ANDY FISH is a comic book artist

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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Werewolves of Wisconsin

Cover Detail
Had to dash off the cover to my new book from McFarland Press so it could make the fall catalog-- not my normal mode, I like to do the cover last most of the time, it's sort of a ritual for me-- a way to wrap up the project.

I'm happy with it-- worked in some fun details that the publisher picked up on.

Have I mentioned I'm a big fan of McFarland?  My bookshelf is full of their great books.  They are a literary scholarly and focused publisher.  The book they did on LUGOSI traveled around the world with me last year.

When it's available for order you will certainly hear about it right on this blog.

Monday, May 30, 2011


The movie may not GLOW in the Dark, but it kicks the hell out of that Jackson Remake.
On Wednesday night at 9:30 you've got NIGHT TRAIN TO MUNICH (1940) which I haven't seen but it sounds interesting-- it's directed by Carol Reed who helmed THE THIRD MAN (1949) so it should be good.

Get ready to call in sick on Friday because Thursday night has a quadruple feature launching TCM's DRIVE IN CLASSICS Series with GODZILLA (1956), RODAN (1957), GHIDORAH THE THREE HEADED MONSTER (1965) and GODZILLA VS MONSTER ZERO.  You'll need several bags of popcorn for this one--

GODZILLA (1956) is much better than it's given credit for-- it's the US translation of GOJIRA (1954) which is essentially about nuclear war represented as a giant monster lizard.  The US version is solid with Raymond Burr as reporter Steve Martin (!) inserted into the action.

The other features are fun-- I'm not sure why they didn't schedule Drive In Classics on Friday nights-- but I'm just glad they're offering something fun this summer.

On Saturday at 9am is SCARLET STREET which stars Edward G Robinson as a timid artist who gets mixed up with Joan Bennet and her slimy boyfriend-- it's directed by Fritz Lang and one of the best thrillers of the 1940s.  Following that at 11:30 is the final chapter of BUCK ROGERS (1939)-- great that TCM is showing movie serials on Saturday mornings and then in the afternoon is KING KONG (1933) at 1:30.  If you've never seen the original classic you need to.  A movie that changed the industry and opened a wave of imagination.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Art All State Over -- Recapping the event.

ART ALL STATE actually begins the October of the previous year, when AAS Manager Gillian Bonazoli accepts the artist applications and begins the screening process.  G as I like to call her, does an absolutely remarkable job throughout the whole process.  Her professionalism, charm, humor, wit and facilitation skills create a seamless drama free event.

Once you are accepted as one of the artist mentors you'll need to attend a meeting sometime in March at the Worcester Art Museum which takes up a good part of a Saturday.  At the meeting you'll meet your artist partner-- this year I had the pleasure of working with Boston based artist Heidi Kayser who is herself an installation artist-- she also has a tremendous sense of humor and an ability to interact and motivate the kids that helped make this year so smooth.

At the March meeting you pick your limited supplies.  The students are only given two supplies to create the installation with, in the earlier years there was no limit and the installations were out of control.  The idea of limited materials keeps things more in line and forces them to problem solve.

This year Heidi and I chose plastic shrink wrap and white cotton balls.  

You also choose a minimum of two pieces in the museum collection to act as a sort of inspiration to your group-- and we picked the Giant Buddah head from the Asian gallery and Rona Pondick's MOUSE in the modern gallery.

We chose those two pieces for a number of reasons;

1. They were created multiple centuries apart.
2. They both depict the human head.
3. One was created by a man and one by a woman.
4. One is done in wood, the other in metal.
5. One has an expression of calm the other suggests pain.

We thought these contrasts would make a good base.

ART ALL STATE 24 began Friday May 27th at 8:30am with one more artist meeting.  Then we head over to the church across the street for Museum Director Jim Welu's presentation on the artist as a young person so that the students in the audience can see what the old masters were doing at their age.

Jim's speech is always inspiring and fascinating, but my favorite part is when he shows the student work.  One piece of art from each student participating is shown on the screen, some first during his presentation and all of them in a great video put together by the legendary Mark Lynch at Radio Station WICN 90.5FM here in the Woo.

Over the images of the work Mark and a female collaborator read quotes from the students application packets.  This years work was extremely impressive.

After that has wrapped the assembled group heads back to the museum where they break out into their groups and assigned studios.

The Ice Breaker Begins

We introduce ourselves to our students and we begin our Ice Breaker project.  I find that the students coming in for this event expect to make art-- and to many of them that means drawing or painting.  As an artist myself I can appreciate this--  I draw everyday whether on assignment or not-- and get very antsy if I don't.  So our ice breaker involved taking an image-- in this case Veronica's DR GROOD piece and cutting it into 20 pieces:

The Final Image, which only Heidi and I saw.
Each student is given one piece and a large piece of 18x24 paper-- they then must recreate only their piece using paint and large brushes.  You can see in the final image that I added the AAS Studio 203 text-- this is both shameless studio pride and also because I need to divide the image into pieces that translate into 18x24 segments.  Since we have 18 students that means two extra pieces-- yes the artists could do those but we are busy during this process facilitating the exercise and also doing a sort of mini name game which is a lot of fun.   As important as it is for the artists to be part of the event, it's more important for the students to come together-- and we should not be leading as much as steering so I like having the extra parts for anyone who finishes early and then putting them in groups of 4-5 to help finish up.

Once the pieces are complete they then have to assemble the image on the wall-- keep in mind it's now ten feet tall and they don't have a clue what the image is.  This helps them to problem solve.  They came up with the idea to create the image on the floor first and then hang it.

The Group with the finished piece.
I think you can see from their expressions that the ice breaker accomplished it's goal.  

The Ice Breaker is such an important part of the process of getting them to come together that I don't mind if it goes over-- in this case it took us nearly an hour-- but it goes a long way towards building a team spirit that we need to make this installation work.

From there we moved into the galleries to look at our choices from the collection.  We asked them questions, had them ask questions and come up with the items they felt both pieces presented.

After lunch we brainstorm-- breaking into three groups of six students they play with the materials and try to imagine what the installation could become.  They spend about a half an hour and then present their ideas to the group as a whole.  I think if I am asked back next year I might consider breaking them into six groups of three and give them less time to brainstorm-- then mix them before they finish and present to us.  

The ideas were good, and I'm always impressed with the ambition offered.  The only guidance I gave them beforehand is that in the seven years I've done this almost every group does either;

1. A Tree
2. A hand
3. A fort or tunnel
4. A tornado
5. An angel

I think after this year I'm going to add Spider to that list, since that seems to be growing in popularity.
Now that's not to say they can't do any of these-- they can, but I want them to push themselves past those original thoughts and try digging deeper into the idea zone-- if they want to do one of these items that's perfectly fine, they just need to make whatever they want the best it can be.

This year some of the other groups did do trees, tornadoes and forts-- I can't say I saw much in the way of angels, but I thought this was a particularly strong year with some really exciting installations.

In offering them guidance, Heidi and I emphasized that it's not only what people will see when they enter the installation for the public viewing on Saturday, but what they will feel.   Do we want them closed in or do we want them to feel welcome?  

They worked out a pretty intense concept where there would be a giant head that features fabric hair on one side flowing off into an all fabric (wood) mural of a forest which represented dreams and wishes while the other side would have plastic (metal)  hair to represent nightmares and worry.

We liked the idea and the work was divided up among the group.  It was decided that the entrance would feature a spider-web cave that opened up to the vision of the giant head which would be light using the studio spotlights.  Right off the bat the web started coming together quickly, but we struggled with the overall concept of the mural and the construction of the head.

Mandy and Robbie working on the construction of the head

Heidi and I quickly drew a face with all it's planes and emphasized that it had to have form.  Keep in mind our materials are plastic, cotton balls and fabric-- not the easiest things to build a sub-frame with.

Susan Halls giant pig sculpture
We broke for dinner- our studio a complete and utter shambles.  I had to laugh looking at the faces of the people who would stop in to see our progress.  Some of the other studios were coming together very quickly but we were taking our time and assembling our parts.  One group creating the giant strands of fabric hair, one group on the forest mural, a few on the spider web and three working on the base of the giant head.

After dinner we headed back over to the church auditorium for the artists presentation.  Our work was shown and each of us took turns up at the podium discussing our processes, our experiences, our struggles and our goals as artists.

When it was finished we took Q&A from the audience which included some really good questions like;

Is it better to get a BA at a school with a good art program or a BFA at an art school?

The answers from the artists varied, some went to "regular" college and earned a BA, others went to art school.  Eric Donaldson made a great point when he said to check out the work of your prospective professors and the grad students before you make your decision-- these are the people you'll be learning from over the next few years.

My answer to my students was if your high school experience is you can't wait for art class-- then go to art school.  If instead you enjoy track or science or any of the other things a good high school offers then consider a 'regular' college.

Afterwards we went back to the studios to work for another hour, but the steam is essentially gone and it's really just a time to recap, review and make a plan for tomorrow.

The students headed out and Heidi and I took one last look around-- the studio honestly looked like a dump truck had flipped over on the interstate, but I wasn't concerned in the least.  The head and the forest were starting to take shape, the web was just about done so we'd be able to slide workers onto the other projects and things were coming together.

THE SECOND DAY goes by very quickly-- we arrive back at 8 and get to work by 830.  You really only have until lunchtime to get the major portions done and then the time after lunch is spent doing final touch ups and cleaning.

The Cotton Whirlpool which runs off the forest mural
Much of the after lunch time was spent exchanging names and contact info among the students and taking pictures.  This year was a particularly fun group.  I was very impressed with them as a whole and with two of them in particular (sorry I'm not telling).

Students putting the finishes on while I talk to Heidi and our Studio Observer
Our studio observers included a charming woman from the National Gallery who was brought here by invitation of education director Honee Hess-- she was amazed and what the students accomplished.  Our own personal observer took a few minutes to talk with us and said frankly that she hadn't seen how it was all going to come together and left the day before very uncertain of our success, but that she was incredibly impressed with the results.  She said she felt that Heidi and I were more hands off than some of the other studios but that goes with my theory that this should be the work of the students and that we as mentors should help guide them with THEIR choices, be there for support, jump in wherever it's needed, make suggestions as to how to work faster but I never want this to be one of those science projects that you see in schools and realize the parents did all the work.

I can say with complete certainty that Studio 203 was completely the work of the talented students.  We merely kept things moving and offered very subtle suggestion when it was needed.

From 230-330 we opened the studio to family and friends and I had a chance to chat with several parents-- I was happy to hear that the kids enjoyed themselves and even signed an autograph or two for students who had known my work.  

At 330 we had closing ceremonies and then returned to our studios to dismantle the installations.
Another great year, and next year is the 25th!  Art All State is a program that deserves to be international, it not only teaches artistic thought, but critical thinking, collaboration, builds team spirit and gets these talented students to approach art making in a whole new way.

Without art-- the world would be a very boring place.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

And we're done! AAS 24 is a Wrap

Picture swiped from Kristi's Teacher Blog for AAS
This group of kids were amazing.  They managed to work through adversity, long hours and surprise materials which they had never worked with before.  For many of them the idea of an installation was completely new-- and for all of them the idea of creating that installation using only plastic wrap, cotton balls and fabric certainly was and they never stumbled, never faltered, never gave up.

I've done this the past seven years and I was impressed with this group more than any other in that there was no drama, no complaining and no giving up.  No harsh words despite the heat, the stress and the long hours.

In the pic above you see them beginning the formation of the large head which would be the centerpiece for the entire project.  It was a challenge to create a visually appealing large scale head using those ingredients I just listed-- and one that took a few false starts to get it right-- but when they finished it was impressive.

More soon.

Wrap up for Day One; Day Two Begins

My internet connection at WAM has been inconsistent today, so I apologize for the spotty postings.

Here's where we are:
Group 203--
Artists- Andy Fish and Heidi Kayser
Our materials - Plastic Wrap, Cotton Balls and our surprise material is Fabric.

Our group is a diverse mixture, normally through the years I've done this it's predominantly girls-- I don't know if that's a sign of art education leaning more towards women know-- interesting because when I was in high school I think it was 80/20% Male to Female ratio.

We walked in this morning with the students and revealed the surprise material together-- I'm not going to lie-- Fabric frightened me-- and there's not much I'm scared of.

The students visited the museum with us to look at our two chosen pieces from the collection, which then led to a lunch break.  After lunch it was back to work where they pitched their ideas to us.

We arrived at the idea of creating a large fabric head in one corner of the room which would have flowing hair-- based on the idea of Rona Pondick's MOUSE;

They've decided that the plastic would make a nice homage to the flowing hair of the piece-- so off the head from one side will be the plastic strands of hair flowing into a massive cobweb at the room entrance and the other side will feature fabric hair which flows into an all fabric mural of a forest.

It's a really great concept and I'm anxious to see how it comes together.

More starting at 8am tomorrow.

Friday, May 27, 2011

After Dinner Work

It may look a bit scary-- but the room is coming together.

We had dinner followed by the artists talk across the street and now it's back for two hours of work.

They're tired, they're hot-- but they're working.  It's a good group.

I enjoy the artists talk to get the perspectives of other artists.  Before the lectures, my pal Tom Grady advised me to be cranky-- he said I'm more entertaining that way.

I don't know if I was entertaining or cranky, but I do know I learned a lot listening to my peers.

The Work Starts

The students were divided into three groups of six to brainstorm their ideas and then present them to the rest of us-- we'll then take elements from each of the ideas and try to come up with a coherent overall theme.

Stay Tuned...

The Ice Breaker Cometh

The Ice Breaker was very successful and we've moved into the brainstorming session.  I'm impressed with the students this year-- very bright and very talented.

Each student was given a piece of a puzzle which they interpreted into a larger scale and then assembled.
The challenge is to work together as a group and problem solve.

On to the brainstorming.

The Ice Breaker

The Ice Breaker is in progress, things are progressing, my studio observer (I won't say which one) has no sense of humor-- so much for a good review.

Art All State; The Day Begins

We start Art All State early-- the teams of artists and the students arrive at 8am today.  There is a quick meeting for the artists and they provide "breakfast" although I always stop on my way in to get a hot breakfast because there ain't no way I make it through this on a muffin.

Live Blogs will start here and probably TWITTER in an hour or so.

Art All State 24

The Installation from a few years ago in progress

Art All-State at the Worcester Art Museum 
Launched in 1987 through an off-hand suggestion of a retired art teacher, Art All-State brings together some of the most talented juniors from across the state for an intensive two-day art experience. 

The students, competitively selected, collaborate with artist/mentors to create group installations inspired by the Museum's collections. Through gallery and studio experiences AAS challenges and inspires these participants to think creatively about themselves and the role that art can play in life after high school. 

Eight studio groups are each lead by two professional artists, who help facilitate the students in the creative process. The artists, who come from a variety of different art disciplines, also act as mentors for the student participants.

Join us this weekend to see what 140 high school juniors with a passion for art can create in just two days... 

Public Reception for the Artists
Saturday, May 28
Higgins Education Wing Studios

Thursday, May 26, 2011


If you've wanted to know what Art All State is all about this is your chance to follow it along.  Stay tuned tomorrow and Saturday as I interrupt the regularly scheduled blog posts to write about experiences and observations as I go into my Seventh Consecutive Art All State mentoring 18 High School Juniors along with my art partner for the event over the next 36 hours.

The final results of our installation project will be on display Saturday from 230-330pm.  Stop on by the Wam in Woo if you want to see it first-hand.  I'll be in charge of Studio 203.

There will be MANY updates throughout the day.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Webcomics Wednesday: DRACULA Episode 22

NEXT EPISODE: Next Wednesday (No Strips this weekend-- ART ALL STATE pre-empts!)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Dracula On the Nook and Kindle

I don't know if I've mentioned it here, but my Dracula Graphic Novel is doing extremely well both in the Nook and Kindle stores-- you can visit the official website  The Dead Travel Fast to order the print or digital editions.

Monday, May 23, 2011


It's back and it's on Monday nights again-- grab your pencils and a pad of paper and head on over to WAM for some life drawing sessions which started up again a few weeks ago.  They run either 7 or 730 - 9 or 930 in the Education Wing-- usually Studio 204 but they have been jumping around a bit.  It's a $10 drop in charge for the model and there is no instruction involved, just a chance for you to hone up those anatomy skills.

AND-- look for the Return of Films at WAM once that fancy new auditorium is ready.  I've got dibs on the Fall session and I hope to bring back Friday Night Frights.

MoVie Monday! The Black Legion!

Humphrey Bogart is a disgruntled worker trying to get ahead who feels he's been overlooked for a promotion that is given to a Jewish Immigrant and that don't fly.

Bogart ends up getting mixed up with The Black Legion-- a Klan like organization intent on teaching these outsiders a lesson;  to go back where they came from.

It's stagey and corny in parts, but it's relevant to the political atmosphere of today-- and any movie with Bogart in it is worth watching.
It's on Wednesday night at 8pm on TCM.

Thursday at 10pm you can catch DESTINATION TOKYO (1944) with Cary Grant and a host of Warner Bros regulars in a World War II Submarine given the mission to sneak into Tokyo harbor.  Great propaganda film from a time when the country actually got behind a cause.

On Saturday at 230pm you can watch the film that catapulted Bud Abbott and Lou Costello to the heights of mega stardom with BUCK PRIVATES (1941).  Abbott and Costello were THE biggest movie stars of the early 1940s and this film holds up today.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Webcomics Weekend DRACULA Episode 21

NEXT EPISODE: Wednesday!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Webcomics Weekend DRACULA Episode 20


Friday, May 20, 2011


While most of the world knows Batman on film as either Christian Bale or Adam West-- there are a few of us uber-geeks who have been keeping up with the Warner Bros/DC Comics Animated films and next up in their release schedule is an adaption of Batman Year One.

Year One was written by Frank Miller in between his own work on Sin City and it's very much a gritty film noir in it's telling of Batman's first time in the stretchy suit and cape.

It's the best crime drama to be done in comics and one of the strongest Batman stories in the character's 70+ year history.  I'm happy to see that the character designs seem to be in line with artist David Mazzuchelli's work on the original serial.

Slated for a late summer early fall release this might be THE Batman film to beat-- pushing Dark Knight off it's slightly over-rated thrown.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Jim Braude & Margerie Eagan

Jimmy and Maggie
I like to start my day with talk radio-- spending the day in my studio working I need to ease in-- and I like to know what's going on with the world.  Locally here in the Big Woo my good buddy Hank Stolz has a very entertaining show and twice I've tuned in to hear him mentioning my name-- once discussing his daughter's new experience in college level art courses and one other time mentioning local artists who work internationally, but Hank is now on from 5-6am so I only catch it if I'm up particularly early.

WTKK in Boston used to have IMUS IN THE MORNING-- which despite what you might think was once a hilarious show.  Imus is often confused with other shock jocks and this is not the case-- his show back in the early 00's had wit, politics, humor-- I loved his Sonny and Cher skit with Bill Clinton and Al Gore singing I HATE YOU BABE during the 2000 presidential campaign-- and it was IMUS who first reported the World Trade Center had been attacked.  After some comments that were insensitive (and I hate political correctness) Imus left the air only to return a year later with a kinder, gentler, more diverse and less funny version of his old show.

Enter Jim and Margerie to the coveted 6am to 10am drive time morning slot.

I've been with WTKK since they first started broadcasting in 1999/2000-- I loved Jay Severin when he talked political analysis, hated him when he talked about his womanizing and abject devotion to Mitt Romney-- whom I happen to like but I believe in blind following to no politician.

Jimmy and the Magster started with the afternoon slot-- 1-3 and it was about two hours too long.  Their show seemed unprepared and unsure of itself.  Subjects were, to put it nicely, about as interesting as listening to your Mom's ancient sisters discuss the benefits of Wheatena over Fiber One.  Jim particularly came across as an obnoxious political leftist out of the People's Republic of Cambridge.  Still, in comparison to Mike Barnacle's "I'm Mike and You're Lucky I'm Here" show which followed Imus, it had potential.  I'd usually listen until I couldn't take it anymore-- often making it all the way to 1:15 before I'd switch it off.

But when Jimbo and Magoo moved to the morning slot something happened-- the show got good.   And not just good-- it got interesting.  Moving at a brisk pace they jump from subject to subject so quickly that if you happen to call in you better pay attention because the thing you called about may be long over by the time they get to you.

Jim is respectful of his callers, and listens to the other side.  He accepts that about 90% of his audience disagrees with him and takes it with great humor.  He also unleashed the Braude wit which is formidable and cutting and Margerie stepped up as well, no longer acting as Jim's sounding board she argues and calls him on things she disagrees with.

Coincidently, I came across a blog post about Jim the day before he discussed it on the air-- this writer from the Boston Herald has a book about Fat Kids becoming Slim Adults and wanted J&M to discuss it on their Friday segment called FAT FRIDAYS-- said writer sent in copies, dropped emails, left voicemails and even accosted Braude at his natural habitat-- the hot bar at Whole Foods in Cambridge.  The writer took offense that his book has been ignored and wrote about his frustration in his blog.

As an internationally published writer and artist I can tell you myself that it is not uncommon to have people come up to you and expect you to stop everything you're doing to recognize their genius, and they are often offended when you don't have the time or the interest to do so.

Recently I had a talented young man (I'm being polite) send me a FULL SCRIPT of his latest graphic novel, asking me to illustrate it (200pages) on the condition of payment via royalties-- when we sell millions I'll be rich, but meanwhile I've got 200 pages of work to do for free.  When I passed he was outraged that I didn't want to do it and insisted I provide him with a list of artists who would be suitable for the project AND the emails of editors from the major publishers I've worked for.

I'm not making this up.

I told him I would provide him with a list of possible student artists who might be interested in working on the project for about $2K up front with back door royalties AND I wanted $500 for my time to provide said list of recommended artists.  He told me he didn't have that kind of money and I told him that if he believed so strongly in his project it shouldn't be hard to get a business proposal together and take it to the bank for a small business loan.

I won't hear from this guy again.

As Harlan Ellison has said-- it's the amateurs who make it hard for the professionals.

Back to the show;  Give the Jim and Margerie show a chance.  You won't be sorry.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Webcomics Wednesday: DRACULA Episode 19


Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Searching for a base to build my Frankenstein monster's head on I came across the amazing work of Darell Vidaurri whose work is evocative of the great 60s style cartoon monsters featured in comic books of the time.

I was particularly enamored of his Melting Man, Teen Wolf, Caveman and of course FRANK.

His version was retro while at the same time capturing the likeness of Glenn Strange as the Monster.  The downside to using his version for my creature is that it wouldn't involve any repainting since I think his work is stellar.

Still, there's nothing saying I can't have a monster with changeable heads.

MORE Next Week.

Monday, May 16, 2011

MOvie Monday! THE WOLFMAN!

The WOLFMAN (1941) is being shown on TURNER CLASSIC MOVIES this Wednesday at 8pm.  Lon Chaney Jr effectively went after his famous father's role of King of Universal Horror films beginning with Man Made Monster in 1940 but this movie cemented his reputation-- he went on to play Frankenstein's Monster, Dracula and The Mummy in the next two years-- the only actor to ever play all four classic horror film icons.

The movie itself is a strictly B-Movie with an A cast including Ralph Bellamy, Claude Rains and Patric Knowles--all of whom were big name actors during the filming of this one.  Worth checking out.

On Thursday at 9:15am is Robert Siodmak (brother of Curt Siodmak who wrote the Wolfman!) delivers one of the most powerful Film Noir's with 1946's THE KILLERS featuring Burt Lancaster.  Then at 2:15pm is possibly my favorite movie of all time-- 1946's THE BIG SLEEP with Humphrey Bogart and his new wife Lauren Bacall in Raymond Chandler's convoluted but it doesn't matter hard boiled detective story.
While on Saturday you'll want to hope for rain so you can stay in and watch a great lineup of films including:

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939) which I mentioned last month as a great Rathbone Holmes film-- if you missed it you can catch it Saturday at 8am.  At 9:30am is SON OF KONG (1933) which is a pale sequel to the original classic but very watchable nonetheless.  Following that is TARZAN'S DESERT MYSTERY (1943) which features Tarzan battling Nazi's and giant spiders!

Take a walk outside but be back at 6:15pm for NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (1955) which features Robert Mitchum as one of the most sinister serial killers in cinema history.
Then at 8pm on THE ESSENTIALS is 1942's THE CAT PEOPLE, Val Lewton's first of several moody horror films for intellectuals.

Great week for great movies!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Webcomics Weekend: DRACULA Episode 18

NEXT EPISODE: Wednesday!
Tomorrow: Movie Monday

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Webcomics Weekend: DRACULA Episode 17


Friday, May 13, 2011

Building The Frankenstein Monster Part II

Finding the right Mannequin is harder than you might think.

Very few manufacturer's design these with the idea of a Frankenstein Monster in mind.  So while the one on the far left MIGHT work-- it sort of looks like he's about to launch in to Master of The House from Les Miserables.

I want something more iconic for the pose-- this one for example-- its iconic:

Ha!  I joke.  Although the idea of the monster playing baseball is certainly cool with me-- I'm looking for truly iconic in terms of the pose.

This is the one I'm looking for.  In Mary Shelley's novel, the Creature is written as being 8 feet tall, in the 1931 film Karloff was more likely 6'2" thanks to the lift of his platform boots.
After some extended searching I found this one online:

Tomorrow: DRACULA!


Happy Friday the 13th-- watch out for black cats.

The Traditional coloring for the creature in pop culture is green or light blue:

While this is all well and good it's not particularly the look I want to go with.  I don't want to go with ultra realism, I want to go with artistic interpretation.

Growing up I was always amazed by the cover paintings on Forry Ackerman's FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILM LAND magazine-- usually by the amazingly talented Basil Gogos.  Gogos combined a rich classic style with artistic lighting providing a take on the old Hollywood monsters that was completely new to all of us fans-- after all the original movies are in black and white so the only color existed in our imagination.

Gogos color schemes emphasized form and atmosphere that was unprecedented.  His originals now go for multiple thousands.

Using the Gogos coloring as a guide this might be an interesting take on the creature.  While Karloff was the first actor to play the Frankenstein Monster for Universal-- to me he's not the iconic depiction of the character.  That honor goes to Glenn Strange, a 6'5" actor who had been playing badguys in cowboy movies before he was approached to play the monster in THE HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (in which Karloff would play the mad doctor).  Strange had the right kind of craggy face that fit the makeup perfectly.  There was just something "right" about his look to me-- with Karloff you had a much more frightening creature-- but Strange gave the character an intimidation factor.

Strange went on to play the monster in HOUSE OF DRACULA (1945) and ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948).

I'm also influenced by the great masks of the Don Post studio in the 1960s and 70s which would often be featured in the back of Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine-- so I'm not completely decided on which way to go with the creature.
Glenn Strange as The Monster

One of the problems with my previous life sized Frankenstein Monster was that he was very frightening-- often scaring the unsuspected who would stumble on him.  Not that it bothered me, he was like an old friend, but for this one I might go in a different direction.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Webcomics Weekend: DRACULA Episode 16


Tuesday, May 10, 2011


It all started with an ad in the back of a comic book, sometime in the late 1970s.  My little brain stared at that ad for hours on end-- and it looked something like this:

Even then, a Dollar seemed like a bargain.
A life sized Frankenstein "BIG as life, hanging around your room!  So lifelike, you'll find yourself talking to him!  Money back if not HORRIFIED!"

More than one kid sent in their hard earned sheckle-- and they were certainly horrified when the mailman delivered their package-- rather than coming in a life sized wooden crate as all of us certainly imagined-- the Monster of Frankenstein arrived in a tube.  A TUBE.  Surely some horrible mistake had happened, but sure enough when you opened the tube you realized you had bought a six foot tall (more like five feet by the way) POSTER of Frankenstein.

Worse yet-- the monster had a dopey look on his face which is depicted accurately in the ad but looks much more noticeable in person.

I'm happy to report that the ad still works today-- fooling the young and faithful.  Sitting around with my good bud Keenan Cassidy flipping through some old comic books Kay-Dog spotted this ad and held it up to me:

"Zoinks" He said, or something equally hip-- Keenan is a hipster-- "Man-- this is great-- I wonder if you can still find these anywhere?"

I let him down easy and explained that the offer was a con.  But I vowed that Summer day back in the days when Sonny and Cher were starring in a TV show together but living separately that I would someday have a life size Frankenstein that I would indeed talk to.

Colin Clive is my hero
Easter weekend began our building of the Frankenstein Monster-- or more accurately-- the re-building-- we had one before but he was completely scratch made and didn't have the support to keep it together-- this time will be different-- this time we'll make a man who can stand up to all manner of elements...

Easter is, after all, a celebration of the resurrection of the dead-- so maybe it's appropriate.

Our original plan was to build him out of plastic plumbing rods and then bulk him up with Bubble wrap-- creating a faux musculature.  I drew up detailed plans for the figure and took it over to Home Depot in Shrewsbury where I encountered one of the most obnoxious clerks I've ever run into.

Maybe he meant well-- I don't know-- it started out badly when he cheerfully intoned "I bet this is for a science project!"  I was polite because Veronica was with me, but I've decided the next time this happens I'm going with my gut reaction which is to tell the guy to leave me alone.

He talked incessantly as I tried to check off the parts I needed, then proceeded to grab the items for me even though I could read and honestly didn't need/want/desire his help.  In fact-- he was making this project much more complex.

We bought the parts needed and when we got home I started to assemble the frame to see how it would work out-- we wanted this one to be lighter than the other one (made out of wood) so we could move it around.  This is my THIRD Frankenstein Monster-- the first one was on a large wooden table and he rose up thanks to an electric eye anytime someone walked in.  He was donated to a local branch of the Boy Scouts for their Haunted House attraction.

Looking at the parts I'm concerned that this won't be strong enough-- and I think I would have figured that out if laughing boy hadn't insisted on asking me 2000 questions about the project at Home Depot--

So on to Plan B-- use a Mannequin.

Thursday: Part II of The Frankenstein Monster

Monday, May 9, 2011


A Night at the Opera (1935) is on today at 4:15pm-- classic Marx Bros farce.  At 8pm is LAWRENCE OF ARABIA which starts early enough that you can watch this epic classic and still get to bed at a decent hour-- as long as you consider Midnight a decent hour.

Set your alarm clock and get up early on Saturday and catch MURDER MY SWEET (1944) at 7:30-- Dick Powell makes a solid Phillip Marlowe in this adaption of the Raymond Chandler novel and it's followed by TARZAN TRIUMPHS (1943) at Noon.  Tarzan vs Nazi's!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Webcomics Weekend: DRACULA Episode 15

TOMORROW: Building The Frankenstein Monster!

Saturday, May 7, 2011


FREE COMIC BOOK DAY is today-- head on over to your local comic book shop to be part of the celebration.   If you don't know where your local shop is dial 1-888-comicshop and enter your zip code to find it.

Veronica and I will be signing and sketching at FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD COMICS in Bellingham today from about 9-1.  Free comic book day was born out of the idea of Baskin Robbins Free Ice Cream day-- which was designed to introduce  Ice Cream to those dozens of people who have never tried Ice Cream.

The Comics version is pretty close to the same thing-- publishers provide these comics to local shops who then give them out to customers as they see fit.  Most of them have restrictions as to what comics you can have (Friendly Comics does not) and there are about two dozen books to choose from-- something for everyone and a great opportunity to sample the variety of comics being published today.

Some of the Available Titles
The introductory issue of THE MISADVENTURES OF ADAM WEST is also being released, this is a title I've been interested in seeing since Adam's agent Fred first discussed the idea with me many years ago.  I'm glad to see they were able to pull this together.

Stop by for some fun.

Webcomics Weekend: DRACULA Episode 14


Friday, May 6, 2011

Now it Can Be TOLD! Deal with McFarland Publishers

Lizzie Borden in Progress
To say I'm excited about the deal I just signed with McFarland Publishers would be like saying the Fat kid was happy to be the ONLY attendee of a Little Debbie tasting convention.

McFarland is a publisher that I have absolutely LOVED since JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL-- yes, you read that right.  I've been an avid fan of their books-- scholarly and upscale since the days of my long hair and white loafers (don't ask).   In the last year or so they entered the field of Graphic Novels dealing with non-fiction and we discussed the possibility of them publishing my then in the planning stages Dracula series.    Since they were anxious to stay in the non-fiction field they bit at the suggestion of a book dealing with American Myths and Monsters, tentatively titled WEREWOLVES OF WISCONSIN, which will be available in the Fall Catalog.

I'm delighted to be working with such a renown publisher and plan on making this Full Color book amazing.


This one is called BABY TEETH

UBER PHOTOGRAPHER Scott Erb leads a group of WAM students through the wilds of the Brimfield Antique Fair through a fun class at the Worcester ART MUSEUM:

May 14 - Brimfield Antique Show
    The Brimfield Antique Show, founded in the 1950s, has become the largest outdoor antiques show in the country. Running along Rt. 20 for a half-mile, the show is huge. It's a vast undertaking for a photographer, filled with thousands of dealers selling everything from the finest antiques to yard junk. Folks come from all over the world and there are plenty of objects and fascinating people to observe and photograph. Meet at the Museum to carpool, rain or shine.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

ART CLASSES at WAM: Drawing and Painting with Tablets

Picture from Joanie "Rolling Cronnie" Gage's terrific blog-- listed to the right

It's Spring-- a time for renewel-- no more snow, no more excuses.  Consider taking an art class at the Worcester Art Museum, this week I'll be spotlighting several-- my own and ones I recommend.  Give it a shot-- you'll get something out of it.

DIGITAL Tablets have been around for quite a while-- and the price has come way down.  If you've considered getting one here's your chance to play with one before you buy it.  You can get a lot of great effects and techniques out of a tablet-- and in this class I'll show you how to do it.

WHEN: Tuesdays 1-4pm 7 weeks Starts May 10th.
WHERE: Studio 207 at WAM

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


One of the finest comic shops in New England is Ernie P's FRIENDLY COMICS in Bellingham Ma.  A bright, clean and professional looking store which hosts numerous community events, movie previews, in-store appearances and promotions and so much more.  It truly is a Friendly place.

This Saturday is FREE COMIC BOOK DAY-- a world-wide event celebrating the comics industry-- locally in the Big Woo That's Entertainment is participating and offering a signing celebration with great comic book artists Bret "Mighty" Herholz, Brian "Half" Nelson and Bob "No Holds Barred" Noberini.  Well worth stopping by-- and if you want to head out to Bellingham or if you're in that area Veronica and I will be doing an in-store appearance there along with Craig Rousseau (Batman Artist), doing free sketches and signing books.

It will be the world premiere signing for DRACULA BOOK TWO-- so mark your calendars and come down and say hello.

Ernie is also doing a promotion for the first 50 fans who email him to get to choose an original art sketchcard with the character of their choice by either Veronica or myself-- head on over to his website to find out more about it.

Ernie's store is a fun and exciting place-- and he knows how to put on a party.

Webcomics Wednesday: DRACULA Episode 13

Tomorrow: Art Classes at WAM