Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Rivals of Batman 14x17 Pen and Ink Artwork

Good friend and fellow Batman aficionado Andy Fish asked if I would take part in a show at Friendly Neighborhood Comics celebrating 75 years of Batman. Naturally, I can't say no to either Andy or Batman.

I'm putting the finishing touches on my illustration as we speak which features Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder surrounded by their big four baddies: The Riddler, Joker, Penguin and Catwoman.

A number of elements inspired the piece. One of which being Tim Burton's initial character sketches for both Joker and Catwoman. And Lewis Wilson's costume for the 1943 Batman serials. The '43 Batman has gotten the unfortunate distinction of being "unwatchable". This is actually not the case. The subsequent serial in 1949 is actually the one that I can't even watch for three seconds before I eject it from my DVD player. Robert Lowery, the actor who took over for Wilson for that series, actually needed to be given oxygen in between takes because he was so horribly out of shape.

I kid you not.

Despite its myriad of shortcomings, technical or otherwise, the 1943 serial is actually highly entertaining. And its the first time Batman appears on celluloid.

Friendly Neighborhood is also having a call of artists. Here's the info:

Friendly Neighborhood Comics in Bellingham Ma is unveiling a new gallery component to the store and the first show is coming up fast!

75 Years of Dark Knights: BATMAN!

Celebrate 75 years of Batman with YOUR interpretation of Bob Kane and Bill Finger’s legendary creation.  Open call—all artists are welcome to submit (see details below) and work will be selected on a juried basis.

All pieces should depict BATMAN and his related line of characters in any medium of the artists choosing.  Any era (including imaginary ones) is encouraged—have fun with this!

DEADLINE: Thursday May 22nd is the physical delivery deadline, digital images to be considered for inclusion should be emailed to no later than midnight May 17th.  We will notify you by email if your work has been accepted.  All works should be shipped via priority mail to ensure they arrive in time for the exhibit.  Works will be on display for the opening event Friday May 23rd at 8pm and will remain on display until June 8th.

The artists and Friendly Neighborhood Comics will split the proceeds of all sales 50/50.
Artists are responsible for the delivery and return of unsold works* whether in person or by mail.

Work should not exceed 12x18 in size. 
Framed or Unframed will be accepted. 
Unframed art will be displayed in Mylar Sleeves.

OPENING NIGHT CELEBRATION FOR THE ART WILL BE FRIDAY MAY 23 from 8-10pm please bring all your friends!

*all artists have the option of waving return shipping and offering their work (should it remain unsold during the gallery hours) for a no minimum bid auction to be held in July on the premises of Friendly Comics.  Artists will receive 75% of the final price for their works sold at the auction.  This allows you to save money on return shipping and guarantees you will get something for your artwork.

Brian Stelfreeze, Bob Layton, Trevor Von Eeden, Christos Gage, Mike Briggs, Alison Cowell, Tim Bradstreet, Ramona Fradon, Toby Cypruss, Tony Millionaire, Brian Flint, Bret M. Herholz, Bernie Wrightson, Veronica Fish and Andy Fish.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Dr. Who and the Daleks

I adore DR. WHO AND THE DALEKS as well as its sequel. I used to hate both films until I put it in perspective that these films are not meant to be a continuation of the television show. Nor are they anymore an affront to the name of Doctor Who as Adam West is an affront to the name of Batman.


The two films starring Peter Cushing as Dr. Who (as opposed to the Doctor as he is known in the television series) are merely meant to be harmless fun. The characters are restructed in order not only to entertain young kids, but also entertain the entire family.

You have the plucky young child in the form of Susan (or Susie). The attractive teenage girl in the form of Barbara. And finally the inept but lovable comic relief in the form of Barbara's boyfriend Ian. Of course you have the older authority figure who still retains a child-like fascination in the form of Dr. Who.

And you have the Daleks. Really the reason the film was made at all. The Daleks were insanely popular in 1960's England. Which might have some scratching their head why. But all it comes down to is right place at the right time.
Kids were terrified of them. Much like Batman over in the United States (which kids were not terrified of, naturally), they merchandised just about anything you can possibly put a Dalek on. So it only seemed natural that the powers-that-be in the British Film Industry would contact Terry Nation, the man who wrote the first Dalek serial on television to write the two films.

If you treat the two films as their own entities and not try and make comparisons to the television program, as well as just accept them as good harmless fun. Then you can enjoy both films.

Not only that, but fans of the new series can get a chance to see Bernard Cribbins who played Donna Noble's Grandfather Wildfred Mott doing a much better job as the comic relief in the second Dalek outing.

No offense to the late great Roy Castle OBE intended.

If you have not seen either films, give them a try. In some ways it was the earliest example of a popular television series being turned into a big budget motion picture. Its also the first time a Doctor Who project of any kind was produced in color... or colour depending on which side of the pond you are on.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Cinematic Titanic and Rifftrax

I was probably in the seventh or eighth grade when I first saw Mystery Science Theater 3000 back in either 1988 or 1989. And I'm more than certain there have been people who have been watching the show since their public access days in St. Paul Minnesota long before Comedy Central (at that point called The Comedy Channel) picked the show up.

The first two movies I can remember then riffing were THE ROBOT MONSTER and THE CRAWLING HAND. I became hooked and pretty much watched it right up to the point where original presenter Joel Hodgeson (seen far left in the photo) bowed out and was replaced by Michael J. Nelson.

I kind of stopped watching religiously around that point. I've softened up towards Mike Nelson in recent years. Although, I always thought he was better when he'd either appear as characters from the movie interacting with Joel and the Bots or as random celebrities like Morrissey. My favorite two Mike impersonations was Hugh Beaumont and Glenn from THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN. His Torgo as a pizza delivery man was my second favorite.

Since the show's cancellation, many of the cast involved with MST3K have continued riffing in various live projects. The two projects that have been most successful for the cast have been CINEMATIC TITANIC and RIFFTRAX.

CINEMATIC TITANIC features the original three cast members of MST3K which include Joel Hodegson (Joel Robinson), J. Elvis Weinstein (Tom Servo/Dr. Laurence Erhardt), Trace Beaulieu (Crow T. Robot/Dr. Clayton Forrester) as well as later cast members Frank Coniff (TV's Frank) and Mary Jo Pehl (Pearl Forrester. RIFFTRAX features the later three cast members Michael J. Nelson (Mike Nelson), Kevin Murphy ( Tom Servo Mark II) and Bill Corbett (Crow T. Robot Mark II).

The difference between the two is CINEMATIC TITANIC tends to stick with the original premise layed out by MST3K by riffing on low budget b movies which are in the public domain or are inexpensive to obtain. RIFFTRAX, however, has deviated into riffing on popular movies such as the Indiana Jones or Star Wars films as well as series's such as Harry Potter and Twilight.

This was actually something that was started by Mike, Kevin and Bill while they were still working on MST3K during Oscar Season back in 1998 or 1999 where they were riffing on the movie Titanic.

The other difference between the two projects is since it would be expensive to secure the rights to use the footage and to avoid any legal headaches by using the movies without permission, Michael J. Nelson and company sell the audio tracks seperately and what people do when they purchase the tracks is sync them up with the movie on their computer.

I think I read somewhere Mike's statement behind riffing on popular films is that riffing isn't just limited to old movies. Hollywood is still making bad films. I'm misquoting but its something like that.

I can't say I completely agree with the sentiment. Most the films RIFFTRAX are riffing on are actually films I really enjoy. So, now you're venturing into the realm of the subjective and personal opinion. Meaning, Michael J. Nelson isn't a fan of the Star Wars series so therefore he considers them to be bad movies.

He is most certainly entitled to that opinion. I just don't agree with it. But there are fans of RIFFTRAX. So I'm more than certain there are people that don't agree with my opinion.

I had outlined what makes a bad movie in a previous blog about MANOS. Which RIFFTRAX has riffed recently. Or re-riffed. Which the CINEMATIC TITANIC crew did with SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS several years back.

However, if you enjoy what Mike and the crew at RIFFTRAX are doing, keep on enjoying it. I'm not forcing you to stop or telling Mike and company to cut it out. They're free to do whatever the wish.

But being an old skool fan, my preference tends to lean towards CINEMATIC TITANIC over RIFFTRAX. I just feel there has to be more of a reason to make fun of a film just because you don't like it. And Joel and the crew have nailed it.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

New Art Auctions!! Check 'em Out!!

Check out all the new artwork I have currently available. Several illustrations based on DOCTOR WHO and SHERLOCK!! Click on the link below to check it all out:

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Bad film! Bad bad film! Go to your room!!

The Master doesn't approve of plots, editing and good acting...
Once again I am showing my film appreciation class MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE. The reason for this is so the students have a better understanding between a film that's "not their thing" and a really, really bad movie.

Most of the reports I have received on the films we watched is they didn't enjoy it because it was either black and white or silent. Which more fall under the catagory of films that are "not their thing" rather than bad films.

So I decided to show them Manos. I also gave them a list of mental check marks they should be making while they are watching this film and even as they're watching any film after this one:

A.) Can you follow the plot? Is the story easy to understand?
B.) Is the film edited well? Sound editing. Can you understand what the actors are saying? Does the incidental music fit the movie?
C.) Is it well acted?
D.) Entertainment. Are you being entertained/engaged? Does the movie grab your attention from start to finish.

Manos has none of these. It is a complete and utter train-wreck. Even worse than Plan 9 From Outer Space which at least ticks off two or three of the things mentioned above.

Which makes it the ideal bad film to watch. Manos is a confusing bore from start to finish. The plot is confusing. You're never quite sure if Manos is the Master character (pictured above) or some demigod the Master worships. You have characters that show up throughout the movie that really don't move the plot along... a plot as I mentioned that really doesn't exist. Not to mention this is supposed to be a horror film and the soundtrack, as one of my students so aptly put, sound like "happy music".

Manos is a bad film. Is it the worst film ever made? I'm not sure. There might be film that sink lower than Manos. I can't imagine how. But I'm sure there are.

But in the end, my hope is seeing this film will make my class a bit more selective with their opinions on what makes a good film and what makes a bad film.

Although, I might tell them if they don't behave I'll show them Manos again ;-)

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Spring Art Auctions

Although, it does not feel like Spring is in the air, Bunny and the Badger's SPRING ART AUCTIONS are well underway. Click on the link below to be sure to check out what's currently available for purchase:

The Series Finale

Newhart is still the best series finale ever...
The series finale. There have been quite a few shows to hit it right on the mark. And there are so many more that just did not. In the case of some, it's simply because the show just went on longer than it should have. So by the the time the final episode came around, nobody really cared. Or even realized it was still on the air.

The recent final episode of HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER got me thinking about that. I admit, I never watched the show religiously. Or even semi-religiously. If it was on, I'd watch it. But mostly in reruns. But I guess the final episode really upset a great number of fans who felt it was a total cop-out. Which I can understand.

But I'm sure writing something like that cannot be easy. And I'm certain there is probably a great deal of second guessing and going overboard trying to please long-time fans.

However, some shows have done it. M.A.S.H and Cheers both had really fitting farewells. And I have to confess. I liked the series finale of Seinfeld. I know there were quite a few folks out there who disliked it. But I thought it worked really well. Sure, Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer amused and entertained us on a weekly basis. But none of the characters they portrayed were terribly likable. Or even nice people. They were all very shallow and self-involved. And when the series came to a screeching halt in 1999, they basically got put on trial and sent to jail for doing what they've done the entire series. Laughing at other people's misfortunes.

There was even a nice little jab at the stand-up comedy bits Seinfeld used to perform during the opening and closing credits of each episode with the convicts jeering him. I can remember a lot of people mentioning how unfunny his stand-up was before the episodes. So, I think that might be his little bit of self-parody.

But I enjoyed Seinfeld during its run and I had no problem with the series concluding episode.

Although, to this day, I think the best series finale goes to Newhart. Bob Newhart's television series in the mid 1980's. Many prominent series's had episodes end with everything you watched for how many ever episodes being "just a dream" around that time period. Newhart takes it to a whole new level with not only having it all be a dream. But having him wake up and being in bed with Suzanne Pleshette. Who portrayed his wife on his previous sitcome The Bob Newhart Show.

Sometimes sitcoms try to be too overtly emotional and meaningful wrapping up their series. To me, Newhart ended the best because it ended on a laugh. And isn't that what sitcoms were created to do in the first place?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The First of April

I would like to think the same people who love April Fools Day are the same people who would probably answer the advertisement you see above.

With that said, if anyone is thinking about pulling an April Fools Day prank on me today, here's a friendly warning that might make you reconsider:

Thank you and good morning.