks. Of all the L'il Potter pieces I've done so far, I think this one reflects the influence of Mary Blair the most (Blair was longtime Disney artist, though you may also remember her illustrations for Little Golden Books).

Hermione Granger was born to two Muggle dentists - a fact that always surprises Americans who didn't realize there were that many dentists in England. Given that Hermione was born to two non-magical parents, it wasn't immediately clear where her powers came from so she was heavily recruited not only by Hogwarts but also by an American private facility: Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters.

Hermione wound up being the smartest kid in Hogwarts, and probably was one of the smartest people there even including the teachers. Despite this, she didn't get sorted into the house for the smart kids, but the house for the brave kids because she's also uncommonly brave. Really, Hermione is particularly smart, brave, and ambitious and could therefore reasonably have been sorted into Ravenclaw, Gryffindor, or Slytherin (but not Hufflepuff, reserved for students who are not uncommonly smart, brave, or ambitious. It's always a little unclear just what makes a Hufflepuff. Mediocrity, I guess. I bet there are a lot of sad Hufflepuffs on sorting day).

With everything else she has going for her, at least Hermione is also really homely. What? Nope, she turns out to be beautiful as well (at least once she shows her parents that their years of studying dentistry can be bested by a teenager with a magic stick and she fixes her buck teeth). Aside from a mild tendency to be a bit of a know-it-all and a name that sounds like it should belong to your great grandmother, Hermione has pretty much everything going for her. Naturally, she therefore falls for a whiny redheaded boy who hates studying and whines about everything. Seems like a great match.

Let Hermione Granger be a lesson for awesome girls everywhere. Do not fall for the first guy who will talk to you at age 12. As you get older, other boys will stop being intimidated by your intelligence, looks, and outgoing personality too. Wait for them.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Vector Potter 5: Draco Malfoy

My fifth L'il Potter character is that slimy Slytherin Draco Malfoy:

"Hello. My name is Draco Malfoy. My parents are Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy. Just based on that, guess if I'm a nice guy or an evil little snit. Just guess."

Draco is very proud of being a pure-blooded wizard, meaning all of his ancestors were wizards. You know what that means: like the British monarchy, he's the result of lots of inbreeding. I think that explains a lot of the attitude problem (and the easy bleeding).

Draco if a snob and a bully around Hogwarts, but it's a funny kind of bully given that things almost never go his way at all. Whenever he opens his little mouth, he usually winds up being turned into a ferret or getting a bloody nose from a girl. After a while, it's kind of hard to even see Harry as the underdog in their rivalry. Harry's famous and (usually popular), both of them are rich, and Harry always wins. I guess that's why, at the end of the series, Draco renounces his family fortune and builds a cabin in the woods where he can live by the sweat of his brow and be a friend to all the woodland creatures (this does not really happen).

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Vector Potter 4: Moaning Myrtle (and rubber ducky)

I love ghosts, so the first B-list character to appear in this series gets to be Moaning Myrtle:

Moaning Myrtle is also the first character I'm featuring who doesn't have a pet, so I decided to give her a little rubber ducky. Maybe it will help cheer her up (I doubt it).

Like Elvis, Moaning Myrtle died in a bathroom. Also, like Elvis, she continues to haunt that bathroom to this day. Wait... the Brits don't say "bathroom." They call them "poo-poo closets", I think. Anyway, it's a pretty lousy gig for a ghost, especially one who lives in a massive, gothic, enchanted castle full of nervous children. Overall, Hogwarts is an ideal place for a ghost. Don't limit yourself to the potty, MM!

Myrtle died in the bathroom because it was also the location Salazar Slytherin used to build the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets, and Myrtle had the misfortune of catching Tom "I Love Anagrams" Riddle sneaking into the chamber. The question here is, why did Mr. Slytherin use the girls' restroom as the place where he hid the entrance to the hiding place of his giant snake? That... that does not seem appropriate.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Vector Potter 3: Hagrid and Norbert

My third Harry Potter piece is everyone's favorite gentle giant, Hagrid, and his little dragon, Norbert:

If they have a wizard version of the television show Animal Hoarders, then Rubeus Hagrid has been on it (wait - do wizards even have TV sets? I think they don't. Wizards are a little backwards - they even still have newspapers!). Hagrid loves all kinds of animals, but especially particularly dangerous ones: dragons, giant spiders, razor taloned Hippogriffs (Hippogriffs are creatures that are half hippo, half Griffin Dunne).

Hagrid's deadliest catches are only one of the many dangers that face any student attending the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Why any parent sends their kids there with the constant injuries, abductions, monster attacks, and occasional murders is beyond me. Possibly all wizards hate their children and send them off to school in the hopes that they'll be swallowed by a troll or get Voldemorted.

Huge as Hagrid seems next to regular humans, he's only a half giant. Full giants are significantly larger, as we learned when we met his half-brother (but full giant) Grawp. Hagrid's dad was a human and his mom was a giant, which is probably the way it always is with half-giants, or I hope so anyway. I pity the poor human mom who has to give birth to a half-giant baby.

It is now impossible for me to think about Hagrid without hearing the lyrics to the band Harry and the Potters song about him. Hagrid is fun to hug!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Vector Potter #2: Dumbledore and Fawkes

Our second vectory Potter character is Hogwarts Headmaster Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore and his pet phoenix, Fawkes.

I wish every Harry Potter character had a pet instead of just most of them. I enjoy having their pets in there.

I wonder if anyone else didn't read the Harry Potter novels for a while because they picked up a copy, saw the name "Professor Dumbledore" in the synopsis and thought, "Nope. Too stupid." I had to hear how good the series was several more times after that before giving them a chance.

Dumbledore is a great example of a delightful literary type: the gentile wise old man who is also secretly a complete badass. One of my favorite moments of the entire series belongs to old Albus. It's when the ministry of magic comes to arrest him, and he responds: "Well, it's just that you seem to be labouring under the delusion that I am going to - what is the phrase? - come quietly. I am afraid I am not going to come quitely at all, Cornelius." And then BOOM. Complete badass.

Dumbledore loves candy, which is why he's depicted here enjoying one of his favorites: lemon drops. Loving candy is kind of a dangerous thing to do in the wizarding world since there are chocolate frogs that will jump away from you, exploding candy's that might actually kill you (unlike that urban legend about Jerry "Leave it To Beaver" Mathers), and of course those Every Flavor Beans might be delicious or might be Shaq's armpit flavored.

Another favorite A. P. W. B. Dumbledore quote: "Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young."

True dat, Wulfric. Pass the candy.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Vector Potter #1: Harry Potter and the Vectory owl

I've been experimenting a little with vector art lately. Here's little Harry Potter and his magical owl, Hedwig:

I tried to make Hedwig as much as close to my memories of the owls on the Memory game tiles my family had in the 70s. I kind of love him. There's a little Mary Blair influence in there too.

Harry Potter is "The Boy Who Lived!" Kind of a weird nickname to walk around with all the time. What if someone came up to you and said, "hey, you're the boy who lived!" I'd be like, "hey, you're alive too, dumbass!" Of course, I know they mean that he survived an attack from the evil Lord Voldemort (which, translated from the Latin means "Volvo of Death"), but it's still a weird nickname. I'm sure Harry loves being called something that reminds him of his parents' grisly murder ten times a day.

Like Luke Skywalker, baby Harry was hidden in exactly the first place his enemies might go looking for him: with his only relatives. I understand there were enchantments placed on the joint that kept him safe from magical attack, but couldn't the death eaters have just hired a Muggle thug to shoot him in the face? They're too good for that?

Not only is the Dursley house an obvious hiding spot, it's a terrible place to live. Here's this kid that's survived his parent's brutal death and is seen as an icon of hope an sacrifice by his people and they dump him with the people who will treat him only slightly better than his worst enemies would. These are parents that got kicked out of a Roald Dahl book for being too nasty. His bedroom is a tiny cupboard under the stairs and his possessions are few. I guess that's why when he eventually learns that he's loaded with gold in a goblin bank, he never chooses to share any of his mountains of wealth with the poor Weasley family that spends the majority of their time trying to protect his rich behind.

Also depicted here is Harry's pet snow owl Hedwig. People in the wizarding world use owls to deliver their mail. Oddly, they live among us in secret, but have never caught on to a faster method of delivering information to people far away than strapping a piece of paper to a bird. They can fly and teleport and make items appear out of nowhere, but have nothing approaching e-mail and cell phones. You can't use a wand and a cell phone? Do your magical vibrations interfere with the signal? Not only do cell phones receive calls and messages instantly, you don't have to clean up their poop either. Look into it, wizards.