Monday, February 24, 2014

Harold Ramis (November 21, 1944 – February 24, 2014)

GHOST BUSTERS is one of the very few movies I can think of that I could probably not only watch a million times. But its also one of those movies I can watch from beginning to end without getting bored.

Think about it. There are very few movies you can say that about. Even THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (my favorite of the original Star Wars movies) there are scenes where I get fidgety.

Not the case with GHOST BUSTERS.

I was very sorry to hear about the death of Harold Ramis today. Who not only portrayed spores, mold and fungus enthusiast Egon Spengler in the movie. But also co-created the script with fellow Ghostbuster Dan Ackroyd.

Ramis wrote and directed and appeared in many other really great films. But GHOST BUSTERS will always remain my favorite. Really the only film I can think of off the top of my head that I enjoy from beginning to end.

Although, I could probably go without seeing an episode of THE REAL GHOSTBUSTERS ever again. But I don't think Harold had anything to do with that series.

RIP Harold Ramis.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Captain Marvel

I don't think anyone has ever got the Big Red Cheese just right. At least in comics. They all seem to fall short in some way to the original fun and style of CC Beck.

However, some have come close.

I think the biggest problem is they have tried to to make the character of Captain Marvel too gritty. The other problem I've had with some of the reboots and revisions is they have made Marvel and Billy Batson two seperate characters.

And I think that takes away from what made the character so great.

Its that dream kids have of wanting to be THE superhero. And not the sidekick. A kid can't be Superman or Batman. Because they're adults. But Captain Marvel somewhat fufills that dream of a kid turning into a superhero. And when he's finished fighting crime he can go back to being a kid again.

Think about it. When you play "lets pretend" out in the backyard. In your mind, you are THAT superhero you're pretending to be. And once you're finished pretending to save the world for the day because Mum called you in for Supper, you can go back to being just a kid again.

Just like Captain Marvel.

Although, out of all the artists and writers who have done Captain Marvel story and art since Beck, I think Jerry Ordway's run on THE POWER OF SHAZAM! was probably my favorite re-imagining of Captain Marvel. Although he added a somewhat gritty backstory to Billy Batson's parents death (with shades of Raiders of the Lost Ark) as well as a less than happily accepting being turned into Captain Marvel. I enjoyed his take on Captain Marvel's first appearance and his approach to the artwork. Making the character look like the way CC Beck designed him while adding a touch of realism.

And I did like Jeff Smith's artwork in SHAZAM! AND THE MONSTER SOCIETY OF EVIL. A remake of a storyline written by CC Beck in the Captain's original run in 1943. The original storyline itself originally ran until 1945. So, Smith had the tall task of basically had the tall task of squishing three years worth of a story into a four issue series. But doing a remake of anything established can be a sticky wicket to begin with. Just look at Peter Jackson's KING KONG... or not.

And it looks like DC is preparing to reboot Captain Marvel again to fit in with their NEW 52 universe. Which I guess they're planning on officially changing the character's name to SHAZAM. Which the character has been officially known as since DC purchased the rights to him in the 1970's.

Long story. Maybe as long as the original Monster Society storyline. DC sued Fawcett Comics in the 1950's. They cited Captain Marvel was too close to Superman. Truth be told. Marvel was just kicking Supes big red and blue butt in sales. DC had been very territorial of their Man of Steel. They had sued Will Eisner in the 1940's because his character Wonder Man was too close to Superman and won.

Although, Fawcett might have had a case because there were so many characters closer to Superman than Marvel was. But trying to fight DC in court would prove too costly so Fawcett decided (sadly) to discontinue Captain Marvel.

Flash forward to the 1970s. DC Comics, under a different regime, decided to purchase the rights to Captain Marvel. However, within that timeframe, the Big Red Cheese's copyrights had long since lapsed and DC's biggest competitor, Marvel Comics, had created and trademarked a character using that same name. Which forced DC to use SHAZAM, the magic words Billy Batson would speak to change into the Cap, as the title of their new ongoing series.


And this is the reason why some people have erroneously referred to Captain Marvel as SHAZAM over the years. I suppose in DC's collective mind, why not just make it official.

But my feeling is that its no longer the same character.

Which is a shame because it seems like once again they're trying to add an "edge" to the character that I don't think it really needs.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Count Dracula and his Vampyre Brides (9x12 Pen and Ink Artwork)

I wanted to attempt a slightly different version of the Count. Somewhat larger and more imperious looking.

Think of a cross between Christopher Lee and Brian Blessed.

It's current on E-Bay to bid on. Illustrated in Sumi Black Japanese Drawing Ink with Crow Quill Pen and Brush on Canson 9x12 Bristol Board.

Click on the link below to place your bid:

Monday, February 17, 2014

Sherlock Holmes on the Hunt (16x20 Color Art) LIMITED TO ONE ONLY!!

Limited to one print only!! I am offering a 16x20 Color Print of my illustration SHERLOCK HOLMES ON THE HUNT to bid on. This will be the only time I will be offering this image at this particular size. Once it sells that it. Printed on 16x20 high quality cardstock and signed personally to the winning bidder and dated.

Please contact me directly if you do not wish a personalized inscription. Or this is intended as a gift to someone else.

Suitable for framing and the ideal gift for any fan of the traditional Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. Click on the link below to place or bid or feel free to pass this link along to anyone you think might be interested:

Sherlock Holmes on the Hunt (16x20 Color Art)

And be sure to check out my other art auctions currently available:

Bunny and the Badger Art Auctions

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Dreamer by Will Eisner

THE DREAMER is probably my favorite graphic novel by Will Eisner. The book itself is a thinly disguised autobiography depicting Eisner's early years as a comic artists as well as many of the soon-to-be famous comic artists who worked alongside him.

By far one of my favorite accounts in the books is legend Jack Kirby (named Jack King in this book) frightening off a mobster trying to intimidate his employer.

I usually use pages from the book as reference and really recommend my students to check it out. Its one of Eisner's less gritty graphic novels and for the most part a really unique look into those early days when the comic industry was in its infancy.

Not only that,  its a book I hope gives inspiration to young artists that even the artists they admire and look up to for inspiration started out somewhere.

Pick yourself up a copy. Its a great read!!

The "other" Dynamic Duo

Its hard to imagine the Dynamic Duo being played by anyone else other than Adam West and Burt Ward (seen above) in the 1966 television series BATMAN. However, that could have possibly been the case and we could have seen the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder being portrayed by Lyle Waggoner and Peter Deyell.

I think it was the ABC execs to cast Adam West in the role of Batman based on his performance as Captain Quik in the Nestle Quik commercials they thought he was the ideal choice for the role. However, it was standard practice to create an another screen test.

Enter Lyle Waggoner and Peter Deyell.

Looking at Waggoner's performance, I think the series would definitely go in a different direction than the fun and campy pop art explosion we have come to know it as today.

In the end, and with all due respect to either Waggoner or Deyell, the producers made the right choice with West and Ward. Despite some Batfans out there who consider Adam West to be an insult an an abomination to the name of Batman (and yes. I've heard a fan use almost those exact words), I still think Adam West is the BEST actor to ever play the role.

For me. Adam West IS Batman.


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Professor James (or Jim) Moriarty

Jim Moriarty... he'll burn the heart out of you!
The character of Professor James Moriarty is considered the blueprint for all "arch-nemesis" since the characters introduction in 1891. And you would think how frequently the character would reappear in various movies and television shows, one would think Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had Holmes and Moriarty squaring off in every other story.

In fact, Professor James Moriarty only "officially" appears once in the original tales.

He was created for the story The Final Problem as a way for Doyle to kill Holmes off. Both Holmes and Moriarty would fall to their deaths at Reichenbach Falls. Doyle had every intention of making this the very last Holmes story, having grown tired of the brute (in his own words) and wishing to move onto other artistic endeavors.

Based on real life "Napoleon of Crime" Adam Worth, Moriarty was created to be Sherlock Holmes's intellectual equal. The two men in all appearances are intellectually matched. And because of that Holmes has become a threat to expose Moriarty's criminal empire. Everyone sees Moriarty as nothing but a kindly old Professor of Mathematics when he is infact the most dangerous man in England. A spider at the center of a criminal web.

And Holmes knows that the only way to end Moriarty's grip on the British Government is to kill the man himself. Even at the cost of his own life.

But of course we know public demand would eventually bring Holmes back. What's interesting is the fact that Watson never sees either man fall to their death. Watson in fact is only left to imagine what that final confrontation might have been like.
I honestly think that little loophole Doyle left himself was unintentional. I think at the time he wrote that Sherlock Holmes was dead and his mortal remains lay smashed on the rocks below alongside Professor Moriarty's at Reichbach.

However, this unintended loophole did make it easy for Doyle to concoct a senario of just how Holmes survived.

Holmes may have returned. But Professor Moriarty never did.

His name is mentioned in the story The Valley of Fear. However, Doyle had written that tale as a past adventure of Holmes and Watson taking place shortly before the events of The Final Problem. And Doyle seems to have difficulty keeping his own continuity clear when he wrote that story. Or its just the fact readers were probably not as "hung up" on continuity as we are now.

But for the sake of being anal.

In the Final Problem Watson mentions he has never heard of Moriarty. Whereas in The Valley of  Fear he seems to know Moriarty exists. He even goes so far to chide Holmes making far too much out of that kindly old Professor of Mathematics.

But that's a whole other debate.

Its funny to think that Professor James Moriarty would leave such an indeligable mark in that one (or two if you like) appearance. But he was a good character. And I think much like Sherlock Holmes, having Moriarty based on a real life criminal mastermind, helped make him a more interesting character rather than just a one-dimensional baddie.

And even though Moriarty would never officially return in any of Doyle's stories, it is interesting that his remains were never officially found either.

One of the best Moriarty scenes never filmed on the pages of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Try and forget the movie version. The graphic novel is much better.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Sherlock Holmes on the Hunt on Bunny and the Badger

I moved the limited print run of HOLMES ON THE HUNT to Bunny and the Badger on Etsy. I tend to get more traffic there. To order your copy click on the link below:

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Art Auctions on E-bay

Howdy all!! I have a couple art auctions up and running for you all to check out. First up is my very first attempt at trying to illustrate 12th Doctor Peter Capaldi's retro look. Much like previous auction of this nature once a winning bid is met, a copy of the image will be made on 11x14 high quality carstock and signed personally to the winning bidder.

After that I will PERMANENTLY DELETE the file this image is on to ensure this to be ONE OF A KIND ART.

But not only will the winning bidder receive both the 11x14 color art and 9x12 pen and ink art, they will also receive a concept sketch I created several months back trying to imagine what Capaldi's Doctor might look like. The look is based on his appearance as Professor Marcus in The Ladykillers onstage.

The design THEY came up with was much better than mine. I admit.

Up next I'm offering a 16x20 art print of my newest illustration THE REALLY ROTTENS.... OR A GATHERING OF NO GOODNIKS. The title is derived from two sources. One is the name of the team the bad guys were on in the Hanna-Barbera series LAFF-A-LYMPICS. Which was an odd title since I really never laughed once watching it. The second source is what Boris Badinov would occassionally refer to himself as.

Click on the link below to check out both auctions. More to come:

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

New Art: The Really Rottens Pen and Ink and Color Art

Original artwork by Bret M. Herholz (Diary of the Black Widow/Sherlock Holmes). Illustrated in Sumi Black Japanese Drawing Ink with Crow Quill Pen and Brush on Canson 11x14 Bristol Board. Colors Added digitally.

A gathering of some of the baddiest bad guys from the Golden Age of Television interpreted in my style. Featured in this illustration from right to left: Dick Dastardly and Muttley (Wacky Races and Dastardly and Muttley in their Flying Machines), Snidely Whiplash (Dudley Do-Right), Dishonest John (Time for Beany later renamed Beany and Cecil), Boris and Natasha (Rocky and Friends later renamed the Bullwinkle Show) and the Hooded Claw (The Perils of Penelope Pitstop) all of whom are being apprehensively looked at by Penelope Pitstop.

While I reimagined the characters in my style. I tried to keep their color scheme the same as when they appeared on television.

Both the pen and ink original AND the color version are available for purchase at Bunny and the Badger. Order yours today :-)

Monday, February 3, 2014

My progress on learning ukulele... One year on....

Before you make your comments. YES! I realize Peter Sellers is playing the banjolele...
I never really had a hobby. I draw but I don't consider that to be a hobby. So last year my wife got me a ukulele. And (very) slowly, I have been teaching myself to play in my free time. Mostly finger shapes and where certain chords go.

I've always loved music but I've never had the same grasp of it that my parents or my brother and sister have. My brother can play guitar and my sister piano (same for my folks in that respective order) but I never could play myself.

I very well could have had some form of OCD for all I know.

But most of my friends played an instrument and I kind of had to sit on the sidelines and listen in. I can't sing very well either.

However, I turn 38 in a week and I'm finally learning music in the form of the ukulele. I'm even teaching myself my first song.

While I'm still rough around the edges, Syd even says now "It sounds like music" when I strum the strings. So that's progress.

Trust me. There's no delusions of a career in the music biz. I'm well past my prime for that. I'm just enjoying myself and happy I finally "got it" after nearly 20 odd years.