Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The game's afoot for the second print run of ALICE FAULKNER!!

Sherlock Holmes: The Painful Predicament of Alice Faulkner has officially gone into A SECOND PRINT RUN!! Click on the cover below to order your copy today!!

Darth Vader

I think Darth Vader is one of the coolest villains every created. The design of the costume alone was so cool that Hanna-Barbera pinched it for the Legion of Dooms headquarters underneath the swamp.

The HB artists can say what they like, but The Hall of Doom is obviously Darth Vader. I mean look at it. Lex Luthor and his cohorts are all living in Darth Vader's helmet.

The helmet alone is such a unique design. And when you thought it couldn't possibly be any cooler, then you look at Ralph McQuarrie's original design for the costume and the helmet and it really could have been cooler.

But with that said, the final product we first see in Episode Four (the first movie) as Vader comes striding through the carnage aboard the Rebel ship was not half bad either.

As a bad guy, Vader has everything going for him. He's over 6'5", he dresses all in black, he's completely ruthless, he's got that creepy breathing going on while he speaks, he can kill people with his mind (yes, yes, yes! The Dark Side of the Force! I know!)and he's got James Earl Jones doing the voice.

And then George Lucas takes the coolest villain ever created and turns him into a complete sniveling wuss:

Here's my opinion. He could have still done that scene and made it work a lot better by having all that happen before Anakin puts on the Darth Vader armor. Had him lying on the operating table saying in a weak voice, "Where's Padme? Is she safe?" and then have the Emperor whisper to him "I'm afraid in your anger you killed her." Then have his little Darth hissy-fit.

This would show despite looking like a pound of bacon that was left out in the sun for a week or two and being in a weakened condition because of his injuries, the Dark Side of the Force is so strong in him he's still able to destroy things.

Then they could go through the whole putting the armor on him and first speaking in the James Earl Jones voice.

What the filmmakers would accomplish then is showing the divide between the emotionally driven and somewhat idealistic Anakin Skywalker and the completely remorseless Darth Vader who is now lost to the Dark Side of the Force.

And having read the series Heir to the Empire written by Timothy Zahn, I was somewhat disappointed with the way they handled the Clone Wars. Not entirely disappointed, mind you. But I thought Zahn's idea of having the Jedi's fight clone versions of themselves was actually kind of an interesting concept.

I think they could have woven that into the storyline along with the Clone Army. It could have been one of these things at the height of the Clone Wars, to try and besmirch the Jedi's reputation, the Sith and their Seperatist allies create clones of the Jedi's which the Jedi's have to try and defeat.

But that's the problem when you don't have enough outside input from other people being put into your scripts. You tend to become the master of your own little world and sometimes having a few outside opinions might help you to write a better script.

However, there's the downside of too many cooks adding to the soup as well. Either extreme can be bad.

There are enough great writers like Timothy Zahn out there who could have made the prequels so much more interesting. I was somewhat disappointed Lucas didn't utilize them. And that was the reason a movie like Empire Strikes Back is so remembered as a great film. Because Lucas did put his trust in an outside writer. And the result was probably the best movie in the series.

I did like Return of the Jedi. Despite the fact that the Empire was defeated by the Care Bears.

And when I talk about liking the original series, I mean the original versions of the movies. And not the CGI enhanced version that George Lucas has been inflicting upon the public since the mid 1990's.

But with all that said, I would never let one NOOOOO! ruin my thoughts on Darth Vader being one of the coolest villains ever created. Despite what he has done recently, George Lucas has created both a memorable series and a memorable character. And that's the reason Star Wars remains so popular.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Where Have You Gone by RORI

A music video I did for fun and for a surprise for my best friend Rori using the video and pictures I took of her at her gig at the Webster Underground last night as well as some pictures from past shows.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Rori at the Webster Underground TOMORROW!!

If you haven't purchased your tickets yet, you can do so at: https://tickets.aftonshows.com/RORI

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Summer Classes at WAM are available for enrollement

The classes I'm going to be teaching for the Summer session at the Worcester Art Museum are now up and running online.

And I am very pleased to announce I will be teaching my very first Cut-Out Animation Class at WAM during the Summer Session. I had done Cut-Out Animation at WAM when I was a wee lad and after having a great time teaching a drawn animation class a few months ago I was really looking forward to teaching Cut-Out Animation.

So if you have a 14 to 17 year old that enjoys South Park and the animated bits on Monty Python's Flying Circus, sign them up for my class today!!

Yes, I'm aware that South Park uses a computer program now and they don't work in cut-out anymore. But that's the technique they started out with.

If you go to the left hand side of my blog and scroll down, you'll find my updated list of WAM classes. Click on the link to sign up today!!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Monsieur Verdoux

I finally got a chance to see Charlie Chaplin's (at this point in his career going by the name Charles Chaplin)film Monsieur Verdoux. I had been apprehensive about watching many of his later films after The Great Dictator. I suppose it's that thing where a lot of the comedians from the 20's and 30's later work doesn't stand up as well as their earlier work.

Not Chaplin. I think some of it had to do with the fact he wasn't trying to play the character of the Tramp past 60 years old. He was doing different things. But the thing that made his movies unique was even after he relented to talking pictures (although he really didn't make his first full talking picture until 1940) there was still that element of the silent era that remained in his work.

And watching his later films, they weren't that complex. The stories, the names of the characters and everything were very simplistic. And I think that's what made it brilliant.

And for someone who seemed very reluctant to enter the age of sound, he wrote some really fantastic dialogue. And unlike many of his contemporaries from the silent era, had a voice that translated well to the sound era.

I don't know if Monsieur Verdoux is the best picture he ever made. But it is his most interesting.

First off the movie was based on an idea by Orson Welles. And for another Chaplin plays a rather nasty character in it. But not without adding a certain amount of sympathy to the role which he added to the Tramp. Despite the fact Verdoux is a murderer, you like him.

I think that's mostly due to the image Chaplin had created for himself with his films. You cannot hate Charlie Chaplin. Even if he's killing people in cold blood. You cannot hate him. And he adds an extra fold to the plot which allows you to have a little bit of sympathy for why he's doing what he does.

Well, just a little bit.

I suppose in this age of realism, some people might not enjoy the fake feeling of the movie. One of which being even though it's set in France, no one speaks in at least a faux French accent.

But if you can suspend your disbelief and get past that, and just enjoy the dark comedy for some really great dialogue and some really funny moments you will not be disappointed.

And Verdoux has such a great last line in the film that is so simplistic and yet it still packs a punch.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Strychnine & Spaghetti Strand Slipknots Video Promo

A video promo I did for my upcoming book tour in May and June. The music in the background is The Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Saëns.

Any info or additional shows to the tour will be posted here. So stay tuned...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Strychnine & Spaghetti Strand Slipknots Promo Card

I just finished up a promo card for my upcoming book tour of Worcester and Western Mass which I have titled Strychnine & Spaghetti Strand Slipknots. Which is also going to be the title of the show I'm doing at Dark World's Gallery on Grafton Street in Worcester.

Please feel free to repost this promo card on your blog or website. Or print it out and pass it along to your friends. Many thanks!!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Upcoming Art Shows for May and the beginning of June

First and foremost, if you have not had the chance to check out MEANWHILE . . . A Group Show of Worcester Comic Creators at the Davis Art Gallery, 44 Portland St., 3rd floor of The Printers Building in Worcester please do before the show ends!! It's a really great collection of some of the best comic creators in Worcester!! Check it out!! You will not be disappointed!!

The month of May kicks off with Free Comic Book Day taking place May 1st 2010 at That's Entertainment. 244 Park Ave. Worcester, MA from 12noon till 5 or 6pm. Whenever they decide to throw me out. I will be selling signed copies of my books and prints as well as offering free sketches as part of the spirit of the day!!

Up next is stART on the Street SPRING EDITION Sunday May 16, 2010 11am - 5pm on North Main Street in Worcester, MA. Over 100 local artists and crafters selling their handmade wares, performers, area restaurants, youth activities and more assembled on North Main Street in Worcester, MA.

I will be selling and signing copies of my books as well as signed prints and original artwork.

May wraps up with Kitschy Crafty Craft Fair & Flea Market at 460 Race St Holyoke from 11am-5pm on May 29th. This is not your grandma's craft fair. This event is sure to have many great local vendors most of which make punk rock, horror and rockabilly inspired treasures. But it doesn't stop there! These local vendors will be showing off all of their creative prowess, so come and support your community!

Just like all the art shows and craft fairs I have done, signed copies of my books and prints will be available for purchase as well as original artwork. So come on out to Holyoke for the day and check out this brand new show. After the show, take a trip out to Northampton ;-)

Just because the month of May is over doesn't mean the good times are over as well. Dark World Gallery will be presenting a show featuring illustrations and comic art I have done over the past 10 years at their gallery on 179 Grafton Street in Worcester. Copies of my books will also be available for purchase and signed on the spot by the author the day of the show. The show will be taking place in June and on display for the month. I will post more information when I get it.

Hopefully there will be more events to add to the list as March and April progress. But I will keep you all poster!!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

New Rock Poster

A second rock poster I did for my friend Rori's upcoming show at the Webster Underground. This time I wanted to do something a bit more Pop Art. Sort of like those psychedelic images of the Beatles.

The show is March 27th at the Webster Underground. You can purchase tickets online for $10 at https://tickets.aftonshows.com/cgi-bin/tickets.pl?state=CT. Be sure to state which act you are there to see RORI when you purchase the tix. Hope to see you there!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Take Three

A third try at my promo for Rori. I added some extra scenes.

Wood Island Lighthouse

A commissioned piece I just completed this morning of the Wood Island Lighthouse in Maine. 10x13 illustrated in Deleter #4 Black Drawing Ink with Crow Quill Pen on Strathmore Smooth Bristol Board.

A Tale of Two Batmen

Well, I've read that DC is already got plans underway to bring Bruce Wayne back as Batman. Which I think we all had a sneaking suspicion that they were going to do right at the beginning of the Batman R.I.P. story arc.

But I'll have to be honest. I've enjoyed the Dick Grayson Batman. I've liked the fact that his Batman hasn't been as dark as the Bruce Wayne one without it being over-the-top lighthearted like the two Joel Schumacher debacles.

This version of Batman has been more like the Carmine Infantino/Neal Adams Dark Knight Detective. There's a healthy balance of darkness with a little bit of lightheartedness. But not lightweight.

But I imagine that with Bruce Wayne reclaiming the tights, Dick Grayson will most likely return to being Nightwing and Tim Drake will probably remain Red Robin with Damian Wayne staying Robin.

Personally, I think DC should take a page out of the current Flash series and keep Dick Grayson as Batman even when Bruce Wayne returns. And have Bruce Wayne and Tim Drake as Batman and Robin and Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne as Batman and Robin.

I think it would work and Grant Morrison has gotten me to like the whole dynamics of the Dick Grayson/Damian Wayne team.

I admit I haven't followed the series as closely since Frank Quitely stopped doing the interior art. But I just picked up a couple issues with new artist Cameron Stewart and I think his artwork works well with Grant Morrison's writing.

But something tells me that when Bruce Wayne reclaims The Mantle of the Bat (I know. Groan!) then they'll probably revert Dick Grayson back to Nightwing and so forth.

Still, the concept of two Batmen intrigues me. I mean, they have three Flash's and about fifty million Green Lanterns. So, why not two Batmen.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Monday, March 8, 2010

Rori Video Promo for the Webster Underground

A video promo I did for Rori's upcoming show at the Webster Underground. I may go back and tweak it a little bit. I'm still learning my way around Flash Animator.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Rori Shapiro at the Webster Underground

My talented friend Rori Shapiro is going to be playing live at the Webster Underground in Hartford Connecticut on March 27th and I highly recommend you go and check her out!! She is an amazingly talented singer, songwriter and musician!! Best rock show you will go to all year!!

Dracula Blog

Each of the adaptations of Dracula I showed the class have some really good bits that make the movie very good. As for my favorite? I think it was the Jess Franco Dracula with Christopher Lee. The movie itself isn't entirely perfect. It's very slow and has very low production values. That and the women playing the parts of Mina and Lucy DID NOT look convincing that they lived in the 1890's.

But there are scenes in the film that are really well done. The fireplace scene between Dracula and Harker is my favorite. And probably Christopher Lee's best performance as Count Dracula. It was probably his most restrained performance as the Count too. His speech about his family lineage to Harker is just great leading up to the great "Children of the night" line which has this really nice slow close up on his fang. It's done in a way that's very subtle.

With Nosferatu (1922) I think the entire movie is great. Sure some of the effects may seem a bit silly now. But they made due with the technology they had at the time.

My favorite scene was probably the one I showed the class which had Count Orlok (Dracula) reading the deeds to the Abbey which he is about to purchase in England. The scene which he looks over at Hutter (Harker) from the top of the paperwork is brilliant. You get this sense of how decayed and creepy he looks. That and I love the eyebrows. What could look very silly becomes very haunting.

Dracula 1931 definitely Renfield meeting Count Dracula for the first time. Just the panoramic shot of the castle is really nicely done as well as all the strange visuals like the armadillo's. Some very nice close-ups on Béla Lugosi too. Which, as I mentioned yesterday, my student Ariel approved of ;-)

Nosferatu 1979 the scene I like the best actually DOES NOT have Dracula in it. It's the scene where the plague has ravaged the town and everyone is dancing about resigned to their fate. I think a mix of the haunting music and the absurdity of the scene gives it the appearance of a Hieronymus Bosch painting. Possibly the best scene in the whole movie.

Last but not least The Horror of Dracula. I like this movie because it's a different take on Dracula. Making it an action film without ruining the feel of Bram Stoker's original tale. I showed this film in the class for my students who enjoy Tim Burton's take on movies. The final confrontation between Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee is great!! Actually, I would have loved it if Cushing played Dr. Who more like Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Van Helsing.

But that's for another blog...

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Last day of class with the Count

Today was my last day of class for the Winter Session at the Art Museum. I'm glad to see Winter go but I was very sorry to see this session come to an end. The class had been great!! Probably my best yet.

For a last day project I was able to secure both the conference room and the DVD player and show the students five different Dracula films. The idea was they would watch five different versions of the scene in which Dracula is reading the deeds to the Abby which he purchased in England while Harker (or Renfield in the 1931 version) is eating dinner. Three of which had Harker (or Renfield) cutting his finger somehow.

I chose the 1922 Nosferatu, the 1931 Tod Browning version, the 1970's Jess Franco version, the 1979 remake of Nosferatu and the Hammer film The Horror Of Dracula.

I decided to show the Hammer version last because the others followed Dracula a lot closer whereas the Hammer did it's own twist on the story. I told them it was very much the same way Tim Burton does his own spin on certain stories.

The best part of the lesson was when I showed the '31 version with Béla Lugosi. The moment Béla enters the scene my student Ariel suddenly blurts out "Oh! He's handsome!"

I couldn't help but laugh because I thought it was the most amusing thing I've heard one of my students say in a while. What made it so great is because it was just so genuine.

That and I just wanted to blurt out "HAH! IN YOUR FACE ROBERT PATTINSON!! Béla's STILL the king of the undead!!" Ha ha!!

It just made for a really great last day of Winter classes. I just wish the session went longer.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Third prize!!

My illustration Kiss the Green Fairy just won third prize in Pernod Absinthe's Creator Of Art Contest!!