Sunday, March 22, 2015

Return of an Elf named Snarky

Almost an entire year has passed since my last Snarky the Elf update .
Certainly not my intent , being that with the conclusion of the 2013
season " A Snarky Fangsgrieving " I was psyched up to take Snarky onto bigger and better things during 2014 .Life had other plans .

pooshin' mye buttinz
The Elf with the Attitude Returns ( hope hope )
I lost my job with the Walt Disney Company in September of 2014 , a
casualty of corporate cost-cutting and that pretty much put a screeching halt to everything I was doing creatively .
Now five and a half months later , I'm back working as a freelance
artist ( this translates to being broke all the time ) and looking at
ways to make money by doing what I do which is draw , paint and
sculpt .

There are no limits to storytelling
Ideas never die , the good ones evolve
I no longer have the luxury of spending hundreds of dollars
or hundreds of hours building sets and props for Snarky the Elf's
Annual Holiday Extravaganzas , but that's okay since I had
already begun considering alternative and simpler ways to work
with her on a more regular basis , saving the fumetti spectaculars
for the holiday specials . In the end it all comes down to the filthy
lucre with which to fund these creative excursions and since
Snarky began as a free entertainment medium it's something I have
tried to preserve , although the result of this is " no Snarky "
which really is a disservice to her as well as her fans .

The elf twins have become integral to the story of Snarky the Elf
The Twinz were the hardest to transition from puppets to 2D
Times have changed in the creative field , with the introduction of
crowdfunding platforms and creator sponsorships ; creators no
longer have to endlessly pitch to unimaginative editors-in-chiefs
their ideas - they can now go to the people who like their work and pitch them instead , building a foundation of support from the ground up to fund their creative impulse and this might very well be the future of Snarky The Elf , Buttercup and Hunnypie , Princess Vivian , Rhubarb and the rest . . . ( I had to pay homage to
Gilligan's Isle here . )

Rhubarb the Peengin
Of course the double-edged knife to all this is I'm still paying to
keep her website open , and devoting time to developing the 3D
Doll versions into my own original interpretations for a 2D
illustrated comic format all at a no income generating phase so I
still face the distance between " inspiration " and " reality " that
no budget " carries with it . At this stage of the new Snarky
Game it's all smoke and mirrors hoping to survive long enough to
make it actually happen .

New cast - new adventures
Characters ntroduced at the end of the 2013 Season , finally get their shot .
The most difficult part is just doing it , and that at least has initiated
and part of my plan is to build a cornerstone that will allow me to
provide rewards for individual support - a " secret circle " of die-
hard fans to join me in bringing Snarky back and setting her up to
reach a wider audience to help support the effort of the work .

cheaper than building a new puppet at least
Santuh's Mail Carrier joins the cast
C. Bradford Gorby March 22 , 2015

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Who IS Princess Vivian ?!?

2012 was an auspicious year for Snarky The Elf , as she made the
transition from simple single panel gags to sequential narrative . She
also gained a nemesis , the Ice Princess Vivian .

Admittedly , with " Fear The Season " , very little character development or exposition was given Princess Vivian ; aside from the most basic traits of an antagonist . No attempt was made on my part to explain who she was or WHY she wanted to steal Christmas for herself . At the time , it was not necessary . I really had no plans to continue her role beyond that particular story . That she was " The Ice Princess " was just my way of explaining ( to my own mind ) WHY she would be at the North Pole trying to steal Christmas in the first place .

As I began to consider expanding the scope of the Snarky The Elf story concept after the completion of Fear The Season , I knew that I wanted to keep Princess Vivian as a recurring source of conflict , along the lines of an inconsiderate neighbor . I suppose it could be likened to the affluent Drysdales having the hillbilly Clampetts next door - with Snarky and Santa's workshop filling the role of the Beverly Hillbillies .

With the release of " A Snarky Fearsgrieving " there was still very little exposition on who Princess Vivian was , she appeared to aggravate Snarky and display her insensitivity to the Elf Twins , Buttercup and Hunnypie and just add a bit of humor . Within the context of the story , she served to illustrate things that the modest budget of Snarky The Elf could not otherwise . Her role also served to help ME develop her character . I was beginning to understand
her and see the importance she had as to the overall storyline of Snarky the Elf . Princess Vivian had become that missing puzzle piece that connected the entire concept of the " Snarkiverse " .

Culturally we are all very familiar with Santa Claus , Christmas , The North Pole , Santa's workshop , the elves that make toys ; but typically only their activities during Christmas time . The day in day out life of these magical characters is pretty vague and ambiguous , Snarky The Elf is my exploration of what these individuals are up to the rest of the year . Last year's story was the beginning really , as the elves at Santa's Workshop celebrated Halloween at the North Pole .

Life at the North Pole is key to the presence of Vivian , the Ice Princess . Privacy aside , WHY would Santa Claus locate his workshop at one of the most inhospitable environments on Earth ? Scientific expeditions to the region have NEVER found any signs that it's inhabited - let alone by magical elves or flying reindeer . There's some sort of MYSTERY going on there !! Princess Vivian provides that side of the story , a connection between mystical beings living in a cold and hostile land as easily as normal folk exist in more benign climates .

As far as story development goes for Snarky The Elf 2014 , my " want " was to delve deeper into the mystery surrounding Princess Vivian - although I was not quite sure how deep I would be , or COULD be able to go . That changed when I received a gift of costuming from an astoundingly talented doll costumer , Amy Jones , who primarily does western themed outfits , occasionally venturing outside the box , is a place of wonder and excitement ! The outfit I got was " Snow Queen " and it pretty much fit the bill as to all my hopes and desires when it came to Princess Vivian . I had exactly what I needed to take Snarky The Elf forward for 2014 . 

I had alluded in the 2013 edition of Snarky The Elf " A Snarky Fangsgrieving " that Princess Vivian had completed construction of her new palace so it's a fair bet that she is here to stay . She has also " softened " up slightly in character , having adopted a new slave . . . uh , no that's not right - a new " daughter " , an elf named Lollypop . She has also hired a new manservant to replace the previous one who disappeared under mysterious circumstances at Snarky's Halloween .party .

As has become " tradition " between episodes , 2014 Snarky Teezers have introduced two new costuming changes for Princess Vivian - both more demonstrative of her royal lineage , which begs the question " As Vivian is a princess , suredly she MUST have parents - a King and Queen ? " As work continues for the 2014 Snarky Season the answers are to come . . . or perhaps as I am wont to do - maybe I will just pose MORE questions .

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Reindeer Games

I suppose it was inevitable , having created a character who happens to be a Christmas Elf  living at the North Pole at Santa's Workshop ; the time would come when I would feel the compulsion to add reindeer to the mix of characters . With the inclusion of the Sleigh House as a story element in 2013s " Snarky Fangsgrieving " it became increasingly clear to me that to fulfill the potential of Snarky , Santa's eight tiny flying reindeer would need to become a reality .

Snarky the Elf ain't convinced . . . 

Were Snarky The Elf a more traditional medium - illustrated , or a more modern one - computer generated this would not be much of an issue ; but since it's a fumetti utilizing dolls one suddenly realizes " It is going to be impossible to find a stock reindeer doll or toy that will mesh with the established reality . "

Building up the body , making antlers and heads

The reindeer will need to be created from scratch . The phrase " Famous Last Words " springs to mind . Of course the easiest approach would be just to make some static sculptures , but when you're telling a story about supposedly real living creatures it's kinda imperative that they have the ability to move - body language helps communicate . The alternative to an actual poseable reindeer would be to create a series of static posed models - but how many would I need ? Five - Ten - MORE ?!? That would be a lot of work for a single artist only able to devote a few hours a week to a project . I decided to approach the task at hand as though I was making a puppet for a stop motion film , a jointed doll , just like the rest of Snarky The Elf's cast .

Sintra PVC sheets , 6mm , used to make antlers

Working with my modest Snarky Budget , which is ZERO ; I rummaged around my parts bins to see if I could find suitable gizmos to build a working armature . As is very typical of me , rather than spend preproduction time developing the concept I just jumped headlong into it . I'll learn as I go . That old phrase " Famous Last Words " comes back to mind . I'm not that concerned with making mistakes since one learns more by screwing up than by performing successfully , and on this project I was treading down new paths so I figured I'd just enjoy the trip and have fun while I was at it .

Sculpey Firm head and laminated craft foam head

The process of building an armature and bulking it up with foam has been surprising simple , although I can see that my makeshift armature likely will not be up to the task it will be called upon to carry out . I'll probably have to fork over the money for professionally machined puppet joints . The beneficial side to this setback is that it has me looking at an inexpensive and possibly simpler method of making a reindeer puppet utilizing craft foam - considerably lighter and possibly just as functional . For me the fun part is playing around with a creative expression .

The shoulder joint is too high - I will need to change it .

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Welcome to the Fortress of Snarkitude

Well , it took three months but I did it ; the Snarky the Elf Halloween adventure has been completed and is now online at her website :
Snarky the Elf , specifically A Snarky Fangsgrieving . Considering the setbacks that plagued the production from the outset you might wonder why I bother ? The answer is rather simple , Snarky and the gang at the North Pole bring me a great deal of joy .

Looking back , this new story bears little resemblance to my original plot , although that aspect of the Snarky Halloween Special NEVER changed ; everything that revolved around that plot just got richer and more involved as these silly little dolls came to life and led me into their world . It is indeed quite a departure from Snarky the Elf's humble origins even her follow-up from 2012 Fear the Season . Amusing since the story idea was inspired by an episode of Gilligan's Island . I should probably write Sherwood Schwartz a thank you note ( is he still amongst us ? )

At the beginning of 2013 I was toying with the idea of turning Snarky the Elf into a commodity , but decided that commercializing her would somehow lessen her , the storyline that evolved during the holiday season of 2013 ccertainly put some credence to that decision - considering that ALL three deadlines I set for myself were missed for one reason or another . Business don't be playing that " missed deadline " routine . Snarky is better for that decision despite the " curse " that befell this particular production . I came close to losing hope a few times , but Snarky kept beckoning and in the end won out . I'm learning NOT to argue with her , or not pay heed to what she's telling me or where she wants to take me . Snarky knows even if I don't .

As I begin the process of dismantling the sets and putting them in storage , a somewhat melancholy task considering all that atmosphere they provide my studio ; I can't help but ponder what's next ? Of course , I should confide that as the Snarky The Elf sets are concerned , " storage " is not quite as dismal as it might seem  . . . they are fairly large and akin to doll houses so some actually remain for the most intact , simply relocated to a space that while not conducive to photography still allows them to transform my work and living space to a world that is a bit more surreal than most dwellings .

Plans for 2014 are sketchy at best , although I am definitely beginning to seriously consider new characters , inspired by an originally unconceived plot device from the script , reindeer . It makes sense to me , being that in 2012s Fear the Season ; Princess Vivian's punishment for trying to steal Christmas is cleaning the barn . With 2013s A Snarky Fangsgrieving , the twins hide in the Sleigh House -which required the creation of not just Santa's sleigh but some tack and harnesses for the reindeer that pull it through the sky on his Christmas Eve journey delivering gifts . It's only natural to add some of Santa's trusty team of flying reindeer to the Snarky mix . Buttercup loves the idea , if only because of the " poop " jokes it offers .

As I wrap up Snarky The Elf for 2013 and look forward to Snarky The Elf 2014 , tradition it seems is at this time the best course . Kicked off with the " cast party " shot and Santa indulging his enthusiasm for beer , next came the new outfit for Snarky's resident fashion diva , Princess Vivian - who ALWAYS gets a new outfit at the close of a " season " .

As Ralphie mused in A Christmas Story " the mind boggles ! "

Mehree Cwissmus !!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Halloween For Thanksgiving

When the " muse " struck me at the beginning of October to create a " Snarky the Elf " Halloween story , I figured it would be a snap . That was , of course , before my " artist " got involved . Artists have a way of taking the simplest idea and turning it into the most excessively complicated cluster-( expletive deleted ) imaginable . The plan was to have a Snarky Halloween ready for HALLOWEEN - now we're approaching Thanksgiving and it has YET to go LIVE . Freaking ARTISTS !! 

Freaking Artist : C. Bradford Gorby

13 years ago ( hmmm , there's an auspicious number ) I was seeking a way to continue my work in comics using 3 dimensional imagery - I tried 3D graphics , but longed to utilize " real " 3D objects ( some would call them dolls ) ; I blame my childhood of watching Ray Harryhausen movies for this - you can NEVER replace truly practical special effects . There is an inescapable and intangible reality to things that ACTUALLY exist alongside us in this world . A good friend and fellow artist , Philip Lane had inspired me with his stop motion films using action figures for direct to DVD films Storm Cloud and Storm Cloud 1.5 , something I was not equipped to follow , but could at least pursue in a different format . 

The Twins' bedroom set

Fumetti , which is a comic book format utilizing photography of real actors in place of drawings was something I could accomplish , and so my work eventually navigated towards that incarnation . It was at its core the same as stop motion animation - it simply eliminated the frame by frame animation and used simply " key frames " to tell the story - just like comic books . Right up my alley .

Snarky the Elf's bedroom 

Creating three new sets for Snarky Halloween did not seem to be a Herculean effort , after all I had created 3 sets the year before for Snarky Christmas , I failed to take into account that the new sets for THIS new adventure were far beyond what I had created previously as far as scope . So what big deal . As an artist and creator you have to take into account that these things are going to be used A LOT - and in future works as well , so they have to be perfect ( or close , at least ) . These are not 1 shot throw-aways .

Come and Play with Us Snarky

I ended up spending ALL of October and half of November putting together the Snarky Halloween sets , way past my initial deadline and beyond the Halloween Holiday . . .but for Snarky The Elf - it's not so much the actual holiday that is concerned , but the spirit of it . Holidays are sorta timeless . 

Snarky the Elf

I was able to start principle photography on November 10 , 2013 and THAT is when DISASTER struck . A brown-out succeeded in goofing up my computer and rendering me somewhat " impotent " as far as importing and editing imagery . I'm currently in the midst of sorting thru the problems . Snarky will NOT be denied . Art is 10 % inspiration and 90 % slogging through BULLSHIT - so that's where I am at .

Buttercup and Hunnypie

My goal at this stage of the game is to have Snarky Halloween ready to go ONLINE by Thanksgiving - which will be another auspicious date . I am still hopeful for an early Christmas Miracle . . . ;)

The main set , decked out for Halloween

Given the situation , one might ask " Why bother ? " I'm not getting paid for this - surely there are alternative ways to spend my free-time . It is unlikely that the mass audience will even be aware of a " new " Snarky story . . . why waste my time ? Artists have passions , storytellers have a NEED to tell stories and I am both an artist and a storyteller , I am not so full of myself to think that my stories have any real relevance or that they make some sort of profound difference ; they are intended simply as entertainment - perhaps with a subtle message that might be received and taken away by those who pursue them . In the end they are just a small side of myself that I wish to share . 

Princess Vivian returns to add a little SPICE to the mix .

I also have taken a slight bit of " self-indulgence " to work Katy Perry into this years' Snarky - just in keeping up with prior storylines . . . or so I will tell .

This year , we are going to hear Snarky ROAR !!

Hopefully I live long enuff to complete the Snarky Halloween project .

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Behind The Scenes of " Snarky Halloween "

Maybe it's the PIXIE DUST , but Snarky always seems to come to life when the Disney Christmas Windows get pulled for installation . Perhaps it's just the magic that permeates the air during the impending " holiday season " - struggling to be noticed amidst the commercial madness that assaults us from ALL angles that starts earlier and earlier every year . I suppose it could even be attributed to the VODKA ! heh .

Snarky Halloween MISSED the ACTUAL Halloween festivities , I forgot that when I began her 2012 holiday adventure I was on vacation and had time to work on the story uninterrupted . I can deal with that . Who is to say WHEN Halloween ends ? Santa ? Okay - yeah - Santa . . . which means I still have time . As I did when I revisited Snarky the Elf in 2012 , the 2013 Halloween story also has me creating NEW SETS !! Woo Hoo !! Halloween is a more " personal " time for Snarky , Buttercup and Hunnypie so that meant inventing their space - their GURL CAVES . There is in addition , the hall that divides CHAOS from STABILITY - or the Elf Twins' room from Snarky's .

Although you might not suspect , a great deal of thought goes into the creation of a setpiece . You may NOT be dealing with the character her ( or him ) self - but YOU are approaching the space where they LIVE . It is a very introspective environment , it has to reflect the persona that dwells within . Both the bedrooms - that of the elf twins Buttercup and Hunnypie and that of SNARKY THE ELF herself ; needed to convey their individual personalities AND help to tell their story beyond words . designing and building the sets is just as important an aspect of character creation as the characters themselves , often it helps in DEFINING who those characters are ; many times BEYOND what you might have envisioned .


During the month of October when I began work on Snarky Halloween I realized that the characters are as much me as they are separate individuals . The twins represent my hopes and dreams and Snarky is my " real self " - needless to say perhaps , their environments encompass my own .


There is the whimsical and half-baked world of Buttercup and Hunnypie and the more grounded and pragmatic one of Snarky - very much if you were to take my apartment and separate the real from the imagined - cut it in half and separate it . I'm lucky in that I live in BOTH ! Looking deeply however , you will see signs of each world encroaching upon one another . That's how it is . Or as Katy Perry might intone " This is how we Do ! " She is forever my MUSE .


I've taken a little more aggressive route with my patronization of Ms. Perry this time around with Snarky the Elf , incorporating her " iconization " within the bedroom of the Elf Twins - it seemed natural given the personalities of Buttercup and Hunnypie . The simple fact that I came to recognize that both Hunnypie ( the " EVIL " one ) and Buttercup represented the innocent and faithful in me made it very reasonable that she that has become a spiritual and creative MUSE would ALSO find a home within the hearts of the two characters that are the breath of life and strength of Snarky . Snarky may NOT be the mother of the twins , but they are as much her children as those she might have birthed . I have fun with the idea that Snarky would likely NOT like Katy Perry . Love Hate . Sadly , I STILL have been unable to squirrel away enough " disposable income " to invest in casting and moldmaking materials for my " unofficial " Katy Perry dolls - so as yet the introduction of a " Peppermint Princess " is still ambiguously unforeseen in Snarky The Elf's future . Patience is a virtue I am told .


Anticipate some further musings on Snarky Halloween .

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Snarky Is as Snarky Does

Dear ol' Snarky has had plenty of time to contemplate her options . MY
intention was to turn her into a regular " product " - Snarky would not play that .

After 2012s " Fear The Season , I had seriously decided to take the  character of Snarky to the next level of commercialism , but in the end decided " that would spoil her " . Fearing that a regular schedule and " 9-5 " might soil the enthusiasm I have for her , I chose to simply let her do as she pleased - which really amounts to ME doing as I please .

I suffered a bout of sciatica recently - had to take a few days off work at Disney to recuperate - and in doing so Snarky was released again ; this time for a Halloween adventure . Despite being a professional artist for well over 30 years , I still have no CLUE as to how the muse of inspiration strikes - but it does and NEVER when you expect it .

I blame it on Katy Perry . God bless her delightful soul .

I do believe Snarky was the cause of my sciatica - she was wedged into my lower back and it took a few days of bed rest for her to claw her way out .

As I mentioned in the initial Snarky Blawg , suredly there is MORE to
Snarky the Elf than just Christmas . . . and she hopes to prove that in her latest and newest tale themed along the Halloween motif . Certainly she makes a darned fine WITCH . . . and accompanied by her companions Buttercup , Hunnypie , Rhubarb the PEENGIN ; and not to forget Princess Vivian . . . the Halloween edition of Snarky The Elf promises to be another looney tune .

I am about two weeks into production , creating some new sets - redecorating the old one  and have plotted out a story that , while perhaps not " original " will certainly have some new " snarky " twists . In the end , hopefully it will be fun - a bit of silliness to take some of the angst out of your day to day lives .