Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Trick or Treating Kids!

Finally went to theatre and saw Corpse Bride this weekend and loved it. The sets felt like 20's/30's german expressionist movies and the underworld lighting reminded me of 60's italian horror movies. All great stuff. I noticed on the the piano was a Harryhausen. Amazing when you think of the fact that so many people go into the making of a sequence in a movie now, that stop motion animator Ray Harryhausen did it all himself on classics like Jason and the Argonauts and Earth vs the Flying Saucers. From concept and production drawings to all the animating its incredibly inspiring stuff. I saw him lecture here when he was touring promoting his new book about his life which was wonderful to listen too. They screened the Tortouise and the Hare short that he had never finished and was completed by UCLA students [I think] and is available now on dvd. I remember watching the skeleton battle in Jason and being in complete awe as a kid and I'm even more so now that I'm older.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Keeping in line with my ghost story from the previous post

Saturday, October 22, 2005

I've only seen one "ghost" in my life , at least I like to think it was a real ghost.
This particular phantom gets an occasional mention in Ontario ghost books and I don't remember his real name so I'll call him The Ghost of Lake Skugog.
I woke up this morning and sleepily doodled the above drawing in a notebook planning on doing a cleaner version but I'll just leave it as it is and hopefully you will get the idea .
Friends who lived close to Lake Skugog first told me about the ghost and how teenagers from the surrounding towns would go up to the old farm road and park their cars and watch the farmers field late at night where the incident happened hoping for a glimpse of the ghost.
The story goes that a motorcyclist had made a habit of crossing the field of a farmers , late at night, after some rendezvous. The farmer, to deter the rider, built a fence along the edge of his property and the road. The rider again crossed the field at night, only this time he collided with the fence. The motorcycle tumbled and rolled and the unfortunate rider was thrown to his death.
My friends had gone on midnight vigils before to see the apparition but had never seen him.
One late night we decided to drive up north to the farmers field. We parked on a dirt road that faced the field, fence and road that ran beside the property. It was pitch black when we turned off the car headlights except the light from the sky and we sat and laughed quietly and tried to spook each other.
An hour and half had passed when suddenly a single, small light appeared on the horizon of the field and headed toward us. We jumped and choked back yells and our eyes popped as we watched the lone light weave through the field, getting larger till it finally hit the fence, where the light jerked and bounced and fell downward toward the road and extinguished.
We were all pretty excited and freaked out and waited around for another hour hoping to see it again. Eventually we pulled out and headed home very happy with our small encounter with the supernatural. Its been explained as lights bouncing off various things to give that impression but heck,thats no fun anyway, better a ghost I say.

You'll have to read the comments dear reader to get this one, sorry for the extra work.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Sketches from GRAVEnhurst a couple of weekends ago.

Some fast waiting room sketches today while waiting for my Grandma at a doctors appointment [don't worry she's ok]

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

I've been cold waiting for the bus many times but the coldest I remember being is when a friend and me were on a motorcycle trip down to Boston. On the way back through New Hampshire we were up in the mountains and caought in a horrible rain storm, there was no where to stop and we had to keep going anyway and we wrapped every piece of dirty clothing we had on us and around us. It felt like 1ce pellets were being whipped at us at 100 miles an hour and it was freeeezing. When we finally I got to stop at a friends overnight I think we shivered for a day. I'll never forget how cold I was then.

Some older sketches of superheroes, some that had been worked up a bit more. Always loved the Spectre.

Monday, October 17, 2005

In 1976 Tempo books released this cool paperback by Will Eisner. Not a Spirit book but a True account of ghosts and hauntings
that is bookended by Sprit introductions on each story. Beatiful drawings throughout. No surprise of course.

and some odd bits
the first is a couple of images from the wonderful Hucleberry Hound Giant Storybook with drawings by Frank McSavage and the others [I'm reaching here, but I love the drawings in this book]
the "spooky" images from the Art Linklatters "Kids say the Darndest Things" with drawings by the awesome Charles Shultz.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Tho Rod Serling created the Twilight Zone my favourite writers from the show are Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson.

Beamont started out as a cartoonist and worked at MGM animation for a bit as well as doing gag cartoons but gave it up and pursued writing. Initially he worked at Whitman publication and wrote and co-edited comics, working on Bugs, Mickey Mouse and Andy Panda comics before his short story and screen writing career took off. Along with the Twilight Zone and other TV series he was a screenwriter at American International and worked on Roger Corman Poe films like the Masque of the Red Death and The Haunted Palace.
His short stories appeared in the "slicks" as well as genre magazines.
Tragically in 1963, he was diagnosed with Alzeheimers at 34 and degenerated and aged rapidly and died 4 years later.
The first image is his first novel, written under a pseudonym and the other 3 are short story collections.

and old mask
and a pair of frankenstein glasses I picked up today at garage sale on a mourning walk
around the neighborhood.

Friday, October 14, 2005

This piece was done a while back for a poster after which I altered it a bit for myself.
When i did it I was thinking about the old Aurora Monster Model Kits with James Bamas art.
Incredible stuff!

Heres an old add used in newspapers for the Kits.

earliar I talked about the Dorian Gray painting by Ivan Albright at the Art Institute of Chicago and originally
painted for the old movie. Here he is in al gruesome glory.
We are off to see an Oscar Wilde play tonight so it seemed appropriate.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Inspired by the Chet Baker song, the next line of the song being "lost in each others arms"
touching isn't it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A quick post.
Lee Browne Coye was a pulp illustrator and he did a lot of work for Arham House, the publishers who first released in book form the supernatural stories of HP Lovecraft and his circle. I've always enjoyed Coyes work and in the last Illustration Magazine there was an article on him as well as a mention of a forth coming book about him which I'm looking forward too. This is his cover to a Lovecraft collection and the top coffin piece is from the Arkham horror story collection "Sleep No More."
Also an oddball item I picked up a few years back. Sort of like the Edward Gorey Dracula paper set this as a set of paper cutouts of Lovecraft and his cirlce [not all here]. the set included a desk as well that you could gather them around. Pictured is Lovecraft,

Conan creator Robert Howard and eerie writer and sculptor Clark Ashton Smith. All these writers surely had an influence on Hellboy as well as countless other things.

and finally some real "gasp" [courtesy of a 50's satruday evening post] and not so real head shrinking fun.
They make great gifts so send them to your friends [or me!]

Friday, October 07, 2005

Its the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend up here and we are getting ready to go up to Gravenhurst and hang out with family.
So heres my sort of spooky related post for the next couple of days which some of you might enjoy.

Growing up I always loved monster [and still do] movies. My earliest, vivid television movie memories are probably the Edgar Allan Poe movies from Roger Corman. I'd love to illustrate a Poe collection
and I managed to sneak in a small portrait of him on the wall of one of the illustrations in the childrens book I Illustrated.

My favourite Poe illustrations are by inspiring pen and ink master Harry Clarke. Nothing comes close as far as I'm concerned and I love the comic adaptations by Berni Wrightson in the Warren Mags.

One of my great early movie theatre memories was seeing Alien on its first run. I was way to young to get in but I "ahem" did and I'll never forget seeing it for the first time [ much like Bladerunner years later] and watching the Nostromo crew land on the planet and scenes like the space jockey and all the eggs. And of course the Alien as its slowly revealed .WoW I still think its an incredible movie and am sucked immediately into it any time I put it on and even tho I can enjoy the sequels, I don't think they are anywhere near as good.
I bought up all the making of books when I could afford them and I became a H.R. Giger fan right away.
Tho I don't think theres any real outwardly visible examples of his influence
on my work I still think it creeps in a bit. Probably in the spidery woman, sometimes thinly lined detailed areas and hopefully a mood and even tho I would place other artists ahead
of him in terms of obvious influence I certainly admire his rare singular vision and the fact that he created an iconic monster right up there with the Creature from the Black Lagoon.
Anyway jump forward a number of years and
I'm traveling through Europe with my buddy Jason, having a great ol time. Going to art galleries, seeing punk rock shows, meeting folks. It was never on the agenda
but in the back of my head I was always thinking, if we get to Zurich I'm going to try and meet Giger.
At the time my friends band was touring Europe [the Doughboys] and we had hooked up with them and had travelled some with them. One of their fans,Andrea, who had been at a couple of shows lived in Zurich and we became friends and she said I could stay at her moms place if I wanted. Well I bid adios to my old friends in Innsbrook, Austria and jumped into my new swiss buddies car and off to Zurich I went.
I loved Zurich, all the old cobbly streets and chocolate. With a bit of sleuthing I found out where HR lived, tho I was told there was no way he would let me in his house, and made my way to his suburban home one day . Yep it was the one with the overgrown Charles Addams lawn, thank goodness , and I was warned away by a neighbour to stay away from the Giger place.
I buzzed his outer gate and what do you know, the door creaked open and his head slithered out.
"What do you want." he snarled in a thick swiss german accent.
I was from Canada and a big fan and I pulled my trump card, I knew someone he painted a few years back.
He looked at me for a while and then, abra cadabra, he opened the electric gate and I was in, approaching his front door and as nervous as heck. He made sure I knew that he didn't ordinarily let strangers in his house and I think I thanked him a zillion times.
The house was not a disappointment. It was wall to wall Giger paintings, stuff from Necronimicon ,Passages and New York City ect was everywhere. He shut the door and you were right there in his dark and fascinating world, spooky and thrilling.
And of course he was the most generous, sweetest , coolest guy.
His {ex?] girlfriend Mia showed up [who I remembered from the books] and Giger cracked open a bottle of a wine and we sat around drinking and talking . A package had just come from Deborah Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie. He pulled out all this new unpublished graphic story stuff he was working on and signed some books and posters that he gave me. We talked for quite a while about his work and he asked about me and then he took me on a tour of the rest of the house and more goodies including a giant Alien, and the room where his biomechanic furniture was.

I managed to pass my camera from my sweaty palms and he took a some pictures of me in the chairs. Also mangaged to get photos of his cat Mookie who I remembered from paintings. Unfortunately he didn't want me to take a picture of him but he took a polaroid of me for his photobook of friends, I thanked him for his genorisity and I walked out, pretty stunned and happy as heck. Thanks HR for letting me hang out and the great memory.
Have a good weekend folks.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

I don't usually post work related stuff unless its more personal to what I'm doing even tho all work is personal to some degree

as you invest a certain amount of yourself in it and try to and do the best job you can, but I thought I would post some game character designs I did earliar in the year for a toy company anyway . The company asked me for something different than my usual style and I submitted two pieces and they chose the first [tho I was hoping for the second the first is more what they were looking for.
I am a fan of BIg Daddy Roth and Wally Woods wacky sixties monster cards so it was fun to dip into those waters again.

The monsters would be produced very small on stickers for pieces of the game and so with that I in mind I designed them fairly simply. I ended up redoing and colouring them formyself which I might post some other time.

And even tho its October just so its not all about the monsters I'll post this illustration I did for teen magazine a while back on a story about the Maji and Baby Jesus.

Like asking the age old question, "do you like the Rolling Stones or the Beatles more" I'm sure theres discussion groups out there battling out who's better of these old boogey -men, Bela Lugosi or Boris Karloff. I'm not going to pick a favourite I love em both and I was happy when Universal realased a 5 movie package called the Bela Lugosi Collection [Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Black Cat, The Raven, The Invisible Ray and Black Friday) . Boris appears in every movie except 1 so it could almost be called the Karloff collection but Karloff had a longer more successful career so why not cut Bela some slack.
The sad thing is with the cheap price comes no documentaries or commentaries and all these movies have interesting stories and personalities who worked on them. But If I had to pick one, I wish The Black Cat had had received a bit of special treatment.

Beautiful Art Deco/30's Moderne sets and a rather morbid story line make this the most visually arresting of the bunch. The movies director Edgar G Ulmer is known if at all, for a few low budget gems like the Noir classic Detour but he was a fascinating personality who was involved an unbelievable amount of cool things. He contributed to the art direction of many films like Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Nosferatu and Sodam and Gomarrah. He was head of the minature department in hollywood and a assistant art director and worked on Lon Chaneys' Hunchback and Phantom of the Opera. He worked on many hollywood movies as a production designer like Chaplins the Gold Rush. He helped desing Howard Hughes Hells Angels and it goes on and on and working at the end of his career on tv pilots and being unit production manager of The Doris Day Show.Right on Ulmer!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Illustrator Michael Fleming has a great illustration blog , Tweedlesketch, but I've also been enjoying his wonderful halloween mp3 posts of halloweeny goodies and other fun . Have a listen at
  • pop debris

  • I'm going to try and post various random spooky themed things I like and happen to feel like posting.

    J C Leyendecker is one of my favourite illustrators from the golden age of american illustration. An amazing draughtsman and
    profilic worker I've seen a bunch of his original canvases and sketch canvases and I'm always blown away by them. A huge infuluence on Norman Rockwell, Rockwell payed him a nice tribute when he stopped short of doing more Saturday Evening Post covers and beating JC's record out of respect. Not known for spooky covers I've always loved this witch Post cover I got many years ago.

    Lynd Ward is arguably the father of the graphic novel. His picture novel in wood cuts, "Gods Man" came out in 1929 and is a haunting faustinan tale of starving artist. Its been reprinted in editions that I don't think do it justice and I've never seen it look as awesome as in the orignal 20's edition.

    He also illustrated books like Frankenstein and Faust and a large Haunted Omnibus in 1937 from which the second picture is taken.

    Saturday, October 01, 2005

    With apologies to Mary Blair....

    I know it doesn't say I can float but lets just say she's in floating mode. I Was working on this earliar and it seemed to resonably fit the bill.I've re-written the book but I'm not to sure Golden Books would go for it.
    I'm a big Mary Blair fan , love all her books, and sadly I Can Fly is the only one still in print. If you don't own it i encourage you to get
    a copy, preferably the original 1950's edition. I picked up a couple of the later printings before I got the original and as far as I know the only the 1950's one has the complete illustrations. There could be a later edition I dont know about it.