Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy 2010!!

Well, I survived another First Night at the Worcester Art Museum! And I had a blast!! I've done First Night at the Art Museum nearly every year I've been there. The first year I did it I found it a bit overwhelming. But since then, I've found it to be a lot of fun!!

Last year I wasn't able to do it and I really missed taking part of it. So, I immediately jumped on the chance to do it again this year. Sure, it can be an insane at times with how many people come swarming in to do the craft you are teaching that night. But unlike most of the lessons I teach, you don't have to do much thinking and preparing. You show them the basics and let them do the rest.

Not bad for four or five hours of work. And I was thrilled to find out my friends Andy and Veronica were doing First Night at WAM as well this year. So, it was nice to know I was in good company that night :-)

It wasn't so nice to have some jerk of a truck driver parked right behind my car as I tried to leave. And then take his dear precious time to get everything loaded and chat with his buddy before he decided to depart.

But he finally moved, I got home to have dinner and a drink to toast 2009 and look forward to 2010. Here's hoping the new year is a happy and healthy one for everybody!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Alice in Wonderland 1966

I haven't gotten a chance to see this version all the way through. It does exist on DVD but the cheapest copy costs $39.90 at the present. However a less expensive version is supposed to be out in 2010.

It was directed by Jonathan Miller for the BBC in 1966 and starred a list of well known British actor of that time which included Peter Cook as the Mad Hatter.

What also intrigues me about this production is that the characters like the March Hare and the White Rabbit are not played in animal costumes.

Mind you, this was also the beginning of the psychedelic era in the 1960's. So, films were beginning to take on this very surreal approach to the way many things were presented. Including Alice in Wonderland.

I think Peter Cook is very well cast as the Mad Hatter. He's not quite kooky wacky as some other versions have portrayed him. But he puts on one of those silly Peter Cook voices that just seems to fit the character well.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Alice in Wonderland

Along with several other projects I'm either working on or getting started which includes the second Polly and Handgraves story, I've also thought about doing an adaptation of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Doing some Alice inspired E-Bay art has definitely given me the itch.

I don't know if anyone has really done an adaptation of Alice that has remained true to how weird and unsettling Lewis Carroll's original tale was. There have been a few really good exceptions to the rules. But I've found most, including the Disney version, to be too bland and have really taken the teeth out of the original story.

Which is funny I say all this. Because as much of a purist as I tend to be when it comes to books and such, I am eager to see Tim Burton's take on Alice in Wonderland. Even though he is taking his own slant on Alice as he has done with many of his adaptations, it doesn't bother me too much because his movies tend to be very stylishly done. And he's not afraid of taking a risk with something even if it doesn't end up working as a whole.

Which is something I do respect.

And a few of the Alice in Wonderland comic books and graphic novels I've seen down at That's Entertainment basically borderline on fetishist. Borderline? Okay, who am I kidding. Alice is wearing a very short skirt and naughty underwear.

But I wouldn't mind taking a brave stab at it and create something that has all the strangeness I love about the old story with some of that family-friendly charm without it being so sugary that you might need a root canal after you've read it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Worst Movie of All Time: Manos

Plan 9 From Outer Space has unfairly over the years gotten the reputation of being the worst film of all time. Sure, it's pretty awful with it's pie plate flying saucers, random stock footage that doesn't mesh with the scenes, the woman's "Off you go into the wild blue yonder" dialogue along with several other aviation cliché's all in one scene, the plane with no steering devices that looks like two people being filmed in a Porta John, a kiss scene that looks like the lead actor basically just playing the leading lady's face like the bagpipes, the crypt that basically looks like they're all crawling out of Snoopy's doghouse and of course the dentist who looks nothing like Bela Lugosi.

Not to mention, unconnected footage of Bela Lugosi obviously film during the day while all the other shots of his character (with the dentist in his stead) at night.

But with that said, Plan 9 still has a watchability factor. As wooden and badly done as the movie is you can still watch it and have a good laugh all the way to the end.

Which now brings me to Manos: The Hands of Fate. This film makes Plan 9 look like The Empire Strikes Back.

Personally, I've only seen this movie on the episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and I think that's the only way this film can really be viewed. I enjoyed the episode for Joel and the Bots comments. But it's still a very hard film to get through. And stay awake during.

A bit of history behind the film, it was the brainchild of Harold Warren a fertilizer salesman from El Paso, Texas who produced the film as a result of a bet.

Yes, you read this right. A BET!!

He also starred in it, alongside El Paso theater actors Tom Neyman as the title character and John Reynolds as Torgo. Manos was an independent production by a crew that had little or no background or experience in filmmaking and a very limited budget at their disposal.

The main plot from the film is about a vacationing family who stay the night at a lodge where the caretaker is a supposed to be a satyr named Torgo with an erratic, repetitive speech pattern who takes care of the house "while the Master is away".

With lines like: "There is no way out of here. It'll be dark soon. There is no way out of here."

When I first saw the film back in the 1990's, I didn't realize Torgo was supposed to be a satyr. Mostly for the lack of hooves. I just thought he was, as Tom Servo pointed out, a man where his Depends the wrong way.

Michael and Margaret stumble upon "The Master" (Tom Neyman) and several women dressed in translucent nightgowns, later revealed to be his wives, who are asleep. Torgo ties Michael to a pole and The Master suddenly comes to life. His wives also awake, and a short argument over the fate of the family ensues. The Master decides to sacrifice Torgo and his first wife to the film's mysterious deity and namesake, "Manos".

The production according to Wikipedia:

Warren was very active in the theater scene in El Paso, Texas, and once appeared as a walk-on for the television series Route 66, where he met screenwriter Stirling Silliphant. While chatting with Silliphant in a local coffee shop, Warren claimed that it was not difficult to make a film, and bet Silliphant that he could make an entire film on his own. After placing the bet, Warren began the first outline of his script on a napkin, right inside the coffee shop. To finance the film, Warren accumulated a substantial, but nevertheless insufficient, sum of cash, reportedly $19,000 ($124,751 in 2009), and hired a group of actors from a local theater and modeling agency. Because he was unable to pay the cast and crew wages, Warren promised them a share in the film's profits.

Under the working title The Lodge of Sins, the movie was filmed in mid 1966. Filming mainly took place on the ranch of Colbert Coldwell, a former judge of El Paso County. Most of the equipment used for production was rented, therefore Warren had to rush through as many shots as possible to complete filming before the deadline for returning the equipment. Footage was shot with a 16 mm Bell & Howell camera which had to be wound by hand and filmed for only 32 seconds. This has been suggested as a possible explanation for the many editing problems present in the final cut. The Bell & Howell camera was incapable of double-system recording, and thus all sound effects and dialogue were dubbed later in post-production, reportedly by only three or four people including Warren. Later during production, Warren renamed the film from its working title to Manos: The Hands of Fate. The word "manos" in the title is Spanish for "hands", therefore the film's title literally translates to Hands: The Hands of Fate.

Early in production, one of the actresses broke her leg. Warren rewrote her role to have her make out in a car with an actor during the events of the entire film. The couple appears in the beginning of the film interspersed with the opening credits and shots of the main characters driving through the Texas desert. Despite events in the film portraying police officers ordering them to leave, they are seen again later in the film while the events transpire at night, still embracing in the same location. The inclusion of these characters has been the focus of criticism for having no apparent connection to the main plot of the film.

To portray his character Torgo as a satyr, John Reynolds constructed what is described as a metallic rigging worn under his trousers. The effect conveyed by his work was to leave his character with oversized knees and difficulty in walking. Fake cloven hooves may have been made by Reynolds for his costume, but they were not worn during filming, as he is clearly shown wearing boots in several scenes, which can even be seen in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version which superimposes the silhouettes of theater seats and three of the show's characters over the bottom of all the films they feature.

Warren decided to shoot night scenes at nighttime, which proved to be difficult, and for unknown reasons, Warren did not choose to use the normal technique of shooting day for night. In many of the night scenes, the camera and lights attracted swarms of moths, which can be seen in the film's final production. In the scene in which the cops "investigate" Mike's gunfire, they could walk only a few feet forward, because there was not enough light to illuminate the scenery for a panning shot, creating the unintentionally amusing impression that the officers hear the gunfire, step out of their car, consider investigating but then give up and leave before making a proper check of the scene.

Post-production efforts were reportedly minimal, despite promises by Warren that any problems in the film would be fixed in later editing. One of the more visible examples of this is a brief moment at the beginning of the film in which the clapperboard is visible after a cut to the "make-out couple". It is rumored that the entire opening sequence, which consisted of the main characters driving around looking for their hotel for minutes on end with minimal dialogue or effect on the plot, was the result of such neglect. Warren had intended to include opening credits at this stage of the film, but forgot or was unable to add them. Reportedly, Warren's small crew became so bemused by his amateurishness and irascibility that they derisively called the movie Mangos: The Cans of Fruit behind his back.

Apparently, the reception the movie got on opening night was less than spectacular. After a great deal of laughter from the audience over it's poor quality and redundant dialogue, the cast of the film made a hasty exit.

And John Reynolds, who had played Torgo in the movie, committed suicide approximately six months after production wrapped.

After a few local screenings at the drive-in's the film was almost entirely forgotten. The film ultimately surfaced through a public domain video supplier.

These are usually the films you can find on the $1 rack at Wal-Mart.

And a copy from a television package landed on the desk of Frank Conniff. Better known to the world as TV's Frank on MST3K.

If you've never seen the film, I highly recommend you check it out the MST3K version of it. The riffing makes the film a bit more bearable to watch.

But if you're a brave soul, there is a DVD of just the film on the market which you can purchase on places like and!!

Instead of posting a clip from the movie, I posted a video from a theater group in Portland, Oregon who staged a very funny production of Manos. Unlike the original, it's meant to be funny. And very fun to watch.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

December Workshop, Winter and Spring Sessions at the Worcester Art Museum

If you're looking something fun for your kids or teens to do over Christmas Vacation, you can sign them up now for either my Comic Art or Mural Painting Classes taking place the last week of December at the prestigious Worcester Art Museum. The links to sign up on the WAM website are on the left hand side of my blog filed under Classes at the Worcester Art Museum being taught by Bret M. Herholz.

Winter and Spring classes are also available for sign up. And the classes I'm teaching during Feb Fun should either be up or should be posted soon!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Apparently you CAN choke on your own uvula

Well, this has been an interesting week from start to finish. And nothing tops it off like a nice allergic reaction.

For those of you who are not familiar with the uvula. Which to be honest, when I first look at the spelling myself I think it's another part of the body.

But the uvula is that thing in your throat that cartoon characters occasionally use as a punching bag. **See picture of Tweety above**

Well, Wednesday I had gone out to get some wood later in the day. Some of the wood in storage is from last year and has gotten a bit musty and dry. So, I could have very well breathed in something from the wood cellar that irritated me.

But I start feeling what I think is a sore throat coming on. In the past anytime I've had a sore throat a cold isn't too far behind. So, I just resigned myself to the fact that quite a few people I knew were getting the nasty old cold bug and seeing I work with children and teens I was probably going to get bitch-slapped with it too. Or so I thought.

So, I just started going through my usual regime when I come down with a cold. I still had some cold syrup left over from my previous illness. Just enough for one more helping. I figured in the morning I'd just go out and get some more and went to bed.

That morning I woke up with what felt like crap in my throat. Yeah, I know. Gross. But remember I think it's a cold.

So, as I'm going through my usual morning routine of checking my e-mail, trolling Facebook, seeing how things are going with some of the stuff I posted on E-Bay, I'm just sniffing and clearing my throat. It was suddenly when I went to clear my throat I realized what I was trying to clear out of my throat was in fact my uvula. Which was now resting on my tongue.

Before you start wincing and writhing. It was STILL attached. It had just obviously swollen. I knew it must have been considerably because I can't talk and it felt like I was gagging on it.

Okay, you can wince and writhe now.

So, I go find a mirror and a flashlight. Sure enough, it has swelled up to epic proportions. I'm a bit concerned because I'm suddenly aware that it's touching my throat and my tongue. So, I immediately feel like I'm gagging on it.

And even though I'm having a lot of trouble talking, I can still breath. So, that's a plus. So instead of going into a panic (which I felt coming on) and before it turns into one of these things where it might affect the rest of my throat and potentially cause it to swell up too, I called my clinic.

But it was 8:30am and I found out from the recording they didn't open till 9am. So, I made myself a hot cup of tea and (tried to) wait patiently.

Finally, 9am rolls around and I give them a call explaining what's up. I immediately get an appointment and I am in the car and down there faster than you can say Jack Robinson.

After a short wait in the waiting room, I see the doctor who looks at my throat and immediately says "I'm impressed!" which I respond, "I'm not sure if that's something I should be proud of".

Thankfully, she said it was nothing dreadful but serious enough that it needed dealing with. So, I was prescribed antibiotics and something called Milton's Miracle Mouthwash, which I eventually picked up at CVS after a long snafu with them screwing up my health insurance and having to go back and forth with my insurance assuring CVS that I had not been terminated.

After the rigmarole I've gone through with Network Health in the past, I was starting to get a bit miffed if I had to go through this again.

The doctor had also prescribed taking a Benadryl and doing a warm salt water gargle. Which I did and it caused the swelling to go down a bit.

FINALLY I come to find out they screwed up my birth date and I finally get my meds without shelling out $100! Which now I wake up a day later with both the soreness and swelling gone down considerably. I still feel awful and sinusy. But considerably better than I did this morning.

Well, as much as a nightmare this week has been for me. I am grateful that most of the problems I have dealt with have been manageable.

Tops on my holiday wish list: Sherlock Holmes starring Peter Cushing

This will probably be my gift to me this Christmas. Or at least my post-Christmas gift to me!!

I've been waiting for the BBC to release the Sherlock Holmes television series Peter Cushing starred in after taking over the title role from Douglas Wilmer in 1968.

From what I have seen online, it has become my second favorite Sherlock Holmes series next to the one Jeremy Brett starred in for Granada Television. And for a lot of the same reasons as the Granada series such as the costumes and the actor playing the title role. I like Cushings sharp, energetic and occasionally rude take on Sherlock Holmes. Which is very much the way the character was written in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's story.

Although, he doesn't have that maniac spark that I really liked about Jeremy Brett's take on Holmes. At the same time that's the reason I liked Cushing's Holmes.

Much like Basil Rathbone, Douglas Wilmer, Robert Stephens and much later Jeremy Brett, I like seeing people's approach to the character. In the same way as Doctor Who or James Bond, each actor brings something different to the table. And much like both of those series's, it's inevitable you have your favorites. And Peter Cushing and Jeremy Brett are definitely mine.

What delights me even more is to find out that there WAS a proper adaptation to A STUDY IN SCARLET. Although, there are a few deviations from the original story, this one sticks pretty close to the original text. I thought the only adaptation was a 1930's starring a rather portly Reginald Owens as Sherlock Holmes, which had very little in common with the story except for sharing the same name.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Interview Press

My friend and former college roomie Aaron Krolikowski runs a great website called Interview Press. Aaron's the original triple threat being a cartoonist and having written and staged numerous plays with The Grand Deacons of Erin Delaney as well as front a concept group called Cho Young and the Davenports. Not to mention taking part in yearly themed costume parties. This year it was Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. Which Aaron was fittingly George "Rufus" Carlin.

If you like the delightfully chaotic and imaginative stream of conscious scribbly style of Sergio Aragonés, then you will enjoy the work of Aaron Krolikowski!! And while you're there, find out how you can get your hands on a copy of Aaron's collection of cartoons!!

New Addams Family illustration

Illustrated in Deleter #3 Black Drawing Ink with crow quill pen, brush and ink wash on Canson 9x12 Smooth Bristol Board.

A second attempt at my earlier Addams Family illustration. I kept the pose somewhat similar to my earlier one with a few changes here and there. But this time I decided to have the family standing in their quaint little mansion.

I also went easier on the initial ink wash this time around and gradually got darker with every wash.

Also for those Charles Addams enthusiasts out there, I added another Charles Addams piece that I really like in the background :-)

Another chance to win Sherlock Holmes!!

If you happened to get outbid in the last auction, click on the link below at another chance to win a copy of The Painful Predicament of Alice Faulkner and original artwork!!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Poster for Comic Con

I'm thinking about printing out a 16x20 promo for Alice Faulkner to hang up being me when I take part in Boston Comic Con this April! I noticed a great deal of artist attending Comic Con do this and I thought it might not be a bad idea. But this is what I came up with.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Holiday auctions

New books, artwork and holiday deals available to bid on!! The perfect gift for a family member, friend or perhaps yourself.

So, click on the link below to check out my E-Bay Auctions and get all your holiday shopping done in one place:

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Alice Faulkner on E-Bay!!

To celebrate the release of my new graphic novel Sherlock Holmes: The Painful Predicament of Alice Faulkner, I am having a special E-Bay Auction!! The winning bidder will not only receive their copy PERSONALLY SIGNED to them but they will also receive the ORIGINAL COVER ART from the book.

See artwork above.

Click on the banner below to start bidding today:

Saturday, December 5, 2009

stART at the Station is tomorrow!!

I heard the weather is suppose to be better than it was originally predicted. So, come on out to Worcester's Historic Union Station tomorrow December 6th from 12noon till 5pm and check out some really talented artists and crafters. And get some really great handmade gifts!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

OUT NOW!! Sherlock Holmes: The Painful Predicament of Alice Faulkner

My graphic novel Sherlock Holmes: The Painful Predicament of Alice Faulkner based on the 1899 play by William Gillette and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is OFFICIALLY available for purchase!!

With cover coloring and graytones once again masterfully done by Rori Shapiro and a really fantastic introduction written by Brenda and Effie/Doctor Who: Hornets Nest author Paul Magrs.

Click on the links below to order your copy today:


Holiday art with a classic twist

I wanted to create a small series of holiday art for this year's stART at the Station. But instead of the usual Currier and Ives inspired Winter scene or some illustration of Santa squeezing his way down some chimney, I would do illustrations based on classic literature.

Something that has a warm and fuzzy holiday feel to it yet something you can frame and hang over your child's bed all year round. I want to get a couple more done but here's what I've completed thus far:

New print!! The Blue Carbuncle

I try to do at least one new print for every art show. This year I created a color print of an earlier illustration I did based on Sidney Paget's illustration for the Sherlock Holmes story The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle.

Five signed copies the print will be available for purchase at this year's stART at the Station on Sunday December 6th. So, get them while they last!!