Sunday, December 23, 2007

Fun With Scissors - part 120

I'm not about to embark on bringing back the "Fun With Scissors" feature to this blog, at least not for a little while yet. This piece was actually done last year, but at the time I was without a scanner and could not post it at the seasonally appropriate time. Instead, I'm doing so now, which ended up being more appropriate since the book that introduced this character is 50 years old this year.

Here's the title character of one of my favorite Christmas specials of all time, the Grinch from the terrific Dr. Seuss/Chuck Jones/ Boris Karloff collaboration "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Mummy Turns 75

Seventy-five years ago today, "The Mummy" premiered, adding a new monster to Universal's expanding horror franchise. Inspired by the the fascination with ancient Egypt brought on by the discovery of King Tut's tomb, the alleged curse that came with opening the tomb, and the script for the film adaption of the previous year's "Dracula," "The Mummy" is one of Universal's best entries. Boris Karloff does an excellent job portraying Ardath Bey, and his true identity of Imhotep. While taking hours to apply the make-up, Karloff's actual screen time in the bandages was only a few moments long, but it is perhaps the most memorable, and best known sequence in the entire film, punctuated by David Manners' maniacal laughter and "He went for a little walk." line.

Among the rest of the cast, which includes Edward Van Sloan (who also had key roles in both "Dracula" and "Frankenstein"), Bramwell Fletcher, and Arthur Byron, it's exotic beauty, Zita Johann who shines as Ardath Bey's romantic obsession. The film was beautifully directed by Karl Freund, the cinematographer on "Dracula" and numerous films directed by Fritz Lang, including "Metropolis" (1927).

Like most of the other Universal monsters, "The Mummy" did have sequels--of sorts. Excluding "Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy" (1955) there were four. Not only did Karloff appear only in the original Mummy movie, but his character, Imhotep did not live on past the original film either. The mummy that menaces "The Mummy's Hand (1940), "The Mummy's Tomb" (1942), "The Mummy's Ghost" (1944), and "The Mummy's Curse" (1944) was named Kharis, and was portrayed initially by an effectively creepy Tom Tyler, followed by Lon Chaney, Jr. in the remaining three films. Not only was the mummy different in these four movies, but the tone was vastly different, and the quality was difinitely B-movie as opposed to the high quality of the original production.

"The Mummy" also had one of the most beautiful posters of all time, as seen here. Skip "Rudolph", and watch "The Mummy" tonight.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Big Red Guy

With a holiday fast approaching in which millions of children look forward to a big red man, I thought it only appropriate to direct you to another big red guy I'm fond of. Here's the teaser trailer for HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY arriving in theaters next Summer.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Winter Display

Here's the winter holiday display I did this year for Shaman Drum Bookshop. I intentionally created something that evoked the winter holidays without being specific to any holiday.

I had the most fun making the birds, choosing ones that could wear winter hats yet still remain recognizable; the blue jay's hat mirroring the crest it would have naturally, and of course the two black capped chickadees.

I filled the interior space with paper chains and hand cut snowflakes connecting the overhead lighting throughout the store, and brought back the penguins from last year.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Brainiac 5 and Supergirl

Here's a piece a little while ago as a birthday present for a friend of mine. I'm not entirely happy with this piece. Most of my problems with it stem from poor planning on my part. I kept changing it as I went. First I started with the idea that I was going to stay true to the classic Legion of Superheroes art of the 1960s, but then began stylizing it my own way partway through, so now Brainiac's body seems to be a weird mishmash of the two styles that doesn't really work. Also, this was originally going to be a simple portrait of Brainiac 5, but I didn't feel it was enough, so I added the idea of his infatuation with Supergirl intruding upon his concentration with his experiment. If I'd thought to include this element in the beginning, the layout would have been different, instead of the cluttered look this piece has now. The third detriment was that i tried using parchment paper to get that layered transparent look of the cloud, but discovered that this type of paper doesn't take glue too well, so it was constantly peeling off the papers attached to it, and bits of chemistry gear kept falling off altogether.

In my experience, if a complication arises when I'm making a collage, the final result usually ends up being less than i hoped for, and I've yet to learn to simply give up on a piece that's not working and to start over. My most succesful pieces, no matter how complicated they seem, tended to be the easiest ones, done the quickest, and without problems cropping up along the way.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Saturday, December 01, 2007

EVEL KNIEVEL 1938 - 2007

When I was growing up, Evel Knievel was the man. What boy didn't want to be the king of motorcycle stuntman? Thankfully I didn't try emulating him. I did however follow all of his exploits through the attempt to make that mile long jump across Snake River Canyon and beyond. I bought the Scholastic biography. I collected the Topps trading cards. I remember the toy ad that adorned the back cover of seemingly every comic book I read. I owned the stunt cycle toys which exposed me to reality vs the commercial on tv as my stuntcycle never performed the cool stunts the kids in the commercial were able to manage, but I still sent Evel's 8" plastic stand-in on feats of daring with attempts at jumping boulders lining our driveway, and even a couple leaps from the roof. For all its other failings, the stunt cycle toy, and Evel Knievel action figure that rode it were incredibly durable, just like the real man.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

In Comic Book Stores Today

When a box containing copies of CARTOON NETWORK BLOCK PARTY #39 showed up at my door, my kids were really excited when they saw the cover. "YOU wrote a Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends story?" Alas, no. I wrote the "Dexter's Laboratory" story in this issue, available today.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

31 Days of Halloween - Day 31 - Finale

I ended up not taking very many pictures of my yard set-up this year. Pretty much all of the shots I took were during the day, eliminating any spookiness factor. My kids were too inpatient to get trick-or-treating underway to allow dad to stand in the driveway photographing things.

It was very windy again, so no plastic jack-o-lanterns lit up with candles filled the trees this year either. The main piece of my yard decor was this skeleton horse with skeleton rider, a 10' tall (at least) 2-figure marrionette, which moved a bit with the wind which also moved the branches that some of the features were tied to, creating additioal movements. The twine holding everything together while very visible in these shots, is pretty invisible once it starts getting dark.

My 8' tall skeleton marrionette made his third appearance, this time in a new location to make room for the horse. Like the horse, the twine disappears from view after dark.

The two ghosts that I posted a DIY instructional on earlier in the month were also hung from the trees. The more aggresive looking one over our driveway, the other one towards the front of our yard where it would be seen first by kids coming from one end of our street. The wind creating some nice swooping action of the ghost with her arms held out in a grasping position. The wind didn't do the other ghost too many favors, flattening her out a bit so I'm sure someone wondered why I hung my dry cleaning from a tree.

As you can see, the maples in our front yard are not at all cooperative, still boasting a full set of GREEN leaves. This meant that I had to be careful where I hung things so that they would be visible and not hidden by the foliage.

A also recycled a couple of Dementors that I made for a book store display to commemerate the final Harry Potter book. they were in pretty bad shape, and will be going out with Monday's trash, but they did okay for tonight. One of them was hung up over our driveway just above where the trick-or-treaters turn to reach our front door. I have to admit that looking out our bedroom window and seeing that thing flitting about out there in the wind is pretty eerie.

The other dementor was positioned peeking from around a tree at the top of our driveway, sort of a surprise.

This is a wide shot that shows where most of the elements were in relation to one another. The ghost with her hands held infront of her, is off to the left of the skeleton marrionette. In the background, you can see my kids impatiently waiting to start their rounds. My daughter went as "one of the classics" she said, a witch. My son went as Boba Fett, which started as a storebought costume, but was given embellishments such as a holster, a feed line for the flame thrower, and the rocket launching backpack. Like the Kenner action figure of 1979 which broke the hearts of untold millions of boys, this missile could not be fired either.

The blobby ectoplasmic thing hovering over their heads is recycled Nearly Headless Nick, also originally built for the Harry Potter festivities. For some odd reason, I always neglect to photograph this thing even though I think it came out pretty well.

Jars containing lit votive candles created a path leading up from the jack o'lanterns bordering the entrance to our driveway, leading to our front door. The porchlight by the front door was covered with enlarged copies of the "Vampire Girl," "Gorilla," and "Shock Monster" art from the ads in Famous Monsters, which looked pretty good backlit, but were too bright to photograph.

So there you have it, another Halloween come and gone.

There will not be any activity at this blog for at least a week or two while I recover and catch up on some projects that need attending to. Again, thanks to everyone who stopped by and to the other participants in this year's Halloween Countdown. Come back next Fall for more tricks and treats, and please, stop by between now and then.

I sleep now.

31 Days of Halloween - Day 31 - Riddle

31 Days of Halloween is over so there is no new riddle, but I thank everyone who participated in guessing, or attempting to guess these things.

Answer to yesterday's riddle: "Can't you count, Dracula?"

Stephen offered up some really good choices, including one answer that was almost correct.

31 Days of Halloween - Day 31 - Movie

For my final movie of the Halloween season, I chose "Night of the Living Dead" (1968), a film which bridges the era of classic horror and that of modern horror. I haven't watched this in a while, and was glad to see that it still holds up really well. Romero's future films would be filled with performances that varied widely from really professional acting to really poor, overacting (the biggest problem with "Day of the Dead"). "Night of the Living Dead" had pretty solid acting all around. I don't think there is anything that can be said about this movie that hasn't already. It was a perfect way to finish a month of horror movie viewing.

It did make me wonder though, when the walking dead in movies after this, including George Romero's movies, started being referred to as zombies. In "Night of the Living Dead" when they're not being referred to as "those things" they're referred to as "ghouls," which is actually a much more acurate term for them, since no voodoo was involved in their reanimation.

31 Days of Halloween - Day 31 - Spooky Bonus 2

If you scroll back a couple of posts to today's "Spooky Bonus 1" you'll read about how my family made a visit to my daughter's 3rd grade teacher's house. Here are some pictures of the yard haunt her husband put together called "Brandywine Cemetery." As you can see, my camera doesn't deal too well with low light conditions, and there was enough smoke in the air that using a flash only resulted in pictures of the flash reflected off the smoke.

The top picture is the street sign near their house.

The green light was a really cool vortex that appeared in the air just beyond the entrance gate to the cemetery. It looked much more impressive in real life than inthis picure.

There was a great, huge crank ghost that descended and ascended from the roof on one corner of the house.

These next couple of shots were of some of the custom gargoyles that dressed the cemetery gate walls.

Finally, the car of the creator of this fabulous walk through yard haunt.

For better pictures and the evolution of this yard haunt over the years, check out the Brandywine Cemetery website

31 Days of Halloween - Day 31 - Happy Halloween!

Today's the big day that we've all been counting down to. I'd like to thank everyone who's participated in this year's Halloween countdown, whether by simply stopping by, especially those of you who have taken the time to comment and participate, or who have been running countdown's of your own. I'm especially pleased by how big this year's Halloween countdown has grown since last year. Last year there were only a handful of us doing this (at least in an interconnected manner). This year there are a couple of dozen. Hopefully next year there will be even more. Then the world will be ours. I've taken the time to visit each of the other particpant's blogs on at least an every other day frequency, and have enjoyed them immensely. I've learned things, coveted things, laughed out loud, and experienced a profound shared embracement of the holiday. My apologies for not commenting more frequently, but my computer seems to have some difficulty with the little comments pop up screen, that I haven't figured out how to get around.

I still have a few posts to put up today after this one, so be sure to check back tonight or tomorrow. There's one last movie to watch and post, a riddle to answer, and pictures of my outdoor decorations to share.

In the meantime, here are links to two sites that I'd been meaning to put up, and never seemed to get around to it.

First up, is Mark Harvey's13th Mark probably has the greatest collection of Halloween songs, stories, and sound effects on the planet. He also broadcasts a year round streaming radio program of Halloween music, and also composes his own spooky music which he sells on his own record label. There's tons of great stuff here whenever the Halloween mood strikes you.

Secondly, one of the most unique blogs participating in the Halloween countdown is The Armchair Chef. We've got plenty of crafts, and costume scans, toys, music downloads, movie reviews, childhood reminiscences, book recommendations, magazine graphics, all of which I love, among us, but I think this is the only place that's been feeding us a steady diet of recipes for Halloween treats. If you've got a Halloween party planned for tonight and are looking for that special something to serve, then this is the place to go.

Everyone, have a safe and Happy Halloween!

31 Days of Halloween - Day 31 - Spooky Bonus 1

Traditionally, I don't put up any of my outdoor decorations until Halloween day, after all of the neighborhood kids have gone off to school. This year is no exception. If you're interested to see what I've got in store for the trick-or-treaters in my neighborhood, check back late tonight.

In the meantime, here are a couple of other houses about town that caught my fancy. I was hoping to photograph more, but haven't had the time. The top house has a giant spider and its web, along with a skeleton of the spider's victim, positioned by the front door.

The house on the bottom here is seen as a work in progress, and it's mighty impressive even at this stage. This is pretty close to what I'd imagined I was going to do this year, at the end of last Halloween. Needless to say, I didn't even make a start at realizing this dream, so I get to enjoy it vicariously through this house. This house actually belongs to my daughter's 3rd grade teacher and her husband. They open up their yard for three evenings leading through Halloween. We went tonight, and the finished attraction is incredible. I'll post more pictures later in the day.

31 Days of Halloween - Day 31 - In Stores Now

So much for shameless plugs. I completely forgot to mention this last week when it came out. Available now in comic book stores is SCOOBY-DOO #125, the perfect reading material for Halloween. This issue features three stories written by me--well, two stories and one fake ad for some fruit pies posing as a story.

31 Days of Halloween - Day 31 - Riddle

What did Dracula's teacher say when he flunked his math test?

Answer to yesterday's riddle: The Living room!

Guessed correctly by Max, the drunken severed head!

31 Days of Halloween - Day 31

Have you been so busy blogging about Halloween that you've forgotten to get yourself a costume? Never fear. Here are some last minute masks you can make yourself courtesy of the October 1967, October 1962, and October 1964 issues of "Jack and Jill" magazine.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

31 Days of Halloween - Day 30 -Movie

Lon Chaney, Jr. has cropped up a lot in my Halloween viewing this year, and here he is again in "Witchcraft" (1964). A centuries old feud between the Whitlock family and the Lanier family is rekindled when a modern development desecrates the graves of the Whitlock's, a family of witches. The destruction of the graves also allows Vanessa Whitlock to return after being buried alive 300 years earlier, condemned by a Lanier. The Lanier family and their associates are picked off one by one, until the final confrontation between the two families which climaxes in a spectacular fire.

This movie begins with a lot of promise, but quickly derails as plot threads lead nowhere, or are forgotten entirely. Chaney begins as a central figure in the movie, then vanishes for most of the rest before reappearing before the climax, and the Lanier's don't seem to be proacticve at all when it comes to saving their skins. It's still fairly enjoyable to watch, but the poor story structure keeps it from being the classic it easily could have been.

31 Days of Halloween - Day 30 - Riddle

What part of a house makes a ghost nervous?

Answer to yesterday's riddle: Home moaners insurance!

Sparkle Plenty provided some good alternatives though.

31 Days of Halloween - Day 30

While you're out there filling your trick-or-treat bags and buckets with candy tomorrow night, don't forget to trick or treat for
UNICEF as well. I'm sure their website can steer you towards other places to pick up one of their trick-or-treat for UNICEF collection boxes, but I picked up ours at Pier 1.

Monday, October 29, 2007

31 Days of Halloween - Day 29 - Movies

"Movies" is a bit of a misnomer. I didn't have enough time to watch an entire movie tonight, so I watched a cartoon and a couple of tv episodes instead. At least all of them were halloween related.

First came "To Boo Or Not To Boo" starring Casper the friendly ghost. Casper tries trick or treating with some kids. When they realize he's a real ghost they flee. Poor Capser then comes across a halloween party in a barn and gets the brilliant idea to cover himself in white wash, hiding his transparency. He befriends a little girl. When an accident with some water reveals his true nature, everyone flees but the girl, who turns out to be a ghost in costume as well.

"Halloween With The Addams Family" is a first season episode in which the macabre family gets ready for Halloween. They mistake a pair of bank robbers for trick or treaters and invite them into the house to celebrate with them. Thinking they've found a refuge from the police, the robbers do, but soon realize that they'd be better off in jail than playing games like "bobbing for the crab."

"Munster Masquerade" is the first episode of "The Munsters," and while not specifically Halloween related does feature a Masquerade party, allowing the Munsters to unwittingly, almost pass for regular people in their Little Bo Peep, Napoleon, and King Arthur costumes. When their true appearances are revealed, hilarity ensues.