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.