Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Boomerang from Cartoon Network

I discovered yesterday that I have Boomerang from Cartoon Network.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, basically it's a channel cartoon network dedicated solely to all those cartoons of yester year that you can either remember waking up to on Saturday morning or on weekday afternoons after you get out of school. Or during the mornings if it was either a snow day, you were sick or it was Summer vacation.

However, most of the cartoons on this network consist of all the absolutely shitty cartoons Hanna-Barbera churned out from the late 1960's until the 1980's.

I always knew Hanna-Barbera was awful in the way it dumbed down animation, but I didn't know how awful it was until I watched The Perils of Penelope Pitstop this morning.

I was even more horrified to see the name Michael Maltese in the writing credits.

Michael Maltese wrote many of the great Chuck Jones animations in the heyday of Warner Brothers Animation such as the Duck Season/Rabbit Season cartoons with Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2 Century, Bully for Bugs and Ali Baba Bunny just to name a few that make me tear up with laughter everytime I watch them.

What I have began to notice watching a great number of Hanna-Barbera cartoons is the way they would have the characters explain a scene. Like Scooby Doo chickening out when Daphne or Velma asks him to do something and hides himself in a room putting a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the outside of the door and Velma then proceeds to read aloud "Do Not Disturb". Like we didn't see that already.

Or if a villainous character is driving along in some contraption, and he suddenly states, "If I press this red button" Of course we see the red button like we didn't know it was a red button, "I will activate my jet-propelled, superfast rocket boosters and win the race. NAAAH!! HA HA HA HA HANAAAAA!!" or some crap.

Again, like we wouldn't have known that if you didn't explain that to us, Dick Dastardly.

I just feel like if I were to slowly and methodically dissect every joke I wrote in that manner and explain the scene away, the scene ceases to be funny.

But of course, they add the canned laughter into the mix just to make sure we know this is suppose to be a funny scene.

Companies like Hanna-Barbera and Filmation really helped in the cheapening and dumbing down of animation. They treated their audience, which was primarily children I suppose, like they were morons.

Honestly, kids aren't that stupid. I can remember watching Bug Bunny and Droopy cartoons when I was young and it didn't bother me that I didn't understand every single joke. The cartoons just made me laugh. And that's all that mattered.

Now, I'm just waiting for Hollywood at some point to release a Peril of Penelope Pitstop movie starring Jessica Simpson in the title role and Steve Carrell as the Hooded Claw. You know it's bound to happen.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Monday, July 21, 2008

More progress on Polly and Handgraves

Here's the first two pages of Polly and Handgraves lettered by Alterna Comics editor and chief Peter Simeti.

As much as I liked the old typewriter text for the lettering, I ultimately decided against it. I wanted to denote that this story is different from my past graphic novels and comic stories. So, I decided to go with the standard comic book lettering as opposed to something somewhat artsy fartsy.

The book itself should be out in the Fall sometime. And this coming after several years of research and gathering reference material for the story. I even used my room at the Bishopsgate Inn out in East Haddam as reference for the inn Polly and Handgraves stay in as well as Ryders Tavern out in Charlton as the exterior for the Inn. Getting the book together itself has been several months in the making. I started penciling and inking the pages last Fall and it's taken quite a while since then for everything to come together.

With all that said, I am so happy with the progress of the book and that Polly and Handgraves will finally see the light of day.

Friday, July 18, 2008

On the horizon for publication

Of course, I'm not looking forward to the Summer being over. I love the Summer and I love the warm weather. It's what makes living in New England worth it.

BUT I have a couple of books to look forward to sometime in the fall. Both The Spaghetti Strand Murder and The Adventures of Polly and Handgraves: A Sinister Aura should available for purchase. Hopefully, just in time for stART on the Street or the Boston Comic Con!!

These are two books I'm looking forward to seeing in print. Both I've worked (and reworked) very hard on. Polly and Handgraves especially which Rori did a marvelous job doing the grayscale.

She has a very busy schedule right now with finishing up a childrens book, a Sherlock Holmes novel and a follow up album to her fantastic Head Games.

So, I am very grateful that she was able to make time and work on my project as well.

I will let you all know when both books are being released once I get a definite release date.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Adventures of Sally by P.G. Wodehouse

It was one of the P.G. Wodehouse books sitting on my bookshelf that I've both been meaning to read and trying to read for the longest time. I'm glad I finally decided to sit down and read it. I really love P.G. Wodehouse's humor. It's so light hearted and carefree.

Basically, his work is like watching a situation comedy with brains.

It also kind of disappoints me that like his book Laughing Gas, they have never adapted The Adventures of Sally for television or film the way they have adapted works like Piccadilly Jim, Heavy Weather, Blanding Castle and of course Jeeves and Wooster who have been played by Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry, Ian Carmichael and Dennis Price and David Niven and Arthur Treacher.

There was even a musical of Jeeves and Wooster by Andrew Lloyd Webber By Jeeves! which featured Jeeves and a banjo playing Bertie Wooster.

Yeah, I haven't seen that one either.

But it's a pity that The Adventures of Sally have not found it's way to becoming a screen adaptation. I'm finding it to be a very funny and enjoyable read.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Polly and Handgraves pages

Here's a sneak peek at three of the pages from Polly and Handgraves. I just got the pages back from Rori over the weekend and they've been scanned and sent off to my publisher.

It should be noted that most of the wording in the newspaper article was taken from the true crime this story was based on. I really must thank the Spencer Library for supplying me with old newspaper articles and other printed information on the case.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Progress on Polly and Handgraves

I just got the pages back from Rori yesterday all grayscaled. And they look absolutely fantastic!! It gives my ole pen and ink work a different look that is really suitable for this particular story.

For those of you who have been following my work (or not), unlike a great deal of my previous projects this isn't satire or a comedy. It's a straight-forward murder mystery.

But with that said, there's my usual dry sense of humor in the writing. Humor just feels natural to me. I can be completely dark and serious. How silly is that.

But I wanted to take a brave stab at a proper murder mystery with a pair of amateur sleuths solving a very muddy and muddled case.

I'm keeping the plot pretty much a secret for the time being. Although, I have told a few close friends what's going down and what it's based upon.

But I will say this. If you were born in Spencer, Massachusetts you should be very intrigued by the case. Both Worcester and Spencer are the backdrop for this particular tale.

I'm hoping to have everything scanned and special effects added before I head out to the Pub Scrawl tonight. So, I can send it all out to my publisher bright and squirrely tomorrow night.

So, stay tuned!!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Sepa Black Widow

I've been getting a bit more adventurous with Photoshop of late. My last two dabblings in sepia made me want to give the Black Widow the same treatment. I'm considering sometime down the road reworking the cover to Diary of the Black Widow. This is the image I may go with for the cover. Although, I am considering changing the color seeing that it would be a bit too similar to Polly and Handgraves.

Local Author Extravaganza

I just chatted with Borders Books and Music this afternoon and I will be taking part in Local Authors Extravaganza on August 16th!!

The event will be taking place from 12noon until 5pm. I will be appearing alongside a bunch of local authors to talk about my book and answer any questions about my work and then sign copies of Diary of the Black Widow and Confessions of a Peculiar Boy... And Other Stories.

So if you don't have anything planned for August 16th, why not come on out and spend the day with me and books.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Cover for Polly and Handgraves

I've been getting adventurous with Photoshop of late. After doing the cover for The Spaghetti Strand Murder in browns, I wanted to do the cover for Polly and Handgraves in blues:

The clouds in the background are a first for me as well. I did the using the lasso tool.

I was inspired by the Kino Video rerelease of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari:

The film's director Robert Wiene had originally colored the film itself in different colored sepia tones. Kino and the Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv of Germany had taken the original 35mm prints and restored it with the original sepia tones and if you ever get the chance to watch it, the results are amazing!!

But that was the look I was trying to do when I was creating the cover for Polly and Handgraves

Friday, July 4, 2008

Fun and exciting classes and events on the horizon...

I have several classes coming up in the Fall for the Worcester Art Museum. Two classes for children and my very first adult education class at the Museum. I will let you know when they are up and running on the WAM website.

The Art of the Cartoon 8-10 years on Saturdays at 10am till 12noon from 10/11/08 till 12/6/08 and Drawing Workshop: Superheroes 8-10 also on Saturdays from 12:30pm till 2:30pm from 10/11/08 till 12/6/08

Introduction to Graphic Novel on Friday nights from 5:30pm till 8pm from 10/3/08 till 11/14/08

What I'm hoping to accomplish in this class is to show the students that you can do so much more with comics than superhero comics. Which I enjoy immensely. But people get into this rut of thinking that comic books HAVE TO BE guys in their skivvies flying around the city and women with... with... huge tracks of land.

But artists like Dave Sims, Daniel Clowes, Art Spiegelman, Terry Moore and Chester Brown did storylines that were outside the realms of the superhero genre. Some of which in the cases of Daniel Clowes and Chester Brown were pretty "down to earth" types of stories.

Basically, my point being, you could create a story based on a night out you had in Worcester. It doesn't have to necessarily go anywhere. And the artwork doesn't have to be super realistic and dynamic to make a great graphic novel. Myself and many of the members of the UCF Group work in styles are outside of the usual comic art aesthetics.

I suppose work from your strengths and use them to tell a story.

A great example of a superhero story that is outside the normal superhero story is Batman: Year One. The artwork is not the usual superhero style artwork. It's very straightforward and simplistic. But yet, I find it completely satisfying and I really enjoy David Mazzucchelli very straightforward, simplistic but yet stylized artwork. The artwork helps you to focus on Frank Miller's writing.

But that's the key. It shows you that the characters don't have to be musclebound or have... um... huge tracks of land. If you have a great story, you accept that the artwork isn't as dynamic (whatever that means) as the usual superhero type artwork.

But bad writing. It doesn't matter how beautiful, dynamic or stylized the artwork is. If the story sucks, the artwork is no better than eating candy all day. Sure if tastes good. But it leaves you somewhat unsatisfied in the end.

Well, that's all on the teaching front.

As for the months moving forward. The Worcester Pub Scrawl will be happening again July 13th at Ralph's Chadwick Diner on 148 Grove Street in Worcester MA from 6:30pm till last call.

Or whenever your fingers fall off. Or you find you find you can no longer draw a straight line.

And in September, I'm already planning on taking part in stART on the Street which will be happening September 21st from 11am till 5pm from the corner of Hyland to the corner of Grove.

After that, I will be taking part in the Boston Comic Con in November at the Back Bay Center and Holiday Art at the Station which will be taking place at Union Station in Worcester MA.

I'll be sure to pass along the times and dates of those events once the information is available.

Well, that's all for now. I hope y'all have a great 4th of Jooly weekend!!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

A sneak peek at Polly and Handgraves

Here's lettered versions of a couple pages from an upcoming project The Adventures of Polly and Handgraves: A Sinister Aura. I'm planning on having them in the upcoming issue of the Undercoverfish Anthology Detours as an eight page preview. After that it will appear as a graphic novel. Which I'm hoping to have finished before the end of the Summer.

The final version of the pages are being done in grayscale by Rori Shapiro. And should look fantastic!!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Unveiling the Spaghetti Strand Murder

Here's the cover for my upcoming graphic novel The Spaghetti Strand Murder. I am VERY happy with the work Peter Simeti did with the cover. One of the images I had requested for the look of the cover was to have images of the different characters on a strip of film. And it came out exactly the way I wanted it to!! I was also very pleased with the font for the title. It really fits the feel of the story.

I will let you know when it hits the stands!! Up after that, The Adventures of Polly and Handgraves: A Sinister Aura!!