Thursday, March 28, 2013

Kind words from the Collinsport Historical Society

The Collinsport Historical Society had some very kind things to say about say about some pages I did as a submission to Dynamite Entertainment for their ongoing Dark Shadows comic book series. You can read their blog here:
As I've stated in the past, I'd jump at the chance of doing an issue or twelve or a one-shot graphic novel of Dark Shadows for them ;-)

Art Auction: The Face of Bowie (9x12 Pen and Ink)

Just in time for Spring and the release of David Bowie's new album The Next Day, I have set up a new auction featuring an illustration entitled The Face of Bowie....
....the Doctor Who fans out there will get the reference in the title.
The illustration is a variation of an earlier one I did called The Five Bowies. This time I decided to go with three of them. I went with two of my favorite versions of Bowie from Ziggy Stardust and the Earthling Album. But this time I decided to include Bowie as he looked in the Ashes to Ashes video.
The illustration itself is 9x12 and inked in Deleter Black Drawing Ink with Crow Quill Pen on Strathmore Smooth Bristol Board.
Click on the link below and Happy Bidding:
More auctions to come in the next few weeks. So stay tuned!!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

On the horizon for this weekend

Apart from planning lessons for my Spring Classes starting up this weekend at the Worcester Art Museum... tomorrow is ALLEGEDLY the first day of Spring as well as my brother Mathew's Birthday... there is quite a lot of fun and excitement going on this weekend.

Up first I have had the esteemed honor to be selected as one of the judges for the Grafton Fine Art and Music Festival happening this coming Saturday, March 23rd: 11am-8pm in Grafton MA. Stop on by and check out all the great artists involved. Go to the Grafton Festival Page.

Saturday night Syd and I will be taking part in the Antiquinox Masquerade Ball taking place at 120 Commercial Street in Worcester MA from 8PM till 2AM. Syd and I are spending the week working feverishly on new art and jewelry that will be available at the show. Tickets for the show are available here.

Then on Sunday it's Castles and Dragons for Family Fun Day at the Worcester Art Museum. So, if you're looking for something to do with the kiddo's, why not come out and make some castles and dragons.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Count Dracula (BBC 1977)

I found this television production of Count Dracula to be very interesting. Not only for their decision to cast French actor Louis Jourdan in the role of Count Dracula but also the visual effects they used to acheive a certain look in particular scenes.

The thing you need to understand about any BBC production circa 1977. A great number of television programs worked on a very small budget. So, I always enjoy a production all the more when they make attempts at being creative or producing certain mood with the limited resources available to them.

Both Louis Jourdan and Frank Finlay (my favorite actor to play Inspector Lestrade) are the stand-out performances of the piece. As much as I've enjoyed Christopher Lee's bombastic version of the Count, I thought Louis Jourdan's quieter and more reserved kind of evil. His approach is much more reserved and understated. And for me, it gives the character an air that he is always in control.

And Frank Finlay did an excellent job as Professor Abraham Van Helsing. More along the lines of the Germanic version of the character from the Lugosi movies. Has a knowledge of the undead, but not quite the Vampire Hunter Peter Cushing was in the Hammer Films. Much like Louis Jourdan, a very understated performance that works really well.

There is quite a bit more exterior filming than there normally was in a BBC production at the time. For whatever reason, many BBC Productions from early on until sometime around 1986 maybe (when they switched to just videotape for both for a while) had all their exterior scenes shot on film and all interior scenes shot on video. So you would have these absolutely gorgeous filmed bits and then the flatter interior shots videotaped.

So that makes this production of Count Dracula unique because you get an opportunity to enjoy the filmed bits more than some of the other productions being made at that time.

I suppose since I was raised on PBS and I got used to many BBC Productions the switching back and forth between film and video doesn't bother me as much.

I would give this production a chance. It's a bit slower and stagier than many other versions of Dracula. But seeing what the production team did to try and achieve a certain atmosphere makes the film all the more interesting the watch.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Re-Imagining Dark Shadows

Some time ago I had submitted some sample pages to Dynamite Entertainment for their ongoing Dark Shadows series.
Although the series Dynamite is currently producing picks up where the television series left off, if I would given the opportunity I would want to do a complete re-imagining of the series. Much in the same way the Tim Burton and Johnny Depp created their own version of Dark Shadows.
However, when I was creating the pages, my idea was more inspired by both Jonathan Frid's approach to Barnabas Collins earlier on in the series as well as the way he played the character in the House of Dark Shadows movie. More of the cruel and sadistic vampire rather than the more heroic figure he would later become.
At least that would be how I would portray Barnabas to begin with.
For those of you who are really just getting to know the Dark Shadows series, the thing you need to understand is Barnabas didn't appear in the series till much later on. Most of the earlier series focused on Victoria Winters and her relationship with the Collins family as well as the mysterious Burke Devlin.
To be honest, I thought it was a shame Burton didn't use Burke Devlin in the movie. But I suppose for time constraint, I can understand why he didn't. There were a mess of story lines in that series before Barnabas entered the picture.
And Barnabas was only meant to be a one-off character. Jonathan Frid took the role because he was trying to get the money to establish himself as a teacher. But the popularity of the character proved to be more lucrative than a career as a teacher. Barnabas became the center of the show and characters like Victoria Winters and Burke Devlin eventually got written out of the show.
If I were given the opportunity, I would include those characters but at the same time introduce Barnabas right off the bat... pun intended.
I think things like Burke Devlin as well as Jason Maguire blackmailing the family is too good to simply omit.
How I would do it would be when Victoria enters the picture, Jason is already wormed his way into the family. When Victoria meets him he is already Elizabeth's fiancĂ©. Willie works as the groundskeeper (very much like in House of Dark Shadows) some time before Jason entered the picture. But little does the family know at that time Willie is Jason's partner. He knows of Elizabeth's secret between herself and Jason how Elizabeth killed Jason's husband and initially before Jason came back into the picture, he was a sort of spy for Jason.
Although, Burke Devlin has had a rocky past with the Collins family. In particular Elizabeth's brother Roger. He still cares quite a bit for them. He has long suspected Jason's duplicity. He works out an pay off the governess of Roger's son David in order to bring in a new governess. He is well aware the former governess is having an affair with either Willie or Jason (very Curse of Frankenstein I suppose) and having her out of the way brings in the possibility of hiring someone who might unwittingly stumble upon a fresh pair of eyes. Elizabeth puts out an advert looking for a governess which somehow gets sent to Victoria Winters, an orphan who had been working for years at the orphanage she was found at.
All this would be condensed into one issue.
All this eventually leads to Willie, who has become obsessed with finding a secret Collins family fortune inadvertently freeing Barnabas Collins from his coffin and Barnabas introducing himself to the family to end the first issue.
I know it's unfashionable to admit it, but I actually enjoyed the Tim Burton film. Say what you will I liked it. Would I own it on DVD? Probably not. But I didn't feel ripped off when I saw it in the theaters.
However, my version of Dark Shadows would be a trifle bit darker than the movie. More along the lines of the House of Dark Shadows. Although, I  would not have Barnabas stay evil. Yes he'd be a total bastard. But I'd want the reader to still feel a sort of sad sympathy for him knowing he would eventually evolve into the tragic hero later on.
That's how I would handle a Dark Shadows series if I were given the opportunity.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Murder Rooms: The Dark Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes

Recently I introduced Syd to the first episode of Murder Rooms. I hadn't watched it in quite some time and I thought it might be something she would enjoy.

In the year 2000, there really wasn't much to choose from as far as any new productions featuring Sherlock Holmes on film or on television. Although, he has always had his fans, the great detective was not nearly as fashionable as he is now.

This is what made Murder Rooms so special.

A joint production between the BBC and WGBH Boston (the local PBS station in these here parts) the series was originally broadcast from 2000 to 2001.

Although it is not technically a Sherlock Holmes series. It's a slightly factual/slightly fictional account of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's association with his Professor at the University of Edinburgh and mentor Dr. Joseph Bell. The man who would inspire Doyle to create his fictional detective Sherlock Holmes.

So, this was as close to a Sherlock Holmes series as we got at the time.

The series starred the late Ian Richardson (CBE) as Dr. Bell. Richardson had previously did an admirable job portraying Holmes in fairly weak productions of The Sign of Four and the Hound of the Baskervilles in 1983. So it seems fitting to have him as the genuine article.

As I mentioned previously, the series was not an entirely factual account of the relationship between Doyle and Bell. There was a great degree of artistic license taken to make the parallels between Bell/Doyle all the more similar to the relationship between Holmes and Watson. It seemed as though it was the fashion of the time to take this approach to docudramas. Both the films Shadow of the Vampire and The Cat's Meow were both films based on fact but a certain degree of "artistic license" in the way the facts were portrayed was taken.

But that doesn't take anything away from Murder Rooms being a great series!! Despite it's popularity at the time only five episodes were produced. It's a shame because it seemed like at the time of the last episode the series was really starting to pick up steam.

I think with all the new productions, Murder Rooms has become somewhat a forgotten gem. But like most rare gems, I think it's time that it gets rediscovered by fans.

If you're a fan of the Benedict Cumberbatch, Robert Downey Jr. or even the Jonny Lee Miller American series to a lesser degree, then I really think you should check out Murder Rooms. It's a bit more methodical and doesn't have some of the Iron Man type of excitement of some of the more recent Sherlockian endeavors.

However, in the case of the fictional detective that Bell would ultimately inspire Doyle to create, what has always made a Sherlockian style mystery captivating is good characterization and how they would ultimately solve the crime.

And Murder Rooms has that!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Have a talented kiddo? Sign them up for my Cartooning Class!!

Some very good instructors and very good friends seen in the image above.

The class is about a couple weeks away. But there is still time to sign them up for my sign them up for my  Saturday Cartooning Class for 8 to 10 year olds.

What you can expect from this class is ALL things cartoon. Funny animal, superheroes, pop art, character design, comic book art and comic strip art. I even throw in lessons on how to create drawn animation just for good measure.

Although I do incorporate lessons that teach students how to draw established cartoon characters, I try and encourage them to create their own original characters. Or if they DO have a character they created outside the class, I encourage them to work with that character on projects.

I'm even known to create characters on the spot for them to do a cartoon style story with. Some of the results I've found highly entertaining and even more inventive than I could have possibly imaged.

You can either stop by the Worcester Art Museum when an archaeological team finally unearth the roads from all the snow we got last night and today or you can sign them up by clicking on the link below:

Classes can fill up quck so don't delay!!