Saturday, October 10, 2015

Real LIfe Concerns Intrude On Laughing Reindeer Ranch

This has been a sobering week, gang. I have to admit that I seriously contemplated stopping the blog.

I've hinted somewhat here and more obviously on Facebook regarding issues related to my health. Honestly, I'm not ready to open up too much about that yet, but I can say that I'm having another day of testing done. I will eventually reveal what's up, but be aware that if there are no postings her for a couple of weeks or more, that's probably why it happened. 

To say the least, it's definitely a scary situation...

Second of all, my Aunt Mary who was my Dad's oldest sister and my Godmother passed away. She was 93 years old (we live long in my family). Her last few years were stolen from her by Dementia. My youngest memories of her were how she laughed and always had a smile on her face. This last year also saw the demise of her younger sister, my aunt Millie. She is missed. 

These two (or three) incidents and growing doubts about the place where I actually work, have caused me to re-examine my life. I'm 55 and I feel that despite the many things I've done in my life (created Creepsville, made a feature film, actually won an Eisner Award, which Will himself gave to me), there are still mountains to climb (literally in one case, taking the wonderful walk up to the Continental Divide at Glacier National Park, throwing snowballs above the snowline on a summer day). There's also an island that I need to get back to with my wife!

Let me cut to the chase here. I was very close to stopping the Blog. However, after taking time to think about it and not wanting to do anything rash that I might regret, I've decided that I will keep the Laughing Reindeer going but post stuff as needed and focusing on geting other things done. There are ideas that I would still like to explore on it, but I also need to have the time to work on things with a purpose like my Agents of Peril comic. I really want to get that one story I have spent years working on done with... and then maybe at least 2 more stories. A have a number of ideas in the comics area, but I'm also biting at the bit to try to get another movie done (NOT a monster movie this time).

With time being precious, rather than posting comics from older Creepsville issues, I thought I would show you something that I don't think I've ever shown here before. Below is the cover art for what I had previously called Creepsville #7. I'll eventually have more to tell and more to show in the future. It is fully inked... and has been so for quite awhile.

In this Blog on previous Halloween seasons, I have usually reprinted the Halloween issue of Creepsville. This time it decided to pull out rarity, a comic book that was actually an invite to an open house a printer in the East Dubuque, IL, area have each year. My buddy, Tom Schild, had been working there and suggested the comic idea and asked me to do it. It was fun, and I got to create another bunch of Halloween oriented characters. 

Oh, and I'd like shout out to Jim (aka Mr. Ski from Creepsville) that my backing off some from the Blog will finally get those comics you're alter ego is in done and hopefully published soon.

I truly appreciate all of you your patience and hope you will continue to check the Blog for new stuff. As for now, hug your family and your friends and let them know how much you love them.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

MAD About the Exorcist

MAD Magazine was and still is this country's longest lasting satirical publication. Besides the funny jabs at authority and culture, each issue featured a parody of a contemporary popular film and/or a TV show. A lot of times I recall reading the magazine and never catching the movie... but the satire was darned close to the real deal.

It's not surprising that MAD took a look at The Exorcist. It was the biggest film at the time of its release. Everyone wanted to see it. Let's all take a look at it. By the way, All the editorial material shown here is (c) & TM 2015 MAD Magazine and is only presented here for historical perspective.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Yes, True Believers.. It's time to stare in awe at a most unusual Godzilla LP!

First of all, as those of you saw here yesterday, I have declared the entire month of October "Halloween Month." So, Happy Halloween!

For today's little college lecture, I thought I would take a look at this unique rarity, though not so rare that I couldn't just buy it like any other CD in a Japanese bookstore years ago. I think it's more likely to be more rare today, because albums like this don't stick around).

HOWL is a dream come true for the nerd inside of me. To this day I can almost hardly believe that it exists. It really is an album of almost only the roars of the monsters in the first 20 or so years of Godzilla films (the classic ones). A surprising amount of screaming, roaring and pooping (just kidding, no pooping) is on here with the whole variety of roars from each of them. Godzilla wasn't always full tilt pissed off. Sometimes he was just mildly pissed off. There are different roars for all him stomping up on Tokyo, screaming at Mothra, and prancing like a little girl (no kidding... okay, I'm kidding). All the other monsters get this special treatment, but Big G has the most, because he's in the most movies. Can you dig it?

The booklet that came with this also has pictures of all the monsters spitting and cursing. The pages are shown below.

Spread #1 - We see two costumes for Angilas, the spikey-backed monster who is one of the very few monsters who mostly stays on all 4 feet. Angilas was the first monster to battle Godzilla and lose, in the sequel to Gojira, called Godzilla Raids Again, which was retitled Gigantis, the Fire Monster in the U.S. Below those two suits is Varan (or Baran, in Japan) who was originally created for a Japanese TV network who wanted to have its own monster. Honestly, if I heard Baran on the street, I wouldn't know it from a giant, hungry human in the upcoming Titans movie. I will still hide my ass somewhere bulletproof and monster proof. The final monster shown here is Rodan, The Flying Monster. It's a great flick, but Rodan becomes something of a battling lightweight when he's with Godzilla. 

Spread #2 - Jump to the first spread below. On the upper left of the pix, we can see the second most popular monster in Japan, Mothra. Mothra is not only a caterpillar that came out of a cocoon as a giant moth, but she's a goil who even lays a humongous egg that would have killed any two of us had we tried to do the same. Meanwhile on the right side of the spread, things are getting strange. I'm betting that at least 2 of these creatures will be unknown to most of you. At the upper left Magma, a giant walrus from Gorath, a scifi disaster with a burning radioactive planet beelining for a date with destruction on good ol' planet Earth. Magma only appears for a few minutes and dies at the wrong end of a laser beam. At the upper right of the spread is King Kong from King Kong Vs. Godzilla. At the bottom left is the pet of the sunken Mu empire. It's name is Manda. The title of the film is Atragon. Finally, at the lower right is the most unusual monster of all, Toho's Dagora, the Space Monster, a giant mass of one-celled creatures that come together to eat carbon.

Spread #3 - If you thought the previous spread was crazy, then tie yourself to the wheel for the parade of Japanese rubber suited goodness that lies ahead. Starting at the upper left of this spread is a shot which does not appear in the movie Godzilla Vs. The Sea Monster, of Ebirah, the giant shrimp (no, really) flying up out of the water. To the right are two memorable monsters from King Kong Escapes: Gorosaurus and the tres nifty Mechani-Kong. Moving further to the right are three pictures (not at all good photos) of the three giant creatures from Yog, Monster From Space. Finally at the upper right is the beloved and yet misunderstood Hedorah from Godzilla Vs. The Smog Monster, a movie so strange within its era that I still feel it messing with what's left of my brain cells. At the bottom right is Jet Jaguar (and to the left of him is Megalon) both from Godzilla Vs Megalon, a film which is awful, but actually was shown on primetime television by NBC in the 70s, with John Belushi hosting in a Godzilla suit. Years later, it was the only Godzilla movie shown on Mystery Science Theatre 3000. Next to the left is Gigan, who is also in G Vs Megalon and Godzilla Vs Gigan (aka Godzilla on Monster Island). The next creature on the left is from what I think is nearly the nadir of the Godzilla film series, Godzilla's Revenge. The cat-headed creature here was called Gabborah. Finally at the bottom left are three creatures from Son of Godzilla, which I think is a great movie (really!). They are Minya (the "Son"), Gimantis and Spiega, the incredible giant spider puppet.

Spread #4 - shows us the third most popular monster in Japan, on the upper left. It's King Ghidorah from the classic Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster. Below that shot is Mecha-King Ghidorah from Godzilla Vs. King Ghidorah in the 1990s. To the right side are the 4 monsters from Toho's short lived Frankenstein film series. That's the giant-sized Frank at the upper left. To the right of him is Baragon, my favorite Japanese monster... in my favorite non-Godzilla film, the crazy Frankenstein Conquers the World. American producer Henry Saperstein was in on this and the next film. I met him at toy fair back in the 80s, where we talked about Frankenstein, though our focus was on Nick Adams, for whom Saperstein had nothing but good things to say. He noted that Adams truly enjoyed Japan and had a relationship with the film's female lead while he was there. Russ Tamblyn starred in the sequel to this film, War of the Gargantuas. The two furry creatures were called Sanda and Gailah. Saperstein remembered that Tamblyn was a pain in the ass during this film's production. The Frankenstein element was dropped totally when this film came to the United States.

Spread #5 - Here's the last spread of the booklet. At the upper left is King Caesar/Seesaw and Mecha-Godzilla from Godzilla Vs. the Cosmic Monster. MechaGodzilla was very popular with the kids, so they brought out MechaGodzilla 2 for the next flm, Terror of MechaGodzilla. That film ended up being the last Godzilla film of the first series, which introduced the so-so Titanasaur. Godzilla was revived and brought back as the destroyer rather than the big lovable lug, in Godzilla 1985. That weird bug picture at the far left is from the film and is a sea louse that lived on Godzilla. To the right of the bug are the creatures that came the closest to being My Little Pony characters in a Godzilla film, the Dorats. They are man-made lifeforms in Godzilla Vs. King Ghidorah, who combine later to become the 3 headed monster. To the right of them is the pre-radioactive Godzilla, the Godzillasaurus. At the upper right is Biollante, from 1985's sequel Godzilla Vs. Biollante, featuring this hybrid creature, half Godzilla, half rose. Finally, at the bottom right is Battra, the evil version of Mothra from Godzilla Vs. Mothra (the second version).

And that is that. I took the booklet and slid it back into the CD case... which I may never open again for years... That ends this class's lecture. On that Halloween point, I strongly suggest that this be Halloween month but this is only the beginning of this plan. My advise is that you refrain from going door to door asking for candy as yet. That is still restricted to the 31st.

Until the next time we get together. Have a great Halloween month, and don't drive into any Godzilla droppings.

Oh, and don't forget to check out this week's Agents of Peril and Creepsville comics. Also, the all-new Agents of Peril strips will be starting very soon.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Cinescape Illustrations on Parade... Plus Agents of Peril and Creepsville, Of Course

Way back in the 90s, I was employed by Sendai Publications, which evolved into MVP Media. Among the publications they produced was a television and movie sf/horror/fantasy publication called Cinescape. At the time, I wasn't doing much at the company after HERO Illustrated was cancelled. Every now and then, Steve Hockensmith and the art department would be putting the latest issue together and need a last minute illustration for the current issue before they could put it to bed. I became the last minute guy a few times.

I thought I would show you a few of them, a couple in color as they appeared in the magazine and a couple more directly from the artwork itself in B&W. Click on the images to see the larger versions. Here they are...

This is the first illo I did for the magazine, for a story about Hollywood turning its gaze on comic books. Fortunately, X-Men, Batman and Spider-Man happened and Shi didn't. Hot Stuff the Little Devil was never in development. I put that in as a joke. He appears again for another illustration I did, which is posted here below.

This next one was needed pretty fast, meaning "Now. Today.") They needed a picture of ET down on his luck. Here's what I gave them. I actually like this little piece a lot.

This unusual piece was done for a story on a company that had an interesting idea about how to get movies financed. Their concept was to attract desperate actors, fanboys and whomever else to pay to be seen in the movies the company wanted to make. Interesting concept, but as far as I knew, this was the last we ever heard from them.

This final piece was done way back when George Lucas announced the return of the Star Wars film series, which would be the first 3 Prequel Chapters. There were attempts to revive the old TV Battlestar Galactica. I was never a fan of the original series. Also, as far as I know, Richard Hatch was never fat. I have to admit that I enjoyed drawing all those props.

That's it for this week. Hope you liked the old zine stuff. Before you go on to your day, check out the Agents of Peril and Creepsville strips below. Next week starts a month of Halloween stuff, which means additional postings right here, kiddies. See you for the kickoff next time!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

What Is Frank Up To? Besides Creepsville -- Some Artwork Hints and No Spoilers!

It was only last night that I finally got a chance to sit down and do some work on the photos for a second Party In Wisconsin bit of silliness. I found that I couldn't make myself do it, mainly because I was very creative on drawing comics stuff this week.

So, I thought it might be more interesting to show some of the stuff I did... which will, I hope, show how much fun I've been having.

This first piece features the Monster Patrol. As I work on things, I have found myself doing these Pin-Up pictures (as Stan Lee called them in the old Marvel Comics). I enjoy drawing them (and inking them, too), but I think the real reason is that I feel there are things to address about the characters, specifically in their design. I can't always explain or understand what I think is amiss, so I let my subconscious mind handle this, just letting the art happen. After some sketches, I will sometimes ink it. On this particular piece, I could hardly wait to ink it (I think that's a good sign). Here's what I ended up creating. [Let me also note that everything here is (c) & TM Franklin J Kurtz. All rights reserved.]

This next piece of art is for a project that I've been working on for a long time. I don't think I've ever shown this or even given a hint of it. I will say that it ties into the columns I used to write here under the name of "Confessions of a Monster Kid."

I had a great time doing this, and hope to finally show you it much sooner over later.

Here's a small teaser for a graphic novel that I'm working on. The reason I'm showing this to you is that it touches on demonstrating a small part of my creative process. A lot of what I do in drawing comics starts with little sketches and thumbnails, just to make a note of an idea I might have had. Whenever I'm out and about, I usually carry a sketchbook with me to do oddball doodles, etc. I must admit a lot of these drawings just end up buried in a box in my studio at home, but sometimes they become a part of project I am working on. When that happens, I usually do a more detailed pencil sketch to give me a better idea of how it will look and whether or not the design even works at all.

Here's a creature that made it through the final cut and will appear in a project I'm working on.

That's it for this week's Blog. I really want to get back to work on... okay, I'll tell you... the Agents of Peril comic. The old strips are almost gone and the new stuff is biting at the bit to be seen. As promised, here are this week's 2 AofP strips as well as a page from Creepsville.

Have a great week and get to sketching.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Pronto Pups For All!!! ... and the Somewhat Vague Creepsville Connection. Toss in Agents of Peril, Shake Carefully. Serve and Enjoy.

Now that we returned from our big east coast jaunt, things here at the ranch have returned to very temporary order. After all, Halloween is just around the corner (my favorite holiday!!!).

This week, we were in Sandwich, Illinois, home of the biggest county fair (it is actually the Dekalb County Fair) in the state. We've been told countless times that it's larger than the State Fair, too. With the coming of the Fair, there also comes my my single favorite "seasonal" food item, the incredible Pronto Pup. The Pronto Pup looks like a normal everyday corndog, but nay nay my friends, such is not the case. This delicious king of corn dogs has a wonderful batter on it that when finished cooking turns into a lighter than usual covering that is just plain good... actually, it's really, really good.

Now, at the Sandwich Fair, the one and only Pronto Pup stand that I go to is just across from a building that has been called The Women's Building forever. The man behind the counter making these delicious dogs is named Barry (to make sure that you're at the right place, because there are other Pronto Pup booths.. and even bogus Pronto Pup booths... I kid you not!) ... who looks a lot like the late, great Jerry Garcia, but Barry's hair is longer. I'll add that this booth is very close to a gazebo that sells Fair t-shirts, sweatshirts, etc.

I've been hitting this booth every year I've been at the Fair since I returned from the West Coast with some few missed. In fact, one year, I was there for its full five days and ate nothing but Pups... Oh, joy...

The connection to my Creepsville comic is that way back in 1996, when I was self publishing my Creepsville comic series under the Laughing Reindeer Press name, Pronto Pup became very useful. It was the second issue and featured a story wherein Rat and Percy run around the town tearing it up chasing after a bizarre creature called Doctor Nothing. The chase goes into an amusement park called Thrill Land. I drew a spread across those two pages and filled up the space with the kinds of things one might see at such a place... one of which was Barry's Pronto Pup stand, in which I drew in the man and 2 of his homeys.

Here's the page, plus the Pup stand.

I'm writing this early Saturday morning (actually about 7:30 am, a little later than I usually do). Just to alert you, the Fair is open today and tomorrow. If you just happen to find yourself there, do yourself a favor and get a Pup. Oh, and a lemon shake-up, too.

Now, I don't make a nickle off doing this. This is strictly a food item that I love made by people who care. Barry has been doing this for longer than I've been drawing Rat and Percy. I understand that dedication.

Just do me one favor, if you go there, please tell them that you saw this weird-assed show of Puppy love on this blog and that Frank sent you to them. They will take care of you. (Boy, I wish I had one of these things right now...)

This craziness caused me to delay those photos from another trip to Wisconsin that I said I would be posting here. Those will start next weekend. Here's a couple of odd teasers.

That's it for this week. Enjoy the Pups! Go Cubs! Go Bears! Go More Science High! Here are this week's helpings of Creepsville and Agents of Peril.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

I'm Back Again, With Creepsville and Agents of Peril In Tow... A Fearful Populace Asks, "What Up?!!"

What Up?

Once again, I had to hold off doing the Laughing Reindeer Blog, because I was nowhere near my 'puter (as Deathlok the Demolisher used to call his computer). In fact, I was on the road with Colette on a quest to get our youngest, Becca, started on her trip cross country (literally Syracuse, NY to Washington State) to her waiting school and classes in Journalism.

On the way to her on Friday, Colette and I decided to celebrate our 7th anniversary by taking a few hours to stop at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Much to my pleasant surprise, it was great. There was so many great artifacts on display that it was almost overwhelming. I'll try to put up some pictures this week... as soon as I can figure out how to do that with my cell phone.

Saturday, we spent the day with Becca and Johnny seeing their home for the last couple of years.

On Sunday, we all got into our cars and started our long trip home... which was brought to a stop once we got to our second planned stop: Niagara Falls. What an incredible sight. The water rumbled as it tore through its bed. As awe inspiring as this was, we really couldn't stay around, because we had to make Illinois that night (Colette and I still had to go to work the next morning).

Regarding the missing Blogs, I think last weekend's will have been the last for awhile. Next week I hope to show you pictures from a more recent party in Wisconsin (or is it Wiscon-Sin), which had something to do with Star Trek. Oh, and no bras were stolen or damaged.

Oh, and Wednesday this week is the day the Sandwich Fair opens. I'll be there, eating Pronto Pups like nobody's business.

Meanwhile, here are this week's Creepsville and Agents of Peril strips. Until next week, don't jump over any waterfalls in a barrell.