Saturday, August 16, 2014

Visual Non Sequitur: Stupid Foolish Scientists... and a Master Criminal?

This is a further obsessive follow-up to last week's rather weak posting of a frame grabbed from a movie which showed a man emptying his pipe into a handy ashtray. On Facebook, I gave a big hint on why the photo of the pipe was so important to the filmmaker (questionable and only using the word as a generic term) by revealing that person's name. It is Jerry Warren.

Well, here's 3 frame grabs from later in that spectacular movie.

I think I'm done with this movie, for now. Anyone who has been around me long enough may have been forced to actually sit and watch this flick. No, there is no woman disguised as a flying mouse.

Here are three more moments of zen... well, maybe just two. Have a good weekend, true believers.




Saturday, August 9, 2014

So Soon? Another Visual Non Sequitur?

This week I had to go down south to my parent's retirement home, their farm in Kentucky... to visit and do some repairs. Back at the Laughing Reindeer HQ, in the last moments of Saturday, I'm pulling another Non Sequitur up. This is the entire image, too. It's another moment of zen, kiddies. See you next week.


Saturday, August 2, 2014

A Visual Non Sequitur

Even though I'm working on the Creepsville book, when Saturday comes I still want to put something up on the Blog. Based on my experience so far, I can't always do that.

So, when I'm busy I will still try to post something related to what I'm working on that doesn't seem to be the case... or just a blatant non sequitur.

Meanwhile, my Blog devoted to such non sequiturs remains the Tremendous Thing site. Click in the link at the right margin and look at it... if you dare.

Back to Creepsville for me. Click on the graphic below "for your moment of zen."

Saturday, July 26, 2014

"Da Hell Was This?" - A Creepsville Mystery

Over the years I have encountered a great number of people who enjoyed reading Creepsville and had questions about it, including elements in the stories, about creating comics, publishing and other things. There are also questions here and there regarding oddball things that appeared in those comics that command an answer.

One such item is this odd advertisement that appears in the first issue. The ad hypes an upcoming series of books based on the Creepsville comic, no doubt intended for younger readers, that would feature the children of the comics' teen characters years later.


So, you may ask, was I intending on doing these books? No. Honestly, I didn't know about them. The publisher, Steve Smith, was employed by another publisher who did teen novels. Steve thought there was potential in that market for these books. Maybe there was.

This was a time when the Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles were hot stuff, with their licensed images everywhere. Steve was hoping to catch that same lightning in a bottle with Creepsville, but it was too
early and, without me, was not going to happen.

I seem to recall that the two names on the project were real people working in the teen books market, and they hadn't been asked to do any work on it yet. Thank goodness. I never met them. Nothing against them.

As a strong supporter of creator owned comics rights, I was underwhelmed. Steve and I discussed it and, it never happened (thank goodness). Unfortunately, the first issue went out with the ad that had been created to hype a series. Steve's heart was in the right place, and this brand new venture for the two of us working together publishing Creepsville included a few bumps we hadn't expected... but nothing harmful.

To see Steve at his best, check out his upcoming Alaxis Press graphic novel, The Leaning Girl by Francois Schuiten and Benoit Peeters. The book is gorgeous! Click on this link [http://www.theobscurecities.com/]!

-- F Kurtz
 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Creepsville Progress Report (Plus Tidbits)

Things are moving along nicely on the Creepsville book. Very soon now... wait, I've got to stop saying that. It won't be very soon and it's not the artwork that's holding it up. It's the writing, scanning and putting together the whole book. Still, even the original comics must be scanned again, followed by lots of new stuff. When I talk about very soon, just pretend I'm Video Watchdog honcho Tim Lucas talking about his Mario Bava book. That took a long time, but it was worth it.

When the time is right, I will start posting material from Creepsville #6, the Christmas issue that was never published, right here in this blog. Soon afterwards, I will be offering the collected book for sale. I'm also hoping that it will be carried in local comic and book stores, of course.

Right now I'm debating on showing the whole story or just a good sized chunk of it. I'm leaning towards the latter. I change my mind on this point all the time. Initially though, I was strongly leaning on giving it away. If I choose to do that, odds are I will also serialize a page each week.

It may be a bit early saying this, but after I do whatever I'm going to do with the 6th issue contents online, I'll also post some material from what I've been calling the 7th issue... though it isn't really that. I'll explain when it goes up.

Besides those original stories, there are loads more materials (artwork, notes, etc.) created for or had inspired Creepsville all along the way. This will mean lots more scanning on my part. I'm also hoping that the finished book will also provide at least a glimpse on the creative process of making comic books (at least my creative technique). Maybe I sound a bit pretentious, but I'm honestly trying to make this more than just a collection of back issues.

To say the least, I have my work cut out for me.

That gets me to the "Tidbits" of this Blog posting. While I've been digging through art, I have found what I consider interesting bits and pieces of artwork, some of which will make it to the book while others won't.

For the moment, I thought I would put a few pieces up that you might find interesting. The first two items are covers for a modest publication I was going to call Ruckus, a name I've been wanting to use for a long time.


Besides Creepsville, I also created a fun concept that I called Monster Patrol. I have a full length first issue done and pencils for the second. While I was thinking about what I would do with it back when I got that issue done, my good friend Chris Ecker contacted me, asking me if I'd like to do an 8 page back up story for Big Bang Comics, which was published by Image. I've told the origin story of this team before on this blog. Read it if you haven't by looking through the subject list on the right side of the screen and click on "Monster Patrol."  


So, I still had a full length first issue and didn't know what to do with it. For a short period, I was toying with breaking that story down in to a 4 or 5 part adventure in Ruckus, in a 8 1/2" by 5.5" mini-comics size. Perhaps I was influenced at that time by a visit to my house by my friend John Porcellino, creator of King-Cat Comics. John had stopped by one night while he was going on a cross country tour.  [Check out John's blog; MAYBE BLOGGING WILL HELP at http://johnporcellino.blogspot.com]. He has links to his online store, too.

Doing mini-comics is not alien to me. In fact, years ago I had done mini-comics featuring several characters who ended up in supporting roles in Creepsville.

I also wanted to try something that I had seen on other mini-comics... my plan was to present covers with interesting images that might not suggest anything in particular specific until you actually read the comic. I wanted it to be unusual, a little mysterious, and deliberately vague thus the cover doesn't say Monster Patrol. Eventually, I held off doing it because I had determined that Monster Patrol is a comic about giant monsters. I wanted to see those creatures presented big.

Monster Patrol will be back... Sounds very James Bond.

The third piece here is artwork I forgot about which looks like it was intended for a set of buttons. There were 3 buttons each for Creepsville and Agents of Peril. I'm only showing Rat and Percy right now. I'll get the others scanned and up on this Blog soon. Oh, and the Agents of Peril story will be back and will actually come to an end... though I have plans for at least two more stories after that. I will be working on these forever...


As usual, click on the images to see larger versions.

Also, please let me know if you enjoy this sort of stuff. I have quite a bit more I can show you all.

I've spent a lot of time writing the blog this week but have plenty more work to do right now on the Creepsville Collected book. Until next time, back to work... and "Toodles!"

-- F Kurtz

Friday, July 4, 2014

What the Hell Are You Watching?!! -- Horror At 37,000 Feet (1973)

I want to be all smart alecky.. and I will be... but I can't deny from the giddy-up that I love this movie. It's a clunky classic of the genre of 70s TV horror films that has been a favorite of mine ever since I saw it back in 1973.



Like the disaster movies also being produced by Hollywood (or was it only Irwin Allen) of this era, there's lot of actors performing as cliche characters with very little or no depth. You may know what they're going to do, but you never really know why. We check in with them as the story unspools.

To cover these dramatic basics, some of the finest actors who weren't working at the time are here providing the raw type of cut rate drama that will touch deeply the tattered souls of hardcore couch potatoes. They've been brought together to resolve a small problem: EVIL. Who are these acting
legends?

Chuck Conners, the Rifleman himself, checks in playing the Captain on this flight, who learns that evil demons like their air conditioning very cold while ordering drinks from their seats in an ancient cursed temple from England on board, heading for the good old USA. Heck, why not? Previously we've only really had to worry about Cthulhu here in our country. But that's not Chuck's fault, because his star was in decline, and he was looking more scary than heroic. That would serve him well in the horror film Tourist Trap as well as a thug in Charlton Heston's Sci-Fi time waster, Soylent Green.




Russell Johnson, the Professor from Gilligan's Island, learns the hard way just how cold it can get, as does a German Shepherd that had been placed in the cargo. When I first saw this, I was very disappointed by Johnson's character's quick exit. Oops, spoiler.


Roy Thinnes, whose credits include Quinn Martin's The Invaders TV series and Dan Curtis' unsold Norliss Tapes pilot, plays an architect who brought the temple on board. While the worst flight ever taken goes on, his character touches bases with everyone else on board until he gets to his wife (Jane Merrow from The Prisoner and Island of the Burning Doomed), because that was what they did in these things.


We learn she has a slight problem, She can hear the spirits or demons singing in her airline music headset. My solution: Turn off the damned headset and have a stiff drink or two.



Oh, and lest you think I forgot it, that frozen dog was the property of a rival of Thinnes' architect, played by Tammy Grimes. In particular, she says they never should have taken the temple (what a surprise). Too Late. As the story plods along, she gets steadily more nutzoid.



Well past The Beverly Hillbillies, Buddy Ebsen plays an asshole rich guy who slowly realizes that a little corner of hell is in this plane with him. We see that even rich folks make mistakes, as he listens and follows advice from Grimes crazed character.


I have to be delicate with the next character played by Paul Winfield, who was a great actor. Here though, he is used for one for those most thankless role types in film of that era. He is a new cliche busting old cliches. He plays a world famous surgeon, who is BLACK, and refined. If he were female, she could have shown that women can do the same tough jobs that men can do, too.


Having said all that, yet leaving a lot of the film's thin story intact, the best reason of all for watching this film, is William Shatner. This was a tough period for Shatner. He was getting roles after the cancellation of Star Trek, but very few starring roads. In this picture, he plays an ex-priest that is just plain pissed at God about something in the deep past.


Through the story, he is often asked for help, but he declines, taking refuge in a steady intake of glasses Kool-Aid brand fake booze. As soon as you see him and then especially after you get down what's up with his character, you know what's going to happen to him. Maybe not specifically, but you know.

Honestly, this is when Shatner takes over the movie from everyone else. As it goes from the absurd to corny to cliche or even predictable, you don't care. Dammit, this is William Shatner and he's gonna make this work, even with a matte shot that would horrify Sid and Marty Kroft. He shows such bravery and guts. Maybe Shatner knows somewhere in his heart that he's only 6 years away from Star Trek: The Motion Picture followed soon after with financial security. It's all gonna be okay, except that temple in the cargo...

But never you mind that, just sit back and enjoy what only the 70's and Shatner combined could truly do. It could even blow away those foggy memories of "Rocket Man" and "Mr. Tamborine Man."

Uhmm, nah...

-- F Kurtz

Saturday, June 28, 2014

What the Hell Are You Watching?!! -- One More Time

We've all been conned, my friends. We have been told repeatedly that anything that was done by any members of the legendary Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr. , etc.) is cool in its booze soaked, cigarette smoked way... despite moments of who cares performances by the stars.

Now, suppose this philosophy encounters another who's strong-willed ways of operating are capable of knocking over the Rats' cart.

Like most movie fans, there are many times when I've watched a Rat Pack movie and enjoyed it. Of course, I like Ocean's 11, but I really like 4 For Texas, a comedy western which stars Frank and Dino, the ultra chesty Anita Ekberg and even the Three Stooges (with Curly Joe).

Then there's One More Time...


Released in 1970, the flick stars Sammy Davis Jr. and Peter Lawford as hip nightclub owners, respectively Charlie Salt and Chris Pepper in Swingin' London. Laughford is about as unhip as one can get and poor Samula's attempts to shine utterly fail.

This flick is also a sequel to Salt and Pepper (1968), which was directed by the very capable Richard Donner (Superman the Movie, The Banana Splits) and introduced a not at all funny teaming of Rat Pack A-Teamer Sammy with C-Teamer Peter Lawford (less than Joey Bishop). That first mediocre effort with these two generated enough money for United Artists to order up a sequel, thus the title One More Time. Very simply, it's a convoluted mess whose contrived non-sensical story elements destroy almost any entertainment value.

 

The story starts with Salt and Pepper being framed and about to go to jail, hoping that Pepper's government connected twin brother can help them. The twin (Lawford wearing a fake mustache and talking in a nasaly voice) who is also a James Bond type. He gets shot down. This situation requires Chris Pepper to take his brother's place in a case that is going on. Here's where it gets really confusing. He decides not to tell his partner, Salt, who has been told instead that Pepper was shot. Salt believes his buddy is actually the dead man, who he mourns throughout most of this "comedy."
Making matters worse, the government types and Pepper allow Salt to join them in trying to solve the case, never hinting until almost the film's end that Pepper's brother was actually killed (and Pepper couldn't care less about that either).

A lot of the film's non-story involves the mourning Salt walking around Pepper's brother's castle in Britain, where we get a virtual solo performance by Sammy overflowing with the type of unfunny comic mugging that would suit Jerry Lewis much better.

I've been holding off the biggest kick to the groin from this film, in part because it seems like too easy a target. Okay, here goes: It was directed by Jerry Lewis. In fact, it was the only film he directed that he did not star in. Let me add here that I am not a Jerry Lewis hater. In fact, when I was a kid, I liked his movies a lot. In addition, as a director, while not always working as intended, his films can be interesting, filled with odd moments and ambitious direction. I enjoy the unusual Family Jewels, and; like just about everyone else in the world; The Nutty Professor.

Having dropped all that Jerry Lewis goodwill, this movie does feel like the worst of his stuff at times, especially with Sammy doing Lewis-like shtick and even looking at the camera. Sammy also does a "Here Come The Judge" riff like those he did at this time on the Laugh-In TV show.




That Lewis shtick can get pretty heavy handed, particularly when Sammy puts on a Mantan Moreland-like bit while looking for a scary, secret passage.

Hold on, though... This is the moment of the film that I really was looking forward to. Charlie opens a door and looks in to a dungeon below. Standing in the dungeon are Peter Cushing (as Dr. Frankenstein) and Christopher Lee (as Dracula). Cushing gets the better part of it, because he actually speaks. Lee just looks threatening and shows his fangs. Still, the scene is a nice touch that also shows Lewis was aware of the popularity of Britain's Hammer Studios and their top monsters. [I placed the images from this scene at the bottom of the page.]

As I said, just before the end, Salt learns his buddy Pepper is alive. No big deal, as the last fragments of a story fall apart, with the film's stars breaking character and talking about another possible sequel. I'm happy to say that this Rat Pack mini-franchise choaked right here without there being One More Time Again.

By this time, the Rat Pack chic had run out of gas with the nostalgic resurgence decades away. It couldn't save this film, but I also wonder if Lewis subconsciously sabotaged it, given his Rat connection to Dean. Nah... sounds too conspiratorial.

The sadder truth may be that Lewis was a limited director who was only repeating the same bits over and over again rather than carving out new comedic terrain. That suggests that The Nutty Professor may have been an accident. I'd rather not think that, instead preferring the possibility that with Nutty Professor, Lewis honed his comedic vision down to the exact state of being he was always trying to attain.

On this particular film, Lewis may have been out of his comfort zone, saddled with a bad script that rarely had the co-stars together, which may have forced him to use what he knew best, hoping it would work. It didn't..

Unless you're a Lewis fan, this may be for Hammer completists only... and you'll probably have a lousy time.

-- F Kurtz