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


 



 
 
 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

What About That Creepsville Thing?

Those of you longtime readers of this Blog probably will recall through the last few years, I've had lots of technical difficulties with my computer, which resulted in my disappearance from this Blog. Once again, the computer problems returned, this time taking out a computer that I have had for 10 years. 10 years is a long time for a computer, and this one was the same that I wrote material for Cinescape Online.

We finally got a new computer, but there were more problems ahead. Then, my scanner broke... another old device that just went as far as it could and then stopped. Anyway, enough bellyaching. I'm still working on the Creepville Collected book and resumed work on my Agents of Peril online comic strip. Both of these will be previewed or serialized here.

I'm also working on a couple of other projects, which I hope to debut or tease here.

Honestly, I also needed a break from the Blog anyway, while I tried to figure out what I wanted to do. Blogs can be time consuming, but I also found them to be as fun as doing a fanzine, with better production values. After putting some thought into it, my plans feel pretty good to me. Some things will disappear while other things stay alongside new stuff. I hope that you'll enjoy them as well. Feel free to comment on them.

Thanks for your questions, comments, praise and opinions from before. Hope you like what's coming next.

My wife always asks me to smile, and I tell her I am smiling. In this picture? Yes, I'm smiling.
See you soon!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Like Halloween, the Original Creepsville is Coming Back

Just in the nick of time...

Halloween is coming swiftly. This last week, Colette and I brought down the decorations from the attic. Then, a few days later, she brought more down and set up lots of decorations, including our Dept 56 stuff.

We've got loads more to go, and this will be the first time we've had this fun stuff here at all, since our move here this last Spring. Yes, we did move... In fact, most of our decorations at this time are in our "fireplace room." We call it that because the fireplace dominates the space its in so much. Because the brickwork is very dark, it's dark and spooky there... sometimes. Most of all, it's a quiet nook to relax in and read a book (on a "nook").

Meanwhile, work has also started on something I've been threatening to do forever... a Creepsville TPB book collection. Plans are to collect the 5 published issues of the first series under GoGo Comics. I'm also going to include 2 full issues that have never been published, including the Christmas issue. Years ago, on an old website, I wrote that I had lost a page of art from that story. With our recent move, it appeared in a box of artwork (where I had put years ago). What a great feeling to finally hold the whole thing complete in my hands after so long!!!

My plans are to include loads of sketches and other art that has never been seen before... and even some stuff from the Carnivore movie. The movie work (started) while the Creepsville series was being published. Besides that, each issue will have my "liner notes" about things like what prompted me adapting a given film, what I was doing to survive and much more.

I must caution you, this will take awhile ... which is good. The plan is an early Summer 2014 release.

Of course, I'll post updates on this site.

Anyway, it's looking a bit murky outside. Perfect for Halloween! Heh heh.

Whoops! Almost forgot this... For the 4th year in a row, like out of the pages of The Brave and the Bold, Greg Hyland and I will be teaming up again to bring back the Aztec Mummy, along with the Mexican Batman, and too much more to mention. Read it yourself by checking out http://www.lethargiclad.com . Then, stick around and read years of truly great comics Greg has been doing there. No cultural sacred cows get by unscathed.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Laugh While You Can, Monkey Boy!

It seems like no matter how old I get, something in my life happens that reminds me that the carcass I walk around in is just temporary...

This last week, I got up dark and early and was heading in to work. I took an alternative path in my batmobile than I would normally take the morning after a freezing rain.

Here's what happened... I'm driving in the dark and the road looks pretty safe. It's a narrow road in the country, so when a car comes my way, I try to give it more room. It passes by and I keep moving forward. At that moment, I notice the road ahead is a little darker than what I've been driving on. I get to that and feel the car start to slide a little and realize that I'm on black ice. I try to compensate very carefully and without warning the car takes a jerk and I find myself fishtailing. I take my foot off the accelerator, but the inertia I had is still moving me forward fast. I'm moving my steering wheel back and forth trying to get control back.

Did I say, I was friggin' scared?! I was. Now, I'm going to admit to something. Of late, I've been a wee bit morbid. Maybe it just comes with getting older (I'm 53) and seeing my parents fighting all sorts of health problems. It feels sometimes like there's a record playing in my head that is stuck playing a message over and over all day that says, "You are going to die. No, really... you're going to kick the bucket." 

Back to the fishtailing death device. Barbed wire fencing, trees, a farm front yard, all flash by as I try to stop this car. It's not feeling very good about my chances. Then, I blurt out, "God save me!" Guess what happens? No, I don't become a TV evangelist. But I let the car go where it wants to... and it stops rushing and slows down and goes into a ditch on the right side. I sit there for a moment, looking at the ice covered grass. And I actually drive out of the ditch. I'm only about 2 miles from home. I get home and wake Colette and tell her about it.

I'm upset and tell her what happened. She gets me to relax, which I do. I go back out and drive a safer way to work.

Do I believe that God actually saved me? Maybe. However; if you had spoke to me right after it happened, I would have said, "Yes!"

It reminds me of the time I was driving home on a warm summer day and a truck driving by me carrying bricks came by (which I wrote about in an earlier blog update). The brick that flew off the truck missed my head by inches. I could taste the dirt. The brick blasted through my windshield like a cannonball, showering the interior of my car with tiny shards of broken glass... none of which got in my mouth or eyes. The police officer who helped me said. "You must have an angel sitting on your shoulder." Maybe. That officer had seen nothing like that before.

Honestly, though I often act like an agnostic when it comes to God, sometimes the examples as to if it's real seem to be very persuasive.

Like everyone reading this, I'm going to die some day. As of this last week and since, that doesn't seem to be bothering me quite as much. And if I believe in ghosts, demons and other creepy creatures, what's wrong with an angel sitting on my shoulder?

Time to draw more monsters...

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Neato Halloween Fun!

Well, neato for me...

Once again, G Hyland (Creepy Artist and hockey player) has asked me to get up off my dead ass and throw around some ideas for our 3rd annual Halloween tradition with the return (again!!!) of the Aztec Mummy for the LL online strip. I'm always happy to comply, and always amazed at what Greg does with my scratchy thumbnails (other than use them as a coaster). A sample of one of my scratchy thumbnails lies below.



In case you didn't know, Greg also does lots of nifty conceptual stuff for LEGO. When you go to his site (http://www.lethargiclad.com) to look at Lethargic Lad, check out loads of keeno LEGO stuff he worked on.

Meanwhile, my old buddy Mike Fenske (we've known each other for 10 years... scary, isn't it, Mike) asked me if I could put together a piece of art to promote his yearly Yard Haunt for Halloween. Mike asked me to do something that looked sorta like an old EC Comic, like Tales From the Crypt. Then, he actually trusted me to go do it!!! Anyway, the art for his flier is below.



Click on either image to see the larger graphics (or download and look at 'em full size). As usual, I might be posting more stuff here in time for Halloween. Time will tell. I'm still recovering from that Paul Lynde Halloween Special from 2 years ago...

So, if you don't see me before then, have a safe and Happy Halloween.