Monday, June 29, 2009

Happy Birthday, Ray Harryhausen!

Today marks the 89th birthday of legendary stop motion animator and special effects man, Ray Harryhausen. He has entertained millions, created happy childhood memories for just as many, inspired generations of special effects artists, and created some of the best creatures ever to grace the silver screen.

His body of work includes "Mighty Joe Young" (1949), "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad" (1958) , "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms" (1953) , "One Million Years B.C." (1966) , "Clash of the Titans" (1981) and "Jason and the Argonauts" (1963) .

I can't thank him enough.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Doug Jones Plugs Scooby-Doo #145

Prolific creature actor, Doug Jones, plugged the current issue of SCOOBY-DOO at his website .

My thanks, especially since I made him one of the "villains."

Monday, June 15, 2009

My New Project

The above image is the cover of THE WEB #1 which will include as a regular 10-page co-feature, THE HANGMAN, written by me with artwork by Tom Derenick and Bill Sienkiewicz. THE HANGMAN will have a bunch of supernatural content not implied in the below solicitation information taken from DC Comics.

Written by Angela Robinson; co-feature written by John Rozum; Art by Roger Robinson and Hilary Barta;co-feature art by Tom Derenick and Bill Sienkiewicz; Cover by Stanley "Artgerm" Lau; Variant sketch cover by JG Jones

Spinning out of August's "Red Circle" event from superstar writer J. Michael Straczynski comes the new ongoing adventures of the selfish rich-boy hero the Web, and the mysterious-undying Hangman. Writer/director Angela Robinson (D.E.B.S.) and artist Roger Robinson (BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHTS) spin the tales of The Web, a man who has only recently come to understand the burden of true heroism. He's fighting crime on his own terms, and for his first mission he's hunting down the men responsible for killing his brother!

Plus, the Hangman stars in his own co-feature with a touch of urban noir from writer John Rozum (DETECTIVE COMICS) and artists Tom Derenick and Bill Sienkiewicz, the team behind REIGN IN HELL! The Hangman haunts the streets of San Francisco and touches lives as he works to discover whether his powers are a blessing or a curse.
DC Universe 40pg. Color $3.99 US
On Sale September 23, 2009

The above image of THE HANGMAN is by J.G. Jones and is most likely what the alternate cover will look like.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

SCOOBY-DOO #145 Available Today

SCOOBY-DOO #145 is available at a comic book store near you today. It feature's the story "Man of a Thousand Faces" written by me with art by the great Robert Pope. It's a story which pits traditional make-up effects and monster suits vs CGI. Who is the villain? Is it make-up maestro Rick Baker? Jack Pierce? Tom Savini? Someone else? To find the answer, the Mystery Inc. gang must search for clues among dozens of familiar props from classic Hanna-Barbera tv shows of the 60s and 70s. Don't miss out.

For a look inside go here.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Donald Duck Turns 75

Here's the second three-dimensional collage I've done. This one is in honor of Donald Duck's 75th birthday.

Donald debuted on June 9, 1934 in the Silly Symphony cartoon "The Wise Little Hen" then rocketed to stardom two months later when he stole the show from Walt Disney's biggest star in the Mickey Mouse short "Orphan's Benefit." He was soon remodeled from his more duck-like physical depiction into the form that has remained more or less unchanged since 1937. He's starred in more Walt Disney cartoons than any other character, with those in the late 1940s and early 1950s, mostly directed by Jack Hannah, being most of the better ones.

During World War II, Donald starred in numerous cartoons about life during wartime with some truly great ones depicting Donald in the role of an enlisted man, er, duck. He also starred in two feature length films that were made as part of an effort to build the relationship between the United States and South America. This was particularly important to Walt Disney, since the studio was losing money on its feature films because Europe was occupied with the war and essentially closed as a market for showing movies.

Donald had quickly eclipsed Mickey Mouse as Walt Disney's biggest star, and at one point was almost eclipsed himself by his onscreen antagonists, Chip and Dale. Other rivals created to give Donald some variety beyond contending with his nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie, such as Spike, the Bee and Bootle Beetle never really caught on.

When the Donald shorts were discontinued in the mid 1950s, Donald went on to to appear on television, but his real life outside of the movies was in the countless numbers of comic book stories he starred in, where cartoonists, particularly Carl Barks, really developed his personality far beyond the squawking ball of short fused temper and nasty prankishness that made up so much of Donald's onscreen persona.

Monday, June 08, 2009

The Dapper Dans Revisited

Kevin Kidney gave me some photography advice, which I followed, and not surprisingly given how great Kevin's work looks, it turned out to work really well.

I rephotographed my three dimensional collage of the Dapper Dans and the colors are much truer to the actual colors of the collage. Now I just need to, lterally, iron out the wrinkles on the background and I'll be all set.

Stop by tomorrow for a new 3-D collage.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Animals

When I was a kid, only one thing rivaled my love of monsters, and that was dinosaurs. I couldn't get enough of them. The desire for the Marx dinosaur playset, and Santa actually delivering it, is my most vivid Christams memory. "Turok: Son of Stone" about a pair of Native Americans trapped in a prehistoric world wasmy favorite comic book.

I also had plenty of books about dinosaurs. These I devoured, memorizing what are now outdated, erroneous facts about them as well as their long names and distinguishing characteristics. I know I was not alone. This was a common practice among kids for many generations, sadly now replaced by memorization of minutia involving Pokemon characters. I still have many of the books from this period of my life, and have a fondness for them. One book, above all others, rose to being my favorite. This book was "Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Animals" by Darlene Geis with illustrations by R.F. Peterson.

Long before I owned it, I coveted it. On visits to a local bookshop, I'd look at it and always ask for it. At some point the answer was that I could have it when I learned to tie my shoes. This was the one developmental area that confounded me to tears. I just couldn't get it. I even had a record that was supposed to help me learn. The record came in a vinyl case that opened to reveal a cartoon rabbit with felt fur and vinyl boots with actual laces, which you were supposed to practice tying as you listened to the instructions on the record. Crossing the laces and making the "x" ? No problem. Making one bunny ear, then running the bunny around the tree and back into the rabbit hole so you finished with a rabbit with both ears? No matter how hard I tried or how much I practiced. I couldn't do it. I actually remember the moment I finally learned to tie my shoes. It was on the last day of first grade. Walking down the hallway to the buses for dismissal, I noticed my shoe was untied. No teachers were around to help me. With panic that I'd miss my bus and be trapped in school for the summer, I simply knelt down and tied it on the first try. I got that book that very afternoon, and best of all, with school out had all summer to pore through it. I still have it.

Author, Darlene Geis, also wrote another favorite of mine, "The How and Why Book of Dinosaurs" The How and Why series was one of my favorites, and I still love to look through them for their illustrations. She wrote many other children's books as well as recipe books. She eventually went to work for Harry N. Abrams as an editor and writer where she edited a number of Disney titles including the popular anthology "Walt Disney's Treasury of Children's Classics." She also wrote "The Joys of Wine" and an encyclopedia of quilts. She dies in March, 1999 at the age of 81 in a fire in her Manhattan home.

As for illustrator R. F. Peterson, I could find no information.

"Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Animals" took on further significance for me not too much longer after I acquired it. It was the first thing I owned which I ever saw in a movie. The movie was "King Kong vs Godzilla." This was the American version of it, the only version I'd know until adulthood.

When "King Kong vs Godzilla" was acquired for American audiences it was heavily reedited. All character development was cut. "Humor" was added, scenes were reordered, the score was replaced, mostly with music from "the Creature from the Black Lagoon," and following the formula used when "Gojira" became "Godzilla, King of the Monsters" starring Raymond Burr, new footage of reporters was added to comment of what was happening in the story. While the Raymond Burr footage was cleverly integrated and served a purpose in tying together reordered and trimmed scenes, the news reporter footage added to "King Kong vs Godzilla" merely seemed to bring the movie to a halt whenever it began to get interesting.

A reporter operating from the United Nations news center would, often erroneously, comment on the scenes we just watched. In one of these cutaway scenes he introduces us to Dr. Arnold Johnson, curator of the New York Museum of Natural History and an esteemed authority on prehistoric animals. To show his authority, he explains his theories on Godzilla using a children's book. This one:

This is laughably absurd to an adult, but less so than the theories he suggests. It would be like seeing an entomologist on CNN commenting on a devastating invasion of gypsy moth caterpillars by holding up a copy of Eric Carle's "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" (well, not so bad since "Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Animals" is informative, educational, and non-fiction; a science book for kids, but you get the idea).

As a kid however, I was beside myself with excitement seeing a book I owned in a movie with King Kong AND Godzilla in it no less.

One of Dr. Arnold Johnson's speculations was that Godzilla was a cross between a Tyrannosaurus Rex and a Stegosaurus. Forget any issues with interbreeding, but not only does this authority combine two animals that did not exist at the same time, but he pointed to the Allosaurus on the cover to represent the Tyrannosaurus. Even I caught this at a young age, making this most likely my earliest encounter with bad science, or sloppy research in a movie, and proving that adults are not infallible.