Sunday, January 29, 2012

My problems with the film adaptation of From Hell (2001)

The things that the film version of From Hell had going for it was a top-notch cast with the likes of Johnny Depp, Robbie Coltrane, Ian Richarson and Ian Holm who gives a truly terrifying performance as Dr. William Gull who is revealed as Jack the Ripper...

...sorry to spoil the ending.

The film is also atmospheric with both the streets and the prostitutes looking equally as dirty.

Johnny Depp is very good in the film and given his performance in this film and Sleepy Hollow probably 10 years ago he could have starred in a big budget Sherlock Holmes.

Unfortunately, I think moviegoers have readed a bit of a Johnny Depp satuation point given the number of big budget films he has appeared in since the days of From Hell. And this isn't a slam on Depp. I confess I'd probably be the same way as far as work is concerned.

So, at this point in time Johnny Depp name attatched to a blockbuster isn't as much of a draw as Robert Downey Jr. is.

But enough of that. Back to hell.

Apart from Heather Graham, this film seems to have everything going for it as far as being a really great film.

But I find myself on the side of creator Alan Moore as far as my criticisms towards this film.

Although, I do like the fact the film keeps the connection with the Freemasons being involved in Ripper murders, I do not like the changes they made to make the case more sensational.

The biggest thing about the movie that bothers me the most is making Inspector Abberline the psychic in the film. This is not historically accurate. There was an alleged psychic involved in the form of Robert Lees who assisted Abberline on the case.

Abberline isn't the opium addict who dies of an overdoes in his late 30's either. Actually Abberline was happily married and lives to a ripe old age of 86. I suppose this might have been the filmmakers attempt to make Abberline more a Sherlock Holmes type character and give him a vise somewhat similar to cocaine.

Although Moore's original novel might be seen as slow and plodding to some. It makes a better attempt at sticking to the facts rather than trying to make it a sensational and exciting whodunnit. I think the intrigue of the case speaks for itself and doesn't need the extra gloss.

What could have been a really great film becomes a very mediocre effort. I can see why Alan Moore doesn't want his name to be attached to any of these Hollywood efforts. They just do not do his best work justice.

One of these days I hope to see a Jack the Ripper film that sticks to the facts and doesn't try to sensationalize it.

Great Watson actors you may not know about

Sherlock Holmes's friend and colleague Dr. John H. Watson has gotten a bad deal over the years. A big part of that due to Nigel Bruce playing the character as an imbecile in the Basil Rathbone films.

This was around a time when most Hollywood films needed a comic relief. Since Holmes was the hero of the films. It fell on poor old Watson to become the blithering comic relief in the film. Which sadly followed the character for many years and many adaptations.

Sherlock Holmes does not seem the type to suffer fools gladly, so I doubt that he would put up with a bungling moron on his most imporant cases.

However, don't believe every adaptation Watson was an idiot. There are quite a few films in the years between the Basil Rathbone and Jeremy Brett series (and even one after the Brett series) that either succeed or nearly succeed in displaying our good doctor as the capable man and Holmes's right hand that we read in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's books. Three of them I have alread mentioned in my previous blog posts. However, I think they are worth mentioning again. Here is my list of some really good Watson's that have appeared in film, television and radio:

Ralph Richardson on radio alongside Sir John Gielgud (1954-1955)

André Morell in The Hound of the Baskervilles(1959)

Nigel Stock in a BBC series Sherlock Holmes (1964-1968 first alongside Douglas Wilmer and later Peter Cushing as Holmes)

Colin Blakely The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970)

Robert Duvall in The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976)

James Mason in Murder By Decree (1979)

Vitaly Solomin from a Russian Sherlock Holmes series starring Vasily Livanov (1979)

Sir John Mills alongside Peter Cushing in The Masks of Death (1984)

Patrick Macnee alongside Christopher Lee as Holmes in Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady (1991) and Sherlock Holmes and the Incident at Victoria Falls (1992)

Michael Williams in a Sherlock Holmes BBC Radio Series alongside Clive Merrison as Holmes (1989-1998)

Ian Hart in The Hound of the Baskervilles alongside Richard Roxburgh as Holmes(2002) and Sherlock Holmes and the Cast of the Silk Stocking alongside Rupert Everett as Holmes (2004)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Murder By Decree (1979)

Most people (myself included in the past) think between the times of Basil Rathbone and Jeremy Brett there were no really strong Sherlock Holmes movies or television outings. And that most of the films between those times lazily follow the formula created in the Rathbone/Bruce outings of the stiff and pragmatic Holmes with Meerschaum Pipe clenched firmly between his teeth and the inept and bumbling old duffer Watson who can't get out of his own way to save his life.

However, this is not entirely true. Yes, some of the films of that time did fall into some of those trappings. But that doesn't mean they are bad films. Some of them are quite good.

Which brings me to 1979's Murder By Decree. Which I must confess I do not enjoy as much as the previous Holmes vs. the Ripper offering A Study in Terror. But it is still a great film all the same.

And far more historically accurate with it's facts about the Jack the Ripper case than the previous film.

This time Sherlock Holmes comes in the form of Christopher Plummer. This is not his first outing having previously starred in a one off television movie based on the story The Silver Blaze.

Much like Robert Stephen's take on Holmes, Christopher Plummer gives us an entirely different approach to the character that was established by Basil Rathbone. We see a more emotional Holmes than we have seen in past films. There is more empathy and humanity than we've seen in the character. And it works really well in the context of this film given the gruesome nature of the historical case.

This film is also bloodier and the violence a bit more gristly than the previous Holmes/Ripper offering. Which, given the previous film had been produced in 1965, there was a great deal of things that they simply could not get away with at that time.

But given how violent films have gotten since 1979, the scenes in this film are actually tame by today's standards. I find many of the scenes a lot easier to get through compared to the film adaptation of From Hell.

The ironic thing about that is the fact even though Murder By Decree is using a character from classic literature at the center, it's still actually more historically accurate than the film version of From Hell.

There was a supposed psychic in the case, but it was a man by the name of Robert Lees and not Inspector Abberline as suggested in From Hell.

Although, I did find it slightly disappointing that both version of the Holmes/Ripper movies did omit Inspector Abberline from the narrative. I think it would have been interesting to have both men working side by side. Or at least acknowledging one another in passing.

This brings me to the cast of this movie.

Alongside Christopher Plummer's Holmes is veteren actor James Mason as the ever-faithful Doctor John Watson. Despite being a touch too old for the role, I really enjoyed James Mason's take on Watson.

Again, most people erroniously think that every Watson actor who has played him between Nigel Bruce and David Burke (from the Jeremy Brett series) all play him as the stumbling old fuddy duddy who just gets underfoot when Holmes is trying to solve a case.

I can think of several exceptions to that rule. James Mason is one of those. He plays Watson as a very level-headed man of medicine who is invaluable when Holmes for both his medical knowledge and scientific training.

My next blog post might be on some of the great film and television Watson.

We also have two actors from the previous Holmes/Ripper movie in this film. One of which is Frank Finlay once again marvelously playing the "rat-faced" Inspector Lestrade. I still believe him to be the very best on-screen Lestrade to date. The other is Anthony Quayle who had a role in the previous Ripper movie and returns in this one. This time as Sir Charles Warren.

The cast is rounded off by Donald Sutherland as the alleged psychic Robert Lees and theatre great Sir John Gielgud as the Prime Minister.

It should be mentioned this is not Sir John's first brush with Sherlock Holmes having played the part for radio alongside Ralph Richardson as Watson. The series is worth a listen. Especially for the fact the radio adaptation for The Final Problem stars Orson Welles as Professor Moriarty.

The result is an exceptional film. Not to mention a fairly historically accurate account of the Jack the Ripper murders. As much as I would love to tell you who they deem Springheeled Jack as, I think it would be best if you saw it for yourself.

Much like many of the Sherlock Holmes films I have mentioned, this one deserves more of an audience. I highly recommend you become part of that audience.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Study in Terror (1965)

Keeping with my series of blogs highlighting Sherlock Holmes movies you may not have seen I highly recommend checking out the 1965 film A Study in Terror.

It's definitely a film of it's time period. Produced at the height of both the Batman television series and the James Bond film, this version of Sherlock Holmes is heavily influenced by both.

Heck!! Even the poster for the movie states "Here comes the original caped crusader".

Based loosely on the same novel by Ellery Queen, we see Sherlock Holmes face off against a factual murderer in the form of Jack the Ripper. This is the first time I can recall anyone doing a film which would have Holmes solving the Ripper murders. I won't be the last either with the film featuring Holmes facing off against Jack the Ripper.

The next film is 1979's Murder By Decree starring Christopher Plummer as Holmes.

Although, this earlier take on the Ripper murders is less factual than the later film. It's not less enjoyable by any means.

Despite it falling into many of the Sherlock Holmes stereotypes created by the Basil Rathbone films, I found it to be a highly entertaining and enjoyable film.

The late John Neville does a very good job as Sherlock Holmes in this film. And although Donald Houston leans more towards the bumbling Nigel Bruce Watson of the Rathbone films with a touch of Oliver Hardy bashfulness. I do find him much more likable and agreeable than the harrumphing old duffer Bruce created.

Both Neville and Houston add a touch of youth to the roles that had not been seen in the previous attempts at Holmes.

The other two things I really enjoyed about the film was Robert Morley's portrayal as Mycroft Holmes and Frank Finlay as Inspector Lestrade. Both actors look exactly the way the characters are described in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original tales.

Finlay would in fact appear as Lestrade once more in the later Holmes/Ripper movie. To my mind, he is still the best actor to appear as the "ferret-faced" Scotland Yard inspector.

A bit of trivia I love to throw out, both the late Robert Morley and Stephen Fry share a distinction as actors who have both played Oscar Wilde and Mycroft Holmes.

And as I had mentioned, the movie doesn't completely stick to the facts of the case in the way the later Christopher Plummer Holmes film or even Alan Moore's epic Jack the Ripper graphic novel From Hell does.

However, this does not make the film all the less enjoyable for me. Even the Batman/Bond flavored action is not that bad.

Not to mention you get to see a very young Dame Judi Dench in only her third feature film.

Although, it seems someone is selling DVD-R copy of it on Amazon.com, sadly it looks as though this film has not had a proper release on DVD just yet. And it really should.

Add this one to your queue of Sherlock Holmes films you need to check out.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976)

The Seven-Per-Cent Solution was another Sherlock Holmes film when I first saw it I wasn't readily prepared to like. Much like my previous blog about The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, there were certain elements of the casting and direction of the story that I didn't entirely agree with.

The whole idea of an emotionally and mentally weak Holmes due to drug addiction didn't entirely appeal to me. The whole idea that Professor Moriarty was all a fabrication of Holmes's sick mind. And casting Robert Duvall as Dr. Watson just struck me as odd. Even the DVD case mentioned it as "oddball casting".

Even Nicol Williamson didn't fit the classic look of Sherlock Holmes that I prefer with actors like Jeremy Brett and Basil Rathbone.

For me, drawing a harsh opinion about a film without watching it doesn't seem fair. So I decided to sit down and watch it. If I'm going to hate a film I should at least watch it first.

Much like my previous experience with Private Life, I found myself enjoying the film. Once I got into it that is. The pre-movie credits ran a bit longer than I would want. And Robert Duval's British accent during the narration made me squirm slightly.

I should mention I like both Nicol Williamson and Robert Duvall.

However, once I start getting into the film, I actually start enjoying this whole concept of Sherlock Holmes as a flawed hero. Again, not the way I would portray Holmes. But the story itself is very good.

I admit I have not read Nicholas Meyers book. It's on the "to do list".

The whole idea of Watson having Sherlock Holmes consulting Sigmund Freud (portrayed by Alan Arkin) to break him of his addiction to cocaine makes up a great deal of the plot. Him coming to terms with the past as well as his hatred for Professor Moriarty. Who is played surprisingly different by Sir Laurence Olivier. But looking very much the way Sidney Paget drew the character.


Despite my initial misgivings, I found both Williamson portrayal of Holmes and Duvall's Watson to be very enjoyable. My early bristling over his accent slowly go away the further into the movie I get. This is definitely a Watson you should be afraid will knock your teeth down your throat.

I also think this is the first Sherlock Holmes film that introduces Watson's wife Mary who first made her appearance in the story The Sign of Four.

I often wonder if many readers or fans of Holmes realize Watson is a married man.

The movie also involves Holmes in a kidnapping case with international implications centered around Lola Devereaux portrayed by Vanessa Redgrave.

The film also features two actors who go on to appear in the Jeremy Brett series. One in a larger way in the form of Charles Gray who appears as Mycroft Holmes in this film and then later on reprises the role in the Jeremy Brett series. The other in a smaller way with Jeremy Kemp as Baron von Leinsdorf who later appears as Dr Grimesby Roylott in the episode The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist.

I didn't enjoy the film as much as The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. However, much like that movie I found myself enjoying it by the end and found myself won over by the lead actors performances.

If you haven't seen this movie, I highly recommend you rent it and give it a chance. Even the ending's take on Sherlock Holmes's four year absence after the Final Problem is enjoyable.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

I hate January!!

I could have probably used one of these things on my drive back home from the Art Museum on 290.

I love New England. I love the Springs and Summers. I love apple picking and apple pies. You just don't get the type of foliage you do up here.

But I hate the Winters.

There's not much to look forward to in January. Come to think of it, there's not much to look forward to in February. But at least with February you have that false feeling of a "Light at the end of the tunnel" before it sucker-punches you and dumps another foot of snow on the ground between then and April.

But January is the worst. The buzz of the holidays and New Years are over and now you've entered into the icy heart of Winter. There's no real fun Halloweens, Thanksgivings or Oktoberfest type celebrations to look forward to until the First Day of Spring.

In other words, hibernate! Stay indoors. Read a lot of books. Catch up on movies you've been meaning to watch. Learn to cook a new dish and drink a lot of dark beers. Or if you don't drink beer either red wine or rum and ginger beer are excellent substitutes.

And hope that the wretched groundhog doesn't see his shadow so we don't get another ton of snow dumped on us.

And if he does: COOK THE GROUNDHOG!!

That's probably the best way to get through January. Otherwise you might go mad and start writing blogs about it. Heh heh!!

Friday, January 20, 2012

A little lovin' for Astro Sasquatch in the T&G


I was very pleased to see my good friend and evil genius Sean Fennel's creation Astro Sasquatch being mentioned in today's T&G Pop Culture Notebook. I was also flattered that my blog might have had something to do with it being mentioned.

However, Sean's video is great on it's own merits.

Click on the link below to check out the article: T&G Pop Culture Notebook

And be sure to visit Sean's Youtube page to check out more of his videos. Including the previous episode of Astro Sasquatch as well as him playing live with his band Sky Blue Mind: Sean's Youtube Page

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Elementary! (Or CBS capitalizing on the success of Sherlock)

The picture above is not from the series. It's from a movie called The Zero Effect which was a modern take on the Sherlock Holmes story A Scandal in Bohemia.

But it looks as though CBS wants in on the success that the BBC has been having with the series Sherlock by creating their own modern-day retelling with a series titled...

...wait for it...

...Elementary.

Although this is not really the first attempt at an American version of Sherlock Holmes. Along with the movie The Zero Effect mentioned above, both the series's Monk and House both take aspects of the character and the stories of Sherlock Holmes.

I mean House even lives on 221B Baker Street for heathen snakes!!

And to ensure the series is a dismal failure, it will take Sherlock Holmes and have him solving crimes in modern-day New York City.

However, if they end up enlisting someone like David Tennant, Eddie Izzard or Christopher Eccleston in the role I might change my opinion of the production.

I had heard a rumor from someone that Robert Downey Jr. might star in the series but I think that is total bullshit. Especially after the rigorous schedule of filming the series Ally McBeal nearly killed him.

Besides, given how much he probably made between Sherlock Holmes and Iron Man I don't think he'll have much interest in breaking his back making a weekly television series.

I really can't think of another American actor off-hand who could really pull off the eccentric qualities of Holmes. At least not in the way that Benedict Cumberbatch has made the part his own on television.

But I fear we're probably going to end up with someone like Ashton Kutcher or Charlie Sheen as Sherlock Holmes.

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970)

I'm being completely honest when I say this was a film I really didn't want to like when I watched it for the first time nearly nine or ten years ago. One of the biggest things that bugged me was the fact they cast Christopher Lee as Mycroft.

Not a jab at the great Christopher Lee. As a matter of fact he was really good as Sherlock Holmes in the three productions he appeared in.

But it's one of my pet peeves with many Sherlock Holmes productions is when they cast an actor who is physically similar to Sherlock as Mycroft because the character is supposed to be the polar opposite to Sherlock physically.

My other pet peeve is when they use "Forget everything you know about Sherlock Holmes" because you know it's going to be a stinker.

I think my other worry when I prepared myself to view it is they were going to try and give Holmes some sort of sexual relationship or have him fall in love.

As a purist I feel Holmes is just disinterested in the opposite sex. Any sort of relationship, male or female, would interfere with him being the best at what he does.

In short, he has no time for love.

I was really ready to hate The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes when I originally bought my VHS copy and popped it into the machine. And just the opposite happened. I absolutely fell in love with the film and it is now possibly my favorite Holmes film.

Although Robert Stephens didn't look the part of the traditional Sherlock Holmes, he won me over in his performance.

A bit of a confession bu some of his mannerisms I borrowed when I was adapting William Gillette's play into a graphic novel. Most notably the peculiar way he held his hands not so much on his hips but on his ribcage.

Colin Blakely's performance as Dr. Watson may not be completely the capable man Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote in the novels and short stories. But he isn't the bumbling old duffer the poor old Doc has been maligned with over the years.

In this film, Watson is more of a ladies man and he also makes his objection towards Holmes's addictions to a seven-per-cent solution of cocaine very clear.

Although this is not the first time "the needle" is mentioned in a Holmes film. That distinction goes to the final scene in Basil Rathbone's film The Hound of the Baskervilles. However, I think this may be both the first time both Holmes's recreational use of the drug as well as the name of the drug itself, is made perfectly clear.

I might be wrong. But apart from this film I think Rathbone's Hound is the only other film before this.

I was even won over by Christopher Lee's performance. Despite not having the physical presence of actors like Robert Morley, Charles Grey or most recently Stephen Fry did as Mycroft, I thoroughly enjoyed his interpretation of the character. He and Robert Stephen's spar off each other really well in their scenes together.

It should be mentioned that The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes was not the happiest of memories for the late Robert Stephens. Apparently between the rigorous production and Billy Wilder's insistence that Stephens needs to lose weight to look "thin as a razor" that Stephens himself actually tried to persuade his good friend Jeremy Brett out of accepting the part when he was set to play Holmes himself in the long-running Granada series stating that: "It will ruin your life".

I've enjoyed the film even more since I purchased it on DVD several years back. Having seen it in letterbox format there is so much I have missed in scenes that were cut out because many VHS copies format movies to fit your screen.

And you really do miss out on so much the director originally intended on.

Another shame is the fact that there are a few deleted scenes that were intended for the film. One that still exists on film (although the audio seems to be missing) is the Affair of the Naked Passengers" which Holmes leaves it up to Watson to deduce how a honeymooning couple was murdered on a ocean liner they are returning from Constantinople on.

With disastrous results.

It's too bad these scenes were cut because it would have added to the Four Movement Symphony of adventures Watson felt were too outrageous to publish Billy Wilder intended.

The movie we end up with is two stories from Watson's unpublished archives. The first being Holmes is approached by a famous Russian ballerina, Madame Petrova who wishes to have a child with her. Holmes manages to extricate himself by claiming that Watson is his lover, much to the doctor's embarrassment.

The second and main story Gabrielle Valadon (Geneviève Page) is fished out of the River Thames and brought to Baker Street. She begs Holmes to find her missing engineer husband.

I showed the movie to my wife Syd for the first time last night and she pretty much deduced the storyline with Gabrielle Valadon and the German spies disguised as Trappist Monks and the Loch Ness Monster not even half-way through the movie.

I don't think this should discourage you from watching the movie. There are enough good scenes and genuinely funny lines to make up for any shortcomings.

I highly recommend you check out this film just as long as you do not take it too seriously and just enjoy it. You might find, like myself, you may even like it.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Animation and Influences

When it comes to classic animation most people are either a Disney or Loony Tunes fan. You either love Disney's animation for the high production values on their beautifully animated epics or you prefer the screwball comedy and the individuality Warner Brothers allowed the directors to have when directing the various Loony Tunes cartoons.

Mind you, I'm not putting down the artists at Disney who produced such great artists as Carl Barks and Walt Kelly. Both of which I would gladly polish their shoes.

But as far as my personal tastes go, I've always been a Loony Tunes fan and as for cartoons produced by Warner Brothers I've always enjoyed the ones created by Chuck Jones and Robert McKimson the most.

But it goes further than that. What made those cartoons so great for me was not only the directors but also Carl Stalling who had a knack of producing memorable scores and a talent for fitting music popular at that time. Writers like Michael Maltese who wrote the scripts. And finally the vocal talents of both Mel Blanc, June Foray and Arthur Q Bryan.

I don't know if most people realize that he and not Blanc did the voice of Elmer Fudd.

Influence is something I try to stress when I am teaching my animation class. Because I know quite a few of the students taking the class have been influenced by a cartoon. Either classic or current.

One of the thing I try to do while explaining the whole concept of influences is how it pertains to animation. I usually start with a current cartoon:

C. H. Greenblatt who created the series Chowder worked on the show SpongeBob SquarePants. The look and feel of SpongeBob has a great deal to owe (in my less than humble opinion) to the series Ren and Stimpy. John Kricfalusi, who created Ren and Stimpy, was very influenced by the look and the feel of the television cartoons of the 1950's and 1960's. He is also very influenced by animator Robert "Bob" Clampett. Both the cartoons he produced in the 1950's and 1960's and the work he did for Warner Brothers in the 1940's.

Bob Clampett's use of "stretch and squash" as well as overly exaggerating the emotions of the characters (i.e. jaw dropping and eyes bugging out) is owed to Tex Avery's cartoons.

So while I try not to discourage the students from drawing SpongeBob, I try to encourage them to find ways to use what has influenced them in the style of SpongeBob's cartoons and how they can use that in their own cartoons.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Womag's End of the Year Comic Issue 2011

I got the opportunity to take part in Womag's second annual End of the Year Comic Issue. The brainchild of editor Doreen Manning and organized brilliantly by Andy Fish.

I immediately took the Chicken Ordnance story. The idea of a bunch of chickens posed in a Occupy Worcester type of moment amused me.

Click on the link below to check out my comic as well as all the other great artists involved in the issue:

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

No more Muncheez?

I was driving through Tatnuck on my way back from Eagle Hill School yesterday and I come to find that Mucheez Pizzeria was no longer there. I'm not sure if they had moved or went out of business but I was very disappointed to see that they gone.

Syd and I enjoyed both our visits as well as the Mac N Cheese Pizza. Sure, I nearly killed myself eating the Donut Burger one night. But for the most part we always had a great time when we went. And as far as I knew, I never got neither food poisoning nor ended up with parasites from eating there.

I'm always sorry when a local business goes under. Especially when I feel they have an opportunity to be something really good. The thing that probably went against them most was size and location. There wasn't a lot of room if you wanted to sit down. And the sidewalk wasn't very good for outdoor seating either.

Well, to the moron who started a page THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST MUNCHEEZ FUCKING PIZZA you finally got your wish. I hope your happy while you repeat your senior year. You don't make yourself look intellectual by cursing profusely.

However, I think you look like a complete jackass for wishing ill on a local business.

I'll miss Muncheez if it is indeed gone.

Laurie R. King's Holmes and Russell Series

I really cannot say enough about both Laurie R. King's Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell Series as well as the author herself. The series is a really interesting take on the character of Sherlock Holmes in which he acquires a new partner in the form of a young woman named Mary Russell.

Who later in the series becomes the wife of Sherlock Holmes.

The series itself started way back in 1994 with The Beekeepers Apprentice and continues to just last year with the 11th book in the series The Pirate King.

Much in the same tradition as Conan Doyle's tales, the exploits of Sherlock Holmes in this series are all told from Mary Russell's point of view.

I've gotten a chance to corrospond with Laurie R. King over the years viz letters and the internet and she is an absolute class act. Our conversations have always been cheerful and enthusiastic.

I'm just surprised it has not been adapted into a movie or a television series. Then again Janet Evanovich's first Stephanie Plum novel came out back in 1994 and it's just being adapted for the big screen now.

I should mention the Plum novels are one of Syd's favorite series's.

So, there's hope for seeing perhaps either a small or big screen version of Holmes and Russell.

And unlike Rachel McAdams's annoying and unengaging performance as "the Woman", Mary Russell is a very enjoyable and likable character.

I've actually inquired on several occassions if Laurie would like to adapt her Holmes/Russell series into graphic novels. It's still something I would love to do with her permission and help.

However, if you are not familiar with the series I highly recommend you check it out. It's a very enjoyable and unique take on Sherlock Holmes.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Detective Inspector "Blackguard" Print 11x17

Based on a panel from my graphic novel The Spaghetti Strand Murder which featured the Detective Inspector in his first (and only to this point) solo story.

11x17 in height and printed on gloss stock. The print will arrive to you personally signed.

Purchase your copy today off of my Etsy shop by clicking on the image below:

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The First Doctor(s) 11x17 Color Art

Based on the First Doctor as portrayed by William Hartnell for the television series and Peter Cushing from the Dalek movies.

Illustrated in Winsor Newton Black India Ink with Crow Quill Pen and colored digitally.

Currently it is available for purchase on E-Bay. Click on the image below to place your bid today.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Projects and other things to look forward to in the current calendar year...

You might noticed I just finished up fine-tuning my "new look blog" with a brand new banner up above. I found the size of the last one didn't fit so I thought I'd create a brand new one with a favorite image of the Detective Inspector from The Spaghetti Strand Murder.

Well, after a fairly slow first week of 2012 which consisted of putting a few finishing touches on a couple commissioned pieces as well as one of my comics appearing in the now yearly End of the Year Comic Issue of Worcester Magazine (pick it up at your local newsstand or read it online), things will start hotting up again next week with my regular classes coming back from break as well as my December Workshops starting up again at the at the Worcester Art Museum.

I also have a few projects that are either coming out or in the works.

One of which I have mentioned before is The Ninnies by Paul Magrs. Which I have been told by Obverse Books should be coming out early in the year.

This is a project I am very proud to have been a part of since Paul is a writer whose work I have greatly admired for some time now. So, to be able to do a story with him in the grand tradition of Roald Dahl and the Phantom Tollbooth is a great privilege for me.

To be honest, I think is probably my best work to date. Or at least work I have been thoroughly happy with it's results.

More new about the project will be announced on Obverse Books website at: http://obversebooks.co.uk/

There will be a formal announcement on this blog when the book is released.

The second is another children's book I am working on with author N.E. Castle who I had done several author signings at Borders in the past couple of years. I can't really say much about this particular project yet. But it's going to be a lot of fun to do.

More to come about that later.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Astro Sasquatch vs. the Undead Pizza

I've known my friend Sean Fennell since High School. He was a brilliantly talented musician then and he's just gotten better over the years as his scope of musical influences has widened.

Think of a cross between Frank Zappa and John Kricfalusi if that is at all possible.

Well, about year or so ago he debut his hairy hero for hire Astro Sasquatch who (sort of) faced off against the Giant Walking Eye.

Now one year later he has followed it up with Astro Sasquatch vs. the Undead Pizza. Which was actually an illustration I did for him a while back with a feral pizza on top of some severed heads.

Well, for your viewing pleasure, here's the next installment. You might see a cameo by a certain geeky teenager's prom picture. Heh heh!!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Sylvester's and Local Burger in Noho

Syd and my "Day after New Years" adventures brought us to Sylvester's in Northampton Massachusetts. After a late night, 8:30 in the morning just seemed like a brutal hour to wake up.

But it was worth it.

If you haven't had breakfast at Sylvester's, you haven't had breakfast. The restaurant is named after Sylvester Graham who was the inventor of the Graham Cracker.

And there it's all about the Benedict. And they have six types to choose from. That morning I had the Eggs Irish. Which has become a favorite of mine since I had it at Charlie's Diner. It's Eggs Benedict but with corn beef hash instead of Canadian bacon.

On our last morning there, I decided to have the Lox Benedict. Which I highly recommend. It's Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon. And it is amazing!!

Syd had herself the California Benedict which she had been eyeballing since our previous morning there and really enjoyed it.
Back to New Years Day, I suggested Syd and I try Local Burger Fries and More. It was a place my buddy Josh had suggested. And let me tell you. This place blows Five Guys Burger and Fries out of the water.

Sorry Andy. But this was a damn good burger ;-)

I was still a little stuffed from our breakfast, so I wasn't feeling up for the Juicy Lucy that morning. Which is apparently crammed with cheese. So, I got the standard cheeseburger. However, there was nothing standard about this cheeseburger. It was incredible.

Immediately when a place asks me "How would you like your burger cooked" my level of expectation is already raised.

Syd had ordered probably one of the most heartiest veggie burgers I have ever seen outside of this place I saw on the show Burger Paradise that specializes in a "cut above the average" veggie burger.

Although, Josh had suggested the onion rings, we just couldn't resist the siren call of the fried pickles.

But next time you're out in Northampton, I highly suggest you hit up Sylvester's for breakfast and Local Burger Fries and More for either lunch or dinner. You will not leave disappointed. Or hungry.